The Little Engine that could… Pack Some Hurt!! Armoured Trains in bolt Action

The Little Engine that could… pack some hurt!

Armoured Trains in Bolt Action

 

Recently I posted an article on the tactical use of railways in military warfare in general, and specifically in WW2. I noted that as soon as railways came into widespread use, their military application was realized. Not long after that  the potential was realized that one could use railways to do more than just move men and weapon but instead it could be used as a weapon. Again, it was the American Civil War that brought us the first use of armed trains; their use was both to quickly react to enemy incursions as well to protect the trains themselves. Lastly their guns could provide mobile fire support to field operations (so long as the railways was within range).

Armoured trains were employed by the British in the Second Boer War, where the British use ad-hoc armoured trains, armed with artillery, to protect their vital rail lines and to spearhead their relief operations to the encircled garrisons deep in Boer territory.

“What is that sailor out in the middle of the veldt?” you ask? The most modern artillery pieces available to the British at the time were naval pieces; hence the sailors out in the boonies.

The Great War saw the use of armoured trains, particularly on the Eastern front, due to the large expanses of terrain that allowed for far more mobility in operations than did the static Western Front.

This model is an Austro-Hungarian model, seemingly festooned with MMgs.

After the Armistice, fighting continued throughout Europe and armoured trains were employed by all side of the Russian Civil War and the Russo-Polish war.

The Polish were ardent in their use of armoured trains, which was sensible due to the flat terrain of much of Poland and the need to respond to threats rapidly to both the east and west.

In World War 2 the armoured train was still in the inventory of many combatants and was used in varying degrees of effectiveness.

On the lower tier of success was this armoured behemoth, the narrow-gauge British armoured train employed defending the Realm, Post Dunkirk. No doubt once this photo was released, Hitler tore up the plans for Operation Sea Lion and convinced himself that invading the USSR was by far an easier task.

yes, that is true “narrow gauge” track, about 23″ in width….

The Poles employed their trains to fight the two-sided invasion by Germany and the Soviets, and several of their trains were then re-purposed by the Germans.

Most armoured train usage in WW2 was on the eastern front, where, as in WW1, the large land mass required secure rail systems to move men and material and were vulnerable to local attacks.

A quick look at Western intelligence report on the use of German Armoured trains is found at lone sentry (a great spot for finding actual “real time” WW2 reports)

https://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt09/armored-train.html

 

Armoured trains continued into use post war; the French employed armoured trains in their fight with the Viet Minh in the early 1950s.

Armoured Trains in Bolt Action

I am only aware of one significant mention of Armoured trains in the plethora of Bolt Action books; that is in the “Germany Strikes” campaign book.

In addition to those rules, I have some suggested rules for using armoured trains in the game.

These suggestions are based on the “Vehicle Design System” which is an excellent supplement to determine point values for vehicles and weapon systems not specifically noted in game manuals.

When using any train in the game we must remember a few limitations; and because of these be a little forgiving, point wise, with those deploying trains.

  • The trains rely on the locomotive for mobility. Seven railway cars may be a potent force but if they lose their mobility, all cars are essentially “immobilized”. As such I would suggest a house rule that if a train comes on as a “reinforcement”; the entire train is allowed to enter the board before an ambush can be triggered (otherwise all the cars and their passengers would be effectively removed form the game if the locomotive was immobilized at the table’s edge. This isn’t farfetched, as should the locomotive be immobilized, the troops on the train would still get out and get to the battle; this rule just allows for that.
  • That passengers on the train only cost one point per man; to reflect the limitations of the train – it is unable to go anywhere off the rail line; thus it lacks the ability of most transports to choose where to deploy the troops therein.
  • Why is the train only given an armour of 7+, you ask? Armoured trains still had to be able to move; armour that was too heavy would affect the trains mobility and capacity. Armour 7+ reflects that they generally had armoured well under an inch in thickness but are armoured on all sides.

Armoured Locomotive

Few armoured trains were purpose built; most were repurposed for this role with bolted on armoured package. This locomotive is that sort of vehicle; the basic locomotive has been covered with armour sheets and the crew are protected  from most threats.

This is an armoured 7+ vehicle, value 50 points, armoured all round + 10.

It has no armament.

No passenger capacity

It is required to have any attached cars be mobile.

Movement – wheels vehicle; tracks count as “road” therefore 48” move, 24” advance, no penalty for rearward movement

Cost = 60 points (regular)

Armoured Flak vehicle

Trains are particularly vulnerable to aircraft attacks; unlike vehicles or infantry, trains can never hide now move into cover when enemy  aircraft are overhead. Therefore the addition of anti-aircraft weapons to help deter air attack is prudent.

