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Red Steel: Fielding The Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty

Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty Red Steel:
Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
with
Gavin van Rossum

The Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap or Ironclad Battalion allows a player to bring heavy metal to the North Vietnamese forces and represent the battles in Laos in 1971, the Spring Offensive of 1972 and subsequent conventional battles leading up to the fall of Saigon in 1975 when a K-2 (T-54) drove through the gates of the Presidential Palace and ended the 10000 day war. These Soviet and Chinese supplied tanks give you the potential to take on the Free World armoured forces head-to-head. PAVN armour was used in professional combined arms operations during their defence against Operation Lam Son 719 in Laos as well as extensively during the 1972 Spring Offensive, during the Battles for An Loc, Lang Vei and Kontum.
Tour Of Duty
The Vietnam War defined a generation, whether it was through service in Vietnam or opposition to the war. The war in Vietnam remains one the bloodiest wars since the Second World War.

Learn more about Tour Of Duty here...
Tour Of Duty
Some of the match-ups maybe more hypothetical than historical accurate; for example the Australian Centurions never considered having to face enemy armour and were therefore not shipped to Vietnam with APDS (armour-piercing discarding sabot ) rounds. However, they will want to upgrade to this option if facing PAVN forces in the south armed with the K-2 (T-54).

The Ironclad Battalions suffered some embarrassing failures when first committed to battle, however when fielded with the appropriate infantry support they were able to quickly overwhelm any ARVN forces and push them back, requiring the intervention of extended B-52 airstrikes to contain and breakup the assault.

Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
With the gradual reduction of US ground support for the South Vietnamese forces, they quickly found themselves faced with a strategic escalation from the North as they bought more conventional forces to bear. Armoured units were sent into action more frequently with the K-3 (Soviet PT-76) appearing initially then followed by the heavier K-2 (T-54) and the less common K-1 (T-34/85M). The Ironclad Battalion allows full use of these post-World War Two designs and upgrades in your Flames Of War Vietnam games as well as allowing them to support other PAVN formations for more infantry focused games. The Ironclad Battalions were also supported by a Mechanised Infantry Company of AK47 & B41 armed troops carried in BTR-50K APCs (armoured personnel carriers). They are protected from the US and South Vietnamese air power by a modern ZSU-57-2 Company or less mobile 14.5mm and 37mm Divisional AA assets.
Learn more about each type of PAVN Ironclad Company by clicking on the box image below...
K-2 (T-54) Ironclad Company (VPABX01)
K-1 (T-34/85M) Ironclad Company (VPABX02) K-3 (PT-76) Ironclad Company (VPABX03)
List Designs
The premise of this 1500 points list is to represent a massed formation of a PAVN combined arms force. The K-2 (T-54) will deal with all the big threats while the Bộ Binh (Infantry) Company and the Đặc Công (Special Tasks) control the ground and deconstruct any defences around an objective before attempting to capture it.

1500 points Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap (Ironclad Battalion)
Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap HQ (Fearless Trained)  
with one K-2 (T-54) 70 points
Combat Companies (Fearless Trained)  
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company   
with six K-2 (T-54) 415 points
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company  
with five K-2 (T-54) 355 points
Support Companies
 
Bộ Binh (Infantry) Company (Fearless Trained)  
with HQ Section & three Infantry Platoons each with four AK47 Assault rifle teams
& three B40 teams.

485 points
Đặc Công (Special Tasks) Company (Fearless Veteran)  
with HQ Section with one Type 58 LMG team & one Sapper Platoon with one Pioneer AK47 Assault team, two Pioneer B40 teams.
175 points
Total Points: 1500 points
Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
This list is designed to present an overwhelming amount of heavy armour at a weak point in the Free World lines and use the imposing combination of frontal armour, 100mm main gun and 12.7mm calibre DShK machine-gun on the K-2 (T-54) tanks to destroy armoured targets then separate and dismantle the Free World forces using regular Bộ Binh (Infantry) Company and specialist Đặc Công (Special Tasks) Company.

