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Half the Battle: The ABC of APCs

Back in August, I discussed flanking manoeuvers. One of the most useful ways to accomplish a flanking attack is to make use of the Armored Personnel Carriers, or APCs: the M3 Halftrack for the US Army, and the SdKfz 250 for the Wehrmacht. These are without question the two most misunderstood vehicles in the game. Let’s find out what they are good for!

The M3 and the SdKfz 250 can be deployed as part of a Mechanized Infantry Assault Team. This is a two-star AT. So APCs have got to be better than regular trucks, right? Right! They’re not just bigger. They can also act as mobile deployment points. This gives your infantry a huge advantage over the enemy, particularly in assault missions: it is significantly more difficult to defend a position without knowing where the attacker is coming from. However there are practical considerations to keep in mind!

APCs Are Not Tanks

Yes, these are caterpillar tracks instead of rear wheels. Yes, the “A” in APC stands for “armored”. But we are talking about protection from small arms fire (pistols, rifles and SMGs) but not heavy machine guns, anti-armor weapons — and certainly not protection from tanks. A heavy tank can blow up an APC with a single armor-piercing shell. The mounted machine guns on the M3 and the SdKfz 250 are really just there to defend the vehicle against enemy infantry, and not much else. This brings us to the next piece of advice…

Avoid Main Roads

Nothing is more attractive to enemy tankers than the sweet smell of easy multi-kills. Open roads are like shooting galleries for panzer aces and bomber pilots. This is why you should heed player x11bck‘s words of wisdom:

Ask your teammates where the enemy tanks are. Use woods, sinks in the terrain or even river banks. Sometimes you will need to cross the open (e.g. iron bridge). Do it fast and find a good spot to hide right after.

Be Sneaky

So you are behind enemy lines, now it’s time to find a suitable parking spot. Ideally, you want to be close to the next unconquered capture point or mission objective, but still far enough to escape detection. If you can hide the vehicle behind trees or buildings, perfect! The enemy will be surprised when your troops attack out of nowhere. Of course, it’s always best if you plan in advance. Do some reconaissance work on foot before driving your entire squad into unfamiliar areas.

It’s Rude to Drive Off

If you select to deploy inside an APC that has already been moved to the combat zone, you will probably end up in the driver’s seat (the default seating for an empty vehicle). Our comrade x11bck has important advice for this particular case:

If you spawn in an APC, it’s not your first job to drive off with it. A team member might have placed it there because it’s a good spot. Check the surroundings for campers. 1-2 soldiers may defend the APC and move it when enemy found the APC. You should move it anyway from time to time.

Squad Only!

One last thing which is very important to keep in mind: the APC loses its ability to deploy troops if entered by an enemy soldier or by a member of a different AT! This last part may sound strange, but the game considers that your squad is no longer in control of the vehicle if any outsider gets in. So be sure to leave APCs alone if you’re not part of the Mechanized Infantry AT, or you may compromise your team’s efforts.

What are you waiting for soldier? We need heroes on the battlefield and generals to lead them!