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Author Topic: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?  (Read 1490 times)

Offline Cypher226

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2023, 02:30:26 PM »
Seeing as this thread seems to be good for people who were there/have researched recently - in terms of kit (28mm) would the Empress Vietnam miniatures work for US troops in Europe in the mid-late 70's/early 80's?   Obviously missing a few things like TOW launchers but I'm sure I can come up with something.  Just thinking about the 1st Corps soviets I've seen muttered about in a few places and wondering if I already have a period-suitable US force to oppose them...?

Offline CapnJim

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2023, 04:43:44 PM »
Seeing as this thread seems to be good for people who were there/have researched recently - in terms of kit (28mm) would the Empress Vietnam miniatures work for US troops in Europe in the mid-late 70's/early 80's?   Obviously missing a few things like TOW launchers but I'm sure I can come up with something.  Just thinking about the 1st Corps soviets I've seen muttered about in a few places and wondering if I already have a period-suitable US force to oppose them...?

Unfortunately, not really.  The helmets and web gear work, but not the uniform.  The standard US Army uniform in the 70s and early 80s (pre-BDUs) was this:



The uniform depicted by the Empress Minis (which are very lovely minis, by the way) is jungle fatigues, such as this:



One note I will make is that they might work for units that transitioned to BDUs before they got issued the PASGT (kevlar) helmets.  In '82 nd '83 you could find units that had BDUs (a similar but not identical cut to jungle fatigues) and M1 helmets (with either leaf or woodland camo cover), but it was usually Army National Guard or Army Reserve units.  BUT, figures should have their shirts on, and no M79s - grenadiers would have had M203s. 

As for Evil Dave's original question, here goes with the Heavy Division assets.

Divisional Cavalry Squadron

This one saw the biggest organizational (and mission) change in the transition from the "H" series TO&E to the "J" series in the mid 80s.  Prior to the transition, the Div Armd Cav Sqdn had 3 armored cavalry troops and 1 air cavalry troop.  The armored cav troops had 3 platoons each of 3 M113s (2 with 4-5 dismount scouts, 2 M125 or M901 TOW vehicles, and 4 tanks (usually M60s).  The air cav troop had both scout and attack helicopters (usually paired into teams).  Their missions included reconnaissance, screening, economy of force, and direct engagement.   

In the mid 80s (roughly corresponding to when heavy divisions or separate brigades received Bradley IFVs/CFVs), this changed.  It changed from an armored cavalry squadron to a cavalry squadron, with 2 cavalry troops and 2 air troops.  The cavalry troops had 3 platoons of 6 M3s each, with 2 M3s at the troop HQ.  Each M3 in the platoons had 3 dismount scouts.  The air troops had 1 each of an aeroscout platoon, aeroweapons platoon, and aerorecon platoon.  The OH58s and AH1s/AH64s in the aeroscout and aeroweapons usually paired up, while the OH58s in the aerorecon platoon performed recon and screening missions.   This cav squadron's missions were restricted to screening and recon, as the economy of force and direct engagement missions were dropped (those were left to the Corps' Armored Cavalry Regiment).

Maneuver battalions would never see units from the Div Cav directly attached to them.  They were usually deployed out in front of the Division, or on its flanks.  Maneuver units could see them doing an passage of lines forward as they deploy out to their screening positions.  They could also see them as they conduct a passage of lines rearward, after they've found the enemy...

Divisional Artillery

The Divisional Artillery Battalion was similar in both TO&Es ("H" and "J").  3 batteries of 155mm howitzers (various models of the M109), and a battery of 8" howitzers (M110s).  Similarly to the battalion mortars, the Division Commander would assign priorities of fires to his subordinate brigades, who would re-assign it to their battalions, and so on down the line, depending on the tactical situation.  As with the mortars, these would be several clicks back from the FEBA, so would best be represented by off-board artillery.  A single maneuver company would rarely see more than one battery of DivArty in direct support, but it was possible.  Again, it shouldn't be automatic, but arty in direct support should be relatively easy to get.

