Not alone! The BTR-D support vehicle


Not alone! The BTR-D support vehicle
With Livio Tonazzo

While being alone is in the DNA and tradition of all parachute forces, in World War III the parachute forces are not alone, let alone left unsupported.

The airborne component of a modern army is a force capable of being projected over great distances and therefore by definition more independent from the other components but absolutely complete and versatile. Collaboration with other weapons enhances their effectiveness and battlefield performance but is not strictly necessary. An airborne battalion, despite being essentially an infantry department, can boast in its organizational chart artillery, anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems even outside of individual weapons. Weapons such as an 82mm foot mortar, an SA-14 Gremlin anti-aircraft missile and the AT-4 Spigot anti-tank missile are weapons supplied to the infantry of almost all armies, these are individual weapons useful for not making the infantry helpless victims of opponents, but not decisive. The peculiarity of the Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii, or Russian airborne is instead precisely that of being able to count on specialized units.



In 1970, the Boevaja Mašina Desantnaja or BMD-1, i.e. the airborne combat vehicle, entered service. Specially designed for airborne troops, it looked a lot like the BMP-1 (Mechanized Infantry Fighting Vehicle) on the outside but was very different on the inside. With a crew of 3, it looked more like a light tank than a transport vehicle, even considering it could only carry 4 men. Armament was equivalent to that of the BMP: the BMD-1 mounted a 73mm cannon and AT-3 Sagger missiles like the BMP-1, while the BMD-2 mounted a 30mm cannon and AT-3 Sagger missiles like the BMP-2. The strength of the BMD was certainly the speed: despite having a less powerful engine than the BMP, the weight was still proportionally less. The result was an outstanding power-to-weight ratio that made the BMD-1 one of the fastest IFVs in the world.

One of the major limitations of the BMD was the limited transport capacity which, as already mentioned, was equal to 4 infantrymen, however, often had to be reduced to 3 as for four infantrymen to operate inside the compartment and get off the vehicle was very little practical. For this reason, the design office of the Volgograd Tractor Factory (the same one that had designed the BMD-1), started to design a new airborne personnel carrier based on the BMD-1. The prototype was completed in 1974 and entered production and service with the Soviet Army the same year as the BTR-D. It was used by airborne troops during the war in Afghanistan. Unlike the BMD which, as the acronym suggests, was an infantry fighting vehicle, the BTR-D was a Bronetransportyor Desanta, i.e. an armoured personnel carrier for airborne troops. The difference is important: the BMD had very important offensive capabilities (especially when it entered service), and the BRT-D gave up almost all armaments in favour of an increased troop transport capacity. Armed only with a machine gun and a light grenade launcher, it could however carry up to 10 infantrymen. The performance of the BTR-D in terms of speed was similar to that of the BMD-1 but slightly lower due to a worse power-to-weight ratio. Despite this, the BTR-D became the basis for the development of numerous anti-tank, anti-aircraft, artillery or fire direction variants.

The BTR-D in Team Yankee

The BTR-D Chassis in World War III: Team Yankee

The BTR-D is designed starting from the BMD-1, a vehicle with a powerful but at the same time light and fast armament. With little surprise, therefore, we realize that the profile of the BTR-D follows these two characteristics. The protection offered by the thin layer of armour is not much. Front Armor is equal to 2 and therefore offers quite limited protection. While fully protective against machine guns, it is even vulnerable to .50” or similar which is capable of not only saving the vehicle but also destroying it with any luck. Side Armour is even lower: with a value of 1 it is even more vulnerable to enemy hits. Even light weapons run the risk of damaging, however slightly, a BTR-D. Protection against hits at Anti-Tank 4 is modest. 33% of hits received will pierce armour and at best cause a bailed out, while another 16% will have about a third chance of causing another bailed out. Needless to talk about shots with a higher anti-tank value as they will easily destroy vehicles, but this is quite common: there are very few that can withstand more powerful shots. Note that there is no reactive armour, so the BTR-D has no special protection against missiles with the HEAT special rule. On the other hand, it is important to note the Top Armor which has a value of 1. This value is particularly significant not so much for assaults, but because it makes the vehicle much more resistant to artillery shots. If you get hit by Anti-Tank 4 there's a really big difference between exceeding this value with a 4+ or matching it with a 4+, also because the firepower is very good in World War III: Team Yankee. From what has been said, it clearly emerges that the BTR-D is a light and poorly protected vehicle. On the other hand, this lack of armour is amply compensated for by speed. The Tactical Speed ​​​​is nothing special, it is the standard 10 ". Much more interesting are the speeds of Dash. The BTR-D can move up to 24” in Cross Country Dash, up to 28” in Road Dash and up to 16” in Terrain Dash. These are above-average values ​​that allow for the rapid redeployment of units, an advantage that can sometimes prove decisive on the battlefield. Another important value is that of Cross. It is better than that of the BMD (i.e. 4+) and is equal to 3+. This allows the BTR-D to move with a certain agility even on land and this too can prove to be decisive. The BTR-D also has both the Amphibious and Parachute rule, making it suitable for crossing river scenery elements and being parachuted in Air Assaults (read the dedicated article). Furthermore, thanks to the Infrared (IR) it can also fight at night, albeit at a disadvantage compared to NATO vehicles that have a thermal viewer.

