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- "Saunders may not be the strongest, but they are the wealthiest though. No other school in the nation has as many tanks as they do."
- ―Yukari Akiyama
Saunders University High School (サンダース大学付属高校) is one of the schools in Girls und Panzer. The school operates U.S. World War II tanks, primarily variants of the M4 Sherman medium tank, including an M4A6 and a British variant known as the Sherman Firefly. They are the richest high school, boasting the largest tank arsenal among them.
Saunders is a large school based in Nagasaki.
In terms of Sensha-dō, Saunders is recognised as a major threat to all parties in the Sensha-dō league, and have material resources well beyond that of any other school. Saunders easily have enough tanks to customise their line-up to combat certain opponents, and can also back their team indirectly with a large array of support facilities before and after the match.
Saunders is well known for being the richest of all the Japanese high schools. The students shamelessly thrive off their comfortable budget with an overall lenient curriculum. The school atmosphere is high-spirited and laid back. In addition to this, the current school commander, Kay, has a hobby for parties and an endless internal reservoir of energy, which leads to Saunders throwing huge parties for any and every possible reason (or none at all).
Unlike most other schools, students from other schools passing nearby are encouraged to stop by for a visit. Saunders also throws parties, contests or festivals that are open for anyone to participate in. These parties are marked by their hype and ridiculously oversized portions of fast food.
Saunders arsenal of Sensha-dō equipment is vast, as the school is unhindered by the financial constraints that affect their peers. Despite their potential for obtaining all kinds of powerful equipment, however, the maintenance of such a massive fleet of tanks causes bulk of their force to be variants of the M4 Sherman.
Saunders' regular uniform consists of a white collared shirt with a black tie, grey blazer and red skirt. Students have a choice between long grey socks, or long white stockings.
The Sensha-dō team wears a dark green tanker jacket with a black collar and white star on the sleeve. The jacket is worn with dark blue shorts. Members can also be seen wearing a tanker helmet. Both the helmet and jacket mimic the style of US tanker crews during WWII.
A cheerleading squad for the Sensha-dō team wear a yellow, white and blue cheerleading uniform, with the colours matching those on the school insignia.
Saunders' overall strategy is centered on local force concentration to destroy smaller, isolated enemy forces, hence inflicting cumulative losses on the enemy team as a whole. The tactics employed involve multiple platoons of two or three tanks working together to surround the opposition and attack from multiple sides.
In order to catch and trap the enemy before they can escape, Saunders has to rely on pre-emptive manoeuvres to cut-off enemy reinforcements or retreat paths, the motive of which often comes down to gut instinct. The quick and overwhelming application of force works best when employed against lone scouts early in the match, but such tactics mean that Saunders does little reconnaissance of their own.
Committing their forces in such a manner does open up the risk of having their entire force caught hopelessly out of position. Although it is frowned upon by the school community as a whole, certain members of the team will sometimes resort to unorthodox (even illegal) methods to acquire the intelligence critical towards putting Saunders' tanks in the right place at the right time.
Unlike many other schools, Saunders commanders prefer to keep their team's flag tank away from the fight, hidden behind their lines within defensible terrain. If it encounters an enemy threat, the standard protocol for the flag tank is to disengage and run until the main force can come to the rescue.
Saunders is a school located in Nagasaki, Japan and was originally part of a large group of private schools from kindergarten to university. The school was originally a land-based school ran by Americans, for Americans back in the old days and had a long history.
The American population was later moved elsewhere and the school became fully Japanese once they built their first school ship. Saunders still does exchange programs every year with American schools.
- Main article: Episode 5
Saunders University High School was the first opponent of Ooarai Girls Academy during the national Sensha-dō tournament. Their tanking skills being relatively unimpressive compared to the other major schools, Kay instead opted to make maximum use of their superior numbers in the match. They decided to field eight 75 mm M4s, one 76 mm M4A1 (serving as the flag tank) and one Sherman Firefly. Their lineup was discovered prior to the match by an undercover reconnaissance mission by Yukari Akiyama.
