Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour Going Upcountry:
New Recruits For The Third Tour
with the Battlefront Studio.

For many of us in the studio this “Third Tour”, as we’ve been calling it here, has taken root. Flames Of War Vietnam has expanded to include many new forces. Several of us have been getting excited about fielding our first Vietnam armies, so here Mike, Kyran, Wayne, and Casey discuss what’s got them hooked on this new exciting aspect to our favourite game.
Tour Of Duty
The Vietnam War defined a generation, whether it was through service in Vietnam or opposition to the war. The war in Vietnam remains one the bloodiest wars since the Second World War. 

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Tour Of Duty

Anybody But The First Of The Ninth...
Mike Haught's US Air Cavalry Troop
During the first two tours of Flames Of War: Vietnam, I have to admit I was not interested in enlisting. As an airplane fanatic, the helicopter models had great appeal, and I did get a few to paint up, but simply put I didn’t have the interest to propel it to the next level. When Phil began to organize the third tour for Vietnam, he asked me what it would take to get me into it. My answer was simple: “I want to be able to field a force where I don’t have to put a single boot on the ground.” Phil went away and a few days later he slapped the Air Cavalry Troop briefing on my desk. Looks like I’m heading for ’Nam after all!

It was a perfect storm. Phil’s briefing happened to coincide with me getting a Kindle eBook reader. I immediately found some Vietnam helicopter pilot memoirs. If you are interested in the helicopter war over Vietnam I would highly recommend the following: Chickenhawk by Robert Mason; Snake Pilot by Randy R. Zahn; Easy Target by Tom Smith and To the Limit by Tom A. Johnson.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
I still have a large backlog of books to read, but these were gripping stories, not to mention excellent sources of inspiration.

As with all new projects I get involved with, I do a lot of research trying to find out what unit I want to field. For me this was obvious: the 1st Cavalry Division. I quickly narrowed that down to the First of the Ninth (1st Squadron of the 9th Cavalry Regiment) who were made famous by Robert Duvall’s Stetson-wearing troop in the unforgettable film Apocalypse Now.

The Air Cavalry Troop provided the unit with its gunships and scouts. The troop also had a platoon of rifles that they could call in to launch rescues or mount a small operation. The whole unit was completely airmobile.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Building My Air Cav
I’ll start with the aeroscouts for a couple of reasons. The OH-6 Loach is one of the neatest helicopters in Vietnam. Tom Smith, author of Easy Target, was a Loach pilot and his book is a riveting story start to finish. He talks about how the aeroscouts had a 50% casualty rate due to their intensely dangerous missions. They were tasked with flying low (sometimes only a few feet above the ground) trying to find the enemy—it was hard to find a more deadly job in the Air Cav!

Left: The OH-6 Loach.
My 1500-point list has a pair of Loaches in it (known as a White Team). At the time of writing this article, the OH-6 model is still in development, but having seen the 3D renders as well as some of the rapid prototypes, I am very excited to get a hold of a few as soon as they become available!

Next are “The Blues” or more technically the aerorifle platoon (Blue Teams). This unit is a platoon of riflemen mounted in Hueys with the mission of supporting the Air Cav. They would be the ones to launch rescue missions, chase down and destroy enemy patrols on foot, and generally go out and find trouble. This platoon is five Hueys and up to nine MG teams, making them a powerful unit on the battlefield. Unlike other Slicks, the aerorifles’ choppers can stick around and lend some direct support, which suits my unit well. I took a full platoon in order to give me a few boots on the ground to take objectives or search some hooches.

Then I added my Red Teams, the gunships. My force is based on the 1st/9th later in the war, so I’ve gone entirely with Cobras. I’ll have two Red Teams, one with two standard Hueycobras, and one with two Gatling Cobras, armed with the impressive and devastating 20mm gatling cannon.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Finally, my force is supported by a pair of heavy Cobras from the aerial rocket artillery. Each of these two Cobras can fire a 76-rocket barrage, meaning I can either fire a normal bombardment each turn using a 6”x6” (15cm x 15cm) template, or empty my rocket pods and put down a 12”x12” (30cm x 30cm) Devastating Bombardment template (rerolling failed rolls to hit) per Cobra!
They have the ability to spend a turn returning to base and re-arming before coming back into play to carry on the devastation. However, they are still armed with a mini-gun and a grenade launcher, so in a pinch they can add some firepower to stop an NVA attack.

