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Old 09-02-2009, 08:50 PM
spielmeister spielmeister is offline
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Default Tachankas

Hi everyone,

I'm slowly preparing for a FTF Twilight 2000 game I hope to run soon.

I recall a thread on these forums talking about horse cavalry in Twilight 2000. An offshoot of the thread were references to Tachankas to beef up the firepower of the cavalry detachment.

My question is, what would be the heaviest weapon one can fire from a Tachanka (whether the Tachanka is standing still or moving slowly) without compromising the safety of the vehicle, crew and horses?

I have zero real world experience in crew-served weapons so I would not know for instance what the real world effects are on a Tachanka if say, a 23mm 'sergei' autocannon were somehow mounted on the bed of a large wagon and fired. In fact, I'm not even sure if this is at all possible?

Is it safe to assume that the heaviest crew served weapon one can safely mount on a tachanka (and fire) would be an M2 50 cal? What about a Mark 19 or AGS-17 Plamya? From historical pictures I've seen on the net, most Tachankas mount machine guns like maxims or the vickers.

What about ATGMs and/or recoilless rifles? Won't this just spook the horses as well?

Would anyone care to share some observations or comments?

Many thanks and a good day to you all. :-)
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Old 09-02-2009, 09:11 PM
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Horses can be trained to tolerate loud, sudden sounds like gunfire but it takes time and by the end of its career you'll have a deaf horse. I think a four wheeled wagon with a couple of tonnes load capacity could definitely handle having a smaller sort of autocannon or a recoiless rifle fired from its bed but that would shake up even the best trained horses. The poor things would become nervous wrecks. I guess you could keep the horses in their yokes or harnesses but move them away from the wagon before firing.

Firing an M2 50 cal, Mark 19 or AGS-17 Plamya while stationary or moving shouldn't be a problem.

These are just my opinions because I have very limited experience with horses, wagons or heavy weapons.
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Old 09-02-2009, 09:26 PM
spielmeister spielmeister is offline
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Thanks Targan.

Yes, I would imagine the noise and flash of an autocannon or RR in close proximity to the horses will wreak havoc on them.

I also want to bring in more horse-drawn vehicles and weapons in my game as an additional piece of scenery to drive home to point to my players how scarce motor vehicles (and fuel) have become.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:50 PM
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I agree with Targan but I would add mortars to the list (up to 120mm) and may be even automatic mortars such as the Vasileks. In addition you'll find anti-air weapons: missiles (if they are available) on special support, mutli-MG looking like the quad maxims used by the Russians in WW2, HMGs, ZPU-1 and ZPU-2 14.5mm HMG.

ZPU-4 and ZU-23, however, would probably, be too big.

Just to give you an idea, I visited a wild reserve in the mountains close to my place this summer. That visit was done by horse-cart (4 wheels) tracked by 2 horses and off-road. the cart itself weighted 1.5 tons and we were 14 people on it (an additional 1.5 tons). These two horses were then, capable of pulling 3 tons with a relative ease and with an impressive speed while on the mud roads.
With only 3-4 people on it and a weapon of no more than 200-300kg, a tachanka should weight only 2 tons at full load. With a good driver, speed and crossing capabilities could be impressive.

Last edited by Mohoender; 09-02-2009 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:24 AM
spielmeister spielmeister is offline
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Default and just two horses

Hi Mohoender!

Well, I really have also zero experience with wagons and the like save for a few sightings during a few infrequent visits to the provinces. I've seen a lot of water buffalo here though and they seem rather strong from what i've seen.

Those are respectable qualities you stated there with just 2 horses pulling the wagon.

The tachankas i envision in my game may also take the form of cut-up and lightened car/van/light truck chassis rigged to a horse yoke. I've seen some of these in our rural areas here and they seem to work.

Your suggestion on multiple LMGs did get me thinking. I agree. I spotted a picture while googling this point on the net and came up with an early german WW2 set up with double MG34s mounted on a horse-drawn wagon. I can imagine the firepower this can bring to bear against two-legged targets of the player character variety.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:32 AM
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Many Soviet autocannons come in towed variants. They could be towed from the back of a cart or wagon (which itself would carry ample ammo for the AC) or could have an extra set of wheels rigged onto the towing armature and have horses hitched to it directly.
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Old 09-03-2009, 11:01 AM
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Another option would be to go the way of the light horse artillery that lasted until the First World War and still exists in ceremonial units. The artillery piece is attached to a two wheeled carriage called, I think, a limber. Two of the gunners would ride on the limber and four more on four of the eight horses that towed the limber and gun.

One rider would stay on the team and ride them to a safe distance and the gun and limber would be kept near each other as the limber carried ammunition.

Mounting guns on wagons should be fine as long as you move the horses away from close proximity to the firing.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonmark6 View Post
Another option would be to go the way of the light horse artillery that lasted until the First World War and still exists in ceremonial units.
Of course but the main advantage of the Tachanka is to provide mobile fire support even when on the move. With the light artillery you have to stop and deploy it. With the Tachanka, you simply put your support weapon in firing position, you can leave the position as needed (and you don't lose the equipment in the process), and it provides cover fire while you are on retreat as you still can fire it while moving (with highly reduce accuracy but covering fire nonetheless).
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:49 PM
simonmark6 simonmark6 is offline
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That is a possibility, but cavalry in the Twilight period is highly unlikely, in my opinion, to fight anything resembling a battle from horseback. The would, I think, be more likely to act as Dragoons, leaving their horses a safe distance behind the line and fighting on foot.

