Monday, November 9, 2009

Axis & Allies miniatures: Stuart series tanks

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

The armored arm of the American Army went into World War II small and barely equipped, with most of its limited experience being with a series of limited run light tanks. The M3 Stuart tanks were an outgrowth of this program and were placed into widespread production so that the Army would have something to go to war with while more battle-worthy designs were developed.
The Stuart was a credible early war battle tank, with comparable armor and armament to early war tanks such as the British cruiser tanks, the Russian T-26 or the early models of the German Panzer III tanks and it performed well in the wearly campaigns, although soon outclassed in Europoe, although againt the Japanese it was first line equipment. It served throughout the war as a light recon tank, equipping one company in the standard tank battalion.
It's also ubiquitous in the Axis & Allies miniatures game, appearing four times so far. Three models are of the M3 version (Base Set No. 12/48, 1939-45 set No. 31/60, North Africa No. 15/60) while one is the M5A1 (eastern Front No 12/60).
The models are well-done sculpts.

Base set M3


Rarity: Uncommon

Speed: 5

Defense: 4/3

Cost: 15

Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges:


Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges:

8-8-6 (M3), 9-9-7 (M5A1)

1939-45 set M3

Special abilities

M3: All Guns Blazing -- After this unit attacks in your assault phase, it cam make one extra attack against a Soldier.

M5A1: Robust —This unit gets +1 on movement rolls. While disrupted, this unit has speed 1.

North Africa setM3

Historical text:

M3: Some versions of the Stuart, which was the standard light tank of the U.S. Army until 1945, carried no fewer than five machine guns. Many Staurts were sold to Britain and saw action in the North African Campaign.

M5A1: Powered by twin Cadillac engines, this improved version of the Stuart light tank performed admirably and was nicknamed "Honey" by the British.

An M3 Stuart on Luzon

The unit in history:

The immediate predecessor f the Stuart was the M2A4, which ahd the same 37mm gun and similar automotive components. The main change with the M3 was some additional armor and a change in the road wheel layout to improve cross-country performance. The long gestation of the light tank series resulted in a vehicle that was notable for its reliability. The M3 entered production in March 1941 and was in combat just a few months later in August. The base set and North Africa set M3s represent Stuarts in Brirtish service and are in desert colors. In the original "heavy" armored division U.S. Army TO&E Stuarts formed one battalion in each armored regiment, in the later "light" TO&E the Staurts made up the fourth "D" company of each armored battalion. Stuarts also proved useful in the Pacific theater, where the opposing Japanses armor was also lightly armored and carried small guns. The 1939-45 set M3 Stuart represents Pacific theater use of the tank by American forces. While M3s served throughout the war, most of the light tanks in the campaign across France were the M5A1 version, which substituted twin Cadillac diesel engines for the radial Continetnal engimne used in the M3s.

Eastern Front M5A1

The unit in the game: The M3 is primarily an anti-soldier weapon. Its speed will allow it to get into action and will help it avoid trouble. It has a decent anti-armor capability as well, so long as its not facing the better late-war German armor. For a fast vehicle it has good armor, but it's still not something to slug it out with. The M5 gives up some anti-soldier capability in favor of a little extra toughness, but it's probably not an even trade.

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