28 April 2018

France in WWIII

The coming release of Free Nations will soon give you the opportunity to field NATO forces from either Canada, France, the Netherlands or Australia in your Team Yankee games.

Today, we're going to have a bit of a deeper dive into the French forces.

French equipment development certainly lagged behind that of the other NATO powers, and by the time the 1980's came around, the French Armee de terre did not have a MBT to rival the power of the Abrams or Leopard 2. Their tank, the AMX-30, was more akin in capability and power to the Leopard 1 even though the AMX-30 in service was more developed then its initial design.

To account for this lack of armoured firepower, the French would bolster their infantry divisions and equip them with Milan and HOT missile systems to take on Pact armour.

As discussed in our initial article, you have 4 formation options for the French in Team Yankee.

We'll take a look at the formations first and then cover off the support choices at the end.

AMX-30 Escadron Blinde 

The French armoured squadron fields the AMX-30 tank. Armed with a 105mm F1 gun which has a similar performance to that on the West German Leopard 1 but has no stabiliser.

To field the AMX-30 formation, you'll need to take the HQ of a solitary AMX-30. 

As you can see, the French commanders are pretty skilled but are somewhat reluctant in the morale stakes. The AMX-30 itself is pretty lightly armoured, so you're definitely going to want to take advantage of terrain and speed, as well as a Spearhead move if you can get it.

You have to take a minimum of 2 AMX-30 Peloton Blinde. These are feilded in groups of either 3 or 4 AMX-30 tanks. You then have 2 optional slots which can be filled with more AMX-30 platoons, up to two, or the you can forgo the 4th tank platoon and replace it with a Mech infantry platoon in AMX-10 transports.

For me, I'd definitely be look at weight of numbers here, given the low front armour on the AMX-30. You're really going to need a heap of them heading toward the enemy so you can ensure getting through to the objectives. Your support options will also be key here.

AMX-10 Compagnie de Chasseurs

The new means of warfare introduced in WW2 has not been forgotten and forces the world over have embraced this into the new world. Mechanised infantry is standard and the French are no different in this respect.

Equipped with the new AMX-10P AFV, the French infantry certainly does pack a punch into a reasonably small area. The AMX-10P is also armed with a 20mm autocannon and the option for the addition of a Milan missile for more firepower.

You have to select your Compagnie de Chasseurs HQ initially which is a single FAMAS Assault Rifle team riding in an AMX-10P

From there, you must take at least 2 AMX-10P Section de Chasseurs which come in 2 strengths:

- Full strength with 5 x FAMAS teams with anti-tank grenades, 2 x LRAC 89mm anti-tank teams and 4 x AMX-10P transports.
- Part strength with 3 x FAMAS teams, 2 x LRAC teams and 3 x AMX-10P's.

Both options also allow you to replace one of your LRAC teams with an APILAS team and you also have the option of adding 2 x Milan missile teams with their own AMX-10 transport. Obviously, there are point costs involved in these changes.

Your final 2 slots can either give you 2 additional Sections, or 1 section and an AMX-30 platoon.

The French infantry is a really great option in my opinion. They has a heap of firepower available to them, they can protect themselves from incoming chopper fire as well as protecting themselves from enemy AFV's and tanks. Supported by some armour to take some of the heat off, I think these guys have the potential to cause some serious trouble!

Escadron de Cavalerie

The French force developed some pretty interesting weaponry and included in that is the AMX-10 RC which was supplied to the Escadron de Cavalerie for use in their scouting roles. Unlike a lot of their NATO counterparts though, the AMX-10 RC sure packs a punch, being armed with a massive 105mm gun!

If you take an Escadron de Cavalrie formation, your HQ selection is each with a solitary VAB truck.

Your formation must then include 2 AMX-10 RC Peloton de Cavalerie at a minimum. These are equipped with the AMX-10 RC armoured car. Based on the AMX-10 hull, but adapted to be a 6x6 wheeled vehicle, it mounted the 105mm F2 gun in a turret.

You then have the option to take either another platoon of AMX-10 RC's or a VAB Section D'Infanterie. 

This one is an interesting one for me. The AMX-10 RC is definitely a glass cannon, it packs a massive punch but it's going to die to anything with a decent AT. It does have Scout and Spearhead which will help, but you're really going to need these protected if you want the formation to survive.

The other side of the Escadron de Cavalerie is the infantry, namely the VAB Section D'Infanterie. Similar in construction to their mechanised brothers in their AMX-10 transports, these guys are riding around in the VAB transport.

Your formation HQ consists of a sole FAMAS team in a VAB.

From there, you must take at least 2 VAB Sections, which can be fully equipped or partly equipped, as follows:

- Fully equipped with 7 x FAMAS teams with anti-tank grenades, 2 x LRAC 89mm anti-tank teams and 4 x VAB transports.
- Partly equipped with 5 x FAMAS teams, 2 x LRAC teams and 3 x VAB transports.

Again, you have the option here to pay to replace one of your LRAC teams with an APILAS team and you can also add a Milan team.

