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Advice on modern and near-modern armor?

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  • Member since
    June, 2019
Advice on modern and near-modern armor?
Posted by Stargate404 on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 3:11 AM

Hello Everyone,

I posted on the forum a week or so ago about an armored police vehicle diorama I was interested in doing. Unfortunately, because I was ignorant of scale issues, I bought a 1/48 model and there isn't much modern armor in 1/48 so I decided to just stick to one model on that rather than create a diorama.

I was told that there are more options for armor in 1/35 or 1/72 scale and I'm very new to the armored community so I was hoping I could get some help from you guys for making my vision for a new diorama a reality (all in the correct scale this time).

I want to create an alternate history diorama set in the modern era. Basically the premise is that California or the West Coast has seceeded from the United States.

The scene is US troops assaulting a Californian strategic military position in the dessert (like a gas station turned FOB). I want to include a M1A2 TUSK on the US side. I'm a history and political science kinda guy and I love strategy so I've been thinking about why an Abrams tank would be sent in close to an enemy position like that as the US military is known for its air superiority. I was thinking that for the scene, a Californian anti-aircraft and anti-infantry vehicle were holding a position and the Abrams was sent in to deal with them. I include this information not because I want to start a political discussion but because I'd like to get your guys' feedback on the scene because, despite being alternate history, I want it to feel as real as possible.

For the vehicles, I've decided that California would be more 'rag-tag' while the US would have top notch equipment. I was thinking of using an Anti-Infantry and Anti-Aircraft vehicle of a Russian or Chinese design (maybe one of each). I think this would give the appearance that the Russians and/or the Chinese were giving older equipment to the Californian force (80's era vehicles, maybe earlier).

I think 1/72 scale would be better as I think the scene would be too large in 1/35 (I also am on a bit of a budget and doing it in 1/35 would put me out several hundred bucks). Naturally though as someone new to the armored community - I really don't know where to start beyond the US Humvee and US M1A2 TUSK. I am completely ignorant of Russian and Chinese armored vehicles or where I'd even find the models. A lot of the armored community is dedicated to World War II. There doesn't seem to be much in near-modern armor. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 10:30 AM

California is one of the most restrictive states in terms of gun ownership. It's hard to think of that state being able to acquire weaponry and trained personnel with intimate knowledge of military operations to fight.

Any way, in 1/72 scale, there are several options. Revell of Germany makes most modern US military vehicles along with Dragon.

ACE Models does a lot of former Soviet, modern Russian and might have some small scale Chinese, but I'm not too sure of that. But they are limited run kits and the models are often rather crude and require a lot of clean up and some experience in dealing with limited run kits.

Trumpeter also does a good line of 1/72 scale armor.

Here is a site dedicated to 1/72 scale armor modeling. You can search around to see if anything appeals to you. https://www.onthewaymodels.com/kitlists/manufacturers.htm

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 10:52 AM

To tack on to what Rob points out, yes the gun laws here are now quite restrictive. But there are lots of “pre ban” firearms out there. And with a very large population, there is also a large number of vets who have training and experience. BUT, (there is always that but) they do tend to be of more conservative beliefs and not so much fans of where I think your scenario comes from. Yeah you’d find a few, as in every group. But enough to create a militia to fight off that? Hmmmmm.... same goes for most firearms owners here. 

Getting back to your base scenario, and I’m sure Rob, being a former tanker, would agree, you’d let the M1’s engage from a distance to exploit their stand off advantage. You would not want them in close where they lose that advantage unless absolutely necessary, such as in urban combat. And the base ADA & AT defense assets would be priority targets to be taken out. At least they were back in the day when we trained to fight the Red Hordes in Europe. Neither of those types is a particularly hard target, being lightly armored, especially when compared to an MBT. But if your tanks went in close, your Infantry will be up there close as well, mounted or dismounted depending upon the tactical situation and overall mission.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 11:53 AM

Yes, most of the gun owners anywhere in the US tend to be veterans, who lean conservative, and "Murica First" types who are firmly entrenched in the far right. Tennessee and Kentucky would put up a bigger fight than all of Cali.

