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For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:AVRE

AVRE is a British Support unit available to the 15th infantry in phase A and phase B. It is well-armoured and sports a powerful anti-infantry gun capable of destroying most infantry groups with a single shot. On the downside, the AVRE can only fire at a 600m range and has a very long reload time.

Overview[]

Main article: Churchill tank

The ultimate incarnation of the infantry tank concept, the first version of the tank was designed with the expectation that fighting in Europe would be similar to the trench warfare of World War I. The A20, as it was designated, was quickly retired after the Dunkirk Evacuation, with the new specifications for an A22 infantry tank given to Vauxhall in June 1940. Fearing a Nazi invasion, the War Office specified that the design enter production within a year. And it did: The first Churchills rolled off the production line in July 1941.

The rapid pace of development resulted in many flaws and shortcomings, primarily caused by an underpowered engine and a weak 2-pounder gun mounted in the turret, somewhat compensated by a 3-inch howitzer mounted in the hull. Further iterations on the design eliminated many of them, with the Churchill Mk III finally proving itself in combat at the second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. Subsequent versions became the basis for several specialized variants and an indispensable part of Allied combat units, as they combined protection with maneuverability: The Churchill wasn't fast, but its suspension and all-around tracks allowed it to climb slopes other tanks could not.

The AVRE (Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers) was a variant developed by the Canadian Army as a result of the Dieppe Raid. The inability of armor or infantry to effectively penetrate the beach defenses during the landings dictated the need for a new design and the AVRE was the answer. It was a Churchill Mark III or Mark IV with the gun swapped out for a recoiling spigot mortar, affectionately called the Petard. It fired a 290 mm (11 in), 40 lb (18 kg) projectile containing a 28-pound high-explosive warhead, capable of demolishing any reinforced position in short order.

By the time of the invasion of France in June 1944, 180 AVREs have been converted. They were first deployed in Normandy by the 79th Armoured Division on D-Day, rapidly proving themselves to be crucial assets in neutralizing Nazi fortifications. The design was so successful that it continued to serve beyond the end of the war, built on the Churchill VII chassis.

Usage

79th Armoured Division had 1st Assault Brigade, RE which sent two squadrons from 5 Assault Regiment and 6 Assault Regiment to the Assault Divisions. 79th Armoured Division units were to be sent to any unit that needed to breach a heavily-entrenched enemy.

Strategy[]

The Churchill AVRE is a Churchill variant designed to engage soft targets, though its gun is more than capable of destroying light vehicles as well. With its 600m firing range, the tank is best suited for urban warfare and bocage combat, being able to blast away most infantry opposition with a single shot. On the downside, the petard takes a while to reload and as with all Churchill variants, it drives rather slowly.

The AVRE is able to take hits with 15 front armour, but if it is engaged in open terrain, it will usually have to traverse some distance before it can shoot back. Despite this, it remains the most heavily armoured tank unit available to the 15th infantry and could in effect be used as a make-shift lead tank while other tanks provide the firepower needed. Still, the AVRE performs best as infantry support, rooting out tough infantry opposition at close distances.

One one-star AVRE can be fielded in phase A, giving the 15th infantry access to a nearly impenetrable tank that can withstand all phase A German anti-tank units. Only the rare pak 43 or the HS 129 tank buster can veritably pose a threat at this stage. While it is very hard to destroy the AVRE, it can still be panicked by enemy fire at ranges where it is unable to fire back.



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