This week Andy Singleton of Volleyfire Painting looks at those two eastern front nemesis of the late war era, the Panzer IV Ausf H and the T34/85. Both of these tanks are very similar in performance, but also have a few interesting options as well.
The Panzer IV
Panzer IV’s were the longest serving vehicle of the German army, entering service in limited numbers in 1936. The Panzer IV was originally conceived as an infantry support tank, and was to supplement rather than replace the Panzer III. As WW2 went on however it was found that the Panzer III was incapable of being upgraded to carry the weaponry and armour necessary to fight against more modern allied armour.
Following the invasion of France it was deemed the Panzer IV would need a weapon with greater armour piercing capability, and this lead to the introduction of the long barrelled 75mm gun In the Ausf F2.
With the bigger gun came better armour and this lead through to the Ausf H in 1944, and the Panzer IV would remain a potent armoured vehicle until the end of WW2. The vehicle was still in service in the Middle East, notably with Syria until the mid-1960s. Around 9000 Panzer IV were built, although an exact figure is unknown.
In Bolt Action
The Panzer IV Ausf G is classed as a medium tank with 9+ armour, has a heavy anti-tank gun, and 2 medium machine guns. Schurzen is available as an option to improve protection against HEAT weapons from the side, and the whole thing weighs in at around 235 points, 245 with Schurzen at regular.
Although maybe lacking in the fancy features of other armies tanks or the masses of HE that others get, the Panzer IV H is a fantastic vehicle killer, that can also suppress and pin (As well as kill…) opposing infantry. Whilst a not insignificant amount of points, including one in your force will give you a good, tactically flexible, unit.
In a recent Tank Wars game with a friend, I found myself wishing I had a few more medium tanks rather than heavies, due to their greater utility (and more models on the table!). More than anything I wanted Panzer IV’s rather than it’s bigger brethren, as it’s weapon is still more than capable of killing allied armour, but for nearly half the points of a Tiger.
One of the most famous and recognisable tanks of all time, the T34/85 was designed to improve on the already excellent T34/76. Designed to keep pace with the introduction of heavier German armour, the T34/85 featured a totally new turret that increased the size of the crew to 5 men, and also allowed the fitting of a large and potent 85mm gun.
The T34/85 started to enter service in 1944, and went on to serve not only until the end of the Second World War, but through the Cold War’s various conflicts, and can still be found in several nations armouries around the world. Purely between March 1944 and May 1945 just under 18,000 T34/85’s were produced.
In Bolt Action
The Soviet Union book features a bewildering array of armoured vehicles, however few blend the balance of firepower and points effectiveness that the T34/85 does. At 235 points, just like the Panzer IV you get 2 medium machine guns, one of which is again coax with the main gun, which is a heavy anti-tank gun. The vehicle is also armour 9+. Why pick the T34/85 when there is the cheaper T34/76 version, or the beastly JS2? Well the 85 has a better anti-vehicle capability than the 76, and is significantly less points heavy than the JS2.
Tactically, I like to use my T34/85 to engage enemy armour with it’s main gun, and use it’s machine gun to suppress enemy infantry and try and put pins on. If there is no armour, I like to keep the tank moving and keep spreading pins onto whatever appears to be the largest threat at the time. The Armour 9 is good, not brilliant, but enough that you can afford to gamble and chance things.
It’s worth remembering too that the Soviets have tank riders, so if you are playing tank wars, or just don’t want to buy transports that aren’t a tank, then you have the option to use the T34 as a ride as well. It really depends how much you want to synergise your list with your force.
One last thing with the T34/85. It has the option to mount a flame thrower in the hull, replacing the medium machine gun and giving you a heavy Anti-tank gun with coaxial medium machine gun, and a hull mounted flamethrower. This turns a good vehicle into an utter monster, without being cripplingly expensive in points. The only drawback to this upgrade is the tank does become a little more vulnerable. In my opinion it’s well worth the trade-off. However, you may well lose some friends in the process of using one too!
Both of these vehicles allow you to add some real anti armour punch to a force without spending vast amount of points.
Andy used these 2 fantastic kits from the Warlord Bolt Action range, don’t forget that we have our wheels of steel deal where you can buy 3 vehicles and get a great 10% discount!