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  • Armor tactics

    We'll be running the armored units in this week's battle, so I wanted to run through some things and make sure everyone knows basic tactics that should be employed in armor battles. This is more for the guys participating in the midweek battle, but it also applies to Armed Assault gameplay in general. So read away anyway.

    First, we'll discuss how tanks are built and how the armor is engineered to defeat enemy sabot munitions.

    1. What is sabot?

    A sabot is a container that houses a long, cylindrical "dart" made of either depleted uranium (US) or tungsten (most other countries). It's called a "sabot" round because the central dart is encased in a outer casing that serves the purpose of enabling the dart to be fired out of a tank's (or APC's) main gun. The sabot round is fired, traveling down the barrel and exiting the muzzle, where the outer casing breaks apart and the dart continues down-range. The military refers to these rounds as "APFSDS" rounds (Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding-Sabot). In the case of the United States, these rounds come in both 25mm and 120mm flavors (for the M2 Bradley and the M1 Abrams).

    In any case, sabot rounds follow the "kinetic energy penetration" principle of defeating armor. The dart has exited the sabot and is flying downrange. The United States uses depleted uranium not only because it's a dense material, but because the way the depleted uranium reacts under stress. See, tungsten sabot darts mushroom when they impact armor. The sharpened point becomes blunt. It still works very well, of course. However, depleted uranium is "self-sharpening", in that once the DU round impacts with armor, the tip flakes away, continually revealing a sharpened point. In either case, the dart punches through the armor by sheer kinetic energy alone, spraying molten metal and inner pieces of the armor into the crew cabin. It's designed to kill/incapacitate the crew. It doesn't really "destroy" the tank... unless the ammo is ignited, or maybe the fuel cells erupt, or whatever. In any case, dying in a tank battle is usually a messy affair.

    1. What is HEAT?

    Tanks also carry HEAT rounds. HEAT stands for "High-Explosive, Anti-Tank". However, tanks do not rely on HEAT rounds to defeat enemy armor. HEAT warheads follows the chemical energy penetration principle of defeating armor. When the warhead explodes, it creates a "fist to finger" jet of molten metal that punches through armor at hypersonic speeds. Basically, its taking the force of an explosion and forcing the energy into a narrow channel. It does NOT rely of thermal energy whatsoever to do this; a HEAT jet does not "melt its way through armor". However, modern improvements to tank armor have rendered HEAT rounds impractical on a man-portable scale, as the size of the warhead is directly proportional to the armor defeating capability of the round. Reactive armor can deflect and deform the HEAT jet, and stuff like composite armor with ceramics is resistant to the jet (Chobham armor).

    HEAT rounds are usually used on lightly armored or soft-skinned targets. They also serve an anti-personnel role on the battlefield. Most MBTs of today can survive multiple HEAT round impacts, which is detrimental to the "shoot first, one shot to win" kill necessity of tank warfare.

    ---
    Now how does armor on a MBT defeat these munitions? You need to look at how tanks like the United States' Abrams or Germany's Leopard are built. The armor is thickest at front, and is also at a very steep angle. It's easier for enemy munitions to punch through a 90 degree angled wall or armor than a 20 degree angled wall of armor. The front of the tank is referred to as the "glacis plate".

    As such, the sides - and especially the rear - of a tank are nowhere near as well-armored as the front glacis plate. When you're in a tank battle, the driver ALWAYS ensures that the front of the tank is presented to the enemy; if you get hit in the side or the rear, you're dead. Simple as that. Conversely, a tank crew in a battle should at least attempt to gain a flank or rear shot on an enemy tank. Such a shot will usually knock out a tank in one blow.

    Here's how a tank battle should play out.

    1. Enemy is spotted. Driver seeks a hulldown position. A hulldown position is just what it sounds like: the hull is hidden behind an obstacle the enemy cannot shoot or see through (usually a hill or some other terrain feature).

    2. The driver scoots up to a hull-up position, the gunner fires, and the driver reverses back into the hulldown position while the loader feeds a new round into the cannon. DON'T sit exposed to the enemy while your gun is reloading. If you missed, you missed. Back up, wait for the cannon to be reloaded, then drive up again to take another shot. Preferably, at a new angle that throws the enemy's aim off. He'll be waiting for you to come back up in the same spot.

