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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.


  1. Great looking pick up, Randle, and I can't wait to see them in action!


    1. Hey Jack. Glad to see you here.

      I'm picking out a batch to refurbish for my first round of games: Team Smith.. talk about a name with omninus portents for us soldiers. It's going to be brutal for those weekend warriors! But who ever said the the Soviets played fair?

    2. Yeah, 'Team' definitely beats 'Task Force' in this case!

      And I know the Soviets aren't playing fair right now: they've definitely done something to my dice!

      Keep the posts coming!