Posted on

Building a US Army for ‘Nam

With Shane Lindley
It all started one rainy day back in April. I was enjoying the latest podcast for No Dice No Glory on my daily commute to work and listening to my good friend, Tom Mullane espouse the latest version of Flames of War: Nam. Little did I know that one hour and twenty-six minutes later, it would be another project that I had become inspired to undertake.

A few texts here, and a bit of Googling there and the plan was set. I would be putting together the American force, while Tom would seek a more enlightened Communist path, building an absolute horde of PAVN.

This was not my first foray “In Country”. A few years ago I took advantage of Battlefront’s 40% off sale on the Vietnam model range, and had bought small starter forces for both PAVN and Americans (Because, Huey’s!), but suffering from another case of shiny model syndrome, meant they had sat waiting on the shelf until their moment for battle came around. That time was now, but first I’d have to establish what other models I needed to properly field my army.

Being something of a wargames butterfly, I knew I wanted a force that was varied, as well as fitting in with the picture of a typical American company in Vietnam that I had envisioned. This meant I would take an infantry company at the core of my army. I couldn’t resist bringing them to the fight in Huey’s, so I took a few helicopters to transport them too.

One of my favorite scenes in Full Metal Jacket is the infantry advancing on the city using the tanks as cover. I wanted enough armor in my list to make a difference, but not so much that it became the central theme of my list, so I opted for three Sheridan’s. With a few different tank options to consider, they seemed the most tactically flexible to me – well armed but cost-effective from a points value perspective. I’d envisioned using them as a handy threat to keep in reserve, hoping they could use their speed to get to where the action is fast

Until the Sheridan’s arrived, however, the infantry would have to rely on calling in artillery support when coming into enemy contact. This would come in the form of a squad of mortars and a battery of 3 105mm gun pieces. I knew I’d be facing large amounts of enemy infantry and having the ability to drop a couple of artillery templates on them would be an effective countermeasure.

Continuing to enjoy the benefits of Free World firepower, I rounded out my helicopter contingent with a couple of gunships. I already had a Hog, which I would field as a Gatling-armed copter, then added another Cobra.

The final piece of air support I took was a pair of Skyhawks. I love the models, and again, chose them because I find them emblematic of the Vietnam War. I just hoped that I’d have better luck with them than my German Stuka dive-bombers in Mid-War!

With the army selection done, and models ordered (taking advantage of Battlefront’s great promotional offer!) it was time to start painting. With such a varied force, choosing which historical division to base them on was a tough decision – I did my research and pondered on whether I wanted to field the army as Black Horse, Electric Strawberry or even something else. Eventually I decided to let visual aesthetic win over historical accuracy and made a mixture, basing units in a way that would represent a truly combined arms force.

Some people may frown at this, but if I embark on a new project that I am determined to see through to completion, I make myself a chart that tracks various stages of progress. You can see an example of the one I used to build this army, below. I find that not only does breaking the process down into manageable chunks make progress seem more achievable, but also checking a box off each time I complete a milestone becomes a satisfying reward unto itself. It may not be for everyone, and I’m sure it seems quite a rigid process to some, but I do find the results beneficial.

The infantry were the most complex minis to paint – who knew adding three different colors of blobs onto a hundred or so helmets would take so long! The extra time it took was certainly worth it and I found the final result rewarding. The sculpting is incredibly detailed. As I moved through the painting line, I was delighted to see little details on the webbing, and the quality of the guns.

Special mention has to go to the Special Forces unit that I included – there were only 12 of them so I decided to try something a little special that I’ve never attempted before on a mini of this scale. Looking at a lot of historical images for reference, I noticed that “the men with green faces” had noticeably defined eyes, so I attempted to paint them – a task certainly not for the faint of heart or shaky of hand! The results were mixed, but I got a couple to look good, and they all pass the three-feet test on the tabletop!

Clothes may make the man, but a good base makes the miniature. With everything painted, and the infantry attached to their bases, I set about adding textured pumice gel to give a dirt effect, followed by a custom flock recipe I concocted specifically for the occasion. Having amassed a wide collection of flock, static grasses and ground texture over the years, I like to create my own mix for new armies, so I mixed four different types together, and applied it liberally, followed by some judiciously placed tufts.

Starting the project in February and continuing at a fairly relaxed pace of a few nights every week, I’ve just been able to finish the project by the beginning of the summer – roughly five months. The miniatures are now ready to play their first game against Tom’s PAVN. Although, the idea of painting my own Vietnamese force does sound appealing. And I do think some APC’s would be a good addition. On to the next project!
~Shane

Posted on

Operation Buffalo

With Alan Graham
“Operation Buffalo was a motherf***er” , … Cpl John D. Musgrave, Medically Retired (Rifleman, 3d Platoon, D Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 1967-1968)

Operation Buffalo saw the worst casualties inflicted upon a single Marine Rifle company in a single day throughout the entire Vietnam war. B Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines which had started the day with approx. 150 men, lost 60 KIA, 60 WIA leaving less than 30 troops fit for duty.

Background
Just south of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone or the Dead Marine Zone as the Marines themselves called it), Con Thien was a United States Marine Corps base intended to form a strongpoint on the McNamara Line.

The McNamara line was supposed to be a wide (approx. 600m) protected strip of land that stretched several miles from strong-point to strong-point containing obstacles, minefields and sensors and was constructed to prevent the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) from infiltrating large forces across the DMZ. Construction started in the Spring of 1967 and actually limited the Marine’s combat activity due to the resources required to build this defensive system. This area was known as Leatherneck Square because of the Marines situated in the surrounding bases at Con Thien, Gio Linh, Dong Ha and Cam Lo.

