The Road to Warfare

The Route of the 2nd Infantry Division

Anyone who has been to the Wargames Association of Reading event, Warfare, will know that not only is it a great event with an abundance of traders but it also has an excellent Flames of War tournament. To add extra spice this year is not just any Flames of War tournament, no, no friends, this year it is the English Nationals! 

D-Day

I’d been batting around some ideas for lists for a while; they all had their own pros and cons but they would have to all have something in common: I’d have to play that list for the better part of 6 months. 

The tournament will be for Late War so initially, I was, as usual, veering towards playing a German List – probably a variant on the 21st Panzer Panzergrenadiers or Hotchkiss Assualt Gun Companys. The more I mused on this though the more I was drawn back to the 2019 Warfare event where I had my MW US Sherman company ready to go but I was unable to make the tournament in the end so I started exploring US lists… and then I found US801.

Or to be exact I found 3 blisters of US801 Indianhead Infantry Platoon on the Battlefield Hobbies website. I wasn’t looking for a new army, I wasn’t interested in a new army – I’d gone on looking for some extra bits for an Armoured Rifles company list and yet I’d fallen foul of the hobby magpie. 

I knew that in the US D-Day book there is a tonne of Command Cards for the Rifle Companies so I dug out the 2nd Infantry Division one. SMGs. Tonnes of SMGs. All of the SMGs. Talking to Mark, Eddie and Lee the 2ID didn’t seem very strong at all as a list; it lacks long-range anti-infantry firepower and in has a lot of compromises compared to the Armour Rifles but I was drawn into the hobbying potential that it presented and my decision was made.  

Planning

“These Are My Credentials”

U.S. Brigadier General Charles Canham

This is about the 6th iteration of this list and I’m sure as games get played it will continue to evolve – I’m definitely still toying with 2 vs. 3 platoons of rifles and for 1 x Sherman 76mm you can instead get 3 x 57mm AT guns which are in the formation.

So let me talk you through the thought process behind each choice. 

Rifle Company

The inclusion of the Rifle Company is a bit of a Hobby Hipster choice but to make it Indian Head armed with SMGs well that is next tier. So what is the difference? 

So you lose the 16″ range of the M1 Garand and instead have a short-range, overwhelming number of shots and, probably, more importantly, a 3+ in Assault. This makes your US Rifleman look very much like Soviet SMG assault troops, I think that the difference here though is that these troops have the capacity to also defend. 

It’s not the Rifle Company troops that hold this option but the additional stands you can bring in to supplement them. Adding an extra bazooka is a must – one is ok but not exactly intimidating, two is starting to look scarier to assaulting armoured vehicles. So you have some integral defence against armour but what about getting bum-rushed by infantry?

Well, you can also include 2 x LMG and 1 x HMG into the mix. Now, that starts to get pricey but does mean that your humble rifle company does top out at 15 stands – which in and of itself is an obstacle but it also gives you that boost of medium-range anti-infantry that you have exchanged for the enhanced short-range firepower of the SMG. 

You also have tools within the formation to supplement your medium-range firepower – notably the HMG platoon and the mortar platoon. Originally I had included the 81mm mortars but I think that the 60mm does the job I need the mortars to do for half the cost. Yes, you get no smoke, a shorter range and only 3 stands but for just being able to dump a barrage out to 32″ I think that they currently just nudge ahead of their 81mm brethren.

The HMGs will do the job of just covering some ground – they’re cheap and chuck out 24 dice of MG fire so should be enough discouragement to most infantry if they are unpinned. For the points, they give me a solid firebase that also means that my infantry doesn’t have to sit on objectives babysitting if I don’t want them too. 

Finally, the 57mm AT guns add some AT10 integral support for taking on lighter armour and at least adding an amount of discouragement against heavier tanks assaulting the infantry. There is a case to be made to consider the second unit of these versatile guns but I think that will have to be a judgement call based on in-game performance. 

Support

The Rifle Company takes up around 50pts of the 100pts that I am assuming that we will have to work with (the tournament pack isn’t available yet – but it seems a sensible threshold) and that leaves so wiggle room in support.

