Just occurred to me what the psychological effect one of these monsters (or better yet a horde of them) showing up in a town in the middle east where they've never even seen a tank before let alone a mech.....I think I know why the streets are deserted!!!
I can imagine this thing creeping forward like a giant cat. Very cool effect!
Reading now about the 761st -first ever Africa American tankers. (like Tuskegee Airmen, but in Shermans instead of P-51s). Most had never even seen a tank before basic training. But soon enough, they totally mastered those babies in all sorts of terrain and conditions. Which makes me think... how in a short period of time the sight of mechs would be completely mundane and un-extraordinary for the average soldier. Lots of tech in WWII was totally new, but before long it just becomes a fact of life.
On the other hand, you have to consider the terror felt by a foot soldier at the sounds of heavy Tiger tracks rumbling inexorably closer to your position. In my head, is a crispy CG cutscene w/ fluffy snow being shaken off pine branches as German Heavy mechs stomp towards a civilain village. How much scarier would that be than a tank? Especially for a simple peasant? Tanks are basically big metal boxes. But something with a head and hands and feet would have a much deeper psychological effect.
I agree, a tank is scary enough, but, an experienced PBI knows that the crew is almost blind and is certainly deaf inside that thing. A mech on the other hand has cameras and microphones and God knows what else! Not to mention it's as tall as a tree! It can look DOWN on your foxhole and it's charging straight at you!!!
For civilians who are simply caught in the middle and are scared to death anyway...it's terrifying! [link] the opening to Mechwarrior3. Gives an ideal of what infantry facing mecha is like without good tactics.
YES exactly! Neutralizing the relative safety of foxholes would be hellish for infantry. Panzer grenadiers and AT troops would need to work on alternate tactics for securing fixed positions in open ground (where there are no trees or anything else to hide behind). Or at least, they'd have to fire Anti-armor weapons from longer range -when there's still less danger of being sighted.
In an urban battlefield, a mech can also easily look through the windows of a 2nd or possibly 3rd story building, and easily aim at any floors higher than that. Small villages are not as daunting for mechs as they are for tanks because they could likely see over the roofs of small buildings and houses. A mech commander could greatly improve the survival of any supporting tank units moving through such an environment.
Yeah, I wouldn't want to be a PBI under that circumstance! (unless I could only fight in heavy forest, which would give you a chance of survival) But, in the open planes of Russia....the infantry is screwed in field fortifications unless they can find a way to quickly make bunkers. It would probably spur the development of cammo for infantry earlier in the war though, as they'd almost have to have it to survive.
One possible way they might add to their survivability would be by a simple method that infantry used to deter horses all the way back to Agincourt. Digging leg breaking holes. Time consuming, even with power equipment.
My bet would be they'd go underground or start making spider holes with light cammo of brush woven together. Not useful against IR, but, most machines wouldn't have IR. All they need is concealment to protect from observation. Also, in snow, a simple white tarp would work wonders. Maybe the infantry would be issued cammo tarps? Or maybe even Ghuili tarps with 3D cammo for extra concealment? Can see a drive to get all the surplus grain bags for the war effort. Maybe even women sewing them up at home to send to the troops.
And I agree the height vantage of the mecha gives them an advantage, but, it also makes them more obvious on the battlefield. For that reason I've always bee partial to "chicken walkers" They can go belly down way easier than straight humanoid mechs. (not to mention, when they do, it's way more comfortable for their crew) There was an old mech game called Starseige where one of the mecha had the hip rotors even with the top of the main body [link] This gave the machine a very low profile, even though it had a large turn radius, it helped it survive. If you had a w[link] on a gimbal or turret on the top of the machine with 360 rotation, you eliminate the turn radius weakness. But, at the same time the machine could stand on it's "tippytoes" and see almost as far as as an humanoid mech. Specialized machines could even have a telescoping camera for even higher vantages.
Another advantage over tanks is the ability, even without special optics, to survey the battlefield and to change vantages quickly. A tank commander has to grind gears or rotate the turret to turn the machine and to get a look to one side. A mecha can do that with a half step to either side. Greater battlefield awareness adds to your forces survivability. Mecha with arms can also make hand/limb signals. and thus maintain radio silence. While a tank commander could also do this, in dust/snow/low light the signals could be misinterpreted. The much larger limbs of a mech would be less ambiguous.
