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Old 01-10-2009, 06:05 PM   #1
wabishtar
 
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Default Mass Combat Help Please!

I'm running a setting where the use of the bicycle in combat is more common due to a lack of both riding animals and fuel for motorized vehicles. I'm not sure how to go about modeling this in GURPS Mass Combat. I'm imagining regular bicycles that simply serve as transport as well as a three-wheeled bicycle chariot that serves as cavalry. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:34 PM   #2
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wabishtar
I'm running a setting where the use of the bicycle in combat is more common due to a lack of both riding animals and fuel for motorized vehicles. I'm not sure how to go about modeling this in GURPS Mass Combat. I'm imagining regular bicycles that simply serve as transport as well as a three-wheeled bicycle chariot that serves as cavalry. Any suggestions?
A bicycle isn't a stable combat platform, like a horse or a 3 or 4 wheeled vehcile might be. So the ONLY benefits to a bicycle might be faster road movement (and possibly mildly faster off-road), and a tiny bit more transport value, but not much.

I don't see it, but given that I used to be able to pretty much average about 10mph on day-long rides EVERY day (but with no encumbrance), which works about to a comfortable pace of 80 miles per day, I'd say that you should basically treat bike-mounted soldiers as infantry, with infantry-based TS depending on equipment and quality modifiers, but treat the bike-borne infantry sort of like Hoplites. Max mobility would be about 80mi/day on roads, probably half that off-road; both would be modified by encumbrance...call it 40mi/day on road, and 20 off-road. And THAT is close enough to Mounted plus a TL bonus like Motorizes has. So I'd price it as per Mounted, but with a +10% per TL bonus past TL4 to account for the ever-increasing efficiency and quality of the mount (bike) itself. Modern off-road dual-sprung bikes are pretty spiffy for both on and off-road movement, but you ain't gonna be swinging swords, firing bows, or shooting guns from 'em.

This is hoplite infantry; ride into combat, dismount, and kick whatever butt you can.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

For what its worth,

snip: Beginning in the early years of the twentieth century, the Swiss adopted bicycles for patrols and reserve duty. In that era, all the great powers used bicycles for portions of the infantry. (A more thorough discussion will be found in the excellent book "Bicycles In War" by Caidlin and Barbree). Those of you who read Caesar will remember that a column can only move twenty miles in a day. That human limit has not changed. But, beginning in the late 1800s, the innovation of bicycle mounted infantry extended that range by a factor of up to five. The British, who were the world's preeminent military power of the time, notably used bicycle brigades effectively in the South African Boer campaigns.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

I agree that the bicycle is not much of a fighting platform. It could be a big enhancer for mobility though.

There is an event called Paris-Brest-Paris where the best endurance cyclist are able to cover 1200km in under 50 hours. The ride is self supporting, so the are carrying what amounts to light encumbrance. Riders with what I would rate as 11-12 HT are still able to do it in under 90 hours.

This is over paved roads, but impressive distances are possible on dirt as well. The 24 hour off road record is over 350 miles.

With a load of 50-60 pounds over paved roads or hardpack dirt I think a person with the physique of an average infantrymen could probably cover 80-100 miles in the equivalent of a forced march. He could probably cover 50 and be in reasonable shape to fight. In short this gives a bicycle mounted infantrymen mobility about the same as light cavalry.

On flat ground he could probably make 12-15 miles per hour with that load, but if he dropped everything but weapons and ammo 20-25 is probably reasonable over short distances, which offers some obvious tactical advantages.

With a trailer or a purpose built cargo bike you could easily haul a weapon like an M2HB heavy machine gun or a 60mm mortar. If you broke the weapon down and parceled it and the ammo out to 4-6 riders they could probably keep up with rifle armed soldiers.

In short, the bicycle mounted infantrymen on something like a modern mountain bike optimized for carrying a load would have at least double the mobility of a regular light infantrymen, at the cost of a somewhat reduced combat load (60 lbs is probably about the max).
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

The use of bicycles for riding--to enhance infantry speed and carrying ability--seems to have been hit pretty well.

But, one thing that hasn't been covered is the use of bicycles strictly to increase the load carried. A person walking beside a reinforced bike (there are also ways to add the ability to pull the bike from in front or pull it from behind, which can make things easier) can move at a fairly normal pace while loading the bike with 3-400 lbs (~140-180 kg) of equipment and supplies.

That technique has been used often by less mechanized armies, such as North Vietnamese/Viet Cong. It's pretty darned effective and actually outperforms a single mule. Of course, one person could lead multiple mules and only handle one bicycle, so that may even out. But, mules have to be fed...a lot.

Bicycles do need maintenance, but so do strings of mules.

Of course, if the terrain is steep or very rough it might take two or more people to get such a laden bicycle up a hill or across a stream...but that's something that can be worked out. (Even to the point of carrying a Come-a-long to help out--but it still takes a couple people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comealo...n_or_wire_rope)

It doesn't take much to realize that a bicycle could add a whole lot of ammo, grenades, mines, etc. to an individual soldier's arsenal. Not to mention plenty of water and MREs.

Last edited by DungeonCrawler; 01-11-2009 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole
This is hoplite infantry; ride into combat, dismount, and kick whatever butt you can.
I think you mean "dragoon". Hoplites* march into combat with big shields and spears; dragoons ride to combat, dismount, and fight as infantry.

* Okay, in the Iliad, Hoplites ride to combat in chariots and then dismount and fight on foot, but it's pretty clear that Homer had no idea about the tactical purpose of chariots.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf
I think you mean "dragoon". Hoplites* march into combat with big shields and spears; dragoons ride to combat, dismount, and fight as infantry.

* Okay, in the Iliad, Hoplites ride to combat in chariots and then dismount and fight on foot, but it's pretty clear that Homer had no idea about the tactical purpose of chariots.

Yep, my bad. For some reason hoplite stuck in my mind as "ride into combat; fight on foot."
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DungeonCrawler
The use of bicycles for riding--to enhance infantry speed and carrying ability--seems to have been hit pretty well.

But, one thing that hasn't been covered is the use of bicycles strictly to increase the load carried. A person walking beside a reinforced bike (there are also ways to add the ability to pull the bike from in front or pull it from behind, which can make things easier) can move at a fairly normal pace while loading the bike with 3-400 lbs (~140-180 kg) of equipment and supplies.
Recently there has been a trend towards purpose built bikes designed to carry much heavier loads. Bikes with long integrated racks like the Kona Ute are ridable with at least a few hundred pounds of extra load (I saw a highschool kid carrying three of his 120 poundish buddies and their skateboards on one- at a decent clip, maybe 12 mph).

It is also possible to get reliable kits to convert a conventional bike (I think Xtracycle is the manufacturer for these). These sort of bikes could provide a template for military bikes designed to carry a heavier loads while being ridden. They would also be prime equipment in a post-apocalyptic game where fuel was hard to come by or expensive.
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by macphersonrants
Recently there has been a trend towards purpose built bikes designed to carry much heavier loads...

<snip>
... They would also be prime equipment in a post-apocalyptic game where fuel was hard to come by or expensive.
Recumbant and Christiana tricycles come to mind...
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mass Combat Help Please!

Even in the mid-twentieth century bike were used as transport by the insurgents in Vietnam.
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