Not withstanding their advantage in numbers and material, Alisa, the one of Saunders' vice-commanders, used a radio intercepting balloon to tap into Ooarai's communications and was nearly able to trap the Ooarai's main force in the opening engagement. However, Miho Nishizumi noticed the radio tapping and instructed her radio operator, Saori Takebe, to use text messaging instead of their radio as a countermeasure, using their radios as counterintelligence. Ooarai managed to lure two of Saunders' tanks into an ambush and disabled one of them. As false signals sent the rest of Saunders' main force chasing off after a phantom Ooarai force, Ooarai's scouts skirted around and found Saunders' flag tank. Under attack and in desperate need of support, Alisa informed Kay of her trickery. Kay decided, to made up for the foul play, to pursue the opponent with only as many tanks as they had, instead of bringing her full force to bear. Ooarai won the match by disabling Saunders' flag tank after a heated chase.
After the match, Miho asked Kay why she deviated from her usual strategy. Kay responded that she wanted to make the match more fair since Ooarai was outnumbered, recognising that Sensha-dō is a sport with more to it than just winning.
Operation I Shall Return
- Main article: Saunders' Airlift Division
When Ooarai's school carrier was decreed to be decommissioned, their tanks were supposed to be handed over to MEXT. Kay received a distress call from Anzu Kadotani, and mobilised the Saunders' Airlift Division the night before Ooarai's scheduled closure.
On that night, Kay, Naomi and Alisa piloted a C-5M Super Galaxy airlifted to the Ooarai carrier. They landed on the school ship and took possession of Ooarai's Sensha-dō tanks under clandestine arrangement between Kay and the Ooarai Student Council. With the aid of a KC-10 Extender for mid-air refuelling, Saunders spirited the tanks away, whilst the Ooarai students claimed that the vehicles had been "lost".
Once Ooarai's Sensha-dō students had confirmed the location of their temporary residence, Saunders flew in and airdropped the tanks near the compound for the Ooarai students to recover. The only condition of the operation on Ooarai's part was that they continue practicing Sensha-dō, so that Saunders would have a chance to face them again in the following year's national tournament.
Against the All-Stars University Team
- Main article: Girls und Panzer der Film
Upon discovering that the fate of Ooarai would rest on an annihilation match against the All-Stars University Team and that Ooarai stood to fight with a numerical disadvantage of over twenty tanks, Darjeeling sent out an encoded message rallying reinforcements from various schools to aid Ooarai in their time of need. Saunders responded by sending three tanks: Kay commanded an M4, Alisa commanded an M4A1 76mm and Naomi commanded a Sherman Firefly. These tanks were initially part of Team Morning Glory. The tanks attempted to stop a breakthrough by Azumi Company early in the match, but were unable to maintain the chase when a barrage of enemy fire damaged their drive trains and turret rings.
Saunders tanks later joined the eastern utility gate team and was subsequently among the tanks surrounded in the amphitheater. When Rabbit Team sent the Ferris wheel rolling into the amphitheater, it was Naomi who placed the critical shot that sent the giant attraction hurtling through enemy lines, creating an opening in the encirclement.
The Firefly tank once again proved instrumental in Darjeeling's plan to defeat the T28 Super Heavy Tank. The 17-pounder gun was used to blow open a hole in the bridge as the T28 was crossing it, providing a gap for the Churchill VII to fire a shot into the T28's underbelly.
In the final stages of the battle, the Saunders tanks attempted to intercept the Bermuda Trio. However, the high-speed distraction and confusion tactics of the Megumi, Azumi and Rumi led to the immobilization of all three Saunders tanks without inflicting any returning casualties.
Flying Tankers Volunteer Force
- Main article: Flying Tankers Volunteer Group
The Flying Tankers Volunteer Force is the Tankathalon branch of Saunders University High School's Sensha-dō team.
Notable MembersSaunders University High School has three main characters of note.
- Main article: Kay
The overall commander of Saunders' Sensha-dō team. She is an energetic and charismatic leader. Her hometown is Sasebo, Nagasaki. She commands an M4 Sherman.
- Main article: Alisa
The vice commander of Saunders' Sensha-dō team and the overall commander of the Tankathlon team. She is a skilled radio operator who can become arrogant and underhanded during her matches. Her hometown is Sasebo, Nagasaki. In the anime she commands an M4A1, which can be modified to carry radio interception equipment at the expense of a turret-mounted ammunition rack.
- Main article: Naomi
The second vice commander of Saunders' Sensha-dō team. She acts as the commander and gunner of the team's Sherman Firefly tank, and is often seen chewing gum. She is able to attack enemies with deadly precision, even at long range while on the move. Her hometown is Sasebo, Nagasaki.
- Main article: Megumi
Megumi was a member of this school before she was recruited into the All-Stars University Team.
