The Arsenal of Democracy

Fighting First

The Arsenal of Democracy
with Ben Polikoff

Over the next few articles Ben is going to take a closer look at each of the formations and units in Fighting First. This week he starts with the Armor...

With the entry of the US into the war, Germany’s Afrika Korps days of threatening to cut off the rest of the British Empire were coming to a close. Fresh, eager faces, and new, powerful weapons tipped the balance of power in North Africa heavily in favor of the Allies. The Operation Torch landings in Casablanca in Morocco and Oran and Algiers in Algeria have decisively outflanked the Axis forces and trapped Tunisia in a vice. But the Axis forces will not concede the field without a fight, and the Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel, still has some tricks up his sleeve. With his veteran troops and those of his Italian allies at his disposal, he will teach these new “Amis” a thing or two about modern mobile warfare!

Hell On Wheels

The Americans have been supplied with the best equipment American industry can provide. Locomotive factories have retooled to produce tanks, and automotive plants have used their industrial expertise to pump out combat aircraft at a record pace. While not an active combatant, the Americans had been watching the developments in the war and theorized what new weapons will best allow their troops, and those of their allies, success against the crack Axis troops they will face. They have been devastatingly effective against the Vichy French troops they have faced so far, but how will they fare against the Desert Fox?

Based off the proven chassis of the obsolete M2 medium tank, the M3 Lee was an interim design until the development and production of the new M4 Sherman was complete. Rushed to the front to fulfil the need for a 75mm gun tank, the M3 Lee has a high silhouette and sponson mount for the large 75mm which increases its firepower but disallows it to fight hull down. It also packs a 37mm high velocity antitank gun which is a threat to all but the most heavily armoured panzers at Rommel’s disposal. Coupled with up to 51mm of armour and the M2’s reliable drivetrain, the M3 is the standard medium tank of the American forces.

M3 Lee

M4 Sherman

Available in increasing numbers, the M4 Sherman is the pinnacle of Allied military technology. Retaining a modified development of the M2’s drivetrain like the Lee, it is steadfast and dependable, and easy to maintain. It packs the same M3 75mm gun as the latest Lees, but in a turret with full 360 degree rotation to bring that firepower to bear wherever the enemy may be found. With thick, sloping front armor that can reliably stop anything short of a long 75 or the dreaded, but rare, 88mm, the Sherman protects its crew and allows it to advance and capture its objectives. 

Supplementing the medium tanks is the light M3 Stuart. Beloved by the British, the Stuart is based off the M2 light tank. Like the Lee, much of its predecessors fully developed chassis has been maintained, granting it excellent reliability. It shares the same aircraft derived radial engine as its larger medium tank brethren, but in a chassis that is just over half the weight! Paired with a suspension significantly improved from the M2 light tank, this allows the nimble little Stuart to be pushed to considerable rates of speed. It shares the same 37mm antitank gun with the Lee, a powerful weapon for such a fast and maneuverable little tank.

M3 Stuart

All three tanks are provided with a brand new, technologically-advanced gun gyro-stabilization system that enables a higher rate of effective fire on the move. This pairs well with the American doctrine of advance and exploitation of enemy weakness.

Each tank provides different advantages that can be utilized in concert to exploit the weakness of your Axis adversaries. The steadfastness of the Lee, the dominance of the Sherman and the speed of the Stuart can be used to accomplish this. Use these three tanks to send Jerry back to Berlin with his tail between his legs!

M3 Scout Car

Augmenting the tanks are several different support options. The two artillery options are both mounted on the ubiquitous M2 halftrack. The M4 81mm MMC (Mortar Motor Carriage) provides supplementary firepower to the tanks for digging out stubborn infantry and anti-tank gun positions. The T30 HMC (Howitzer Motor Carriage) shares a similar role to the M4 MMC, but has enhanced range and a direct fire capability advantage over the lighter mortar shot. Both provide very important smoke bombardments to conceal the advance of your tanks. The final option for your tank force is an Armored Recon Patrol. Using spearhead units effectively can grant you the edge when flanking or blitzing onto your objectives. Use it to get your tanks into position to exploit enemy mistakes or advantageous terrain. Including each in your force gives you powerful support possibilities that act as force multipliers for your tanks. 

~ Ben.

Last Updated On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 by Chris at Battlefront