Thursday, November 26, 2009

Axis & Allies Miniatures - Vickers Machine-Gun Team

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musings about particular pieces in the Axis & Allies series of miniatures.
The Vickers Machine Gun was a very reliable, although heavy, water-cooled medium machine gun that served throughout both World Wars in various Commonwealth armies. The piece is collector No. 15/48 from the Base Set and No. 7/60 from the 1939-45 set. The model is one of the better weapon sculpts, showing details such as the cloth ammo belt clearly. The figure appears to represent one machine gun team, which comprised a gunner and loader, as shown on the model, plus an additional half dozen ammo and equipment bearers.

Base set figure

Speed: 1
Defense: 4
Cost: 8
Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges: 9 - 8 - 6
Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges: 3 - 3 - 2
Special abilities: Double Shot -- This unit can make two attacks in your assault phase. When making a defensive-fire attack, this unit makes two attack rolls against the unit that provoked the attack.
Historical text: The Vickers used in WW II, essentially the same weapon that the British Army used in WW I, was a water-colled .303-caliber gun with a repuation for reliability.

Vickers machine-guns of 2nd Middlesex Regiment, 3rd Division, fire in support of troops crossing the Maas-Schelde Canal, 20 September 1944. The gunners are firing at long-range targets, as shown by the extreme elevation of the barrels.

The unit in history: The Vickers machine gun was developed from the earlier Maxim machine guns in the late Nineteenth Century. Vickers lightened the gun and improved it and it was in service in time for World War I, where it earned a reputation for extreme reliability. A water-filled jacket aroudn the barrel absorbed heat and transferred the steam via a hose to a condenser. The water could then be recycled back to the jacket. The weight of the water and the system made the weapon somewhat less portabel than similar air-cooled weapons, but the water-cooled system enabled the Vickers to maintain a very high rate of fire.

1939-45 set figure

The unit in the game: For a long time this was the only Allied machine gun unit available in the game, so it saw a lot of action on the table, although it's a fairly middling unit stat-wise. Many early scenarios used it as a stand-in for other Allied nation's machineguns. The double-shot special ability is useful and the unit can exert firepower out to 8 hexes, so it can dominate an evenue of approach fairly well. Even at long range it has about a 4 in 10 chance of affecting a targeted common infantry unit in the open. It's anti-vehicle ability is slight, but lightly armored and unarmored vehicles are in some danger if fire upon.

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