So that’s my army. True to Phil’s promise, I don’t have to put a single boot on the ground if I don’t want to, which is just too cool! I’m a few points over, but I can find the space somewhere if needed. I’ll have some interesting games ahead of me, but what I’m really looking forward to is getting involved in a large Total War game and playing the cavalry that rushes in to save the day (or not as the case may be)!

~ Mike.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Porky 7
Kyran Henry’s ANZAC Rifle Company
The Vietnam War was the longest major conflict in which Australian and New Zealand forces have been involved. It lasted ten years, from 1962 to 1972, and involved some 65,000 personnel. Australia had a limited initial commitment of just 30 military advisers which grew to include a battalion in 1965 and finally, in 1966, a task force. Each of the three services was involved, but the Army played the dominant role.

When we first started working on the Vietnam project in the Battlefront Studios two years ago I badgered Phil incessantly about ANZAC forces in Vietnam and begged him to do a list. Due to time constraints and the scope of the project involved the decision was made to focus on the American forces, particularly the Air Cavalry. This list was a lot of fun to play on the table top and Evan’s Helicopter models were fantastic.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Now two years on and Phil’s tome of Vietnam ‘Tour of Duty’ is reaching completion and I finally have the chance to build an Australian company and try them out on the table top.

As my Father served in Vietnam as a member of D Company, 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) on its second tour from 1970 -71, it was a no-brainer to build my force themed around one of 7RAR’s company’s.

Phil has designed the Anzac lists so they can provide you with an all Australian Company or an ANZAC Company, which combines Australians and New Zealanders. 7RAR was an all-Australian company (though interestingly they had a fair share of ex-pat British Officers, NCO’s and soldiers sprinkled across the Regiment.)

7RAR was formed at Puckapunyal, Victoria on 1 September 1965 as a part of the Australian Army’s build up for the Vietnam War. The battalion subsequently served twice in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Phuoc Tuy had been selected as the provincial site for Australia’s task force in Vietnam, a location for its base had to be chosen. There were three possibilities: Ba Ria, Phuoc Tuy’s capital; the port of Vung Tau; and an area in the province’s central region known as Nui Dat, Vietnamese for ‘small hill’.

Removed from population centres, but close to Viet Cong base areas, Nui Dat was considered ideal for the type of counter-insurgency warfare that Australians waged in Phuoc Tuy. Its location in the centre of the province meant that Nui Dat was in the middle of Viet Cong territory. Therefore, security was of prime importance. The villages nearest Nui Dat – Long Tan and Long Phuoc – were both considered Viet Cong strongholds and the Australian task force’s first commander, Brigadier O.D. Jackson, with the agreement of the Province Chief, had the people and livestock of the two villages forcibly resettled. The removal of the local people from the vicinity meant that the chances of the Viet Cong gathering information about the base and the movement of Australian troops were significantly reduced.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
The base at Nui Dat was established by members of the United States 173rd Airborne, the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) and the newly arrived 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR). The first soldiers to occupy it lived in tents and worked to establish defences. Every soldier at Nui Dat had a fighting pit. Elevated bunkers, manned 24 hours a day, were constructed around the base’s perimeter that was further defended by wire obstacles and belts of anti-personnel mines. Vegetation was cleared from a 500-metre wide area outside the wire to provide fields of fire and a clear view of approaching Viet Cong.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour The ANZAC forces maintained a sealed base at Nui Dat, being off limits to all Vietnamese. Even South Vietnamese military personnel were escorted at all times while on the base to ensure the safety of the soldiers stationed there.

During its second tour of Vietnam 7RAR took part in Operation Cung Chung. This operation involved four phases of activity from 12 June 1970 to February 1971. Cung Chung involved intensive patrolling and ambushes in order to deter the enemy from moving through the area. The operation was successful, but the consistent patrolling placed a strain on the troop’s morale.

December 1970 found B Company 7 RAR patrolling an area known as Nui Kho after aerial reconnaissance noticed increased track activity within the region. Over the next month B Company was to engage in a series of contacts with elements of D445 Battalion. During these contacts the company utilized a wide range of support weapons and equipment in combat roles thus making B Company 7 RAR an excellent choice to base my Flames Of War company on.

