Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

Volksarmee (FW908)

Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own:
Is The T-55AM2 is Underrated in Team Yankee?
with Blake Coster

There are very few areas of technology where older is considered better. Unless you’re a musician with a fetish for vintage gear, not many of us would dust-off a VIC-20 to get their daily fix of computer gaming or carry around an '80s mobile phone that rivalled the SCR-536 'Handie Talkie' in size.

But in war, sometimes there aren’t any other options. Older, redundant variants may be pushed into frontline service purely out of necessity, despite being clearly overmatched by the enemy on the battlefield. Such is the case in Volksarmee, where the East German forces have the option to field the T-55AM2.

But why would you field the T-55AM2 over the T-72M? Well, in this article, I offer my thoughts on why I believe the T-55AM2 is an underrated tank in Team Yankee.

The East German Volksarmee, or Peoples’ Army, has the reputation of being the most well-trained of all the Warsaw Pact armies. It has a high proportion of professional soldiers and is well-equipped. 9. Panzerdivision, or 9th Tank Division, in particular, is equipped with T-72M tanks and BMP-1 and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles.

Click here to find out more about Volksarmee...
Volksarmee
The T-55AM2 Main Battle tank

But first, some background information on the two tanks in question.

The T-55AM2 Main Battle Tank
The T-55AM2 fielded by the East Germans in Volksarmee is essentially an upgraded version of the T-55 in an attempt to modernise an older design. Of the 2100 T-55s supplied to Nationale Volksarmee (or NVA), 300 were upgraded to the T-55AM2 standard. These upgrades included the fitting a modern fire-control system with a ballistic calculator and a laser rangefinder.

Left: The T-55AM2 Main Battle tank.

The T-72M Main Battle Tank
The T-72 was the typical Soviet tank, easy to build and simple to use. This made it the perfect replacement for the ageing T-55. The T-72M tanks supplied to the NVA were made by Czech and Polish manufacturers and were essentially a no-frills version of the T-72. This version lacked the more sophisticated technology incorporated in the Soviet-built models. Despite this, the T-72M was a significant upgrade for the NVA over the T-55.

Right: East German T-72Ms on parade.

To learn more about the T-55AM2 and T-72M, read about the Panzers of World War III here…

East German T-72Ms on parade
The T-55AM2 vs. The T-72M
Now we know a little bit about the two tank in question, let's compare them in Team Yankee. Below are the unit cards for both the T-55AM2 and the T-72M. 
Below: The East German T-55AM2 unit card. Below: The East German T-72M unit card.
The East German T-55AM2 unit card The East German T-72M unit card
Reduced to the basic requirements, a tank's performance is determined by three criteria that make up the Tank Triangle: firepower; armour protection and mobility (Anderson & Wai, 1996, p. 71). So using these criteria, let's compare the T-55AM2 and T-72M in the simple table below. 
Below: A comparison of the T-55AM2 and the T-72M using the Tank Triangle.
Battle Tank Firepower Armour Protection Mobility
T-55AM2 - - -
T-72M + +
Firepower
Both guns share a number of characteristics including Range, ROF, Firepower and the Laser Rangefinder special rule i.e. don't suffer the usual +1 to hit penalty if the targeted team is more than 16"/40cm away. The 125mm 2A46 gun of the T-72M has a higher Anti-tank rating (21 vs. 17) and gains the benefits of the Brutal and Stabiliser special rules. The 100mm D-10T however, is Slow Firing and must add +1 to the score needed To Hit when moving. Therefore, we must conclude that the 125mm 2A46 gun of the T-72M is the superior weapon.
Below: A direct comparison of the 100 D10-T gun and the 125mm 2A46 gun in Team Yankee.
Weapon Range ROF Anti-tank Firepower Notes
Halted Moving
100mm D10-T gun 32" / 80cm 1 1 17 2+ Laser Rangefinder, Slow Firing
125mm 2A46 gun 32" / 80cm 1 1 21 2+ Brutal, Laser Rangefinder, Stabiliser
Armour Protection
The armour protection for both tanks is very similar. The T-72M has one better Front Armour (15 vs. 14) but one less Side Armour. Since both tanks are Hit On 3+, we'll rate the higher Front Armour of the T-72M more beneficial (the majority of weapons on the Team Yankee battlefield will punch through the side armour of the T-55AM2 or T-72M with ease) and thus the slight edge goes to the T-72M over the T-55AM2 when rating the two main battle tanks in this category.
Below: A direct comparison of the armour ratings of the T--55AM2 and the T-72M in Team Yankee.
Main Battle Tank Is Hit On Front Armour Side Armour Top Armour
T-55AM3 3+ 14 9 2
T-72M 3+ 15 8 2
Mobility
The T-72M simply outperforms the T-55AM2 in every aspect of mobility on the Team Yankee battlefield. Not much more we can say here really.
Below: A direct comparison of the movement ratings of the T--55AM2 and the T-72M in Team Yankee.
Main Battle Tank Tactical Terrain Dash Cross Country Dash Road Dash Cross
T-55AM2 10" / 25cm 14" / 35cm 20" / 50cm 24" / 60cm 4+
T-72M 10" / 25cm 16" / 40cm 24" / 60cm 28" / 70cm 3+
And The Winner Is.....
As you can see, on paper, the T-72M is clearly the better tank. Boasting a better, more powerful gun with superior fire controls and more mobility. Though it was very close in armour protection. However, if we factor in the points difference between the two main battle tanks, the T-72M being more than twice the price of the T-55AM2 we have to rethink our conclusion.
Below: The points comparison of the T-55AM2 vs. the T-72M as seen in Volksarmee.
T-55AM2 Panzer Kompanie
10x T-55AM2 16 points
9x  T-55AM2 14 points
8x  T-55AM2 12 points
7x  T-55AM2 10 points
6x  T-55AM2 8 points
5x  T-55AM2 6 points
4x  T-55AM2 4 points
3x  T-55AM2 2 points
T-72M Panzer Kompanie
10x T-72M 35 points
9x T-72M 31 points
8x T-72M 27 points
7x T-72M 23 points
6x T-72M 19 points
5x T-72M 15 points
4x T-72M 11 points
3x T-72M 7 points
As the old Russian saying goes "Quantity has a quality all its own." And for me, the disparity in points pulls the T-55AM2 ahead of the T-72M.
Below: The Quantity has quality all its own in full effect.
Old vs. New
Weakness or Strength?
As we discovered early, one of the clear points of difference was the main gun of the T-55AM2 and the T-72M. But with that said, the only frontal armour both the T-55AM2 and T-72M can penetrate is that of the West German Leopard 1. Only the 125mm 2A46 gun of T-72M can penetrate the frontal armour of the M1 Abrams, Leopard 2 or Chieftain. And even that will rely on your opponent rolling low on their armour save. I don't even want to mention the potential return of fire (Anti-tank 22 for both the Leopard 2 and Chieftain and Anti-tank 20 of the M1 Abrams) you'll face.
Below: The Anti-tank ratings of the T-55AM2 and T-72M versus NATO tanks in Team Yankee.
Main Battle Tank M1 Abrams Leopard 1 Leopard 2 Cheiftain
Armour Location Front Side Front Side Front Side Front Side
Armour Rating 18 8 9 5 18 7 17 / 18 6
T-55AM2 Anti-tank / T-72M Anti-tank 17 / 21 17 / 21 17 / 21 17 / 21
But is this lack of firepower really a weakness? In terms of the T-72M, I believe it is. However, for the T-55AM2, I think it is a strength; here's why. Remember that return fire I just mentioned? The T-72M is more likely to get a player into trouble as nobody wants to spend a bunch of points and not get a chance to fire their guns. The temptation of engaging a superior enemy with inferior firepower and armour protection might to too much for some players. 

