The Panzers of World War III
The Panzers of World War III
East German Armour in Team Yankee
with Chris Townley and Wayne Turner

Oberleutnant Fritz Fischer strode over to his crew waiting patiently beside their T-72M tank. “Guten Morgen Kameraden,” he greeted them, “we’re going west! Grab your gear and mount up.” Fischer had just returned from a battalion briefing. It looked like this year’s Warsaw Pact manoeuvres were about to morph into something more. He’d just received orders to assemble his company and move to the West German frontier. Once there they were to await further orders, but rumours were already circulating that war was imminent.

As he and his crew got the T-72 on the road on the morning of 3 August 1985, he pondered what was to come, and how he and his crew would fare.

The East German Volksarmee, or Peoples’ Army, has the reputation of being the most well-trained of all the Warsaw Pact armies. It has a high proportion of professional soldiers and is well-equipped. In Team Yankee it shares many similarities with the Soviet army but Volksarmee also introduces a number of new models that bring a unique flavour to the East German army.
The Panzers of World War III
T-72M Main Battle Tank

The Panzers of World War III

The T-72 tank is easy to build and simple to use, making it an ideal replacement for the older T-55 tank. Both Czechoslovakia and Poland produced the T-72M version of the T-72, and sold them widely, including to the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA). The T-72M lacks some of the more sophisticated technology of the Soviet-built T-72 tanks and is not equipped with the latest high-tech anti-tank ammunition. The Czech-manufactured T-72M tanks of the Volksarmee did not have the BDD armour of the later model T-72 tanks used by the Soviets. To compensate for this, the T-72M was fitted with ‘bazooka skirts’, spaced armour to protect them from light, hand-held anti-tank weapons.

Left: East German T-72Ms on parade.

Learn more about the T-72M in Team Yankee here...
Despite this, it is still a big step forward for the NVA, being fast, accurate and deadly, even when moving at speed. Its autoloader replaces the fourth crew member, a significant improvement for a small army like the NVA, allowing it to operate with 25% less personnel in its panzer companies.

The highly-trained German crews know how to take advantage of its strengths and weaknesses, and how to combine its operations with supporting arms to overcome even the best NATO tanks, and expect little trouble dealing with older equipment.

Rightt: The East German T-72M unit card for Team Yankee.

The Panzers of World War III
The T-72M combines good mobility with a powerful gun and is able to keep firing even when moving around the battlefield. Because of this, it pays to keep your tanks moving around the table, forcing your opponent to react to your every move. The 125mm gun is also Brutal which forces enemy infantry and unarmoured tank teams to re-roll their saves making it extremely deadly, even against dug-in infantry and anti-tank weapons.
Below: The T-72M on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III
Technical Specification of the T-72M Main Battle Tank
Crew: 3 - commander, gunner, driver. Weapons:
125mm 2A46 gun
12.7mm NVST MG
7.62mm PKT MG
Weight:  41 tonnes Armour:
Composite 24cm RHA equivalent,
42cm against HEAT
Length: 9.50m (31' 2") Speed: 60km/h (37 mph)
Width: 3.50m (11' 6") Engine:
V-12 diesel 582kW (780 hp)
Height: 2.20m (7' 3") Range:
700km (430 miles)
T-55AM2 Main Battle Tank

The Panzers of World War III

Of the 2100 T-55 tanks supplied to NVA by the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, nearly 300 were upgraded to the T-55AM2 standard.

The T-55AM2 was fitted with a modern fire control system with a ballistic calculator, calculating such things as air pressure, air temperature, weight of ammunition, reduced velocity for tube wear, and so on. It was also fitted with a laser rangefinder.

Left: The T-55AM2 Main Battle tank.

Learn more about the T-55AM2 in Team Yankee here...

Much like the T-72M, the T-55AM2 had additional ‘bazooka skirts’ added giving it improved protection versus enemy anti-tank guided missiles and other man-portable anti-tank weapons such as Carl Gustav and LAW (light anti-tank weapon).

At first glance, the T-55AM2 does not look like an optimal choice to go head-to-head with enemy Abrams, Chieftains and Leopard 2 tanks. It is outmatched in terms of both its anti-tank and armour ratings meaning that a stand-up fight will leave a pile of burning wrecks on one side and a company of Western tanks fairly untouched on the other. 

 The East German T-55AM2 unit card for Team Yankee.

The Panzers of World War III
Of course, these stats have resulted in the T-55AM2 points being considerably lower than the Western allies main battle tanks; ten T-55AM2 versus two M1 Abrams both come out at 16 points. This means that a company (or two) of T-55AM2 tanks can push up the flanks, hunting enemy armoured personnel carriers and other support vehicles, whilst threatening the flanks of the enemy tanks. Meanwhile, your T-72M tanks will keep the enemy occupied, eventually overwhelming them with superior numbers. Quantity has a quality all of its own.
Below: The T-55AM2 on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III

Technical Specification of the T-55AM2 Main Battle Tank

Crew: 4 - commander, gunner, loader, driver. Weapons:
100mm D-10T gun
12.7mm NVST MG
7.62mm PKT MG
Weight:  40.5 tonnes Armour:
203mm with add-on armour
Length: 9.00m (29' 6") Speed: 48km/h (30 mph)
Width: 3.37m (11' 1") Engine:
V-12 diesel 455kW (620 hp)
Height: 2.40m (7' 10") Range:
740km (460 miles)
BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle

The Panzers of World War III

The Soviet-made BRDM-2 (Boyevaya Razvedyvatelnaya Dozornaya Mashina 2, or Combat Reconnaissance Patrol Vehicle 2) is a four-wheel amphibious reconnaissance vehicle ideally suited for East German Aufklarungs troops. The vehicle has been designed to cope with a range of terrain.

