Tong Tank Destroyer
The Comintern's military in the period between the first and second world wars was built with the knowledge that the next great war would be a global one. In the first world war, the entente fought the Central Powers across three continents; with heavy fighting in Europe, Asia, and anti-German insurgency operations in Africa. In this war, the tank was used first and most by the Entente, with the central powers struggling to match the tank production of the entente. With the communist revolutions that formed the Soviet Union and American Republics and their allies; the conservative old guard who had remained hidebound to the old conception of the usage of tanks in warfare were thrown out on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Both sides conceived of a new idea of tank warfare where Tanks would be used as highly mobile, highly concentrated formations that would puncture lines and cause havoc with their breakthroughs.
This lead to the development of the idea of a tank destroyer. A mobile vehicle that would excel against enemy tanks and other armoured assets when placed in a defensive role or in a position where they had a commanding view of the battlefield. America preferred the idea of mobile, turretted tank destroyers, and given America's massive industrial capacity; this concept of the tank destroyer won out; though the Soviet preference for a casemate using, low to the ground Tank Destroyer was not forgotten. This resulted in the M31 Tong Tank Destroyer that could mount a devastating 122mm gun capable of monstrous penetration, and was very tough from the front; particularly from the gun mantlet which was well proofed against most forms of attack that could be arrayed against it. With its very powerful engine, it could also go quite fast; though its side and rear armour left much to be desired.
Some considered the design to be on the excessive side of things and criticized its relatively high profile for a tank destroyer as well as its soft sides and rear armour; and questioned the need for such an excessive 122mm rapid firing gun when by all sense and logic, guns of 105mm caliber or less should be the standard of the day and vehicles like the AMX Chevalier and the Skoda Gear Tank ought to be the main battle tanks of the time. The vehicle was also quite expensive, as this blend of qualities did not come cheap; nor did the HVAP ammunition that America was so fond of liberally making use of. Still, it found its place alongside other tank destroyers such as the Soviet Scope Tank Destroyer which used a casemate.
However, this all changed when the second world war began as swarms of heavily armoured and armed Alliance tanks began rolling across every shared border the Alliance and Comintern had. In the first few weeks of the war, it was quickly and conclusively proved that most guns couldn't hope to penetrate the armour of the formidable Alliance Thunderer Tanks; anyone using guns of less than the five inch caliber range was at best making dents, anti-tank rifles were glorified ways of announcing one's position to the enemy; and it took the heaviest guns the Communist International had to put a stop to the Thunderers, guns such as the D-50-Z 122mm gun on the M31 Tong Tank Destroyer's whose tungsten cored HVAP rounds or even standard AP rounds could defeat many frontal points of the Thunderer Tank's armor.
Though the Forge and Revolution tanks could stand up to the Thunderer and Retrievers pouring into red territory; they were not available in enough numbers at the time. So the Tongs and Scopes would need to buy the Internationale enough time to mobilize properly in the face of the brutal surprise attack of the Alliance. Comintern forces soon turned to employing these tank destroyers in ambush scenarios; a platoon of Tongs could lie in wait for an unsuspecting Thunderer column, before springing the trap and opening fire on the vulnerable rears of the British heavy tanks, which were considerably less well armoured and were easy prey for the heavy guns of the Tongs. Such tactics helped to slow the initial advances, giving time for the Comintern to get full war time mobilization underway.
The Tong continued to be employed extensively by the combined Comintern forces even after the Comintern had gotten Forge tank production up to full speed; indeed, several steps were taken to improve the effectiveness of the tank destroyers, such as the development of ultra-high velocity armour piercing ammunition that boasted greatly increased armour penetration to the point of being able to puncture multiple enemy targets in a row, though these rounds had such great momentum they tended to go in and out without completely destroying the target, requiring additional shots to put down the enemy. However with good aim these could immediately put a stop to an enemy vehicle. The most game-changing of the improvements made to the Tong, however, was the development of fibre-optic camouflage.
Even before this, Alliance Thunderer crews already had difficulties spotting well-concealed Tongs; now, it was nearly impossible for them to do so, particularly when taking into account the poor conditions of visibility that Thunderer crews already suffered from. Even infantrymen unhampered by the limitation of being inside a tank would have a hard time picking out a fibre-optic camouflaged Tong from a distance. This meant that Tongs could be sure of aiming for just the right spots to devastate with their guns, and could feel safe in holding their fire until enemy vehicles presented weak and flat armour to them or allowed them to put shots into vital areas like crew spaces or engines or even ammunition. It also meant that virtually any location could become a site of ambush.
