Ooarai manages to escape Black Forest’s ambush by using a smokescreen to conceal their retreat, where they take up defensive positions on top of a hill. A fierce battle begins, with Ooarai managing to disable several of Black Forest’s tanks. Thanks to a distraction created by the Student Council, the Ooarai manages to retreat again while Black Forest stops to regroup. However, in order to reach their destination, Ooarai has to cross a deep river. Unfortunately, Rabbit Team’s M3 Lee stalls in the river. Faced with leaving Rabbit Team behind or risk having Black Forest catch up to them, Miho is reminded of her previous finals match. However, the rest her crew encourages her to go and help Rabbit Team, much to her relief. Miho takes a rope and leaps across several of Ooarai’s armour in order to reach Rabbit Team, and the other tanks tow the Rabbit Team out of the river. They then make their way to a nearby town, destroying a bridge to force Black Forest to take the long way around. Miho hopes to use the time to prepare and lure Black Forest into urban combat. However, they run into Black Forest’s trump card, the Panzer VIII Maus. Impervious to Ooarai munitions, the Maus effortlessly annihilates Mallard and Hippo Teams, leaving Miho to wonder how to fight it. Meanwhile, Black Forest has regrouped and is quickly closing in on the town.
- Smoke screens are used to great effect wherever combatants are dependent on visuals to ascertain the positions of their enemy. This tactic works wonders for Miho, and was used extensively in Gundam 00 by the Ptolemaios to escape from heavy enemy fire. Most modern armour are equipped with thermal imaging to cut right through the smoke, although modern MBTs, like the M1A1, possess special smoke grenades that can disrupt thermal imaging.
- Every single one of Miho’s past opponents regard her and Ooarai in great respect for their friendly approach towards the sport. With the exception of Anzio, all of the other teams are seen rooting for Ooarai in this episode. In particular, Katyusha’s praise regarding Miho’s techniques illustrate Miho’s character and capacity to gain respect from her opponents, especially considering Katyusha’s previous perspectives on the Ooarai team.
- Miho’s innovative ideas, paired with her kind nature, make her highly suited for commanding units against overwhelming odds. One of the earliest examples we will see in the episode is where the Tiger P is towed by three other tanks.
- Black Forest is known as Kuromorimine in most circles, but for efficiency’s sake, I refer to them by their English name. Similarly, while most people romanize 大洗 as “Oarai”, the proper spelling is either Ōarai or Ouarai. Some standards also permit Ooarai, which is the spelling I am most familiar with. Thus, for my discussions, I will maintain consistent adherence to my own standards.
- The Hetzer was originally known as the Jagdpanzer 38(t), a modified Panzer 38(t) that fulfils the role of a dedicated tank destroyer. Available in large numbers and having reasonably high mechanical reliability, it was a reasonably small vehicle that could stop almost all period armour from 1000 metres. The Student Council team use this to great effect, getting off multikills in rapid succession.
- Making the most of the smoke, Miho orders her armour to dig in and return fire against the advancing Black Forest column. In the ensuing chaos, a handful of Black Forest units are dispatched, and the remaining Ooarai units advance ahead. Discussions elsewhere proposed that Ooarai was pinned down in a desperate situation, but the episode itself rapidly dispels that.
- Being pro, my speculation turned out to be correct: I had predicted that this scene would probably happen in the beginning of the episode as an early countermeasure, rather than as a late-game response to anything.
- The PVs do not tell the entire story, of course. Ooarai’s unique deployment objectives for the Hetzer result in much glorious kills from the Student Council. Anzu’s pro shooting skills result in much pwnage, contrasting Momo’s strange knack for missing shots even at point blank range.
- I’ve joked about this before, but the radio chatter in games like Battlefield 3 andHalo is so much more serious than how even Black Forest communicates on the battlefield. The complete absence of phase lines, objective points, and call-signs is somewhat strange. These communication elements are in place in the armed forces to minimise ambiguities and ensure that commands can be received even where communications are difficult.
