Above - the emergence of an Imagi-Nation - see text for forces used and why
Some years ago I sketched out Byzantium re-emerging, as a Mandate state after WW1 (see here for the back story). I started building a force for project this in 28mm using Greek Evzone models from Eureka miniatures (and Disney Atlantic tanks of course) but it never really went that far. (Interestingly these Evzones, used as Real Greeks, turned into one of my most played armies because the Evzones look much the same in Balkan Wars, WW1, Russian Civil War and WW2 - and so I have gamed with them across all these periods.)
But now....post Lockdown.one of my clubmates and his son have built 1930's Imagi-Nations in 15mm, so it is time to restart my own project, albeit in 15mm scale. The benefit I am finding is that its cheaper, armies are bigger, and less detail = less work = faster gaming.
In the 1920's there was little appetite for war and most armies had huge stocks of WW1 equipment to work through before there was any justification for bringing in new weaponry. But by the early 1930's the delayed technical advances were coming quickly, and drove a lot of debate and change (and also rate of change meant systems that were a few years old were almost obsolescent and constantly forced new thinking).
However despite the changes there were some standard trends, vehicle types etc that emerged in this period, and general principles in how they are to be used:
The Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Amoured cars - there were "Light" and "Heavy" cars, usually grouped together in Reconnaisance Units
- Light were mainly for scouting and typically caried a machine gun or (later) a heavy machine gun or anti-tank rifle level main gun. One sub-type of light armoured car is the Scout car, which can also carry a few troops.
- Heavy tended to be better armoured ans carried heavier weapons
Tanks - were grouped into Light, Medium and Heavy (or Infantry) tanks. Light and Medium tanks were usually put in the same tank units.
- Light were "scouting" tanks and were typically fast, lightly armed and armoured
- Medium were the "battle" tank, they were to destroy any enemy formations. Oddly in the early days they have general purpose guns but over time they inceasingly have anti ank main guns.
- Heavy/Infantry tanks are attached to the infantry and help with breaking through enemy formations
Two other systems emerged in this period - tankettes and tank destroyers.
- Tankettes were very popular in the early part of this period, they were seen as either scouting vehicles or infantry supportig mobile MG nests (or both) but wer seen to be worse at both jobs than armoured cars and light tanks respectively.
- Tank Destroyers were lightly armoured vehicles (even trucks) with larger anti tank guns
Trucks are increasingly being used to transport troops and supplies over this period, and some unts have dedicated truck trasport. Various fully tracked vehicles are used as artillery tows. The "Halftrack" emerges in this period, the aim is to get tracked vehicle cross country performamce and wheeled vehicle ease/speed of travel. It turns out they also have the maintenance problems of tanks. Halftracks are also used as armoured cars. I am not clear why fully tracked APC's only appear post WW2.
Horses are still fairly common in rear echelon transport and artillery tows.
WW1 saw a number of weapons appear (machine guns, mortars, rifle grenades, light machine guns, submacine guns) that had to be worked into infantry formations. In addition the incraesing use of tanks forced the emergence of anti tank infantry weapons (initially large calibre rifles) and anti tank (higher muzzle velocity) guns. There was also debate about the traditional "Square" unit (4 platoons, companies etc) vs the triangular (3 platoons, companies etc).
A major problem was how to structure units to integrate tanks
(of all sorts), infantry, cavalry, motor and horse transport. Many counries at this time have structures where the tank units are only integrated with infantry units at a high (typically divisional) level. Some countries just dumped them all in the same Division.
Those that fight in the Spanish Civil War start to understand that integration needs to happen at a lower level, and the Germans have the radical concept of infantry in hafltracks working with the tanks - but this is still not common in 1939
But now it's time to get real - we are using O Group rules, and the standard force in those rules is a reinforced battalion, so what does Byzantium look like at this level.
Cavalry is still A Thing, in this period they had proven very useful in the Russian Civil War, and a horse was still a very effcetive way of moving men or materiel fast in this era.
Special forces don't really exist yet, Mountain Infantry, Marines and the new fangled Parachute troops are the main major specialist formations with their own (typically lighter) equipment. Cavalry arguably are more like mounted infantry in this era so is in effect another type of lighter infantry.
Bicycles are used to move infantry and don't require huge logistics effort (fuel/repair), reserve infantry battalions in foot formations were often bicycle troops so they could move fast to where they were needed. Downside is troops are tired after cycling long distances.
Recconnaisance troops were a sort of specialism, they are usually kept at brigade and divisional level and are often combined with armoured cars or light tanks/tankettes. Scout cars and motorcycles are often used to transport these troops.
Building a Force
We are using O Group battalion level rules for this project, so for my Battalion structure I went for the compromise "3+1" battalion - 3 Infantry Companies and a Heavy Weapons Company with mortar, machine gun and anti tank gun platoons.
The rules like you to use "Reinforced battalions" with a few vehicles etc. There are 3 cases where a Reinforced Battalion occurs as far as I can see:
(i) Infantry reinforcing the Recce units in a force
(ii) Armour and Infantry working together (oddly enough, in a lot of the 1930's TO&E structures armour and infantry were separated, the German integrated approach was relatively radical.)
(iii) "Reinforced" means having divisional infantry heavy weapons (artillery, anti-tank, machine guns etc added)
So all that remains is to choose the gear that you fancy modelling. Tey have to have been available pre 1939. I went for the following based on always thinking they were cool looking/weird/interesting:
Light Armoured car - White M3 Scout car, carrying troops as well, for the Recce units. I have an open spot for a light armoured car but can't decide which one to get.
Heavy Armoured Car - Russian BA-10 (how cool is this)
Light tank - Russian BT-5 (great bit of design)
Medium Tank - Czech Tatra T-21 (Aka Hungarian Turan etc). OK I know it wasn't available but it could have been dammit.
Infantry Tank - Russian T-26 (you just have to have one of the multi-turret monstrosities of the era and the post-waggon is not as OTT as the T-35!)
Tankette - I didn't use Tankettes*, but I assumed Byzantium like many countries would still have Renault FT tanks, and these are used as mobile infantry support.
*I did however get some Renault UE Chenillette tractor-tankettes to pull the heavy weapons (AT guns etc).
Heavy weapons Platoon has 3 squads:
- 80mm Mortar
- Heavy machine gun - the Russian gun with wheeled trolley is a must have
- Anti tank - this is a Russian 45mm M1942 anti tank gun masquerading as a Czech type 36 47mm anti tank, I need to do a bit of bodging.
- Still to get - some anti-tank rifles for the platoons
This is an ordinary infantry force, I plan to also do a Light (mountain) Infantry force.
Note also these forces can easily step up a level to the Brigade level Fistful of ToWs rules