Today Lee looks at the D+1 options in D-Day: American Forces as he ponders what to do with a pile of US Riflemen…
Despite playing the game since v1, I’ve never had a US force before. It certainly wasn’t an intentional omission and I did start collecting a US para force off the back of the last starter set “Open Fire”. But its always been a nation that seems to get overtaken in my interests by some new shiney force, no doubt helped by the fact that Brighton already had several US Players already.
Enter Mark and his plan to do a large beach landing game for the Open Day under the “Breakthrough Assault” flag. Foolishly, I agreed to help out with the painting so cue a pair of Rifle Company boxes, some DD tanks, a pair of Thunderbolts and a trio of LCA all arriving on my painting desk.
Come the 6th of July, we will have a new “D-Day American Forces” book and I’ll have a used beach landing force on a, hopefully, captured beach.
What’s a boy to do with a company of assault infantry?
Well, I’ve always been a Brest man myself…
29th Infantry Division
Whilst famous for storming Omaha beach, the 29th didn’t end their war on the beach. They pushed inland and headed to Brittany, bringing the pioneer skills and equipment they had used to good effect breaching the Atlantic Wall to crack the fortress city, Brest. They relieved the “Super Sixth” armored division who had been containing the Germans whilst the doughboys caught up.
In D-Day: American Forces, we have the option to take a Rifle Company formation and this will serve as the basis for my force, post 6th June. We also have a command card “Demolition Experts” to represent 29th Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 115th Regiment being the recipient of the D-Day equipment and specialists from the division.
The card requires each platoon to swap one rifle stand for a flame thrower and grants the platoon the ability to better cross minefields or dig-in. Perfect for seizing ground then holding it!
Given I have a surplus of infantry, plus the casualty realities of an infantry assault, I opted for the full allocation of three Rifle platoons. To these I then had to apply the demolition expert upgrade (swap out one rifle team for a flame thrower) and added the extra bazooka to each to increase the ability of the platoons to deal with dug in enemy forces and medium armour.
A rifle company would have a weapons platoon equipped with three 60mm mortars and two LMG, often bolstered to four LMG. I decided to reflect that by only having a maximum of four LMG in the formation, so only two of the platoons received the maximum two LMG. The third “reserve” platoon will have to go without.
That give me three platoons of 12-14 teams. A fairly sturdy basis for the formation.
The Rifle company is nothing if not well supported by battalion assets. I have the option of two mortar slots, two anti-tank slots, a HMG platoon and an artillery slot able to take either pack howitzer 105mm battery or a Sherman 105mm platoon.
I decide to finish off the weapons platoon by adding the three 60mm mortars in the mortar slot. These give a useful HE capability but, sadly, no smoke. They are cheap though.
That used up all the teams from the Beach Assault force and gave me a four platoon formation. I have spent 40pts of my 100pt force and I want to add armour and artillery so I’m calling this formation done, but lets talk about the other battalion support assets I could have taken.
The HMG and 81mm Mortars are much as they were in mid-war. The 81mm mortar packs a decent punch, has a smoke bombardment, and is relatively cheap. It can also be purchased in a 6 gun battery giving a reliable chance of hitting the forces under the template. I see the HMG as less useful as the LMG in the infantry platoons give almost as good weight of fire and can be better distributed amongst the platoons. That said, it can be a good way of providing anti-infantry protection to a flank.
The US finally get their M1 57mm anti-tank guns, the 6pdr of British fame. This packs a useful anti-tank punch of AT10 out to 28” and is a superb ambush or point defence anti-tank gun. If I wasn’t’ planning to pair the formation up with an armoured formation, then I would definitely have at least one platoon and will no doubt visit this option in the future.
The Cannon battery is a battery of 2-6 105mm pack howitzers. These baby guns still have decent bombardment range and the firepower of a full 105mm battery but have less impact in direct fire versus armour and the lack of a gunshield means you can’t just wheel them up to the target to make use of the “brutal” direct fire shot. As I have a Priest battery coming in the US starter box, I have no real need for another 105mm battery but it may be something I pick up further down the line.
So, that’s the rifle platoon fitted out. Its worth noting that there is a veteran version for reflecting the Big Red One. This version has the same options but they are now “Careful”, have “Yankee ingenuity” giving them 3+ tactics (but still “trained” for other skill checks – no idea why) and are more expensive as a result.
