The Peculiar Swedes of Nordic Forces... Bandkanon 1 & IKV-91

The Peculiar Swedes of Nordic Forces... Bandkanon 1 & IKV-91
By Adam Brooker

Boy oh Boy! I think a lot of Team Yankee players are waiting for the Nordic Forces book to come out, and one of the most anticipated Nations is Sweden and their unique vehicles, like the Stridsvagen 103 S-Tank, with its unique design and hydropneumatic suspension, or Viggen fighter-bomber. Sweden had been neutral during WW2 which allowed them to economically bounce back quickly from WW2 where other countries that had been drawn in struggled to recover, they also had started to become more self-reliant with a strong manufacturing industry and excellent engineers.

With the Cold War coming quickly after WW2, the Swedish kept their neutrality officially, not being a part of either NATO or the WARSAW Pact, but it was well known to all parties that they were more pro-Western than Soviet-aligned.

IKV-91

If the Cold War got hot, there was more chance the Swedish government would fight alongside its NATO neighbours like Finland or Norway, than staying neutral, as they knew they may be next. But to help preserve their nation they needed a strong Defence Force, and two domestically developed machines that were part of that are the IKV-91 and the Bandkanon 1.

Bandkanon 1

Bandkanon 1

The Bandkanon 1 (Wagon-cannon) was in service from 1967 and at the time was one of the most powerful SPGs in its class due to its fantastic volume of fire with its L60 155mm auto-loading cannon. It could fire either single shots or a quick-firing 14-round barrage with its innovative auto-loader. It could fire a full 14-round salvo in 48 seconds, and if shot at its maximum range of around 26 km, as the first round landed, the other 13 rounds from its 14-round clip would be already in the air.

The equivalent US self-propelled gun, the M109, could only fire 4 rounds per minute in its burst mode. This devastating weight of fire meant that one Bandkanon 1 could fire the equivalent volume of shells as four US M109 in under a minute, a unit of 3 Bandkanon 1 could quickly devastate an area with a large number of shells, a much heavier barrage than other Western gun systems, and much more accurate than a scattered rocket artillery strike.

The Bandkanon could then use its integrated articulated ammunition hauler to quickly load a new 155mm clip of 14 rounds into the rear of the SPG. This would only take around two minutes and the battery could start firing again, or could quickly relocate. This did mean that sustained fire could not be done from the platform as each clip could only hold 14 rounds maximum. This SPG still holds the world record for volume of fire, when one round was already loaded in the barrel, and 14 rounds in the clip, it fired 15 155mm shells in 45 seconds and has yet to be beaten.

Bandkanon reloading

Bandkanon 1 - Reloading

The Bandkanon did have some drawbacks, it was initially designed using the Stridsvagen 103 S-Tanks chassis and engine (30-ton), with a 50-ton vehicle so it was underpowered, but its suspension helped it in off-road conditions. It was upgraded later with a more powerful engine which increased its top speed and performance. But overall, an innovative and effective SPG with a devastating volley.  

Bandkanon 1

How have Battlefront captured this in game? Well, let's have a look. At 9 Points for 3, they may be a bit more expensive than the M109, but they have a slightly longer bombardment range and a much better direct-fire AT of 18. But most importantly they have the Autoloader rule, which means that they have +1 to Hit over whatever to Hit your target under your bombardment has, turning a 4+ into a 3+ or a 3+ to a 2+ means many more targets will be hit, and given your high firepower values they will not be surviving long. An excellent unit for thinning out dug-in infantry, or with an AT of 4 even doing the business against vehicles with top armour 1. They also have an MG for close defence.

EPBV Forward Observer

The only real drawback I see is that you can only have one unit of 3 of these… the new model looks excellent with fabulous detail, and it will be a joy to paint, but if you lose one then their effectiveness is reduced. Probably best to leave these units up the rear, in cover and bring the spotting vehicle to help spot targets and even fire a few shots at helicopters with its 20mm auto-cannon. At 10 points in total, it’s a solid addition to your force, and in a pinch, the AT18 direct-fire guns can do some work for you too, just be aware they are slow firing and forward firing. Also, remember to use your Smoke Bombardments!

IKV-91

IKV-91 - Moving at speed

Another vehicle that was designed to the Swedish Army specifications of the Cold War is the Infanterikanonvagn 91 (Infantry Cannon Wagon 91) or IKV-91 is essentially a highly mobile tank destroyer with a fully rotatable turret, armed with a Bofors 90mm L/54 rifled low-pressure gun. Their role was primarily to support infantry units in destroying advancing enemy armour, much like the US Tank Destroyer Doctrine in WW2, and to be able to quickly relocate to engage other threats. You could also describe it as a light tank or assault gun, it was not designed to assault positions, but to intercept vehicles.

Armed with both HEAT and HE rounds it was primarily designed to destroy early Soviet armour like the T-55 and T-62, but as Soviet vehicles got more well-protected, like the T-72 or T-80s, they became harder for IKV-91s to penetrate frontally, and so their role changed. They were attached to infantry brigades, with usually one company attached in support per Brigade. 

As an IKV-91 crewman described, “T-55s and T-62s were easy targets for an IKV, a T-64 or T-72 was a worthy opponent, but a T-80 was a nightmare for an IKV Battalion.
IKV-91 Amphibious crossing
IKV-91 - Amphibious crossing

They were to be used in cleaning up light vehicles like airdropped BMDs, and delaying actions against the vulnerable flanks of Soviet tanks when forced into narrow roads in difficult terrain, like the lakes, swamps and mountainous terrain around the projected axis of attack. They would attack from a flanking position, knock out as many as they could, and when the Soviets started to focus on them, they would retreat and reposition to do it again.

It travelled at a reasonable max speed of 65 km/h and 500 km range and was importantly amphibious given the terrain in Sweden, the low pressure (low recoil) gun allowed it to fire the gun while crossing water. It was also designed to fight in cold conditions. The gun itself could hit a target at 1600m, but the preferred range was 1000m, and was fitted with a sophisticated (for the time) targeting system, and a laser range finder.

It was a vehicle made specifically for Swedish conditions, using the tank-destroyer concept, and integrated into a Swedish defence plan, they made the vehicle they wanted for the type of fighting they had planned. If you have your own defence industry you can do this, although it's hard to say now if it was successful or not.

IKV-91

As you can see they come in platoons of 3 for a very reasonable 5 points, you can take a unit of them in a PBV 302 Armoured Rifle Company, you can also take one unit from your Support Diagram.  You could take two units of 3 reasonably in a Force, and their 3+ skill means Blitzing is a winner too.

They do not have much armour at all, so don’t try to trade shots with anything, you should be sitting back in the terrain and at long range with your laser rangefinder (no long-range penalty), plinking away with a respectable 36” range, and wrecking a poor BMP or BMDs day. If you can manage a flanking shot on an MBT even better, but I would be primarily using these to take out things like SPGs and Anti-aircraft platforms, as well as IVFs.

They are relatively cheap, mobile, with a decent gun, which for me is usually a great combination that results in something annoying for your opponent to deal with. This means if they deal with it, they are distracted, if they don’t, you kill their support units, either way, it’s a cheap unit.

Also once again Battlefront has made a gorgeous unit here in 15mm scale, and its lovely resin and metal so a plus for me there too…. I can see some of these in my future!

Two great examples of purpose-designed vehicles that arguably seem to have been successful, although as neither saw actual combat it is hard to say for sure. It's great to see them sculpted into life in 15mm for Nordic Forces, as well as others in the book.

Happy Gaming

~ Adam 

 

 

 

 
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