The Martial State of Taressim came into existence roughly a century before the events of The Nine Empires. For its entire existence, the country was engaged in nonstop war against surrounding countries, gobbling them up left and right until there was nowhere left to expand. At the beginning of the story, Taressim is abutting Sondor to the West, Drachania to the north, with the Kraichis desert acting as a buffer zone with Karaden to the East and Arcadia to the south. Taressim was able to expand into civilised territory so quickly because of the citizens’ utter devotion to the military, after all, it’s in the name: martial state. Though the manner of warfare was very traditional for most of the country’s existence, the current borderlands are, even at the time the actual story starts, in utter ruin from more industrialised warfare. Smaller countries saw the writing on the wall, and either asked to join larger powers such as Sondor, or beefed up their industry and began producing heavy artillery and land ironclads, some of which were copies of the Karadenian Iron Turtle. In addition, many of these nations dug trenches throughout their frontier regions in preparation for an attack.
Trench warfare is the most hellish form of stalemate. With no high walls to knock down, as with fortresses, breaking through the area denial system of heavy machine guns and light mortars is impossible for infantry and traditional cavalry. Armoured cars can endure heavy fire, for a time, but are ill-suited to driving on heavily-cratered ground. Therefore, Taressimian High Command ordered the development of an armoured vehicle specifically for the purpose of traversing rough terrain and breeching trenches. I provided a preview of the vehicle in question in my previous post. Here it is: the trench tank.
The standard model is armed with two 6-lb guns, however some division commanders had them replaced with guns as heavy as 15-lb howitzers. In addition, machine gun ports could easily be cut into the armour plate on the sides, providing additional anti-personnel capabilities. Furthermore, heavy machine guns can be temporarily mounted to the roof and operated from the open hatches. The field of vision, as one can imagine, is extremely limited from inside the tank, and does not overlap with the field of fire. This was not seen as a problem, given the tank’s role, and was corrected only in the command variant, shown below.
In addition to the third gun (same size as the other two), the driver is moved up to the lower forward part of the central cupola. The commander is in the upper cupola, and has 360 degrees of visibility, though still not excellent by any means. In fact, thanks to the larger windows and more forward position, the driver of the standard model probably has an easier time, even if he is less protected.
The trench tank is able to shrug off machine gun fire, shrapnel from artillery (though not direct hits), and anti-personnel mortar shells. It is also able to crush barbed wire and cross all but the widest of trenches. Toward the end of the latter campaigns, that last part became a serious problem, with Taressim’s enemies employing the tactic of abandoning their guns in certain sections of the trenches for the purpose of widening it. Since the Taressimian forces had no way of knowing what the enemy was up to, only that the fire cover was lighter in that area, that is where they would deploy their troops. Each tank, after all, could carry a squad of soldiers, which would exit from the rear of the vehicle. Taressim’s advance was significantly hampered when the tanks would fail to cross the trench, and instead drive right into huge pits. In order to abate this new obstacle, another variant of the trench tank was deployed: the APC, shown below.
This vehicle was much longer, and its centre of gravity was further back. The engine and other machinery was all placed toward the rear, leaving most of the vehicle as a lightweight, hollow box, with the weight of the soldiers inside being negligible. The trench APC could drive quite far over a sheer drop before it was in any risk of falling, and could, of course, cross much wider trenches than the standard model. Furthermore, the APC could carry an entire platoon, 30 men, rather than just one squad. Some variants of the APC had additional doors on the sides for rapid deployment, while others had machine guns sticking out in various directions to clear an area for the exiting platoon.
By the time that Taressim’s expansion stopped, a typical tank company looked like this:
This type of company, by the way, is called an infantry tank company, as the tanks themselves acted in support of the infantry, rather than separately as cavalry vehicles did in other countries in later years.
These tanks eventually did fight against forces of the other major Rossberan powers, with mixed results. Though they proved superior to the Iron Turtles of Karaden, they did not ultimately prevail. I will go into a little more detail about that conflict in my next post on the subject, when I show the Karadenian tanks.
As of this writing, the standard model and the APC are both available in 1/100 scale in my Shapeways shop.