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Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight 
with Phil Yates
The new Eastern Front compilation is about to do for the Russian Front what North Africa did for the war in Africa. Between the new compilation and the accompanying starter and army sets, re-fighting epic mid-war battles like Stalingrad and Kursk have never been easier.

Whether you are returning to the Mid-War period or starting from scratch, the Eastern Front book has everything you need in one package. Eastern Front compiles all the existing Mid-War books for the fighting in Russia.

  • Iron Cross, Ghost Panzers, and Death from Above for the Germans
  • Enemy at the Gates and Red Banner for the Soviets
  • White Death for the Finns
  • Hungarian Steel for the Hungarians
  • Brave Romania for the Romanians

Check out Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces in the online store here...

Eastern Front also brings back many of the odd and unusual tanks from the Mid-War Monsters book of ten years ago, and a bunch of new tanks as well.

Eastern Front really is complete, with everything a beginner needs: history and background, interesting formations, organisational information for building a force, and game stats for playing the game. Each army has a painting and basing guide, along with a beautifully illustrated catalogue of the available models. It is a one-stop gaming resource for the German, Hungarian, and Romanian advances across the Russian steppes in 1942, the devastating counterattacks at Stalingrad and Rzhev at the end of the year, and the furious battle of Kursk in 1943 that finally turned the tide in the East against the Germans.

What's Inside
Each country has its own section, starting with a guide to some of the major battles they fought, their unique special rules, and the organisation of their forces. Each country has a selection of formations that you can field. These usually include light and medium tanks or self-propelled guns, and various types of infantry and armoured infantry in half-tracks for the Germans and Romanians. This is followed by a selection of anti-tank guns, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, and aircraft to support your core formation. All-in-all, there are 43 different formations to choose from, or to mix and match to create your unique force.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

 Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

Mid-war Monsters
While most of the formations and supporting units will be familiar to existing players, we have added a few new ones, plus some wildcards for some really ‘out there’ stuff. These are some of the weird and wonderful designs that never made it into widespread service (or into service at all in some cases), but are interesting and exciting enough to include in the game.

We give a brief outline of the background, development, and potential or actual combat use of each vehicle, then all the information you need to use them in your games: formations, units, and characteristics. Many have their own formations, or hybrid formations, mixing them into formations equipped with standard tanks, while others are available as support for your existing army.

The Germans have three powerful new tank-hunters and two new heavy tanks: Bunkerflak tank-hunter, Dicker Max tank-hunter, and Sturer Emil tank-hunter, Panzer I infantry tank, and Tiger (P) heavy tank. Both of the tanks are wildcards, so you can add a unit of each to your force.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

The Bunkerflak was, as its name suggests, designed to destroy bunkers. It mounted an 8.8cm FlaK gun on an armoured half-track chassis. As things turned out, there wasn’t much call for it as a bunker buster, but it made a powerful anti-tank weapon, giving the normally immobile ‘88’ the ability to move wherever it was most needed.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

Both Dicker Max (Fat Max) and Sturer Emil (Stubborn Emil) were named for cartoon characters, but there’s nothing comical about what these two can do to heavy tanks. Dicker Max mounts a long-barreled 10.5cm (4.1-inch) gun, while Sturer Emil goes a step further, mounting a massive 12.8cm (5-inch) gun that makes the one in the Jagdtiger look puny.

British and French infantry tanks like the Matilda and R-35 infantry impressed the German soldiers facing them with their near impenetrable armour. They demanded something similar to support them, too. The result was the Panzer I infantry tank, a tiny tank with the armour of a Tiger. It’s perfect against infantry, who won’t be able to hurt it, but with only machine-guns for armament, it’s not much use against tanks.

The last of the German arrivals is the Tiger (P), the same one found in North Africa. Dr Ferdinand Porsche designed it to the same specification as the normal Tiger heavy tank, but got all fancy, giving it an air-cooled engine and electric drive for better performance in difficult terrain. This turned out to be a little trickier than he anticipated, so the other Tiger became standard, while the Tiger (P) — yep, that’s P for Porsche — hulls were turned into Ferdinand tank-hunters.

