Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Axis and Allies Miniatures: MAS 7.5mm Rifle

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musings about particular pieces in the Axis & Allies series of miniatures.
First off is the lead-off miniature in the entire line, the MAS 7.5 mm Rifle.
Collector No. 1/48 from the Base Set and No. 12/60 from the 1939-45 set.


Rarity: Common
Speed: 1
Defense: 4
Cost: 3
Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges: 8 - 6 - none
Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges: 2 - none - none
Special abilities: Close Assault 6; Urban Combat
Revision: Now a "1940" card in base set and 1939-45 sets instead of a"1939" card
Historical text: The MAS-36, a rugged 7.5mm bolt-action rifle, was the standard weapon of the French infantry

1939-45 set figure

The unit in history: The game piece is named after the rifle used by many French infantrymen.

The French Army in 1940 was expected to be the mainstay of resistance to the German war machine. It was large and well-equipped and a large part of the front it would have to cover was protected by formidable border forts. As with any army, its core rested with the common infantryman. First-line troops were armed with the MAS 7.5 mm Rifle, a modern, bolt-action design that started coming into service in 1936.

French soldiers were mostly conscripts, but led by experienced officers and NCOs, and trained by a large and effective system that had been honed through many years of experience.

While somewhat hobbled by misguided tactical doctrines at higher levels, French squad level tactics and training were appropriate and effective and French soldiers fought well.

After the armistice most of the French army was disbanded and sent home, but significant forces remained on duty, particularly in the various French colonies. These troops, in West and North Africa, the Middle East and Indochina saw fighting later in the war during sharp, but brief campaigns against the United States, Commonwealth and Japanese forces.

The unit in the game: The MAS 7.5mm is the epitome of the ordinary infantry in the Axis & Allies miniatures game system, with an adequate attack and defense against similar troops, a useful anti-tank ability against lighter vehicles and a low enough cost to make it expendable. It's a little better than the average such unit because it has the Urban Combat ability while not paying extra for it. That extra +1 on cover rolls in town hexes is useful enough, but it probably won't have a big impact.

Base set figure

The piece is always available to French armies under standard construction rules , with a 1940 date (originally 1939, but changed to 1940 in the revised cards), but realistically it should have an end date of 1940 as well except for scenarios set in Indochina against the Japanese. It could also represent Vichy French troops on the Axis side in campaigns in Syria and Africa until such time as a specific Vichy French figure shows up in the Axis OB.

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