Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Painting Challenge Submission 12 - RCHA Support for Team Yankee

Big guns for Canada! 155m shells and Maple Syrup to defend the NATO lines!

Another bit of 15mm Cold-War-gone-hot content to share - a unit of M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzers, some big-time support for my Cold War Canadian forces.

I know that on-table models to represent artillery like this is very, very silly (at best).  For a lot of folks it is one of the worst features of Battlefront's rule sets. The range of the weapon is something like 15 to 18 kilometres, and that is before any enhancements like rocket-assisted projectiles or other horrors are added.  Having units like this on a 6' x 4' table - or even a much, much larger table - in 15mm is kinda dumb in a lot of ways, and can exacerbate issues with those who feel strongly the period is better suited to 6mm or even 3mm. Even in "Spearhead" (division-level) games, where the large table, even in the abstract that "Spearhead" uses, can represent a very great distance, artillery like this can be well off-table.

Kinda silly on the table...but FUN! 155mm shells to support the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group
On the other hand, you know what? As I get older, I find myself getting a lot less hung-up about stuff like that.  It's a lot of fun to paint the big guns, put them out on the table and have them blaze away!

1/100 M109 models from Battlefront's Vietnam range

Big guns are fun! At a core level in all of this is a kid in me who is not growing up and thinks more things on the table that would make a "boom" sound are awesome. And while I find maybe some WW2 games seem to have too much tactical involvement of artillery, for a setting like "Team Yankee", I think it is quite appropriate to have shells raining down on both sides for most of the game. If nothing else, I want the other Canadian figures I have painted to "know" they would have the support because it is sitting with them on the shelf, ready to move out :)

So, there you go...I'm a contradictory nerd...back to the models...

The artillery punch of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group came from the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, equipped with these armoured, self-propelled howitzers. The mechanized brigades had 60mm and 81mm mortars with their infantry.  And of course the Leopard C1s could dish out direct-fire abuse from their 105mm guns.  But to really rain on the Warsaw Pact parade, you need some serious stuff to fall from the sky on to the bad guys - and 155mm shells fired by the stout members of the RCHA will do nicely for that!

These are 1/100 scale models from Battlefront - actually from their Vietnam range. I think those would be the appropriate if approximate vintage for the weapons equipping the Canadian formations in the 1980s. Any deployment to halt a Warsaw Pact attack would have relied heavily on timely support from these bad-boys.

A few decals on the back to ID the nationality

While the armour on these vehicles would not stand up to anything like the main gun on a tank, it would have been pretty important - being a gunner in this fictional (phew!) circumstance looks like it would have been terribly dangerous work. Any extended fire missions would rapidly be identified by Warsaw Pact spotters, and counter-battery fire from the enormous artillery complements within the Soviet formations would have been a near-certainty. The ability to keep hammering out shells while under fire would be essential to preserving the 4th Canadian Brigade, so I expect they would dig these guns in, open fire and pray for the armour to keep them safe!

Reading Kenneth Macksey's awesome "First Clash" offers excellent insight to how critical the artillery support is for the Canadian formation (or really any formation), and just how much planning went in to ensuring the shells would be there at the right time and the right place. Once battle was joined, the bombardment and counter-bombardment would be almost continuous.  Timely support from the RCHA would be critical for the smaller (relative to attacking Warsaw Pact formations) infantry-centred Canadian Battlegroups to hold off major assaults from large Soviet Motor Rifle battalions.

The Battlefront M109 model is a mixed resin-and-metal model kit...good detail on all the casting, well done by Battlefront

I found a number of different photos of these units on manoeuvres in the various NATO exercises through the 1980s, and they seemed at the time to be sporting a simple black camouflage pattern, so that is what I have tried to replicate here.  And of course some Canadian flag decals have been very helpful as well.

Three more vehicles in 15mm, another 18 points...hey, it all counts! The grind toward the 1000 point target continues...


Don M said...

As a retired US Army Field Artilleryman.....guns on the table are just cool, as a gamer ouch lol, I tend to keep them off table with most games I play or as an objective when on table, depends on the system I'm using or situation. I nicely painted , enjoying your work from Texas....)

Dallas said...

Outstanding dude! Love the fender decals especially.

Stan M. said...

My ocd has issues with the short barrel, but you've done some great painting Greg, nice work!!