- Main article: Helmet-Chan
The loader for Alisa's M4A1(76) Sherman tank and vice commander of the Tankathlon team. Given her fan-name because she is one of the many Saunders crewmen wearing a helmet. Hence: ヘルメットちゃん (Helmet-Chan). Her actions during the battle against Ooarai give an idea of what the tank crew thinks of Alisa, with constant sighing and a worried expression when they were chased by Ooarai's tanks. She is the unfortunate witness and bystander to many of Alisa's less conventional tactics.
Also known as Met-chan (メットちゃん) or simply: Loader (装填手)
- Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey
- Boeing B-29 Super Fortress
- Douglas DC-3
- General Aircraft GAL.49 Hamilcar Glider
- Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy
- Lockheed C-130H Hercules
- Lockheed L-1011 Tristar
- Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation
- Lockheed U-2R Dragon Lady
- McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender
- Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe
- M4 Sherman
- M4A1(76) Sherman
- M4A2 Sherman
- Sherman VC Firefly
- M4A6 Sherman
- M22 Locust (Borrowed from BC Freedom)
- M1 Combat Car
- Their logo consists of their name "Saunders" written on a red and yellow ribbon over a white shield with a blue star and a yellow lightning.
- The name Saunders is a reference to Sergeant "Chip" Saunders, one of the main characters in the American series Combat! played by Vic Morrow.
- The shield form and the star are a reference to the US Army 2nd Infantry Division insigna with several differences.
- The shield color switch from black to white.
- The star color switch from white to blue.
- The original "Indianhead" is replaced by a yellow lightning.
- The lightining is reference to the lightning present on all Armored Division Insignas.
- The school's home base in Nagasaki Prefecture, may be a subtle reference to the atomic bombing of the city on August 5th 1945.
- The school ship is based on and named after the USS George Washington, an American Nimitz-class aircraft carrier currently in service.
- When caught by Saunders and questioned, Yukari claims to be "Sgt. Oddball" from the 6th Armored Division. That was the character played by Donald Sutherland in Kelly's Heroes, the movie Rabbit Team watches the night before the finals. The film also featured the Battle Hymn of the Republic as part of the movie's soundtrack.
- Saunders has enough Sensha-dō participants and tanks to constitute three separate teams.
- In the spin-off manga Ribbon Warrior, Saunders has division called "Flying Tankers Volunteer Group" for tankathlon competitions, commanded by Alisa. The name alludes to either the Flying Tigers 1st American Volunteer Group.
- Despite being a United States themed school, Saunders used a Sherman VC "Firefly" which was a British conversion of the Sherman M4A4 ("Sherman V" is the British terminology) replacing the gun with a 17pdr, and was never used by the US Army.
- The focus on Sherman variants in spite of the availability of far heavier Sensha-dō legal vehicles is supposedly motivated by simplification of supply and maintenance. This attitude emulates that of the United States ground forces in the European Theatre of WWII, who opposed the deployment of the M26 and T28 heavy tanks for fear of introducing complications into the nearly 5000km long supply line.
- At one point, Saunders tried to purchase a Karl-Gerät 040, despite it being a German-made machine, or a vehicle of similar performance to it.
- Although it is implied by Miho that Saunders possesses multiple Sherman VC Firefly tanks, they are only ever seen fielding one at any time.
- In the 3rd CD Drama it is mentioned that the school carrier supposedly has a railway. It's also mentioned that is the only school carrier with such mean of transport.
- Main article: Saunders Girls High School/Gallery
|Schools in Girls und Panzer ☰|
|Schools in The Anime Series||Anzio Girls High School ♦ Kuromorimine Girls Academy ♦ Ooarai Girls Academy ♦ Pravda Girls High School ♦ Saunders University High School ♦ St. Gloriana Girls College|
|Schools in Der Film||Chi-Ha-Tan Academy ♦ Jatkosota High School ♦ All-Stars University Team|
|Schools in Das Finale||BC Freedom High School|
|Schools in The Mangas||Bellwall Academy ♦ Bonple High School ♦ Gilbert High School ♦ Maginot Girls' Academy ♦ Tategoto High School ♦ Tatenashi High School ♦ West Kureoji Grona High School|
|Schools in Supplemental Material||Blue Division High School ♦ Count High School ♦ Gregor High School ♦ Koala Forest High School ♦ Maple High School ♦ Viggen High School ♦ Viking Fisheries High School ♦ Waffle Academy ♦ Yogurt Academy|