Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Monday, December 30, 2013

[ALL] End of the Year Summary

The end of the year is usually the time to summarize things and events in many spheres.

Let's do that in relation to Wargaming, its games and services.

We did a lot in 2013. Ten (10?) big updates for World of Tanks - my honest opinion is that the game now is better than it ever was. New game modes (finally), HD content (tanks), and many other delicious things are planned for 2014.

We've launched our second game - World of Warplanes. The road to release might have not been perfect all the way through, however the game is steadily becoming better and aiming for a long lifecycle.

World of Warships is already massive and fun to play. It's time is yet to come.

Just as for World of Tanks: Generals and World of Tanks Blitz. Both are coming out earlier. :)

What did you like most and least about us in 2013? What makes you look forward to 2014?

PS: Happy NY!

PPS: Soviet tech tree for WoT Blitz

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Elephant

"Seeing the Elephant" is an American phrase often used to describe the split between those who have seen combat and those who are still unbloodied. In 1942 the US army first saw the elephant against the Axis forces of Europe. On 8th November, 1942. US forces launched operation Torch. The First in a long line of learning experiences that eventually led to the success of Operation Overlord. However at the time the high command of the US forces were apprehensive about their chances of success. Luckily for the US forces they were only fighting the Vichy French.

The Vichy forces had no new equipment since the fall of France, and were at best confused as to where their loyalties lay. On one hand they wanted to help the allies beat Germany, on the other fear of reprisals should the allied invasion fail was in their mind. With this in mind the Vichy forces did put up a fight.

Task force Centre was to land on a beach near Arzew east of Oran. The its main combat arm was elements of the 1st Armoured Division, along with elements from two tank destroyer battalions and infantry units. At this time nothing as complicated as a Landing Ship Tank existed. So the method of getting the tanks ashore was to load the vehicles onto converted tankers and beach them. Once beached, a pontoon bridge could be created to drive the armoured vehicles off the ship.

Luckily the landing was all but unopposed. So the M3 Stuarts, M3 Lee's and M3 GMC's were unloaded without incident. The vehicles of the 1st armoured were split into two groups. Task Force Green and Task Force Red. Both task forces were immediately dispatched to airfields that had been seized earlier by paratroops. TF Red headed to Tafaraoui, which is about 12 miles South east of Oran. The column moved out at about 0800, with M3 GMC Tank destroyers in the lead.
Not meeting any opposition on their route it took about three dusty, hot hours to reach the Airfield. As they approached the US tanks came under fire. The paratroopers were no where in sight. The original plan had called for the 39 C-47's to land at the airfields, and disgorge their cargo's. However, some planes got lost and on approach enemy Anti-aircraft guns had opened up causing the transports to scatter. Of the 39 planes, two landed in neutral Spanish Morocco, and the occupants interned. Two land at the wrong French airfield and were quickly captured. One plane landed at Gibraltar. A group of planes tried to land at the wrong airfield (the one Task Force Green was heading to) but several planes get shot down on the approach by enemy gunfire. The remainder landed at a dried up lake bed of Sebkra d'Oran, many being damaged in the heavy landing.

With the airbase still in enemy hands TF Red launched an immediate attack. After an hours fighting they capture the airfield and 300 Prisoners. Upon hearing the news the paratroopers re-board their Aircraft to fly to the airfield. However the US forces success is short lived. Vichy aircraft appear overhead and they begin to strafe and bomb the defenceless US troops, shooting several of the C-47's down. One M3 GMC receives a direct hit from a 500Lb bomb, and is utterly smashed, although the five man crew is only wounded.
 At that point the troops are saved by the Spitfires of the USAAF 31st fighter group, Who had left Gibraltar upon hearing of the airfields capture. The 31st's planes were due to operate from the airfield. Despite being low on fuel the Spitfires dove on the Vichy DW520 fighters and an dogfight erupted. During which the French are driven off, with the US forces claiming three kills, and the French one kill. As always air to air kills are hard to verify. From losses it appears the French may have only lost one and the US none. With no operational transports the paratroopers are forced to walk to the airfield.
Once the paratroopers secured the airfield dusk was falling. So TF Red prepares to spend the night at the airfield before moving out to help TF Green. As dusk falls Vichy artillery begins to fire on the position. Salvo's are scattered, and the tank destroyers return fire. After a while the artillery duel ends inconclusively. What the US troops didn't realize was the artillery fire was the French guns registering for the next mornings fighting.
A troop of M3 GMC's, under the command of Lt Whitsit, and a force of infantry are sent to screen the rear of the airfield position, this detachment reaches a wadi about 800 Meters from the town of St. Lucien and dig in.
On the 9th TF Red moves out about 0750, all the while under French artillery bombardment. Then comes alarming news, the aircraft operating out of Tafaraoui have spotted enemy tanks in St. Lucien! Three platoons of M3 Stuarts are immediately dispatched to help the US troops facing the town, while the rest of TF Red falls back to prepare better positions around the airfield.

The 30 odd Renault 35's of 1e Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique, surge out of St. Lucien. The four US tank destroyers open fire. It is curious to note that the M3 GMC is armed with a French made Mle 1897 75mm gun, a weapon with an unbelievably ferocious rate of fire. The four half-tracks pour fire into the oncoming mass of enemy armour. Their shells smashing the pre-war french tanks, whose armour is totally in effective. Then the Stuarts arrive, driving with two platoons forward, and the third in reserve 500m back. Each platoon is in a wedge. Under the cover of the Tank destroyers guns they drive towards the French tanks. In the short fire-fight that follows one Stuart is destroyed, however the Vichy forces are driven from the field, leaving 14 destroyed tanks burning in the desert sun. Then the Spitfires of the 31st attack, routing the enemy regiment.
The following morning Lt Whitsit's platoon rejoined TF Red for the push to capture the town of La Senia. As they approach one of his tank destroyers is hit by an enemy shell and the crew killed. Lt Whitsit's platoon is pulled back to join up with the Rest of TF Red and make an end run around the town to capture Oran with TF Green.

