WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight
We talk Wolverines with Wayne Turner

It’s 1985 and the Cold War just got hot!

With the war in Europe hitting a standstill, the Soviet Union has taken a bold decision to invade North America. Utilising their elite airborne forces, the VDV, they strike into the heart of America in a two-pronged attack. First through the Canadian province of British Columbia and into Alberta and then from the Gulf of Mexico into Texas. Using elite BMD-1 and BMD-2 equipped Air Assault Battalions they make surgical strikes on key infrastructure and secure their route inland. Soviet tank forces have been reinforced with improved tanks like the T-72B and T-64BV, both utilising ERA armour to improve their protection. With them comes their staunch ally, Cuba. Though they have older equipment, the Cubans are well-trained and determined. Facing them are the US and Canadian home forces, as well as the various militia groups that have sprung up to fight against the invasion!

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The World War III: Red Dawn book is packed full of new Formations, Units, and Equipment for the Soviet Union. In addition, you will find rules, formations, and units for fielding Soviet-allied Cuban forces. You can also field American resistance militia fighters alongside your regular American troops from World War III: American. World War III: Red Dawn also contains Airborne Assault rules and a mission, as well as details on how to field big transport helicopters with your Warsaw Pact and NATO forces. Finally, you can play four unique scenarios pitting American militia freedom fighters again the oppressive Soviet occupiers.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

New Soviet Formations

The key focus of the book is the VDV Airborne Forces. The VDV (Vozdushno-desantnye voyska, Воздушно-десантные войска, Air Landing Forces) have a long history in the armed forces of the Soviet Union. The Soviet paratroopers are known as desantniki (десантники, those who land).

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

BMD Air Assault Battalion

Typically, Soviet airborne divisions are equipped with the BMD-1, BMD-2 and BTR-D vehicles, as well as the BTR-ZD anti-aircraft and BTR-RD ‘Robot’ anti-tank guided missile vehicles. Artillery vehicles include the 2S9 Nona 120mm self-propelled mortar artillery vehicle.

The formation consists of an HQ mounted in either a BMD-1 or BMD-2 and two to three Air Assault Companies mounted in either BMD-1 or BMD-2. The formation can also contain mortars, assault guns, recon, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft units. 

The BMD-1 is an air-droppable infantry fighting vehicle armed with the same 73mm gun as the BMP-1 in a small turret, and like this vehicle carries an AT-3 Sagger anti-tank guided missile. The BMD-2 is a similar, but newer, design mounting a 30mm 2A42 autocannon and an AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank guided missile like the BMP-2. Both transports carry two teams and have armour Front 2, Side 1, and Top 1. These a unique air-droppable vehicles designed to be carried in transport aircraft.

The VDV infantry teams are made up of AK-74 teams with RPG-18 anti-tank and RPG-7 anti-tank teams. Additional firepower can be added with optional PKM LMG teams, AGS-17 grenade launcher teams, and SA-14 Gremlin AA missile teams. 

Heavy weapons are usually carried in the slightly larger BTR-D, an unturreted version of the BMP with a longer hull and an extra road wheel. The BTR-Ds are used to carry the PKM LMG teams, AGS-17 grenade launcher teams, and SA-14 Gremlin AA missile teams, as well as the BM-37 82mm mortar of the BM-37 Mortar Platoon. The BTR-D is also used to mount the AT-5 Spandrel missile as the BTR-RD, and to mount the ZU-23-2 twin 23mm anti-aircraft gun as the BTR-ZD.

The BTR-D is also the basis of the 2S9 NONA-S. It fills the same role for the Air Assault Battalion as the 2S1 Carnation SP howitzer does for the motor rifles, providing them with immediate indirect and direct fire support. It is an extremely lightweight self-propelled and air-droppable 120mm gun-mortar.

ASU-85 Assault Gun Company’s primary role was as infantry support. Its main armament was the 85mm D-70 (2A15) gun, derived from the 85mm D-48 towed anti-tank gun, with an anti-tank of 14 it is more than enough to deal with enemy light tanks and APCs. The use of the ASU-85 in airborne operations became possible with the introduction of the powerful Mi-6 and Mi-10 heavy-lift capable helicopters as well as with the high-capacity multi-chute and retro-rocket systems for fixed wing-drops.