The 2S9 Nona-S in Team Yankee

2S9 Nona-S SP Mortar Battery

The 2S9 Nona is the artillery mount supplied to Soviet airborne units. It is basically a self-propelled mortar built on the hull of the BTR-D. At the centre of the hull is a turret made of welded steel plates which houses the main weapon, the gunner and the crew. The main weapon is the 120mm 2A51 mortar (later replaced by the 2A60) with a 1.8m long barrel. The weapon is a hybrid between a mortar and a howitzer. It's rifled, breech-loading and can engage in indirect and direct fire, as well as targeting armoured vehicles with its HEAT round. On the battlefield it performs the same function that the 2S1 Carnation SP Howitzer performs for the mechanized departments, providing the units of its Formation with more than adequate artillery support. In terms of gameplay, the differences between Nona and Carnation are quite limited. As far as indirect fire is concerned, the value of Anti-Tank (4) and Firepower (3+) are the same, as well as the possibility of firing a smoke bombardment. The only difference is the range which, while remaining more than adequate, has a value of 64" for the Nona and 88" for the Carnation. As far as direct shooting is concerned, however, the anti-tank value is reduced from 21 to 20, while confirming a Firepower of 2+. The range is also more limited, the Nona can hit targets within 20" while the Carnation at 24". The other rules like Brutal, Slow Firing, Smoke and HEAT remain unchanged as well as the ROF. The only consideration to make is on training. Being an Airborne Forces vehicle, the Nona has a Skill of 4+ which makes it much more effective even considering that there is no extra cost compared to Carnations.

The BTR-RD in Team Yankee

BTR-RD Anti-Tank Platoon

The BTR-RD, on the other hand, is a vehicle designed to provide airborne units with the anti-tank fire needed to deal with enemy armoured vehicles at long ranges. The implementation is overall simple: the BTR-RD mounts a 9P135M-1 missile launcher capable of firing AT-5 Spandrel guided missiles on a pivotal mount with missile racks mounted within the troop compartment. Airborne troops are well equipped with anti-tank weapons but must engage the enemy at close range. Thanks to the BTR-RD, no first or second-generation MBT is safe. In terms of gameplay, the BTR-D is all about bringing a very good Anti-Tank 21 to the table. It's basically something between a Spandrel (which is a half-wheel vehicle) and a Storm (which is a half-track vehicle): the BTRD-D is armed like the Spandrel but looks a lot like the Storm. However, the Front Armor is equal to 2, therefore better, although very often it is not particularly relevant. The price is identical to that of the Storms: the latter has a better Anti-Tank, but the BTR-RD has the advantage of having a 4+ Skill which makes it much easier to Blitz and hit the enemy before they can destroy it.

The BTR-ZD in Team Yankee

BTR-ZD 23mm AA Platoon

The BTR-ZD is instead the anti-aircraft version of the BTR-D. It is equipped with a ZU-23-2 twin 23mm anti-aircraft gun positioned on top of its hull. Furthermore, if necessary, it can mount two SA-14 Gremin anti-aircraft missile launchers equipped with internal or external racks. It is a not exactly successful version as the gunner and the servant will have to take up positions outside the vehicle to operate the cannon, remaining very exposed to enemy fire. In gameplay terms, this is the cause of 0 armour values as both Front Armour, Side Armour, and also Top Armour. This is a not insignificant change since it makes these Is hit on 3+ vehicles also vulnerable to light weapons such as MGs. The BTR-ZD is worse than the Shilka also from other points of view: not being quadruple, the BTR-ZA has a Halted ROF equal to 5 (instead of 6), which can be felt. Furthermore, despite being Dedicated AA, it cannot count on the Radar and indeed has the Manual Tracking rule which makes it less effective in hitting Airplanes (not helicopters). He can use an SA-14 Gremlin at ROF 1, although this absolutely doesn't balance. It is important to note instead that the unit can only be composed of 2 or 3 vehicles, while the Shilka can be 2 or 4. The cost in points is substantially the same as the Shilka.

All in all, a very versatile platform! Don't leave your VDV unsupported and get some BTRs of all flavours in your lists! Enjoy.

~Livio Tonazzo