However some forces are left to continue the attack. A mixed bag of M3 Lee's and M3 GMC's attempt to push through the town. As resistance stiffens the platoon commander calls back his M3 GMC's to follow the rest of the company around the town. One M3 GMC commanded by Lieutenant Edson had a faulty radio, and doesn't get the message. Lt Edson follows an M3 Lee into town, where they find a roadblock. The Lee Attempts to bull through but becomes stuck and then is hit by a Vichy anti-tank gun. Lt Edson begins to give covering fire until the Crew of the Lee evacuate safely.
Lt Edson realizes his half-track is now the lead vehicle in the column, so leads a charge forward. As he negotiates the roadblock, made even more complicated by the destroyed Lee his vehicle comes under fire. Bumping through the roadblock damages his front brakes which lock partially on. However the tracks still powered by the engine shoves his tank destroyer forward. The smoke pouring off the brakes and front wheels makes it look like his vehicle is on fire and the French gunners ignore him as he surges forward down the clear road.

As he passes beyond the town, his M3 GMC has to swerve a column of French supply trucks parked by the side of the road. A little further on one of Lt Edson's crew looks behind them and realises they are utterly alone, and no other vehicle is following them. Lt Edson brings his half-track about and returns to the fight. As he approaches the truck convoy his battered half-track finally gives up, and breaks down. With nothing further he can do Lt Edson opens fire on the Vichy trucks, which quickly surrender. The US troops order the 50 POW's to be loaded onto a truck, then orders four of the trucks hitched to his immobilized half-track. With that arranged Lt Edson is towed back into the fight.

Only there is not any fighting. The US attack had been thrown back. The French suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves with enemies on both sides, or so it appears. Without letting on, Lt Edson immediately starts to negotiate the surrender terms of the town. At first the French commanding officer refuses to surrender to a mere Lieutenant. Until Lt Edson assures him he is in radio contact with a General. Once the Vichy officer had that assurance he orders his men to stack arms and his officers to hand over their pistols. The entire battalion of 300 combatants surrender.
Shortly afterwards all the Vichy forces surrendered, bringing operation torch to a successful close. The US troops had seen the Elephant, and next on their list was the Afrika Korps. Which would result in the ill fated battle of Kasserine Pass.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

[ALL] Merry Christmas Everybody

Let tanks, planes, ships and all other good stuff be with you all the time.


Monday, December 23, 2013

[WoT] Update 0.8.10 Live

How do you like Japanese tanks and improved visuals?

Any other feedback on 8.10 update for World of Tanks which is already live will do as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Note: Many thanks to Wargaming's Cannoneer. Whom found several Russian sources on this subject, when English language sources failed me. Consequently I've had to translate the sources, and any errors are down to Google translate playing word soup with the source material.

 In 1920, the Czech writer, Karel Čapek published a play that mentioned a new concept, that of the "Robot". Little did he know less than a decade later one of the worlds armies would be developing a robot tank. These robots actually saw combat in the opening days of the Second World War. Today we shall look at their brief combat history.
In February 1930 the first of a series of tanks that became known as "Teletanks" was tested. The remote control equipment was fitted to a Soviet MS-1. However the high center of gravity meant that the tank would often veer off to one-side. Most Soviet tracked armoured vehicles were tested as Teletanks, eventually the T-26 was selected.
The idea behind the Teletanks was that the remote controlled tank would advance on the enemy lines, and lead the assault, but not risk the crew to enemy fire. The name Teletanks implies some kind of remote monitoring by Television cameras, indeed the first experiments tried this. However Technology at the time was too limited, so the Camera's were dropped from the design. By the early 30's the basic system was decided. A box of 20 buttons, in five rows of four was mounted inside a T-26 tank. These were the command tanks, designated as TU-26's. The remote control tanks were TT-26's.

The boxes would send a radio signal to the TT-26 each time the button was pressed, each button corresponded to a set command. When the radio antenna, located behind bullet proof glass, on the TT-26 received a command it would cause a compressor to fill a balloon with air. Which in turn would move a lever, and so a series of simple pistons would carry out the command.
Due to the tank only being able to operate within visual range of the TU-26, weapon sighting was considered. As the aiming had to be done from a distance, the weapons fitted to the tank were a machine gun and a flame-thrower. The projector could also fire out liquid chemical weapons should it be needed. A smoke generator was also fitted, to provide cover for advances. Finally as a safety feature the TT-26 would automatically shut-down if it went out of radio control range.

The TU-26 command tank was a normal T-26 tank, only with the additional control equipment fitted. So as well as controlling the Robot, the command tank could cover it with its 45mm gun. To protect the secret nature of the tank the command tank could destroy the TT-26 should it become damaged or be in danger of getting captured.

Teletanks were produced for three years from 1935 at factory 174 based in Leningrad. During that time only 33 sets (one TT-26 and one TU-26) were completed. Those tanks were formed into two battalions and an independent company. These were the 152nd and 217th Separate Chemical Tank Battalions. The 152nd took part in the Western Ukrainian campaign of September 1939, but was never used. Later it was stationed near Rovno, where it was bombed by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa.

During December 1939 the Soviets launched an attack on Finland. At Hill 65.5 the Russians ran into Bunker SJ-4, also known as Fort Poppiusa. Part of the Mannerheim line the fort was a complex of bunkers overlooking a valley, at one end of the valley the ground became very boggy, at the other was a lake. In this valley in a five day assault over 1800 Soviet soldiers were killed, and the Red Army soldiers began to call it the Valley of Death.

On December 17th the Teletanks were to be used as designed for the first time. The 1st company with three TT-26's was to scout the Finnish position. Hoping to draw enemy fire and give away the Finnish positions so they could be targeted. The tanks crunched across the thick snow towards the enemy hill. However that snow also camouflaged and covered a line of dragons teeth. All three TT-26's became beached upon the obstacles. Unable to move the Tanks opened fire with both flame-throwers and machine guns, hoping to goad the defenders into giving their locations away. The Finns failed to take the bait. That evening two of the TT-26's were recovered, the other one was stuck fast and couldn't be recovered.
Elsewhere along the line five Teletanks were deployed to support an assault by Russian infantry. Here the snow cover was much thicker and the Teletanks managed to drive over the dragons teeth. However all five were quickly, and easily destroyed by Finnish Anti-tank guns.
On the 10th of February 1940 a new plan was hatched. Three TT-26's were stripped of their turrets and weapons, and filled with as much explosive as could be packed in. Each tank now carried well over two tons of explosives, these tanks were named simply "bombs". Near Hottin lay a large concrete bunker. The three "Bombs" were directed towards it. The Finns saw the approaching tanks and opened fire. Again he poor armour of the T-26 failed, one of the "bombs" was hit and penetrated. A colossal explosion tore the tank apart and disabled the other two.
The final taste of combat for the Robots was between February the 14th and 18th. During this period the tanks were used to try and destroy Finnish minefields, presumably with their flame-throwers. Four TT-26's were lost to hitting mines.

