This page last modified: 1 November, 2013 (MO-634, AM-50, and T-138 Vozovky photos added).
Here are some models made by Scotia of a TMM vehicle-launched bridge, currently acting as the Regimental bridging platoons for my 3rd Division's OT-64 equipped Motor Rifle Regiments; the 4th and the 6th. The Czechoslovakians didn't actually use the TMM, using the more primitive MS bridging system until the introduction of the AM-50 in 1974. Unfortunately, the AM-50 is carried on an 8x8 Tatra T-813, so doesn't really look anything like a TMM. But the TMM will have to play the part for now - there's really no mistaking it for anything other than an unarmoured bridge layer, at least. For an actual AM-50, keep scrolling down...
Above left are some more of my 3rd Division's 4th Regiment's engineering assets. Both are Scotia models. On the left is a MDK-2 rotary excavator, while to the right is a VT-34 armoured recovery vehicle. They could do with some more mud on them... Digging is important to an infantry regiment like the 4th. Unfortunately, Keith McNelly's scenario system does away with engineering tasks like entrenching, meaning models like the MDK-2 don't see much table-top use. In the centre is another shot of a Scotia MDK-2 model; this one's got a bit more mud and dirt caked on to it. ARVs like the VT-34 have essentially nothing to do in MSH as well, since the only time "wrecks" are a concern is on roads, and on bridges (if you can remember, that is...), and an ARV merely speeds up the time taken to clear a wreck from one turn to nothing.
The Czechoslovakians didn't actually use the MDK-2 as far as I can tell. For entrenching work, they instead using the wheeled TKM-2, for example, or the tracked but smaller KH-500, but nobody makes these. The tracked BAT-1 engineer's vehicle (an AT-T-based dozer) was also used (I have Scotia models of these too), as were the DOK and KN-251 wheeled excavators, but again, nobody makes something like these commercially as far as I can tell. The right photo shows a BTM entrencher; again, Scotia, and again, not used by the Czechoslovakians...
To the left is an H&R MT-55, representing the AVLBs of the 3rd Division's 33rd Tank Regiment. As a tank regiment, they have an entire section's worth of AVLBs, whereas motor rifle regiments didn't have enough to qualify as a section's worth (they did have a section's worth of truck-borne bridges, however). This is a reasonable model, although some of the parts need a bit of bending to get them to mate properly during assembly. The MT-55 was widely exported by the Czechoslovakians, being better received than the Soviet equivalent, the MTU-20. They did not however follow up with a T-72 equivalent, although post-independence Slovakia did produce an MT-72.
To the right is a VT-55 armoured recovery vehicle; the model is from Scotia I think. This one hangs out with my reserve tank regiment, part of the mobilization-only 16th Tank Division, whose gear was looked after by the 1st Tank Division in peacetime. The roundel is slightly too large for a vehicle roundel in 1:300 scale, but it's not too over-scale, at least when stuck on an appropriately large surface, as here. If it was stuck on a tank turret, that would be a different matter.
This is a Scotia BAT; like the BTM and MDK, its is an engineer's vehicle based on the
AT-T tractor. Most BATs have a massive dozer out the front, but the Scotia
model is alas sadly lacking this feature. This model hangs out as part of my
3rd Division's divisional engineering assets (2nd Engineering battalion).
Czechoslovakian divisional engineering battalions were not combat-oriented like
American ones were, and thus do not feature "combat engineer" stands, let alone
armed CEVs like the M728. What they did feature was a profusion of entrenching
vehicles, and above all, amphibious carriers to cross water obstacles.
This earth-mover here is a KN-251, introduced in 1978, belonging to the 3rd Division's 33rd Tank Regiment. Or at least, it's trying to be, but I made a cock-up in the scale-conversion factors somewhere, and as a result, it's about 20-25 % undersize. Which is a real downer, because I rather like the result, otherwise. It's entirely scratch-built from plasticard, except for the wheels, which are made from four layers of 0.5 mm-thick cardboard punched out by a standard holepunch. As mentioned above, although the Czechoslovakians didn't have armoured combat engineers, they had plenty of other engineering assets. Moving earth to reshape the battlefield has been an important combat operation since at least the days of the Roman Republic, and its importance has only increased over the years. Many Warsaw Pact vehicles came with their own integral dozer blades; many others could be fitted with them as desired, and there were a whole host of specialized earth-moving vehicles. Some, like the KN-251 wouldn't look out of place in civilian settings. Earth movers like this could rapidly excavate firing positions for artillery, or decrease the slope of a river bank leading to a fording or bridging position to enable river crossings to be more speedily executed. Every Czechoslovakian fighting regiment had its own engineering company, every division its own battalion, and there were many independent engineering battalions and brigades in addition.
