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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Team Smith OOB

Hi all,

Welcome back to the next installment of my on-going effort to bring WWIII back to my gaming table.

When we last spoke I was filling you in on where I was taking my American collection: that I was going to use the real-life 31st Armored Brigade of the Alabama National Guard as the parent organization for my collection.

This week I'm zooming in to view the company team that I'll be putting on the board that is from the 31st: Team Smith!  I'll give you a starting order of battle for this ad hoc force that will be spearheading my force.  They'll be the first to face the full fury of my ever-growing Soviet hoard!  So here's an OOB and the background fluff for this group of weekend heroes who've been yanked into the most terrible war of modern times. 

Team Smith is a fairly typical company team from the 31st Armored Brigade.  It is built around C Company, 1st Battalion, 167th Infantry and elements from A Company, 1st Battalion, 131st Armored Regiment.  A 1/131 Armor was exchanged for A 1/167 Infantry, so now the crunchies of the "4th Alabama" have found themselves in the infantryman's version of hell... assigned to an armored unit! While Charlie Company remained with the battalion poor 1st Platoon has been swapped out for the 1st Platoon (tank) from Alpha Company,   All of this platoon cross attaching has left 1/167 Infantry looking something like this:

Task Force 1/167 Infantry (4th Alabama)

HHC (Hq and Hq Company)

Able Team (Tank Heavy Team with 2 tank platoons and 1 mech platoon)
Baker Company (Mech pure team with 3 mech platoons)
Charlie Team (aka Team Smith with 1 tank platoon and 2 mech platoons)
SSC (Service and Support Company)

In addition to the battalion's organic and cross-attached element the 4th Alabama has picked up other attachments:

1 ADA Platoon (M163 Flyswatters)

1 Combat Engineer Company (to support the task force's maneuvering).

Team Smith's current OOB looks something like this:

Company HQ with 1 (11 man) AR squad, 1 Jeep, 1 2 1/2 Truck, 2x M113A1, 1 M60 GPMG, 2x M203 

Company Maintenance Section with 12 men, 1 Jeep, 1 2 1/2, 1x M113A1, 1x M578, 1x M203. 1 M88 ARV with a heavy maintenance team (4 men) from 1/131 Armor.

2 Mech platoons with a five man platoon command team, 4x M113A1, 3 (10 man) AR squads armed with 6x M203, 3 GPMG, 3x 90mm M67 or M47 Dragon (M67s in Alabama, M47 in Germany- however some of these weapons were brought with the company to Germany)

Heavy Weapons platoon with Platoon HQ: 1 Jeep and command team (5 men)

1 Medium Mortar Section: 3x 81mm M125A1, 1x M113A1 with MFC, 4x M203 (14 men)
1 ATGW Section: 2x M150 (TOW) (6 men)

1 Tank Platoon with 5x M60A1 (20 men)

1 M163 ADA platform with 1 Redeye MANPAD SAM team (4 men).

Company Personalities:

As war breaks out in Germany Team Smith can count on the efforts of about 143 souls. 

CO: Captain Daniel Smith. Dan Smith is one of first African American officers in 31st Armored Brigade, A 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama, Smith played football under head coach Paul "Bear" Bryan.  He was suppose to be a first round NFL draft choice however he badly fractured his leg while playing during his senior season.  He's now a football coach at a Birmingham high-                                                        school.

XO: 1st Lieutenant Justin Jacks. Jacks is an oddity in the company.  He's a former marine and a veteran of the Battle of Hue.  No one really knows how he found himself in the National Guard, or even what he does in civilian life, and he's not answering questions.  He drills the men mercilessly and is a stickler for marksmanship  weapon PMCS.  He still calls his soldiers "doggies".  His preferred weapon is the M1911.

1st Sergeant Kevin Leary. "Top" Leary, according to the GIs of Charlie Company, is the world's meanest Kindergarten teacher.  He's also the oldest man in the company at 39.  Leary was drafted into the Army in '65 and served two tours in 'Nam with the 11th ACR where he was the driver for Captain David Drake.  Even though Leary knows the "Track" (M113) like the back of hand he swears that he'll buy it in one of those "death traps" one of these days.  

2nd Lieutenant Stuart Kyote. Kyote is the 1st Platoon leader.  He and his bunch of M60 tankers were cross-attached to Team Smith just a month before WWIII broke out.Stuart's mom was a war-bride from the UK (his dad was a 1st ID veteran from WWII), and even though he hales from Dothan, Al he speaks with a sharp and crisp English (Public School) accent.  Kyote, and his platoon,  are still struggling to find their place in Team Smith.  It's always tough to be the cross-attached guys. 

More later.  Time now Charlie Mike.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Meet the Dixie Brigade: 31st Armored Brigade

A few weeks ago I saw these guys on sale at Ebay.  When I saw this lot I knew I had to get them!