Earlier in February the OKMO plant in Leningrad, had unveiled the next generation of Teletanks. It was an officially produced "bomb". The armour had been reinforced with an additional 50mm, and it had a detachable container with a 700Kg explosive charge. The first of these arrived in Finland on the 28th of February, even so it didn't see service. It was tested against Finnish bunkers after the Soviet breakthrough. In one test the charge blasted apart five of the sturdy dragons teeth. In the next test against Fort Poppiusa, the charge destroyed the bunker.

The story of the 217th Battalion isn't quite over yet. As the Germans approached Moscow in late 1941, the battalion had been brought back up to full strength. There was no need for remote controlled tanks for attacking heavily defended lines in the new Blitzkrieg war. So the special equipment was replaced by 45mm guns, and the tanks manned with crews. The TT-26's fought their last battle as normal T-26 tanks defending the Russian capital.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[WoWP] First Post-Release Update

First post-launch update for World of Warplanes is now live for EU&NA servers, bringing:

  • Focke-Wulf branch for Germany
  • Two brand new maps - Adriatic & Fortress
  • A set of tier 5 prems - 5 units
  • New achievements (11)

And most importantly balancing (including high-altituide aircraft nerfing) and camera adjustments.
So, how is the gameplay right now?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

History Feedback

I've been writing articles here for a few months. So far we've covered every type of combat (Ground, Air and Sea) from 1914-1983.

While the readership has been steadily growing, I have noticed some trends. So I wanted to take this time to gather feedback from you, the people who read my material.

The subject of the articles is something I wanted to ask about as well. Looking at the amount of readers it shows up something a bit odd. The two best performing articles had about three to four thousand readers. The last two articles have had under 500 each.
Now at a glance you'd say its because of the subject matter. However theatres other thank tank based have done well in the past.

So in short, what do you want to see articles on? Or any other feedback on the history articles I've been writing. This is the time and place to speak up and effect what happens to the articles over the next year.

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Furious Migs

During the Korean war the Royal Navy contributed three carriers to the UN Mission. On board these three carriers were Hawker Sea Furies and Fairey Fireflies. These were flown off the carriers HMS Ocean, HMS Theseus and HMS Glory. The Australian carrier HMAS Sydney also embarked the same planes. Against these propeller driven planes the North Koreans had MIG-15 jet fighters and Yak's. The Migs had about 200Mph speed advantage, also they packed a cluster of two 23mm and a single 37mm cannon. The Royal Navy aircraft weren't exactly unarmed though. Both types carried four 20mm cannons. What the North Koreans lacked however was experienced pilots. The Royal Navy still had a massive pool of experience from World War Two.

In the early days of the Korean war the Main North Korean plane were Yak fighters. This led to an unfortunate incident were a Hawker Sea Fury was mistaken as a Yak and shot down by a B-29. From then on Black and white Invasion stripes were added to all UN planes. This still didn't always help. On one occasion a British pilot, Commander Giles Binney, was flying his Firefly, when he was bounced by a Jet fighter! After making a savage attack that managed to put one small hole in his wing, Cmdr Binney spotted the plane as a USAF Thunderjet. He followed the plane back to its base, and once on the gorund tracked down the pilot. He found the American pilot boasting how he had shot down a Yak. As you can imagine Cmdr Binney had some choice words to say to that.

However the lack of Migs led to a propaganda opportunity. The USAF dropped a series of leaflets announcing how they could bomb targets, with the Migs being "too scared" to do anything about it. Presented with a potential loss of face the North Koreans started flying their Migs into the combat zone. Normally in groups of eight. The first encounter was a mixed package of aircraft from HMS Ocean. The Furies and Fireflies got attacked by eight Migs. The Migs made one pass without results and left the area. The next encounter was a much more deadly fight.

On 0600, August 9th, 1952 a flight of four Sea Furies were flying cover for Fireflies engaged on a raid to interdict railways near Chinnampo. The Sea furies were from 802 Squadron, and were flown by Commander Peter Carmichael, Lieutenant Pete Davies, Sub-Lieutenant Brian Ellis and Sub-Lieutenant Carl Haines. The Furies were loitering over the target area at about 4000 feet. They had been holding for about twenty minutes when Sub-Lt Haines spotted shapes moving at higher altitude against the daytime moon. These turned out to be a package of eight Migs. Yelling out a warning of "Migs, 5'oclock!" the Sea Furies split into two pairs separated by about 400 yards. Cmdr Carmichael led one section with Sub-Lt Ellis. Lt Davies led the other. All four pilots started "rubbernecking". Twisting their heads to look all over to spot the enemy. They also ditched their drop tanks, although one hung up on Sub-Lt Ellis' wing.

The Migs launched a classic attack, the first dived out of the sun shooting at Sub-Lt Ellis. Here a peculiarity of the Mig saved Sub-Lt Ellis. The differing ballistics of the cannons mounted in the Migs nose meant at long range the shots would often pass over and under the target. Sub-Lt Ellis saw tracers flashing past his aircraft and yelled out a simple Command of "Break!". This caused both sections ot start doing a scissors manoeuvre, where both aircraft weave towards each other. As they did so both sections turned into the attacking Migs. One Mig went head to head with Lt Davies' section, and both pilots scored hits on the Mig. It broke off and limped away with smoke coming from it. As second Mig ploughed through both sections, with all four pilots riddling it with 20mm shells. As the Mig passed through the formation it peeled away and crashed into a hillside below.
As he completed another tight turn Sub-Lt Ellis was surprised to see a Mig hurtle past him with its air brakes out. It had almost slotted in on his tail, and it was only his last turn that had saved him. However the Mig pilot was dumping his speed and closing up on Cmdr Carmichael. Sub-Lt Ellis rolled onto the Migs tail and emptied his guns at it. He registered hits on its wing, and the Mig pilot immediately realized his mistake in trying to dogfight with slower more nimble aircraft, so brought in his air brakes and accelerated away. He was last seen limping away at a much reduced speed escorted by the other Migs.
The results of the dog fight are confirmed by communist reports, sating they lost one Mig, and two damaged.

