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  • Infantry Smoke Grenades in WWII

    After playing a couple of scenarios of the recently released Tigers on the Hunt, I realized there is no way to use infantry smoke grenades to cover an advance.

    ASL allows it by giving a smoke exponent to the firepower factor and you have to roll that number or less on one D6 to get it. many units have only and exponent of 1, if any, and it is tough to get.

    Steel Panthers allows in WWII and almost all units have it and when they rout they automatically pop it. I always felt this was allowing way to much of the rare asset of smoke grenades in WWII.

    Squad Battles gives it to infantry squads as an expendable support weapon. Not all squads get it and it usually a one use kind of thing. It can be edited in or out by the scenario designer.

    So I asked if it was going to be added to the game and the developer replies: "Infantry smoke it is not in the game and it will not be added into the game as in WW2 smoke was primarily used for singaling (sic) purposes."

    I replied:

    "OK, but the US did have the WP smoke grenade for screening purposes and they did exist in other armies, although much less likely. This is a major departure from ASL.

    Maybe add it as a support weapon but state in the manual that it should be used sparingly in scenario design?

    I do agree that it may not have been as common as some games make it (Steel Panthers comes to mind) but it was there, especially with the US Army and USMC."

    So what are your thoughts on infantry smoke grenades in squad or man-to-man level tactical wargames? Is it historically proper to have it in the game, or was it so rare that one should not bother?

    If you have historical sources to back this up. please post a link or cite them so maybe I can take a look.
    Blackcloud6

    Refighting World War II - One hex at a time!

  • #2
    Infantry smoke grenades were used by the germans in Stalingrad. It was part of their best practices. (toss smoke grenade and hand grenades, then move in)

    There is a translated document somewhere in "Death of a leaping horseman".

    I think smoke grenades were not so heavily used in US, German or Soviet kit. They were carried but it was generally not enough to provide a lot of cover for practical purposes.

    There is a lack of, for instance, smoke grenade briefcases for such a task in their loadouts.

    Comment


    • #3
      From the Lone Sentry website:

      "German Use of Smoke" from Tactical and Technical Trends August 1942

      GERMAN SMOKE TACTICS FOR SUPPORT OF COMBAT TROOPS TTT August 1943

      Comment


      • #4
        Those are helpful.
        Blackcloud6

        Refighting World War II - One hex at a time!

        Comment


        • #5
          Smoke as cover is very problematic at best. If there's more than a slight breeze it will disperse and drift off pretty quickly. It's totally useless on a windy day.
          It doesn't always spread nice and even, leaving gaps in coverage. One or two smoke grenades are rarely, if ever enough.
          In a city fight were there is already dust and smoke present, the buildings block it dissipating to a degree, and also block wind, it can work for a screen. Tossing one into a building will fill the volume with smoke just like a fire as it as nowhere to escape to.
          Outdoors, it's not going to last long, if at all.
          Most infantry units wouldn't be carrying it normally, for those reasons. It's useless weight for them. If the unit needed some for signaling, then you might have an NCO or officer, or a runner carrying one or two for that purpose.

          If the unit had some reason to carry it like a city fight, building or cave clearing, or the like where they knew smoke was effective, then they'd tote what they needed along.

          For the most part they are an unnecessary complication that even if included would be rarely used and rarely effective in terms of combat.

          Comment


          • #6
            If the use of smoke was needed by the infantry there were other ways to provide it in addition to smoke grenades:

            Both the artillery and mortars had white phosphorus and smoke projectiles.

            There were smoke pots and smoke candles.

            There were larger smoke generators:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdWU6qzrxQQ
            "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
            Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

            Comment


            • #7
              A good example of the general ineffectiveness of smoke as cover is the Rapido River crossing by the 36th Infantry Division in Italy in WW 2. There, engineers provided smoke pots, smoke generators, and the artillery fired smoke. Even though the screening was done in mass the best that could be obtained was a general haze / fog over the battle area that did little to protect the US troops from enemy fire being effectively directed onto them.



              Notice how the smoke from the smoke pots in the foreground mostly rises well above the troops and how you can see trees and other things in the distance even with considerable smoke already present.

              Comment


              • #8
                The British use of smoke in 1918 had proved very effective ( it was even cited in a statement to the German parliament by the high command for one of the reasons for German defeat) but the lesson carried forward into WW2 was this was because of very careful advanced planning and the use of artillery and mortars in sufficient numbers and firing at a sufficient rate to lay down and maintain smoke. Smoke grenades were useful only in confined areas - clearing out dug outs and bunkers for example.
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                  A good example of the general ineffectiveness of smoke as cover is the Rapido River crossing by the 36th Infantry Division in Italy in WW 2. There, engineers provided smoke pots, smoke generators, and the artillery fired smoke. Even though the screening was done in mass the best that could be obtained was a general haze / fog over the battle area that did little to protect the US troops from enemy fire being effectively directed onto them.



                  Notice how the smoke from the smoke pots in the foreground mostly rises well above the troops and how you can see trees and other things in the distance even with considerable smoke already present.
                  T.A. Gardner,

                  Looks like an effective smoke screen . It would greatly limit visibility of observers.
                  Last edited by 17thfabn; 29 Feb 16, 21:25.
                  "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
                  Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Blackcloud6 View Post
                    After playing a couple of scenarios of the recently released Tigers on the Hunt, I realized there is no way to use infantry smoke grenades to cover an advance.

