Calibre Bands – Revising Crossfire Anti-tank Rules 3

People often talk in calibre bands to rate guns and mortars e.g. light, medium, and heavy artillery. Heavy mortars, that kind of thing. Rules writers quite often follow suit and include calibre bands in their games. Although Crossfire doesn’t make a big song and dance about calibre bands, there is a hint of bands in there. So I thought I’d play around with calibre bands to see if I can find a useful pattern for my emerging revision to the anti-tank rules.

Crossfire’s Calibre bands

Crossfire only has one explicit calibre band, heavy artillery, but you can retro-fit the others. I count four bands in the game, each of which have different Barrage Fire (HE dice / KILL Potential) and Smoke (from page 13):

Crossfire calibre bands for artillery and mortars
Barrage Fire
(HE dice / KILL Potential)
Crossfire Smoke Artillery Calibre Band1 Gun Calibre Mortar Calibre Band2 Mortar Calibre
3d6/0SQ 2 BW Light Mortar 50-60mm, 2″
4d6/1SQ 3 BW Light Artillery up to 82mm Medium Mortar 61-82mm, 3″
4d6/2SQ 4 BW Medium Artillery 85-104mm Heavy Mortar 83-120mm, 4.2″
5d6/3SQ 6 BW Heavy Artillery 105+mm Ultra Heavy Mortar 121+mm

(1) Only “heavy artillery” is mentioned by name in Crossfire (i.e. guns 105+mm). But by implication you could call the smaller guns light artillery (up to 82mm) and medium artillery (85-104mm). Crossfire doesn’t have artillery equivalent to the smallest mortars.
(2) Crossfire doesn’t give mortars names, but the 120mm mortars were, I believe, called heavy mortars during WW2. Medium and light mortars flow from that. It is a bit annoying that the artillery and mortar calibre bands don’t line up.

A-122 Artillery - Russian 122mm 2
A-122 Artillery – Russian 122mm 2

Tweaks to calibre bands

Okay, that is what Crossfire does with calibre bands. Now I’m kind of going to ignore it all. Well, much of it.

Firstly, I’m going to make the direct fire weapons much more punchy. The number of dice go up in all calibre bands.

Secondly, I will split up light artillery (up to 82mm). From my perspective the calibre range is too wide and includes guns that had different battlefield behaviour. The Germans pose the biggest challenge to introducing comprehensive calibre bands as I need to distinguish their 3.7cm, 5.0cm, 7.5cm short, 7.5cm long, and 8.8cm tank guns. To do this I’ve taken the calibre bands of the Crossfire and split “light artillery (up to 82mm)” into three: “Super Light Gun (up to 44mm)”, “Ultra Light Gun (45-64mm)”, and “Light Gun (65-84mm)”. That distinguishes the 3.7cm, 5.0cm and 7.5cm guns. Short and long 7.5cm guns can be distinguished by special rules.

Thirdly, I think I’ll split up heavies. The Soviets had 122mm, 152mm and 203mm guns. It might be worth teasing some of them apart into heavy (105-124mm) and ultra heavy (125+mm).

Lastly, I’m going to disappear the KILL Potential e.g. the “3SQ” in 5d6/3SQ. To make these calibre ranges align with infantry shooting there has to be just a number of dice to hit.

The table below shows the result of those tweaks.

Steven’s tentative calibre bands
Gun Calibre Gun Calibre Band Base Anti-tank and Anti-personnel dice Examples (with nothing set in stone)
up to 44mm Super Light Gun (“Door knocker”)5 3d6 German 3.7cm ATG5;
Soviet 45/46 ATG1;
British 2 pounder;
US 37mm ATG
45-64mm Ultra Light Gun 4d6 German 5.0cm ATG;
Soviet 45/66 ATG1;
British 6 pounder;
US 57mm ATG
65-84mm Light Gun 5d6 German 7.5cm short2;
Soviet 76mm; Soviet 57/73 ATG3;
US 75mm
85-104mm Medium Gun 6d6 German 7.5cm long2;
British 25 pounder; British 17 pounder ATG
105-124mm Heavy Gun 7d6 German 8.8cm4;
Soviet 85mm3; Soviet 100mm3; Soviet 122mm
125+mm Ultra Heavy Gun 8d6 Soviet 152mm

