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The second line
One down, two more to go, and the second trench line already will prove a much more formidable task. This time there is not only more open ground to cover, the German defenders additionally have a couple of anti-tank guns at their disposal.
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They need to be dealt with first before the tanks can gain freedom to maneuver, which will be needed because the ground to cover is simply too wide and too open for the same frontal approach that worked with the first trench.
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Simply advancing infantry and tanks side by side and duelling with the anti-tank guns on the move does not yield the amount of suppressive fire needed for this approach, and rifles are not effective at this distance against an entrenched enemy.
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Therefore we order the infantry squads to cautiously and slowly advance in line, moving in short bursts, and firing back, while the tanks target the anti-tank guns from a fairly safe distance.
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With success! The three tanks with experienced crews take out the two German light anti-tank guns one by one. Keeping their front armor towards the enemy guns and usng the distance to their advantage as the guns were not able to more than scratch the armor at this range (this changes dramatically later in the war as heavy anti-tank guns such as the dreaded 88mm enter the scene on more frequently), the tanks win this brief duel. This teaches an important lesson - knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the
opposing armies for a given battle allows to make sound tactical decisions about the proper course of action. (Which is why TOW comes with an exhaustive interactive in-game encyclopedia, containing countless historical and technical facts about the equipment you will find in the game!)
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Resistance remains - although without the support of their guns, it will be much simpler to crush. The secret to clearing out a fortified position like this is to not fall into the trap of thinking of one's own tanks as immobile pillboxes only. Tanks have tracks - use them for maneuver!
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Using their newly gained freedom to maneuver after the two German guns are silenced, we order two of the tanks forward and keep one back for infantry support and overwatch.
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The attacking tanks will attempt to close the distance and flank the trench line from the left, while the infantry and one remaining tank will keep up the pressure from the front.
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Flanking is only useful when you continue applying frontal pressure, otherwise the enemy can easily shift his defenses and morph his flank into a new front.
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The infantry alone would not have the firepower at this distance to keep up enough frontal pressure, which is why the remaining tank plays an important role in this concept.
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With its MG and main gun it can keep up an accurate stream of fire, forcing the defenders to keep their heads down, thereby protecting the accompanying infantry.
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A pre-arranged artillery strike on the enemy positions supports the advance of the infantry, and gives the signal to start "leapfrogging" or "bounding overwatch" to advance towards the trenches.
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Despite the loss of its AT guns, the enemy is far from broken this time, and incoming fire from the intact machineguns and well aimed rifles causes the first wounded and casualties on the advancing infantry.
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Some of the soldiers seek cover close to the advancing tanks.
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:28 pm CDT
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