Category Archives: AAR

After Action Reports

How to… – Part 4

Another, alas even more time consuming way to present an AAR is… Make a movie with slides and use the ‘Ken Burns effect‘!

The result below is just a test, a crude one… But it should give you an idea what’s possible in order to create an informative & exciting AAR!

Again, this is just a very crude version.

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How to… – Part 3

You noticed that using screenshots and extracts from the sit-rep file from TOAW can be quite useful for the visualisation of an AAR. There are also tools available from members of the huge TOAW community that do just that. One example is the so called Combat Loss Viewer from L. Fulkerson. It uses the .CSV file from the sit-rep and the result looks like that –

Pretty neat, isn’t it? You can use those visualisations for the major battles or the ones that are important for your AAR.

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How to… – Part 2

OK. So far I seem to keep my new years resolutions and daily blog posts. Below the situation after the initial move/orders of my forces. I am naturally cautious and I won’t conduct recon-by-force with the reconnaissance detachment of the 113.Pz.Brigade. The boys of the 111.Pz.Brigade are using their shovels to dig-in and wait for the response of the Yanks. So far, the flanking elements (hopefully!) avoided detection.

The trickiest part shall be how to describe the enemies reaction. While one can play/replay the following turn and make notes, it’s quite a challenge when you have to describe the action of a whole campaign, let’s say in D21 or FitE! Right, let’s move on and have a look how the situation looks like after the enemy’s response.

Situation Turn 2

The reaction of the enemy was swift. The 113.PzAufkl.Abt. was pushed back and scattered into three platoons! Some main element of the 113.Pz.Brigade, because I was so foolish to set them to ‘Local Reserve’, moved towards the sound of the guns! The detailed battle report I simply used from the sit-rep file. Later on, with more battles taking place, one simple slide won’t be sufficient to display the results like that. One has to be creative…

To be continued…

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How to…

create an After Action Report and what tools are needed?

OK. As promised I will start a series of day by day tutorials about how to create an AAR and a small scenario for TOAW, incl. map making, forces, the lot.

Today we shall have a look what’s needed to create a solid AAR with tools most of you already got. The rest is available as open source; in this particular instance a free photo editing software called Photoscape. I am not a photo editing guru, but I found this piece of software easy to handle and it’s actually the program I used for my famous (infamous?!) Tutorial ’41 slides, too.

Naturally, there is no real guideline about the layout and or the contents in an AAR. Some CoSim enthusiasts are able to write gripping battle reports like some short story or novel! I try to visualise all the necessary information in my screenshots. Let’s pick a small scenario in TOAW in order to show you how I create the screenshots and how I describe the situation and/or the battle reports.

Below the first turn, no movement yet, but an overview of my forces, the situation and my intentions.

You probably already guessed that I used different colours to show the 2 formations at my disposal. Once the 113.Pz.Brigade is out of reorganisation my intention is to establish a line of defence and keep the Yanks in that sector busy. The recon element of the 111.Pz.Brigade races towards Lezey to see what’s in store on the other side. The rest of the Brigade will try to outflank the enemy (wherever he is) and capture one of the supply points.

If you click on the picture it’ll automatically open to full size.

To be continued…

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Luftflotte 5 is ready

I am still waiting for replies about the name of the game I am playing for this AAR. So, hurry up!

OK. No it’s getting serious. The weather was still not favourable for my undertaking, but now it’s time to visit Scapa Flow. The flyboys in the south however were already busy with Dowding’s fighters; notice the dogfight in the screenshot.

In order to be prepared and to gather some intel and pictures of the target area I have assigned one light bomber squadran for recon duties (they’re just taking off). A medium bomber group (see the + on the map) is already on it’s way visiting a radar station in the north to give the operators a scare.

The weather report and the recon results were optimistic, so time to prepare a full scale mission with the units at our disposal. Notice the availble groups and the escorts assigned to the different forming up points.

The flight plan can be adjusted, the availble units, their operational levels reviewed and the orders being given. Always keep the condition of your pilots and crews in mind. Tired or exhausted crews tend to miss their targets, crash while landing or worse!

Our first drop on target as seen in the screenshot. A group of 23 planes made it, 1 was shot down and the drop was a success! Time for the leg home and out of sight of enemy fighter opposition.

After repeating the same missio a day after our groups were able to bring more than 200 sorties over target and dropped a bombload of 424 tons on the port facilities. According to the last recon report, the port is heavily damaged (see the violett condition indicator).

To be continued…

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Setup and first observations

Yes, I am not giving it away yet. I haven’t received a reply regarding my trivia question. OK, let’s start with the first steps and maybe you’re able to guess what game I am actually playing. Let’s have a look at the main screen, the reports and general orders first:

It’s midnight and that’s where you, as C-in-C, review the status, have a look at the weather conditions, assign the general strategy for your subordinates and redeploy the AA/Flak of various locations.

Here we have an overview of all our perational, total and lost planes. On the bottom are the stats what our pilots ‘think’ how many enemy planes they have shot down or destroyed on the ground. Take those information with a pinch of salt.

As you can see, the weather is basically cr*p in Germany, the Benelux, Northern France and – where our airfields are. Heavy overcast and dangerous winds – not ideal flying conditions. No need to send the flyboys out and risk crash landings while taking off or returning from their targets (if they make it!). C stand for clounds, W for wind, but you might have guessed that already. Note: Due to the lack of weather stations in Britain (ours!), the meteorologists only can give us a general idea about how the weather might be across the channel. The forecast looks a bit better – in the next 24 hours the weather will clear up. We keep the weather report in mind when issuing orders to our subordinates.

Here we issue orders to our subordinates, in this case Luftflotte 5, stationed in Norway. As you can see, this is a small outfit (bottom right), but we’re in command and we’ll have to perform our duties (Luftflotte 2 and 3 I assigned to Commander Elmer). You see a list for priority (replacements, new pilots, etc.), misisons and activity. Because the weather is cr*ap, we’ll give the boys a rest and let the mechanics make sure the planes are in mint conditon when we’re about to strike England. In the target list you see the points you get for each category. As back then, smashing the RAF airfields, radar stations, sea lanes and ports are the top priority to make sure Operation Sealion will succeed.

OK, time to take care of our defences on the ground. Flak are basically the heavy calibres simulated here. We have a certain reserve and can shift them from one to another location as long as we have Supply points available. It’s basically what you’d need to shift them around, e.g. personal, railway stock, setting them up and so on. So, keep that in mind! I decided to shift a few batteries towards Kiel and near some sea lanes. That’s what Bomber Command attacked historically, so I am going to be prepared.

To be continued…

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