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#1 Mark 1

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 08:27 PM

I have recently built for myself a company of WW2 French Motorcycle troops.

 

In researching, I have come upon some challenges in the rules and the data book.  But first, to inject a bit of fun into what might otherwise be a dry discussion, I will offer up some wholly gratuitous eye candy.

 

French-Motorcycle-Company1.jpg

Here is my French motorcycle company mounted.

 

French-Motorcycle-Company3.jpg

I used GHQ German Motorcycle+Sidecar models. This is evidently an older GHQ casting, and the helmets are not particularly distinct, so the kit-bashing was minimal to get the look I wanted.  I did add magazines to the tops of the MG34s to represent FM.24/29s.  And in most cases I actually clipped off the MGs altogether, as most of the sidecars carried riflemen.

 

French-Moto-Company-Dismounted1.jpg

Here the troopers are dismounted and moving into action.  As  you can see, some of the Motorcycle+Sidecar combos got not only the MGs, but even the troopers clipped off.  Figured I needed at least one representation of parked motorcycles, as the troops didn't carry their bike around with them as they fought.

 

The Motorcycles have been in my "to-be-painted" bin for years. Didn't know, when I bought them, exactly how I was going to use them. Tried to fit some kit-bashed back-seat riders onto the motorcycles (without the sidecars) to see if I could model them as Italian motorcycles (side cars were rare in Italian units).  But that didn't work. Considered using them for Russian motorcycle troops. But in the end, the French won out, primarily because, well, they're just so interesting and provide such a distinctive edge to my French force.

 

And I had a whole bunch of extra French infantry.  My 1940 continental French force was done years ago, using H&R figures, and were based for fire-team level gaming. As I am now wholly committed to squad-based rules (You know MP2?  Good set of rules. You should try 'em!) that means I have a little box of "extra" French infantry figures.  Well, they got some touch-up painting, some re-basing, and I added a command stand with a GHQ officer and a 60mm mortar team (extra GHQ Romanians I had sitting around) and voila!

 

AM50-and-Motorcycle-BW-4.jpg

They make a great companion unit to my Laffly AM-50 Armored Cars for Tunisian gaming, or to my Panhard AMD-178 Armored Cars for France 1940 games.

 

French-AM50-with-motorcycles-in-Tunisia.

Because, well, they actually DID work together.

 

But they will be awkward to use under the rules.  Which is actually the reason for this thread. So now that I'm done with the eye candy, on to the real issues...  in the next post.

 

-Mark

(aka: Mk 1)


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#2 Mark 1

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 08:56 PM

The challenges are two -- first the organization of the infantry, second the representation of them when they are mounted.

 

The French motorcycle platoons in DLMs and DLCs (part of the Dragons Portes -- motorized dragoons) and in reconnaissance units (RAM - Regiment Auto Mitrilleuse, and some other formations) were typically comprised of two 10-man squads, and a 6-man command team.  Then in most cases the company was two platoons, with a 4 man company command team and a 4 man 60mm mortar section under the company HQ.

 

While a 4 man team is clearly a support stand, a 6 man team is kind of right on the cusp of whether it's a full sized squad or a half-squad.  I have elected to go with the half-squad just to give me some level of distinction between the them.  I'll probably regret it at game time, but so be it.

 

The 6 man command team had the commander and 5 riflemen.  OK, clear enough, I will use the Rifle Support line (or Staff line, they are the same stats).  One of them had rifle-grenades. Hmm. Aren't any stats for a Rifle Support with Rifle Grenade.   Well, maybe I can fudge it and just say these guys ain't got one.

 

The 10 man squads had 2 LMG gunners, and one rifle grenadier, as well as 7 regular riflemen (of whom two served as gunners' no. 2s, and 2 served as ammo porters).  There were only 2 squads per platoon, but these squads had a lot of firepower!  Well OK, maybe 2 1/2 squads, but you get my point.  Problem is there aren't any stats for a French squad with 2 LMGs, and of course there does not seem to be any impact from rifle grenades (which the French used a lot) on the stats of any of the French infantry.

