Friday, 2 March 2018

Czechoslovakian 1938 Fast Division in 1988 - the Reconnaisance battalion

To recap - in 1938, the Fast Division was structured with 2 Tank Battalions and 2 Motorised Infantry Battalions, plus a Recconnaissance battalions and various Artillery units covering field artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft functions. There were also plans to expand the 2 motorised Infantry battalions to a full Regiment (3 battalions) each.

Having structured the Cavalry Brigade in the 1938 Fast Division for an “Alternative History 1988” scenario (see this page for a fuller explanation), there remains the various Tank, Motorised Infantry, Reconnaisance and Artillery battalions to be done.
My “rules” for concerting 1938 to 1980’s forces are to use the 1938 structure as much as practicable and adjust as little as possible, to use actual Czech designed & built vehicles wherever possible, and if not available then to convert models to be future derivations of Czech equipment that was on the drawing board in the early 1950s (see my article on all this over here) before the Soviets closed it all down.

I decided to build the Reconnaissance battalion next, as it is fairly quick to build and a nice self-contained little force, good for some smaller games. In 1938 it consisted of a Motorcycle Infantry company, an Armoured Car company, and a Light Tank Company. So, how would it translate into the 1980’s? Here’s how I think it turns out:

Motorcycle Infantry

Motorcyle infantry largely died out in WW2, especially after the arrival of small 4x4 machines like the Jeep. The rise of air-power and fragmentation artillery meant a move towards light armoured transports in most European armies. Motorcycles never died out completely, but by the 1980s they are usually used in small numbers, in conjunction with more heavily armoured vehicles.
Therefore it’s likely the Czechs would have moved from motorcycles to using Jeeps and then APCs with maybe a few motorcycles and Jeeps still around. The Real World army used the OT-65 armoured car and OT-66 APC (the joint Czech-Hungarian FuG APC derivative) in these roles  so I have assumed they will replace most of the motorcycle troops with this.

In “Real” Czech service reconnaissance units used an 82mm RRL as an AT device, mounted on the armoured car turrets.  I assume that by the mid 1980’s the “Alt” Czechs have moved to a lighter ATGW

I have thus structured this unit as follows:
  • -          3 platoons of infantry plus Jeeps or (by 1980s) light APCs,  1 unit carries an ATGW
  • -          1 Motorcycle reconnaissance platoon with light ATGW

Armoured Car Company

The 1938 Armoured Car company used the big 6 wheeled OA vz. 30 Armoured Car, rather than the smaller Czechoslovakian scout cars of the time. Clearly this was intentional, so in the 1980’s I assumed the small OT-65 series of armoured cars were not what they would have intended in 1938. There was however no Czechoslovakian  heavy armoured car on the design boards from the 1950’s to adapt. So, what to replace the big 6x6 with?

However, they did have plans to put more armour and more powerful guns than the 14.5mm on the big 8x8 OT-64 APC, but the Russian stopped those developments. The OT-64, for its time, was very powerful. It had a maximum speed of 110 km/h - that was very fast in those days. It had a big frame and could easily handle bigger turrets and more armour.

Plans for heavier weapons included the T21 Recoilless Rifle, mounting a single barrel version of the 30mm vz.53/59 autocannon (used on the Ještěrka AA vehicle), and some were actually built with the 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 automatic cannon (normally used on early Soviet fighter jets such as the Mig-15) in the 1970s. It also could easily have handled a low pressure 90mm gun like those on the AML90 and Ratel 90, and ATGW missiles.

Ugandan SKOT with 23mm cannon

I rather liked the idea of a big-gunned OT-64 unit as well, so that was my solution, and the 30mm Czech autocannon was my shoo-in for this big Recce vehicle.  Thus was the OT-64 SKOT30 born.
The Armoured Car Company had 12 Cars, I don’t know if it was in 4 troops of 3 cars or 3 of 4, but in Fistful of TOWS scale it’s 3 models.

Light Tank  Company

Also in 1938 there was a light tank company of 4 platoons, each of 4 tanks (so 4 models in FFOT scale). I noted that these were older, lighter tanks than those equipping the Tank regiments in 1938, so I passed that structure through to 1988 – a light tank, and an older tank that the Cavalry and Tank regiments used. As discussed in my article on post war “Real world” Czechoslovakian equipment (see link above) they had designed both replacements to the Lt(Pz)38 family and an amphibious light tank, the Letak, not unlike the Soviet PT-76 in appearance and function (thought it would more likely have carried similar guns to the AMX13). These both would be old by 1988, so either would pass muster. So which to use?

In theory both the replacement Lt.38 and the Letak were to have an APC variant. The Czechoslovakians did in fact have an APC – the OT-62 – that was their main APC until the BMP. It was based on the Soviet BTR 50 which used a lot of components from the PT-76. I did think the Alt-Czechoslovakians could go the same route, i.e. the Letak light tank would spawn a Letak APC (the OT-63 of course) and they would use both in a Fast Division Armoured force for commonality of parts. (For what happens to the successors of the Lt38 read the article on the Fast Division linked above)

So after all that, in Fistful of TOW (FFOT3) terms the Czechoslovakian 1980’s Recce Battalion consists of:

·        HQ vehicle (OT-66)
  • ·        Infantry Company
o   3 Infantry Platoons, each 1 figure stand and 1 OT-66 model, 1 platoon has a Milan or similar ATGW
o   1 Motorcycle Platoon figure stand, with Milan or similar ATGW
  • ·         Armoured Car Company – 3 OT-64 SKOT30 armoured car w/30mm cannon
  • ·         Light Tank Company – 4 Letak tank models w/90mm gun

Quite a useful battalion, though  I suspect it would typically have been split into detachments to give the Armoured battalions some scouting capability in the field. It's interesting to compare this with the Polish Armoured Cavalry Regiment my club mate has done a similar exercise for.


  1. A not bad "what if " unit....also of note the Czechoslovakians where still using WWII German halftracks in the 80s.

  2. Yes, the OT-810 - I've assumed it's a "last-gen" machine but I'm using it as a 2nd line transport, artillery tow etc, apparently the ride was car-sickness inducing and it was called "Hitler's Revenge". I'll put up some pix of my conversions this weekend.