    3. Repeat as necessary.

    4. When you're facing an enemy that's advancing to your position, do NOT turn the tank and seek new cover. Reverse. Reverse, reverse, reverse, all the way into a new covered position. Your ass facing the enemy = kissing your ass goodbye.

    ---
    Hope that helps. Generally, besides those few things I always see players doing wrong in a tank (sitting out in the open, absolutely no cover), all other tactics apply. Flanking movements, cover and concealment, etc, etc.

  • #2
    Re: Armor tactics

    In Arma, the sabot rounds are very much more accurate than the HEAT rounds. Over 5-750 meters, be prepared for significant drop. I usually end up aiming a meter or more over the target at longer ranges. The sabot rounds also do significantly more damage to enemy armor than do the HEAT rounds.

    It may look cool, but the in-game main gun rounds are NOT for aerial targets. Vulcans, Stingers, and air cover are much more effective and allow you to conserve your loadout for ground targets.

    As always, practice, practice, practice.

    -BoD
    BarnacleofDoom

    One shot - One miss!

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    • #3
      Re: Armor tactics

      Should we run a practive session?

      The hungry, ignorant man immediately grasps that he is handed a fish, but is bewildered when handed a net. The man who shivers in the cold thinks happily of the man who invites him to sit by his fire, and somewhat poorly of the man who loans him an axe, flint and steel.

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      • #4
        Re: Armor tactics

        Sweet writeup Gill!

        What if an attack chopper is (foolishly) coming straight at you and your barrel can elevate high enough to get him. Is it okay to let him have a little HEAT love?
        playing off the TG server feels like we're playing 2142 on easy mode~Fehmart

        I'm going to close my eyes until it's over~Experiment, commenting on my driving

        "Get it up quickly and beat it hard."~Jonan
        I don't get a bonus DVD? My life has lost all meaning.~Zoopy_T

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        • #5
          Re: Armor tactics

          Originally posted by IMI-50AE View Post
          What if an attack chopper is (foolishly) coming straight at you and your barrel can elevate high enough to get him. Is it okay to let him have a little HEAT love?
          Why not? It's trivial to take down KA-50s in particular with the main gun of an Abrams. Their "tactics" make it very easy to engage them with the main gun, even when they're not flying slow or right at you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Armor tactics

            Enemy tanks = sabot.

            Everything else = HEAT.

            As for the manual aiming... there's no indexing or laser range finder, so in terms of ArmA, you have to calculate the distance and windage yourself.

            Sabot rounds have a relatively flat trajectory, while HEAT rounds have a pronounced arc to them since they're a heavier round. Since you're doing the aiming yourself (as opposed to the computer traversing and elevating the barrel for you), keep that in mind.

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            • #7
              Re: Armor tactics

              Nice write up Gillespie. One thing that I'm not sure about is the angle the armor is impacted by the round. In real life I believe that a tactic used is to not necessarily have your front perfectly head-on with the target but rather put the nose on a mild angle, say 30 deg. This can cause rounds to deflect off. I know that Red Orchestra models this and most aspects of armor rather well. Does Arma take this into account? I don't think I have ever seen a round glance off but I don't tank very often.

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              • #8
                Re: Armor tactics

                Doubt it. It's not a armor simulation.

                The glacis plate of MBTs is designed to do exactly that, though. The steeper the angle, the more likely the round will impact with the armor plate and have its energy redirected into a glancing shot. No nose positioning is needed. Just a fast gunner so you don't HAVE to test that glacis plate engineering.

                I was just parting with some of my knowledge to tell you all how things work so you can think like a tanker in ArmA. Everything I've said about the engineering and physics of tank warfare is diluted and simplified in ArmA, just like the air-to-air combat and flight model.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Armor tactics

                  Good to know, I just didn't want to have people miss out on a viable tactic, or in this case try and use it without realising it was not modeled in game. I will stick with the perpindicular approach and try to shot first :)

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