Mid-War takes you to 1942-43 during the North African Campaign. The desert was the perfect stage for tank battles to play out. With flat open spaces, tanks could utilise their mobility to conduct fluid attacks.
“It was only in the desert that the principles of armoured warfare as they were taught in theory before the war could be fully applied and thoroughly developed. It was only in the desert that real tank battles were fought by large-scale formations.” - Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
As Field Marshal Erwin Rommel wrote in his memoirs “It was only in the desert that the principles of armored warfare as they were taught in theory before the war could be fully applied and thoroughly developed. It was only in the desert that real tank battles were fought by large-scale formations.”
So if you have always dreamed of the leading formations of tanks and duelling in the hot desert dans of North Africa, then Mid-War North Africa is for you.
Germans - Afrika Korps
The Germans have outstanding Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks that gave them the superiority throughout most of the North African campaign. It was also here in the Desert that they discovered an alternative use for the fearsome FlaK36 8.8cm Anti-aircraft gun, known to the Allies as the 88.
The Panzer IIIs were the main tanks of the Afrika Korps. They were a perfect balance of armour, mobility and firepower at that point of the war. Outranging the British tank guns, the Panzer IIs could pick off their British adversary before they could get into range to return effective fire.
The Panzer IV was envisaged to be an infantry support vehicle armed with a short barrel 7.5cm gun with a very effective High Explosive round but they soon realised that it was better platform to be a tank-killer, especially after it was upgraded with a long 7.5cm gun.
Originally designed as a heavy anti-aircraft gun, Rommel discovered that it could take out any tank at long ranges as well. Henceforth, the 8.8cm FlaK36 would be know to Allied tankers as the dreaded '88'.
The Tiger Tank was a 54-ton behemoth that was invincible when it made it's debut in North Africa. With armour so thick that none of the Allied tanks could penetrate from the front, and a 8.8cm gun that could reach out and destroy targets up to 1,800m, it was no wonder that for the rest of the war, whenever Allied tankers heard there were Tigers in the vicinity, they were almost always in fear.
However, the Germans, being an elite force will usually be a smaller force compared to the British or the Americans. Nevertheless, when used with clever tactics and daring leadership, the Afrika Korps will be a force to be reckoned with.
British - Desert Rats
The British have a strong presence in North Africa but had mainly inferior cruiser tanks for most of the battles so far. Now, re-armed with the new M3 Grants and M4 Shermans from their US Allies, they finally have a tank that can take the fight to the Germans and Italians.
The M3 Grant was the land-leased version of the U.S. M3 Lee. Up until it's arrival, the British cruiser tanks (A9, A10 & A13) were unable to effectively take out the German Panzer IIIs and IVs. Armed with both a 75mm gun in a side sponson and a 37mm gun in a turret, the M3 Grants were finally able to duel with their German adversary on more even grounds.
The Crusader, which had struggled against the German panzers, were given a new lease of life when it was upgraded with the new 6-pdr gun. While it's armour was not as thick as the Panzer IIIs and IVs, it was now just as capable to take them out with the new gun. Primarily used as a scout tank, German tankers would be wise not to underestimate this adversary.
The Churchill, despite a disastrous debut at the landings at Dieppe, was given a chance to prove itself in North Africa. As part of Kingforce, 6 Churchill IIIs redeemed themselves by proving their near invincibility in battle after taking on hundreds of hits but not one was destroyed. Later in Tunisia, one Churchill III with a 6-pdr gun even managed to jam the turret of a Tiger and forced the crew to abandon the tank. This famous Tiger, 131, was captured and taken back to the UK for studies. It has now been restored and put on display at Bovington Tank Museum.
After studying the captured Tiger 131, the British developed the 17-Pounder Anti-tank Gun. However, production of the 17-pounder was slow and there were limited units in North Africa. Utilise them wisely.
With this array of tanks and gun, you can lead the Desert Rats to finally push the Axis out of North Africa.
United States - Fighting First
Having stayed out of the war for the first 3 years, the American's first military operation was the landings in Northwest Africa. The U.S. Army, having mobilised after the attack on Pearl Harbour, were inexperienced but raring to take the fight to the Germans . They would soon receive their baptism of fire on the hots sands of North Africa.
Backed by their strong industrial might, the Americans brought with them the first tanks, the M4 Sherman, M3 Lee and M10 Tank Destroyer, that could go toe-to-toe with German Armour.
The M4A1 Sherman was the first model of Sherman to enter the war with the US Armoured Forces. Essentially a M3 Lee in design, it was given a full-traverse turret. It was a shock to the Germans when they first encountered it in North Africa. The M4 temporarily gave the Allies the upper hand.
The M3 Lee was a compromise in design to allow rapid production to fulfil the need for a medium tank. While having considerable firepower and adequate armour, the main weapon was mounted on a WWI-era sponson. This limited its traverse and exposed the hull when shooting. Nonetheless, the tank was welcomed addition to the army's arsenal.
The M10 was the most numerous U.S. Tank Destroyer. Mounting a 3" M7 gun, the M10 was capable of taking out most German panzers but with thin armour, it was easily destroyed itself. So use them with great care.
Now, take the Fighting First and fight for the freedom of the world.
Italian - Avanti
After the disastrous start to their North African conquest, the Italians requested the help from their German Allies. At the same time, they sent in their best troops, the Ariete Armoured Division and the Motorised Division Trieste.
The M14/41was outclassed by almost all the tanks it faced in North Africa. Despite this, it was highly effective against infantry and gun teams due to it's HE round and numerous Machine-guns.
The Semovente Assault Gun was intended originally to be used to support infantry as a close-assault artillery platform but when it was upgrade with a larger gun, it proved to be an effective tank-killer. With a low silhouette and deadly gun, it soon became the defacto tank on the Italian army.
Much like the FlaK36, the Cannone da 90/53 was designed to be an anti-aircraft gun but was soon modified onto a Lancia 3Ro Flatbed truck to be used in the anti-tank role. It was capable of destroying any Allied Tank up to 1000m.
Mobilise your forces, Avanti! Lead the fight for Il Duce.