In addition to being amphibious, it also has two pairs of belly wheels that can be lowered by the driver for trench crossing and has a centralised tire pressure system that is used to adjust tire pressures to suit the ground conditions.

Left: The BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle on parade.

Learn more about the BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle in Team Yankee here...

The BRDM-2 is armed with a turret-mounted 14.5mm machine-gun and coaxial 7.62mm machine-gun. This means it is capable of defending itself against other reconnaissance troops and infantry but won’t be tempted to go hunting for a fight. The vehicle armour, which is composed of welded steel, protects it fully against small arms fire and small shell fragments; but doesn’t protect it against big artillery fragments or heavy machine-gun fire.

Right: The East German BRDM-2 unit card for Team Yankee.

Thanks to the Spearhead rule a BRDM-2 Aufklarungs Zug can be used to scout ahead and expand the deployment area, giving an East German force a chance to push across the table and reduce the amount of time spent sitting in front of the enemy tanks.
Below: The BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III
Technical Specification of BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle
Crew: 4 - commander, gunner, driver, co-driver. Weapons:
14.5mm KPVT MG (500 rounds)
7.62mm PKT coaxial MG (2000 rounds)
Weight:  7 tonnes Armour:
10mm turret front, 14mm hull nose plate
Length: 5.75m (18' 10") Speed: 100km/h (62 mph)
Width: 2.37m (7' 9") Engine:
GAZ-41 gasoline V-8 (140 hp)
Height: 2.31m (7' 7") Range:
750km (470 miles)
SA-9 Gaskin Anti-aircraft Vehicle
The Panzers of World War III The SA-9 Gaskin (its NATO designation), called Strela-1M (Arrow‑1M) by the Soviets, is a wheeled, amphibious Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system based on the same vehicle as the BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle. The missile system has both optical and infra-red guidance, and a target ranging radar. Each vehicle carries four missiles in a ready-to-fire configuration and the crew would then manually load additional missiles once fired. Designed to protect against short-range threats it would often be deployed in conjunction with batteries of ZSU-23-4 self-propelled gun systems making a deadly combination.

The SA-9 Gaskin Anti-aircraft vehicle on manoeuvres.
Learn more about the SA-9 Gaskin Anti-aircraft Vehicle in Team Yankee here...
Anti-aircraft weapons in Team Yankee benefit from the ability to fire at aircraft and helicopters regardless of line of sight thanks to their radar systems and the nature of aircraft crossing the battlefield. Missile systems such as the Gaskin also benefit from the Guided AA rule which cancels the penalty of shooting at targets at long range. This means that whilst they may not be able to attack ground targets like gun based AA systems, they can park up at the back of the table and still engage any aircraft or flying helicopters without penalty. Since they lack a gun, there will be no temptation to push them into positions where they might get themselves killed, making sure they are available to shoot down pesky Cobras or Harriers as the game proceeds.

Right: The East German BRDM-2 unit card for Team Yankee.
The Panzers of World War III
Below: The SA-9 Gaskin Anti-aircraft Vehicle on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III
Spandrel Anti-tank Vehicle

The 9P148 Konkurs (Contest, or Spandrel as its missile is designated by NATO) is a light mobile armoured vehicle mounting five excellent wire-guided 9M113 Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) anti-tank missiles. The 9P148 vehicle is based on the same vehicle used in the reconnaissance role as the BRDM-2. It has good cross-country and road speed allowing it to get into good positions from which to launch its missiles. The roof mounted launch system meant that the vehicle could hide its bulk, only exposing the launcher and gunner’s sight on the top of the roof to the enemy making it difficult to kill or suppress should the enemy even see the weapon firing.

Left: The East German Spandrel unit card for Team Yankee.

Learn more about the Spandrel Anti-tank Vehicle in Team Yankee here...
The Spandrel is an excellent weapon in Team Yankee as, like other missile systems, it suffers no penalties for long range and the high anti-tank value is capable of penetrating any Western tank. This combination gives the Spandrel excellent bang-for-buck, especially since a platoon of 3 vehicles will only cost 2 points making it an easy inclusion in most forces. 
Below: The Spandrel Anti-tank Vehicle on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III
Mi-24 Hind Helicopter

Unlike Western attack helicopters, which play hide-and-seek with their opponents, the tactics of the Mil Mi-24D Hind, called rather appropriately the Krokodil (Crocodile) by its crews, are more aggressive. These large, armoured assault helicopters close with the enemy, firing all the way with their four-barrelled 12.7mm YakB Gatling guns and UB-32 57mm rocket pods, or AT-6 Spiral, Shturm (Storm) to the gunner firing them, anti-tank guided missiles.

Right: The Mi-24 Hind helicopter on the landing pad.

The Panzers of World War III

Learn more about the Mi-24 Hind in Team Yankee here...

The Mi-24 can also transport a small squad of troops, giving commanders great flexibility. The helicopters saturate the objective with fire, then swoop in and deliver the infantry to hold the position.

Use the Hind as a blunt weapon, seek out and destroy enemy AA then hunt down their tanks.

~ Chris and Wayne.

Left: The East German Mi-24 unit card for Team Yankee.
Below: The MI-24 Hind on the Team Yankee tabletop.
The Panzers of World War III

Last Updated On Wednesday, April 13, 2022