(1) The Soviet 45mm ATG, in its 45/46 and 45/66 models, pose a problem. Apparently the 45mm 45/66 was comparable to the German 5.0cm ATG. So the earlier model must have been, well, worse. This suggests and “Inferior ATG” attribute
(2) The short and long German 7.5cm gun can be distinguished by making the long version a “Superior ATG”.
(3) The Soviet 57mm ATG, 85mm, and 100mm looks like candidates for “Superior ATG”
(4) The German 8.8cm is another “Superior ATG”.
(5) I sub-titled Super Light Gun with “door knocker” as that was one of the nicknames of the 3.7cmm Pak 36.

Observations and Questions

I have to admit that any system based on calibre bands assumes that bigger shells means bigger bang. Personally I think that assumption is helpful. What do you think?

I’ve got six calibre bands, from Super Light to Ultra Heavy. They start with 3d6 (up to 44mm) and for every extra 20mm get +1d6.

Can anybody suggest a better set of names than Light Gun, Ultra Light Gun and Super Light Gun? I did try Light Gun 1, 2 and 3, but it seemed a bit flavourless and naff. I was toying with “puny gun” or “tiny gun”, but that didn’t seem helpful partly because it isn’t clear which is smaller. And doesn’t apply to big guns.

I settled on “ultra” < “super” < “hyper” for what is bigger /smaller. Google suggests this is common usage. So Ultra Heavy is bigger than Heavy. And Super Light is smaller than Ultra Light is smaller than Light. I didn’t need a “hyper” classification but you never know.

KV-2 "Monster" Front
KV-2 “Monster” Front

8d6 for an Ultra Heavy 152mm Soviet gun seems generous. In the standard Crossfire rules this gun would get 5d6 / 3 SQ i.e. 5d6 for the shooting and bonus of 3 KILL Potential. I’m going to try it out. There is a distinct danger these big guns become super weapons so I’m already half tempted to include them in the “heavy” category on the assumption that slow rate of fire evens the odds.

4 thoughts on “Calibre Bands – Revising Crossfire Anti-tank Rules 3”

  1. The former artillery officer and fire support officer in me cringes at the distinction of “super light” “ultra light” and “light” when it comes to mortars, but that is personal taste. I see what you are doing and from the perspective of organizing the caliber of weapon into discrete categories it makes good sense.

    So let me also say that the former artillery officer in me loves the idea that you can get different effects on the target now from different systems IE ultralight vrs light mortars/guns.

    There is a propensity in artillery to treat every fire support asset as a different “tool” in the toolbox. So this approach allows more distinction between platforms and gives you options when devising a fire support plan. Thumbs up! -Steve

    • Thanks for the support Steve.

      I’m happy to consider other terms for the calibre bands, if folk have suggestions.

      I was conscious that 75mm is generally considered “light artillery”. And went from there.

  2. Artillery, mortars and AT guns have different categories and different calibre bands. A 120mm mortar makes a very big bang indeed. I use

    Light, medium and heavy mortars (up to 50, 51 to 82, over 82)
    Light, field, medium and heavy arty (up to 76, up to 105, 140+, 200+) Russian 122s are in the field category.
    Very light, light, light medium, medium, heavy and super heavy AT. Categories vary by year. A Pak 40 is heavy in 1942 but medium in 44. A Pak 36 is medium in 1940, light or very light by 44. All based on whether a typical gun of the period can penetrate typical light/medium/heavy armour or not. If a gun can typically penetrate, it doesn’t get any benefit for overpenetration ie a six pounder is as good against a halftrack as an 88L70. It sounds more complex than it is.

    • It always gets “complicated”. An 88 APHE round has a much bigger bursting charge to go off after penetration, if it penetrates enough armor to set it off. The British reported cases of solid AP rounds going through tanks without causing as much damage as a smaller solid round which couldn’t exit, and bounced around with enough energy to damage equipment or crew. Edge cases, to be sure.


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