Assaulting Bunkers 101

As I promised I am going to be attempting to put out one of these tactics articles out at the beginning of every month for the next year. (yes I am a few days early this time because I will be on a plane on the first of July)

I thought that since the Juno Beach DDay battle was fresh in some of our minds that I would talk about assaulting bunkers. I will make a great deal of the post about assaulting bunkers in general but please forgive me if I end up being a little specific to out DDay map since that is the most current bunker assault that I have been a part of.

Smoke:

I find that smoke is often overlooked when it comes to bunkers and bunker assaults. Probably primarily because bunkers ignore the effects of smoke for concealment and gone to ground. However, there are still two primary reasons to apply smoke when assaulting bunkers:

The first is that it still limits the range to 16 inches. This often means that you can smoke the rear nests or bunkers and then keep your nest killers within 16 of the target nest but outside 16 of other bunkers. This will limit the return fire that your troops receive. Most fortifications are deployed in depth in order to force the aggressor to move in (more on this in a later article), this means that you can also take advantage of this and attempt to isolate strongpoints and take out the nests a couple at a time. This is particularly useful when you smoke a rear at bunker and fire on a nest with your tanks, this is especially true in our DDay battle.

The second reason and almost always overlooked one I have found is that smoke blocks line of sight for AA to planes. It doesn’t limit them to 16 inches, it just stops them from being able to shoot planes if they must shoot through smoke that is on top of them. This means that you need to use smoke bombardment’s on flak nests. This is perfect because it is also the only time you are allowed to shoot at bunkers at a range of more than 16′. So smoke that bunkers and then you can use your planes or AOPs to rain death upon other gun teams hiding in the back. I have used this tactic a lot with my Maori and Wiking SS, both of which have 3 or more bombardments and planes. I should mention that this works for regular AA that is just dug in as well and so keep this in mind when AA is covering the rear positions in any game!

Win the Fire Fight:

This is exactly what it sounds like. You want to be pouring fire onto every defender and nest constantly. Personally I prioritize nests to be attacked with anything that has a firepower better than 6 to start. I then use all small arms fire to pin down platoons, everyone fails to unpin sometimes. If I can I aim to pin down artillery (that is able to be pinned) every turn. Mortars are great to pin the artillery and AA as it causes them to have less shots and potentially no shots for the artillery if it doesn’t unpin.

Once the nests are down I then attempt to pick out any gun teams that will cause problems (AT guns if I am assaulting with tanks and HMGs if assaulting with infantry)

Isolation:

This has two different ways that I implement it. 1)First of all it just means being able to put more firepower into a smaller section of the defences than the enemy. You want to win the fire fight as I wrote before and this helps you do it. Smoke is also your friend here as I wrote about in the smoke section. 2)The second is sneakier and with clever positioning will drive a wedge between your enemies forces.

1) I have already explained how to use smoke to help you do this, but there is more to it. It also is as simple as using blocking terrain or even the enemies own teams to make sure that they will not be able to fire everything at once. This can be dangerous if the enemy has a lot of artillery as it does cause you to group up more than you might be comfortable with but it can also limit the amount of ammo coming in your direction from direct fire. This is of particular importance when making an actual assault as you need to limit that defensive fire as much as possible. I find that this is easy in theory and much harder to do on a battlefield, especially when a savvy opponent has done everything to create overlapping fire.

2) This is one of my favourite tactics and applies to your entire line as well as assaulting an individual fortification. It usually required a faster element that can move itself into the middle of the fortification emplacement without as much fear of counter assaults. Again I am speaking literally of a wedge here. The wedge allows you to maximize the defensive fire you will have if the enemy decides to get out of their trenches and bring the fight to you. The goal here is that you can begin to limit the movement between two different elements of the same fortification system. This allows you to isolate one side or portion and bring the rest of your force to bear on that particular element while your wedge takes up a defensive position in order to hold the enemy reinforcements at bay.

Units that are particularly good at being a wedge are tanks if you can spare them and have already eliminated the enemy at assets (or smoked them so they have no range to you). Another great unit is motorcycle reconnaissance that can get into position quickly, dismount and then dig in and hold the line against reinforcements. Any mechanized infantry is good at this as well, I have just found my favourite it motorcycle reconnaissance forces, especially ones that have some integral AT and HMG weaponry.

I hope that these thoughts make you think about how you might take on a defensive position in your future games. As always feel free to discuss things in our tactics section:

2 thoughts on “Assaulting Bunkers 101”

  1. Good write up Bradford. We definitely overlooked the benefits of smoke vis-a-vis aircraft on the D-Day battle, and that was a big mistake. That would have allowed the planes to go after the 88’s and arty more easily. Also keeping your AT assets alive in the face of PaK 40’s and bigger is a big challenge, and smarter use of smoke would have been a difference maker on our side of the beach I think.

  2. Thanks Howard. I hadn’t fully thought about it either until de-briefing with Al after the battle. Since it was fresh in all our minds I figured it was a good time to discuss it.

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