Road to nowhere – EW French Project

Hi all another project which I’m starting, thought I’d go into a little detail about why I’m doing this and some of the thoughts behind it.

In my head I’ve always liked the idea that I could field and axis and an allies army in every period, and ideally form different theatres of the war. For LW I’ve got Germans (always suitable for every front) and my Brits and Finns, likewise all of those work well for MW too. EW though has been where I’ve been lacking – whilst my Finn’s cover the Axis and Eastern front, I really wanted something to cover the Allies and Western Front/Desert. Concurrently I’ve really wanted to get away from Veteran Infantry armies this year, they’ve pretty much been my exclusive area of playing over the last 12 months (again the Finns are to blame for this) so I really felt like some Mech/Tank’s ideally ones which were trained. This had been floating round my head fro some time, but with the invitation to the ETC I realised I needed a Mech force for this – and having reviewed the options for Trained Mech lists, one really grabbed me – French Armoured Cars. Now I’ve played against this list before and thought it was great, lots of mobility, some high AT and a nice variety of units available to play with. As things stand though I’m now playing the Finn’s at the ETC, but with all the models in my grasp, I think this is a lovely small little project I can be getting on with! (and yes I realise the idea of me and a small project don’t really go…)

So lets look at the list initially, well the first thing is that I need three combat platoons, and the HQ must be the same as one of the combat platoons. The Panhard is the stand out choice here in many ways, with it’s mobility and decent AT of 6 it’s a brilliant vehicle, though with the ‘No HE’ rule it’s going to struggle against a pure infantry army. The other advantage of the high mobility is the synergy this has with the French ‘High Command’ special rule – this allows you to move the objective towards the French table edge – combine those two and you’re not only forcing the opponent to deploy more spread out, but also you can be on the objective very quickly.

One thing I have learnt from playing EW is that there are a few lists with fortifications – including of course barbed wire, this limits the effectiveness (to me at least) of the pure ‘Panhoard’ so the other option which I think could be useful is the Hotchkiss as a recon unit, being a tank it’s able to move over the wire, whilst also adding some punch in shooting – yes three of them as recon limits their use in assault, but for extra firepower vs infantry and another quick moving unit I think they are valuable. At the same time though I want an armoured platoon to be able to assault enemy infantry and engage armour as well. The biggest difficulty here is the ‘one man-turret’ rule, so I’ve chatted and observed a couple of the more experience French players I know, they seem to use bigger platoons and keep a couple stationary, move the others then swap over – for this to work though you need a bigish sized platoon. I’d love the Somua, but the points are a little too much so I’m going with another Hotchkiss platoon, this time though 5 strong.

So far I’ve got a couple of Panhard platoons, and a couple of Hotchkiss platoons, what I want next is some decent anti-tank, the French have one of the best units here, the Laffly W15 TCC, 3 shots, AT 9 FP 4+ – this thing shreds tanks, though the lack of HE again limits it’s effectiveness vs infantry. As most of the army so far has very little good AT I want a full fat 5 vehicle unit here.

Now, I think I have Anti Tank covered, with a mixture of AT 4-9 shots I’m hoping even against a soviet hoard I could do some damage. The big question now is dealing with infantry. I have 14 vehicles which have No HE, so what can I do to help dig out those dug in infantry? The obvious option is the Fusiliers-Voltigeurs (colonial), they’re Fearless trained, but hit hard in assaults. But (and I admit this sounds strange) whilst they look the best option for this on paper, I don’t think they fit my idea of how to play the army – I want a mobile ‘in your face fast’ army. I’ve got the 5 strong hotchkiss platoon as assault unit number one, so I’m going to go for the slightly odd Renault AMR-35 platoon. They’re 5 strong so can assault (as recce 5 hits though) but also with two ‘light’ 50 cals they can not be ignored by gun teams and infantry.

But with the need to cover the advance and also provide some smoke, I’ve also gone for a mortar platoon – also their direct fire stats should be helpful when assaulting infantry units with HMG’s – trained is not your friend getting into assault. The final unit I’ve gone for is some artillery – towed 105mm, with an AT of 4 and a FP of 4+ (direct fire it’s rubbish) it can hopefully keep soviet light tanks spread out, and deal with heavy tanks like Matilda’s/KV’s – it also has some smoke to further cover the advance.
Well this is the army, I hope it’s relatively competitive. It’s going to struggle in mobile battles I fear, and dug in infantry will be at the mercy of MG’s and hotchkiss tanks – but for mobility it looks great.

Hope to bring you some WIP and AAR’s soon.

Adam

Category: Early WarFlames of WarFrench

5 comments

  1. Just wanted to highlight that the Croix de Lorraine shouldn't be used for EW French, it should be used only for MW / LW Free French or the Resistants that followed De Gaulle (The communist ones didn't use it for obvious reasons)
    Otherwise, good stuff 🙂

  2. Good list similar to my own. Though I like having infantry since frequently you will need a platoon to sit on an objective I use French motorized infantry. Given the lack limited AT weapons available in most Early war armies I find I can usually have my Hotchkiss tanks shoot it with our assualt dug in infantry. Also I don't use the laffys but go with 3 Somuas they don't hit as hard but are much more survivable.

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Article by: Mark Goddard