Soviet Reconnaisance Company list building
With all the excitement of the new tank forces available in Bagration Soviets Martin decided to take some time to look at the opportunities for building a thematic Soviet force.
With all the captured German equipment now available to the Soviet player where better to deploy it than in a Reconnaissance Company!
The Reconnaisance Companies are the eyes of the Red Army; seeking out routes past, and through, the fascist defensive positions for the Soviet spearheads. They are often accompanied by forward elements from the Tank Battalions, providing the more lightly equipped reconnaissance troops with some much needed fire power for when they run into hidden defensive positions, or an unexpected opportunity to exploit a position occurs.
Previously, in mid-war, I built the equivalent force around lend lease British equipment with 14 universal carriers! To build a Bagration version of the Reconnaissance Company formation I wanted to utilise as much captured German equipment as I could. I still want to retain a force that will be competitive to play with whilst being fairly historically representative.
Luckily, like Red Banner, Bagration Soviets again gives me the opportunity to equip my Armoured Reconnaisance Platoons with captured German halftracks. In game terms, these mean you get superior mobility at the cost of a less powerful weapon platform compared to the M3 White Scout car. After some soul searching I decided I would have two Armoured Reconnaissance Platoons; one with the standard M3 Scout Car (the competitor in me meant I just couldn’t give up all the 0.50 cals) and the other with the captured vehicles. I am going to use a mix of 251 and 250 vehicles for variety. I will also equip these with RPG-6 antitank grenades for added capability vs any tanks they may encounter.
My final infantry platoon choice will be a Reconaissance Platoon with the extra flame thrower team. These are the real elite troops of the Formation, benefiting from Scout and being hit on 4+ not to mention having a Rof 3/3 16″ range DPMG. So they can keep up on the move. I have equipped them with M-72 motorcycles (a BMW design licensed to the Soviets in 1940). Not the greatest transport option but they are cool little models and they can increase your spearhead distance when you get the opportunity. I also have another more subtle reason for this card which will become apparent later.
I added a platoon of six mortars for some integral artillery support but haven’t included the anti-tank platoon; being only armed with the 76mm gun I really don’t have much of a use for these with the Armour box options in Bagration. The ability to add in a Hero tank battalion isn’t new but it now doesn’t come at the expense of adding armoured cars. In the Formation these represent the small tank units that were integral to the formations rather than wholesale attached units.
Initally I was going to add in the Hero Valentine unit (which I already had) as the Soviets considered this a “light” tank and used it in a scout role but, after looking at the size of this unit (just 3 tanks), I decided to use this slot to equip my reconnaissance troops with a more numerous unit of four Hero T-34/85’s. With their improved skill, these will be a match for Panzer IV and StuG units and will worry Panther and Tiger platoons especially if they get into a good flanking position. To provide a light tank support element I wanted, I have added a regular Valentine unit which allowed me to have a more durable unit of five tanks, two of which have been upgraded to the 6pdr version which should make these a bit more useful overall. As an alternative I can swap these for a T-70 unit which are a less effective but I would get a couple of extra hulls – lets see how that goes.
We now have a dedicated Reconnaissance box in the Formation not really much use of itself as nearly everything else has spearhead already but I can swap this (or a Reconnaissance Platoon) for some captured German Tanks with the Command Cards. This presents a nice modelling opportunity and can cover some of the gaps in the formation’s strength with no real downside. The fairly obvious choice of the options are the Panthers (a bargain at just 7 points each) these will not only help further confuse my German opponents but will add some high end anti-tank capability to my formation that it otherwise lacks. What German sentry would be suspicious of a few Panthers and half tracks approaching? Surely they could only be friendlies?
The final two elements I have are a unit of five SU-76’s to provide a mobile artillery element. Nearly every Soviet force contained these self propelled guns, being the second most numerous piece of soviet armour (c. 15,000 were built). Lastly, I will be adding some anti aircraft support in the form of the new plastic ZSU M17 quad AA halftracks. After all, you don’t want the Luftwaffe spoiling all your hard work in sneaking up by spotting you from the air.
So this is my list:
I will generally be looking at using Attack or Manoeuvre battle stances, depending on my opponents force composition. The flexibility of my troops works well in many of the scenarios in the mission matrix for the Manoeuvre column and, if by bad luck I end up as the defender in a mission, the Scouts will discard their motorcycles enabling me to field 59 points on table with 39 in reserve. Handily there are several ways I can achieve that with this list, with no more than three units, which should be fairly manageable against most lists and wont really compromise my in game capability too much. I’m not too worried about scattered reserves as my force is extremely mobile but delayed reserves are more of a challenge with lots of low cost units
The general game plan I have in mind for this force is a form of the Soviet Maskirovka tactic. I will distract them with some threatening units whilst I sneak units forward around the side of their position to grab the objectives, launching attacks from poorly defended angles. My distraction force will be the Valentines and Panthers. using my mortars and SU-76 to keep their guns pinned down, whilst the armoured reconnaisance platoons and scouts do the sneaking about supported by the T34/85’s.
Hopefully this gives you a few ideas about a thematic force that is still competative to play with and offers plenty of modelling opportunities.