Air Defense Artillery

Each heavy division had an ADA battalion.  I don't recall their exact TO&E, but they had M163 Vulcans (M113-mounted 20mm mini-guns) and tracked M48 Chapparal missile launchers (based on the Sidewinder).  These could be task-assigned out to brigades and battalions, so a tank/mech company might actually have one around (particularly the M163s).  In addition, mech companies could have Redeye or Stinger MANPADS teams attached to them from the ADA battalion (they would be in M151 jeeps, ,or maybe Humvees, depending on when in '85).

Aviation
Another big change in the switch in TO&Es.  This went from an aviation battalion to an aviation brigade.  Plus, while the Divisional Armored Cavalry Squadron in the H Series TO&E was a direct report to the Division Commander, the Division Cavalry Squadron in the J Series technically was a direct report to the Aviation Brigade Commander.  In real life, though, the Division commander usually retained operational control over the Div Can Sqdn.

Both TO&Es had a mix of transport and attack helicopters. but the J Series had more.  In both TO&Es, the AH1 and/or AH64 attack helos worked in teams with the OH58s.  Support of the maneuver units worked in a similar fashion to mortars and artillery.  The Division Commander would assign priority of support to the maneuver brigades, and so on.  However, sometimes the aviation units had their own separate missions, so aviation support was not always available.  As with arty, access to AHs flying in support should not be automatic.  Those in direct support should be relatively easy to access, those in indirect support, less so.

Divisional Engineer Battalion

I don't recall the TO&Es for these, but they had squads in 5-ton dump trucks and M728 CEVs.  They performed usual combat engineer missions (mine installation and removal, demolition, obstacle construction, etc).  They usually did their own thing, but it's very well possible that they could be operating in the same battlespace as the maneuver units.  They likely wouldn't be directly attached, but could be performing engineer mission in support of the maneuver unit. 


I hope this helps.  Holler of you have any other questions.  I'll do my best to answer them. 

And thank you for your kind words, Mr. Gnome...  :)
 




"Remember - Incoming Fire Has the Right-of-Way"

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2023, 11:02:41 PM »
Re the uniform? As usual Jim is spot on. OG 107 was the standard working uniform issued between the end of the Vietnam War and around 1982/83 when BDUs started to be issued.

There were some exceptions, SF, the 82nd Airborne and Rangers and other elements of the Rapid Deployment Forces had access to the RDF ERDL uniform which was based on the Vietnam era tropical fatigues but with straight breast pockets rather than the slanted ones. Period photos actually show a bit of mix with some of the Vietnam era  brown dominant ERDL uniforms being mixed in. As the pockets are mostly covered by webbing and are largely undistinguishable under the camo pattern camo at any distance you could get away with Vietnam era troops for the 82nd or Rangers except that.............

ALICE personal equipment largely replaced the M1956/ M1967 in the mid to late 1970s, although stocks of the older gear occasionally soldiered on.* Again you can proxy it by shaving off the bottom of the rear H straps at the rear and adding a single strap. You will also want to add the rather distinctive plastic entrenching tool cover and make a gas mask carrier out of green stuff. It's rare to see field equipped US infantry for the period not wearing the gas mask carrier. It's not present on the Empress or Gringo 40 models as it wasn't typically worn in Vietnam.

Weapons wise, it's M16A1s until the mid/late 1980s but with 30 round vice the old 20 round magazines. M203s as the grenade launcher and the M60 soldiers on throughout the period.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the US Army focussed on the 'Army of Excellence', which whilst it saw organisational, equipment and doctrinal change across the US Army had a very particular focus on Light Infantry and rapidly deployable forces. As an aside there's a slightly dry but none the less fascinating monograph on the subject available on the TRADOC website. Essentially the  US realised a need to react on a global scale and this was heightened after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Much of the new kit that came in the 1980s went to light formations first. In this way you'll see the 82nd Airborne in full PASGT gear, helmet and body armour in the 1983 invasion of Grenada. When the M249 SAW came in to service it went to Airborne and Light Infantry Divisions first. It took a while even there as there were considerable production delays and the need for retrofits to the early guns.