Other propeller planes are credited with shooting down communist Migs. Captain Jesse Folmar in a Vought Corsair shot one down, but was himself shot down shortly afterwards. Cross checking with communist sources show that nearly all other claims of "probables" are false. However there is one propeller driven plane that racked up a larger tally of Migs than all the others combined. Boeing B-29's have 27 Mig kills to their credit. However cross checking shows the number is about four.
Migs attacking a B-29
Note: This article is in part pulled together from personal recollections from several of the pilots. These accounts were written years after the event. Some of the pilots disagree with each other about the exact circumstances. But please remember that we're talking about people trying to remember what happened while throwing your aircraft about at 400MPH, with 12 other aircraft in close proximity, all the while scared for your life. To add to it all the Sea Furies were not fitted with gun camera's. So I've added all the accounts together and matched occurrences to get as close as I can to what happened.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[WoTB] US Tech Tree Announced

US release tech tree for World of Tanks Blitz

For now without prems.

Monday, December 9, 2013

[WoT] Public Test of 0.8.10

While 2nd iteration of v. 0.8.10 update is being worked on, what are your thoughts on the upcoming patch so far?

As a reminder, it's a mostly content update that brings:
  • New Japanese tech tree
  • 2 new Soviet meds
  • Type 3 Chi-Nu Kai Jap prem
  • Type 64 Chinese prem light
  • Japanese map - Hidden Village
  • Reworked maps - Karelia, Mines, El-Halluf, Airfield, Steppes
  • Shooting through some objects is now possible with AP / APCR shells
  • New maps added for team battle mode
  • Graphic/visual improvements - how is performance by the way?
    • Reworked lighting and light sources for all maps. Reworked brightness and contrast. Improved texture precision
    • Reworked mist/fog
    • Added moving shadows of clouds
    • Reworked "bloom" effect
    • Added sun-rays (god rays) effect and lens flare effect when looking at the sun
    • Added motion blur when moving camera 
    • Added full-screen filter settings (different brightness, colour, and contrast options)
Some screenies for those who haven't yet seen all the beauty:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Despite the Elements

History is filled with stunning stories of survival. Today we shall have a look at one of them. A man fate just couldn't kill.
Aged just 17 Nicholas Stephen Alkemade joined the RAF at the height of the Battle of Britain. But he wasn't destined to fly Spitfires against the Germans. His first posting was to the RAF Air-Sea Rescue service. The launches used by the RAF had a pair of aircraft style machine gun turrets for defence. Its almost certain that Alkemade would have been trained in their use. He later transferred to Bomber Command, and joined 115 Squadron as a gunner. By this time his rank was Flight Sergeant.

During the Battle of Berlin Bomber Command launched massive attacks against Germany. Unlike the US bomber operations, there was no set formation, due to the impracticalities of maintaining close co-operation with other aircraft at night. Instead the bombers formed a stream that headed for their target. This did end up giving an element of mutual protection, as the German attackers never knew if another bomber might spot them and engage them.
On March the 24th 1944, Bomber Command launched its last major raid against Germany. From then on the RAF's aircraft were to concentrate on preparations for D-day. 811 aircraft were dispatched for Berlin. 115 Squadron was amongst those in the attack. This was F/s Alkemades 13th operation, in a week he was due to take leave to see his girlfriend. The Squadron had nearly completed the process of converting from Lancaster MKII's to MKIII's. However F/s Alkemade was assigned as rear gunner to the MKII Lancaster S for Sugar (serial number: DS664, ID code: A4-K).

Taking off from RAF Witchford at 1848, S for Sugar climbed to 20,000 ft, and ran into problems. Little did the bomber crews know but the weather forecast they had been given was very badly wrong. Strong winds buffeted the bomber stream spreading it out, and pushing it off course. By the time it reached Germany the stream was spread out over an area 20 miles wide and 70 miles long. S for Sugar paid the price for that mistake. Blown off course and over Frankfurt she was hit and damaged by flak. However the pilot, F/s Newman, decided to press on. Arriving over Berlin they released their bombs, some time about 2330. But again the winds played havoc. The stream was so far off course they missed their target bombing well south of the aim point. Then the Wild Boars fell upon the bombers.
Wild Boar missions were German night-fighter operations to destroy the bombers. After RAF had started deploying countermeasures to the German radar, the Luftwaffe had realised that over a bomber target there were thousands of sources of illumination. Search lights, flares, even fires of the target would light up the sky to give near daylight conditions. On the 24 of March about 100 night-fighters were flying over Berlin when the bombers arrived.

One of those was Oberleutnant Heinz Rokker, flying his JU88 night-fighter. In the previous 90 minutes Oblt Rokker had shot down his 18th and 19th Kills, in the form of a Lancaster and a Halifax. That's when he saw S for Sugar. At 2348 he launched his attack.
His first burst of gunfire hit the Lancaster in its starboard engine, immediately causing the wing to burst into flames. The same salvo had hit F/s Alkemades turret, smashing away the perspex dome and starting a fire in the turret. F/s Alkemade spotted the Ju88 as it opened fire and returned fire. The long burst of .303 ammunition hit Oblt Rokker's starboard engine causing it burst into flames. Oblt Rokker peeled away from danger by diving, flames streaming from his engine. Oblt Rokker survived the war, so he must have managed to land his damaged plane, but so far I've not been able to find the details of the rest of his journey. I do know he scored no more kills that night.

However S for Sugar was doomed. Engulfed in flames she was falling from the sky. F/S Newman screamed over the intercom "We have to jump! Come on, out, out!" Nicholas reached for his parachute, which would normally be stored behind the turret, for there was no room inside for the gunner to wear it. However a cannon shell had shredded the Parachute!

With flames from the burning hydraulics beginning to lick his face, and his clothes and oxygen mask smouldering in the heat, Nicolas had a stark choice. Burn to death in the crashing Lancaster, or leap, and die 18,000 feet down. "Better a clean and fast death than being roasted" ran through Nicholas mind and he threw himself out the smashed gunners position. Falling on his back, slightly head down he had a feeling of being suspend in the air, as though in a soft bed. As he passed through the cloud layer he passed out. Plummeting he quickly reached terminal velocity of 125mph, then finally his unconscious body hit the ground.

