Monday, January 20, 2014

A Gun Most Reviled

Looking down the barrel of a gun, son of a gun, son of a b...
Here I have modeled and painted up an American Anti-Tank Platoon consisting of (3) M1 57mm Anti-Tank guns and supporting bazookas.

We are hiding in these NICE! woods.
The M1 57mm Anti-Tank gun is based on the British 6 pounder and for reasons buried in history the US Army was very slow to supply high explosive ammunition with it unlike the British who supplied it with both HE and improved AP rounds.  As a result I've read it was not particularly loved by the infantryman.

This gun is rather reviled gun in Flames of War.  It's mediocre AT10 rating and 24" range struggle to take on many of the heavier armed vehicles that are favored in Flames of War list building.  It also lacks high explosive (HE) ammunition in most intelligence briefings so is ineffective against infantry or field guns.  The later briefings representing forces starting in the fall of 1944 have high explosive ammunition making it a more useful weapon.  In spite of its lackluster AT rating and range it does have some strengths including its ROF 3 and medium rating.   It has some mobility and the ability to be concealed when dug in.  Another strength is that is fielded in a platoon that also contains 3 bazookas resulting in a platoon that has more infantry teams than gun teams.  The platoon has a number of different transport options depending upon which army list you are representing your army as.  The Armored divisions used half-tracks with .50 machine guns.

We brought bazooka's too!
In the Armored divisions each Armored Infantry Company had one Anti-Tank platoon armed with (3) 57mm AT Guns.  It is noteworthy that in Flames of War you are not required to take an Anti-Tank platoon in an Armored Rifle company even though the platoon resides at the company level.

In the Infantry divisions there would be one Anti-Tank platoon in the Headquarters Company of an Infantry Battalion.  So for every 3 Rifle companies there would be one Anti-Tank Platoon with 3 guns.  In addition at the Regiment level there was a Anti-Tank company of 3 platoons of 57mm guns (9 guns).

The point being here is that if the Regiment and Battalions doled them all out equally there would be only 2 guns per Rifle company.  Undoubtably, some companies never saw their support.

It's much different than the generous support options you get in a Flames of War army list.  I happen to think that is one of the strengths of FoW, you get to field cool stuff.  Some see it as negative but, nothing stops individuals from fielding more historically plausible formations using the game system.

The Airborne divisions also used the 57mm gun on a different carriage, the British 6 pounder version, for parachute drops.

I'll be fielding mine in a number of different army configurations but these were put together for use as Division support in an Engineer Combat Company during the Battle of the Bulge.  I think they are allowed in this briefing to represent some of the fragmented and scattered platoons that came together into ad hoc formations to put up a defense against the advancing Germans.

I see them having 2 main roles in FoW.  First as an ambush platoon.  The AT10 is not going to hurt any heavy tanks from the front but does have some chance to hurt mediums with FA 6 or 7.  Being an ambush and possibly at close range there is a chance you may get some side shots where it will cut up StuG's and Panzer IV's and have good chance to take out some Panthers.  You will still struggle against some of the behemoths like Tigers. The gun does have a FP 4+ so you may end up only bailing some tanks but that is where you can follow up the shooting with an assault from your platoon commander and the 3 bazookas to mop up any survivors.  You'll probably have to make a decision to move those guys out of cover and charge the tanks before you fire the guns so calculate your chances of success carefully.

Surprise! Here we are!
The second role I see these guys having is defending objectives against assaults, particularly against tanks.  Set them up as a second line of defense behind your infantry with gaps between infantry teams to fire through.

Any tanker with skill will pin all the platoons they are assaulting and assault from cover or smoke.  The pinning is going to cause all the ROF 1 bazooka's in your other platoons to be at +1 to hit resulting in them needing 5's or 6's to hit incoming tanks.  These guns will drop from ROF 3 to ROF 1 when pinned but will not suffer the +1 to hit.  The guns are going to get twice the number of hits than the bazooka's against veterans and 1 1/2 times the hits against trained.  Every gun is worth 2 bazooka's against veterans and has a better firepower rating.  The guns can also fire as rifles so they can contribute to defensive fire if being assaulted by infantry.

In all likelihood smart players will not assault your position.  They will just shoot you until the guns are destroyed.  Even if that is the case it will buy you a round or two of time and or shift their attack to somewhere else more favorable to your defense or make it on your terms.  If you lose all the guns you may still be above half strength and keep fighting with the bazooka's.

Other minor roles it might be used as are a reserve platoon based on its relatively low points cost, or as a "US Towed Tank Destroyer platoon Light" when you mount up the commander and bazooka's in the half-tracks and go rampaging about gunning everything with the .50 cals.  It's all the rage you know.  The trouble with that may be the platoon commander would have to go in his jeep.

The 57mm AT gun is definitely reviled in FoW but if used properly with reasonable expectations it can be effective.

Thanks for looking and be sure to follow the blog or leave a comment if you like what I am presenting.


1 comment:

  1. Nice looking guns, and I personally really think they are very potent threat in fow. Along with 6 pounders, I think these little nasties are one of the best value for points tubes the allied armies have. No HE is obviously a different topic altogether.