When it comes to down and dirty, hand-to-hand, in-your-face firepower, no one is better than Combat Engineers. Against regular infantry at point blank range, the technical will cream the grunts first with satchel charges, then with flame-throwers. In many cases, its actually better to use flame-throwers against enemy infantry because they have a tendency to run away from Engineers who first use rifles. Engineers main problem to getting good body counts, will be having enough satchel charges and flame-thrower fuel to keep going. Remember also that sometimes you don't want to use up your precious Shake and Bake supply, even at close range, so just use normal weapons when you deem that adequate to the situation. However good your Engineers may be at point blank range, it may be pertinent to note here that at longer ranges, they will usually be at a distinct firepower disadvantage. They should be used in a support role in main battle, laying down suppressive fire from their half tracks, allowing the grunts to advance easier.
Not only do Engineers excel at smearing infantry and fortifications all over the ground, they are also pretty effective tank-killers. For many armies in the early years, Combat Engineers are the only relatively effective way for infantry to deal with the heavier tanks. Later, when the grunts get bazookas, and Panzerfausts, even they can stand up to tanks for a little while, so Engineers become less popular for this purpose. But in those Blitzkrieg years, Engineers are the infantrymen's answer to the tank. However, the big limitation is range. Your engineers are just regular guys in the sights of the nearest enemy tank -- unless they get too close. Everyone has seen tanks get blown up by satchel charges, what is less well known is that the flame-thrower can also destroy tanks. The flames fuel mixture penetrates all the cracks and crevasses, charring the crew inside. Another fun tactic with Combat Engineers is to mount them onto a Flame Tank (which hopefully WWIIOL will model). Yes, that's right, this awesome combination will hit any approaching infantry with all the fire the tank can muster, plus the tank's flame-thrower, plus the Engineer's rifle fire, satchel charge and, you guessed it, the Engineer's flame-thrower. What a combo! If you plan to send your tanks rumbling through enemy infested cities or woods, mounting an Engineer section on a Tank is a great way to lead your troops to the fight (this is to risky in open terrain). But the risk, particularly in cities, is that your tank will get hit with antitank fire and cause casualties among the riders. Sometimes the Engineer squad just disappears leaving you wondering if you need to write their families.
Yet another particularly effective tactic at which Engineers excel is that of bridge-blowing. While any large shell can do the job, an Engineer attacking a bridge will almost certainly result in the collapse of the bridge. If there happens to be an enemy tank or squad on the bridge, they'll be sent plummeting down to the river or stream, resulting in an instant (and pretty darn cool) kill. If you're on defense and there is a bridge where enemy vehicles are likely to cross, placing an Engineer unit adjacent to the bridge is a great way to defend it and bloody the nose of an overzealous enemy. This works especially well if there is covering terrain next to the bridge, since your Engineer will have less likelihood of being spotted. Remeber though, once you blow a bridge, the High Command will have to allocate points towards it for it's restructure. So this may not be the tactic you'll want to use if on offense and you run into a counter attack that's forces you to retreat.
Finally, lets not forget that Engineer's main job: Mines. Engineers can detect mines better than anyone. Preceding an advance into mine country is a sure way to minimize casualties, at least among your regular troops. Engineers will nearly always see a minefield before it does them any damage, and immediately commence to clearing it. Regular infantry can also clear mines, but they're much worse at it. They usually find the minefield by stepping on them. Mine-clearing is a hard job, but its much harder when there are other guys with rifles and guns trying to kill you at the same time. Engineers and other units engaged in mine-clearing will do so much more quickly if they aren't under fire, suppressed, or firing back at the enemy. Therefore, when you find a minefield and decide you need to clear it, lay some smoke first so you can do your job without the hindrance of someone sending a hailstorm of aimed fire into your area. If you're on the defense, keep those Engineers pinned down with fire.
Other things to keep in mind for the future are barbed wire and roadblocks. It's quite possible that WWIIOL will have the engineers deal with these things. There is no doubt, that the combat engineers will be a vital resource to have. WWIIOL knows this and I'm sure they have some big plans ahead for the Pioneers!
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