With the T-55AM2, this isn't even an issue since it cannot penetrate a majority of the NATO tanks frontally anyway. So why bother even trying? This gives the T-55AM2 an increased level of what we shall call survivability by avoidance.
Below: T-72Ms roam the streets in search of prey.  
Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own
Since the cost of 10 T-55AM2 is roughly equal to two of the NATO main battle tanks i.e. M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, and Chieftain, the East Germans have a 2:1 advantage in numbers. In the table below, I've compared the to the points cost of the compulsory unit of the T-55AM2, M1 Abrams, Leopard 2 and Chieftain. For all of the NATO tanks, I've only calculated the cost for the minimum number tanks per unit. For the East Germans, however, I've made the calculation using the maximum number to help illustrate the point.
Below: Points comparison of compulsory tank unit points in Team Yankee.
East German American West German British
with T-55AM2  with M1 Abrams with Leopard 2 with Chieftain
Bataillon HQ x1 1 point Combat Team HQ x1 8 points Kompanie HQ x1 11 points Armoured Troop HQ x1 6 points
Panzer Kompanie x10 16 points Tank Platoon x2 16 points Panzer Zug x2 22 points Armoured Troop x2 12 points
Panzer Kompanie x10 16 points Tank Platoon x2 16 points Panzer Zug x2 22 points Armoured Troop x2 12 points
Total x21 33 points Total x5 40 points Total x5 55 points Total x5 30 points
You can even add a third Panzer Kompanie of T-55AM2s for an additional 16 points. That many tanks take a lot of shooting to stop and allows a player to build lists with massed formations of armour with enough points left over to still create a balanced force.
Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own
This means that the T-55AM2s can push up the flanks, hunting out enemy armoured personnel carriers and other support vehicles, whilst threatening the flanks of the enemy tanks. This leaves your other units free to harass the enemy as you see fit. Remember, we want to keep the pressure on our opponent; force them to make tough decisions and try and keep the odds as much in our favour as possible.

Remember, quantity has a quality all its own. So don't forget about the T-55AM2 when it comes to the East Germans in Volksarmee.

~ Blake.

References
Anderson, T., & Wai, V. (1996). Armor At War Series: Panther. New Territories, Hong Kong: Concord Publication Company.


Last Updated On Thursday, February 9, 2017 by Blake at Battlefront