Next to the earth-mover is a model of what Scotia calls an ST-210 crane. It looks like a K-32 crane to me, which was mounted on either a ZiL-150 chassis (for the Soviets) or a Tatra-111 (for Czechoslovakians). This would appear to be the ZiL-150 version, but hey, close enough! (The Tatra-111 looks more like a pre-WW2 Ford/GAZ-AA, with a narrower cab). Cranes have no real in-game purpose, unless you call them wreck removers: as mentioned above, a wreck remover slightly speeds up the process of clearing a wreck blocking a road. Assuming you have remembered to leave destroyed elements on your roads in the first place, that is! In other words, almost no utility whatsoever...
Towed behind the OT-64 in the left photo above is an ROD trailer - a rocket-distributed mine-clearing system: the usual WarPac BTR-50-based UR-67 system (aka MTK) wasn't used
by Czechoslovakia. The tailer has an odd shape because it is amphibious. It is far too large to fit on the same base as an OT-64, which is handy, because it means the
same towing vehicle can be used to represent an ordinary engineering platoon rather than one specialized for mine-clearing by simply leaving the trailer off. Indeed, the OT-64 by itself almost fills a 30 mm-long base, being particularly long for an APC, and as you can see from the right-hand photo, the ROD is just as long, if you count the hitching pole. The ROD is one of my Shapeways creations - you can see the model here. I formerly had a scratch-built one from balsa and plasticard, but it was too small, and I need one per regiment, not just one, so making one up in silico was the obvious choice once I learnt about Shapeways...
As mentioned before, the Czechoslovkians didn't use the TMM, but introduced the more advanced AM-50 into general service 1974, based on the Tatra-813 8x8 truck; it may have seen more experimental use from 1972. To model this one I took an H&R MAZ-535 and sawed off the rear half of the cab and all the superstructure to the rear of that as well. I then built up the bridge from plasticard. The result, in my not so humble opinion, looks damn good, but it took quite a lot of work. This one nominally serves my 3rd Division's 5th Motor Rifle Regiment, but since it looks so nice, it will take precedence over all my (non-prototypical) TMM models. However, it isn't actually all that useful in game terms, since so many of the Czechoslovkian fighting elements are amphibious anyway!
After I made the model I described previously, Karl Heinz Ranitzsch, aka Dragoman, brought out a Shapeways version. So naturally I had to buy one... In fact he brought out another version too, with the bridge folded down like in my converted model, but I haven't finished painting up the ones I bought yet (enough to retire my TMM models). Being a cheapskate, I ordered them in the cheapest plastic available, which alas doesn't do the models justice. His AM-50 deploying its bridge really looks the part.
This rather odd-looking vehicle is attempting to be a T-813 Vozovky track-layer, and belongs to the Pontoon Bridging Company of my 3rd Division's 2nd Engineering Battalion. It carries two parallel concertinared self-laying tracks for vehicles following it to drive over, so they don't sink into the copious amounts of mud that inevitably result from a pontoon bridging operation; a bridging company has four such vehicles - enough for an element's worth in MSH. The vehicle itself has nothing to do in an MSH game, but can be used to substitute for a standard PMS bridging section-carrying vehicle, since 9 of these elements are required to model the 36 trucks carrying bridge sections. Like the AM-50 model above, it's been constructed from an H&R MAZ-535 chassis and various bits of plasticard and wire. The right-hand shot shows it after I added the standard-issue excavator blade at the front.