 

I'm thinking of adding a "house rule" as a new line on the upgrades, with a +1 at 2" and 6" ranges for squads or teams with a rifle grenadier, to reflect the extra firepower of HE-Frag raining down at medium and close ranges.  Or maybe just at 6". The real value of the rifle grenades was at about 100 - 250m range by French theory, except when assaulting infantry in trenches and buildings, when they had value even down to 50m or less.

 

Another alternative approach would be for the platoon CO to simply bring all the rifle grenadiers together under his own command. This was not an uncommon expedient, from my readings. In that case I don't need to think about how the grenadiers affect the squads. But then I'd need stats for a support team with 3 rifle grenade launchers!  That's probably even more challenging to figure out.

 

(As an aside, combining the rifle grenadiers was a tactic that French infantry companies trained in, at both platoon and company levels.  If a company commander consolidated his grenadiers it was taught that he could produce an impenetrable waterfall of grenades (15-20 grenades per 10 seconds) at ~150m to stall any single avenue of attack on a company position.)

 

But grenadiers or no, I need a 2 LMG French squad.

 

And then, I have the whole problem of how the rules treat motorcycles. Because in general, vehicles are handled on a one-to-one unit scale, while infantry are a one-to-squad unit scale. This leads to some challenges. 

 

A 10 man squad rode on 5 motorcycle+sidecar combos. If I treat them as separate stands, well not only do I need a lot more models (that's a solvable issue), but I also have a challenge at game time.  What happens when one squad has a motorcycle combo shot up before the troops dismount?  And then the next squad has 3 or 4 of it's motorcycle combos shot up?  Or even if the motorcycles just get separated because, well, after the first squad got one of them shot up, the rest of them decided to scatter for cover and now the motorcycles are not travelling in neat little 5 bike sets?

 

I suffered something similar in one game where I said that the Italian Sahariana I provided to an adversary could dismount foot patrols at one squad per two Sahariana vehicles.  Well, that seemed fine in theory, but in the game they were too far spread out, and then one of the vehicles was destroyed before the foot patrols tried to re-mount, and I was left with a real mess  in managing how it all worked.

 

So ... I am going to play my motorcycles with a house rule that they are like the infantry squads that ride them ... that two combos on a stand = a full squad worth of motorcycles, and it has a size of 2, so that 2 kills are needed to eliminate it.  If it takes one kill, then the squad dismounts at reduced strength just as if the squad had taken one kill.

 

Whadya all think?  If you were gaming against me, would you find any objections?  Other than, of course, "well it ISN'T IN THE RULES THAT WAY!"

 

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)


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#3 Kenny Noe

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Posted 25 April 2020 - 01:49 PM

Mark,

 

Hello, Apologies I haven't "lurked" on the forum in a couple weeks and let this percolate....

 

I think you have a great idea.  We'll wake Bob up and get a better more accurate answer.  I even bet he can generate the number using the good ol' MP formula magic.

 

On the note of house rules.  We LOVE'EM.  Some rules don't like allow house rules. But we encourage folks to make MP "their" ruleset.  We want to encourage folks tp just play!!

 

I'll ding Bob, for input.

 

Thanks



#4 Bob Benge

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Posted 25 April 2020 - 04:01 PM

Hi Mark,

 

I really like your house rule and we should consider this for the Rules. Write up a little blurb ala Mein Panzer Rule speak and post it. Include the Section you'd like to see it in. You may want to consider bicycles being treated similarly. Looks like this will be an update to Section 14 Transport Drop-In on page 14.2 Cycles.

 

I would note in the Saharianas' case you mentioned, I would have treated it as a half squad in each vehicle. 