If this is the case anything fixed to a wagon would be a liability as it wouldn't be either man portable or more able to take the advantages of terrain. That leaves you with a weapon that's only really effective when you get ambushed and are trying to get away.

This would make them an interesting proposition for convoy escort duty, but in a combat unit, I'm not sure of their effectiveness. In essence they'd be like a very poor technical that would lack the speed to get out of the way once fighting started.

Light mortars that could be kept on wagons behind the lines might be a possibility, but I can't see direct fire weapons dashing around a battlefield pulled by horses being that effective.
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Old 09-03-2009, 02:46 PM
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That's exactly what it's all about. Tachankas were extensively used by the Red cavalry from 1920 up to the 1940's. These cavalries were in fact fighting as dragoon (cavalry charge are memories from the US civil war) but the main advantage of cavalry remain it's hability to conduct hit and fade tactics and to strike deep behind ennemy lines with little need for support. The weapon on the Tachanka is not directed toward the front, it is directed to the back. (Sorry I have tried to put pictures but it seems i can't do it for know, If someone can,please feel free, Kato we need you back, Heeellppp !!!!)

A cavalry unit of the time was about a third/quarter of an infantry division but it was designed to cover 70 miles a day if needed. In addition, the Soviets had very little means of support for these units much as it would be the case in T2K. As a result, most of the force was dedicated to combat with a single support company which mission was to provide everything necessary to feed and supply the unit.

In addition, the Soviets had no fuel and an insuficient number of armored car. Tachankas were then filling this role. The carriage was brought in support position before action and, then, provided heavier fire support to the troops. It still had the hability to get away as soon as the action was over and it had the hability to remain with the fighting force, as I said covering the retreat. Light artillery (and the like) were used in case of large scale actions, Tachankas were used for more limited but particularly anoying guerilla-like actions. And they proved highly efficient tools as they contributed to the defeat of the entire world. They were used with success against white russians, english, french, germans, americans, japanese, czech and poles. They were highly instrumental in bringing victory to the soviets. However, they proved highly ineffective if used for regular actions. There is no doubts about their efficiency as there are plenty of offical reports on them through military archives (Russian, French, British...). In the way it was fighting, the red cavalry was indeed fighting on foot, but it was getting as close as possible to its objective and horses were not left that far behind. Basically, they were rushed to the field, they were getting off horses and fighting on foot. Finally, they were quickly getting back on their horses before infantry reinforcements could arrive. It was a very risky tactic but it proved highly effective against hill prepared, understrength and carefully chosen objectives. Extensive recon before action was more than important and was conducted carefully (In a division, a full company was only dedicated to recon missions). Then, they had designed specific instruction/tactics to use these Tachankas (sorry I have no time to translate you the official instructions that I have stored in my own archives. I should go through at least 3 boxes of paper and 1500-2500 pages of archives to find about 60 pages and drawings on how to use them: official instructions from the soviet army in the 1920's). I'll do that sometimes but not now.

I know that plenty among us think of cavalry in T2K as being very unlikely but I don't share this view. Of course, you would not have cavalries numbering 10.000 horses but smaller units (100-2000 horses) should be around and not only among Russians. Actually, US might be more capable of building such units (and Americans are no more stupid than Russians). They would not be used to conduct large offensive but they would be effective recon units and perfect tool to put a mess within supply lines. In addition, in many area cavalry will be the only units that you could dispatch fast enough to support sensitive sectors.

Of course, civilians will start eating horses but what military leadership (even local) that remain will quickly put an end to this under the threat of death penalty (except if the commanding officer is a fool and an idiot). If I was a local commander in T2K I would rather kill civilians trying to eat horses, feed them to pigs and eat the pigs. It's even ecologically responsible and healthy (no risk with prion).

In fact, without cavalry, the Twilight War is simply over (IMO). You still have vehicles and armor but you lack the fuel for any significant action (not to talk of ammo and spare parts). Without horses, you are stuck were you are. Krakow OOB is a perfect exemple of what regular T2K OOB should be. You have a few tanks for emergency, most of them being pillboxes. You have a heavily defended perimeter forming a good stronghold. You have a few lighter armor for sensitive escorts. Most of the recon and daily supply work is conducted with horses (mules, donkeys, oxes...), however. You need horses to fill the gap and retain some mobility.

Last edited by Mohoender; 09-03-2009 at 03:16 PM.
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  #11  
Old 09-05-2009, 01:50 PM
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Default US Intelligence report on the use of cavalry by the soviets

This well made report dates back to 1946 but I think it can give a good idea of what the soviets could do with cavalry even in T2K. Building such units would prove, however, more difficult than in WW2. Nevertheless, these tactics were still taught (as military history) in soviet officer school and the return of cavalry would be more in the tradition of the soviet army.

http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/cavalry/index.html
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