~ Kyran.
Surfing with the Alien
Wayne Turner’s ARVN Combat Car Squadron
Coming into Vietnam knowing only a little about the conflict (I always seemed to be working on something else each time Phil was working on it), I thought I’d really stretch myself and take someone a little different. The ARVN, or Army of the Republic of Vietnam, were the forces of the US backed South Vietnamese government. They were equipped with US equipment, some of it was the latest, and some of it was older equipment no longer used by the US.

I thought I’d go for a Chi Ðoàn Chiến Xa (pronounced chee doh-ahn chee-an sah, which showing the French influence in Vietnam, means Combat Car Squadron) of M41A3 Walker Bulldog light tanks. The Walker Bulldog piques my interest because it was used by New Zealand Army during the 1960s and 70s. However, they were only ever used for training and were never deployed for combat. Here was my chance to take some into combat with the ARVN. The ARVN pitted their armour against the PAVN’s armour during the Lam Son 719 operation into Laos in February and March 1971 where the M41A3 Walker Bulldog and M113 ACAV tanks clashed with communists’ PT-76 and T-34/85 tanks.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
M41A3 Walker Bulldog
The Walker Bulldog is fast moving and is rated Light Tank for its mobility. It is only lightly armoured with armour of Front 4, Side 2 and Top 1. It is armed with the M32 76mm gun with a range of 32”/80cm, ROF 2, Anti-tank 14 and Firepower 3+. It can also use Beehive ammunition which its 76mm gun into a giant shotgun, ideal for taking down enemy infantry, giving them an alternate range 8”/20cm, ROF 5, Anti-tank 1, Firepower 6 and can be fired on the move with no penalty to its ROF, but suffer a +1 penalty on its To Hit rolls if moving.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Based on experience with lighter equipment the ARVN armoured cavalry units were some of the first to adopt the M113 ACAV, a modification of the M113 APC to make it better suited to armed reconnaissance duties. In addition to the commanders .50 cal machine-gun, two M60 machine-guns were added. The .50 cal was also given an armoured shield and better armour was added the belly for protection against mines. Including the M16 Rifle Tank Escorts an ARVN M113 ACAV can spit out a total of ROF 6. The Command M113 ACAV with a M74C turret combined MG ROF is 7. This gives them plenty of anti-infantry firepower. One M113 ACAV is also fitted with a M40 106 recoilless rifle with range 32”/80cm, ROF 1, AT 14 and FP 2+.
M16 Rifle Teams
The infantry are equipped was M16 Rifle teams. These teams have a range up to 12”/30cm, ROF 2, Anti-tank 1 and Firepower 6. When firing in Defensive Fire they also gain an extra die of ROF per team. Each team is also equipped to deal with tanks and can fire alternatively with a M72 LAW rocket launcher. The M72 LAW has a Range 32”/80cm, ROF 1, Anti-tank 11 and Firepower 5+. In Assaults it is rated Tank Assault 5.
Motivation and the Officer Corps
The bulk of my force is Reluctant, due mainly to their lack of combat experience and too much time spent at the rear guarding headquarters. However, this does allow me to take a sizable force. The ARVN also have a special rule that may allow me some respite form bad morale. The ARVN Patronage special rule reflects the somewhat self-serving political nature of the ARVN officer corps. While an ARVN force cannot used the Appointing New Commanders rule on page 105 of the rulebook, they do get to roll for each Command team on the Patronage table. The grades an officer as a Crony, Palace Guard or Professional Officer. A Crony is all about looking after himself and is somewhat hard to kill. A Palace Guard to loyal to the regime and may re--roll failed Platoon Morale Checks, or if he is the Company Command team he can also re-roll failed Company Morale Checks. The Professional Officer has paid attention to all those US training course he has been sent on. They look after their men and can once per turn save a team from a hit on a 5+. This is rolled before the hit is resolved. If the roll fails the hit is resolved as normal with saves and firepower tests.

~ Wayne.
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
PAVN Tank Park
Casey Davies’ PAVN Ironclad Battalion
I’ll be one of the first to admit that the first couple of forays into Vietnam did not interest me, mainly because the choice of lists available didn’t suit my painting interests or playstyle. However with more people in the studio becoming excited about our third tour, and with the forces involved becoming more conventional, I thought I’d get in on the action. Being a Soviet tankophile in World War II Flames Of War it seemed only natural to leap to the aid of the PAVN and build a Tiểu Đoàn Thiết Giáp or Ironclad Battalion.