My force is based around the 2ID and their fighting to take the Brittany peninsula and ultimately Festung Brest so that has flavoured some of the choices that I’ve made. 

The M12 was something I’d not considered previously but Eddie has talked me round on them and I think he’s really on to something. The AT15 alone just means that you have something in the arsenal that exceeds the AT12 ceiling that the 76mm and 3″ guns all hit. It also unlocks the L4 Grasshopper observer and gives you a meaty barrage that will hopefully make those PAK nests be very, very careful on how they deploy. 

The L4 Grasshopper provides the same utility as always and gives me excellent positioning on the three templates (M12, M15/M16, 60mm mortars) wherever I need them. 

And so we move on to the M15/M16 Platoon – I can hear the eyebrows raising from here… This is a bit of an oddity in a D-Day US list but stick with me. Firstly, the Command Card “Ivory X” refers to an operation conducted by Division Artillery to saturate Brest with suppressive fire. Everything from .50cal machine guns and 3″ tank destroyer guns to the organic field artillery and anti-aircraft guns plastered Brest hampering or in most cases stopping movement around the city. So from a theme perspective, they completely fit, but from an in-game perspective, they are extremely handy too. 

It might only be a 6+ Firepower barrage but this means I can use it for just pinning units down, and I will still get troops re-rolling saves for Repeat Bombardments. Also, the 4 tracks also give me more mobile anti-infantry to compliment the HMGs in the Rifle Company and, finally, if I do come across any opposing air support it gives me a deterrent or at least something that my opponent has to consider rather than having free reign.

The biggest issue with the M15/M16 normally is that they can end up doing nothing on the majority of turns – a 48″ barrage combined with the L4 Grasshopper means that should not be the case for my list. 

Thunderbolts. I was in two minds about including airpower in my list, it’s not cheap, it will only appear half the turns you play (on average) and from experience playing against them as the Germans, the anti-tank capability on them is not stellar. So why are they there? 

They do something that nothing else in the list can do – they can reach out to any corner of the border, at any moment and they have the full complement of weaponry to support this. Facing Tigers or Churchills or, I expect, IS-2s? Then you can do a whole lot worse than dropping AT5 rockets on their TA2 heads. Need another(!) barrage? Then bombs away with 2+ Firepower! Got some Marders or SU-76s or even 17pdr M10s? Then you can make them eat 8 dice of AT5 .50cal.

None of these options looks stand out but that is not a downside; it’s the strength. The flexibility of the P-47s, and their threat range means you will always have something to do. They cannot be relied upon to take out 5 Tigers but will my opponents want to cluster their prized Panzerkampfwagen VI all together and let me get lucky? I don’t think so – I think that the physiological effect of this USAAF airpower is worth the points alone. 

Finally, we come on to the AT12 striking power of the M10, or in my case the wonderfully aesthetic M18 Hellcat models, and M4 76mm Shermans. These troops give me my reliable anti-tank hitting power and their Stabilisers mean that I can threaten the flanks of things that they cannot handle front on. I need to be careful with these assets as they need to remain a threat for as long as possible. Their FA is enough to deter smaller calibre AT but I can’t get drawn into a slugging match with them as their advantage lies in that RoF 2 when moving. 

Rounding Up

This is all of course merely “Flames of War Dojo” thinking at the moment and everything needs to be road tested to see if the right parts are filling the right roles. 

I really want to see how some options fair too – one 76mm Sherman vs. another 57mm AT gun platoon, 3″ towed AT guns vs. the Shermans or M10/M18s and 2 vs. 3 infantry platoons but that needs the world to return to some semblance of normality. 

I hope that this has given you some insight to going back and re-looking at some options that might have passed you by at first glance. It’s been interesting to look back through the D-Day Command Cards and all the variety in the named Divisions and units to see what hidden gems are in there and to take inspiration from that and get some new paint on some models. 

So until next time – these are my credentials:

 – Dunc 

Category: Flames of War

4 comments

  1. Good piece Duncan. I do think you need a little more smoke. The normal Rifle Companies are hit on 3+ so need all the help they can get in assault.
    Can we expect a follow up article after you have done some test games, just to see how it comes along?

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Article by: Duncan Gosling