Nicholas first sensation was cold. He awoke and looked up at the sky, checking his watch it was 0310, and he was alive! Looking about him he could see some broken Fir tree branches, and he was lying in a thick drift of snow. The cushioning effect of the tree's and the snow had miraculously saved him from his fall of 18,000 feet. He hadn't escaped totally uninjured. He'd suffered sprained and twisted back and knee, had a deep laceration to the thigh and a concussion. Unable to move, he now faced death from exposure in the cold German forest. All British airmen had a whistle attached to the collar of their flight suit, so they can find each other if their plane has to ditch, so Nicholas started blowing on it.

About half an hour later a party of Standschutze followed the sound of the whistle and found F/s Alkemade still lying where he had fallen, smoking a cigarette. With sign language he told them what had happened, and they clearly didn't believe he was aircrew, as they asked for his parachute. But they took him into custody. As the Germans lifted him up F/s Alkemade passed out.

When he awoke he found himself in a hospital. Again he explained what had happened. It became clear the doctors thought him deranged from the blow to the head. Eventually when healed he was sent to Stalag Luft 3 POW camp. Where he was kept in solitary confinement as a spy. The Germans continued to question him, believing he had buried his parachute after landing, and insisting he was a spy. Luckily for F/s Alkemade a German Lieutenant became curious about his claims. So the German went looking for S for Sugar. When he found the bomber, he checked the parachute, which was still where F/s Alkemade had claimed, further investigation showed that F/s Alkemades harness matched, and the Germans promptly released him from solitary confinement. To help with any further doubters the senior British officer in the POW camp, paid attention to the Germans evidence and signed off on a certificate to the truth of F/s Alkemades story.

Nicholas was repatriated to the united Kingdom in may 1945. After demobbing he went to work in the chemical industry. During his career a 100Kg iron girder fell on his unprotected head, and he suffered a cut to the head, but was otherwise unharmed. He also took a electrical discharge that knocked him unconscious and he fell into a pool of chlorine. He lay there for 15 minutes until rescued, still alive. He finally died, aged 64, in 1987.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[WoWP] We Are Fixing Stuff

Below is the response of the World of Warplanes Dev team, including Lead Producer - Anton Sitnikau, on a major feedback topic - One Thing That Breaks It All. I'm just quoting what they said. :)

1. Respawn (long waiting time, transition time / battle time ratio)

For relatively high-spec systems battle waiting time is now about 40s, including 30s pre-battle counter. 
At the same time average battle duration - is 3.5 minutes. 

We do accept that this is an issue. And it is being solved at this time in several ways:

Firstly, with the help of optimization. It's definitely not the easiest way, since the amount of data to be loaded before battle us huge. That's why we don't expect a major improvement in this area. It's loading time that made us introduce pre-battle counter in the first place - it is required to ensure that are players have managed to load.

Secondly, by increasing the time players spend in battle. This is where conceptual stuff comes in. Let's consider the options.

It would make little sense to introduce respawn for the current game mode. Respawn would severely decrease the importance of each destroyed aircraft. It's not clear how to refill bombs and rockets either - same goes for destroyed ground targets. 
We do want to introduce respawn - however it has to be a separate game mode. I will get to game modes a bit later. 

Battle duration is also affected by ramming. We don't want to dump ramming completely - self-sacrifice is a part of team-play. What we do want to do is to give players more chances to destroy enemy in head-on attack before ramming happens and decrease the necessity of ramming. 

2. AA are useless (up to tier 7/8)

We are continuing to balance AA guns. Avg damage inflicted by AA guns has decreased. One of the reasons for that - change of firing algorithm. Now intense manoeuvring gives more chances to avoid being hit. We are planning to increase damage of AA guns. We are also working on a special UI that will show areas covered by AA guns. 

3. Tier balance is terrible

Well, it's not that terrible, however we are not satisfied at this point. Generally speaking, we have got two major leaps: going from tier 3 to tier 4 (can differ across factions), and going from propeller planes to jet planes. Our balancing dept is now busy with making these transitions smoother, however we won't be able to eliminate them completely. These big leaps in history of aviation can't but impact smooth in-game progression. We can't avoid it without serious historical compromises. 

4. Mouse control (lack of direct feel)

A lot depends on settings. Try using Vector or Hybrid presets instead of default one.

5. Not being able to see the altitude of targets and friends on the minimap

We have decided not to display altitude on the minimap to avoid mess and overcomplication. Right now we have got so-called strategic map in development. This enlarged map (M-button) has much more space to display useful information - aircraft altitudes, crash sights, AA-gun areas, etc

6. Hangar UI (Slower that WoT, "Where is Barracks?",no ammunition on main screen, differ the WoT)

Hangar UI will be reworked. At this point both sides - WoT and WoWP teams - agreed to make the UIs closer to each other. Installed modules, consumables, ammo and "battle!" button are going to be displayed on all screens. Moreover, we have managed to improve UI performance a lot: most of the delays and glitches were related to updating information for in-game store. The store itself is still rather slow, and we are working on this.

7. Heavy fighters are way too powerful (World of Heavy Fighters)
We are planning to introduce more differences between classes and highlight them. As for heavy fighter, we are going to implement several changes. First, we are not going to use the coefficient that decreased the damage when shooting down-up any more. Second, high-altitude planes will get additional penalty in manoeuvrability when flying low. Third, we are going to provide more possibilities for low-altitude aircrafts to avoid boom-zoom attacks.

8. Progression trough tiers too slow

It’s not entirely true when it comes to overall pace picture. If you played Tanks, then you’ll see that our progression is much faster. The principles of earning exp and credits are a different story though. We’ve found and fixed the issue that led to incorrect calculations in situations when a higher tier enemy was taken down.

9. The fact that kamikaze gives a frag

Sometimes ramming is a conscious tactical decision for the sake of the team. I have already mentioned that we are going to increase the chances of avoiding a clash but we are not ready to eliminate this game element.

