Tuesday, July 10, 2012

US light armoured divison 1944

Rhys writes....

Well, Keith is keen to see this one, so here goes;
Sorry this has taken so long, real life has interviend and I have not had enough energy. however, hitting the publish button when you are editing a post tends to speed the post up a bit!

I was attracted to this list having read some of the various WW2 histories (among them, Pattons 'War as I knew it', This is a good book BTW). I was not overly keen to do a heavy armoured division, and so chose the 4th armoured division (as an aside, this was one of the few/only US divisions without a nickname).

The light armoured divisions operated as 3 combat commands, A, B and Reserve, which could be considered brigades in size. The divisions fighting battalions were divided up between these commands. The support battalions were divided up between the combat commands. Below the combat commands the Americans would form task forces which are very similar to the German kampfgruppe. Here's where the lists intervened, as only the Germans are organised enough to do this at any time during WW2. Time for a plan B. I pondered the idea of having just 2 battalions, but with high levels of support units. This would give 2 large battalions with high break points. Time to get the pencil out. The target is 650 points.

At this point I'd note that I did 'cheat' and used the heavy armoured division list. This means that I get to ditch the M5 company (which is only really useful as 'ablative' armour for teh shermans, which really seems to be a bit of an oxymoron)

Start with the Combat command HQ in a jeep at 6 points

Next up the fighting battalions.

The tank battalion has an M4 HQ and a M4/105 for fire support. there are then 9 M4's and 3M5s allowed. I did not max out the M4 numbers .Further to this I chose a mix of M4's. I upgraded 3 M4's to M4/76's for the better AT capacity. It's only a marginal improvement, but the added 6" range over the normal M4 is worth it. I also upgraded 2 M4's to 'Jumbos' with extra armour. Now, I have played against armies which were almost completely composed of 'Jumbos'. This is completely unhistorical, as they tended to be issued in small numbers to each division (there were only 232 made). I have stretched things a wee bit by having 2 platoons. The extra armour is very useful when facing the lesser German tanks. Anything with an 75L48 (PzIV, Stug IIG or PAK 40) is shooting at a -1. These get put out front to attract fire while the rest of the M4's shoot back at better odds.
So after all that bollocks, the final battalion list is

Tank Battalion Hq 1 M4 20

1 M4/105mm 17

1 M4/81mm HT 6

1 0.50 jeep recon 4

2 M4 Jumbo (75mm) 44

3 M4 75mm 60

3 M4/76mm 72

Points value 223. running points total 229
(when writing a list I always keep a running points total, so that you have an idea of how many points you have spent, and where you can cut back to afford a more useful element).

The motorised infantry battalion is a bit easier to do.

Armoured Infantry Battalion

Hq 1 rifle stand in HT 7

9 rifle stand in HT 63

1 HMG in HT 7

1 M4/81mm mortar/ HT 6

1 reccon jeep 0.50 HMG 4

Points value 87, running points total 316.

So, we now have just over 330 points to spend on the divisional support companies.

Now, one of my major thoughts for any allied list is 'How does one kill German heavy tanks?' now there are some people out there who like to play German lists with Pz IV's or Stug III's but I never seem to play them. its facing the tigers and panthers that stretch things out. Thus we take 2 anti tank companies (one for each battalion; a pattern will form here)

The historical option here would be the M18 Hellcat. however its;
1) Only armed with a 76mm gun, and we have those on Sherman's already.
2) Its speed is only 9", which is a bit on the nose considering it was the fastest fully tracked AFV to serve in WW2 (and faster than the modern M1A1). This speed makes it no better than an M10, with worse armour.

So, the more useful option is the M36, with a nice big 90mm gun to chase off German tanks.

2 x M36 Jackson

points value 46. double this to get 92. Running points total 408

The next major question that an allied commander should ask is 'how does one kill German infantry?' An extension of this is, 'how does one kill dug in German infantry?' the answer is lots of support weapons with high AI actors. Looking through the divisional troops we come across the anti aircraft units. Now, the late war Germans don't have a lot of aircraft flying round, there's plenty of other things to shoot at on the ground. They are also dirt cheap.