The Buildup
Throughout the 1960s the People’s Republic of Vietnam built up their armoured forces, equipping themselves with Soviet equipment and training with the Soviets in their tank doctrine.

By 1965 the North Vietnamese had three armoured (or Ironclad) regiments, that they were hesitant to commit to battle against the free world forces. They were under no illusion that their forces would not be able to stand up to American ground and air forces, so the PAVN sent them into Laos and Cambodia where they had a few minor skirmishes.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Throughout the 60s the Ho Chi Minh Trail had become a vital logistic artery for the North Vietnamese army. However in 1971 the southern leg of the trail was denied to them as Cambodia came under a Pro-American regime. American and ARVN troops raided the remaining PAVN bases, further restricting the PAVN supply to Laos.

With the Vietnamisation of the war in South Vietnam and the withdrawl of the US forces, it was now time to launch an offensive into southern Laos and test the ability of the ARVN to go it alone against the PAVN. Because of the lax security of the South Vietnamese and the uncanny ability of northern agents, the PAVN were well aware of the ARVN plans to invade southern Laos.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
Operation Lam Som
The South Vietnamese Operation Lam Sơn 719 gave the PAVN armoured force its first opportunity to undertake largescale operations against the ARVN. With no US ground forces involved, and the newly-arrived Soviet ZSU‑57‑2 twin 57mm anti-aircraft tanks available to keep the US and Vietnamese Air Forces off their backs, the North Vietnamese felt confident of their ability to engage and defeat the ARVN armoured cavalry brigade operating in the area.

TĐ 202 (202nd Armoured Regiment) assigned a battalion to each division, skilfully moving the tanks through dense jungle and mountainous terrain in preparation for each attack. The tanks were first used to capture Ranger North, a fire base covering the northern flank of the operation, then progressively rolled up the remaining fire bases in combined tank-infantry assaults.

While this was happening, a battalion operating along Route 9 prevented the cavalry from coming to the relief of the fire bases, resulting in some significant clashes between the tanks of both sides. Once the ARVN forces started to withdraw, TĐ 202 began a pursuit of the ARVN cavalry brigade that ultimately resulted in the loss of every tank in the South Vietnamese brigade.

Route 9 and the Se Pone River Valley
Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour
The List
There are a lot of cool new miniatures being released for the PAVN, so my primary goal was to design a list that would be interesting to build and paint that incorporated as many of the new miniatures as possible, rather than recreating a force from a specific encounter.

The coolest new miniature that the PAVN get has to be the Soviet T-54. Being such an impressive model, these has to be the core of the army. With Front Armour 12, Side armour 8, and an Anti tank rating of 16 with its 100mm gun it packs quite a punch while being quite survivable. I decided to invest some points into stabilisers to remove the +1 penalty that they would normally get for moving with a ROF 1 gun. I’ll deploy these in the centre of my force so they can support either flank.

Going Upcountry: New Recruits For The Third Tour The second combat platoon is made up of T-34s, mainly because I have a bit of a soft spot for them. To save a few points and to include the new models I replaced three of the T-34s with PT-76s. This units job will be deployed on the flank in most scenarios and try to work their way into flanking shots.

I’m a big fan of supporting tank forces with some infantry, as they can quite often get to places where the tanks can’t, so I included a small Mechanised Infantry Company. With AK-47 and B41 teams, this platoon can mix it up against infantry, tanks, and aircraft. Their BTR-50PK armoured transports increases their survival chances and firepower. I’ll use this unit to take advantage of any rough terrain on the table. The first thing I’d do when expanding the list out to 1750 points would be to add another infantry platoon to the company.

Finally, to finish the force off I have to add some anti-aircraft. My first choice is the ZSU-57-2 AA tanks because look so awesome. At ROF 5 and Anti-tank 12 they’re great at engaging both light armour and any marauding helicopters.
The last unit in the force is the divisional anti-aircraft to use as a dual AA and anti-infantry role. The great thing about these guns is that you can add extra crew to them to increase their ROF. Most of the time this unit will stay Concealed and Gone to Ground, then open up on the enemy with 15 shots!

~ Casey.