with Aaron Te-Hira Mathie
With the release of Oil War we at Battlefront are taking a trip back to the desert. In this book we seek to examine the first days of a major conflict between the two superpowers of the Cold War era spreading out to encompass Western Asia. As part of this enlarging of the conflict as we have envisioned it, we examine four armies, Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
The book sets down some organisational structures and basic philosophies of use that each of these armies employed based on their long or on-going experiences of fighting in this inhospitable environment. They determine everything from what equipment and tactics they use, to how they paint their military equipment.
Twentieth century warfare is dominated by ranged combat, as such, the problem has three prongs. Spotting a target, identifying the target, and ensuring the target is within range of the weapon system/s at your disposal.
The battlefield of the 1980s is an interesting cross-section of emerging technologies that seek to make the three tasks above more simple, and older ideas and technologies that are more tried and tested.
Items like Thermal Imagers and Laser Rangefinders do indeed make the problems of spotting, identifying, and ranging potentially more simple, however at the time these pieces of technology were bulky, expensive, and difficult to maintain.
So while parts of an army might have access to some or all, the vast majority of troops still only have the Mk.1 eyeball, and this is where camouflage comes in.
So what is the basic purpose of camouflage?
Some of you already know, but some will not.
The answer is that camouflage, especially with regards to large pieces of equipment (for instance a Main Battle Tank), is used to fool the human brain into thinking that the object being viewed is not there, something else or at a different distance than it is.
Some environments make this task more simple as the terrain comprises of a large number of obstacles that can be used to obscure the target in part, or in total.
These types of terrain features are not nearly as prevalent in a desert.
The terrain in desert environments is often marked by flat open areas providing little in the way of natural cover and concealment. Therefore the paint job on your Tank is fairly unlikely to fool anyone into thinking that it is a small hill or clump of trees as it might in Europe.
The only way that this is going to work in an arid desert environment is to bury the item in the sand, while this is a workable option for static defences it is not an ideal situation if mobile warfare is the name of the game.
The armies examined in Oil War approach the problem from two directions.
Israel and Iran choose to paint their ground based military equipment in a drab light green grey colour. The reason is that these armies are expecting to fight in varied terrain, from the desolate Negev desert to the more temperate Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon in the case of the IDF.
Therefore they have decided to go with a neutral colour that will not stick out in either type of environment when clean, and with local dust will do a good job of blending in, thus rendering the vehicle more difficult to detect.
This approach does a good job of concealing, therefore making the task of locating the target more of a challenge, however it does not address the problems of target identification and ranging to the same degree.
Iraq and Syria approach the issue by employing camouflage patterns.
These are more terrain specific and more time consuming to apply, but do break up the shape of the piece of equipment more effectively, therefore making accurate target identification and ranging more difficult, at the expense of being able to be used in multiple environments without being changed.
Other armies briefly mentioned in the book generally approach the problem in much the same way.
So for instance, the US forces for the most part were deploying for Exercise BRIGHTSTAR in Egypt, therefore would for the most part be using the Grey Desert version of MERDC, which consists of a sand coloured base, overpainted with field drab, earth yellow and black.
Whereas the Soviet forces are depicted as using their ubiquitous drab green.
However, this does not Have to be the case. Team Yankee takes place in an alternate reality, so you could paint your Soviet models in the green and beige camouflage pattern used by them during their military involvement in Afghanistan during the 1980s, equally US forces could be using the all over light sand colour as seen during the 1991 Gulf War, as could your Iraqi forces.
If you do choose to paint your forces in camouflage, it is a good idea to see if an existing template exists. If so, use that if historical accuracy is your jam.
This also generally means that the hard work of figuring out colour placement and shape, in order to best break up the shape of the piece of equipment, has already been done.
However, in the case of camouflage schemes that have been applied without a template (for instance Iraq or Syria), a good way to approach the situation, is to either find historical photographs to help give you a general look and feel, applying basic camouflage principles (for instance ensuring that no surface is entirely one colour) or a combination of both. In this way you will be able to ensure a more lifelike appearance to your miniatures.
with Chris Townley
It comes as no surprise to anyone that has followed our various Arab-Israeli releases over the years that I have strong interest in the fighting between the Israelis and their Arab neighbours over the course of the 20th century. The release of Oil War lets me take that interest over from Fate Of A Nation and bring it in to Team Yankee. I’m very excited!
Looking through the list I was of course hoping to leverage some of my previously painted models to build the basis for a new army, just like I am doing with my 1973 Syrians (more on this later). Of course, the major flaw in that plan was that whilst Magach 6 (M60 Patton) tanks are awesome, not only do I not have any painted for my ’73 force, they are just not as cool as the new Merkava tank! Possibly one of the best-looking armoured vehicles and certainly one of the most iconic!