- The Saunders University Prep school observes the battle as they would a movie, with popcorn and soft drinks. I myself never actually consume anything during a movie, seeing as I am usually too engrossed in the movie to be doing so. The last movie I watched was The Hobbit back in January. It pretty much owns, minus a few points, but I’m not really here to talk about that. I do believe I see some K-rations to the left, an individual daily combat food ration which was introduced by the United States Army during World War II to supply soldiers with three separately boxed meal units as a replacement for the C-rations.
It has been quite a while since I’ve seen Girls und Panzer, but this episode was all it took to remind me of why the wait was worth it. In particular, this penultimate episode bears direct resemblance to the Gundam 00 episodes from four years ago: back in 2009, the second-to-last episode was released, featuring the 00 Raiser’s Trans-Am Burst system and Tieria’s heroic activation of the Seravee’s Trial Field. However, this is a Girls und Panzer post (a Gundam 00 post will come shortly, strangely enough). As such, discussions will shift towards what I’ve seen thus far. Episode 11 proved to be an incredibly amusing watch from start to finish, bringing to light the nature of both schools’ strategies. Whereas Black Forest is inclined towards organised campaigns against an enemy approximately equal in strength, Ooarai emphasised more hit-and-fade tactics, striking as needed and retreating before considerable retaliation could be dispensed by a superior enemy. Thus, I am most pleased to say that my forecast has proven to be correct, and hope that its accuracy continues to hold as the finale comes around. Miho’s capacity to adapt to the ever-shifting situation on the battlefield leads her to utilise bold strategies not dissimilar to Sumeragi Lee Noreiga’s from Gundam 00, whether it be towing their Tiger P or capitalising on their diversion to launch a short assault from the hillside. The engagement also illustrate that Black Forest plays things best by the book. From a real-world perspective, this is not dissimilar to American and Soviet Doctrine during the Cold War. Both parties trained and prepared their forces for conventional warfare against an enemy roughly equal in size and capacity, so when their forces were deployed into Vietnam or Afghanistan against insurgents, their technological superiority did not guarantee victory. Indeed, both the Soviets and Americans would withdraw their forces following a costly, consuming combat that raised the public’s discontent. While powerful, Black Forest suffers from the same drawbacks, being unaccustomed to handling a frustrating enemy that can deal damage and disappear before retaliation can be exacted. The main reason why the fight has remained reasonably even (i.e. without things tipping towards Ooarai completely) is owing to Maho’s caution and capacity to anticipate Miho’s next move.
- This is a protracted post with double the images as usual, mainly because I had twice as many thoughts on it when watching. We begin by sharing a cruel laugh at Erika’s expense when her tank breaks down. German tanks are known for being impressive in specs, but also for being ridiculously high maintenance: this trend holds particularly true for later tanks deployed by the German forces in WWII.
- The second half to the episode forces Miho to confront her past, and this time, with the full support of her team, Miho decides to rescue Rabbit team, whose tank stalled whilst crossing the river. Miho is forced to make a quick decision as the Black Forest column closes on their position, but with a supportive team, she opts to save the Rabbit team.
- An unidentified source of questionable value has stated that Miho makes a five meter jump between her tank and an adjacent tank to reach the M3 Lee. This is an impressive, but not impossible, feat. Normally, Japanese sources are meticulous and rival my content in terms of detail and correctness, so people often just accept that all Japanese sources are correct. This is the part where some judgement comes in to be useful, given that Japanese sources can be wrong on occasion (in fact, more than one would normally expect).
- Darjeeling commented earlier that Black Forest’s main weaknesses is the inability to adapt to chaos on the battlefield. Again, I note that this was within the scope of my predictions: Black Forest spends a portion of the episode’s second half regrouping and making pursuit of the Ooarai forces.
- Having affirmed that her decision is correct, Ooarai’s column advances forward through the river. Speculation on this scene in the PV turned out to be fruitless, given that Ooarai is merely using baiting tactics at this point to wear out their opponents, rather than retreating from an overwhelmingly powerful enemy.
