Thursday, July 2, 2009

Axis & Allies Miniatures: T-34 series tanks

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musings about particular pieces in the Axis & Allies series of miniatures.

Base Set

Ah, the T-34. Widely considered the best all-around tank of World War II -- and maybe of all time (at least according to the History Channel).

The T-34 lives up to its reputation in Axis & Allies miniatures. It really doesn't have any flaws. It's reasonable priced in all its versions, so it's a cost-effective purchase in tournament-style scenarios. It has good anti-tank and anti-personnel attack values, it is speedy, well-protected and generally has useful special abilities. It shows up early and often. The basic 76mm-gun armed version is collector No. 6/48 from the Base Set and again as No. 24/60 of the 1939-45 set. A commander version is No. 8 of 60 in the North Africa set and the 85mm gun-armed version is No. 9 of 45 in Set II and 24 of 60 in the Eastern Front set. An improved 76mm gun version is also in the Eastern Front Set, No. 23 of 60. Cards for all versions of the T-34 have been revised tor elect changed working in the transport special ability.

Set II

Rarity: Rare (except in the 1939-45 set where it is an uncommon and also shows up in the Starter pack)
Speed: 4
Defense: 5/5 (6/5 for the T-34/85 and T-34/76 Model 1942)
Cost: 28 (30 for T-34 Model 1942, 32 for the T-34/85, 34 for the Guards T-34/85 and 38 for the T-34 commander)
Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges: 7 -7 -6
Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges: 13 -11 -10 (14-12-10 for the 85mm gun versions)

1939-45 Set

Special abilities:

All except the commander version (revised): Exposed Transport — This unit can carry one Soldier. That Soldier can be attacked while it’s boarded on this transport. (A friendly Soldier can board or dismount this unit instead of moving during your movement phase.) The original version of the ability was simply Transport, which unrealistically made the soldiers immune to enemy fire. This special ability was added to the Guards T-34/85's list with the revised cards.

All: Superior Armor 2 -- An attack must beat this unit's defenses by 2 or more in order to score two hits against it.

Guards version: Guard Crew -- After rolling attack dice for this unit you may reroll a single die result of 1

Commander version:
Commander Abilities:
Initiative +1

Command Awareness -- Friendly Vehicles within two hexes of this unit get "Awareness" -- this unit can make defensive-fire attacks against soldiers that enter its hex.

North Africa Set

T-34 historical text

Considered by many to be the best all-around tank of the war, the T-34 outclassed its German rivals until the Tiger and Panther appeared on the battlefield.

Guards T-34/85 historical text

The Soviet Army’s elite Guards divisions operated an improved version of the T-34/76, featuring a larger turret and an 85mm gun.

T-34/76 Commander historical text

Few Soviet tank commanders survived the initial year of Barbarossa. Those who did learned from those harsh lessons.

T-34/85 historical text

Once the 76.2mm gun on the T-34 proved to be inadequate,it was upgraded to a high-velocity 85mm gun.

T-34/76 Model 1942 historical text

The T-34, considered one of the best tanks at the start of WW II, was produced in various versions with each new version an improvement over the last.

Eastern Front Set T-34/75

The unit in history: Experience from the Spanish Civil War prompted the Soviets to consider the merits of more heavily armed and armored tanks, leading to the fielding of the KV-1 heavy tank and the medium T-34 tanks which unpleasantly surprised German panzer troops in 1941. The T-34 was the brainchild of tank designer Mikhail Korshkin as a development of the BT series of "fast tanks" based on the ideas of American tank designer Walter Christie. The new tank retained the speedy aspects of the BT tanks while adding a larger gun and more armor. Increasing the effectiveness of the armor was a sloping design that helped deflect incoming rounds. The result was a well-rounded main battle tank that was equally effective at supporting infantry attacks, exploiting breakthoughs or battling enemy tanks -- tasks that had been divided between different tank models in the past. The tank was far better than the German Panzer III and IV tanks encountered in 1941 and was a nasty surprise to Germans. The early T-34s did suffer from some drawbacks, including a lack of a radio and a cramped, 2-man turret. These shortcoming and poor training made the tank less effective than it might have been, but these deficiencies were made good with time and by the end of the war the T-34/85, with a radio, 3-man turret, powerful gun and robust construction was still one of the best tanks in the world and served for decades more in armies around the world.

Eastern Front T-34/76 Model 1942

The unit in the game: The T-34 is an excellent piece in all its manifestations in the game. Its gun is effective against all but the heaviest armor, it can attack soft targets and its armor provides protection against all but large guns. The ability to transport accompanying infantry is very useful -- even exposed and the superior armor 2 special ability makes an already tough target even tougher. Best of all, the tank is well-costed so that most Soviet forces will have an ample supply.

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