To begin with, I decided to add a full-strength Company of these bad boys, choosing to use the Merkava 2 models with their improved armour stats (slightly more front armour, as well as improvements to the side and HEAT protection). Coming in at 7 points each of these, 11 models made for 77 points. That’s more than enough for a few toys!
If I was to say that there was a flaw to the Merkava tanks, it would be their 105mm gun – knowing that their main opponents would be older generation Soviet tanks (which the 105mm can deal with easily) the early models do not have the same hitting power as other Western tanks that have the nastier 120mm gun.
To balance this out I decided to add anti-tank missiles… lots of anti-tank missiles. A platoon of the top-secret Pereh tanks meant I got a super unique looking model, something that can hit anyone, anywhere, anytime, and an AT 21 missile.
I also added a platoon of Jeeps with TOW missiles – I love the Sayur Company (from Fate Of A Nation) and the thought of adding Jeeps zipping around the table really appeals to me. I also took the opportunity to add a Jeep Recce Platoon to my Merkava Formation for the same reason…
To round out the Force I chose to add a pair of M163 VADS for some AA protection, along with a pair of M48 Chaparral SAM launchers. This gives me some close in firepower that can be used to knock down close air support and choppers, or hordes of Syrian (or Soviet) infantry, along with the heavier Sidewinder missiles (on the M48) that can engage airborne targets anywhere on the tabletop. Being relatively small platoons means I will need to keep them behind the lines or risk losing them however…
My plan is fairly simple – hit hard, hit fast and hope that the armour of the tanks will see me through. None of my platoons are very big so I when I start suffering casualties, I will need to rely on the superior Morale of the army to keep my troops on the table, but I think I have a good combination of equipment to give me a fighting chance against most enemies.
Thinking about the long term I’d love to add a few more units to the army to give me some extra flexibility – a M113 Mech Infantry Platoon, AH-1 Viper Attack Helicopter Platoon (or two), Redeye SAM Platoon and aircraft will be high on my “to-do” list!
with Chris Allen
If you read my article Hell on the Highway: A Soviet guide to the BTR-60 then you probably figured out that I have a love for second line kit. So when the venerable T-62M plastic kit came out lets just say mistakes were made, my wife had many questions- Why are there so many tanks? Where did all these tanks come from? Why do you need this many tanks? A battalion of tanks later and I had the opportunity to put together and play second line Soviet troops the way they were meant to be, aggressively. Battlefront had put out an interim list on their website, but with the introduction of Oil War, Soviet forces are getting another list and unit to add to the arsenal.
The T-62 was born out of the early 60s as a replacement for the T-54/55. While it was not as popular as an export due to expense it did replace the T-55 internally within the Soviet Union. What the T-62 brought to the table was a smoothbore gun, the first of its kind in Soviet service and would be game changing on the battlefield with an ability to reach out and touch someone unlike other tanks. Modernisations to the Soviet tanks were constant and in the 85 period we see modern features like laser range finders on the older tank, but what hadn’t changed was it still had a hell of a gun.
The T-62 is a beautiful kit, and my favourite to date, giving you the option to build the T-62 for use in Fate of a Nation, in Team Yankee with forces like the Iraqis and Iranians, or the modernized T-62M with Soviet forces. While I’m a huge fan of the T-72, the visual appeal of the T-62Ms turret instantly made me want to paint up these beasts, and in Soviet fashion, in great number.
So what do you get with a T-62M? We’ll look at 4 features of the T-62, firepower, armour, maneuverability, and cost. Bottom line up front: you get a glass hammer.
This tank is all gun. With AT 21 with a range of 32” the T-62M packs the same punch as the T-72M, capable of running and gunning and being a threat to almost anything on the table. While AT 21 isn’t the scariest sight to front armour 18 and 19 tanks, remember quantity has a quality all its own. Many armies have learned this against the BMP-2, but the BMP-2 can’t move and shoot against targets and cunning NATO opponents will use that against you to devastating effect. The T-62Ms ability to manoeuvre while firing will help put opponents on the back foot and I would argue this is what it excels at. The gun is only ROF 1 like other Soviet tanks and this will limit the damage per turn you can inflict but when used appropriately can threaten tanks but just pull apart support units and really unbalance the field for the rest of your army to exploit. The 115mm 2A20 gun doesn’t have the brutal characteristic Soviet tankers are used to with the T-64 and T-72 but the supporting machine guns do a pretty decent job of digging out enemy infantry if push comes to shove.
