When the idea of a Cold War Byzantine army occurred to me to fight Iain's Imagi-nation Poles, I thought it would be simply a case of choosing some kit and inventing a TO&E structure. It turned out I "needed" to think about the military strategy that the force was designed for, to get the "what" that the overall army structure of a Medieval system might make some sense in, and then to think about orginins - the post WW2 & early Cold War equipment that would still be in the army, just so the choices of the structures & equipment of the period we plan to fight (late 70's/80's) had a history and made a kind of sense in a context.
And then that bad man Don M and I started to explore all sorts of fascinating byways Byzantium could have evolved into, setting of even more ideas.
Anyway, enough of that, its all there in parts 1 through 4, and now on with the toys the army has in the 70's/80's (I'll ignore anything not really visible in 1/300 scale).. If you haven't tead them, the next section sums it up.
A Brief Summary of the last 4 posts' discussion on equipment
WW2 and Immediate Post War gear still in service
Post 2 covers this in detail. In short, German, Commonwealth & Soviet equipment was left when those forces pulled out (reluctantly, in the Soviet case) and it was all used, so the army of the 40's and early 50's was a polyglot collection of kit. Over the 50's they started to consolidate into a few types that (i) looked like they would stay useful longest, (ii) more could be bought cheaply and/or (iii) spares were readily available. As more modern equipment came in over the decades much was retired but the "best of" was passed from the elite and armoured brigades to the 1st line Infantry and then to the 2nd line reservist units. T-34/85 tanks, SU-100 Tank Destroyers, M3 Halftracks, Daimler Dingios and Katyushkas, plus a variety of guns and reliable Soviet trucks still survive into the late 70's/early 80's force.
New Byzantium - first line Thematic motorised infantry battalion in the 1950's/60's - Jeeps with recoilless rifles as AT. Towed Mortars & AA. This is still the structure of 2nd line (reservist) Thematic units. TO&E follows Fistful of TOWS structure
In the 1950's and into the 60's, as with Yugoslavia & Finland, it was felt most expedient to buy Soviet equipment (Hungary was an example that was somewhat mind-focussing) - so over the 1950's various upgrades were made, but most re-armament was around continuing to rationalise equipment. The army folowed other border neutrals and gradually standardised around Soviet equipment, with a few useful old stagers like the M-3, Dingo & 25 pounder remaining..
Into the 1960's
Come the Cold war Hotting up, came a need to upgrade to equipment that wasn't really just WW2 vintage plus. New MBTs (T-55s) and other equipment was procured, an eye out at all times for good kit at a good price. Soviet supply was releced to an extent by other Warsaww Pact countries and neutrals. Towards the end of the 60's (after France left NATO) the Panhard AML-60 and 90 came in as new "heavy" armoured cars, replacing a variety of WW2 vintage armoured cars that had increasingly been kept running by duct tape and fervent prayer. .
The 1973 October War had a big impact on military thinking, the Top Brass came to 3 main conclusions, in that an army with:
- Better tanks in good defensive positions could KO a lot of enemy armour - fast
- Missiles! Both AT and AA missiles brought the Arabs back into the war after they had lost their armour and any air superiority.
- You can stop a lot of nasty things with a big artillery barrage
- Conversely, enemy artillery barrages are nasty unless your troops are protected from them.
- an upgrade of the T-55 fleet as well as the serach for a new MBT
- a crash programme to equip AT elements with ATGW, and extend them to other parts of the force, ditto introduction of SAMs
- Increase in artillery elements (mainly mortars) at Brigade level as well as expansion of the rtilleery arm
- The need for an IFV for the mechanised infantry
The whole point of all this - the army of the late 1970's and 80's Cold Wars
Belisarius Man Battle Tank
The emergence of the T-72 in WARPAC nations' armies in the early 80's really rattled the Top Brass, as it was clear nothing they owned was going to stop this tank, upgrading the T-55 fleet further was pointless as they had reached Peak Gun with their French 105mm upgrade, and to an extent getting T-72's was pointless as it was going to be an older version of what they would probably face. Interestingly, "neutral" (aka non NATO) France had developed an AMX-30 upgrade, the AMX-32, and was desperate for a first export customer at the same time Byzantum was desperate for a T-72 killer. The AMX 32 would eventually come with a 120mm gun that would actually stop a T-72 (soon, soon, said the French soothingly) and so, with a few mods and an agreement to allow a lot of local production, a modified AMX 32 was bought, with the French 105mm gun initially and promises of an upgunning (soon, soon). In Byzantine service this was called the Belisarius and started equipping the Armoured brigades in the early 80's. The last T-34's were withdrawn from the 1st line Thematic forces as freed up ex Armoured Division T-55's filled those slots. (Backstory - I bought a bunch of Heroics & Ros AMX-32s many years ago, so they were a shoo in for the MBT :-) Much to my surprise, they are still on the H&R price list )
T-105 and T- 55 (Mod)
As noted, the T-55's were continually upgraded, those in the Tagmata are being upgraded to 105mm guns. As the Belisarius enters service T-55sare being moved to the Thematic 1st Line units, retiring the last T-34s.into the reserve cadres
T-105 tank battalion in Fistful of TOWS format , 3 companies of tanks and Cursores have Dingo w/ATGW. Camo is adapted from a 70's Czech pattern
T-34s are now mainly kept in the 2nd Line Reservist forces, having had various upgrades over the years. There is continual discussion about upgunning, but these machines are very old and refurbishment cost is not that different to replacing them with refurbished T-55s so that is the preferred approach, T-34 hulls are increasingly used to mount other weapons or as spares repositories.