On the attack you are lead by the small unit of Đặc Công using their One Slow, Four Quicks special rule to prepare the advance of your Ironclad and Bộ Binh units. Push back Ambushes and reduce fortifications in their way. Do not waste them on frontal assaults as they are best as a support for the heavy units, removing Gone to Ground to increase the destruction from massed AK47, RPG, DShk and 100mm fire.

Two sizeable units of K-2 (T-54) allow you to advance under fire using leapfrog tactics; as one unit dashes forward and suffers the penalties from Hen & Chicks, the other halts to smash the enemy with their Anti-tank 16 guns. The goal of the supporting manoeuvre groups is to advance to close range where more dependable hits can be achieved in order to swiftly reduce the enemy’s armoured strength. Long range gun duels are not advantageous unless fire can be concentrated on the same target; however this plays into the enemy’s superior skill and more modern equipment such Rangefinders and Spotting Rifles. Any delays in advancing will be punished by the enemy’s air support and artillery units who will quickly dilute your troop concentrations. If the enemy fields Trained tanks, their vulnerability is further increased as you can hit them while you advance, further reducing the volume of return fire as you close in on their position. The K-2 (T-54) does not need to be concerned by LAW (Light Anti-tank Weapon) fire from the front, so once the enemy’s direct fire threats have been neutralised they can advance to close range in preparation for the
Bộ Binh to assault and take the objective. Although K-2 (T-54) is imposing on the battlefield, their usefulness is wasted on assaults with little chance of success, for example, against teams with multiple LAWs even when the enemy is Pinned or Wounded.
Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
Use the asymmetrical aspect of the Bộ Binh Company’s Guerrilla Reserves and Born in the North to Die in the South special rules to threaten the enemy’s flanks and keep them over extended in an attempt to defend every angle. If you get the option to deploy to their weaker flanks or rear, do so and take decisive action before they can redeploy their strength. Destroy any enemy armour if you can, especially the dangerous and high profile Pattons and Centurions to weaken the enemy and make high profile body count for the Free World media, also known as collecting Battle Points. Know that the enemy General will be concerned about losing his expensive armour units, so threaten it often to keep them dancing to your Communist tune.

The greatest enemy threat is air support and artillery so keep this in mind when deploying and moving units around the battlefield. The greatest internal threat to success is failing to realise the effect of Hen and Chicks; the K-2 (T-54) suffers a reduction in combat effectiveness when they are moving. However, the effectiveness of the excellent DShK machine-gun must still be respected by your opponent’s Infantry and Gun teams. Try to use leapfrog tactics as much as possible to always pose a threat to any targets that dare expose themselves to the deadly 100mm main gun of the K-2 (T-54).  Fire from stationary company combined with the threat of further retaliation from the company that moved in the previous turns will make your opponent think twice about offering a potential line of sight. Be sure to keep your Company HQ tank close to your most threatened Ironclad Company for motivation purposes i.e. remounting Bail Out vehicles.
Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty

List Options
Reduce the Bộ Binh Company to ⅔ strength to add another K-2 (T-54) to the larger Ironclad Company as well as fielding that entire Company with Stabilisers and Infrared Searchlights for firepower while on the move and using the Charlie Owns the Night rule to be Always Attacks and use the Night Attack and Dawn rules. If you don’t like the Stabilisers and Infrared Searchlights, use the points to add two more tanks!

1000 points Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap (Ironclad Battalion)
Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap HQ (Fearless Trained)  
with one K-2 (T-54) 70 points
Combat Companies (Fearless Trained)  
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company   
with five K-2 (T-54) 355 points
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company  
with five K-1 (T-534/85M) 315 points
Support Companies
 