The T-62M also has the option to take the AT-10 Stabber missile which can reach out to 48”, a whopping 4 feet but can only do so stationary. What makes this a great option is the sheer number of tanks you can get and supply with these missiles for the bargain basement price of 2 pts. A single unit of these in ambush is not only cheap but can threaten an entire table with AT 21 missiles and be a really bad day for an advancing enemy force. So if you’re building a force made to defend with counter attacking tanks with one company in ambush the T-62M can provide a terrifying and cheap option. But more on tactics later.
The T-62M does have armour, it does, just not much. This puts it in an odd place, it has enough armour to protect it from IFV fire and the lightest of man portable anti tank weapons, but even light tank guns like the 105mm found on older models of NATO equipment are more than capable of ripping through the T-62M. Tanks like the Leopard 1 or the AMX-30 are perfectly equipped to take on these tanks with both the number and the gun to do the job where as heavier more modern tanks like the Leopard 2 are over equipped. With side armour 9 the tank is more heavily armoured than the T-72 but is still vulnerable to a great variety of weapons. With Bazooka skirts this is a little better bumping up to side armour 10 against HEAT but with weapons like the Carl Gustav and the RPG-7 on the table this is of little benefit. You can’t depend on the side armour to save you so make sure you can’t be hit in the side where possible and you’re doing great.
While the T-62M can move and shoot, it doesn’t do it as well as more modern tanks like the T-72, Leopard 2 or Abrams. The terrain dash of 14 inches combined with a cross value of 4+ makes it hard to really depend on the tank in rough terrain. Moving through woods and other complex terrain is not where the tank is at it’s best, and it is more adept at moving around terrain, keeping in formation and putting fire down range. I wouldn’t overlook the Cross Country dash of 20” that can be used to quickly re-position and threaten flanks and objectives. Moving that many tanks on that many angles can quickly force your opponent to make some bad decisions.
So lastly you have cost, and these tanks are going cheap. At 5 points for 3 tanks and 29 pointe for a full company of 10, they start out really cheap and don’t finish off too far away from that. A Headquarters tank and 3 minimum sized companies will only set you back 18 pts, so the T-62 is the Soviet tank that can fit in any and all Soviet lists, or be the list with all sorts of room for support.
T-62M tactics aren’t that dissimilar to other Soviet tank tactics but have some interesting nuance in the sheer weight you bring to the fight combined with their lack of protection. As discussed above the T-62M hits hard but doesn’t take a hit well. This tanks survivability comes from numbers not individual tanks staying power, and the numbers bring about a new level of mobile offensive output. So with this in mind crafty commanders should keep a few key concepts in mind when performing basic Soviet doctrine.
Know what you want to do, and try and do it as best as possible. This is easier said than done but one thing that makes designing and playing a list a lot more fun and easier is using the battle plans mission selector in the more missions packs. This lets you design a list to play the way you want it to and have it turn out that way arguably more often than not. It helps offensive minded players play offensively and defensive lists get dug in. It can be used against you but that’s half the fun of the pregame fight. If you haven’t tried it out I highly suggest it. So figure out if you want to attack, defend or something in the middle and design the list to play how you want to fight.
Soviet attacks generally come in three flavours, frontal and flanking attacks and the envelopment. Now for obvious reasons Soviet planning at all times attempted to avoid frontal attacks as they were the most costly and tended to get bogged down in defences and played to the enemy’s strengths. On the table we see great similarity to this and I would argue this is why ‘alpha striking’ or using your ability to shoot first is often the worst choice for Soviet players and specifically Soviet tankers. With all the advantages at play for a defender, concealment and being gone to ground, most NATO targets will require 6s to hit. While the T-62 does come in great number it doesn’t overcome the low rate of fire of our tanks and so opening fire on your first turn is often a mistake, as it can make the hunter become the hunted, with muzzle flashes identifying each and every tank for NATO forces to then engage in brutal return volleys.
So then what’s a Soviet tanker to do? Move, move fast, move often, keep moving, never look back. While flanking movements and envelopments don’t really make sense in their conversion from tactical and strategic actions to the table top in TY their base principles remain the same and give really good guidance for Soviet tanks. The whole point of either of these at their fundamental level is to force your opponent to react and move from a position of advantage to a position more exploitable. A flanking attack is about attempting to limit the amount of a force that can defend, and put it in a position where it is least suited to act offensively. It uses superior speed and violence to rapidly force an opponent to do something. Getting tanks up table quickly and when possible to the side of units often has this effect. It can allow a Soviet player to mass tanks along a relatively short frontage and do some damage.
