1:300th scale (M)SH Combined arms formations

This page last modified: 19 September, 2012 (22nd Regimental HQ company added, at bottom of page)

Here's the 1st Battalion of my 4th Motor Rifle regiment, part of the Czechoslovakian 3rd Motor Rifle Division, waiting to advance from their starting position.

Motor Rifle Battalion

In its 1980 incarnation, as depicted here, the battalion comes out as 16 elements strong, including the attached tank company from the regimental tank battalion. The elements are the following:

2 stands of vz. 52 82 mm mortars, plus trucks to carry them (shown at the left, at the battalion rear);
1 stand of vz.53 twin 30 mm AA guns, plus a truck to tow them (shown at the top-centre); these were replaced with OT-64 transported SA-7b Grail teams later in the 80s;
1 Battalion HQ stand, shown centre-bottom as a plain OT-64;
3 T-55 A stands, distrbuted along the second row;
1 AGS-17 AGL stand in OT-64, 3rd from the top in the second row;
2 OT-810D anti-tank stands, shown 2nd in from each end of the second row; and
6 OT-64 infantry combat teams, in the front row.
This means the battalion's supporting stands are actually as numerous as the "regular" fighting stands, and thus the battalion doesn't occupy much frontage on the battlefield. Which is just as well, because it isn't exactly the most powerful of formations; you need two of them to get anything accomplished except against the weakest of opponents.

Motor Rifle Battalion halted

Here's the battalion temporarily halted at its objective, awaiting further orders. Being classified as WarPac 2 in MSH, order changes for the Czechoslovakians aren't the easiest of things to accomplish... The AA platoon is at the rear, since it can't shoot from the wooded hill most of the battalion is parked in. Unusually, the BHG is actually in the front line here, because it is needed to direct artillery and/or mortar fire, so it has to be at the edge of the wood, or it wouldn't be able to see. The second row elements can all shoot due to the supporting rules. The extra fighting platoon that couldn't fit into the front row is attempting to hide behind the hedgerows around the field in the rear, while one tank platoon has bagged a small hull-down position to the left. T-55s don't derive any defensive cover from being hulldown, but they do get visual cover from it, which is still vitally important.

I use plain OT-64s rather than the turret-armed OT-64A with 14.5mm HMG, simply because the Heroics & Ros plain OT-64 is a fine model, but their OT-64A (often mistakenly called OT-64C) is not - the turret is a bit of a blob. Scotia ostensibly make a turret-armed OT-64, but it's actually a Polish SKOT-2AP rather than a SKOT-2A, and so has a quite differently-shaped turret, so it isn't any more accurate (or is the Scotia one the SKOT-2AM, with Saggers on the turret side?; I forget...). Plain OT-64s are in any case required for many roles, such as engineers' and RHQ vehicles (but not battalion HQ vehicles, for which turreted versions were available).


Here's the 1980's version of the 3rd Division's Divisional HQ: transported elements behind, and their dismounted equivalents in front. To the left is the DHQ itself. The dismounted element has the commander's GAZ-69 on it for easy identification (it should really be a UAZ-469 in the 80s, but I haven't bought enough of those yet...), the mounted one has a truck with an office body (although the windows are just out of picture here). I dislike labelling HQ vehicles as such, so this is a good way of making them identifiable without having them stick out too much.

In the middle is the main divisional security element: the transport element is the Heroics and Ros attempt at an OT-64A (in the catalogue it is incorrectly called a SKOT-2AP, which has a differently shaped turret; the Polish equivalent of the OT-64A is the SKOT-2A). Almost all the OT-64s I use should be this model, but as mentioned above, it's a very poor model - the turret plinth is just a blob as opposed to a crisp octagon, and the turret itself is nothing to write home about either, so I just substitute standard OT-64s instead. Andy Kirk at H&R says upgrading this model is now on his "to do" list, perhaps with choice of turrets, which would be grand. To the left is the HQ's AA defence force: 9K32M teams (SA-7b Grail in NATO-speak). In the 70s version of the DHQ (before the introduction of the Grail), there would be a motorcycle platoon here instead.

BVP battalion
in reserve

Here's the 2nd Battalion of my 5th Motor Rifle Regiment waiting in reserve in a recent game. A BVP battalion is not so different to an OT-64 battalion. It lacks the AGL stand, and also the two BzK vz.59 stands that OT-equipped battalions come with, making it smaller. Of course, it's also generally much nastier due to all those ATGWs if the enemy is armour-heavy, and it doesn't really cost any more in terms of points, so unless you are fighting dismounted infantry, it is a better deal. Dismounted infantry, of course, are not exactly rare...

This game saw me in an attacking stance; hence the on-table reserve. Being 300 mm in from the table rear edge is certainly a decent head start in your ability to react to an enemy threat, but I'm wondering if I should keep some stuff off-table as well as on-table just to confuse the enemy; they won't expect something off-table if I'm an attacker, and won't know its entry point until it "arrives". But it would have to be a fast unit, so not include T-55s, which would limit it to a BVP battalion, as OT-64s aren't very good offensively unless assaulting infantry.

22nd Special Purpose Assault Regiment HQ company UAZ-469 with trailer R-362M mobile intelligence centre R-362M mobile intelligence centre from rear

Here we have the mounted version of my 22nd Special Purpose Assault Regiment's headquarters company. The little UAZ-469 with trailer I use as the HQ recon element; it can also fill in as a UAZ-469Ch NBC recon element for other formations, although an unarmed and unarmoured scout element doesn't have all that much utility if you have access to any other kind of recon stand... The trailer is actually a H&R British Landrover trailer rather than the prototypical GAZ-704 trailer, but they are not so different. The base with two UAZ-469s on it is carrying the regimental security stand (an infantry element when dismounted), while the GAZ-66 4x4 truck is carrying the engineering stand. As an aside, although they were definitely used to some extent, I don't think GAZ-66s were all that common in the Czechoslovakia army. But nobody makes the relevant Praga or Tatra vehicles.

It is the truck and trailer rig that is, believe it or not, the actual HQ element (its length required me to put it on a double-depth base). Although the regiment was trained as a parachute formation (and indeed, its 1st Battalion was first and foremost a proper Parachute Battalion), its duties were much more than extensive than that. Its 3rd "Special Purpose" Battalion was primarily an intelligence-gathering outfit, equipped to conduct in-depth reconnaissance deep into enemy territory (members had to particularly "politically reliable"). Accordingly, the Regiment had at its service one of only two R-362M mobile intelligence command posts owned by the Czechoslovakian military. The trailer bed is a hacked-up H&R MAZ-537 tank transporter, with plasticard body top. The box-like part at the front of the trailer, over the tractor, is probably an electricity generator.

Parachute units probably get far more on-table use than they should in points-based games, because they tend to lack points-intensive armoured vehicles; and if you are working to a points budget, a cheaper unit will often fit into an OOB when a "proper" unit won't. At least for WarPac armies anyway. Most NATO armies have access to unarmoured infantry units in their regular TOEs, making them very flexible in gaming terms. Consider ca. 1980 Germans. East Germans all ride in armoured BTRs or BMPs. West Germans are in M113s or Marders if regulars, or in trucks if reservists. Trucks are a clear disadvantage in a non-points based game, but if you have to "pay" for them, as when using Keith McNelly's scenario system, then things are different. (One could always field a battalion of WarPac infantry without their APCs, I suppose, but that just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe in a strictly defensive game it would be sort of OK...)

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