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Our thoughts have now turned to the north German plain in 1984, for which I have been building the West German 3rd Panzer Division and elements of the 1st Corps. Opponent Phil has been enthused by a recent visit to Seelowe Heights where he obtained much information on East German TOE and kit, walked through a submarine and touched a SA-5 no less amongst several museum visits. He now has the 9th East German Panzer Division building up alongside about 6 million Soviets it seems. Talk is of a mini-campaign based on a computer game he has, which pits the Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Army against 1st Panzer Corps.
This article originally appeared in the SOTCW's Journal No.40 (June 2001).
Work and geography may work against us playing this, but I have started basing my 1/300th moderns on Spearhead bases anyway, 32mm or 1.25" square. These allow you to go to town on the Btn HQ and OP bases, which tend to be important in Spearhead, in effect making little dioramas, so much so that Phil’s hordes will be so demoralised on seeing them that they will turn tail without firing a shot! I wish. I have an orbat down to battalion level for the West Germans, so I can paint the Btn number on the model sides, making HQ identification easier during a game. The base also allows written details to be put underneath.
Phil has been practising his river crossings and reckons he doesn't need his extra corps and army level pontoon regiments. Maybe I should let him lay the bridges then use UH-1's from Corps to drop boxes of minelets on the bridges from very low level - lets see you use mine-rollers and FAE rockets on them then... .Or I could use a Wing of Tornado IDS using MW-1 Strebo dispensers stuffed with minelets.
Does anyone know if the MW-I Strebo dispensers actually came into service with the Luftwaffe, or was it just another good idea that cost too much? From the notes I have it is a massive cluster bomb laying a pattern about 1200m long, or about half that if using minelets.
The whole dispenser fits on the belly of the Tornado leaving wing pylons for another 4 standard CBUs. In Spearhead this would equate to a CBU pattern of double length, ideal for those traffic jams building up behind a pontoon bridge or AVLB… Interestingly, the previous issue's comment about allowing one flight per battalion fielded seems to hold true generally - if you compare numbers of squadrons available to numbers of divisions in real life, both the Swedes and Germans come out to about this. In the Luftwaffe case, each division ends up with 2 attack Wings, but their Wings are only two Squadrons, each of around 18 planes, i.e. 4 models, or 8 models to a division. Most divisions have 10 battalions (not including the Composite battalions formed in wartime and ignoring attached Jaegers). Unfortunately in 1984 there are not enough Tornados to go round and one Wing will have to be Phantoms or sadly Alpha Jets or even F-104G, some of which had still not been replaced by 1985. Oh well, the East Germans still have a Regiment of MiG-17s, and don't get decent Su-17s until 1985. Talking of which, no-one makes a Su-17/20/22 in 1/300th, amazingly enough. Can some-one send Navwar some scale plans and pictures, as they seem to like adding new planes all the time.
Looking at the West German lists in Modern Spearhead, they are pretty much spot on, apart from not including Corp assets. The only thing I would add is the Brigade Engineer Companies could have a platoon of M48A2C with mine-rollers attached. Navwar produce separate mine-rollers which will make an interesting model when glued in front of an M48A2. That's one advantage of basing the vehicles, it gives such attachments something to rest on if they prove difficult to glue to the vehicle. Also each company would have an M548 Skorpion minelayer platoon, although I am not sure they were in service as early as 1984. No one appears to make a model of this so its conversion time! I will use standard H&R/Navwar M548, and slice off the rear cargo compartment at an angle from each side, so that there is an apex running low along the middle. Matchstick stubs will then be glued on to represent the minelet dispensers. I’ll let you know if it works. The only other addition is that the divisional Helicopter Squadrons started the 1980s with unarmed Alouette II's, these being replaced by Bo-105M (the unarmed version) only from 1983.
Interestingly, the Germans seem to definitely have minelet ammo for their LARS-2, which came in service in 1983, and boxes of them slung under their UH-1D's, but no ICM (bomblet) ammo for their artillery.
Deep Wading for MBTs
Phil has suggested that it takes 2 moves halted for a tank unit that can use snorkelling/deep wading gear to prepare for crossing a river. It is assumed it cannot be done under fire. Time wise this is fine, but the difficulty would be finding a suitable crossing point. It is worth noting that each Soviet divisional Engineer Btn has a BRDM-2 stand with recce divers, maybe this should be used to find a safe riverbed.