Once these are locked in, you can then choose to add 2 more sections to your formation. You then have a final optional slot which can include either:

- an AMX-10 RC Peloton de Cavalerie,
- an AMX-30 Peloton Blinde, or
- a Milan Section Antichar.

The Milan Section Antichar is pretty easy. Its a heap of Milan teams riding around in their own VAB transports! There are 3 section sizes, of varying point costs:

- 8 x Milan teams with 4 VAB transports
- 6 x Milan teams with 3 VAB transports, or
- 4 x Milan teams with 2 VAB transports.

That should sort out any pesky tanks that wander on by!

French Divisional Support

You're going to be relatively spoilt for choice in the support option you have at your disposal here, but they all have specific jobs to take care of and potential gaps to plug if you're short in any particular areas. Let's take a look at them.

VAB Mephisto Peloton Antichar

Mounting a HOT missile on the top of a VAB transport, the Mephisto adds another anti-tank option to your force. You can buy these in either 2 or 4 truck groups. The Hammerhead rule also means that you can fire their HOT missile and still retain your Gone to Ground status, meaning they're just a little more survivable.

AMX AuF1 Batterie d'Artillerie 

Built on the MAX-30 hull but sporting a mighty 155mm howitzer, the AuF1 serves as the mobile artillery for the French. You can buy these in batteries of 3 - 5 guns and with the Autoloader rule, you reduce the score needed to hit teams under a template by 1.

AMX Roland Batterie de Missiles Sol-Air

Mounting the Roland SAM missile system on an AMX-30 hull allows for AA capability to be brought to bear in the field. You can select either 2 or 4 SAM tanks.

AMX-13 DCA Peloton de Defense Anti-Aerien

Adding to the French air defence capabilities, the AMX-13 mounts twin 30mm cannons in its turret, enough firepower and ROF to dispatch enemy air and possibly keep some AFV's at bay as well. You can buy 3 of these for your force.

Gazelle HOT Patrouille d'Helicopteres Antichar

Much like the West Germans, the French also decided that strapping HOT missiles to choppers to chase armour all over the place was a great idea. Can't say I disagree...! You can get either 2 or 4 choppers here.

Gazelle 20mm Patrouille d'Helicopteres d'Attaque

As well as HOT missile, the French also equipped the Gazelle helicopter with a 20mm gun to act in a helicopter deterrent. Again, you have access to either 2 or 4 Gazelle's.

Mirage 5 Patrouille de Chasse

In your strike aircraft role you have access to the Mirage 5. Armed with both Belouga cluster bombs and a 30mm auto-cannon, this has the firepower to sort pretty much anything out. Your flight will include either 2 or 4 aircraft.

So there you have a run-down on the French forces you'll be seeing on Team Yankee tables pretty soon. I think they look like a pretty decent force, despite the lacking in the heavy tank department. You can get around this by adding a NATO tank formation from another nationality though.

Their Mech Infantry is pretty exciting and if you pay the extra points and add the APILAS to your platoon then any Pact armour is going to have a tough time getting close to you. The AMX-10P adds protection from BMP's but you still need to be careful here so as to not get overwhelmed by their numbers.

Let us know what you think of the French!

Next up, let's have a look at the Aussies!

25 April 2018

Free Nations in WWIII

The next volume in Battlefront's expanding library for Team Yankee hits shelves in a month. Free Nations will cover the Canadian, French, Dutch and Australian forces stationed in Western Europe in the fictional 1985 we play in.

We're going to take a look at each of the nations in depth over the next week or so in their own articles, but read on and we'll give you a brief synopsis of what you can expect to be fielding if you take one of these minor combatants in WWIII...

4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group

As you'd expect, the Canadians are armed with a variety of arsenal from the NATO partners. Your formation choices if you choose the Canadians are going to come from either:

- The Royal Canadian Dragoons armed with the German Leopard 1 MBT. These guys are reasonably skillful and resilient, but fielding the more lightly armoured Leo 1 means you're going to have to be pretty selective with your tactics.

- The 1 Battalion, Royal 22 Regiment. The Canadian Mech Infantry riding in the American M113 APC. These guys are your jacks-of-all-trades giving you access to infantry and the Carl Gustav AT teams.

In support roles, you'll get access to the Lynx recce vehicles along with the ADATS and Blowpipe air defence capabilities.

You can, should you desire, take an allied formation from any other NATO force and you'll also have access to US and West German support choices as well.

Armee de Terre

You get a few more formation selections if you take the French as well access to their unique kit. Here, you're going to get to choose from:

- 12EME Regiment de Cuirassiers fielding the AMX-30. While being the most lightly armoured of the NATO Tanks, the AMX-30 houses the CN 105 F1 gun which has more than enough bang to get through the Pact armour.

- 19EME Groupement de Chasseurs. The French Mech infantry are now using the MAX-10P transport to get them around the battlefield and they also have access to the excellent APILAS anti-tank teams and Milan missiles. 

- 3EME Regiment de Hussars taking the, somewhat strange, AMX-10 RC. This vehicle, while based on the AMX-10 hull, has a 6x6 wheeled config and is armed with a 105mm gun in the turret.