This meant that a lot of older kit soldiered on in Europe and also in CONUS with mechanised formations. To this end it's possible to see troops in BDUs with M1 tin pots right into the mid 1980s.

So, if you were prepared to be fairly specific and perhaps squint a bit you could use Vietnam era for some troops in the late 1970s (Airborne, RDF) and the early 1980s (some Mech formations in BDUs and tin pots through to about 1985/6 and of course National Guard).

Personally I'd go with the Under Fire Miniatures range for that, in fact that's just what I have done. Uniforms and equipment are correct, the difference between RDF ERDL and BDU's is fairly minor and mostly paint related. They are , somewhat strangely carrying M16A2s but even that goof can be remedied with a dab of white glue to the forestocks and some paint to hide the ribbing.

I have used some Vietnam figures to round out my early 1980s era US Army platoon but I went with the Rubicon Vietnam figures and some alternative arms, plus a couple of slightly modified Gringo 40 figures. The plastic Rubicon figures are much easier to convert as you add the webbing individually to each figure yourself and plastic is much easier to slice with a hobby knife.

Sorry, somewhat long-winded answer.


* Bits of the older gear seem to have been popular in the field. The butt pack was a common addition from older gear. God knows why.  The Australian Army had the same God awful arse beating bit of kit and many sensible chaps, me included, dispensed with it in favour of old Bren pouches which didn't bounce all over the shop when you ran and held about the same amount of kit as you would actually use in the bum bag.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2023, 11:13:07 PM by carlos marighela »
Em dezembro de '81
Botou os ingleses na roda
3 a 0 no Liverpool
Ficou marcado na história
E no Rio não tem outro igual
Só o Flamengo é campeão mundial
E agora seu povo
Pede o mundo de novo

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2023, 03:54:19 AM »
Good point about the always present thigh hugging protective mask carrier. I hated that thing.

However I liked the old butt pack. I did not find it flapped around much when secured properly. I used it mainly to carry my poncho liner and field stripped MREs.
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Offline carlos marighela

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2023, 05:29:59 AM »
MREs? Lucky sods. Save for the occasional dehydrated packs (uncommon due to water consumption) everything we got in 24 hour ration packs was tinned, like the old US C rations, so it weighed a lot in addition to tasting like shit.  My wife stunned me the other day when she brought home a tin of 'off brand' spam and demanded a misto quente, a toasted cheese sandwich, with this shit added. The sight and smell brought back all the ugly memories of 'luncheon meat Type 2'. About 85% grease.  Type 1 was the exactly same but in a mercifully smaller tin IIRC. The dog eats better.  :'(

Wife has learned her lesson though. lol

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2023, 10:07:26 AM »
MREs? Lucky sods. Save for the occasional dehydrated packs (uncommon due to water consumption) everything we got in 24 hour ration packs was tinned, like the old US C rations, so it weighed a lot in addition to tasting like shit.  My wife stunned me the other day when she brought home a tin of 'off brand' spam and demanded a misto quente, a toasted cheese sandwich, with this shit added. The sight and smell brought back all the ugly memories of 'luncheon meat Type 2'. About 85% grease.  Type 1 was the exactly same but in a mercifully smaller tin IIRC. The dog eats better.  :'(

Wife has learned her lesson though. lol

I never tried Australian rations but I have had German, French, Italian and British back in the day. I preferred MREs. But for some reason I recall them tasting better back then than the ones I tried a couple of years back with Mrs. GG. Neither of us were too impressed. Fancier sounding menu items but barring a few exceptions tasted worse. I need to try some of the contemporary German ones at some point if I can get my hands on them.

Offline Cypher226

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Re: mid-80s US Mechanized and Armored Company contents?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2023, 11:09:21 AM »
Thanks to Carlos and CapnJim. 

I hadn't appreciated the uniforms were so different!  Maybe I need to look for a different hypothetical (no matter how seemingly bizarre  lol).  Interesting stuff though.

 

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