“But I can’t just drive up, they’ll shoot me!” you say, but this is where smoke and the planned fire comes into play. With smoke to cover your advance to the enemy you can arrive up table with little to no damage and be in a position to really threaten the enemy hopefully forcing them to move to react. If you have a second artillery group you may even be able to cut large platoons like British infantry in half if you look to assault with larger platoons of tanks on subsequent turns or just again cut the field up letting your tanks do the work.
Where envelopment comes into play is repeating the flanking idea across multiple parts of the table. Once you get an opponent moving it opens up shots from other angles and this is where multiple platoons of tanks really comes into its own. Driving the majority of your force up the right flank may make the enemy reposition and become highly vulnerable to shots from the left and vice versa. This is where keeping them moving and forcing NATO tanks out of their prepared positions pays off for the patient Soviet tanker. You create situations where you give your opponent more problems than they have solutions.
Creating a defensive tank list are words that I’m sure set many folks’ hair on fire so we won’t call it a defensive T-62M list, but rather a counter attacking list. Soviet tank formations have an infantry company organically and can take a second as support. This is more than enough to hold for a few turns and can buy your tanks the time and space to show up and do the real work. The beauty of this is that NATO forces have to come out of hiding to attack and lose many of the advantages they hold sitting back in terrain. They are forced to come out and expose themselves in the open and this is where large units of tanks in ambush(along with the pre discussed missiles) can have a hay day. Add in large units coming in from reserve on all sorts of angles and you create beautiful killing fields. Where this succeeds is the sheer number of tanks you can bring to the fight and it is a lot of fun flipping the script on NATO forces this way.
However you choose to play them incorporating the T-62M into Soviet lists is simple and I would argue a fun if not a great decision for Soviet players. There are three basic ways to incorporate the T-62M into Soviet lists, individual companies, full formations and multiple formations.
First and simplest a single company of T-62M can replace a company of T-64 or T-72 in an Infantry formation, this option lets players pick up a single box and try the T-62M out for themselves to figure out how best they can work for them within an established list. Think about all the fun of having a cheap run and gun unit that can cut down a Leopard 2 in a BMP-2 list.
Second you can field a single formation based around the T-62M, 3 bulked out companies of T-62Ms is still cheap and will allow you to fill out your army with support options for a combined arms approach. This type of list will have resilient units and the ability to take loses while continuing on, using the cost effectiveness of the T-62M to give you a balanced but tank filled army. This is the approach I’m taking and I’ve been loving how it’s been working with BTR-60s and a ton of artillery in support, it looks the part of a second line unit pushed into service. A little bit of research done and I found a unit that retired in the 90s with mostly T-62Ms filling the ORBAT.
Lastly the T-62M due to cost is a prime candidate for platoon level operations and can be run with multiple formations of minimum sized units. While these don’t have the staying power of a full formation, they make up for it in minor cost savings, and more importantly direct support with units like infantry companies artillery and air defence becoming even more available and present in your force. This option also enables players to take a T-62M coy as a supporting formation to an allied force, making your Warsaw Pact list more flexible and interesting.
The T-62M is a really fun and exciting addition to Soviet lists. What it lacks in top end ability it makes up in numbers and the ability to hit like a freight train. The T-62M really epitomizes the Soviet design philosophy of bringing more and bigger guns to a fight at the expense of everything else, combined with the continued development and use of equipment in service. Combine that with a turret so ugly only a mother can love and you have the visual interest and playability that has players like me hooked. The T-62M will be taking the fight to NATO and sympathetic forces in the Middle East and Europe with the introduction of Oil War and I for one can’t wait to show my friends how much work this glass hammer can do.
– with Chris Potter, BF UK Office
Chieftains and T-62s and T-55 with Scorpions and M109 artillery? In a legal force?
And that was the thought process when I looked through Oil War: World War III in the Middle East. Freddie called Israelis and Gareth wanted to build an Iraqi army. That left me with the choice of Syrians, Iranians, or a Soviet T-62M force in conjunction with Red Banner. After reading through the background for the Iranians, specifically that they were sponsored by NATO prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and then had access to Soviet armour and weapons thereafter, the thought process for a combined arms list that had a bit of everything that Team Yankee offers, took shape.
As I preach to anyone who will listen, success is down to Proper Preparation. Although not grammatically correct, the point is still valid. I sat down and thrashed out a list that had a bit of everything. This original list took me to over 200 points. Probably a few too many to build in a week and then paint in a month…
So I trimmed the core formations and reduced the support choices and managed to drop the list to 109 points.