10. Maps are too small

We conducted experiments where low tier aircrafts were on maps of high tier aircrafts. The results were not 100% positive. It takes long to reach the opponent, pretty hard to find them. We believe that the maps are appropriate for the current battle mode. For other modes, especially the ones involving organized teams, we are planning to use maps of the existing size as well as enlarged ones. 

11. No Clan Wars

We were planning to start clan system right after the release and start clan wars slightly later. However, we changed the concept during the implementation (we are going to provide more details on that later) and the deadlines were changed, too. Unfortunately. We do understand how important clan wars are. Basically, that was the reason why we put them off: we can make them better than we planned according to the initial concept.

12. Need Garage battle mode

Garage battle mode is not our highest priority at the moment. The second random game mode and battles for organized teams are the things we consider more important as for now. These two types are more in demand and less risky.

13. Attack Aircraft (Ground Attack) are useless (Destroying ground targets must affect gameplay)

We agree with the observation that in the current iteration of the main game mode the role of attack aircraft is less significant than it used to be. At present we are sending off to test some experiments (to public test) aimed at increasing its significance.

14. Having to ride my shotdown fighter into the ground before I can right click to watch from another plane

In version 1.2. (first update in 2014) a new camera system will be added to the game. No more suffering for players! Basically, the system is ready, just not implemented yet.

15. Very high impact of current hight vs optimum height has on aircraft performance

The impact of altitude system will be re-balanced in the few upcoming updates. What we released was the fully-functioning mechanics of altitude influencing aircrafts behaviour. Further development, adjustments and balancing will be taking place in more than one update. Plus, we are planning to notify players about altitude (in garage etc.) 

16. Need Missions and New modes

A new game mode is being developed at the moment. Missions and quests are planned for the very near future. 

WoWP dev team via Overlord

UPD. On 1.1 update that is being publicly tested right now:
  • mouse controls will be different
  • Focke Wulfs will be different 
  • There will be less bugs

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

[WoT] A Fun Tank To Play

Tanks and their are a substantial part of WoT gameplay. No doubt.

What tanks are fun for you and what are not? And most importantly - why so?
What makes fun tank gameplay for you and what breaks it?
Do you feel like there are enough unique tanks in the game that can boast their character, or the game is trending towards average-like vehicles lacking in character?

Any vehicle-tank-specs-related thoughts will do. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Able Comet

By 1945 armour Vs armour combat was rare, but as the Allies pushed into Germany it did happen. Today we look at one such engagement. It happened on April 12-13th 1945.

At the Panzertruppenschule Bergen there were six Tigers. These were under command of a Lieutenant Franzen. These Tigers were all hybrid machines cobbled together from spare parts, including early production components. However they were still tigers, and so as the Allies approached they where formed into a Kampfgruppe with several Panthers and launched at the allies, in an attempt to break through to the Ruhr pocket. Over the next few days the Kampfgruppe conducted several attacks on the British and US positions. One attack resulted in a fairly epic story of gallivanting about behind enemy lines worthy of Hollywood, however that is a tale for another day. During one of these attacks Lt Franzens Tiger was attacking British paratroopers, and was hit by a PIAT round. The HEAT shell slammed into the Tiger and damaged the gun traverse, forcing Lt Franzen to withdraw.
Lt Franzens Tiger
On the allied side 3rd Royal Tank Regiment moved down to Schwarmstedt. As the lead elements approached the River Aller, two Comet's where knocked out by a Anti-tank gun. Although a third Comet destroyed the gun, 3rd RTR leaguered in the area overnight. During the night 1 Commando Brigade forced a crossing of the river in the face of heavy German opposition. By morning they had caved out a bridgehead 800 yards deep, and about twice as wide. In a hurry to get tanks across and support the infantry Able Squadron of 3rd RTR was ferried across using rafts. Although once across the squadron was ordered to avoid pushing too hard until the bridge had been finished.
3RTR In Belgium
3RTR unknown location
As the gun mantle needed replacing on his tank Lt Franzen missed the next few days action, and the destruction of the Kampfgruppe. On April 12th, Lt Franzens Tiger, F01 (F for "Fahrschule", or Driving School), was formed into a new Kampfgruppe, with some infantry and two other Tigers and ordered to attack the British bridgehead.

At 1400, 1st Trp, A Squadron led by Major Langdon, was supporting the King's Shropshire Light Infantry as the pushed through a forested area. The KSLI had brought up a Wasp carrier and the undergrowth was in flames. Through the smoke and heat the Comets drove slowly down the road shelling any suspicious bush or ditch with HE, while the infantry continued to advance. The fumes from the gun firing and the smoke and heat made the conditions extremely exhausting inside the tanks. So during a lull the Troop pulled back down a trail leading off to the side of the main road. Where they stopped for a break with the KSLI Commander's scout car. After half an hour the stillness was shattered by the roar of an 88mm. Looking up the Maj Langdon saw Lt Franzens Tiger 300 yards away as it advanced round a bend. The 88mm Shell had hit the scout car brewing it up.

Maj Langdons gun had a HE round loaded, and his loader quickly unloaded and then loaded the gun with an AP shell. His Comet fired a hasty shot towards the hulking box shape and all three Comets in the troop tried to reverse for cover.  Maj Langdons Comet slammed into a 40ft tall tree, in reverse. If the tree didn't give way Maj Langdon would be dead. Luckily it did, and his Comet crashed out of sight. The second Comet belonged to Corporal Brindle. F01 fired on Cpl Brindles Comet, the round hit but ricocheted off the thick armour. By freak chance the ricocheting shell smashed the Comets track. Quickly realising his plight Cpl Brindle ordered his crew to bail out. Not a second too soon, as Lt Franzen put two more shells into the Comet, wrecking it.

The ricochet on Cpl Brindles tank
The KSLI sent out a couple of patrols armed with PIATS to hunt for F01, When they found it they fired. Two of the PIAT shots hit, and F01's crew bailed out. Due to the presence of enemy infantry the British couldn't close with and destroy the Tiger, so later that night Lt Franzen led his crew back to the Tiger, and finding it undamaged recovered her back to safety to fight again.