  • Open topped,  armoured all round
  • No independent movement (requires locomotive)
  • No passenger capacity

This is an armoured 7+ vehicle BUT has no mobility on its own. Therefore the value 50 points is reduced by 15 points (price of a standard “tow” vehicle)

  • Cost = 35 points – 5 for open top, + 10 armoured all round = 40 points for basic car

 + Armament

  • 4 x 20mm cannon – 360-degree arc = 40 + (30 x 4) light auto cannon = 160 points
    • Crew of three

  • 1 x 37mm AA – 360 degrees arc = 40 + 45 (heavy autocannon) = 85 points
    • Crew of four

Armoured flat car

Armoured flat cars were often placed at the front of the train, to allow troops on that car to spot threats ahead on the track (explosives planted; ambushes in place etc.) as well as to carry armoured vehicles to be unloaded and spearhead a quick reaction force)

  • Open topped, , armoured all round
  • No independent movement (requires locomotive)

This is an armoured 7+ vehicle BUT has no mobility on its own. Therefore the value 50 points is reduced by 15 points (price of a standard “tow” vehicle)

  • Cost = 35 points – 5 for open top, + 10 armoured all round = 40 points + 20 troop capacity ( 1 point each) or can carry AFV up to 9+ armour
  • Cost = 60 points

Armoured Gun car

The armoured gun car carries a heavy punch; a light howitzer in a closed turret as well as various weapon packages, including fixed machine guns to deal with ground threats and various anti-aircraft armament, also brutally able to deal with ground forces.

  • No independent movement (requires locomotive)
  • No passenger capacity,  armoured all round 7+
  • Cost = 45 points + 50 points light howitzer frontal and side arcs of fire + option of one of the following (covered MMG position; 2 X MMGs, one to each side, each covering one side arc. This position does NOT rotate.
  • Closed top
  • Cost + 20 points ( 2 x MMGs @ 10 points each)
  • single 20mm AA gun. Open topped position Cost + 30 points, 360-degree rotation; Crew = 3 men
  • quad 20mm AA guns, open topped; Cost 4 x 30 = 120 points, 360 rotation; Crew = 3 men

Therefore the total cost per option would be

  • Armoured gun car with w x fixed MMGs = 45 + 50 + 20 = 115 points

 

  • Armoured gun car with single light auto cannon = 45 + 50+30 = 125 points

  • Armoured gun car with quad light auto cannon = 45 + 50 + 120 = 215 points

Armoured Transport/Command Wagon

The armoured trains often carried fully enclosed cars for both HQ units as well as an infantry quick reaction force. These cars could be turned into mobile bunkers by mounting machine guns firing to the side arcs.

  • No independent movement (requires locomotive)
  • Passenger capacity – up to 24 men, armoured all round ( 1 point per man)

This is an armoured 7+ vehicle BUT has no mobility on its own. Therefore the value 50 points is reduced by 15 points (price of a standard “tow” vehicle) + 10 armoured all round = 45 points basic car

  • The basic car can carry up to 24 men.
  • It can be armed with up to 4 MMGs in fixed positions firing to the side arc (maximum of 2 per side). However, each MMG chosen reduces passenger capacity by 6 men, to account for the room required by the MMGs, their crew and their ammo.

There the basic car costs

  • Armoured transport / command car with no armaments, transport only
  • 45 points , + capacity for 24 men @ 1 points each = 69 points

  • Armoured transport / command car with one MMG per side (total 2 MMGs)
  • 45 points , +  2 x MMGS 2 x 10 = 20 points, + capacity for 12 men @ 1 points each = 77 points
  • Armoured transport / command car with two MMG per side (total 4 MMGs)
  • 45 points , +  4 x MMGS 2 x 10 = 40 points = 85 points

The .stls

I purposely modeled these to be generic; the armoured train would accurately fit German, Soviet and Polish armies, as well as any other Central European army. Most armoured trains were “one-offs”; developed with great latitude regarding design and weapon placement.

I worked from a wide range of photos and blueprints I found online, as well as many online articles both in English and translated from Russian.

The package contains all five .stls;

  • The armoured locomotive with removable roof (can be glued on if you wish)
  • The armoured flat car
  • The armoured flak car, complete with the quad 20mm and the model 1939 37mm AA gun
  • The armoured command car, complete with four MMG barrels that friction fit for easy removal and replacement as needed in the recesses of the car’s side. No need to glue them in unless you wish to do.
  • The armoured gun car, complete with turret with light howitzer and the removable MMG position and a single Breda 20mm AA gun (the quad 20mm of the flak car fits the recess as well and can be used in this position)
  • All the guns – single light auto cannon, single heavy auto cannon and quad light auto cannon – are interchangeable; the mounting nubs are universal.

The armoured car fits on the track system included int bundle or as a separate package. The track system is identical to the one used for the civilian train system; both are interchangeable.

The two packages (train cars alone and train cars with track) are available here:

Armoured train complete – no track:

https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/28-mm-armoured-train-locomotive-and-four-car-stls-no-track/

Armoured train complete with track system

https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/28-mm-armoured-train-locomotive-and-four-car-stls-and-track-system/

As some may prefer the civilian train, but with a flak car, I have loaded the flak car, complete with the two weapon options (Quad 20mm and single model 1939 37mm AA gun) as a separate file.

https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/28mm-railway-flak-car/

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