The list below is probably my final choices… though as ever our first few test games with our forces normally tell us what does and doesn’t work.
|Chieftain Tank Company –
HQ Section x2 Chieftains
X3 Platoons with x3 Chieftains
Mech Group M113s
|T-62 Tank Company –
HQ Section with x2 T-62
X2 Platoons with x3 T-62
X1 Platoon with x3 T-55
Mech Group BMP-1s
|M60 Tank Company –
HQ Section with x2 M60
X3 Platoons with x3 M60
|Scorpion Recce Troop x4||4||84|
|M109 Battery x6||10||94|
|M113 OP Observer||1||95|
|Z SU-23-4 AA Battery x4||4||99|
|Jeep TOW AT Group x4||4||103|
|Hail Rocket Battery x6||6||109|
with Wayne Turner
Oil War marks a departure from our usual format for Team Yankee books in a couple of ways. It sees the Team Yankee story move to a new theatre, with the Soviet Union and NATO inserting themselves into the ongoing Iran-Iraq conflict. It also sees a mix of forces, not all from the same alliance, in the one book. So what’s inside?
Oil War details the spread of World War III to the middle-east as the combatant nations scramble to secure precious oil supplies. Inside you will find background for the Israelis, Iraqis and Iranians in the lead up to World War III, as well as details of their conflicts immediately beforehand.
Oil War contains Forces, Formations and Units for fielding Israeli, Iraqi, and Iranian forces. In addition there is also a section on how to field Syrians using the Iraqis and an additional formation and unit for the Soviets.
The first Force you will find in Oil War are the Israelis. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) had learnt a lot from the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1967 and 1973 and had undertaken a number of reforms and equipment upgrades to be ready for any future conflict. In 1982 they had also invaded Lebanon in an attempt to clear hostile Palestinian forces from their northern border and a number of lessons were learned from the experience. 1982 also saw the first combat of the Israel’s new main battle tank, the Merkava. A direct result of this was the improved Merkava 2.
You can field four different formations in an Israeli force: Merkava 1 Tank Company, Merkava 2 Tank Company, Magach 6 Tank Company, and M113 Mech Infantry Company.
Israelis are well trained and motivated with Courage 3+, Morale 3+, Skill 3+, Assault 4+, Counterattack 3+.
An Israeli Tank Company has 2-3 Tank Platoons, a M113 Mech Infantry Platoon, and either a Jeep Recce Platoon or a M113 Recce Platoon. These can either have Merkava 1, Merkava 2, or Magach 6.
The Merkava 1 and Merkava 2 come in a new plastic kit that will let you build either model. The Merkava 1 is a formidable tank armed with the same M68 (British L7) 105mm gun as many NATO tanks. This gives it a Range 40”/100cm, ROF 2/2, AT 19 and FP 2+. Due to a good supply of HE it has the Brutal rule (re-roll infantry and unarmoured saves). The gun is also fitted with a Stabliser (can move Tactical 14”/35cm, but +1 To Hit), a Laser Rangefinder (no To Hit penalty for over 16”/40cm), and Smoke. It has Front Armour 18, Side 6, and Top 2. The Merkava 2 is upgraded with additional armour giving it Front Armour 19, Side 7, and Top 2. Well-protected ammunition stowage gives the Merkava 1 and 2 a Remount 2+
Due to their experiences in the previous three wars the Israelis ensured their tanks were well equipped with machine-guns. Each Merkava 1 or 2 has a co-axial 7.62mm MG, commander’s and loader’s 7.62mm AA MGs, and a remote-controlled .50 cal MG mounted over the main gun.
The Magach 6 is the Israeli variant of the US M60A1. It’s a tough tank with Front Armour 15, Side 8 and Top 2. It also mounts the M68 105mm gun and has the same machine-gun arrangement as the Merkavas, giving it plenty of firepower.
The company Recce Platoons can either be lightly equipped with Jeeps, or with M113 APCs.
Israel’s various infantry formations, from the named brigades to the paratroopers, were all trained to fight from the American M113 APC. An M113 Mech Infantry Company comes with 2 or 3 M113 Mech Infantry Platoons, a Tank Platoon (of any type), an M125 81mm Mortar Platoon and an M150 Anti-tank Section.
Israeli M113 Mech Platoons are well-equipped and capable units. A full-strength platoon comes with 4x Galil assault rifle teams, 3x FN MAG teams, each of these is also armed with M72 LAW for anti-tank self-defence. In addition they have 3x RPG-7 anti-tank teams, a M47 Dragon guided anti-tank missile team and a 52mm mortar team. These are transported in 4x M113 APCs.
Company weapons include a M125 81mm Mortar Platoon with 2 or 3 M125s, and a M150 anti-tank Platoon with 2 M150 TOW armed APCs.
