Sunday 18 March 2012

Polish Armoured Train - BKC2 Rules

This post is dedicated to 'Johnboy' from the Specialist Military Publishing forum (the 'BKC forum' as far as I'm concerned). He had acquired the FoW/Battlefront Miniatures Polish armoured train and was looking for rules to use it in Blitzkrieg Commander games. I had some ideas for him as I have been using such a train in my 1939 games for a while now, although I had bought the Peter Pig Russian Civil War train a while back and painted it up for 1939. Anyway, prompted by johnboy's post I have improved my armoured train rules and thought I would offer them up here.

My own armoured train. Available from Peter Pig in resin and metal. Loco plus tender £12, artillery cars  £6 each. Strictly speaking a Russian Civil War model, but a good quality model which represents a bargain at £24 the lot. No assault car though. In the end I considered that an advantage as the whole model is still 16" in length.

Battlefront artillery car. Photos from the Fort Buyaki blog

Battlefront assault car

Battlefront loco with tender. The complete armoured train apparently works out to  25" in length!
A magnificent model, but the cost is about £80. Hard to locate this piece of kit on the FoW site for some reason.

The main problem is that the armoured train fits in better with FoW than BKC. FoW is set at company level and a model train can represent just that - one actual train. In BKC the default playing scale is set at a vehicle or infantry base representing a platoon of vehicles or infantry. But that model train can't represent a 'platoon' of 3 actual trains. So these rules represent my compromise to get a workable set of rules in place. If anyone has other ideas, or criticisms of my approach, I'm all ears.

Anyway, here are my rules as they stand at the moment. Remember they are for the Peter Pig train so the tender stands in for the assault car:

Armoured Train
Type, armour. The train consists of 2 Artillery Cars and 1 locomotive/tender with command compartment. Speed 20cm. The train forms a single formation with the HQ (CV8) in the tender. The HQ is never targeted. Train may dismount 2 infantry units (measure infantry deployment from command cupola). Number of units for breakpoint calculations is 5 – locomotive/tender counts as 1, each artillery car counts as 1, plus the 2 infantry units. Total cost 400 points (HQ+tender costs 60+40, artillery cars 110 each, infantry units 40 each).

Artillery cars: Each car has 1 x 75mm gun and 1 x 100mm gun which fire under the overall rules for artillery support units.
Direct Fire: 75mm guns - one attack per gun (1/40 AT, 1/80 AP). 100mm guns – 2 attacks per gun (2/40 AT, 2/100 AP). They may fire within a 270ยบ arc. Each gun gets the +1 within 20cm against unarmoured targets as co-axial mgs were carried.
Indirect Fire: Fire whole train as one 75mm artillery support unit and one 100mm artillery support unit, standard stats.
Side mgs were also fitted so 1 mg (3/60) may fire from the side of each artillery car. Each car has an AA mg in a top turret. These have no separate attacks but contribute to the standard 2 attacks for the HQ against aircraft. Close Assault 4
4 hits per car, save 6. A KO’d car will only be considered derailed if wholly or partly KO’d by indirect fire or aircraft bombs. Derailed cars may be detached but block the line. A car KO’d only by direct fire or only suppressed may move with the rest of the train. (These rules partly simulate possible damage to the tracks as well as the actual cars).

Locomotive/Tender: Count tender and loco as one unit. One mg may fire from each side (3/60).  Standard 2/30 for AA fire only. Measure all fire from command cupola. Two infantry units are carried. Close Assault 4. 4 hits, save 6. HQ may dismount. Train will be unable to move if loco is KO’d, in which case the train HQ must dismount. May move if suppressed, but infantry cannot dismount.

I have assumed that gamers will want to fire each gun modelled on an artillery car separately in a gaming situation. The other approach might be to take each artillery car as a single 'tank' and give it combined stats of 3/40 AT and 3/100 AP. Another alternative would be give a 5 or 6 save against hits. Some trains had artillery cars with armour as thick as 25mm, though around 12mm seems to have been more common for the train as a whole. I have also read that armour-piercing rounds could sometimes pass through the cars without causing much damage, the room within the cars being of benefit in these circumstances. So perhaps a higher save is justified. 

As johnboy and I have found, these rules don't make the armoured train the all-conquering behemoth represented  on the FoW website, and also in the articles in Wargames Illustrated 281 (which nevertheless gives an excellent account of the real action at Mokra which remains the most famous armoured train action). I think my rating is more realistic, but others may disagree. The model can actually be a bit of a white elephant, and is probably best used firing from behind the lines (though on table of course) as a couple of artillery support units. Push it forward into combat with tanks and it will get KO'd quite quickly. But if there are no tanks around and anti-tank guns aren't too numerous, the high firepower can be very effective against infantry and softer vehicles.

Anyway, like I say, that's my take on it. I welcome comments from the more informed or those with better brains for developing rules.


James said...

What are the spikey things on the assault car??

Keith Flint said...

James, thy're the supports for the long-range radio aerial. The aerial wires were strung between them.

Steve J. said...

Thanks for posting these Keith, they will be very useful for future reference in our games.

Steve J. said...

Hi Keith,
just to let you know that I will be using your rules at MadFest for my planned armoured train. Now there is just the small issue of actually making the train and attendent carriages etc!
Steve J.

Aetius Last of the Romans said...

Hi Keith - a bit late in the day - great report - please can you put up the armoured train rules you used as the link in the blog isnt active any more. Looking forward to using the rules in BKC in future