You're totally right about the villages too. In addition, if they are attacked, they can shoot through the roofs of the buildings as opposed to the thicker and more resistant walls.
Gotta admit, I enjoy talking to you about this stuff! I don't know too many other mecha fans, and the ones I do know aren't thinking as deep about tactics and strategy as you are.
Leg traps would be absolutely huge for infantry anti-mech tactics. It would be a go-to strategy in ground that isn't frozen or too rocky. I think that engineering mechs w/ special digger arms or spade attachments would go a long way... also for the sake of very quickly preparing fixed positions.
There is absolutely a trade-off between superior visibility (high profile) vs. concealment. I think this helps distinguish the tactical differences between anthro mechs and the chicken-legged Mech Destroyers. I suppose that one advantage is a mech head popping over the horizon must be harder to hit than a whole turret.
Love the idea of an extra head telescope. The number of head customization features is fun to think of. Here is a tiny mech part w/ (usually) no offensive ability -and yet the customization options and potential to enhance mech combat effectiveness are significant. Damaging a very high-end head would be a bummer!
The hand signals thing is a great point too. This would really help justify the absurdity of having articulated fingers in the first place (when a primitive claw or clamp might suffice). I've also thought of having a telephone/intercom stored in the lower leg of command mechs. A flashing red light, externally and internally, could alert ground or mech commanders to link up for closed-circuit communication.
I think that going this overboard w/ tactical consideration and historical analysis is one area where OPDs can really distinguish itself among other entries in the genre. Don't see too many other mech series being so detail oriented. It's guys like you who are going to help the final product be that much stronger!
Yep. Though to be honest I got the ideal for the periscope thing from a Chuck Norris movie! LOL (Code of Silence, if you're curious. He had to use a SWAT assault robot (6 wheeled) as backup in the final showdown with the bad guys. It's main camera (mounted on the turret with a MG) was on a telescoping arm.
And I'm glad to help out! I enjoy our discussions, because this sort of "speculative engineering" is just a whole lotta fun!
...particularly if the enemy's mech designers prey upon existing civilian legends and superstitions. This may have more application in WWI rather than II (as modern technology severely broke down much of the power of old-world myth), but the concept applies either way. Just think of what a more superstitious unit would think of a towering, mechanized hut of Baba Yaga crashing through the forest toward them!
Another method is to prey upon more primal (as opposed to cultural) fears, such as typical predatory imagery (my personal favorite approach in mech design). It's true that in general, metal spikes, teeth, and claws or painted eyes have no practical use on a war machine, but the psychological impact of seeing such a hideous monster charging at you would be devastating (especially with added strobe lights at night! ).
In regard to this quadruped (the lurching, scuttling design of which I absolutely love as it is!), it could easily be fashioned by a DIY-happy crew to look like a sinister spider or scorpion, the likes of which should be at least somewhat shocking to its desert-dwelling enemies.
There'll be at least one mech w/ a spitfire-style monster grin painted on it's hull + the hull MG replaced w/ a flamethower -giving the effect of a monster breathing fire.
I like the baba yaga thing! It would be relatively easy for German multiped destroyer crews to build a makeshift camo hut around their vehicle. With the whole thing advancing forward... what's an Eastern Euro peasant to think?
I know this is impossible to convey in visual art, but the most effective (and hilariously awesome!) form of psych warfare is the use of sound and music that is either distressing (shrieking, heavy-metal) or ironically cheerful (laughter, peppy marching band music), the latter of which the German military DID use to a truly horrific and unholy extent. Goddamned murdering bastards... (sorry, got off on a tangent there! lol)
I love and worship Keith Thompson's work. His work is always a huge inspiration.
One of the 'boss villains' in OPDS is a master of such psych warfare. Her mech is not particularly strong, but has been equipped w/ a powerful acoustic system which she uses to toy w/ her enemies' mind in a variety of devious ways.
Must say, that putting sirens on dive-bombers in pretty damn devious as well!