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The Pig was a simple wheeled armoured personnel carrier, created by fitting an armoured body to a four-wheel drive 1-ton Humber truck. It was intended to be used only as an interim vehicle, until purpose-built APCs were available. However, when the British Army was deployed to Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles, some form of armoured transport vehicle was needed. The Pig was deemed ideal for this purpose, since it in no way resembles a tank – it simply looks like what it is, an armoured truck.
As the Troubles continued, a Mark II version of the Pig was introduced. This had improved armour and heavy duty bull bars for breaking through barricades. Other specialised variants were created for use in Northern Ireland: the “Flying Pig” had fold-out riot screens on the sides and roof. The “Holy Pig” had a roof hatch surrounded by a perspex screen. The “Kremlin Pig” had wire screens for protection against shaped charges (particularly the RPG-7). The “Squirt Pig” was fitted with a water cannon. The “Foaming Pig” had a foam generator to minimise the effect of explosive devices. The “Felix Pig” was modified for use by use by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.
The Pig was also used as the base vehicle for the Hornet, an earlier entry in this series.
The OT-64 is a wheeled armoured personnel carrier, developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a joint project between Poland and Czechoslovakia. It is similar in concept and design to the Soviet BTR-60, but with some important differences. The OT-64 had overhead armour protection, had twin rear doors for entry and exit, and was powered by a single diesel engine. Like the BTR-60, it was air-portable and amphibious.
The original versions were not armed, but were later equipped with 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine guns, some with an armoured shield fitted around the machine gun. These early models could carry 18 men in addition to the two crew. The later OT-64A was fitted with a small turret, mounting 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine guns. Later, some vehicles had the 14.5mm machine gun replaced with a 12.7mm NSV anti-aircraft machine gun. The turret reduced the troop carrying capacity to eight.
All models were fitted with NBC protection, night vision equipment, and a central tyre pressure regulation system, allowing the driver to control tyre pressure whilst driving. They have a top speed of around 60mph, and a range of 440 miles.
This year, I played the Russians (I’d planned to play the Russians last year, but due to last-minute changes, I played the Andreivian Turks instead). Mark Kniveton provided much of the Russian forces, and was my co-commander. On day 1, we had a force of naval infantry that were trying to break out of a small beachhead on the coast at Mdinar. We were opposed by Andreivian government forces, ably commanded by Ian Shaw.
The light armoured vehicles didn’t get far out of the town before being destroyed by the government forces. The government’s hotch-potch of vehicles (BMP-1s, emplaced T-34/85 turrets, and a T-62) were able to make short work of the Russian BMP-2s, BRDM-2 and PT-76. The supporting armour (a platoon of T-80s) fared better, but were wary of advancing too close to the enemy infantry without their own infantry support.
Even government air strikes and reinforcements (in the form of a platoon of JS-IIIs) couldn’t stop the relentless Russian armour. When the light faded, the government forces used the cover of darkness to retreat. This allowed the naval infantry to head to the airport to support the VDV that had previously captured it, in their effort to take the bridges leading to Tcherbevan.
On day 2, Mark and I commanded the VDV forces that had previously secured Tcherbevan International Airport. We had orders to take the bridges leading to the city centre. With a platoon of BMDs and a pair of ASU-85s, we set out to extend the hand of friendship and offer support. We were, after all, in the country to offer help to a neighbour.
We soon discovered that the railway marshalling yards were home to a band of fanatics in government uniforms. Unsure whether or not they had anti-tank weapons, the armour held back, providing supporting fire to the brave paratroopers as they charged in.
The fanatics called for air support from the Andreivian government. On the previous day, a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot had been driven off by Andreivian air defenses. Today, a well-aimed SA-7 missile from a brave Russian paratrooper shot the Andreivian Jaguar down. Being fanatics, most of the defenders refused to run, and stayed their ground until they were over-run and captured.
Elsewhere, NATO had also called in air support. Realising the awesome efficacy of the Russian air defences, they first reached an agreement with the Russians. Thanks to this agreement, their aircraft and helicopters were able to continue their mission without hinderance.
The government provided further support, in the form of a Type 61 tank on the far side of the river and a gunboat mounting a T-34/85 turret. These proved rather more effective than the air support, destroying a BMD.
