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Armor/AFV: Softskins
Softskins group discussions.
Hosted by Darren Baker
Definition of softskins, stupid question!??
Wolf-Leader
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 03:39 AM UTC
I would like to know what the definition of what a softskin really is. Example: Is a M5A1 a softskin?
ukgeoff
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 04:00 AM UTC
To me, a "softskin" is any vehicle that has no armour plating. This would include motorcycles, jeeps/field cars, trucks etc. This definition can get a little blured around the edges when you consider vehicles that are normally "softskin", but have had armour added as field modifications (jeeps/gun trucks for example).
GunTruck
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 04:14 AM UTC
Generally speaking - from a model contest/display perspective - a Softskinned subject is a vehicle without heavy armor plating and primary weaponry that equips an AFV, i.e. a Tank. A Softskin subject is not normally considered as a centerpiece or major participant in a head-to-head AFV duel, and thus are classed away to be better considered in their own light. Panthers and Shermans are readily placed together whereas Hummers and Abrams MBT are not.

Softskins are ancillary military vehicles - like ambulances, staff cars, platform trucks, cargo trucks, and Jeeps. They are also light reconnassiance vehicles like Scout Cars and Armored Cars, and APC's (see below). They are also large transport vehicles like Tank Transporters and Missile Carriers in instances where they're aren't a lot of comparable vehicle models on display with them, or special classes setup of these subjects.

Softskins encompass virtually all wheeled military vehicles, because, by their nature they're lighter armed or armored as compared to the main battlefield combattants. There are vehicles like Gun Trucks, LAV's, or M8/M20 Armored Cars which can fall into a Softskin category, but when there are enough of this class of vehicle at a contest/display they usually get grouped into an intermediate class - often called Semi-Armored or Light Armored AFV's.

There are many examples of AFV's that could be considered "soft-skinned" like the M18 HellCat or Bradley IFV/CFV but they aren't placed into Softskin categories because of their role on the battlefield - regardless of their lighter armor plating. Their contemporaries are AFV's. Principle features of these subjects, i.e. tracks, main gun, turrets, etc are easier to compare in traditional AFV classes. Again, in the instance of enough of these subjects appearing at a contest/exhibition they too will often get split away into groupings closer to their class.

The Bradley IFV/CFV's earlier cousin in the M113 APC and the M18 HellCat's sister in the M39 Armored Utility Vehicle, conversely, do not automatically fall into an AFV class (usually) because of their mission profile and lack of armament. When there aren't enough of comparable subjects on display with them - then AFV classes are where they'll tend to go. But when there are comparable model vehicles, they usually and quickly get sectioned away into an intermediate class.

I often dream that one day the National Convention will become more of an exhibition than a contest. When there are reams and reams of armor models present, then the vehicle models are separated into like classes and a beautiful sea of evolution and purpose is presented for the observer - even the catch-all Softskins class will get broken down into better defined categories.

A Softskin is almost everything other than the AFV - even the little Panzer I is considered an AFV due to its mission profile and employment before it would ever be considered a "soft-skin". There are many, many, more examples of vehicles and subjects that could be listed here - but I tried to keep it brief and simple.

Hope this helps...

Gunnie
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 01:45 PM UTC
Couldn't have put it better myself Gunnie!!!!
You is the boy that knows...........
Hollowpoint
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 03:29 PM UTC
Yo, Gunnie.

I love most of the info you post on this board, but I gotta disagree with you on a few points of this subject.

Armored cars are not softskins -- they are armored cars. Just like an M113 armored personnel carrier. By definition, any AFV ( armored fighting vehicle, including the M18, the M8, the Bradley, M3 halftrack, etc., are AFVs -- they have armor, even if it may be thin.

A softskin is a vehicle without armor whatsoever, i.e., a motorcycle, a deuce-and-a-half, a jeep, a kubelwagen, a swimmwagen, an LRGD Chevy, many RSOs, a Demag D7, etc.

Some large contests may come up with intermediate categories in order to split large categories, but I wouldn't use those as any sort of gospel. Using mission as a divisor is absurd, in my opinion. Anyone who has studied war knows that AFVs (and softskins) have long been used outside of thei designated mission -- tanks have been used as artillery, tanks destroyers have been used as tanks, artillery has been used in direct fire against tanks and infantry, jeeps have been used as raiders, APCs carry anti-tank weapons, antiaircraft guns have often been used against ground vehicles and personnel ... it goes on and on.

