Saturday, February 20, 2010

Axis & Allies miniatures -- M18 Hellcat GMC

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musing about the pieces of Axis & Allies miniatures.

It seemed like every set of Axis & Allies miniatures had one really awful sculpt. The hobbyists' introduction to this unfortunate AAM "tradition" was the Base Set's M18 Hellcat tank destroyer (collector No. 19/48). This model was grossly out-of-scale compared to the other vehicular models and alerted gamers to the fact that there were scaling problems with the vehicles. As it turned out, gamers quickly determined that it was the majority of other vehicles that were not in a true 15mm scale, being about 15% too small in relation to the troops. Unfortunately, collectors were not comforted by the fact that at least one model (the M18 Hellcat) was the proper size because it also turned out that the proportions of that vehicle model were wrong. Interestingly, when reissued as part of the new 1939-1945 Set, the piece (No. 29/60) underwent a name change, to the M18 GMC (gun motor carriage).

A size comparison from BoardGame Geek between the 1939-1945 set M18 GMC (top) and the Base Set M18 Hellcat (bottom)


* Officially revised stats

Rarity: Rare

Speed: 5

Defense: 3/2

Cost: 24*

Attacks vs. troops at close-medium-long ranges: 6-6-4

Attacks vs. vehicles at close-medium-long ranges: 14-12-10

Base Set

Special Abilities:

High Gear 2 -- If this unit makes its entire move along a road, it gets +2 speed.

Strike and Fade 1 -- In your assault phase, this unit can move at speed 1 after attacking* (Originally appeared only on 1939-1945 Set card, revision adds it to the Base Set)

Flanking Attack -- This unit rolls one extra attack die when attacking a Vehicle's rear.* (Originally appeared only on the Base Set card, revision adds it to the 1939-45 card)

1939-1945 Set

Historical text:

Base Set -- With a top speed of 55 mph, the Hellcat was the fastest armored fighting vehicle of the war.

1939-45 Set -- The M18 had a 400hp engine on a relatively light body. It was perhaps the fastest and most maneuverable tank of the war.

The unit in history: Of the four self-propelled tank destroyers fielded by the U.S. Army in World War II, the M18 was the only one that wasn't adapted from another vehicle. As the Army's only purpose-built TD the Hellcat was the epitome of tank destroyer doctrine, combining a powerful gun with an extremely maneuverable chassis with the aim of using hit-and-run tactics and ambush against enemy tanks. When tactical circumstances forced it to stand and fight, however, the M18s very light armor was inadequate. The 76mm gun was also too weak to penetrate the frontal armor of the Panther and Tiger tanks. Still, there were several instances of M18-equipped TD units achieving high kill ratios against Panther and Tiger tank units by using their high speed to achieve flanking shots and avoiding fire from the slowly traversing German tank turrets. About 2,500 M18s were built, with most serving in Europe.

The unit in the game: The M18 is the prototypical tank destroyer, with a powerful enough punch to take out most Axis AFVs and extreme speed that means it will have many opportunities to use that Flanking Attack SA. With High Speed 2 it can speed around as fast as a jeep! It can't take being shot at, however, but judicious positioning will let it use Strike and Fade to avoid return fire.

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