“Super Six” – US Armoured Company
I have always liked the cast hull Sherman so this formation is the perfect excuse to build a force around it. Between the US Starter Army and “Hit the beach”, I will have thirteen Sherman (which can be built as either the 75mm or 76mm version) and three M5 Stuarts at my disposal. Choices, choices.
The Formation has only a single HQ option, two 75mm Sherman, so that takes care of two tanks.
The two mandatory slots then have options. Both can be 75mm Sherman but one can swap out for the 76mm Sherman (only one platoon per formation) and the other for M5 Stuarts.
I opted to use all three slots; one 76mm platoon, one 75mm platoon and the M5 platoon. The 76mm gives me ranged anti-tank versus high end threats whilst being well armoured itself. It does lack HE so its accompanied by some 75mm Sherman to deal with infantry and guns. It’s also comparatively pricey so I opt for a trio of them, accompanied by four 75mm Sherman at almost the same price. The Stuart gives me a high-speed flanker to chase after artillery or enemy light armour.
All that costs me another 40 points.
There’s also a mortar carrier slot (a trio of M4 half track mounted 81mm mortars) and a slot for the M4 105mm. The mortars provide a cheap smoke generator so will be on the longer term list to procure. I’m in two minds on the 105mm Sherman. Direct fire brutal is always handy, and the ability to bombard is a good optional feature, but I think I prefer just having more 75mm Sherman shots (they cost about the same). It may be something to play with in the future.
Again we have a veteran option that boosts the “to hit” to “careful” and gives a boost to “Tactical” as well, all for a cost premium.
With twenty points left, its time to look at support.
Between Hit the Beach and the US Army deal, I have three Priests, four M10, an Armoured Rifle Platoon and a US paratrooper platoon, in addition to the pair of P-47 from the beach party.
What I’m lacking is artillery and high end anti-tank so that short lists the list to:
- M10 Tank Destroyers
- M7 Priests
- P-47 Thunderbolts
The M7 Priests automatically address the artillery shortfall with a very handy 105mm round. A three gun battery is a hindrance as there is no redundancy against re-rolling hits if one is killed, but the Priest does give some mobility and protection against counter-battery fire as well as having its own AA protection!
At that point, I can only really afford a pair of M10 tank destroyers. Whilst Fez had recently used a pair of M10 to good affect against my Germans, I still couldn’t quite work up the drive to take them over the other option – The P-47
One option that would have been fun for the Battle of the Brest is the M12. These self propelled guns not only give a powerful and long ranged artillery strike but can also happily deal with a bunker with their Firepower 1+ direct shot. Just be careful with their armour 0 and inability move and fire.
Tanks, but no thanks
(so called because I don’t use any of the stuff provided for the Open Day!)
Another option I have, after buying “hit the beach” and the US army deal, is to ignore the 29th and double down on the Super 6th.
Once again, we pick up a Sherman company as a formation but this time aim to use all thirteen Sherman available to me. This gives:
HQ of two M4A1 Sherman
One platoon of four M4A1(76)
One platoon of three M4A1
One platoon of three M4A1
Support wise we keep pulling toys from the army deal with:
A full strength armoured rifle formation
Four M10 Tank Destroyers
Three M7 Priest
Three M5 Stuarts
Two P-47 with the 2000lb bomb card to increase their firepower rating to 2+.
There’s probably something to be said for dropping the third Sherman platoon, bringing the other two to full strength, then bringing the Stuarts into core. But I prefer more platoons to cover more ground.
What I really could do with is some recce. Sadly the old jeep mounted Intelligence Platoon isn’t in the book so the only option is the Cavalry unit with its M8 and a pair of jeeps. I could drop the infantry to an understrength armoured platoon, which would fit the cavalry in but at the cost of diminishing my combined arms. Another option would be to exchange the Priests for a mortar carrier platoon, keeping my ability drop smoke and HE whilst bolstering the core formation, but at the cost of range and firepower. It may be that I explore these two options in the future and use the above as my starting point force.
So, there’s two lists I can build using stuff I have, or will have, themed to the battle for Brest. I haven’t even touched upon Tank Destroyer Companies or the Light Armour companies. I think this shows just how many options the books throws us, whilst allowing us to tailor forces to match the various stages of the French campaign.