The Israelis also have a good selection of support with M106 120mm SP mortars, M109 SP Artillery, Jeeps mounting TOW anti-tank missiles, and the super-secret Pereh SP anti-tank missile launcher. They are well-covered by anti-aircraft with M163 VADS, ZSU-23-4 Shilka, Redeye SAM, and M48 Chaparral SAM missiles. Their aircraft includes Skyhawk Fighter Flights and AH-1 Viper (Cobra) attack helicopters.
In 1985 the Pereh was an ultra-secret weapon, it has only been revealed to the wider world recently. The Pereh is a M48 (Magach 5) tank mounting a turret with twelve Tamuz NLOS (Non-line of sight) guided anti-tank missiles. The Pereh had a dummy gun so it would look like a tank from a distance. Its NLOS missile could be guided by the gunner through a camera mounted in the missile, allowing it to be fired from an out of sight position.
Another major change to the IDF after the 1973 war was the introduction of the attack helicopter. The Israelis got their first American Cobra attack helicopters in 1975 and were used extensively in Lebanon. The Israelis named them ‘Tzefa’, Viper in English. Like the US versions, the Vipers are armed with Improved TOW missiles, M197 Gatling guns and M159 rocket launchers.
Today we think of Saddam Hussein as the bad guy, but in 1985 things were not so clear cut. In the west, especially in America, Iran was seen as the greater of two evils. France had entered into several arms deals to supply the Iraqis, and Iraq’s oil was still desired globally. The Iraqi army had been fighting Iran since 22 September 1980 and by 1985 fielded a mix of Soviet, Chinese, French, and Brazilian equipment and vehicles organised loosely along Soviet lines.
An Iraqi Force can field five different formations, three tank and two mechanised infantry. The Iraqis have Courage 4+, Morale 4+, Skill 5+, Assault 5+ and Counterattack 4+.
The Iraqis used the Soviet T-72M tanks in the 10th Armoured Brigade. The Iraqis used the export version of the T-72, the T-72M, which had Front Armour 15, Side 8 and Top 2. Its powerful gun has a Range 32”/80cm, ROF 1/1, AT 21 and FP 2+. This is further enhanced by being Brutal, having a Laser Rangefinder, and a Stabliser.
The Iraqis also field are large number of the Soviet T-62 tanks, all purchased from the Soviet Union before relations soured in 1978. The T-62 is an excellent tank for its age with Front Armour 13, Side 9, and Top 2. It is armed with the 115mm 2A20 smoothbore gun with Range 32”/80cm, ROF 1/1, AT 19, and FP 2+. It is Brutal, but is Slow Firing (+1 To Hit for Moving ROF).
The Iraqis also used Soviet T-55, Chinese Type 59 and Type 69 tanks. The Type 59 and 69 were Chinese developments of the Soviet T-54 and were similar in capabilities to the T-55. The T-55 is a dependable and reliable tank, and against the Iranians it proved more than adequate, especially supporting their infantry. It has the same armour as the T-62, but is armed with the 100mm D-10T gun (Range 32”/80cm, ROF 1/1, AT 16, FP 2+, Slow Firing).
The T-72M, T-62 and T-55 all have a co-axial MG and a 12.7mm AA MG.
An Iraqi Tank Battalion has 2 or 3 Tank Companies, either a BMP-1 or BTR Mech Company, and a ZSU-23-4 Shilka or ZSU-57-2 AA Company.
The Iraqis also acquired a large number of BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles from the Soviet Union and many of the better equipped mechanised infantry battalions were mounted in these. An Iraqi BMP-1 Mech Battalion is built around 2 or 3 BMP-1 Mech Companies, a T-62, T-72, or T-55 Tank Company, a ZSU-23-4 or ZSU-57-2 AA Company and a 2S1 Carnation SP Howitzer Battery. The Iraqis received extensive training from the Soviets in the 1970s and still use Soviet style combined armed doctrine in 1985, so each Mech Battalion formation is a combined arms unit with infantry, tanks, anti-aircraft and artillery.
The infantry are armed with Soviet or Chinese AK-47 assault rifles, RPG-7 anti-tank rockets, and PKM machine-guns. Companies can be reinforced with SA-7 Grail man-portable surface to air missiles for air defence. A BMP-Mech Company can vary in size from a large unit of ten AK-47 assault rifle, nine RPG-7 anti-tank, and two PKM LMG teams mounted in 12 BMP-1s to a small company of four AK-47 assault rifle and three RPG-7 anti-tank teams mounted in four BMP-1s.
The rest of the mechanised infantry are mounted in a variety of wheeled armoured personnel carriers such as the Soviet supplied BTR-60 or the Czech OT-64. Some units were even mounted in the French AMP-10P tracked infantry fighting vehicle.