                    ASL allows it by giving a smoke exponent to the firepower factor and you have to roll that number or less on one D6 to get it. many units have only and exponent of 1, if any, and it is tough to get.

                    Steel Panthers allows in WWII and almost all units have it and when they rout they automatically pop it. I always felt this was allowing way to much of the rare asset of smoke grenades in WWII.

                    Squad Battles gives it to infantry squads as an expendable support weapon. Not all squads get it and it usually a one use kind of thing. It can be edited in or out by the scenario designer.

                    So I asked if it was going to be added to the game and the developer replies: "Infantry smoke it is not in the game and it will not be added into the game as in WW2 smoke was primarily used for singaling (sic) purposes."

                    I replied:

                    "OK, but the US did have the WP smoke grenade for screening purposes and they did exist in other armies, although much less likely. This is a major departure from ASL.

                    Maybe add it as a support weapon but state in the manual that it should be used sparingly in scenario design?

                    I do agree that it may not have been as common as some games make it (Steel Panthers comes to mind) but it was there, especially with the US Army and USMC."

                    So what are your thoughts on infantry smoke grenades in squad or man-to-man level tactical wargames? Is it historically proper to have it in the game, or was it so rare that one should not bother?

                    If you have historical sources to back this up. please post a link or cite them so maybe I can take a look.
                    I know that some did have them we did not. I assume it was decided by the 'Powers that be', useful or useless. lcm1
                    'By Horse by Tram'.


                    I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                    " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                      Infantry smoke grenades were used by the germans in Stalingrad. It was part of their best practices. (toss smoke grenade and hand grenades, then move in)

                      There is a translated document somewhere in "Death of a leaping horseman".

                      I think smoke grenades were not so heavily used in US, German or Soviet kit. They were carried but it was generally not enough to provide a lot of cover for practical purposes.

                      There is a lack of, for instance, smoke grenade briefcases for such a task in their loadouts.
                      Having done street, ( house to house } fighting, which was obviously needed in Stalingrad, it was seldom a case of toss a couple of grenades and move in and too much smoke would have been a bind more than an aid. The street fighting was nightmare enough without staggering through smoke. If ever an infantry job needed clear vision it was street fighting, or as was called in those days and in my opinion far more descriptive, 'House to House.' lcm1
                      'By Horse by Tram'.


                      I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                      " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yeah, going into a building filled with smoke does not sound very inviting.

                        For defense, great! Pop a few off to throw the guys coming at you.
                        For offense... covering some ground covered by enemy MGs, you'd better have the Mortar Maggots lay the smoke for you, it will take a lot of it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The US Army in WW 2 taught and practiced house busting by mid 1943 to units before they departed the US. Mock European towns were built for this purpose and the troops trained on these mock villages.

                          The US method was to use tank support when possible. The tanks suppressed the building(s) under assault letting the infantry get close enough to fire rifle grenades or bazooka rounds into the building windows. A common field expedient when doing this was to clip a 60mm mortar bomb on the rifle grenade clip and use that instead of the standard Mk II "pineapple" grenade.
                          Some troops would fire on upper windows while others assaulted the lower floor. Grenades in windows was the norm.
                          Automatic weapons like the Thompson (infantry would often trade with tank crews to get extra ones to the 14 available to the company issue) was preferred. Toss in the grenade, BANG!, spray the room with SMG fire.

                          The steps were suppress the defenders, then close. Make sure the upper floors are covered so the defenders can't drop grenades on your assaulting troops. Then use lots of explosives and ammunition cleaning the building out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                            Having done street, ( house to house } fighting, which was obviously needed in Stalingrad, it was seldom a case of toss a couple of grenades and move in and too much smoke would have been a bind more than an aid. The street fighting was nightmare enough without staggering through smoke. If ever an infantry job needed clear vision it was street fighting, or as was called in those days and in my opinion far more descriptive, 'House to House.' lcm1
                            The voice of personal experience.

                            I could see that it might be useful to have a friendly platoon on your flank throw smoke grenades into the street off to one side of you to help mask your unit crossing the street, but I can also see that the smoke might just as well alert the enemy to fire their MGs along the street in response.

                            I do recall reading that US Infantry and Marines used WP grenades against Japanese cave positions. A WP grenade thrown into a cave opening would not only suppress whoever was inside, but the hot WP smoke would rise inside the cave and could exit from a connected cave opening at a higher elevation, thus identifying a previously camouflaged position. Recon by smoke.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NoPref View Post
                              The voice of personal experience.

                              I could see that it might be useful to have a friendly platoon on your flank throw smoke grenades into the street off to one side of you to help mask your unit crossing the street, but I can also see that the smoke might just as well alert the enemy to fire their MGs along the street in response.

                              I do recall reading that US Infantry and Marines used WP grenades against Japanese cave positions. A WP grenade thrown into a cave opening would not only suppress whoever was inside, but the hot WP smoke would rise inside the cave and could exit from a connected cave opening at a higher elevation, thus identifying a previously camouflaged position. Recon by smoke.
                              HeHe, yes I can see the point you are making ( in both cases ). Possibly after too long at the game you get dried out and cynical and think that your way is the only way. Thinking further on the matter i would not be too stubborn over it. ( The only thing that I will be stubborn over is, whether it is WW2 or Afghanistan, street fighting is a nightmare and I think that the Afghan Lads will agree with me.) lcm1
                              'By Horse by Tram'.


                              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                              Comment

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