One of the great things in the new West German book I feel is the addition of a lot of excellent infantry formations. In the previous Leopard book, the West German infantry lists were very small but elite, when compared to their Soviet counterparts. Which tended to see a Panzergrenadier Zug of 5 stands getting easily overwhelmed by a motor rifle company with upwards of 20+ stands each one when trying to defend. I remember quite a few games where no matter how many advancing Soviet infantry I killed, they would just keep coming and would easily walk over and through my poor Panzergrenadier Zugs. Artillery would not stop them and was often shot up by Hinds or tanks before they got more than a few barrages off. I really felt that, in an infantry formation duel, that the West Germans would find it very hard to compete against the other forces.
The inclusion of the Panzertruppen supplement to the West German forces, added an extra Milan team, which helped against a cheap Soviet BMP or T-55 rush, but still did not really have any effect against the large infantry swarm attack of the motor rifle company formations. But all in all, these formations were not for defending, they were too small, but more sized for counter-attacking after blunting an assault. The issue was that sometimes you could not stop the rush, as you lacked the numbers to absorb any loss of troops.
With the addition of three extra infantry formations, Fallschirmjäger, Gebirgsjäger, and the HSB (Heimatschutzbrigade) Jäger Kompanies, you now have extra options with larger platoons, to play a more defensive infantry list. I guess if you look at how the start of WWIII in 1985 would have started, that is what would have happened initially, as the NATO allies counter-attacked. At first, there was going to be a massive red wave of troops and armour from the Soviets, which would be blunted by counter-attacking forces, the mobile Panzertruppen as in the first Leopard book, which would buy time for more forces to be brought up, to have a chance of holding them at cities, bridges, autobahn choke-points, and other such places. This brings us to the new book, World War III West Germans, which is a full representation of the total forces available to the Bundeswehr in WWIII, not only the Field Army but the Territorial Army as well.
The Heimatschützbrigades ( Home Security Brigades) were part of the Territorial Brigades in the Bundeswehr, which was reorganised under Heeresstruktur IV (Army Structure IV ) in 1981. Ideally, their role is to defend the rear areas of the Army, in particular, to secure infrastructure, roads, ports, communication hubs, and to allow freedom of action in the rear combat zone for NATO units as they transited to the front lines. Additionally, they were to be used as a reaction force in the case of any airborne or amphibious troops managing to successfully complete a landing behind the front lines or to attempt to hold the line in the case of a breakthrough.
There were 12 HSB Brigades in total, with each of the Defence Area Commands (WBK) having two HSB Brigades allocated to them, with the 5 series Brigades (eg. 51 to 56) being partially active, and the 6 series Brigades (eg. 61 to 66) being inactive and consisting of only a few active soldiers. Of the partially active 5 series Brigades, they would typically have around 2500 active soldiers, which would be boosted up to full strength of 4500 with reservists in times of conflict, whereas the inactive 6 series Brigades would only be brought up to 2800 soldiers, with much lower capabilities and equipment. So in the case of Heimatschützbrigade 51, its sister ‘inactive’ Brigade was Heimatschützbrigade 61.
Typically each partially active Heimatschützbrigade was made up of two Jäger Battalions (with organic tank and mortar units in their heavy companies), two Panzer Battalions, and an artillery battalion. Most of these Heimatschützbrigades were only equipped with trucks and older M48A2GA2 tanks or KanonenJagdpanzers, and were typically in reserve and only called upon for training and exercises or in the case of actual war being declared. Most of their equipment would be stored in depots nearby and only mobilized if needed. But some of the Brigades, HSB 51 and HSB 56 were assigned to the Field Army almost immediately after the Heeresstruktur IV (Army Structure IV ) changes, to permanently strengthen the Divisions on the Northern and Southern Flanks, where they expected the most opposition to NATO forces.
Heimatschützbrigade 51 was closely associated with Panzergrenadierbrigade 6 (6th Panzergrenadier Brigade) in the North around the Jutland Peninsula, and was equipped with Leopard 1s in its Panzer Battalions (rather than the older M48 tanks) and even had some M113 Transports for one of its two Jäger Battalions. They would be working closely with the Dutch to hold this area, which was highlighted by a visit in 1983 from Officers of the Royal Danish Defence College, and the shared exercises with the LANDJUT Forces and the Dutch Jutland Division.
