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They Came From the Sea: Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

They Came From the Sea
Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific – Part 1
With Chris Townley

Few military operations are as difficult or risky as landing troops on an enemy beach. Landing infantry is only half the challenge as without adequate support on the beach to knock out enemy defences the infantry can be quickly pinned down and killed. This is where the amphibious tank can even the odds.

The Marine Tank Company in Gung-Ho includes an option to build an Amphibian Tank Company with LVT(A)1 or LVT(A)4 tanks, whilst the Japanese have a specialised Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank Company using the rather odd-looking Type 2 Ka Mi tank.

Looking through both Gung-Ho and Banzai, these lists really stood out to me due to their unique-looking tanks and the island-hopping nature of the Pacific campaign the necessitated the design of these vehicles. 

The US Marine Corps has had a long and proud history, and the Pacific Campaign of 1941 to 1945 was perhaps its finest hour. They were the tip of the American spear, conducting amphibious assaults from Guadalcanal, through the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian and Guam, and ultimately taking the Japanese posessions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, in preparation to invade mainland Japan itself.
Learn more about Gung-Ho here...

Gung-Ho – US Marine Corps in the Pacific
Marine Amphibian Tank Company

Amtracs (Amphibious Tractor) were initially designed to provide logistical support, bringing supplies and troops from off-shore onto and beyond the beaches. As the Pacific campaign progressed, the ability of these Amtracs to cross coral reefs and shallow water led Marine commanders to push for the experimental upgrade of these vehicles to include armour plate and machine-guns so that they could deliver troops onto the beach under enemy fire.

They proved invaluable and soon the Marines were able to count on Amtracs to deliver troops whenever they would be facing an enemy on the beaches.

The next step was to add a modified M5A1 Stuart turret, creating the LVT(A)1 tank, and eventually an M8 Scott turret creating the LVT(A)4 tank. These tanks were able to land with the infantry in their traditional LVT Amtracs and provide fire support to suppress the defenders as they approached the beach, and the directly targeting enemy emplacements once on the shore.

They Came From the Sea: Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

The Marine Amphibian Tank Company is built around the two different variants of the LVT(A). The LVT(A)1 with a 37mm gun (ROF 2, anti-tank 7) that is bristling with machine-guns and has the ability to fire a canister round that turns the 37mm gun into a large calibre shot gun. The LVT(A)4 has 75mm gun (ROF 2, anti-tank 6) that can fire bombardments or smoke. Being open topped and armed with only one .50cal AA machine-gun it is more susceptible to enemy infantry assaults than the older 37mm version. You also have the option of adding an additional hull machine-gun for +5 points to either version. Both versions have paper thin armour (1 on the front and sides) making them relatively safe from enemy rifle fire but in serious trouble if confronted by anti-tank guns or artillery.

They Came From the Sea: Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

They Came From the Sea – Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

My preference is to take a full strength Company HQ and at least one full strength tank platoon. This way you are maximising the basic building blocks of the army and getting as many of these fantastic looking tanks on the table. A full size platoon of the LVT(A)1 (with their top armour 1) also make for a great assaulting force once the HQ joins in, assuming you can make it through the enemy defensive fire. Eight Veteran tanks can (on average) destroy an enemy infantry platoon in just a couple of rounds if they do not choose to break off. With the Pacific War points two full strength platoons is perhaps investing too many points into too few eggs, but you can easily drop a couple and free up extra points for some light artillery or a Marine Engineer Assault section.

They Came From the Sea – Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

As you can see, both LVT tanks are fairly pricey in the Pacific where 1 armour is not a lot, but is actually comparable to the vast majority of other tanks they are likely to come across. By Late-war however the armour and small gun drops these points cost right back allowing you to add in some heavy artillery to deal with the enemy tanks that the LVT would not have faced during the Pacific campaign. Expanding the list out further allows you to add in Aircraft or Sherman tanks to increase your options for knocking out Panthers or IS-2s.

You can start your own Marine Amphibian Tank Company now, starting with either the
Gator's Amtracks army deal, which includes 7 LVT(A) Amtanks, or the Amphibian Tank Platoon.

And find out about all the other US Marine models which are available here...

Gator's Amtracks – Marine Tank Company Amphibian Tank Platoon

There you have my favourite list from Gung-Ho, using one of the most unconventional-looking tanks of the war. In Part 2 of this article I will look at an even more unconventional tank, the Japanese Ka-Mi.

I talk about my ideas for the Japanese Ka-Mi Amphibious Tank Company in Part 2...

Until then, have fun storming the beaches!

~ Chris.

They Came From the Sea: Amphibious Tanks in the Pacific

Last Updated On Wednesday, May 18, 2016 by James at Battlefront