Overnight the Germans shelled the British. At 0500 Lt Franzen was in his Tiger, Reports were that the British were moving again, so he pulled his tank forward, and spotted several vehicles. He quickly fired a salvo of rounds at the enemy vehicles, and set one (a Kangaroo) on fire. The British went to ground. After a while Lt Franzen heard the swoosh of artillery followed by the shells exploding. So F01 retired a short distance to get out from under the bombardment. As the Artillery stopped with reports of British armour skirmishing forward along the road, Lt Franzen started to advance slowly. In the early morning, and confusion of battle Lt Franzen lost sight of his friendly infantry in the undergrowth. Little did he know that he had advanced past their line and so was pushing into no-man's land alone.
Suddenly Lt Franzen saw a Comet to his left. At about 100 yards range. Yelling "Enemy tank! 10 o'clock!" to warn his crew. F01's Gunner reacted first starting to traverse the turret. But the Comet (commanded by Lieutenant Harding) had sneaked into no-man's land and laid the perfect trap. Lt Harding fired once. The round hit the Tiger just behind one of its ammo bins. Although it failed to blow the ammo rack, the shell did hit the fuel tank and cause F01 to catch fire. Lt Franzen bailed out of his stricken tank, on the ground he found the rest of his crew all safely out of the tank. Although all suffered minor burns. With nothing else to do they retreated from the front.
For this action Lt Harding was awarded the military medal. Lt Franzen and Maj Langdon survived the war.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

[WoT] Tiger for the Emperor

The Tiger tank bought by the Japanese government that could work as tier VI-VII premium in the game with the future release of the Japs in 8.10 update.

By the way the 1943 Henschel Tiger cost 295k Reichsmark for internal usage, while sneaky Germans managed to sell it to Japanese at a much higher price - for 645k. The Japs must have been over-diplomatic to bargain. The vehicle however never touched the Japanese ground because of "transportation issues" and - as rumour has it - ended up fighting somewhere in Italy.

For in-game version might want to change tracks a bit and make this tank more "amphibious" to give it a more Japanese look.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Prince and the Roman

Contrary to popular belief the Germans didn't have it all their own way in Poland. Polish soldiers gave accounts of themselves that would rival those of the famous German tank and fighter aces. Today we look at one such story.
Roman Orlik
The Germans attacked Poland on 1st of September 1939, two weeks later one Polish soldier would gain notoriety as the first tank ace of the war. Roman Orlik was a lieutenant in the Wolynska Cavalry Brigade. However he didn't ride a horse, he commanded a TKS tankette. The TKS was a small, barely armoured box with Carden-Loyd tracks and a 20mm cannon. Lt Orlik commanded the tankette and manned the gun, his driver was Corporal Zakrzewski.

Lt Orlik's first taste of combat was on the 14th of September. As part of the Polish offensive to drive the Germans back.  As the attack ran out of steam, the Poles made one final push to keep the attack moving. Lt Orlik was positioned on a small hill overlooking the River Bzura towards Brochow. His role was to give covering fire to the attacking infantry.  His fire knocked out three panzers. Although the attack succeeded, ultimately the German resistance was to great, and the Germans resumed the offensive, pushing the Polish forces back.
On September the 18th Lt Orlik was placed in command of a patrol, his TKS and two TK-3 tankettes (the same tank armed with only a MG). The patrol was ordered to scout the Kampinoska forest. As the three tankettes approached a crossroads, Lt Orlik heard the sound of engines coming down the road from his right. He ordered the two TK-3's to take cover, then pulled off the road to the left and advanced. As he advanced he saw a patrol of German tanks. Two Panzer 35(t)'s and a Panzer IV Ausf B. The later was commanded by the 23 year old Prince Ratibor.
Prince Ratibor
 Lt Orlik hit the lead Panzer 35(t) as it approached the crossroads. Both the remaining German tanks shifted off the road away from the Polish tankette, and returned fire. They didn't know exactly where the TKS was though, so their fire was wide. Lt Orlik himself had displaced, shifting further back. He then spied the Panzer IV as it passed the crossroads, he emptied a full magazine into the panzers side setting it on fire. As he continued to move left he spotted the remaining Panzer 35(t) through some bushes as it drove along the road, and promptly knocked it out with another burst.
Prince Ratibor's Panzer IV
After the fighting had ended Lt Orlik raced forward to help rescue the crews of the tanks he had destroyed. He managed to save the tank commanders from two of the Panzer 35(t)'s. Prince Ratibor's Panzer IV was engulfed in flames, and the ammunition detonated. Lt Orlik did manage to rescue to badly burnt Prince, however he soon died of his injuries.
One of the captured German officers remarked to Lt Orlik about the TKS:
"...it is very hard to hit such a small cockroach with a gun."
Prince Ratibor's Panzer IV
The next day the Wolynska Cavalry brigade was in position at Sieraków with their 37mm guns looking down the road towards the direction the Germans would come from. Lt Orlik and his platoon were on a wooded hill on the left flank of the road. 27 German tanks, mostly Panzer 35(t)'s advanced on the village at about 1000. Another group attacked further along the line. The Lead German tank advancing down the road was hit by the 37mm AT gun waiting for it. Immediately the Germans deployed off the road and spread out advancing towards the village. This gave Lt Orlik perfect flank shots from his hidden position. In the Fight that followed he knocked out a further seven German tanks. Almost all the German tanks in both groups were smashed.

But again tactical victory wasn't matched by strategic victories. By the 20th Warsaw was nearly fully encircled and under siege. Lt Orlik wasn't finished yet though. He lead another TKS in a night infiltration on the 20th/21st September, and managed to reach Warsaw. He fought until the siege ended.
Lt Orlik survived the war, resuming his job as an architect. In 1995 a book was written about his experiences, and remembering the words of the German tank officer Janusz Magnuski called it "Cockroach Vs Panzers". Roman Orlik died in 1982.

Friday, November 22, 2013

[WoTB] And First Reward

A large and irrelevant image to begin with.

Following first WoT Blitz video "leaked" during G-Star expo in Korea, we have got the first award - "Inven" award for Best Mobile Game of the event (the red one below).

Link (ugh, Korean!) and google translate link (English).

Sure thing, it's a sort of down payment for a game which is not at alpha/beta stage yet. We are approaching this stage, though. So, stay tuned for more.

PS: the second award is for "booth design", afair 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

[WoWP] One Thing That Breaks It All

Ok, while EU and NA World of Warplanes servers are growing pretty good since the release - we have had 3k on NA and 10k on EU (and almost 20k on RU, the release euphoria has somewhat ended and it's time to hate some things.