  • Member since
    October, 2015
  • From: Tacoma, WA.
Posted by M60_ tanker on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:15 PM

Also don't forget the California National Guard. They are state owned. They would have the same or near same equipment as the regular army. Hard to say which side they would come down on.

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:53 PM

M60_ tanker

Also don't forget the California National Guard. They are state owned. They would have the same or near same equipment as the regular army. Hard to say which side they would come down on.

 

Having served for many years in the Cal Guard, I can say that a vast majority are not gonna be enthralled with secession. The Guard was more “all volunteer” since well before that became actuality for the active duty armed forces in 1972. I would wager that no one has been drafted into the Guard since the Korean War. And anybody doing more than one enlistment again tends to fall under more conservative in their beliefs.

The Cal Guard’s equipment is, or at least was mostly hand me down stuff from the Regular Army as they got the newer stuff. They still had M60s and M113s instead of Abrams and Bradley’s well into the late 1990s. 

Just curious as to the original post, but what is your concept of an “anti infantry“ vehicle. Really there is no such animal. There are tanks, various personnel carriers, wheeled and tracked, field and air defense artillery types, engineer vehicles,  service and support vehicles of every imaginable sort. But no “anti infantry” vehicles. Pretty much anything that can mount an automatic weapon could fall under that heading. And easily destroyed by TOW, Javelin, or so many other weapons. 

 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 8:43 PM

One more question on this.... in 1/72, it’s much harder to convey a back story for a tale such as this. Sure, it’s a battle in the desert, but if using 1/72, aside from equipment, how would you tell who is who, and more so, the why? It could easily be mistaken for a battlefield in the Middle East. How will you visually project an alternative history futuristic Second American Civil War? 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    June, 2019
Posted by Stargate404 on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 10:02 PM

Wow guys, thanks so much for all the responses! I wasn't sure what reception this post would get and was worried but it's awesome to see such an active and engaged community here!

So to get to some of your questions and comments:

As a Californian myself, I know how restrictive the laws are here. I was thinking this would be in the early months of the war.

Basically I'm thinking that the US military has been bogged down by the Sierra Nevada mountains being forced to send its armored units through the mountain passes or the Southern dessert. What troops California could scrounge up has used guerilla tactics, mines, and anti-aircraft, and natural barriers to hold the passes but they've only been able to hold troops off for a month or so. The US troops have broken through the mountains and defeated / broken the main Californian guerilla force. California is scrambling to get its stuff together so there isn't much of a strong organized military presence. Most forces were committed to holding the passes and the best equipment and troops are being organized near major population centers.

 

This diorama is supposed to be a sort of Death Valley feel. Basically a gas station that's been converted into a Californian FOB.These troops have orders to hold the FOB to stop US Aircraft from controlling the skies. 

A big reason I don't want the Californians using US armor is because I'd imagine that Federal troops in California would destroy their vehicles before letting them fall in the hands of the enemy (as they did to some tanks in the Gulf War). National Guard wouldn't be too loyal either, another reason why the Californian force is more rag-tag than an organized troop. The Chinese / Russians pretty much knew California / West Coast was going to lose but decided to send some old equipment their way to prolong the war - as it advances their interests.

Thanks for the recommendation on Revell, Trumpeter, and OnTheWayModels. I think I'll try and stay away from ACE then as I'm pretty new and only have experience with wargaming minis thus far. 

I was thinking of having a LAV dedicated to anti-infantry and SP-AA of some variety. I definitely want infantry on both sides. I'm thinking of having a humvee on the US side and a modified truck on the Californian side. 

As for how to differentiate the two sides. I was planning on using flags and having the gas station be clearly American (like US Gasoline or something) maybe having a sign that says "Welcome to Death Valley" or "Now leaving Nevada / Welcome to California" sign. Mainly though I want to use flags. I know there's designs out there for a West Coast Alliance of sorts so that's why I'm debating if I want them to be purely California or an alliance of California, Oregon, and Washington state. 

