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Friday, September 6, 2013

Bolt Action - US Airborne Force Selection

So you want to play a US Airborne list and feel a bit constrained by the unit selection choices?

There are a great deal of historical choices that are not seem easily apparent in the Bolt Action unit list.  Have no fear, the Bolt Action's unit and force selection system is flexible enough to fulfill most of these. And, if you add a few 'House guidelines', things get even a bit more historical!


(A huge thanks to a frequent patron of The BAR, the man known formally as Captain TO, Stefan, for another fine article contribution. To top it off, he's included many shots of his very own Airborne, in action, at various tournaments. - Judson)


The US Airborne Divisions had both parachute and glider borne engineers, who were assigned to and fought with both Parachute and Glider Regimental Combat Groups from the start of the war until the armistice. In a like manner. there were Pathfinder units (airborne scouts).

So do airborne engineers and scouts require separate unit entries or can we use other troop choices as legitimate substitutes?


Airborne engineers did not have different equipment or gear than 'straight-leg' engineers. So we can use the 'Engineer Squad' entry as Airborne Engineers.  However, I would limit the number of BARs to one versus the allowed two.

The 'Ranger Squad' entry is a good likeness to an Airborne Pathfinder unit's capability. 


Finally, IMHO, it seems a bit strange that the '...pride of the US Army...' lacks an option to be tough fighters.  As such, the 'Veteran Infantry Squad' entry is a good substitute to allow an Airborne force to field a unit of tough fighters. Both cost the same, but like the Engineer Squad, I would limit the number of BARs to one and allow an LMG option.

The last infantry comment is that the M19 airborne light mortar which only required a two-man crew, but the mortar squad it was in had six men.  So this could be represented by either a two man or three man crew.


Similarly, the artillery and anti-aircraft battalions had 75mm pack howitzers, 105mm M3 howitzer, and .50 cal machine guns.  The latter were for anti-aircraft support but were used in ground support with the Luftwaffe's scarcity.

Many wonder why the M18 and M20 recoilless rifle artillery were not used by WW2 US Airborne forces like the German Fallshirmjager used the LG40 75mm and LG40/1 105mm recoilless artillery pieces. Both the M18 and M20 entered service at the earliest in March 1945 and, as such, saw virtually no use in the European theatre and very limited use in the Pacific. However, the M20 was used extensively post-WW2...the M18, even though shoulder fired, lacked the punch of the Bazooka, so it really never took hold.

Below are my suggestions for a diverse and historical airborne list using the available unit entries from AoUS.




US Airborne Selector List

* All unit entries and page number references are from the Armies of the Unites States (AoUS) * * Rule or guideline differences from current AoUS are indicated in BOLD Italic
* Use Bolt Action selector (reinforced or theatre) for number of units allowed











Airborne Divisions were not equipped with vehicles beside transports (ground or air).  However, independent Army or Corps units could be attached providing vehicular support or from nearby Armored divisions. The available vehicular unit entries would be dependent on what was available to those support forces, which, practically, means anything in the AoUS vehicular section.




US Airborne List Examples

Example #1:

506th RCT (US 101st Airborne) with support from the 4th Armored Division:

506 PIR:
1st Lieutenant + 1 man   VET, rifle x2   103 pts
x8 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x5, SMG x1, NCO w/SMG   91 pts
x8 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x6, NCO w/SMG   88 pts
x6 Veteran Infantry Squad  VET, Rifle x6, Tough Fighters   85 pts

Co.B/326th AEB:
x7 Engineer Squad VET, Flamethrower, Rifle x3, SMG x1, NCO w/SMG   114 pts

Medium Mortar Team REG, 50 pts
Bazooka Team REG, 60 pts
57mm M1 Anti-Tank Gun REG,   75 pts

Support from 4th Armored Division:
M7 Priest   REG   160 pts.
M8 Greyhound Armoured Car   REG   135 pts
1 1/2 ton truck (transport)   INXP  31 pts

Orders die: 11



Example #2:

1944 Battle of the Bulge Theatre Selector

2nd Lieutenant   VET, pistol,   65 pts
x7 Paratroop Squad   VET,  Rifle x7, NCO w/SMG   94 pts
x7 Paratroop Squad   VET,  Rifle x7, NCO w/SMG   94 pts

x6 Engineer Squad REG, Flamethrower, Rifle x2, SMG x1, NCO w/SMG   86 pts
x7 Veteran Infantry Squad  VET, Rifle x7, Tough Fighters   98 pts
x9 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x8   95 pts
x9 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x8   95 pts

Medium MG, REG, 50 pts
Medium MG, REG, 50 pts
Medium Mortar Team  REG, 50 pts
Bazooka Team  REG, 60 pts
Bazooka Team  REG, 60 pts

105mm M3 Artillery,  REG,   70 pts
3/4 ton truck (transport)   REG  31 pts

Orders die: 14




Example #3:

1944 Normandy Theatre Selector

Pathfinders:
1st  Lieutenant   VET, pistol,   90 pts
x7 Ranger Squad   VET, BAR x1, Rifle x4, SMG x1, NCO w/SMG   123 pts
x7 Ranger Squad   VET, LMG x1, Rifle x3, SMG x1, NCO w/SMG   138 pts

Glider Troops:
x7 Engineer Squad   REG, Flamethrower, Rifle x4, NCO w/SMG   93 pts
x9 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x8   95 pts

Bazooka Team  REG, 60 pts
75mm M1A1 Artillery,  REG,   45 pts

Support from 4th Armored Division:
M18 Hellcat, HMG   REG   190 pts.
M8 Greyhound Armoured Car, HMG   REG   135 pts
3/4 ton truck (transport)   REG  31 pts

Orders die: 9




Example #4:

Gliders as straight-legs

2nd Lieutenant   VET, pistol,   65 pts
x9 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x7, NCO w/SMG     98 pts
x9 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x, NCO w/SMG     98 pts

x8 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x6, NCO w/SMG, ATGx7  104 pts
x8 Glider Squad   REG, BAR x1, Rifle x6, NCO w/SMG, ATGx7   104 pts
x7 Engineer Squad  REG, Flamethrower, Rifle x4, NCO w/SMG   93 pts

Bazooka Team REG, 60 pts
HMG, REG, 70 pts
Medium Mortar Team  REG, 50 pts

105mm M3 Artillery,  REG,   70 pts

Support  from 4th Armored Division:
M8 Greyhound Armoured Car, HMG   REG   135 pts
3/4 ton truck (transport)   REG  31 pts
3/4 ton truck (transport)   REG  31 pts

Orders die: 13


(Great stuff as always from Captain TO! Sound off on our forum, by clicking the link below, if you have anything to add. What about your own ideas for substituting units for those missing from the rules? Let us know! - Judson)


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