What is bothering you in World of Warplanes these days? Name just one thing that, if fixed/changed, would substantially improve your experience in aerial combat. If there is one, ofc. :)

I have played 200+ battles to date myself on EU side. And the biggest personal concern would probably be in-game balance and class roles. I didn't really manage to find place for attack aircraft and feel like high-altitude boom-zoom planes are dominating.

Your turn.

UPD. November 25, 2013. Forwarded the topic to dev team, so no more comments from my side. Going to post their response when it's ready. Thanks for your contribution. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Battle of the Missiles

The first steps towards guided missiles were taken during World War Two. However these were complex, expensive and unreliable. In the decades following the war missile technology continued to mature. In the late 60's and early 70's missiles became cheap and usable by the majority of troops and their use spread. Although the Yom Kippur War was the first war where missiles had a massive impact they were easily defeated. Equally only one side really employed large amounts of guided weapons. By the 80's many predicted that fierce combat was a thing of the past, with the accuracy and striking power of modern weapons. As is often the case pundits with sweeping statements like that were wrong. Today we'll look at the story of the frigate Joshan and Pykan.
On September 22, 1980, Iraq launched a massive invasion of Iran. Iraq was hoping to use the confusion of the Iranian revolution to become the most powerful gulf state. A vicious fight, that included all the worst aspects of fighting with the added destructiveness of modern technology, erupted for 8 years. However in the first months most of the action was on land and in the air. On October the 28th the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy attempted to change that.

The Iraqi Navy was using two oil platforms in the Gulf as bases for raids against Iranian shipping. They also had installed radar facilities to track Iranian movements. The IRIN dispatched three frigates, the Joshan, Paykan and Gordouneh to shell these platforms. As they opened their attack on the oil platforms. Iraqi Osa fast attack boats fired a spread of missiles at the Iranian frigates. The Paykan launched chaff and all the missiles were decoyed.

In response the Iraqis launched a wave of aircraft to destroy the frigates. The Paykan had several teams of sailors armed with shoulder launched SAM's, and managed to shoot one of the attackers down. The three frigates manoeuvring and speeding towards Iranian waters to avoid the attack were then pounced upon by Iraqi aircraft. All three frigates opened fire with everything they had. Tracers filled the sky, as the three Iranian frigates attempted to defend themselves. The guns on the frigates overheated and jammed from the amount of firing. The Iraqis pressed home their attack, but their bombs exploded wide of the Joshan, the shrapnel did cause some casualties though. As they turned around for another pass on the defenceless frigates two Iraqi planes were blasted out of the sky. Iranian interceptors had arrived to provide cover for the ships. Under air cover the Frigates returned to their base at Bushehr.

On October the 31st the Iranians tried again. This time they set out with air cover. However despite completing their objectives in the face of Iraqi air attacks, the platforms remained operational. The Paykan's SAM teams managed to shoot down another Iraqi jet during this operation.

The Iranians started to draw up a more detailed plan to remove this thorn in their side. It took a month to get everything in place, and on November the 29th Operation Morvarid commenced. Under the cover of air raids aimed at suppressing the Iraqi air force, The Joshan and Paykan took up blocking positions near the two platforms. As before two Iraqi Osa's launched missiles at the Paykan, which decoyed them with chaff. This time the Paykan retaliated with its own missiles. Despite scoring no hits, the missiles convinced the Osa's to withdraw.
With the area secure Iranian commando's stormed the two platforms. Amazingly despite the exchange of missile fire and the air raids going on the mainland the Iraqi defender's were unalerted. Taken completely by surprise the commando's quickly captured or killed all the Iraqi's on board both platforms. As the Iranians set up their demolition charges two Iraqi jets had managed to scramble through the chaos of the covering air raids, reached the platform. Both were instantly shot down by the commando's armed with SA-7 launchers. The Iranians then withdrew. Detonations tore through the platforms, and both burst into flames. The Iraqi's early warning system was gutted, as was the Iraqi's oil flow. On November the 28th Iraqi oil production was 3.25 million barrels a day. On November the 30th it was 550,000. A massive financial blow to a country engaged in a bitter war. But worse was to follow.
After the commando's had retreated, the Paykan and Joshan started to withdraw from their covering positions. The Iraqi navy could now break out of their ports were they'd been bottled up. A force of P-6 combat boats and Osa's attacked the Paykan, again she launched chaff, however one of the missiles saw through the decoys and hit the frigate. Causing damage and casualties. Immediately the Paykan radioed for help, and Iranian jets were dispatched. The Iranian Phantom's hit one of the P-6's with three Maverick missiles blasting it to pieces. The Iraqi vessels fell back. Before the Iranians could finish the Iraqi boats they were engaged in a dogfight with Mig-23's.

With the Iranian air force currently engaged the Paykan was on its own. The frigate managed to sink an Osa with a Harpoon missile, and dodge all the missiles the Iraqi's fired. Then she came under sustained air attack. The Paykan scored one kill with her guns, then one with her SAM's. By now Iraqi helicopters were slamming AT missiles into the frigate. One of them was shot down by return gunfire.

With heavy casualties and damage, almost out of fuel and ammo the Paykan's situation looked grim. The Iraqi's mounted another air attack to finish off the frigate. A pair of Mig-23's hurtled towards the Paykan. Only to be intercepted by Iranian Phantoms. This gave the battered ship one last chance. But again the swarm of Osa's returned. This time the Paykan was out of luck. Two missiles hit her, and she exploded.

The Joshan had also been under attack. Six Iraqi Mig-23's had tried to sink her. However the Iranians having learnt from the Paykan's success in November had deployed SAM teams on the Joshan. Those missiles shot down four of the attacking Iraqi's. A fifth was shot down by a F-14 Tomcat. The sixth fled the battle. The final air strike of the battle was a pair of Iranian Phantom's launching an attack against the Iraqi naval forces. Those two Phantoms sunk another eight craft, although both Phantoms were eventually shot down.

The Iraqi navy had lost 80% of its strength in a single night, in return it had sunk a single frigate. Leaving the Persian Gulf in the control of Iran. Of course these actions later lead to the USA's Operation Preying Mantis, so it might not have been such a victory for Iran.