Hi Everyone, Jersey here with an thoughts on tanks in Nam! I have some ANZAC Centurion and NVA K2 tanks to review but don’t expect the typical unboxing!
Tanks in Nam
Tanks (and other AFV) played a big part in the Vietnam war as they were one of the ways that the ARVN, US and ANZAC forces could demonstrate technological superiority over the North Vietnamese. After learning a lot from World War Two and the Korean conflicts, tanks were going through phases of development not seen since the French put a rotating turret on a AFV.
One man turrets less so…
New and better armoured vehicles were being released all the time (same as with plastic model kits in the range) in this period as technology improved, even if it was a refit of existing models for nuclear, chemical or biological resistance or a new gun designed to punch through heavier armour on the competition. The Centurion is an example of this, first tested at the end of World War Two, by the end of the Vietnam war the ANZAC forces were considering replacements, going for German built Leopards at the same time as in the Middle East the IDF and Jordanians were upping the guns on their models. Less than ten years later, the next British built main battle tank, the Chieftain, was getting older and would soon play second fiddle to the Challenger.
Nam then is the last horah of the Centurion with it’s 20lb gun but what’s it up against? Well… officially nothing…
The NVA held back their tanks from the conflict whilst the ANZAC Centurions and US Pattons were operating in the theatre; waiting till they had left before unleashing their Ironclad companies backed up by fresh and experienced professional soldiers on the now isolated and unsupported ARVN.
No full scale battle took place between an NVA Ironclad company and a Free World tank formation, but we can play this in Nam in what is very much Early Team Yankee, a fantasy imagining of what would have happened if the Soviet and Chinese produced armour had clashed in open war with the US and their allies… and that’s what we are going to see in the next linked article!
The Beast From The East
So what do the NVA have as rival to the Centurions I’ll be building and painting next?
The T54 is the answer… and pound for pound the K2, as the NVA designated it, is a great tank but very different to the Centurion. The K2 has heavier all round protection but it’s crews aren’t as skilled meaning if it can get up close and personal with the ANZAC tanks it negates many of the Centurions advantages, however I’d not want to be a member of the K2 crew as we rushed the Centurions!
So let’s look at the stats and unit cards side by side and I’ll let you make your own judgements about what’s going to win if stats and average dice rolls were all that mattered:
Whilst the main battle tanks are a match for each other with each having it’s own areas of dominance there isn’t much else for the K2 to be frightened of at range… the Sheridan and 1000lb bombs being two elements of the Free World forces I picked out at a cursory glance so either side putting down their respective MBTs is a significant statement in terms of power and points. Yes, infantry can over run the tanks, but that’s what you’re own screen of infantry is for.
I’ll be doing five of the new plastic T54 as well; another tank useful for both Fate of a Nation and Team Yankee, so we can see both sides of the coin. Three Centurions is approximately equivalent to five K2 as a base for each force.
As the minimum requirement for each tank formation it’s about a third to a quarter of the points you’ll have available in most games in these periods they’re major investments where as in fifteen years time the T54 / T55 isn’t quite as expensive!
Shock and Awe
I’ve not played alot of Nam yet but the games I have played have been from a Local Forces perspective. I remember the first time Ben drove two Pattons onto the table and I looked at my rifle teams and B40 RPGs and wondered what I was going to do about them! It’s quite likely given how the Vietnam theatre was mostly about the infantry and air power that if you turn up on either side with some main battle tanks your opponent may hope you throw them against infantry in a gambit assault as they may not have many other ways of dealing with it. My Brown Water Navy force came unstuck at the Entoyment Demo Day when five K1 (T34) showed up and their main guns at range quickly showed the boats what the bottom of the delta looked like!
With this in mind, every Nam player should consider a few heavyweights for their collections as centrepiece models, destructive brawlers and counters in case your opponent plans to roll them up to your lines and blast any of your light equipment and specialist platoons to smithereens!
Next up, some small games using the new tanks I’ve painted and a few other units to see how the tanks perform on the table!