For the armies of Fezia and Rusland in the mechanised era (specifically the late 1930s) I have spent some time pondering about what vehicles I should use for them with the first item on the agenda being tanks. I wanted tanks that looked suitable for the period and that would fit in with the fictional historical background I am planning for these two protagonists. The decision I have come to is that whilst Rusland will be far more uniform in respect of their equipment the Fezians will be far less so - unsurprisingly given the perennially parlous state of the Fezian treasury, not to mention their industrial capacity.
The historical Turks made use of tanks from a variety of sources and so I will happily ensure that the Fezians follow suit. I also needed to consider the respective armoured doctrines used by each side and how this shaped their respective armoured formations and usage. For this I decided that the forces of Rusland would be great exponents of the concept of Blitzkrieg - massed armour and artillery, copious air support but with truly abysmal communications. Attacks tend to be well planned but executed but vulnerable to sudden changes in circumstances and also 'short legged' - very little initiative being displayed at lower levels meaning that once the initial objectives were achieved then the attack would invariably halt whilst a new plan was drawn up. A key component of this doctrine is the use of massed tank formations and so the Ruslanders developed a tank that was relatively fast, moderately armoured and mounting a 45mm main gun - the BT7. This was by far and away the most common tank in use by the Ruslanders although it was supported by a small number of heavier vehicles - details of which are classified and not readily available to the public.
By comparison the Fezians appear disorganised and with a chaotic mix of old and new types in service and with no clear direction as to the employment of tanks. This is true up to a point but several factors contribute to making this apparent disorder considerably less disruptive than might be first thought. Tanks are deployed piecemeal and are attached to parent infantry formations with a small reserve maintained within each province. These provincial reserves are a key part of the Fezian defences as it is they that receive the newest vehicles. Whilst the front line tank numbers are modest what they lack in quantity they make up for in terms of low level tactical expertise. They are also supported by copious anti tank artillery and so are often held back and used once the anti tank defences have inflicted punishing losses on an attacking enemy. The tanks themselves are a mixture of types ranging from the FT17 through the Vickers Light Tank, to the 38t and the Panzer 3. Fezian practice is to maintain a reserve that is used to reinforce the front line as and when needed as the tanks on the border are invariably outnumbered. For the most part then, a border defence infantry regiment will have tanks but in a bewildering variety of types.
The geography of Fezia is for the most part suited to defence being very rugged and mountainous the further away from the Rusland border one travels. This means that the Fezian use of defence works and artillery, backed by tanks makes for a formidable series of obstacles to any would be attacker. Invasions tend therefore, to concentrate on the coastal plain where the room to manoeuvre is far more pronounced. This is an area of weakness and a feature that the Fezian high command is certainly well aware of.
As it stands at present I am looking at Pegasus Hobbies for the BT7 and 38T, Armourfast for the Panzer 3, Hat for the FT17 and Airfix for the Vickers Light Tank. Pegasus also produce a twin pack of both German and US trucks.
Part 2 will feature my ideas for the artillery and infantry.