- 110E Regiment D'Infanterie which are being ferried in the VAB transport rather than the AMX-10. 

In support roles, you have access to more French toys including the HOT-armed Mephisto, the AMX AuF 155mm artillery, Gazelle helicopters and Mirages. You can also, once again, add another NATO formation as an Allied formation.

Netherlands 1. Korps

The Dutch are also armed with a variety of NATO equipment as well as some unique equipment of their own. If you decide to take a Dutch formation, you're going to be choosing from:

- 43 Tank Bataljon equipped with the West German Leopard 2 tank. The Dutch were the first export customer of the new Leopard 2 and started using them in 1981.

- 42 Tank Bataljon which are armed with upgraded Leopard 1 tanks.

- 42 Pantserinfanterie Bataljon. The Dutch Mech infantry are equipped with the YPR-765 transport as well as some firepower with both Dragon missiles and Carl Gustav anti-tank teams. They can also take, as part of the formation, the YPR-765 PRAT Antitank APC which houses an Improved TOW missile in a Hammerhead turret.

- 103 Verkennings Bataljon armed with the M113 C&V. Similar in development to the Canadian Lynx, being based on the M113 hull, it sports a 25mm cannon to allow a mass of suppressing fire and protection from helicopters. These act in a recce role in a Dutch force.

As before, you can also take another NATO formation as an Allied formation and you have access to West German support choices as well.

ANZAC Brigade

While based around the Australian Armed forces, I'm sure you can field these as a New Zealand force as well. They're your toys....

You have a couple of formation selections here. As they're listed in the book, they are:

- 1st Armoured Regiment armed with the Leopard 1 tank which replaced the British Centurion in 1976. They also have an M113 Cavalry troop inherent to the formation if you want to take it with both the M113 LRV and MRV available.

- 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Australia's M113 ferried Mechanised battalion. 

Support options include the Land Rover 88 equipped with a 106mm recoilless rifle in an anti-tank role, the M113 Redeye AA missile carrier and the Kiwi connection in the Scorpion armoured troop.

You have access to British support options here as well as your NATO Allied formation choice as well.

All in all, I think Free Nations is going to provide a lot more choice to people who are thinking about getting into Team Yankee but not necessarily wanting to play any of the major NATO forces. We'll look into a little more detail on the intricacies around each of these minor nations and their own special rules, and hopefully provide some more steer for people considering them.

As you've come to expect from Battlefront, the book is beautiful with a heap of colour and picture to get you inspired. Painting guides are in the back, of course.

There is all sorts of fluff on the forces depicted for each of the nations as well as a couple of new scenarios as well, which I think is a great addition.

Next article, I think we'll dive right in and look at the French. Yeah, that sounds good to me...

16 April 2018

Armoured Fist - Kingforce and the 40th (The King's) RTR

Things have been slightly busy at the BEL HQ, mostly with power cuts and other going's on, but time for us to get back on track. We promised you Churchills, so here they are....with an extra treat as well!

The North Irish Horse

To field the mighty Churchill, you're taking it as part of the 78th 'Battleaxe' Division at Longstop Hill.

You'll need to take a Churchill III Armoured Squadron HQ initially. This has a number of options for you to consider:

- 1 x Churchill III with its 6 pdr and 2 x Churchill CS with both a 2 pdr and 3" in the hull position.
- 1 x Churchill III and 1 x Churchill CS
- Either 3, 2 or 1 Churchill III tanks.

The Churchill CS is a great option here giving you both some direct fire AT on the heavily armoured chassis, as well as the 3" gun providing you an additional artillery option to dig infantry from their foxholes.

For your Platoon choices, you have a compulsory selection of a Churchill III Armoured Troop. This can consist of either 2 or 3 Churchill tanks.

Your second compulsory choice can then be either another Churchill Troop or you can take a Sherman Troop along side them.

You can then either take another Churchill or Sherman option as well as slots for 2 more Churchill Troops. Rounding out your Formation selections, there is also the option for a Rifle Platoon which we'll cover in another article.

Dan is especially looking forward to getting a game in with these monsters as he's had a Kingforce list built for a while. Keep an eye on the Behind Enemy Lines YouTube!

40th (The King's) RTR

Fielding the nimble and well-armed Valentine tanks, the 40th (The King's) RTR gives you these in spades!

Your Formation HQ is going to have 3 Valentine II tanks armed with 2 pdr AT guns at your disposal. These do struggle to get infantry out of foxholes as they have no HE, but this can be made up for elsewhere! You will have the benefit of the excellent armour protection the Valentine provides though.

You'll then need to take a minimum of 2 (up to a max of 4) Valentine Armoured Troops which can either be equipped with:

- 3 x Valentine II tanks, or
- 2 x Valentine II and 1 x Valentine VIII armed with the long barrelled 6pdr.

I must say, I like the idea of getting some Valentines built and on the table. They a pretty good all-around tank despite their short-comings and with the right support choices, they can really cause Jerry some problems!

Next up, we'll start looking at the infantry, but until then....