I thought that with the thousands of Russians visiting the Leadpile over the last couple of weeks I thought I'd do something especially for them. Nah, not really but it is a silly coincidence. Those of you who have read most of my blethering may remember that I occasionally express a desire to play Chain of Command from TooFatLardies (although these will also be usable for Warlords
Bolt Action). In effort to kick start my painting regime after the house move I decided to put together a force that I could use to play. Of the lists in the rulebook that could fight my Germans (who I've yet to paint) I was particularly fascinated by the idea of the Soviet Tank Rider platoon.
During the soviet advance after Stalingrad and Kursk, the Soviets were moving so rapidly that the motorised battalions were paired up with Tank battalions and troops rode on the back of the T-34's to allow them to keep up with the advance and also them to give the tanks infantry protection against german anti-tank tactics.
Usually you expect Soviet forces to be outnumbering their foe in order to win through superior numbers but the Tank Rider platoon doesn't have that advantage. The are all armed with SMG's and one LMG per squad and unlike most other forces, the Russians didn't split their squads down into separate teams. This means you have a large amount of firepower at close range and assault but less flexibility and quite brittle units.
As a bit of research I bought myself some books to read. Anthony Beevor's Stalingrad and Berlin cover the whole period from the start of the German invasion to the fall of Berlin but by far he bets read so far is 'Tank Rider' by Evgeni Bessonov.
Bessonov was actually a Platoon leader of a Tank Rider platoon during the two year long advance into Germany. The book gives a detailed account of the actions that he saw and the training he received and is a fascinating insight into the red army and it's bulldozing attack across eastern europe. What is fascinating is the way the platoon, company, battalion and brigade interact with each other. At one point the battalion has suffered 90% casualties but is still expected to operate as a effective unit. They operate far behind German lines trying to enforce encirclements and waiting on the main soviet forces to arrive and support them. The amount of times they end up faces Tigers or Panthers with no anti-tank weaponry is astounding. Often the assumption amongst wargamers is that tank riders should be actually modelled riding their tanks but to do so anywhere near the enemy would have been suicidal. The platoon would dismount some distance from the target and act as traditional infantry with tanks acting in support. Half the time the tanks got taken out fairly quickly any way!
So to back up my brave soldiers of the Motherland I also painted up some support options. If you aren't aware of how Chain of Command works, you pick your platoon for the scenario and then you roll for the level of support which is adjusted by the rating of the platoon. The Attacker get twice as many support points as the defender. You then get to pick your support options from the national list provided. The T-34/85 in the pics above is one of the support options (obviously quite high up in the lists).
Other options I painted up are a Maxim Heavy Machine gun and team.
A sniper team, a Flame-thrower team and 50mm mortar team.