Thought I'd try out this Steel Fury campaign for the King Tiger. I've got to the stage in Richard von Rosen's memoirs ('Panzer Ace') where he's describing the period with s.Pz.Abt 503 where his 3 Kompanie has re-equipped with this tank, so that sort of put me in the mood. I'm playing in the STA 3.4 mod; not sure if it's available with earlier mods.
I'm commanding the usual (for SF) three-tank platoon plus a platoon of grenadiers. We have to take three successive objectives, two hamlets then what's described as a base, along an axis of maybe a thousand metres. There's not much 'int' (what the British Army calls 'intel', or did in my day) on what the enemy has got but it's the British sector near Caen in Normandy, summer 1944, so I'm guessing at Cromwells, Shermans, maybe Churchills and at worst. the dangerous 17 Pdr-armed Fireflies.
I didn't get a pic of the orders and map but here's my little force shaking out for the advance to the first objective, which is half-left, the other side of some dense hedges.
I actually wanted to play this mission to get some practice playing from the tank commander's station. Not the gunner, as is my usual practice. I wanted in particular to rehearse some things I knew about, but hadn't really used much, like ordering movement and controlling fire from the hatch view. I was aware that Steel Fury seems to be designed around Soviet practice in general and the T-34-76 in particular, where the tank commander is also the gunner and it's only the gunner who can choose which type of round to load. Not what I'm used to from other tanksims.
So here I am in the commander's seat, hatch open but head down, looking through the forward-facing fixed periscope (episcope?). Peripheral vision is non-existent but that's how it goes. There is a 3-d 'cockpit' view of the inside of the SF King Tiger's cupola, but the periscope vision blocks are painted-on and while you can mouse-look around, you can't see outside.
First task was to figure out which keys let me switch to looking out the periscopes facing in other directions than straight ahead. It turns out PgUp and PgDn do the trick, though I think they give you fewer viewing angles than the real cupola has actual periscopes. This is looking at about 2 o'clock with one of my platoon-mates in view, Tiger 133.
Using the F key and the right mouse button to select waypoints ahead in the 3-d view, I order us to advance as a group in short bounds. We soon pass through the first hedge, the grenadiers bravely pressing ahead. The first objective is half left, maybe 400 metres away, but it's in dead ground and I can't see any targets yet. There's no firing so I pop my head up for a better view, and mouse-look around.
The bino view doesn't help me locate the enemy but it does give me a good view of the late-war German infantrymen that come with the mod, as they double forward across a track in front of my panzer.
The lie of the land keeps us out of sight of the enemy positions for a little longer; I'm aiming to get onto their flank, not charge right at them.
The fun begins! The grenadiers start engaging some enemy infantry and one of my men spots and indicates a more dangerous target - an anti-tank gun to our left. Suddenly I find myself fumbling between using mouselook to find the indicated target then turning on target selection mode with the F key (which disables mouselook - I think, maybe I'm just being ham-fisted). Anyway I manage to mark the target and my gunner and one of the other panzers both let fly at him.
The rounds miss. By this time, I've identified the A/T gun as about the most dangerous one the enemy has - the towed 17-Pounder. That's it! I'm not going to die this early in an interesting mission just for the sake of practicing the tank commander role. I quickly give up on that and jump to the gunner's sight. By this time, another HE round has been loaded - and that does the job. A few bursts from the co-ax finish off the surviving crew. War is hell!
Well, so much for this being a practice mission! ...to be continued!