Heimatschützbrigade 56 was also particularly favoured and was assigned to the 1st Mountain Division in the south of Germany in Tilly, Oberhausen. This was to protect them from an advance of the WARSAW Pact forces through the Danube Valley, or through Austria if the Soviet forces ignored its neutrality. They also had two full Jäger Battalions, as well as two Leopard 1 Panzer Battalions and a field artillery battalion with M109Gs, as well as Jagdpanzer Jaguar 2s.
Both these units have competency levels almost on par with the Field Army forces and are represented in the book as the Heimatschützbrigade Kompanies. If you wanted to represent one of the less competent Heimatschützbrigade Kompanies, you could not include the M113 transports and Leopard I tanks that HSB 51 and HSB 56 would have been equipped with.
So what are the new additions in World War III – West Germans, that allow you to field a Heimatschützbrigade Kompanie?? Well, you now have a brand new unit of Jägers found in both the Gebirgsjäger and HSB Jäger Kompanies. The Jäger Zug blister, which contains 10 stands in total, a G3 rifle command team, 7 MG3 and G3 rifle teams with Panzerfaust 44’s, and 2 Milan teams as support AT weapons. In the Heimatschützbrigade Jäger Kompanie, you can only make use of 1 Milan team per Zug, with an HSB Jäger Zug typically containing between 5 or 7 stands, plus a Milan team. However, this is significantly more stands of infantry, than the previous Panzergrenadier Zugs, of max 5 or 6 stands. They are also cheaper but are hit on 3+ plus, instead of 4+, and with other soft stats being lower, with skill and rally of 4+, instead of 3+, as you would expect with troops who train less often than field army troops. You also have the option of giving all your Jäger Zugs, M113 transports, to give you more movement and firepower.
I for one would take the M113 upgrade for all of my Jäger Zugs, as the extra MGs can be used to drive off infantry assaults, or quickly allow you to mount up and either redeploy or even move up to take an objective!! A full Kompanie of an HQ and 3 Jäger Zugs with M113s will only set you back 19 points, that is 26 infantry stands (including 3 Milan teams), and 10 M113s, which is 9 stands more than the Marder 1 Panzergrenadier Kompanie from the previous Leopard book. However, as you are easier to hit, these Jägers should be used primarily for defence, to let the enemy come to you, and to stay concealed and gone to ground, until the enemy is in range.
You also have your organic artillery in your formation as part of your Schwere or Heavy Zug, which comes in the form of a 6 strong Jäger M113 Panzermörser Zug, armed with the M120 Mörser, 60 rounds per M113, and an AA MG3. It is cheaper than the normal Panzergrenadier Zug mortar carriers, and if taken in a smaller 3 strong M113 Zug, can be incredibly cheap!! These are excellent for pinning and killing enemy infantry, screening your forces with a smokescreen, and can also be used to take out enemy AA and artillery with a few unlucky rolls by your opponent.
But your skill, which is important for ranging in, is only 4+, so you will need a few extra prayers to the Dice gods to range in with these, but will do good work once you do, especially with a 6 strong Zug, to allow you the re-rolls To Hit for any misses of enemy teams under the artillery template. So add another 6 M113s to bring fiery shrapnel-filled gifts to express delivered onto your opponent’s head, if all else fails they can also fire their AA MGs into something, say a Hind or Frogfoot!! There is nothing more satisfying than shooting down an attacking enemy aircraft with a ROF 1, Firepower 6 pellet gun, it’s worth it just for the look of crestfallen disgust on your opponent’s face!!
Additionally, you have the option of taking the excellent Leopard 1 tank, yes it does not have the best gun or best armour, but it is cheap and has a moving ROF of 2, and AT 19, which allows you to move aggressively and flank and destroy enemy armour. This allows you to reliably destroy flanked enemy tanks, and your 2+ firepower almost always seals the deal. The laser rangefinder and stabilizers allow you to do this at long range without penalty, and move up to 14” at tactical speed with a +1 penalty To Hit, if needed. This mobility and weight of fire are what often gives the West German tanks the edge on the more clumsy Soviet armour.
