Today Lee takes follows up on the overview with a more indepth look at the Canadian forces in Europe .
Importantly for Team Yankee, Canada was a founding NATO member and forward deployed a brigade sized mechanised force in CENTAG (4th Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group). In the event of hostilities, another Brigade Group, 5 CMBG based in Quebec, would be tasked with being the Canada Air-Sea Transportable (CAST) brigade and would have been deployed to Norway or Denmark.
By the mid eighties Canada had replaced its Centurions with Leopard 1A3 tanks (designated C1 in Canadian use) and carried its troops in M113 APC, but still sported the FN FAL (in its C1 SLR guise) giving a link to the other commonwealth forces.
In Free Nations we follow the 4th CMBG and its constituent units; the Royal Canadian Dragoons as the armoured battalion, Royal 22e Régiment as its 1st Infantry Battalion, and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as the 2nd Infantry Battalion. The latter is mentioned in the introductory text but otherwise plays no part in the force.
As we can deduce from the brigade composition, we have two formations to choose from, an armoured formation and a mechanised formation.
We have some Canadian support assets, but can also draw from the US 7th Corps as allied support,or German support from the West German 2nd Corps. We’ll look at that later in the article. First, lets look at the formations.
Royal Canadian Dragoons – Armoured Formation
The Canadian Armoured Squadron has a lot to like. Firstly, whilst most of the NATO Leopard 1 formations (including the West Germans with the latest update) can field up to four, three or four strong platoons of Leopard, they usually have two critical issues; a one tank HQ unit and, if you want infantry, you have to give up a tank platoon. By comparison the Canadians have a potentially big HQ troop of 3 tanks (and the cost per tank goes down with more tanks), plus a separate infantry slot. This means that the Canadians can put down a large mass of MBT, potentially up to 19. This will take up most of a 64pt tournament list though with not much change in the jar.
Secondly, the Canadian C1 Leopard has something that all but the Aussie Leopard’s don’t have; “Brutal”.
Yep, the commonwealth troops have apparently packed their HESH rounds and that makes the C1 a very good answer to the BMP horde. With potentially 38 AT19 FP2 going down range, forcing embarked infantry to re-roll saves, the effect on a BMP battalion could be a comforting sight for NATO. This does come at a small points cost over the non-Brutal Leopards, but its a price worth paying.
The third thing to like is the crew stats. The West German Leopard 1 has a small advantage in being 3+ Morale but the Canadians otherwise match the host nation. An all professional army and regular training exercises makes for slick, responsive crews who can reliably follow movement orders and get the most out of the speedy light MBT.
The rest of the formation is a useful mix of capability. We will discuss the infantry in a moment. The M150 TOW provides some relatively cheap over-watch to keep the Russians worrying about their front armour whilst the Leopards chase the side. However the relatively primitive pedestal mount means no “Hammerhead” to keep the launcher hard to hit. Range will buy some protection but only if the enemy isn’t bringing Storms or missile armed T-64.
The Lynx looks to be a great looking model and provides the force with up to three spearhead units, helpful for getting the Leopard in a better position for a flank charge. The Lynx only comes in units of two so will need to pick its fights, but it has decent armour for its size and the 0.5 cal MG armament is enough to concern rear area units like SAM and Artillery pieces. That armour and mobility does make it pricey, especially when looking at the Luchs in the West German units.
All in all, if you want to field Leopard 1’s there’s a lot to be said for looking at the Canadian flavour (presumably maple cured?)
Royal 22e Régiment – Mechanised Infantry Formation
The Mechanised Infantry formation is fairly typical of most NATO forces. Two to three infantry platoons, backed up by tanks, mortars, Recce and AT.
The Infantry are, for the most part, fairly vanilla in stats – being 4’s across the board for all but skill. Their Skill is 3+ which does mean they are going to be a bit punchier on movement orders which can be very useful. The infantry do bring a useful range of capabilities; 60mm mortars, a sustained fire GPMG (the M1919 rebuilt for 7.62mm – if it was good enough for the MG42 and Bren…) and a large platoon size make for a very tough nut for Soviet Infantry to deal with, being able to chuck out a lot of fire to repel an assault. Tanks also have to be wary thanks to two-three Carl Gustav and, slightly less troubling, M72 launchers on the SAW teams.
What the infantry do lack is an attached ATGW. Canada at this point was trying to cook up its own missile with little luck, leaving the Infantry to rely on the presence of up to three TOW platoons (a total of nine posts – half the battalion’s strength). Whilst the M150 isn’t as survivable as an M901, it does at least have a slightly more morale friendly three strong platoon to help compensate and its better than nothing! AT 21 is AT21 after all.
