Now that's the obligatory trash-talk out of the way - on to the list.
So when you've already managed to sneak a flame-throwing tank into your platoon, where do you go next? The answer - get an even bigger tank! Or tank-destroyer, to be exact. The lifting of the vehicle embargo this month means that I expect to be facing plenty of allied armour in my next few games, and in Italy British and American tanks means pretty much one thing and one thing only. Shermans! (Or... Shermi?)
Fortunately, mid-war Shermans were notoriously flammable death-traps. I'll leave Darren to bore with you the relative merits of wet vs. dry stowage (apparently it doesn't just mean whether the tank commander left it outside with the hatch open all night), but suffice to say I'm looking forward to brewing up many many 'Ronsons' this month with ATG fire. All together now: "Lights first time, every time!"
No doubt to the surprise of many, Italian tank-destroyers aren't totally terrible. Particularly not in the Sicilian and Italian theatre, where they get access to a number of vehicles boasting super-heavy anti-tank guns when the best the Brits and Yanks can usually field are mediums on quite fragile hulls. One Italian tank-destroyer, the imaginatively named Semovente 105/25 (literally "automotive 105/25", as in gun calibre), was arguably the best armoured vehicle produced by Italy during the war and boasted a gun even bigger than the German 88. An excellent tank destroyer, the Germans seized the means of production after the Italian Armistice and continued to churn them out, making twice as many as the Italians ever did. With DV 9+ as well and no drawbacks like "rivetted construction", the 'Bassotto' (or 'dachshund') would be more than a match for a Sherman, with the only downside being the lack of the HE special rule that allied tanks benefit from. At 300 points, it seemed like a shoe-in.
|Urgh... more tank camo. Why didn't I play Allies?|
And yet... I started to worry after last month that I'd been a little too gamey with the introduction of the flamethrower-toting L6/40. Now that the others are finally starting to get some tanks of their own on the table, it would seem churlish to suddenly piss on their parade with a tank-destroyer that has both a better gun and better armour. I should probably just pick one of those and at least give them a change to beat me. Plus, in my mind I had always thought it would be good if the composition of my first, second and third platoons reflected to some extent the changes in the Italian forces as the campaign went on. In particular, my eye had been caught by another, far more ludicrous entry in 'Armies of Italy and the Axis' - the Semovente 90/53.
Messers. Cavatore, Priestley et al claim that it seriously surprised during the landings at Sicily, but I'm not entirely sure that wasn't just shock at the fact that the thing actually worked. Essentially consisting of a 90mm ATG attached to a specially lengthened tank chassis which was exactly as long as it (no-one stopped to consider adding, for instance, a crew-compartment?!) this monster was initially intended to help stop the red tide on the Eastern Front, but never actually made it there. Which is a shame, because there is quite a strong chance that the Soviet tankers might have died laughing. Open-topped, with exceptionally thin armour and the vulnerable special rule, there are only two things going for the 90/53. One, it still boasts a super-heavy ATG for 75 points less than the Bassotto. Two, no-one is going to be able to accuse my list of having a whiff of fromage about it this month...
|Il Cannone Vetro!|
And what am I going to do with the 75 points I've saved? Well having seen the motivating power of artillery when pointed at units who've gone to ground in buildings, and to make up for the lack of Axis HE from vehicles, I've decided to field a medium howitzer - a 100/17, to be precise. Handily, I already possess the model, unpainted, from when I was acquiring Italians for North Africa. Together these account for 300 of my 500 points, and with the addition of a spotter for another 10 points both compliment the defensive style of play which I'll be using if only we ever played a scenario where the Italian special rule kicked in!
Tactics wise, both the Semovente 90/53 and the 100/17 artillery piece will likely deployed in cover at the beginning of the game, with the tank-destroyer hull down and on ambush and the howitzer firing indirectly from behind a building with the aid of the spotter. No doubt this will leave them open to air or artillery bombardment, but given we all experience the 1 in 6 chance of a blunder on those roles 9 times out of 10, I'll gladly let any FAO or FOO take a pot at them! Alternatively I might look to bring the Semovente 90/53 in from outflank to ruin a Sherman's day, but given I only expect it to get one shot in any game before it gets blown apart then it might be best if I don't risk the -1 to hit penalty for moving.
|Is anybody else looking at this and thinking 'shit Imperial Basilisk'?|
Finally I bought another full strength veteran Paracadutisti squad, and then spent the remainder of my points to add (that's "add" as in an additional expense Darren, not changing around anything I'd already bought!) as many Panzerfausts as I can to each squad for a spot of tank hunting.
And that's month two done. Everyone better bloody well bring armour this month...!