Destroying Fort Schmerzen: The Communications Blackout

Mission Photo Album

The German communications post Lt. Mike Powell must destroy on his way to Fort Schmerzen.

The German communications post Lt. Mike Powell must destroy on his way to Fort Schmerzen.

Even though he’s escaped the StG 44 production facility, Lt. Mike Powell isn’t out of the woods yet, literally or figuratively.

He’s still making his way through the forest along the Siegfried Line towards the fictional Fort Schmerzen, but he’s got a few more stops to make before rendezvousing with his squad to make the final assault.

After stealing the German assault rifle, Powell finds himself outside a small town that’s home to the last train station before the fort. According to a letter from Col. Stanley Hargrove, there’s also a command post that handles most of the region’s radio traffic. Hargrove says this equipment must be destroyed to isolate the fort from the rest of the world and to increase the mission’s chance of success.

Hargrove notes that the town is occupied by “skilled winter troops,” including the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS), and that it’s wired with an alarm system. With the High Standard HDM suppressed pistol and knowledge of soldier movement and positions within the town it’s possible (although difficult) to sneak through the snow-covered streets and infiltrate the command post without triggering the alarm.

Powell kills a German officer before he can pull the alarm switch inside the town.

Powell kills a German officer before he can pull the alarm switch inside the town.

Once Powell destroys the communication hub, alarms blare (if they haven’t been activated already), and endless German soldiers stream into town to prevent Powell’s escape.

Because Fort Schmerzen is entirely fictional and it’s exact location is vague at best, it’s tough to pinpoint the location of the town, much less find out if there was a command post or a train station there. There simply isn’t much going on during this mission that relates to actual history.

Determined to find a topic to cover, I gave the communications equipment a closer look and found that the radio models used throughout the game match the German portable Tornister-Empfänger b. radio receiver (often shortened to Torn.E.b.).

The receiver, nicknamed “Berta,” was used by Germany between 1935 and 1945 and consisted of two separate units – the main receiver and a power supply.

According to this 2003 article by R.T. Walker in Radio Bygonesthe Torn.E.b. was the end result of portable receiver development begun by Telefunken in the late 1920’s. The “knapsack receiver” was designed in the early 1930’s and accepted by the Wehrmacht in 1936 or 1937.

The sets were originally developed solely by Telefunken, but the company added other manufacturers after 1939, and about 200,000 were built before the end of the war. They were used by German land, sea, and air forces and could be used with a number of different transmitters.

The receiver was accompanied by a box of identical size that housed a 90-volt battery and other elements of the power supply. These boxes could be latched together and waterproofed, but could also be transported separately.

As the war progressed and aluminum became more scarce, the receiver was made out of zinc alloy and steel, which nearly doubled the weight of the 35-pound (16-kilogram) apparatus.

In 1942, sets began to appear without a voltmeter, though the reason for this is uncertain, as a voltmeter is useful in determining the status of the receiver’s power supply.

The model used in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault appears to be this version, as the space in the upper left corner once occupied by a voltmeter is now a metal plate. Because the first mission takes place in November 1942, this fits with the historical timeline.

While the in-game model is a fairly accurate representation of the real thing, if complete historical accuracy is considered, Powell destroys an essentially useless radio post.

The receivers inside the command post’s two buildings (and throughout the game) are placed without their power supplies – making them nothing more than paperweights. Instead of accompanying transmitters, the receivers are incorrectly equipped with a microphone plugged into a port that doesn’t exist, and, though not strictly necessary, neither headphones nor amplifiers are anywhere to be found.

A real Torn.E.b. receiver (left) and the Allied Assault model (right). Left photo from

A real Torn.E.b. receiver (left) and the Allied Assault model (right). Left photo from

~ by John on December 29, 2014.

One Response to “Destroying Fort Schmerzen: The Communications Blackout”

  1. Reblogged this on John Does Stuff and commented:

    Since the last mission of this game is based mostly in fiction, it’s been increasingly hard to find something to write about.

    For this week’s post, I learned far more than I would ever imagine about the Torn.E.b. German radio receiver used by the Wehrmacht during World War II.

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