Some hybrid vehicles, such as guntrucks, do cause fits for contest judges. Usually it comes down to the head judge making the call. Should Patton's Dodge command car (which has a few added armor plates) go into softskins or armored cars/halftracks? It's the head judge's call and he'll have supporters and detractors no matter which way he decides (especially if the "questionable" model wins).

This is one case where AMPS rules/judging definitely has an advantage. The category will only determine which table the model will sit on after it is judged. It won't affect anyone else's chances of winning or losing a medal.
MrRoo
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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 09:45 PM UTC
Softskins in Army terminology (boy this Aussie can use big words) are class B vehicles. Ones that are normally not in the front line. For example jeeps, motorcycles, cargo trucks, ambulances. Normally non armoured, rear ecalon vehicles and would include vehicles like the half track Opel Maultier - cargo version.

Cliff
AKA the GMC-CCKW kid
GunTruck
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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 05:46 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Armored cars are not softskins -- they are armored cars. Just like an M113 armored personnel carrier. By definition, any AFV ( armored fighting vehicle, including the M18, the M8, the Bradley, M3 halftrack, etc., are AFVs -- they have armor, even if it may be thin.

A softskin is a vehicle without armor whatsoever, i.e., a motorcycle, a deuce-and-a-half, a jeep, a kubelwagen, a swimmwagen, an LRGD Chevy, many RSOs, a Demag D7, etc.



Hollowpoint - if you re-read my post you'll see that I do know the difference between a softskin and an armored car - and I know where they fall in all contest situations - small locals, regionals, and nationals. I stated this several times. I'm well versed with AMPS and IPMS philosophies and I am an experienced National Level AFV Judge, and even was the Contest Director for the IPMS/USA National Convention once. I endeavored to explain common situations for vehicles in this subject matter when displayed or contested. Everyone who's been to a few local contest knows that if you've got two armored cars on the table with a Kubelwagen - the armored cars are not going to get sectioned away into a category by themselves, with artillery, or with the AFV's. I build these subjects and I judge them too.


Quoted Text

Some large contests may come up with intermediate categories in order to split large categories, but I wouldn't use those as any sort of gospel. Using mission as a divisor is absurd, in my opinion.



Again - agreed, but I certainly wasn't writing a dissertation on the reasoning behind when, how, and why categories are split. A "desert" vs. "non-desert" split might appear reasonable to you, but be absurd to someone else - yet - it happens. Contest categories are not split based on the educational level of the observers or modelers present. What I state is not "Gospel" it is merely what happens commonly - and what will continue to happen across the board until some Sage comes up with something better to barometer what is going to show up at a contest or display.


Quoted Text

Anyone who has studied war knows that AFVs (and softskins) have long been used outside of thei designated mission -- tanks have been used as artillery, tanks destroyers have been used as tanks, artillery has been used in direct fire against tanks and infantry, jeeps have been used as raiders, APCs carry anti-tank weapons, antiaircraft guns have often been used against ground vehicles and personnel ... it goes on and on.



Most, if not all, the observers at a display or contest (for which the event is hosted originally) are not War College Students. They are not cognizant of the fact that a M274 Mechanical Mule armed with the M29 155mm Davy Crockett Atomic Battle Group Delivery System could certainly be the centerpiece on a Pentomic Battlefield of the late 1950's early 1960's - despite the fact that is is considered a "softskin".

However, what an observer can do is compare "apples" to "apples". Sitting a Mule armed as I described above next to a Tiger I is absurd. It would confuse a seasoned AFV modeler as quickly as it would an observer - though it could be reasoned as appropriate because of their roles on a battlefield and capability of ranged attacks. I tried to leave all of these esoteric circumstances out of my post to answer his question - and keep it simple.


Quoted Text

Some hybrid vehicles, such as guntrucks, do cause fits for contest judges. Usually it comes down to the head judge making the call. Should Patton's Dodge command car (which has a few added armor plates) go into softskins or armored cars/halftracks? It's the head judge's call and he'll have supporters and detractors no matter which way he decides (especially if the "questionable" model wins).



It is fun to be Head Judge - isn't it?!? Patton's Dodge Command Car placement is dependent on the number of entries in the category and availability of splits by the host club. A few things could happen to it - but the circumstances need to be defined before presenting an opinion on "proper" placement ultimately.

Nice to have you respond HP - wish I lived closer to you. Talking about armor modeling is fun!