The Soviets have four new tanks: T-43 medium tank, KV-3 and KV-5 super heavy tanks, and IS-85 heavy tank. The KV-5 is a wildcard, so you can add it to any force.

The iconic T-34 was a ground-breaking design, fast, well armoured, and with a decent gun. It had a couple of weaknesses, though, so the designers created the T-43 to replace it. The new T-43 added an extra crewmember to the turret, separating the job of commander from that of the previously overworked gunner. The designers also improved it automotively, giving it torsion-bar suspension and a compact transversely-mounted engine. This allowed them to massively increase its armour without having much impact on its speed.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

Increasing armour was also the theme for the KV-3 heavy tank. It’s a lengthened KV-1 with even more armour and a gigantic 107mm (4.2-inch) naval gun from a destroyer. Well-nigh invulnerable, with the punch to worry even a Tiger tank, it is one of the most fearsome beasts on the battlefield.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

That title, though, has to go to the KV-5. Lengthened even further, and mounting the same 107mm gun in a gigantic turret, along with two smaller machine-gun turrets, it is a monster. And that’s before you consider its 100-tonne weight and armour thick enough to bounce an ‘88’ at point-blank range. This titan is one of the biggest tanks ever.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

The Hungarians have two new tanks and an assault gun: Turan I and II tanks and Zrinyi assault gun.

The fledgeling Hungarian tank industry started producing a Czech design they called Turan in mid-1942 and started issuing it to new armoured divisions in training. They made two varieties, the lighter Turan I with a 40mm (1.6-inch) gun and later the Turan II with a 75mm (3-inch) gun. Both were excellent tanks overtaken by events. When the Red Army destroyed the Hungarian Second Army outside Stalingrad, they ended Hungary’s participation in the war until later in the war. However, had the Soviet offensives reached the Hungarian borders a little sooner, the Turan would have been ready to fight them.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

The Zrinyi assault gun took the Turan chassis and mounted a long 75mm anti-tank gun on it, much like the German StuG. If it had not been for Allied bombing and German reluctance to supply the guns, numbers of Zrinyi would also have been ready to defend Hungary in late 1943, giving them an effective assault gun and tank-hunter.

The Romanians have one new tank-hunter, the TACAM T-60. As a wildcard, you can field the TACAM T-60 with any force.

If you speak Romanian, the name TACAM T-60 says it all. TACAM stands for self-propelled anti-tank gun, and the T-60 refers to the Soviet T-60 tank used as its chassis. The Romanians liked the idea of the German Marder tank-hunters and set about building their own. Having captured a lot of the diminutive T-60 light tank, they picked that as the basis, then mounted a long-barrelled captured Soviet 76mm (3-inch) gun on it. The result was workable, so the set it into production. Unfortunately, like the Hungarians, their field armies had been destroyed around Stalingrad, and weren’t ready to reenter the battle when the TACAM arrived.

Eastern Front: Mid-war Forces Spotlight

What about the Finns?
The Finns don’t have any new tanks, but that’s simply because they already have all the weird and wonderful tanks they possessed in the earlier White Death booklet (which is included in Eastern Front). They have the pair of KV-1 heavy tanks and the trio of T-34 medium tanks that they recovered and repaired, along with the unusual Landswerk Anti II self-propelled anti-aircraft tank they share with the Hungarians, and the BT-42 assault guns they built from old British howitzers and captured Soviet light tanks.

Do I Need This?
If you are new to the Mid-War period and prefer the Eastern Front to the North African deserts, then the answer is a resounding yes. It has everything you need to get into the period, along with full information on your opponents’ armies (or your future armies!). Add one of the starter sets or army boxes, some unit cards, and you are ready to go. On the other hand, if you already have some of the earlier Eastern Front books and an existing army, you’re fine just as you are, unless you are tempted by the new additions or a whole new army.

Either way, Eastern Front has all you need to know. It’s your one-stop-shop for re-fighting mid-war battles in Russia.

Last Updated On Tuesday, August 30, 2022 by Luke at Battlefront