|Armor||Front 1 / Side 1 / Rear 1 / Top 1|
|Road Speed||110 km/h|
|Fuel Capacity||400 L|
|Type||Marines, Mechanized, Armored, Motorized, Support|
|Recoilliess Rifle||M40A1C RR (106mm HEAT)|
The M50 Ontos was a light recoilless rifle carrier introduced into the US Marine Corps in 1956, and employed until the end of the 1960's. It appears in both Wargame: Airland Battle and Wargame: Red Dragon as a light tank destroyer.
The M50 was originally commissioned by the US Army in 1952, as a companion for the gun-armed M56 Scorpion airborne self-propelled gun. The Ontos was intended as a vehicle for airborne troops, and hence had to fit into period transport aircraft, placing major limitations in terms of size and weight. The eventual product was an awkward-looking, compact vehicle, with heavy sloping to make the most of its thin steel armor. The Ontos' armament consisted of six 106 mm recoilless guns, mounted externally, which were aimed by means of four attached .50 caliber spotting rifles; a .30 caliber machine gun was additionally mounted on the gunner's cupola. The six gun configuration provided potentially enormous firepower – all six guns could be fired in quick succession – but required the crew to leave the vehicle in order to reload them. A GM 6-Cylinder engine propelled the Ontos to a maximum speed of 48 Km/h, to a maximum range of 240 Km.
Upon receipt of the prototypes, the US Army rejected the Ontos. Army assessors were unimpressed with the cramped confines of the miniscule vehicle, and were not sold on its unusual weapon configuration. That the Ontos could only carry eighteen rounds of 106 mm ammunition likely did not inspire confidence either. While the Army canceled its order, the US Marine Corps, typically lower in the pecking order for new equipment, picked up the discarded project, and a total of 297 were produced for USMC inventories.
In Marine hands, the M50 saw extensive service during the Vietnam war. While the rarity of North Vietnamese tanks ensured that the HEAT-firing Ontos was never used in its intended role, by most accounts the M50 provided valuable fire support to Marine infantrymen. While much more weakly armored than M-48 tanks, the Ontos was much more mobile, and its 106 mm rifles, discharged in rapid succession and firing anti-personnel canister rounds, were extremely effective against Vietnamese guerrillas.
Despite being well-liked by frontline troops, Marine Commanders were less enthused with the vehicle. With the war not yet over, Marine units began to dispense with their M50s in 1969; surviving M50s either ended up in civilian hands, or were destined for the scrapyard.
The Ontos is depicted as a 25-point light vehicle armed with inaccurate but rapidly firing recoilless guns. Compared with truck-mounted RCLs, the Ontos possesses much better armor, rate-of-fire and a somewhat improved AP rating.
Generally speaking, the Ontos is poorly suited to straight-up confrontations with enemy tanks, as it is outranged by virtually all opposition in that regard, and relatively lightly protected. With its high rate of fire, the M50 is best suited as a carefully managed ambush weapon, concealed along turns in roads or on the reverse side of forests. At close range, the Ontos' excellent rate of fire allows it to gain the upper hand, and in small groups M50s can generally overcome many low and mid-tier tanks in point-blank melees.
The Ontos also makes a particularly effective infantry support weapon. So long as it is not engaged by enemy ATGMs, the Ontos' high rate of fire allows it to effectively damage and suppress infantry in buildings, and savage infantry squads moving in the open. The vehicle's low ammunition supply, however, means that it must be supported by supply trucks in any prolonged action.
The Ontos is altogether unchanged from its incarnation in ALB, but it's cost has been reduced by 20%, to only 20 points. While previously the M50 was rather overpriced for its niche roles, it is now much more deserving of consideration.