IFV From Above


IFV From Above
With Livio Tonazzo

The new book, World War III: Red Dawn, sees the descent into the field of a new Soviet infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the BMD, which is acronomic for Boevaja Mašina Desantnaja, an airborne combat vehicle. It is in fact the multi-role vehicle under the Soviet airborne unit.

Technical aspects

Entering service in 1970 in its BMD-1 variant, the BMD was developed to equip Soviet airborne divisions with an armoured vehicle capable of serving as both a combat vehicle and a transport vehicle. Each of the 7 Soviet airborne divisions was equipped with 330 BMDs. This demonstrates that the intended use was twofold.

The development was done precisely according to the logic of the light tank with transport capacity. The crew consisted of three members who all sat side by side at the front. In the centre sat the driver, on his left the commander and the machine gunner on his right who operates both bow machine guns. The transport capacity was quite small and up to 4 men could fit inside. A curious fact is that it was only possible to access the transport compartment from a hatch positioned on the roof.

The reduced load capacity compared to a BMP which could carry up to 9, that is double, derives largely from the small size of the vehicle. A BMD-1 was 5.41m long against the 6.74m of the BMP-1. The width and height remained exactly the same. The armour of the hull is slightly reduced compared to that of the BMP, while that of the turret has been kept unchanged. All these modifications were, as you can imagine, aimed at reducing weight in view of airborne operations. Compared to the 12.6t of a BMP, a BMD weighs only 7.5t. This is a reduction of 40% which, however, does not correspond to a proportional reduction in engine performance.

The BMP engine could develop a power of 300hp (224KW) while a BMD of 240hp (180KW), i.e. a reduction of 20%. The better power-to-weight ratio made the combat vehicle in force to the airborne departments much faster than that in force to the mechanized counterpart. The armament, on the other hand, is actually unchanged. The BMD in its BMP-1 version is equipped with a 73mm 2nd 28 cannon as its primary weapon and two front-mounted pivoting machine guns, a coaxial and a fearsome AT-3S Sagger counter-tank guided missile as secondary weaponry.

The BMD-2 version instead took up the armament of the BMP-2 as it was driven by the same needs. The Soviet-Afghan war had in fact highlighted the low effectiveness of BMP-1 and BMD-1, limited by disproportionate firepower compared to the threat to be faced and by a low angle of elevation of the main gun. In addition, the single crewman had to take care not only of the 73m cannon but also of the management of the AT-3 Sagger missiles. For this, a new turret with the 30mm 2 ° 42 cannon (coupled with a machine gun) with an electromechanical stabilization system was created. The missiles have been replaced with the AT-5 Spandrel, AT-5B Spandrel B and AT-4 Spigot, with increased performance and improved ease of aiming. All these changes generate in the BMD-2 version a slight weight increase which is increased up to 8.225kg. Overall this is a successful combat vehicle that continues to be engaged, albeit with some upgrades, even after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The BMD in World War III: Team Yankee

The profile of the BMD perfectly reflects the technical characteristics described so far. The BMD has a similar profile to that of the BMP but not exactly the same. In fact, an in-depth look captures some fundamental differences.
We have seen how the weight-to-power ratio rewarded the BMD compared to the counterpart of the mechanized departments. The increased speed is not so much represented in the Tactical movement which is equal to 10 ”(a consolidated standard), as it is in the various Dash movements.

The value of Cross Country Dash is in fact equal to 32 ", while BMP-1 and BMP-2 reach a speed equal to 24" and the BMP-3 reaches no more than 28 ". The Terrain Dash is instead equal to 18 ", 2" greater than BMP-1 and BMP-2 and equal to the BMP-3. The value of Road Dash is proportionately even higher. The BMD can count on 36 "while the BMPs stop at 32". The numbers shown so far label the BMD as the fastest IFV in the Warsaw Pact. But that's not all, by extending the comparison also to the Nato stuff, some other considerations can be made.
Below is a table showing almost all the various IFVs of the various nations present in WW3: Team Yankee.

AFV Comparison

BMD can be said to excel at nothing: it doesn't have the best Terrain Dash in the game, nor the best Cross-Country Dash, nor the best Road Dash. It has HOWEVER the best combination of these values, as can be seen from the last column. In adding all the Dash values, the BMD is the fastest way. Not only that, even if we wanted to add up the value of the Tactical movement, the classic would still see it in the head. This is a key factor that needs to be taken into account. On the other hand, the BMD is rather penalized as regards the Cross value, worse than all the other tracked IFVs which can usually count on a 3+.

From the point of view of protection, the BDM can boast the same Front Armor as the BMP equal to 2. This is a value just sufficient to offer good protection of the .50" and a little more. Unfortunately, already an anti-tank value of 5 tends to pierce them a little too easily. The lower armor is instead represented by a lower Side Armor than the mechanized counterpart, equal to a 1. It must be said that this small difference does not have a great impact on the game: these transports will hardly be able to attack enemy infantrymen without anti-tank weapons , the easier they will be destroyed after the first exchanges of fire. On the other hand, it is important that the Top Armor 1 be preserved, which makes the BMD quite resistant to opposing artillery which would otherwise be particularly dangerous for cheap and numerous vehicles that tend to concentrate in the field.


 About the armament, however, it is important to distinguish between BMD-1 and BMD-2 since the weapons supplied are very different, tracing the difference between BMP-1 and BMP-2. The BMD-1 is equipped with a 73mm gun, with a range of 16”, an anti-tank value of 12, a firepower of 3+, HEAT but an ROF of 1 both moving and stationary. It also comes with Sagger missiles that have an anti-tank of 19 and a firepower of 3+, of course HEAT and Guided like all missiles. The BMD-2 instead is equipped with a rapid-fire 30mm cannon, with halted ROF3 and moving ROF 2, an anti-tank value of 10 and a firepower of 5+. It also has Anti-helicopter and Stabilizer rules. It can also count on Spandrel missiles which with their anti-tank value of 21 and a firepower of 3+ represent a threat also for second generation MBTs.

Ratings are partially different from other Soviet units. Not particularly surprising we find that the BMDs are classified as Aggressive, i.e. they are Affected on 3+. This makes them vulnerable to enemy fire but at the same time keeps their score low. Quantity is itself a quality. Motivation on the other hand is particularly good with a Courage 3+ which allows them to easily remount and hold on to the last rig. Striking value and motivation are not big news. The big difference, however, is the Skill. Unlike BMPs of mechanized units and BMDs of airborne units they have a training of Trained 4+. In terms of gameplay, this is a huge advantage because it makes it possible to use some tactical options such as the Blitz order or the Shoot&Scott order which are really useful if you are equipped like missiles. Since unlike BMP-3s BMDs cannot move and fire missiles, having the ability to move 4" and gain a good firing position or move 4" and hide from enemy line of sight can change the course of a battle.


 Finally, there is also the possibility of deploying hit on 4+ BMDs by deploying a formation of veteran Afgantsy VDVs. For the BMD-1 the other ratings do not change while the BMD-2 of this formation even has a Skill Veteran, which makes the use of orders even better.

Last but not least: points. Talking about scores is not easy because of course we are dealing with transports and the cost in points also includes the cost of the unit. Overall the cost of BMD and BMP looks absolutely similar. The better rating of the infantrymen, the skill and speed of the transports makes them slightly more expensive but we are just talking about a couple of points that shouldn't affect the Force's budget too much.

What else to say, jump (with a parachute) on the new BMDs!!!

 ~ Livio Tonazzo