They are also cheaper (but not by much) than the standard Leopard 1 tank Zug, but have the same penalties that you will see typical of these 2nd Line Troops, so 3+ To Hit, and a Skill of 4+, among other worse soft skills. You can take a single Zug of 4 Leopard 1’s, and to me, this is a no-brainer, use them to take out attacking enemy BMPs, or if there are no other targets, you can also go on one of my favourite missions in-game, the Arty and AA Hunt!!!
West German M48A2GA2
So the better equipped HSB 51 and HSB 56 would have the Leopard 1 tank, but the less well-equipped HSB Kompanies would have the mostly obsolete M48A2GA2 tank. The M48A2GA2 was an upgraded US M48 tank, improved by the West Germans and given to the Territorial forces once the Leopard 1 tank was brought into service, given the same gun as the Leopard 1, and a laser rangefinder, it would be similar to a Leopard 1, but slower, lacking a stabilizer and not have the moving RoF of 2. If you wanted to convert these up (like I have) this is a fun little conversion project, and if you are interested in finding the unofficial M48A2GA2 stats I made up, please join the official Team Yankee Facebook Group, you should be able to find these there. But I understand completely why they were not put in this book, they are simply too old, and it really is just a slower, worse Leopard 1… You could also just convert them up if you are really keen and figure substitute them as the HSB Leopard 1 Zug if you do want your M48A2GA2 fix.
The next gotta-have HSB unit is the Kanonenjagdpanzer Zug, which is really a successor to the Jagdpanther and other tank hunters from WWII. By 1985 it was obsolete, but it still has a decent 90mm gun, which was originally on the M47 Patton. Built in 1960, it was fielded by the Bundeswehr and the Belgian Army. It had a very low profile and was nimble and maneuverable for the period, but only had 50mm of sloped armour. It was relying on ambushing and quickly relocating after firing to take out opponents, something that the Germans did very well with their tank hunters in WWII. Its gun could take out older Soviet tanks like the T-55 and T-62, but by 1985 the increasingly heavy armour on Soviet main battle tanks, like the T-72 and T-80, meant they could be no longer used in front line units. 163 of the 770 Kanonenjagdpanzers produced by the West Germans were turned into the Jaguar 1 and Jaguar 2 anti-tank missile Jagdpanzers, with most of the rest being given to the Territorial Forces.
This still can be an effective ambush unit, as the gun is AT16 with a 2+ firepower, with a stationary RoF of 2 and a range of 32”, four of these can make a fair dint in a Soviet tank company if you catch them in the flank. But be aware it has the HEAT rule, so some tanks may get a higher side armour value due to the Bazooka skirts rule, etc. I think the new models for this look fantastic!! And I can see myself easily taking 4 of these, just for the rule of cool! In the Jager Kompanie, the choice is between 4 Leopard 1 tanks or 4 Kanonenjagdpanzers, but they can also be taken as a support choice, so you can take up to 8 if you want. I do think given their long-range, 2+ firepower gun, they will be very useful to use on dug-in infantry when trying to take a position. Additionally, they benefit from the Forward Defence special rule, so in missions with Deep Reserves, which you often find when defending, these can be taken in addition to the 1 FA 4 unit you are usually able to take. So as this formation is supposed to be used in defence, another good tool for you to take, and hopefully use in ambush, which will give you another advantage.
So a full Heimatschützbrigade Kompanie Formation, with a HQ, 3 full Jäger zugs, a 6 strong M113 Panzermörser zug, a 4 strong Jäger Leopard 1 zug, and 4 Kanonenjagpanzers in support, will set you back around 42 points including the M113 transports for your Kompanie. This gives you almost 60 points to flesh out a force, or spend on more support, or even take another full formation. It gives you so many options, which I think is fantastic!! I hope you can see how flexible this now makes the West Germans in Team Yankee, and how this may give the West German players a choice in how to play their force.
Previously I found you were always struggling to bring enough troops to hold an objective, but now with this option, you can take quite a large force to hold down your chosen objective, and really have your pick of what you want to take as your offensive component. I think this is great for the West Germans in Team Yankee and really have me looking at including this Formation or components of this formation in my West German forces.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did, and just wait until you see about the other West German infantry options!!