I hope this answers some of your guys' questions! 

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, June 15, 2019 7:55 PM

Historically, plaxes that seccede typically will sieze (or try to) all military equipment within their declared borders.  This would include both Federal and CNG equipment.  It will be a Scherpunkt to hinge the success of their seccession.

On that topic, they'd have a significant political problem in all of the Marine & USN forces available in SoCal around San Diego.  Forces whose bosses are very likely to tell them to return CA to the Union, and give back all the USG stuff in their possesion.  There would be a significant problem in NoCal of the locals likely welcoming Federal forces from OR, ID, and NV to through off the yoke of percieved oppression from Sacramento.  Note that this presumes that military forces within CA would be willing to turn arms against US forces (the tape on the pocket of California National Guard units reads "US Armry") at the will of the political masters of California.  And, Federal resistance is going to be right away.  Well before foriegn actors could deliver materiel.  So, the putative CA forces would need some sort of color/shape blazon to identify their equipment.

Those are concerns with the narrative as background, which is more dramatis rationare.

The practical aspects for modeling a dio are a bit more concrete.  The modern battlefied is a very empty place.  MLR (Main Line of Resistance) can be 5km deep.  Which is close to 70m in 1/72, so foreshortening is going to be required.  300m worth of rifle shot is 4m at 1/72--so again, foreshortening is needed. 
You'd have to be careful with using terrain features  to foreshorten the MLR.  CA is unlikely to have air superiority, which means not only will terrain be vulnerable  to defilade artillery fires, but also close air support.

So, the answer is probably to show only one side of the conflict at a time.  The CA side will need a terrain feature, like a ditch or canyon, or, perhaps a railway embankment.  With overhead cover, probably enhanced with camo netting. The CA forces will need some sort of distinctive marking, like armbands, and or head gear; the vehicles some sort of flash or blazon.

The federal side would like use a similar featrue to anchor their side of the line.  But, they will need nearly no overhead cover.  If a FOB, there will be arty, like as not.  They will have a lot of supplies, too, from having far superior (quantity if not quality) trains units on their side.  FOB will likely have a drone launch & recovery point.

So, it's do-able.  Might wind up as a series of vignettes. 

If you could find some 1/72 CHP vehicles you could do the gate of the NTC, as that institution is unlikely to meekly join CA just because they were told to.  Especially with a unit coming off a training rotation, so they would be very salty.  And, the OppFor at NTC would allow for some facinating vehicles to guard the gate, like a Zilka and the like. 

Or, for that matter the Port Hueneme reservation, HQ of the SeaBEEs.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, June 15, 2019 8:02 PM

Ok, after a margarita, it occurs your original idea could be tweaked a bit.

Let's presume the PLA "sponsored" the secession of Central CA, and landed materiel and troops to assist in this endeavor.  Ok, right out there, but we're running "what if."

Now, you'd have PLA gear in its eye-popping camo (ok, doctrine says it's supposed to be camo-ed to suit OpArea, but, hey, fog of war and all).

Whihc would give a lot of contrast.

Although, you might have to shift to 1/87 minatures to get the ComBloc vehicles in the same scale as the us gear.  Maybe.

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Sunday, June 16, 2019 10:17 AM

To tack on to the Capn, yes, any rebellion in CA would meet significant resistance from the Camp Pendleton/San Diego area federal forces. Additionally would be the forces at Ft Irwin, March ARB, and JFTB Los Alamitos, which all have significant amounts of equipment, land and air. Few of their operators being pre disposed to fight against the same constitution that they are sworn to uphold and defend. In central California, at Camp Roberts, is going to be the vehicle’s to equip a complete Mech Infantry Division. And nearly everyone in a uniform, with weapons and training, military and law enforcement, will likely fight against any secessionists. While Oregon does not have a heavy regular military footprint, Washington state also has a major presence, if you go with a West Coast/Left Coast scenario beyond a People’s Republik of CA rebellion.