They also utilised the BRDM-2 scout car which is small enough to also be air-droppable and is common throughout the Soviet forces.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

VDV Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company

Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company are selected from the best performing and battle-hardened units from the 103rd Guards Airborne Division and the 38th Independent Air Assault Brigade who had served in Afghanistan. Having already fought against the determined irregular forces of the Afghan Mujahideen, they have been moulded into a fighting force capable of adapting to the challenges that may occur in a war facing an enemy on their home ground.

The VDV Afgantsy veteran operates at a more devolved command level, with platoon and company commanders being able to make command decisions independent of their battalion, regiment, and division command. They can undertake operations and adapt quickly when the circumstances and parameters set out in their orders change. Their ratings reflect this with Courage 3+, Skill 3+ and Is Hit On 4+.

They are equipped as the rest of their comrades in the Soviet airborne forces, with integral heavy weapons and vehicles to fight the fast-moving aggressive warfare of surprise and to operate behind enemy lines.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

T-64BV Tank Battalion

The T-64BV Tank Battalion incorporates the improved tank into the Soviet tank battalion organisation. The T-64B introduced in 1976 was fitted with redesigned armour, a new fire control system, AT-8 Songster (9K112-1 Kobra) ATGM system, sight, and an improved gun, stabiliser, and autoloader. From 1985 the T-64B was fitted with a thicker glacis armour, older tanks were upgraded with a 16mm armour plate, and Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armour (ERA) blocks were fitted to the turret, hull and side skirts, providing it with extra protection against HEAT rounds. This model was designated the T-64BV. 

This improves the protection of the T-64BV to Armour Front 18, Side 10 and Top 2, with ERA giving side 16 against HEAT weapons

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

T-72B Tank Battalion

The T-72B Tank Battalion is organised just like other Soviet tank battalions but is equipped with the new T-72B. The T-72B had a new fire control system, incorporating the 9K120 missile system allowing it to fire main-gun-launched missiles such as the AT-11 Sniper (9M119 Svir) with a range of 16”/40cm to 48”/120cm, ROF 1/1, AT 22, FP 3+, Guided, HEAT, Tandem Warhead. 

It also has increased armour protection. The turret front and top armour are reinforced with composite armour. The hull was also reinforced with 20mm of appliqué armour to the front of the hull. On top of this additional composite and appliqué armour was fitted "Kontakt-1" Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) bricks to the hull, turret, and side skirts. This give is Armour Front 18, Side 9, Top 2, with ERA giving side 16 against HEAT weapons.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

New Soviet Models

New Soviet models released cover the VDV Airborne troops with a new range of airborne troops in one-piece jumpsuits wearing the beret of the VDV. These are available in the BMD Air Assault Battalion starter force, as well as the TSU712 Air Assault Platoon and TSU716 Air Assault Heavy Weapons packs. 

All their vehicles are available with the plastic TSBX31 BMD-1 or BMD-2 Company (x5). You can also get the resin TSBX34 ASU-85 Assault Gun Company (x5), TSBX32 BTR-D platoon (from which you can build BTR-D, BTR-ZD, and BTR-RD vehicles, x3), and the TSBX33 2s9 Nona-S SP Mortar Battery (x3).

Two new Soviet plastic tanks are also available, the TSBX29 T-72B and TSBX30 T-64BV. Both kits utilise the existing kits with new turrets and add ERA armour parts.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

Cuban Forces

The Soviet Union’s biggest ally in the Americas is Castro’s Cuba. The Cubans have been pulled into World War III and have supplied several divisions to fight alongside the Soviets in their southern thrust into Texas and the southwest of the USA. 

A Cuban Force can field T-62 and T-55 Tank Formations, as well as BMP and BTR-60 Motor Infantry Formations. These forces are organised along Soviet lines much like the Warsaw Pact forces in Europe, however, their equipment is a little older. The Cubans have a reputation for being well-trained and their rating reflects this with Courage 4+, Skill 4+ and Is Hit On 3+.