Quoted Text

This is one case where AMPS rules/judging definitely has an advantage. The category will only determine which table the model will sit on after it is judged. It won't affect anyone else's chances of winning or losing a medal.



Again - agreed, but I wasn't writing commentary on pros and cons of IPMS vs. AMPS. I think that to be a successful fish and evolve into something better - you should learn to "swim" in both waters. Yes, AMPS practice mitigates these issues, but what if you aren't fortunate enough to live on the East Coast, or have an AMPS group nearby. What if your friends and modeling companions participate in IPMS events, and like to have you along too? These situations apply to me - and I certainly can't always afford time and money to travel cross-country for an AMPS event. The next best thing is staying up on both and pitching in to help make things nicer and more entertaining for all the modelers I encounter. I don't hover around IPMS contests - and then run to Missing Links to slam "elite" IPMS modelers and pan them for how unfriendly they are. I know someone who did - even "ducked" me when I saw him - then did that very same thing. I thought this guy was a friend - but I certainly didn't paint AMPS in a negative light because he likes that system better.

What pains me is a limited view on the merits and detractions of any system of model evaluation. When a newcomer askes a question like that which began this thread - I divorce my answer from any rhetoric pro or con IPMS or AMPS - unless asked directly. Invariably, this opens the door to comparison between the two organizations - and it also seems IPMS takes it on the chin regularly. I endeavor to see the both in a positive light and convey that to the Forum.

Hope you don't take my response the wrong way - or feel that I'm upset with you.

Gunnie
Hollowpoint
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 10:58 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Hope you don't take my response the wrong way - or feel that I'm upset with you



Don't worry, Gunnie, I enjoy a lively debate and also wish we lived closer so we could talk armor in person.

I am an active member of both an AMPS club and an IPMS club, so I understand how both judging systems work. My biggest problem with your post is that (in my mind) you seemed to get lost in the weeds about how you have seen models categorized at IPMS contests.

The original question was "What is a softskin?" A quick and simple answer: "Any vehicle that does not have armor." Of course, there are many "gray area" vehicles.

I'm sure we both have tales about how models have been categorized, how splits have been made and the pros and cons of IPMS, AMPS and "Chicago Rules" contests. Maybe we ought to start another thread on that.
GunTruck
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 11:10 AM UTC
HP - I didn't get lost in the weeds in my post - it was intentional to point out where problems are without pointing fingers. One system suffers from that - another doesn't. Also, a cut-&-dry answer to a question like "any vehicle that doesn't have armor plating" leads to more questions and confusion - especially if one goes to an event and sees something to the contrary. A whole lot more goes into consideration of a softskin as opposed to an AFV - and it is beyond whether or not it has "armor plating" as applied to model contests. We can agree to disagree on that.

I think there could be long threads on the merits and detractions of the three systems as they apply to modelers who wish to compete, but I think that more who frequent this site are less interested in that than in learning new and effective modelling techniques. We'd bore them to tears

Gunnie
Hollowpoint
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 11:44 AM UTC

Quoted Text

We can agree to disagree on that.



Read you Lima Charlie.


Quoted Text

We'd bore them to tears



Roger that. Out.
TreadHead
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 01:20 PM UTC
Wow......now that was interesting reading IMHO.
MrRoo
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Posted: Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 08:27 PM UTC
well I agree with all that has been said on this subject. Mainly because it is confusing on what is or isn't a softskin and as I have never before put a model into a show I have not had the pleasure of watching how the judges do it. But who knows maybe one day soon.

Cliff (I'm a driver not a private)

AKA the CCKW kid
GenHalftrack
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Posted: Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 07:23 AM UTC
WOW! Great discussion on a subject that has caused controversy in the past. As head judge, I once thought I would have to call security over the matter of an M26 and whether or not the applied armor made it an AFV. I left it in the softskin category based on my own definition of the category. I prefer to call these type of vehicles "Support Vehicles", or as pointed out in one of the earlier essays, vehicles that are not originally intended or designed to be thrust into combat. Now, does this make the M32 Recovery Vehicle a softskin? Glad I didn't have one entered that day. Another way to look at it may be on how the vehicle is "dressed". An SAS jeep is sure designed and equiped for combat, at least in a defensive way, whereas a medic jeep couldn't even defend itself.
One last note. In the last contest I entered, my usually winning Kubelwagen was defeated by a Gun Truck. This is not to say it was not a better build, but only that it was a Gun Truck.

Till next time...........................................Ed #:-)