Any foreign covert or overt support of succession would also lead to a much wider conflict, with the US striking at the source of weaponry. Unlike in the Ukraine, there is no plausible deniability of old communist vehicles suddenly appearing in rebel areas. Not to mention the training required to operate any weapons more sophisticated than personal weapons. MANPADS, ATGMs, etc. require “advisors” to get end users up to speed. A ragtag main force guerilla  type unit with “technicals” vehicles is more plausible. Any transports, sealift or airlift, bringing AFVs to the West Coast is likely to be blockaded and interdicted by the US Navy and USAF. It would end up at the bottom of the Pacific.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    June, 2019
Posted by Stargate404 on Sunday, June 16, 2019 4:44 PM

Thank you CapnMac82 and stikpusher for your responses and ideas!

I definitely don't think the USMC or Federal Troops would side with California in this conflict. I was thinking that with the militarization of police departments - some police forces do have military equipment. Furthermore, California would likely institute a conscription policy so they'd have a lot of manpower to bog down Federal Forces in urban and suburban areas. This isn't Afghanistan or Iraq, there are still lots of US civilians around who wouldn't happy with the secession so I'd imagine the Federal Troops would be far more cautious about using air superiority and heavy armor in surburban and urban environments. This while foreign equipment trickles in. I think that California would use their flag or, as a simplified blazon, a bear head.

I definitely don't see California having air superiority. There's no way they'd have the expertise or the equipment to offer a challenge to the USAF. Air superiority though, as I'm sure you know, is key to winning on the modern battlefield. With no ability to counter air forces themselves, I'd imagine California would only be able to stave off the USAF with AA vehicles provided by Russia and China. This is why, in the diorama, I'd be using ground forces to attack a California foothold - otherwise the Air Force could take them out. I was thinking that California would be using a gas station as cover, some gas stations here have a concrete canopy over the pumps, I was thinking troops could be there. I'm not opposed to having an ambush scene where US Special forces are sent in to take out a California artillery and AA position to allow armored, air forces, and supplies to get through the main road. Issue is that I wouldn't really be able to feature US armored in a stealth mission (though maybe that could be part of a vignette).

I don't know how many police vehicles are available in 1/72 but I'll definitely look into that.

For the PLA camo issue, I was thinking of, if not having the AA and Artillery parked under the canopy of the gas station, having it covered by a net of camo. I've seen camo nets that are thrown over vehicles and supplies to blend in - so I could put the camo net over it or just park it under the canopy until it's needed.

In regards to a wider conflict - I think that while it would be clear that the Russians and Chinese were providing California with arms and armor, I don't think the US would be in a position to strike at them. All resources - I'd imagine - would be dedicated to reclaiming California and forces abroad would be concerned with holding the global status quo - making sure no groups / countries got too uppity because the US was involved in a small civil war. A war against China and Russia wouldn't be what the US would want. I could see the US Navy instituting a blockade of California after they realize weapons and armor are coming in - but I don't think it would lead to a war between China, Russia, and the US. For one, it wouldn't trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty, thus NATO forces would likely be unwilling to get into what would probably amount to a third world war without being obligated to militarily. Furthermore, despite obvious evidence, Russia and China would still deny involvement or claim that it was stolen equipment or blackmarket equipment. 

Thank you for all your guys' ideas, it's really helping me flesh out and change things around. I was concerned about the forces being too close together in one diorama so that vignette idea might be better and also offer an opportunity to tell a better story - a downed US plane in the desert with a california flag sticking out of the sand, while US troops and armor roll in to see what's become of their aircraft. Miles away, a California force is taking a break from shooting down a US plane. As they take a break and rehydrate, a Delta Force team prepares to strike covertly. 

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Sunday, June 16, 2019 5:54 PM

It is your scenario, and you can run with it as you please. I will just say that it is most fanciful. The USAF, USN, & USMC have excellent SEAD capabilities. Honed with the experience of multiple combat actions and wars since 1986. Older generation air defense assets are a minimal challenge. Especially, from folks who have no training and experience on those systems.

