Fielding a Marine Tank Company

Gung-Ho – US Marine Corps in the Pacific

Iron Horses
Fielding a Marine Tank Company
With Mitchell Kemmis

In this article I’ll be looking at some ideas for fielding a Marine Tank Company using M4A2 Shermans using both the Pacific War and Late War points levels.

In the Pacific Theatre, Shermans are a beast. There aren't many Japanese guns that can harm their front armour and no Japanese armour that can withstand a round from their 75mm gun. However, this comes at a significant cost, with the M4A2 Sherman weighing in at 500 points per tank. So as a starting point, you already have a 1000 pts in your list just by selecting your required HQ tank and a single compulsory combat platoon. This makes it vital to selecting the right support – as great as the Sherman might be, you will still have a tough time winning games with only two tanks.

Click here to read Mitchell's article on fielding a Marine Rifle Company...

Pacific Points Levels

Pacific War Late War  

The isolated nature of the Pacific Theatre of Operations and the slow development of weapon technology by the Japanese meant the power and effectiveness of the weapons in the Pacific seem somewhat out of balance with what was being used in Europe at the same time. This led to some weapons, like the Sherman tank, having a greater impact for a longer time than in Europe.

We realised many gamers will also want to pit their Pacific forces against forces from Europe. To cover this you will find two point levels for each platoon, one for the Pacific War, intended for playing games within the context of the Pacific Theatre, and Late-war, with points compatible with any other Flames Of War forces with Late-war points.

Pacific War Points are also compatible with Early-war Points, although not all the equipment was available in the Early-war (1939-1941). Whatever points option you select, you and your opponent’s forces must be entirely selected from that points option.

Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company

Knowing I’ll be facing Japanese, there are a few things I’m already mindful off. First and foremost are the possibility of being attacked at night, and of having my expensive tanks swarmed by Japanese infantry, who love assaulting tanks. With this in mind, I want to try to squeeze in as many extra machine-gun dice as I can, as well as some all-important infantry and artillery support.

So let’s look at how we can maximise the support in a 1650-point list.

1650-point Pacific War List
Marine Tank Company (Fearless Veteran) Pacific War
Headquarters
Marine Tank Company HQ
With 1 x M4A2 Sherman 500 points
    With 1 x M32 TRV recovery vehicle 15 points
Combat Platoons
Marine Tank Platoon
With 1 x M4A2 Sherman 500 points
Flame Tank Platoon
With 2 x M3A1 Satan flame tanks 230 points
Divisional Support Platoons
Marine Rifle Platoon
With Command SMG team & 3 x Rifle Squads 170 points
Marine War Dog Platoon
With 2 x Dog Handler Rifle teams 70 points
Marine Artillery Battery
With 4 x M1A1 75mm Pack howitzers 165 points
Total: 1650 Points
As you can see, first off I’m have chosen to add a M32 TRV recovery vehicle, which is a mobile .50-cal pillbox, at the bargain price of ony 15 points.
I’m have then added two M3A1 Satans to use their flame-throwers to help clear out dug-in infantry and gun teams. They also add a lot of important extra machine-gun dice to the company, with each tank carrying a co-axial, hull and AA MG. They are also Front Armour 3, which, while modest, will still prove challenge most Japanese anti-tank guns.
Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company
I've then added a short Marine Rifle Platoon, which will have two dog handler teams attached. This platoon will serve many purposes. On attack it is dual-purpose, with the dog handler teams providing recce while the rest of the platoon can be used to assault and clear out objectives. Also, in case I get night attacked, they can provide a defensive screen for my tanks, preventing them from being overwhelmed or outflanked by Japanese infantry or tanks.
Finally I have added some 75mm pack howizers to smoke or pin the enemy on attack or break up attacks when on the defence.
This army is also a great way to get started in the pacific.  It doesn’t require a lot of models and will be quick to paint and get on the tabletop.
Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company

Now let’s take a look at how we can translate this list into the Late War period.

While the M4A2 Sherman was a beast in the Pacific, it is far from it in Late War. However, they are also a lot cheaper, meaning I can get a lot more of them. To start with, I’m going to take a single HQ tank and two combat platoons of four hermans each. I’ve also added in some AA MGs for air defence. I've then filled out the list with support, assuming that it will be playing in an open Late War environment, with a lot more threats to worry about than just night-attacking Japanese.

1650-point Late War List
Marine Tank Company (Fearless Veteran) Late War
Headquarters
Marine Tank Company HQ
With 1 x M4A2 Sherman 90 points
    With 1 x AA MG 5 points
Combat Platoons
Marine Tank Platoon
With 4 x M4A2 Sherman  
  (2 with AA MG's) 375 points
Marine Tank Platoon
With 4 x M4A2 Sherman  
  (2 with AA MG's) 375 points
Marine Amphibian Tank Platoon
With 3 x LVT(A)4 (75mm) amphibian tanks  
  (2 with Hull MG's) 160 points
Flame Tank Platoon
With 3 x M4A2 Zippo flame tanks  
  (2 with AA MG's) 230 points
Divisional Support Platoons
Marine Rifle Platoon
With 3 x Rifle Squads 165 points
Marine Artillery Battery
With 4 x M2A1 105mm howitzers 210 points
Air Observation Post
With L4 Grasshopper AOP 40 points
Total: 1650 Points
To start with, I’ve added a Marine Amphibian Tank Platoon. The 75mm gun is capable of firing a bombardment and has a great firepower of 3+ in direct fire, making it great for taking on dug-in infantry.
Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company

In Late war, I can upgrade the M3A1 Satans to M4A2 Zippo tanks. With four shots each from their flame-throwers, this platoon can cause a lot of havoc on a dug-in infantry platoon.

A short Marine Rifle Platoon will be my main assault element, as Sherman’s don’t make great assault tanks with the number of Panzerfausts and Bazookas you tend to encounter in Late War.

I’ve upgraded the 75mm artillery battering to 105mm howitzers, which will give me better firepower and some indirect anti-tank capability.

Finally, I’ve included an AOP.  Since I have no recce in the list, on attack the primary purpose of the AOP will be to use Column Security for protection against ambushes.

Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company
While this list may struggle to take on Late War heavy tank companies, remember you have lots of direct-fire smoke from the Shermans and Amtanks, which should help you get into a good flanking position to take on the weaker side armour.
Iron Horses – Fielding a Marine Tank Company

I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration for your own Marine Tank Company.

~ Mitchell.