 

So I did a little number crunching with my Infantry Calculator and here is what I have com up with for your French Motorcycle Rifle Squad (see attached picture for better view):

 

Move Type        Size ROF Max   OM1 OM2 OM3 OV HTH     DM      2”      6’        12”     18”     24”     36”    48”  BPV

2 / 3   Rifle/LMG 2.0    3*       24''   0      -3      -6     0   5 / 2  -2 / -4  13 / 7  12 / 7   8 / 5    6 / 4   4 / 2   - / -    - / -    33

 

Attached File  Capture.JPG   19.96KB   0 downloads

 

What do you think?

 

This includes 2 LMGs and Rifle Grenades. The Rifle Grenades bumps up the 2" and 6" Firepower Values by 2 each as this is what I used for grenades. Test  them out and let me know what you think. I may add them to the French in the WW2 Databook if they work out ok.

 

P.S. Loved the pics and data! :)


~ Bob Benge ~
ODGW Designer
Product Manager - Mein Panzer

#5 Mark 1

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Posted 28 April 2020 - 04:31 PM

Kenny:

 

Thanks for "waking" Bob up on my behalf.

 

> On the note of house rules.  We LOVE'EM.  Some rules don't like allow house rules. But we encourage folks to make MP "their" ruleset.

 

Yep. I've spent more than a little time exploring some of the house rules others in these fora have suggested. And I fear no ODGW reproach when I suggest my own. In fact I rather lie that it's even in the rules, right there in print, that when a conflict arises, gamers should just throw the dice to decide which way it goes and get on with it.

 

However I have on more than one occasion gamed with someone, as I'm sure others have, who treats rules like canonical law.  Doesn't happen to me too often, as I largely filter for those who are willing to accept "whatever gives us the best playing of a historical approximation" ... with any folks that I invite to game with at my home I've always managed a friendly casual attitude towards the rules.  But I don't always find all of my games at home. And my interest in not using the rules as some sort of diktat also extends to me to not want to issue diktats that others must accept my casual attitude. 

 

But I do feel I am on firmer ground if others whom I consider reasonable fellows have reviewed my house rules and pronounced them "reasonable"...


 

Bob:

 

Thanks for the squad stats.  They look quite usable to me.

 

> I really like your house rule and we should consider this for the Rules. Write up a little blurb ala Mein Panzer Rule speak and post it.

 

I shall.  Have it up in a day or three.

 

> I would note in the Saharianas' case you mentioned, I would have treated it as a half squad in each vehicle.

 

That was the lesson I took from the experience, and I can see that it is the right solution when you have one squad split between two vehicles. Now I have half-squad dismount teams for my Saharianas (Sahariani?  Sahariennes?), as well as for my US Armored Cav / Recon vehicles.  But I could see the same problem coming back with new twists, and not resolvable with that approach, once I considered having one squad split across 5 vehicles!

 

Hence my house rule proposal.

 

-Mark

(aka: Mk 1)


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#6 Mark 1

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 10:33 PM

Bob:

 

In digging a bit further on the topic of the French Motorcycles Infantry squads, I have found that this same squad organization, with 2 LMGs and 1 VB grenadier, was also used in general by the motorized Dragons Portés (the truck-mounted dragoons). So it is applicable not only to motorcycle troops but to virtually all the infantry of the DLMs (Division Légère Mécanique -- Light Mech Divisions).  This with the caveat that the second LMG of the squad was mounted to the truck during travel, but dismounted for the squad's use upon de-bussing.

 

The Dragons Portés also used the reduced squad with no LMGs but with VB grenadier as the structure of the Platoon command squad.  But the dragoons used a 7 man command squad, while the Motorcyclists used a 6 man command squad (when you use motorcycle+sidecar as your mount, it's important to have even numbers in your squads!).

 

Thought you might like to have that information for the French forces in the Data Book. 

 

Here is a French source, in English, with detailed OOBs for the 1940 campaign:

http://enpointe.chez-alice.fr/dlm.html

 

-Mark


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