Including the equipment already mentioned above, the Cubans field SU-100 assault gun, ZSU-23-4 Shilka, ZSU-57-2, Czechoslovak M53/59 Praga AA vehicles, BRDM-2 scout cars, Spandrel Anti-tank missile vehicles, SA-8, SA-9, SA-13 anti-aircraft missile vehicles, 2s1 Carnation and 2s3 Acacia SP artillery, BM-21 Hail rocket launchers as well as Mi-24 Hind helicopters.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

Cuban Models

Many of the models required to build a Cuban force can be found in the existing Soviet, Warsaw Pact, Oil War, and Flames Of War ranges and these have been highlighted in the catalogue at the back of World War III: Red Dawn.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

US Forces

To field the American forces facing the Soviet invasion the bulk of your forces will come from World War III: American. However, World War III: Red Dawn does contain one unusual and unique unit you can field with your existing American force, the Militia Group. You can add up to two Militia Groups as part of an American force. 

As the Communist Bloc invasion spread across North America, ad-hoc militia forces quickly formed and sprang into action. Many initially started with hunting and recreational firearms, but soon liberated police, National Guard, and enemy weapons were in their hands. These units blended in with their communities, carrying out sabotage and disrupting enemy supply lines under the cover of night when the Soviets least expected it. 

Each Militia Group consists of up to five Assault Rifle teams and two RPG-7 anti-tank teams. They can also be armed with a 60mm mortar, and four Pickup trucks for transport (which can be armed with a passenger-fired MG).

They have a number of unique special rules, such as Passenger Fired where an MG fitted to a Pickup can only be fired when carrying a Passenger, and Resistance, which means a Militia Group is deployed from Ambush on a roll of 5+ in the enemy Deployment Area or No Man's Land and never held in Reserve.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

New American Models

The Militia Group adds two new packs. TUS712 is the Militia Group made up of fighters in civilian clothing with a mix of weapons, with many based on the iconic movie characters.

The second pack consists of the Pickup truck transports (TUS713). These are modelled on the ’77 Chevy Cheyenne pick-up truck. There are four in the pack and they each come with a standing machine gunner for the back tray.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

Air Assault Rules

The book also included Air Assault rules. This section included air landing rules for Parachute Deployment and the Air Assault mission. The section also outlines the US, British, West German, Soviet, Warsaw Pact and Cuban forces suitable for use with the Air Assault Mission.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

Big Helicopters

Following the Air Assault rules is a section introducing large helicopters to your games. There are rules for fielding Transport Attachments of Mi-8 HIP, CH-46 Sea Knight, CH-47 Chinook, and CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopters, with rules on who can field them.

There are two ways of fielding them on the table; you can either field them using cardboard top-down representations of them from the Airborne Assault Mission Pack or get some of the new resin models of the helicopters that will be available as direct-only products. There will be models of the Mi-8 HIP, CH-46 Sea Knight, CH-47 Chinook, and CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopters.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight


World War III: Red Dawn also contains four Scenarios pitting US irregular Militia Groups against the Soviets. The four scenarios are based on the sort of actions that may be engaged by invading forces and civilian militia resistance groups. Most of these missions are asymmetrical, pitting a larger regular force against an irregular force using guerrilla tactics.

You can play them as a one-off action or in order, using the Consequences and Campaign sections to carry forward the results from one game to another. You can swap sides and play through the campaign to compare your Forces and your approaches.

WWIII: Red Dawn Spotlight

There is of course an informative catalogue to help guide you in building your forces from World War III: Red Dawn. In it you find all the products that are used to make the Units from the book, supplying you with the product codes and images of painted models to let you know what you are getting.

All in all, World War III: Red Dawn offers some exciting new options for old and new players alike. New Soviet units, a new nation to the world of World War III: Team Yankee to play with, and exciting and unusual units to use with your Americans.

I hope you enjoy it!


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