By the end of the game, the railway marshalling yards had been cleared of fanatics. VDV troopers had taken possession of one end of one bridge.
Like last year, it was an excellent weekend. The gaming was fun, and the food at the local pub (the Royal Hotel) was both excellent and plentiful. My thanks to everyone involved. Hopefully I will see you all next year
The ZSU-23-4 entered service in 1966, as a replacement for the much less effective ZSU-57-2. The ZSU-57-2 mounted a pair of 57mm autocannons in an open-topped turret. Lacking a radar, it was a clear-weather system, only able to engage targets that the operator could see. The open-topped turret left the crew vulnerable to artillery fire, and there was no NBC protection.
The new system’s 23mm autocannons are much smaller, leading to a shorter effective range. However, the combination of four barrels instead of two, and the very high rate of fire, greatly increases the probability of a hit. It is fitted with a radar, NBC protection and a fully enclosed turret, thus addressing the major limitations of the earlier vehicle. It also has infra-red night-fighting equipment, but unusually for Soviet AFVs, lacks an amphibious capability. It was the standard self-propelled AA gun throughout the Warsaw Pact, and has been widely exported elsewhere. In 1982, the 2S6 Tunguska started to replace it in Soviet service, but some Shilkas are still in service with the Russian army, and variants are still being produced for export.
The ZSU-23-4 has seen service in the middle east, during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and the 1990 Gulf War. During the Soviet invasion and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan, it was used in a ground support role. The high elevation capability was found to be extremely useful in the mountainous terrain. During the urban fighting in Grozny in 1995, it was used in a ground support role once more, its high elevation useful for reaching tall buildings. Unfortunately, its thin armour made it vulnerable at the short ranges characterised by fighting in a built-up area, issues which led to the development of the BMPT and BMPT-2.
The chassis is based on a modified ASU-85, and it has an enclosed turret holding four water-cooled 2A7 23mm guns (the gun mounting is designated AZP-23). The four autocannons are fed from seperate belts, and so can theoretically each fire different ammunition. In practice, however, the normal load for each belt is three OFZT incendiary fragmentation rounds followed by one BZT armour-piercing tracer round. A Gun Dish radar is fitted for acquisition and tracking, connected to an analogue computer for fire control. The radar can acquire targets at ranges of up to 20km, and track them at ranges up to 18km. Backup optical sights are also fitted, for use in heavy ECM environments.
The crew of four consists of driver, radar operator, gunner, and commander. The driver’s compartment is in the front, with the other three crew members in the large central turret. The engine compartment is at the rear of the vehicle.
The large number of electronic vacuum tubes in the ZSU-23-4 fire-control computer generate a great deal of heat, which caused problems with cooling. In 1966, the ZSU-23-4V entered service, which had changes to the venting covers and removed the heat exchanger from the turret roof. In 1970, the ZSU-23-4V1 was introduced. This had an improved computer, and ventilation system cases at the front of the turret. The ZSU-23-4M, introduced in 1973, had further cooling improvements and enhanced ECCM. From 1977, vehicles were fitted with an improved IFF system and designated ZSU-23-4MZ. This IFF system was retro-fitted to existing ZSU-23-4M systems.
Specifications: ZSU-23-4 Shilka
Combat weight: 19 tonnes
Height: 3.75m (2.6m with radar down)
Ground clearance: 0.35m
Maximum road speed: 50km/h
Maximum road range: 450km
Vertical obstacle: 1m
Armament: 4x 23mm 2A7 autocannons (2,000 rounds)
Hull: 15mm max
As noted above, the ZSU-23-4 has been widely exported. The full list of operators is as follows:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Cameroon; Congo; Cuba; East Germany; Ecuador; Egypt; Ethiopia; Georgia; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; India; Iran; Iraq; Israel (captured from Arab armies); Jordan; Laos; Lebanon; Libya; Mali; Mongolia; Morocco; Mozambique; Nigeria; North Korea; Peru; Poland; Russia; Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic; Somalia; Soviet Union; Syria; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United States (a few acquired for testing); Vietnam; Yemen; Zimbabwe