Fortunately for the Alliance, the expense of fibre optic camouflage meant that, even by the end of the war, only a fraction of Bulldogs were ever equipped with such systems. Despite this, the Comintern had a tank destroyer that was powerful and effectively invisible. For Alliance tank crews, the war had become a nightmare, with the ever present fear that a Tong tank destroyer might be lying in wait somewhere nearby. By the end of the war, Bulldogs were accounting for a significant portion of Thunderer and Retriever kills, and had even claimed a few Mammut tanks. They had been particularly decisive in halting Alliance Counterattacks, such as the second battle of Mahan where dug in Comintern forces waiting for Indian forces to come at them; including factory fresh modern tanks from European MCV set up factories; where Iranian and Soviet forces outnumbered five to one repulsed the Indian advance with heavily lopsided casualties, letting Iran reclaim most all of its eastern flank from Indian occupation.
After the end of the war, tens of Thousands of Tongs were retired in favour of newer designs like the Plowshare Tank Destroyer in the Comintern's international military, though the design would see use in China, Indochina, and other locales. Like countless other vehicles, these Tongs would end up being donated in large numbers to various revolutionary movements such as the Vietminh, and of course to the Revolutionary Vanguard who took care to upgrade them with improved guns, ammunition, armour, and fiber optic camouflage systems as well as brand new fire control and command and control networking systems that allow them to dominate modern battlefields. Though the vehicle is certainly old; it remains deadly and continues to be cursed by the enemies of revolution.
They remain hellishly effective at their task; though their 122mm guns; is no longer all that powerful by modern standards, they compensate for this with an impressive rate of fire; additionally, the Tong's camouflage allows it to ambush tanks from behind, striking them in their vulnerable rear armour. Already, the Tong has proved its worth many times over to the Vanguard, and is particularly suited to their guerrilla tactics. Indeed, with the utter decimation of so many Peacemaker and Rear Echelon armoured units; the fear and trepidation regarding the simple possibility of a Tong platoon being nearby has never left the mind of an Alliance tanker; who is forever worried that at any moment, a 122mm shell could piece their hull and kill them. And that's just how the Vanguard likes it.
Red Chinese Tong Tank Destroyer
When one is fighting a war against an army that follows Alliance tactics and doctrine, be prepared to face a lot of armour. The Allies pride themselves on their tank divisions, and it is not much of a surprise that the Capitalist followed this philosophy too. Though admittedly with tanks of perhaps inferior quality to the Alliance proper, Jiang's endless hordes of tanks would not relent in their attempts to crush his old political rival beneath the stones in the war for China's soul. A seemingly endless sea of War Sage Tanks wandered throughout the Chinese landscape, hunting for enemies to crush beneath their treads; and it seemed that Jiang Jieshi would keep on creating the tanks for as long as he lived; upgrading them as needed to keep them at least marginally competitive one on one with more modern vehicles. And as poor as an individual War Sage tank might be, having low quality tanks on the battlefield was greatly preferable to having no tanks on the battlefield; and the cheapness of the War Sage ensured that the Blue Chinese *always* had tanks on the battlefield and they were well armoured enough from the front to give enemies problems.
As such the M31A3E5 Tong Tank Destroyer an updated version of the venerable M31 Ton Tank Destroyer, proved to be the perfect addition to the Socialists' forces. Sporting a larger, more powerful 152mm cannon, the A3E5 had no problem penetrating the front armour of War Sage Tanks. Though the Socialist Federation of China was reluctant to deploy camouflage technology en masse, for fear that the Alliance or Nationalists might capture a Tong and reverse engineer it, the sheer power of the new 152mm gun installed on the Tong made up for it to some extent. By the end of the Civil War, the Red Chinese Tongs could claim one of the highest average kill-ratios on the continent and, some would boast, the planet. Some tank destroyer aces such as famed female ace Mei "the destroyer" Yuan had kill scores reaching into the thousands; leaving nothing but twisted wrecks in their wake as Nationalist forces crumbled before their advance every time they decided to make a fight of their positions.