- The Motor club pulls off an insane manoeuvre here, somehow forcing their VK4501 Tiger Porsche to do a wheelie and successfully rendersthe bridge unusable for the advancing Black Forest Column. The Tiger Porsche was a heavy tank prototype that mounted a 88mm KwK 36 L/56 gun, but was susceptible to breaking down owing to its components, hence the choice to equip the Motor Club team with it: their capacity to fix things on the fly is most impressive.
- Miho directs her column into a seemingly abandoned urban area with apartment units similar to those of Kadykchan, a Russian ghost town in the Susumansky District of Magadan Oblast. Built by GULAG prisoners during the late stages of World War II, the city was home to coal miners, but by 2010, the lack of demand for coal led to the complete depopulation of the town. This is the official story, of course: some parties believe that the Siberian winter took its toll on the aging town, and survivors were evacuated by the Russian military.
- The biggest surprise in the episode was the deployment of the Panzer VIII Maus, the heaviest tank ever built. At 188 tons, its mass made it difficult to operate, but its 128mm main gun was capable of rendering inoperational nearly all the tanks of its period from even a 3500 metre range. Only two hulls and one turret were ever built, being captured by the Allied forces shortly before WWII ended. The tank is nearly impervious to all weapons from its era, and Ooarai encounters substantial difficulty in engaging it. Fortunately, this is not Black Forest’s flag tank.
- I’ve seen some discussion popping up about as to whether or not the Maus could have put up a good fight against modern main battle tanks (MBT), such as the Abrams M1A2. The short answer is absolutely not. Despite having 220mm of armour on the hull front and frontal turret armour 240mm thick, the armour is steel plating and lacks the composite attributes found on modern MBTs. Thus, a single grazing hit from the M1A2’s APFSDS (or even a HEAT round) would shred the Maus. The 128mm cannon on the Maus might be able to penetrate the M1A2’s flank armour if it impacted directly. However, the fact remains is that the M1A2 is nearly 40 years more advanced than the Maus: ergo, this is not anything resembling a fair comparison. This is the reason why Panzerfahren does not allow post-1945 tanks to participate: whereas the older tanks were intended for sport, modern armour is exceedingly efficient at fulfilling its role as a war machine. On a similar note, this is the reason why modern armour is not present in the game World of Tanks: a single M1A2 would be able to solo every other player in the game at the same time (suppose we have enough bandwidth and resources to accommodate the entire World of Tanks population on one server); even the use of the Tier 10 tanks would be about as effective as throwing rocks.
- The episode ends with the entirety of Black Forest’s remaining units zeroing in on Ooarai’s position, with Panzerlied playing gloriously in the background. One of the most famous of the Wehrmacht songs, Panzerlied was popularized in English-speaking countries by the film Battle of The Bulge, The outcome of the next episode is anybody’s guess, but I am personally hoping for an Ooarai victory.
Miho’s own stratagems, on the other hand, are equally, if not more impressive. Ooarai’s innovative deployment of the Hetzer, coupled with her capitalization of the terrain and compassion for her teammates are excellent examples of why she is so well-respected as a commander. Sun Tzu said that:
Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
While the situation obviously won’t involve death, Miho’s relationship with her team is remarkably deep, and the respect from her teammates is reciprocated; after Rabbit Team is immobilized in the river, Miho faces the exact same situation as she did previously. This time around, her teammates fully back her decision to rescue Rabbit Team, and with this scene in mind, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Miho has successfully overcome her past limitations. After nearly 20 minutes of riveting combat sequences, Miho directs her company into an unoccupied urban area. Contrasting all expectation, a Panzer VIII Maus shows up and effortlessly shrugs off Ooarai’s assault, before wiping the floor with two of Ooarai’s units. This was somewhat surprising, but hardly unexpected. Ooarai clearly has demonstrated tactical superiority, so to even the odds up, Black Forest is granted some brute force to rectify the differences. With the finale releasing in a mere two days, I expect a brilliant engagement. Because the objective is still to eliminate the flag tank, my position has not changed since I posted my own speculations.