Above is another of my Shapeways models - a T-138 Vozovky. This is the predecessor to the T-813 Vozovky shown previously, and is based on the 1960s-era Tatar 138 6 x 6 truck; a T-815 version was also introduced as a successor to the T-813 version. As is normal for me, I had this model printed out in the cheapest possible plastic, giving it the worst definition possible; it also caused some "stepping" errors on the the bonnet (that's the "hood" for any Americans reading this!). But since I'm a gamer, not a figure collector, I need lots of models, and I can't afford the more expensive plastics...
The Scotia model on the left is a truck-borne boat that used to hang out with my 2nd Engineering battalion's Pontoon Bridging Company. I can't remember what is called exactly (BMK-T, I think), because it is a piece of Soviet gear, and the Czechoslovakian equivalent looks absolutely nothing like it, so I just had this on stand-by until I could get its replacement, the MO-634. Boats like this were mostly used to help assemble pontoon sections into place, but could be used for other roles too.
The MO-634, like its predecessor, the slightly smaller MO-111, is a much more normal-looking boat, as can be seen from the one shown here mounted on its trailer, called an SP-5, and being pulled by a Tatra-138 truck. These too are some of my Shapeways creations - you can see the models here, although I made a slight cock-up in that the SP-5's single axle should have four wheels, not two. Never mind... A pontoon bridging company had eight such boats (at least, in the 60s) to help position the bridging sections in place. The towing truck is carrying a section of PMS ribbon bridge on its flatbed; this is a shore section, which is somewhat shorter and lighter than a central section, so the 4 trucks in each company that carried shore sections typically towed the boats. Since that would leave 4 boats without tows, the other 4 were presumably towed by the Vozovky track-layers. The T-138 PMS set was gradually replaced by the Tatra-813 equivalent starting in the 70s, and then the Tatra-815 equivalent from the mid-80s.
Here we see my waterline version of the MO-634. I've modelled a crewman in the left-hand seat - admittedly crudely, as there is only so much that can be done at this resolution! At least such cheap plastic is, well, relatively cheap! MO-634 elements aren't actually needed on the table under the rules in MSH, since under the rules ribbon bridge elements like the PMS incorporate their own motive power. By the 1980s, bridging companies seemed to have moved to 12 such boats, rather than 8 as previously.
Above left is a Tatra-138 with a PMS ribbon bridge central section. Another of my Shapeways creations - you can see the model here. There were some 32 of these trucked central sections in a Pontoon Bridging Company; the Soviet equivalent was called the PMP. Czechoslovakian bridging companies were very well regarded. In one WarPac exercise held to bridge the 200 meter-wide Elbe, the Czechoslovkian team did the job in just 15 minutes; half the minimum time estimate. In MSH, it takes 1 turn (15 minutes) for a light ribbon bridge to deploy, but 2 turns for one capable of bearing the weight of armoured vehicles, so the rules are quite generous, given the rules times are combat-times, and not those for exercises!
In the centre is a Soviet TPP pontoon bridge centre section: the TPP was a lighter version of the PMP; on the right is a shore section. These two are Skytrex models. Most Skytrex models are awful, but these ones aren't so bad, and they fill a gap here that other manufacturers don't cover. You get two centre sections, two end sections, 4 trucks, and 2 deployed treadways (not shown here) per pack.
Light ferries were also a component of Bridging Companies. This a BAV-485 amphibious truck, introduced in the early 1950s, as a development of the American DUKW: the main advance of the BAV was a ramp at the rear by which light vehicles could drive themselves onto the BAV, rather than having to be deposited by crane, greatly speeding the loading and unloading process. BAVs were gradually replaced by the K-61 and then the even more capable PTS-10 amphibious vehicles, all of which count as light ferries under the rules. This is also Skytrex model; you get 5 per pack. Crude, but it does the job.
Above is a D-032a excavator; yet another of my Shapeways creations - you can see the model here. This one is mounted on a Tatra-148 truck, and thus dates from the late 70s; earlier ones were mounted on the very similar T-138, as was the very similar D-031a excavator. These types of excavators were typically used for light excavation duties, such as digging trenches for communication cables, rather than excavating trenches for infantrymen or vehicles, but they could be pressed into digging firing positions when needed. This one currently hangs out with my reserve tank regiment's engineering company assets.
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