M1 Tank Platoon II
Andrew Wright, whoås been shut up inside his virtual M1 for
months, pops his head out the hatch long enough to provide a few
hints on MicroProseås hugely impressive M1 Tank Platoon II...
MicroProseås M1 Tank Platoon II is one of the best sims there is,
full stop, and itås so realistically modelled that anything that
works in real life works in the game.
As in the real world, planning is the key. No plan ever survives
contact with the enemy, but without one your sunk. Look at your
assets, the units the enemy is likely to have and the terrain
involved. In offensive operations, look for safe corridors that will
shield you from fire as you move into position Ñ low ground is
ideal. In defence, analyse the terrain and look for killing zones
where you can damage OPFOR without taking risks.
Donåt just head straight for the objective when you attack. Identify
lesser objectives that will lead to the main one. For example, drive
the enemy armour off hills overlooking the objective, or deploy
long-range anti-tank missile-capable units such as M2 Bradleys to
cover high ground behind the objective.
Focus on your mission Ñ it might seem like fun to deviate from
your plan to knock out a few hapless T72s at 2000m, but it wastes
ammo and can jeopardise the mission.
Scouts are vital, so if you have infantry vehicles, detach one or
two for scouting - minus their infantry complement. Just keep
them moving fast and close to cover. When they do spot the
enemy, pull them straight back. Choppers, which can spot over a
wide area, are excellent scouts, too. Just call them up and send
them wherever you think the enemy forces are.
Donåt waste your artillery or air support by only calling it up when
youåre in trouble. As soon as the game starts, get pounding likely
Move in dispersed formations but fight en masse. Bunched-up
forces are vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, so move with your
vehicles well spaced. When you attack, do it with everything
youåve got. If necessary, halt your lead elements and wait until
the rest catch up before launching the actual assault. Try to
concentrate your forces against smaller enemy formations. The
chances are youåll annihilate them without loss.
Note the use of waypoints to manoeuvre the platoons into position
behind the ridge. Once in place, the two teams will edge forward
into hulldown positions and start the assault.
Know your enemy
Know your enemy and learn how to prioritise your targets
quickly. M1s are largely impervious to anti-tank fire over 1000m,
so target any tanks Ñ even T72s Ñ inside this range. T80s and T90s
up to 2000m are also a threat, while the least appreciated threat
is the ATGM. Forget the BMP-1s as their AT-4 Spigot ATGMs canåt
penetrate an M1 and neither can BRDM-2s or BTRs. However, later
vehicles like the BMP-2 and 3 and the BRDM-3 carry effective
ATGMs with ranges up to 3000m, so donåt ignore them.
If youåre attacked from the side, virtually anything can kill you, so
be ready to back up or face your attacker very quickly. The Shift-
G hotkey, added in the version 1.2 patch, is vital as it turns your
tank to face either the CITV or 50-calibre gun, depending on
which view mode you are in.
These T72s have no chance against the M1ås powerful gun.
T80s are a different proposition entirely from the older T72s.
Treat with caution!
If all else fails, the 50-calibre will punch through the armour of
most light-armoured vehicles.
Poor bloody infantry
Itås very tempting to leave your infantry vehicles - Bradleys, LAVs
and M113s Ñ under cover and fight it out with your M1s. However,
TOW-equipped vehicles like the M2 Bradley have long-range
firepower (up to 3750m) that shouldnåt be ignored. They can be
placed 1000m to 2000m behind the M1s and still do some
US infantry units consist of four or five soldiers armed with AT4s,
Javelins and Stingers. Although the AT4s have a range of only
300m, the Javelins can kill out to 2500m. The Stingers are also
excellent against anti-aircraft weapons.
The main problem with infantry is that they can be spotted at
unrealistically long ranges and canåt go to ground, so are always
vulnerable. Best tactics are to dismount infantry on reverse slopes,
where they can hit anything coming over the crest very hard.
Spread your men out. The default formation is close line abreast,
so one shell can often take them out. You need to manually move
them, a unit at a time, to make them less vulnerable.
The only worthwhile cover for men is a burning vehicle, although
they are less visible (it seems) if placed next to trees.
A five-man infantry team dismount from their Bradley. Note the
guy with the excellent Javelin ATGM.
OPFOR troops Ñ read Soviet/Russian Ñ have only short-range RPG
Always use your thermal sights when spotting. These OPFOR
infantry wouldnåt otherwise have been spotted.
Infantry on foot are extremely vulnerable.
Ten top tips
Beware of roads Ñ the enemy AI expects you to use them.
When crossing a crest line, do so with as many tanks as possible.
That way, if thereås a nasty surprise, you donåt have half-a-dozen
125mm shells heading towards just one vehicle.
When advancing, keep your infantry-carrying vehicles 1000m or
more behind the spearhead M1 platoon. However, keep your air
defence vehicles just behind the M1s for maximum effect.
In an assault, place your M1s in wedge formation in the centre,
with Bradleys or LAVs in echelon left and right to form a large
wedge formation. Use smoke generators to create a screen, and
call in artillery to keep the defenderså heads down.
Itås hard to hit moving forces with artillery, but if you use the
zoom map to work out a rough speed and direction, then lead off
several hundred metres, with practice you should get the strike
right. The other trick is to call for artillery straight on to the first
OPFOR scout vehicles you see Ñ by the time the rounds start
landing, the main force should be arriving.
Before calling in air support, do your best to get rid of air defences
(called SEAD Ñ suppression of enemy air defence Ñ in US military
jargon). This includes ZSUs and self-propelled SAM launchers.
The best defence against infantry-launched ATGMs is to call in
mortars or artillery right on top, then launch smoke and take
Donåt split your platoons except for vital scouting missions. Single
M1s will be punished severely by OPFOR. Splitting a platoon into
two two-tank sections for overwatch purposes is acceptable, but
losses tend to be higher.
Donåt just look for one firing position, look for several. Fire three
or four shots and then retire or advance to the next firing position
and so on. This minimises the chance of an OPFOR artillery strike Ñ
or a visit by Havocs and Hinds.
Accurate firing is essential. Keep your crosshairs on your target
and follow the target smoothly. Lase it for range, either with the
spacebar or joystick button 2, and then fire. Donåt forget to
consciously follow through for a second afterwards. That will you
will hit nine out of ten targets out to 2750m.
Hulldown positions reduce the chances of a hit, although it didnåt
help this BMP-3...
A three-platoon wedge formation with refused flanks on either
side is very effective under the right conditions.