Đặc Công (Special Tasks) Company (Fearless Veteran)  
with HQ Section & one Sapper Platoon with one Pioneer AK47 Assault team & two Pioneer B40 teams. 150 points
Division Mortar Company (Fearless Trained)  
with HQ Section, Observer team & three Type 53 120mm mortars.
100 points
Total Points: 990 points
This is a toned down version of the 1500 point list, using the medium K-1 (T-34/85M) tanks to supplement the heavier K-2 (T-54) Ironclad Company. Keeping the volume of armour high; this list works on using the K-2 (T-54) company to remove any anti-tank threats and then a high volume of HE (high explosive) fire to neutralise the enemy on the tabletop. Assaults are best taken out against fractured units to minimise defensive fire from LAWs. At a lower points value the K-2 (T-54) really should be the biggest bully on the battlefield or at worst be against Trained opponents that cannot hide. The K-1 (T-34/85M) tanks can be used to flank the enemy or form a gun line to shell them into submission. Do not confront enemy tanks or anti-tank troops unless forced to as the K-1 (T-34/85M) are not tough enough to survive long against any form of HEAT (high explosive, anti-tank) rounds. Avoid driving too close to any enemy infantry teams armed with weapons such as the LAW; these can quickly tear apart medium tanks.

Use the Đặc Công Company to strip Gone to Ground from any enemy units for the 120mm mortars to shell, the threat of this combination should force the enemy spread out more during deployment. This will allow more opportunities for your tanks to pick apart the divided forces with fire and assaults while controlling open ground to halt reinforcements.
 
List Options
Continue the theme of the 1500 point list by going all T-54, swap the five K-1 (T-34/85M) for 4 x K-2 (T-54), less firepower on the move but more survivability. If you want to try out some amphibious tanks, swap the five K-1 (T-34/85M) for seven  K-3 (PT-76), great in terrain with their Wide tracks and a bonus if rivers are a constant terrain feature in your Flames Of War Vietnam games.

Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
The 600 points lists are simple for the PAVN; presenting a threat which is difficult to counter and bring enough to get the job done is the real problem.
600 points Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap (Ironclad Battalion)
Tiểu Đoan Thiết Giap HQ (Fearless Trained)  
with one K-2 (T-54) 70 points
Combat Companies (Fearless Trained)  
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company   
with three K-2 (T-54) 215 points
Thiết Giap (Ironclad) Company  
with three K-2 (T-54) 215 points
Support Companies
 
Division Mortar Company (Fearless Trained)  
with HQ Section, Observer team & three Type 53 120mm mortars.
100 points
Total Points: 600 points
This list presents your opponent with seven heavy tanks that need a serious and expensive counter in order to stop from the front, or a significant amount of artillery to dissuade in the time it takes to chop up the enemy forces. If your opponent bunches their infantry units up to stop assaults, they will get pounded by heavy mortars. Reduce the anti-tank threats first and don’t stray too close to terrain full of LAW toting infantry. Use the DHsK machine-gun on anything that you need to pin down and the 100mm main gun on anything more than thinly armoured. Note that your Divisional Mortar Company may be on the tabletop would help provide line of sight for spotting or holding objectives; it may also use the Quick Advance rule if you need to move it up to shell the enemy.
 
List Options
Swap the Divisional Mortar Company for an anti-aircraft option if your opponents are overly keen on chopper or Air Cav.

Red Steel: Fielding A PAVN Ironclad Battalion From Tour Of Duty
Why Field An Ironclad Battalion?
The Ironclad Battalion is there to place a ton of heavy metal on the table and use it to destroy the expensive Capitalist tanks, and then round up the shattered survivors for political re-education. The K-2 (T-54) is a very solid tank and can take on even the heaviest Free World forces head-to-head while the K-3 (PT-76) and K-1 (T-34/85M) can manoeuvre and overwhelm fragile defences or catch reinforcements on the move.

The North Vietnamese leadership chose wisely to only deploy their conventional forces into South Vietnam late in the war once they had forced the US Ground forces out of the South. When the ARVN were in dire need they could still call in heavy air support, including B-52 strikes, on the tank equipped PAVN forces. This often resulted in large craters where previously the Northern forces had been forming up or were attacking. With B-52 strikes not currently a part of the Flames Of War Vietnam, you will be safe to field your Ironclad Battalions and smash the best Soviet tank of the early Cold War period through the gates of your enemies defences.

~ Gavin.


Last Updated On Thursday, April 04, 2013 by Blake at Battlefront