Much of the battalion’s equipment are the familiar Soviet types, such as the ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft vehicle and 2S1 Carnation SP howitzer. The BTR Mech Battalions, because they didn’t have the anti-tank missile of the BMP-1, were also issued with the Spandrel anti-tank vehicle armed with the powerful AT-5 Spandrel guided missile (Range 8”/20cm – 48”/120cm, ROF 1/-, AT 21, FP 3+).
Another common vehicle in the Iraqi arsenal is the ZSU-57-2. It is an anti-aircraft vehicle based on the T-55 mounting a twin 57mm gun. It was an excellent ground support and anti-helicopter weapon, but because it lacked radar it was of only limited use against fast flying jets.
The Iraqis made arms deals with a variety of nations giving them an unusual mix of supporting weapons. They used Soviet BRDM-2 scout cars for reconnaissance duties, though a number of similar designs from France, Brazil, and Hungary were also used.
Unique to the Iraqis was the VCR/TH HOT anti-tank missile vehicle. This was a French light wheeled APC mounting a pair of guided anti-tank missile launchers. It fired the devastating HOT missile (Range 8”/20cm – 48”/120cm, ROF 1/-, AT 23, FP 3+).
Artillery came from the Soviets and French. The Iraqis used both the 2S1 Carnation 122mm self-propelled howitzer and the 2S3 Acacia 152mm self-propelled howitzer. Alongside these fought the French AMX AUF1 self-propelled howitzer with its automatically loading 155mm weapon (reduces the score required to hit by 1 during bombardments). The Iraqis also used a lot of rockets, the most common being the Soviet BM-21 Hail or similar Chinese copies.
Iraqi Self-propelled anti-aircraft missile assets came from both the Soviets and French with the SA-9 Gaskin, SA-13 Gopher, SA-8 Gecko, and AMX Roland SAM systems all seeing service in the war against Iran.
Iraqi helicopters played a major role in their conflict with Iran, with Soviet built Hinds and French supplied Gazelles working in close coordination. The Hinds would supress a targeted area, making sure anti-aircraft units had been forced to ground with rocket and Gatling gun fire, before the Gazelles would rise up from concealed positions to take out enemy tanks with their HOT ATGMs.
In Oil War you can also field Syrians. We haven’t made a specific force for them, but much of their organisation, doctrine and weapons systems are similar to the Iraqis. For this we have added a section to Oil War with a guide to how to field Syrians using the Iraqi forces. Like the Iraqis the Syrians are heavily influenced by the Soviets, but unlike the Iraqis, buy 1985 they are still on good terms with them. They also have a good relationship with the Iranians. This means they are on the opposite side to the Iraqis. Pitting these two evenly matched forces against each other will make for some interesting games.
The Iranian military was a very western influenced institution before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and much of this in the form of organisation, doctrine, and equipment has remained in place under the rule of the Islamic Republic, though the most western leaning and thinking officers were purged from it ranks. The regular Islamic Republic of Iran Army (IRIA) used a mix of American and British tanks and vehicles, while the small arms were West German G3 battle rifles and MG3 machine-guns. Iran’s other fighting force was the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and, as a newly raised organisation, used a mix of former army equipment, captured Iraqi arms, and newly purchased weapons from China, Soviet Union, North Korea, Libya and Syria.
Iranians are rated Courage 3+, Morale 3+, Rally 3+, Skill 5+, Assault 5+ and Counterattack 3+.
The tank formations of the IRIA used the British Chieftain and the US M60. Both the Chieftain Tank Company and the M60 Patton Tank Company are quite simple formations with two or three Tank Groups (each with three tanks) and a Mechanised Group (infantry mounted in M113). The IRGC also field tank formation using captured and purchased Iraqi/Soviet T-62 and T-55 tanks. These contained two T-62 Tank Groups, an optional T-62 or T-55 Tank Group and an optional Mechanised Group or Basij Infantry Company (volunteer militia).
The Mechanised Company, which can represent the IRIA or IRGC, is based on a core of two or three Mechanised Groups, a M113 106mm Anti-tank Group or M150 (TOW) Anti-tank Group, a M125 Mortar Group, and a Tank Group (Chieftain, M60, T-62 or T-55).
The Mechanised Groups are made up of four MG-3 teams (Range 16”/40cm, ROF 3/2, AT 2, FP 6), three RPG-7 anti-tank teams (Range 12”30cm, ROF 1/1, AT 17, FP 4+, Slow Firing), mounted in four M113 APC if it is from the IRIA. Optional teams include a M47 Dragon ATMG and a SA-7 Grail SAM. To represent the IRGC mechanised infantry you can replace the units M113s with BTR-60 APCs or BMP-1 IFVs.