For most of their war, their tactics and roles were as simple as the cannon they sported - find the tanks of the enemy, and destroy them before they knew what hit them. But as the number of Blue Chinese tanks and soldiers continued to grow, bolstered eventually by clones and other, more horrid devices, the Tongs became hideously outnumbered. And as the Nationalists continued to push, and push, Tongs became more used for ambushing purposes as much as frontal combat machines, in an ironic echo to their brethren in other parts of the world. Red Chinese armies would allow their hated enemies to take ground in cities they fought over, taking just enough ground to be surrounded by buildings - and then Tongs, hidden by nothing more than dirt and camouflage, would destroy the very foundations of the buildings around them, causing part of the city itself to come crashing down on their enemies, burying even the dreaded Emperor Tanks.
It was a horrible, scorched earth tactic, but it worked. And after a while, it became the primary tactic Tongs were used for - killing their own nation's belongings in order to ensure the enemy lost more than they did, trying to bleed Blue China's advantages in numbers dry so as to even the odds for their comrades in the face of Jiang Jieshi's hordes. Such grisly work made Tong crews some of the most hardened soldiers in an already brutal and horrid war. Virtually every horror capable of being inflicted by war was witnessed by them, and the horror of battle became increasingly muted as the thoroughly desensitized soldiers cut down Blue Chinese, IPTO, Indian, Peacemaker, Rear Echelon, Contingent, Majapahit, Confederate, and Unionists troops and vehicles with increasingly little regard to what shade of blue the people they cut down were wearing. Even the activity of Epsilon's bloc in the third world war's perturbances into China and the actions of the Axis phased these jaded warriors very little.
After the bombs
Before the devastating atomic exchange severely crippled the Socialists' production capabilities, a large number of Tongs were refitted with experimental ray guns. These weapons proved immensely useful in combat, being capable of melting through tank armour with ease. As it is, following the atomic exchange, the Red Chinese no longer possess the infrastructure to build such high tech weapons as ray guns in any large numbers save for a number of facilities that escaped the bombs through sheer luck or heavy defenses or simply not being known about at the time. With only a limited number of the ray gun equipped Tongs, they command intense conflict over them, and only the most ruthless and power-mongering warlords or revivalists will ever gain access to them in the irradiated wastelands that were once the home of the world's oldest continuous civilization.
Unlike other vehicles used by the Red Chinese warlords and attempted continuation states, Tongs are quite rare...and very valuable. Many of them were still waiting in cities when nukes were launched at them, or eliminated quickly by Blue Chinese survivors overrunning their positions. Those in the open were quickly taken over by any survivors who could find them, and driven off into the wastelands in an attempt to protect themselves. Overall, less than a quarter of the Tongs in Red Chinese hands still exist in working order of those that were around during the last year of the Civil War and replacements are quite slow to arrive to the successors to the legacy of a Socialist China or come out of whatever factories still work or have been revived in the wastelands.
But for those warlord fiefdoms or revivalist realms that can find one, half-buried in the ruins of a former city or dug nearly to the top of the gun in mud, it is a glorious find. All available power will be sent towards dragging the Bulldog back to the warlord's holdings, and towards repairing it as soon as possible, for even one Tong is enough to decimate entire raiding parties of former Blue Chinese soldiers and drive back the attentions of the Heart Washers, the Indians, the Atomic Clones, or the even stranger things that prowl the hellscapes they call home. It is to the Red Chinese what a Plowshare Tank Destroyer is to the Comintern, and thus it is no surprise that the competition to crew one is highly intense.
The owner of a Tong is usually the right-hand person to a warlord, or even the warlord themselves; and in those with higher aspirations, will be put into elite units that enjoy tremendous prestige. And there is immense power in owning one, more than enough to offset the danger of a potential assassination, slander, or political trap in order to ensure the ownership passes on. When a Red Chinese Tong appears on the field of battle in China, even the soldiers of the Atomic Dynasty slightly shake. And when the forces of the Communist International's bloc venture into China, they will know that it is a very wise decision to hire those bands that have access to Tongs and bring them back into the Comintern's fold; so that they may make a stand against those who would try to make Chinese Socialism die a second death.
Vietminh Tong Tank Destroyer
Dispatched into South Vietnam at the behest of the Communist International, these wide tracked Tong Tank Destroyers are well suited to the marsh and jungles of Indochina and their skill at ambush has proven to be tremendously useful for the Vietminh; who are frequently and constantly beset by the armoured units of the Alliance. As the Fiber-Optics are rather maintenance intensive; the Vietminh have replaced them with more conventional but still quite effective foliage based camouflage that allow their Tongs to get the drop on the forces of the Empire of South Vietnam or the forces of the Alliance Proper. And even modern Merdeka tanks should learn to fear a 122mm round striking them in the rear.