Still soldiering on as the Tank Destroyer in all Infantry brigades, over many refurbishments. As the ATGW vehicles and T-55s arrive in the 1st line units, the SU-100s are starting to be retired to the 2nd Line, where the 100mm gun is a better option than a T-34/85.
Missile using Tank Destroyers
Throughout the 70's/80's there was a crash programme of attaching ATGMs to APC and Scout vehicles, but no dedicated missile AT system exists as yet in the inventory.
AML 90 & 60
AML-90 is used in the armoured companies of the Light Battalions, and the Recce companies of all mechanised infantry. AML 60 Mortar used in the light infantry
Used in most Recce units, now increasingly being re-equipped with ATGW missiles. The WW2 era Dingo has been a workhorse for 40 years, as it is highly flexible and easy to run, and the State Arsenal has developed the capability to remanufacture much of the car. It was due to be phased out but it has turned out to be a useful carrier for smaller AT and AA missiles, as well as continuing to be a useful "armoured jeep"in the Recce units.
It's a reflection of the era that the BMP-1, despite huge shortcomings, was the best IFV of its era. But it had huge shortcomings. But the availability of BMP-2s in numbers in the early 80's meant 2nd hand BMP-1 prices fell persuaded Byzantium to invest in the IFVs, which they upgraded in their own workshops, using kits and added their own turret arrangement
The workhorse of the Tagmata for some years and increasingly equipping 1st Line infantry units, also being equipped with AA or AT missiles as infantry AT APCs. Some are converted to carry mortars in the mechanised infantry units, replacing the BTR 152 mortar carriers.
Tagmatic Mechanised Battalion, 3 companies in OT-64s and Dingo ATGW, Psiloi have a Dingo platoon as well as Jeep platoons. Artillery AA and Mortars are self propelled
FUG PZH 944 / Mowag Piranha
Main transport APC of the Light Infantry (apart from Jeeps) since the 70's, also increasingly being equipped with AA or AT missiles. Experience in the 70's showed that the trucks and jeeps used till then could compromise light infantry survival. The OT-64 was felt to be too hard to transport by air and too cumbersome for the light infantry in difficult terrain and the FUG's were the smallest amphibious vehicles that could carry a full infantry squad available
By the late 80's it was becoming clear that the light infantry needed a better armoured ride than the FUGs, and the Swiss Mowag fitted the bill. Experiments have also been made with mounting AML 90mm turrets on the Piranhas, and these are progressing well....
BTR-152 APC & M-3 Halftracks
M-3s still used for non front line tasks like mortar tows, BTR's being phased out of 1st line units as BMPs replace OT-64s in the armoured brigades, and those OT-64s replace BT-152s in 1st Line Thematic units .
Jeeps & similar
Appears all over the army, but is especially the main vehicle of the Light Infantry & Recce (Psiloi) units. Many of these are armed with HMGs and AT devices, where recoilless rifles are starting to be replaced by ATGWs.
Thematic 1st Line forces, 3 Companies of infantry in BTR-152s, ATGW in Jeeps, Psiloi company on LHS in Jeeps with HMG and ATGW, BTR 152 mortars and AA on RHS. OT-64s are in the process of replacing BTR 152s
The discussion with Don in the Comments below, and with Iain last night got me to thinking about Air assets. In Fistful of TOWS its unlikely we'll see much more than helos and the odd ground attack, so here are New Byzantium's.
- The WSK/Mi-2 is the main light helicopter, and is increasingly over the period being armed with ATGW. (It's a very pretty helicopter, I've always wanted an army with them.)
- The Mi-8 is the medium transport workhorse of air forces across the world, and so it is with New Byzantium. Some Mi-4's remain but are not used for rear area transport.
- L-39 Albatros - Like many smaller nations, new Byzantum used the same plane for advanced training and ground attack work, and also like many countries, they kickstarted a jet aerospace industry by licence manufacture of the Czech aircraft.