As far as a blockade of the west coast, that can easily be done from SSNs and a couple carriers. Something big enough to transport AFVs from Russia or China can easily be detected, tracked and sunk or shot down. As far as NATO involvement goes, I seriously doubt that our brass would care one way or another if they wanted to get involved or not. NATO needs us, but we do not need NATO. Two nations in NATO have historically been able to perform missions with minimal or no US support, UK & France. At least regionally. With no aircraft carriers currently, the U.K. has lost their long range power projection ability that they had during the Falklands War. 

Regarding manpower, if California needs to conscript forces for a rebellion, they will not be effective dedicated fighters. Their heart will not be in the fight. Certainly not to fight to the bitter end. There would be many deserters. Californians, at least the vast majority of current military age (18-45), are not Afghans or Iraqis. They have not been fighting or part of  a military where they received the training to operate modern military equipment. Most have not even handled a firearm, let alone fired one. To turn them into a military capable of fighting cohesively in any environment, let alone urban would take lots of time and effort. There are no generations of every able bodied under 45 male adult being either a combat or military veteran as there is in much of the Middle East. At least not since the mid 80s. 

Militarization of law enforcement? That is something of a misleading press term and not very much an actual practice. Yes some agencies do have surplus military equipment. Much of it is personal protective type gear. Some is long rifles. And probably the smallest amount is wheeled armored tactical vehicles. And it does not translate to widespread military training and tactics. 

Not raining on your parade here. Just trying to give you some real world plausibility, based upon personal professional knowledge and experience in military and law enforcement. 

 

 

 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    June, 2019
Posted by Stargate404 on Sunday, June 16, 2019 6:31 PM

No I completely understand. I came to the forum to ask for feedback on the scenario and the diorama. I definitely think California has 0% chance of winning and it would be pretty short-lived (5 to 6 months maximum). The militarization of police isn't widespread nor do they have the same quantity of equipment as a military force, but it is something as opposed to nothing. 

The bottom line is that secession wouldn't be successful and it wouldn't be practical - but the political leadership in California doesn't really care about what is practical or successful. They have no chance of winning but there are many people I have spoken to who naively believe California could succeed - that it has such a great economy and could function independently without any help or aid, and that secession would be a viable option. I think we can all agree that isn't the case but the diorama is meant to portray a scenario where politics has blinded people to reality and this has led to war. That's what I'm trying to depict with this diorama - an unprepared, unqualified, rag-tag group of idealists versus a prepared, qualified, trained, group of pragmatists. A sort of look into a future where some have abandonned all logic and sense and merely done what sounds good rather than what's practical. 

While I want this future to look illogical and I want the Californians to look completely outmatched - I do want to try and be as faithful as I can to reality. I don't want to break my viewer's suspension of disbelief so I really appreciate all the constructive criticism. It's definitely given me a lot to work with. Any other ideas you guys have I'd love to hear.

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Sunday, June 16, 2019 7:25 PM

Good, I see where your coming from, and I understand your points. The folks who advocate for secession, are not the type who could and would actually take up arms and truly fight. Anarchist and Antifa types would be more willing to use violence, as they typically do. But in a civil war scenario, they are gonna be something of a loose cannon in it for the act, and not the cause. And expecting the usual restraint shown by law enforcement during their typical activities, not against a military sworn to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic in a war.

Under your scenario, I can see Civil unrest, akin to the 92 riots but on a much larger scale, taking place in LA and the Bay Area, and other defiance in certain areas. But the state as whole would likely be not so inclined to join. The more rural the area, the less likely it is to partake. And I sure don’t see any militia able to drive out the 1st Marine Division from Camp Pendleton. Nor any areas that they chose to reinforce such as San Diego naval base area or certain other critical facilities. Those areas would provide an airhead and beachhead from which reinforcements would arrive to and expand upon. But the central urban areas of LA and the Bay would be a different area and nut to crack in such a scenario. 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

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