The second infantry formation available to the Iranians is the Basij Infantry Battalion. The Basij (Persian for ‘The Mobilization’) are a paramilitary volunteer militia of civilians between the ages of 18 and 45, though often volunteers much younger or older can be found in its ranks. The IRGC uses the Basij as a pool to draw reinforcements for their units, or to field Basij fighting units under IRGC command. The Basij were often used as the first wave of an offensive and as a consequence suffered disproportionately high casualties, often having these attacks described by the Iraqis are ‘human waves’.
The Basij, like much of the IRGC, were armed with Soviet style small arms as well as old obsolete weapons like bolt action rifles supplied from the army’s reserve stocks. The Soviet weapons were either captured from the Iraqis or supplied by the Syrians, Libyans, Chinese or North Koreans. A Basij Infantry Battalion has two to four Basij Infantry Companies, an Anti-tank Jeep Group, and a T-62 or T-55 Tank Group.
A Basij Infantry Company, at full strength, has 25 AKM assault rifle teams (Range 8”/20cm, ROF 3/3. AT 1, FP 6, and a Pinned ROF 1) and 12 RPG-7 anti-tank teams.
The Anti-tank Jeep Group contains two to six Anti-tank Jeeps, each armed with a 106mm recoilless rifle (Range 24”/60cm, ROF 1/1, AT 17, FP 2+). They use the Scout rule to sneak around, and the 106mm recoilless has Accurate (no +1 long range hit penalty if not moving), Brutal (enemy rerolls Infantry and Unarmoured saves), HEAT (no +1 Armour bonus at long range), Recoilless (cannot be concealed if shot) and Slow Firing (+1 to Hit for Moving ROF) rules.
The Iranian support weapons also reflect the mixed sources of their weapons systems. Reconnaissance units are equipped with British supplied Scorpion light tanks, while Iranian artillery is equipped with US M109 self-propelled howitzers. Rocket artillery, like the Iraqis is made up of BM-21 Hail truck mounted rocket systems, either the original weapons purchased in 1967 or additional Chinese and North Korean copies supplied later. Like the Iraqis, the Iranians used the Soviet ZSU-57-2 and ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft SP gun systems.
The Iranian army’s aviation corps was well equipped with US AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, equipped to the same standard as the American versions.
Oil War also contains a section on the Iran-Iraq War, giving a history and how to field the forces involved in the war from Oil War.
While the tanks facing the western forces in Europe consisted of T-64 and T-72 tanks, the bulk of Soviet armoured forces available for immediate action on the Iranian frontier were equipped with T-62M tanks. The T-62M fitted the T-62 with an improved applique armour package (Front 14, Side 9, Top 2, Bazooka Skirts), a Laser Rangefinder (no To Hit penalty for range over 16”/40cm) and the ability to fire the AT-10 Stabber anti-tank missile (Range 16”/40cm-48”/120cm, ROF 1/-, AT 21, AT 3+, Guided and HEAT).
Oil War allows you to field a T-62M Tank Battalion formations and T-62M Tank Companies in your Soviet force from Red Thunder.
Oil War also provides a guide to the forces from other Team Yankee books that could also be used for the battles of World War III in the Middle East.
Finally we have two scenarios themed on the forces inside Oil War. The first one, West of Khorranshahr, pits Iranian attackers against Iraqi defensive forces in a battle across the frontier of the two countries, typical of the encounters of the Iran-Iraq War. The second scenario sees the Syrians attacking the Israelis in the Golan Height at the start of the Syrian offensive against Israel. This pits a strong Syrian Tank forces against a small, but elite, Israeli defensive force.
Packed with Colour
As is usual for a Team Yankee book, it is full of colour photographs of Israeli, Iraqi, and Iranian models, painting guides, and a comprehensive catalogue section to help your work out what packs to get for your Oil War force.
So pack up your desert camo gear, we’re off to the Middle East!
For those of you that like books in electronic form, Oil War is available now on the Flames Of War Digital app for you Android or iPhone.
Oil War has been out for a week, we’ve had a chance to take it for a spin and so have you. Join us here for the day as the Battlefront studios all over the world celebrate Oil War for Team Yankee.
Thanks for joining us for the Red Banner/Ghost Panzers Live Launch.
We hope you enjoyed all the bits and pieces we got up to during the launch, and be sure to enter the competition on the Flames of War Facebook group to be in to win a copy of either of the new Kursk books and its corresponding army deal.
It’s been a pleasure, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first Live Launch.
Thanks for tuning in.