They're not much to look at.  The previous owner did little more than spray them with a sort of glossy OD green and slapped on the US white star.  You can even still see metal down around the road wheels and tracks so it was just a quick slapdash job meant to be played with and not looked at.  But it doesn't matter to me, I was just enchanted by the idea of having my first "dinosaur" force!  A force of M60 tanks!

You see, I was at the tail end of the Cold War.  I joined up in '89 and didn't even give the M60 a thought when my recruiter asked me which tank MOS I wanted.  Of course I wanted to be on the Abrams.  It was the newest, sexiest tank in the service and only the Army had them so that's where I wanted to be.

Some months later, after training, I found myself in the 12th Cavalry Regiment working with a lot of the old hands who had been in the army for what seemed to me to be forever!  That's when I heard the old, funny stories about the "dinosaur" and I was always amused at how much those old crews loved, and hated, the "dinosaur".  

I always thought the '60 was an ugly vehicle.

Like something out of WWII.  But I have to say now, there is a sort of charm to the "dinosaur".  I'm not sure what it is, but there's a cool retro look maybe to it.  I now sort of regret that I didn't start with the M60.  After all, when it left the Army it was the end of an era.  The old beast served during the height of the Cold War and for many years, since the late 50's, it was, in one mark or another, the main tank in the Army.  I had a chance to crew one and I declined the offer.  Oh well.

Anyway, when I saw this lot I saw another chance to use the '60, so I didn't let it pass up.  
However once I got the things I was sort of at a loss.  I never spent time around M60 units so I had no clue who had them nor did I even know how they were organized!

Luckily I found this!

31st Armored Brigade

Funny, I have lived in Alabama for much of my life and I didn't know a thing about the 31st Armored Brigade.  Cooler still, they were equipped with the M60A1 all the way up until 1989 at which point they upgraded to the M60A3.  Not a bad deal for me.  The best plus is that they were assigned to Germany!  If WWIII had broken out the Dixie Brigade would have joined REFORGER and been sent to Germany to help USAER save NATO.  

So that's who these boys are going to be.  They are going to be the leading element of the 31st Armored Brigade and they'll see action during the days that followed the Warsaw Pact invasion of Germany.  M60s vs the T72s and T62s of the Soviet follow-on forces in a final, last ditch stand before the Rhine

This little collection gives me a very nice start to my Dixie Brigade force.  Here's a few more pics of this little band of dinosaurs.

Here's the supporting element.  The first row has two mortar M113 tracks (with 4.2" mortars of course!) a M577 HQ track (you know you're in trouble if he's seeing action!) and a pair of M163 flyswatters.  They'll probably have a couple of Stinger/Redeye SAM teams.  Granted, the Micromark sheet doesn't have M163s on it, so I'll assume SACUER rousted up a few to 
boost up the brigade's AAA firepower.

The next two rows are my critical infantry support: vanilla flavored M113A1s to carry at least two platoons of mech infantry.  One of the cool factors this unit has going for it is that the 1/167th Infantry was armed with either the M47 Dragon or the M67 90mm recoilless rifle.  I might have to go out and grab some Vietnam era GHQ infantry heavy weapons troops so I can field a few of those.  I only need 8 of them to carry two infantry platoons and I have the necessary GIs now.

 This last picture shows the core firepower of my Dixie Brigade: the M60s.  

The ebay lot didn't identify them beyond being M60s.  They aren't GHQ like the M113 tracks, but they have a circled "C" mark under the hull, so I think they are C in C miniatures.  They look a lot like the C in C miniatures but they don't quite match up with anything on the site.  They have bustle racks but no infra-red searchlights.  So they don't exactly match what's on the site. Anyone have ideas about who's they are?  Anyway, I'm going to field them as M60A1s.

I plan to repaint the whole lot in acrylic paints and tone down the green and put in more earthy browns so I can match-up with the NATO camouflage of the time.   To protect the new paint jobs I'll mount them (and all of my forces for that matter) on Flames of War small bases.  I've done that in the past with my micro armor and have been very happy with the results.

To expand this little force some more I plan to grab a blister more of the M60A1s and M113A1s from GHQ along with a pack of M150 TOW vehicles and a pack of M151 jeeps.   With those figures in place I'll have a full company each of armor and infantry along with some useful attachments.  This force will provide the core of my WWIII campaign.

I'll come up with a roster that will provide me with my forces.  They'll come from the totally fictional 2nd Battalion, 131st Armored Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 167th Infantry (aka the 4th Alabama!)

Maybe over the coming week I will be able to recondition enough of these guys to play a short game of Ivan's 5 Core Company Commander.

Later!  Time now Charlie Mike.