Thursday, 31 March 2011

6th Guards Tank Brigade - Part 1

Hi all. Griddon here with a introduction into a quick mini project I have planned before I start my Germans in the Aussie winter. I'd like to call this project: "Project Churchill Awesome". 6th Guards Tank Brigade is probably more sensible and accurate. I have six Chuchills and a Machine Gun Platoon to paint and then we can give the Germans something with slightly more resiliance than wet paper to shoot at.

We'll do some history first. This is a bit back to front as I first decided I wanted to get some Churchills on the table and I then went looking for historical justification. Let's pretend I did it the other way around for a moment. (I'll admit this also. When picking a historically accurate unit, I wanted to make sure I could get decals to suit.) So having done some research I decided on representing 6th Guards Tank Brigade, 4th Tank Battalion Coldstream Guards. There is quite a lot of information on these guys online. Google is your friend as always. Some references were contradictory but this is pretty much par for the course for the lesser known combatants in the war. What I do know is that the Bridage landed at Gold and Juno beaches on July 20th 1944 and almost immediately went ito action supporting the 15th Scots in Operation Bluecoat. Here, the 6th Guards Tank Brigade were the unfortunate recipients of some unwanted attention from a Jagdpanther from 654 schwere Panzerjägerabteilung. Let's just say, the Jagdpanther did particularly well. Read more at your leisure. As I mentioned, decal availablilty is important. Dom's Decals has got me covered here and they supply the tank names in decal form too. This info at Northirishhorse tells me what the tank names were for each tank in the battalion so I'm basically fully set.

So why do I want the Churchills so much? I just love these tanks. They have quite a flavoursome history through World War II and they have the toughest armor of any allied tank. However, the Churchill didn't get off to a particularly good start. In 1942, Operation Jubilee turned into a complete disaster after 30 tanks were effectively lost on the beaches of Dieppe. The German assessment of the abandoned and destroyed tanks on the beaches was very critical. They found nothing of worth in what they called an 'outdated tank'. As it turned out, the Churchill would later come back and haunt the Germans.

In Flames of War a Churchill IV is represented stock standard with front armor 8. It's the best available to the Brits or the Yanks. The armor can be further improved for 10 points each, upgrading to front armor 9 with applique armour. Furthermore you can upgrade the troop leader to a Churchill VII. The VIIs have front armor 13. German players say 'what?'. To complicate things a bit, you can upgrade the stock Churchill IV tanks to VIs. This sees the 6 pounder of the IV upgunned to a 75mm. This benefits the shooting range and firepower at the expense of 1 rate of fire. With the upgrade you also get the British specific special rule 'Semi Indirect Fire'. (Re-roll misses over 16"). This is a great benefit and worth the points alone in my view. Fully upgraded, the tank platoon comes in at 325 points. Thats 1 x VII and 2 x VI with applique armor.

So, to the list. I wanted to find a sensible list that worked with stuff I already had. There are a few options to get Churchills on the table. You'll find a tank list in Turning Tide and various books allow the use of Churchills and Crocodiles supporting Brit and American infantry lists. Looking to the Fortress Europe book, we can design an infantry list featuring two Churchill tank platoons. This is a relatively cheap option for me as I'll be adding those two tank platoons to my British late war collection and as such I'll be able to field them as soon as they are painted. As I mentioned in my 'Getting Things Right' post, I have 3 fully painted late war British infantry platoons. I haven't painted any specific details on the infantry stands and as such they can be used to represent a good number of late war British rifle/mg platoons.

For my late war 6th Guards Tank Brigade list I'll not be running my Churchill platoons fully upgraded. I want to be as accurate as possible and the VIIs weren't that common. Where they were available they were given to the commanders and platoon leaders but there were not enough around in July 1944 for one per troop. Beyond this I can't be sure of the exact numbers of IVs and VIs used by the Brigade. Some sources suggest that there were enough VIs available for every tank to be upgraded. Some sources suggest that some 6pdr IVs were deliberately kept active. As I said, I can't be sure on the exact break down of tank variants within the Brigade but I think there is enough latitude in the references to suggest that the two troops I'll be including could have been all VIs. That's what I'll be doing.

The List: 1750 Late War Confident Trained Infantry Company from Fortress Europe

HQ - 1 CinC,  2iC
Combat - Rifle/MG Platoon, 6 sections
Combat - Rifle/MG Platoon, 6 sections
Combat - Rifle/MG Platoon, 6 sections
Weapons - Anti Tank, 2 x 6 pounders with Lloyd Carriers
Brigade Support - Machine Gun Platoon, 4 Vickers HMGs, MMG Carriers
Support - Armoured Platoon, 3 Churchill VIs, 3 with applique armor
Support - Armoured Platoon, 3 Churchill VIs, 2 with applique armor
Support - Anti tank platoon, Royal Artillery, 4 x M10Cs.
Support - Field Battery, Royal Artillery, 8 x 25 pounders.

So, that's the introduction guys! I'll get onto the fun hobby stuff soon and I'll be sure to keep you posted.


1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to following this project! I absolutely love the look of the churchills, and can't wait to see them painted! Thanks for the post.