Soviet Armored Shield for Phoenix Command
Soviet Armored Shield
This is my initial version of the Soviet armor shield. If anyone has additions or comments, please let me know.
Military Museum Winter War exhibit, Liisankatu 1, Helsinki 1999-2000.
One-Man Armored Shield
Length: 33 in (85 cm) *
Width : 37 in (95 cm) *
Heigth: 22 in (55 cm) *
Weight: 77.6 lbs (35.2 kg) *
Armor plate: 5 mm at 45 degrees
One-Man Armored Shield
PCCS single shot & Mechanized Size ALM: +8 shield, -7 hole
PCCS automatic fire Auto Elev ALM : +6 shield, -7 hole
PCCS automatic fire Auto Width ALM : +9 shield, -7 hole
Encumbrance: 25.9/77.6 lbs (11.7/35.2 kg)
After the initial successes of the Winter War the Red Army became bogged down on all fronts. By mid-December, two weeks after crossing the border, the invaders' advance had been halted at the defensive lines of Taipale, Summa, Kollaa and other places. The Soviet doctrine of the massed infantry charge by the proletarian army led to frightening losses among the attackers when the brave but badly led soldiers surged again and again against the Finnish defenses.
The Finns had few anti-tank weapons and thus Russian tanks could often penetrate through. But the accompanying infantry was usually cut down by hails of bullets from the defenders' automatic weapons. Soviet doctrine called for tanks to support infantry and when the infantry were unable to proceed, the tanks would eventually return back to the Russian lines.
Perhaps because the doctrine could not immediately be changed the Red Army manufactured crudely-made armored shields in an effort to enable their infantry to close to charging distance without suffering as many losses. These one and two-man shields soon showed up on all fronts where the Finns had fixed defenses.
The one-man shield consisted of a white-painted, bent steel plate with three corners so that it would offer some protection for the soldier from oblique shots as well. The shield rested on skis which enabled the prone soldier to push his protective device along. Because the shield is on skis its weight is not directly added to the soldier's encumbrance. As long as the surface on which the shield is being moved is snow or ice, its effect is only one third of its weight. However when the surface is sand, concrete or other non-slippery surface its full weight is added to his encumbrance.
The soldier lay prone behind the shield which protected only his head, shoulders and part of his upper body. When he was advancing straight towards the enemy his legs could not be hit but as he advanced further he often became more and more exposed.
He could peer and aim his rifle through a round, ten-centimeter hole slightly offset to the right from the centerline. Fire from behind a shield is considered Braced (+1 ALM). The hole is Size ALM -7. Fifty percent of rounds hitting the hole will strike the soldier's rifle, if it is in position, and possibly continue on to strike the soldier in the head, right arm, right shoulder or upper body. The rest of rounds hitting the hole will automatically strike the soldier. Rounds not hitting the hole but whose EAL still enables them to hit Size ALM +2 targets will hit the soldier if they penetrate the shield. Rounds not hitting Size ALM +2 targets but whose EAL is enough to hit Size ALM +8 targets will hit the shield but not the soldier.
As intended the five-millimeter steel plate protected the soldier from both rifle and machine gun fire. However the Finns soon begun issuing armor-piercing bullets to soldiers for use against shields and these would still punch through the armor. When available, anti-tank rifles such as the Boys were also used to counter this new threat.
For players using the Integrated Morale Rules, soldiers behind shields are immune to Morale effects caused by non-penetrating rounds striking the shield or by bullets fired from within the front Arc and landing within what is normally Critical Distance. However they suffer normal Morale effects due to rounds which would certainly penetrate the shield if they struck, such as anti-tank gun rounds, and due to rounds fired from outside the protective arc.
The shields often enabled the soldiers to close near enough to charge. However psychologically it was difficult to leave the relative safety of the shield so players may wish to require soldiers wishing to do so to roll under KVx4 or suffer a reduction in their Morale state.
Despite their Medieval appearance and sometimes rather questionable combat value, the armored shields were yet another tool in the Red Army's repertoire with which they set out to reduce the Mannerheim line and other static positions of the defenders. With the introduction of bigger and better tanks, larger caliber guns, armored sleighs and - most importantly - ever-increasing numbers of troops, the pressure would mount and eventually crush many of those positions. However major changes in doctrine, practices and leadership would be needed before any real gains could be made in the war.
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