The 81mm mortar rounds out the formation. Whilst the Canadians always wanted the M125, they had no luck procuring it, relying on M113 to carry the tubes and then deploying to fire. In the Team Yankee universe, the approaching war finds the treasury find some funds down the back of the sofa and the 81mm mortars get mounted (conveniently saving Battlefront having to acknowledge non self-propelled artillery for a little longer…). The British L16 mortar provides the basis of the Canadian C3, proving a 56″ range and a fire power of 4+. With up to eight tubes, it can smother the enemy in fire and smoke.
Don’t adjust your monitor, you’re reading that right. ADATS is a Rapier-like SAM system that can also act as an AT24 ATGW!
The clue is in the name “Air Defence Anti-Tank System”. At some point someone decided to take the theoretical ability of a semi-active guided system to hit both air and ground targets and doubled down on it, making it able to penetrate 900mm of Rolled Homogenous Armour (RHA)!
Presumably the key threat driver – “If they were doing this in the 40’s what will they be able to do by the 90’s?? Wake up people!”
In Team Yankee, Canada has sent some test assets to the front for a field demonstration. In reality the system, which fired a missile as early as 1981, was stuck in development hell until 1989 when it was finally fielded by Canada (the US lost interest and the only other user was Thailand which bought a single system).
In theory a SAM with a secondary attack feature is no bad thing as it means it can do something when the enemy doesn’t play ball and bring its air force out to play. In practice you are paying a premium over a single role capability due to the high performance of the system and, inevitably the best position for siting a fragile SAM system may not be the best position for siting an anti-tank system. Fire as a SAM and next turn you can’t fire at a ground target either.
However, the ADATS does have a fearsome range of 64″ which means it out ranges anything that can go back at it and also means it can probably gain from some good sighting that won’t interfere with its anti-air role. Its dual role makes it pricey, but so it does for a German Gepard and I wouldn’t leave home without them!
Blowpipe is much like its UK equivalent, just carted around in an M113 rather than the lighter but nippy Spartan and is fielded in multiples of three rather than two. It provides a handy point defence capability to supplement a larger SAM system and still retains the much discussed emergency ground attack ability of its UK cousin which means it doesn’t sit idle if the enemy air is not around. Its biggest issue is that for a few points more, I can generate as many shots with the ADATS (albeit on fewer launchers) which makes the Blowpipe a secondary system to either back up ADATS or be shoehorned in when points are tight!
Interestingly its listed as having a secondary 7.62mm AA MG, but is modelled as having a 0.5 cal like every other Canadian M113 which makes me wonder if someone got carried away with the cut and paste from the Spartan Blowpipe card!
The Canadian M109 is pretty standard fare. Organised much like the US version, it lacks its special ammo types. With the option to take a West German LARS battery with its mines and lower cost per system, I would doubt that the Royal Horse will get to do much.
Not only do we get a NATO allied formation if we want it, we can also tap into a limited selection of US or German support options. We have to choose one nation or the other, though.
The Canadians get to tap into some US support options. Sadly no anti-air or artillery, but they can be supported by A-10 and Cobras in the air making up for the lack of an RCAF presence (we can have ADATS early but not the CF-188/CRV7 combo? Awww….).
They can have a US Army tank platoon (M60 or M1/IPM1) or M113 mech platoon in support. The M113 isn’t gaining you much and the M60 is probably not enough of a jump over the Leopard, but the M1 bears a look at. As a base of fire for the Leopards to operate around, a platoon of three near-invulnerable IPM1 to take the centre may help give the enemy something to worry about!
Racing to aid its hat
Much like the Americans, we get fast jet and rotary wing support, plus a choice between a Leopard 2 platoon (lets face it, a leopard 1 is somewhat redundant!) or a Marder Panzer Grenadier platoon. But we also get access to the LARS rocket system. I’m a big fan of the LARS in my West Germans. It can drop smoke, it can drop mines and its a big template to drop down on a Soviet rifle company to suppress any missiles that may threaten my own force. Its also a lot cheaper than the gun artillery. Sure its only firepower 4+, but I’m not buying it for killing dug in troops or tanks.
Similarly the PAH is better optimised than the AH-1, albeit pricier but this is compensated by the Tornado being far more efficient than the A-10 at tank killing (somewhat ironically).
All in all, ze Germans are probably the go to choice for support unless there is a burning need for an IPM1.
All in all, I like the Canadians. They probably have one of the best Leopard 1 lists in NATO and back them up with some “not best in NATO but not worst either” formation support items and the US or West Germans help fill any remaining holes. They are probably not the highlight of Free Nations but they earn their pages.
In part 2, I’ll look at some list options and plan a shopping list.