Friday, 27 December 2013

Once More Unto The Breach...

Hi all

Well this is a slightly more interesting post on painting than I usually do I hope.
First off what constitutes a breaching group? Well you get two types, depending on whether you go for Overlord (CT) or Market Garden (CV) (and associated PDF’s). The Breaching group is the 79th armoured division personified, better known as Hobart’s funnies these were experimental engineering vehicles which were developed from 1943 onwards (if my reading of this article is right). Whilst the 79th never fought as a single division, their specialist equipment was utilised by many different units in the late war period.
By and large though the Breaching group consists of 3 different vehicles. Firstly Shermans and Sherman Crabs. Each Breaching group has your bog standard Sherman as a command vehicle, but it’s supported by 2 Crabs, these have mine flails and are missing an MG, oh and overloaded. But for the veteran version in MG you’re only paying 150 points, which I think is a bargain.
The next unit is the Armoured Vehicle Royal engineers or AVRE’s – these are Churchill's (mine are from PSC) and they’re fitted with a demolition mortar. It is a bunker buster with a 4 inch range, but is only 50 points! And can remove obstacles as well if you’re lucky. Again they can’t assault, but they can very effectively bulk out an army to 9+ platoons. You can also mount a little bridge on them too. In MG you can take one section, whilst in Overlord you can have 2 – and if you don’t think they’ll be useful well trade the pair in for a Sherman crab!
The final vehicle – which I don’t have is the Armoured bulldozer – sadly I don’t have one of these.
There are though a couple of drawbacks to the use of a breaching group, firstly all the teams are non assaulting – whilst I’m not too worried about this, as I see them as great support for assaulting units, in conversation with ben he thinks this is a significant drawback. The other negative is that they’re an always attack unit, thankfully this can be used in conjunction with night attack if you’re using them to support british infantry. But it does mean you need to plan your force accordingly to take account of this.
I’ve not really considered as much how they would mesh with a British tank/Armoured force (mainly due to me belief that Brits work best as infantry with tank support and not the other way round) but as I discovered with my Panzers to the Meuse lists, Auto attacking tanks, is very useful, as you can just ignore having to defend in mobile battles and other missions where having a minority of your force deployed would seriously reduce your points deployed.
As for painting these guys, it’s been an interesting experience, the Churchills are PSC and are lovely models as detailed previously. The Crabs are a bit of an arse IMHO, it’s interesting using resin hulls having had my previous shermans be plastic, and I think I preferred the plastic! The tracks are metal also which is a pain to trim. Strangely the extension at the front, which I was worried would be a nightmare to attach, attached very easily, though trying to paint the chains was an unexpected challenge as I left them off, initially but every time they move the paint comes off them. I also had to scavenge stowage from elsewhere, as they’re engineers, and therefore in my head like Andy – messy in the extreme. Another slight annoyance (and showing the age of the kit) is that there is no recess in the turret for magnets – nor magnets provided. I still placed some in (even if the turret now sits slightly up) but it just helps them not fall off. Finally there are some lights which attach on the rear of the tank, I’ve left these off as they just look too fragile to me – also on the spru are .50 cals which the unit can’t take.
Having now played a couple of games with them, I've really found them useful, they are a great support unit, I think 2 platoons is probably too much as the lack of assault is a bit irritating. But the AVRE section for bulking out an army - and destroying the odd fortification is great. Really think they have a place in my lists!

Thanks for reading


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