2 x M16 AA
2 x M15 AA
Points value 28. Double this to get 56. Running points total 464.

Next up, and another departure from the norm, is artillery support. As the only option available to the light armoured divisions is the M7, why not put them on table? They can either fire indirect, or over open sights spotting for themselves (with no dice throw). The minus is that if any stand in the battalion fires, it counts as a fire mission.

1 x AOP
3 x M7
Points value 58. Double this is 116. Running points total 580.
Don't forget that this doesn't count towards the 3 divisional support units.

So, we have 70 points left, what to buy.
The list is quite light on infantry, so time to find some more from the divisional engineering battalion.

3 x engineer stands/ truck
points value 24. Running points total 604.

also add the SMG/HT stand to the AA unit attached to the armoured battalion.
points value 7, Running points total 611

Lets add some more artillery. A 155mm battalion is usefull, either as counterbattery or just on table support. don't discount the utility of removing your opponents artillery from the game equation. The Christchurch lads don't seem to like it.

3 155mm guns (x 0.8 for being off table).
Total is 39 points, Final points total 650

So, what does that make the army list look like? Swapping a company between the battalions to balance stuff out...

CCA Hq infantry stand in truck.

Infantry battalion BHQ infantry stand in jeep.
1 x recon jeep
6 x infantry stands/M3 half track.
1 x HMG/ M3 half track.
1 x M4HT/81mmM
1 x M4
1 x M4/76
1 x M4A3E2 'Jumbo'

support companies;
AT company
2 x M36

AA company
2 x M16 SPAA
2 x M15 SPAA

Artillery battalion
1 x AOP
3 x M7 105mm

Number of stands 21/ break point 11

Tank battalion BHQ in M4
1 x M4/105
1 x recon jeep
1 x M4HT/81mmM
1 x M4E3A2 Jumbo
2 x M4
3 x M4/76
3 x infantry stand/ M3 half track

Support companies
Engineering company
3 x engineering stand/truck

AT company
2 x M36

AA company
1 x SMg stand/ M3 half track
2 x M16 SPAA
2 x M15 SPAA

Artillery battalion
1 x AOP
3 x M7 105mm

Number of stands 26/ break point 13.

Artillery battalion
3 x 155mm

Well, that was a long post, but I hope it clarifies some for the reasons for doing things the way I do (or maybe not).

Next post will be looking at A and B options and thoughts on how to actually play the army on the table top.


  1. Counter-battery, don't leave home without it...

    I'm actually a frequent user of CB assets but I admit to not liking situations when my own artillery is the subject of CB fires.

  2. Regarding the Hellcat speed issue, don't you make up your own data card entries when what is in the rules' entries is obviously wrong?

    (Of course you'll have to wait for Keith to point them up, and I've been waiting quite some time for that with my Czechoslovakians, so maybe that's not practical...)

  3. I did not develop the WWII Spearhead points system. It was developed, I believe, by members of the Auckland Wargames Club many years ago.

    As to MSH by all means contact me directly by email. It can be surprising what a polite email can achieve. If I have forgotten to address some changes from the first set of points calculations I did for you I apologise. Given my health issues over the last year or two I'm not however to concerned if it slipped my mind.

  4. This is very useful. Thanks (or should I say tanks) very much...

  5. I'm confused - you have an "AOP" with the M7s - what is it? I assume it's not an FAO (UK artillery observation post), since a) this is a US force, and b) you use FAO to mean FAO lower down, and c) you say they are not counting these as Divisonal supports in any case, and only divisional-level artillery get FOs in SH (but how does that work since the list clearly says they are divisional?), so is it the artillery battalion's HQ in a jeep? But since you're attaching them to another battalion, this element doesn't function as anything, so is just there for the cheap ee boost (to use DBM-speak)? But that only matters for one of the two battalions, since one of your units would otherwise have an odd number of elements anyway....

  6. AOP-Artillery observation post. It the term I've used in moderns since I was a nipper. The artillery doesn't count for attachments since its a divisonal artillery battalion. It counts as one of the 3 artillery battalion slots, and there are no rules to say that it has to be off table. The FO since its divisional it can target whatever it wants (everyone else has to go with their target priority). and the FO doesn't count for elements either.