Wednesday, November 16, 2016

US M901 ITVs for "Team Yankee"

M901 ITVs in 1/100 scale from Battlefront

Still more "Team Yankee" reinforcements for the US NATO contingent.  These are M901 ITVs...I'm sure that acronym stands for something...but anyway these things shoot fancy TOW missiles at enemy tanks.  And of course TOW is also an acronym...I don't know how real military people sift through it all...anyway, it is a guided anti-tank missile.  Takeway is that these are pretty deadly if you are a Soviet tank.

Anyway, TOW missile launchers + lame M113 chassis = very useful AT vehicle for US mechanized infantry forces. While the US will count on the M1s to blow away everything in sight, there will be times where the infantry needs some dedicated assistance to deal with (or at least slow down) enemy armour, and these M901s will do the trick, allowing the crew to zap TOW missiles while the M113's "armour" protects them from (most) small arms fire and (supposedly) artillery bombardment.  The elevation of the box launcher also allows the M901 to seek out hull-down type positions while limiting the actual exposure of the vehicle to return direct fire. 

TOW missiles are pretty nasty, but they seem to be a fiddly bit of business to use properly, so all the protection counts and helps the crew concentrate on their role in (relative, for a battlefield) safety.

Hunting WARPAC armour at a distance...
Like the M163s, the M901 models from Battlefront are relatively easy to assemble, and thankfully I didn't screw up too much on the parts, trimming etc.  As before, I did my best impression with the MERDC camouflage pattern. 

While I don't care for the M113 chassis, I have to admit these M901 variants have a kind of spooky look to them...something about that launcher...certainly looks ominous to me, without being directly scary...what could be in that box? Oh...yes...whoosh!  The little trio of lenses in the front of the launcher make it look like a robot of some kind...

Thankfully the conflict portrayed in "Team Yankee" is fiction, but TOW missiles have seen action in real conflicts.  I believe the US first used them in Vietnam against NVA armour.  The IDF may have used them in the Yom Kippur War, and I believe they also saw use in the attack into Lebanon. I'm sure smarter folks will know if they have seen other use as well - please don't hesitate to chime in below!

Again, very nicely done kits from Battlefront - I hate plastic models, but you will like them
Weapons like these are one of those things I find tests the mettle of the "Team Yankee" as a ruleset, for two reasons. The first is the range.  As with so much modern hardware, "if you can see it, you can kill it" and it can be a challenge to make the engagement ranges "appear" reasonable on a 6'x4' table in 15mm.  Not impossible, but a bit of a challenge.  Weapons like the TOW are a particular challenge for this, as they are meant, I believe, for a somewhat longer "stand off" engagement range.  I find it totally possible to imagine a situation where tanks with 125mm high-velocity main guns end up practically knife-fighting due to battlefield conditions, maneuvers, fog-of-war etc. But I'm not sure the TOW is much use in that kind of circumstance.  So like I said, a bit of a squeeze for the game.

The launcher looks...kind of spooky...has a bit of a pre-Sky-net look to it..

The second has to do with cost. Western military equipment is generally noted for valuing quality over quantity, and these TOW things are probably not cheap.   I find the narrative progression of stories like "Team Yankee" or "Red Storm Rising" assume a high effectiveness of these sorts of weapons, such that the Warsaw Pact advance is of course imperiled by these circumstances where a few troops with a launcher are easily delaying the vast Soviet armoured columns.  This thinking takes for granted that lots of these TOW missiles (and MILANs and others) are stocked up - but if the actual shooting war had started, how many missiles would have been on hand?  Sure, in the first few days, Team Yankee would have all they need, but I wonder how much ammo the M901s would have had handy after one week, and what that would mean for the mechanized troops who count on them...thank goodness we never had to find out for real!

But blah blah blah - this is just toy soldiers, so enough drivel! On to more reinforcements...stay tuned!


Dartfrog said...

ITV - Improved Tow Vehicle. It separates it from the M150 that had pintle mounted TOW launcher. (Tube-Launched, Optically tracked, Wire-Guided) Missile. The nice part of the ITV is that you can use the same model to represented a Forward Observe model as the FST-V (Fire Support Team- Vehicle) They had a similar hammerhead launcher for their optics and laser designator. They would paint fake launch tubes on the front to look like an ITV since they were a lower priority target.

The TOW II systems from the 80s had thermal sights and the ability to reach out beyond 3km to kill a target. They were ideal for the German countryside because you could essentially fire from one little village into the next hamlet over, and then jump to another location. IIRC most Mech Infantry Battalions actually had a company of ITVs attached for the anti-armor role

Dartfrog said...

Nice work on the MERDC paint scheme. I am hoping that BF gets around to releasing some Jeeps with TOW launchers.

Moiterei_1984 said...

More lovely additions to your TY project. Reminds me I should really get myfinger out...