For an old US News Archive about Marine life in Con Thien see here…

The 324B NVA Division had tried several times already to infiltrate across the DMZ and the Marines had managed to thwart these attempts formulating a series of operations including Operation Hastings, Prairie I-IV, Cimarron to name a few and, at the beginning of July 1967, Operation Buffalo.

2nd July
Early morning, Companies A and B of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines headed North on Highway 561, moving in parallel to each other at about 1000 metres apart. As B Company were close to a set of ruined buildings (known by the Marines as ‘the Market Place’ or just ‘the Market’) they made contact with the 90th Regiment 324B NVA Division and began to take sniper fire. As they responded by pushing forward to find the snipers the Marines were being sucked even deeper into an ambush and the enemy fire intensified. This was then backed up by coordinated enemy mortar and heavy artillery (from across the DMZ). The NVA also used flamethrowers to set alight to terrain, forcing the Marines back onto the road and exposing them to their fire.  A Company who were slightly further West had tripped two booby traps which had slowed them down and now they were taking fire themselves as they were trying to get to B Company. B Company’s Staff Sergeant Leon R. Burns called in air strikes which slowed and disrupted down the enemy, “I asked for napalm as close as 50 yards from us, some of it came in only 20 yards away. But I’m not complaining.”.

Click on the maps to see a larger version of them.

Back at Con Thien, the Command Post was listening to the battle as it unfolded and a first reaction rescue force was hastily assembled consisting of two forces, one from Con Thien which was made up of D Company and a platoon of four M48 tanks, the second was C Company (in Dong Ha) and would be helicoptered in to help. The Con Thien rescue force soon came under fire as it approached the cut-off troops but they managed to fend off an NVA unit that was trying to encircle B Company with some help from helicopter gunships. As C Company arrived on their LZ they to immediately came under heavy artillery fire and 11 men were wounded.

Despite the casualties the combined rescue force pushed on and soon met with the remaining Marines from B Company and started to organise a withdrawal. As many of the dead and wounded as possible (but not all) were brought back and were loaded up on the tanks, who then despite still being under attack from infantry and artillery set off South to the evacuation LZ.  Two tanks hit mines which further slowed down their progress. Once at the LZ yet more artillery caused more casualties and in the confusion almost 50 people headed back on foot to Con Thien, eventually these were picked up in the Trace and headed back to relative safety.

Click here to See Vietnam Tankers – Operation Buffalo Tank Crew Reunion interview for a fascinating first hand description of their actions that day…

More reinforcements were also arriving, K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines which was the battalion’s Bald Eagle Company, on standby at Dong Ha to reinforce any battalion who was in need, were dropped by helicopter in the Trace and made their way North to support A Company.

A Company meanwhile still remained in contact with the enemy and after successfully medevac’ing its first set of casualties, found their LZ being mortared then assaulted. However, by holding a defensive position and with K Company and artillery support they held their ground until the evening when the enemy finally withdrew.

At the end of the day, the battalion counted the total number was 53 KIA, 190 WIA and 34 missing (eventually leading to a count of 84 KIA).

3rd to 5th July
From the Combat After Action Report, Operation Buffalo, “…The NVA Forces appear to be fully aware of the Marine tradition to remove all wounded and dead from the battle field. Evacuation efforts were covered by enemy artillery, mortar and small arms-fire…”

More men were brought forward to recover the MIA. Companies I, K and L, 3/9 and a Battalion Landing Force 1/9 along with a couple of M48 tanks were moving back up to the Marketplace.

Continuous airstrikes the previous day had prepared for the attack, but heavy resistance was still met by the Marines, resulting in another 15 KIA and 33 WIA. Finally, there was relatively little ground contact and so the MIA could be searched for and almost all were found and returned to Con Thien.

6th and 7th July
There were still several significant actions within Operation Buffalo, one of which was the establishment of a patrol base by Alpha-Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marne Division. This base was over 1km forward of the battalion line, just less than 2km South of the DMZ, in a hamlet called Thon Phong Xuan. While on early morning patrol A-C company discovered an unoccupied NVA Bunker complex which they then themselves occupied with a three-sixty perimeter and waited. Towards early evening, lookouts spotted approx. 400 NVA marching in column to the bunker complex and radioed ahead. The Marines then sprang their ambush and immediately caused significant casualties among the NVA, the rest immediately ran for cover to the sound of their bugle. The NVA soon re-organised and had mortar rounds coming down on the Marines, and were pushing forward through the bushes, and a series of repeated assaults were attempted which were pushed back throughout most of the night.

In one instance, Lance Corporal Stuckey’s crater was being attacked by the NVA who were throwing Chicom grenades into his position, Stuckey responded by picking them up and throwing them back, until one finally exploded in his hand and took it off. Unable to continue fighting. Stuckey initially refused to leave his companion but eventually had to pull back, and in doing so was shot in the leg and then concussed by more grenades before feigning death until morning where he was discovered and returned to relative safety. Lance Corporal Stuckey was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions. A-C1/9 then left the patrol base early the following morning and just 30 minutes after they had left the NVA started bombarding the base with mortar rounds.

8th July
The last significant fighting took place South-West of Con Thien when G Company BLT 2/3 discovered a bunker complex, after taking a small amount of fire, artillery and air support was immediately called to attack it. The follow up operation still found some NVA continuing to fight, eventually the bunker complex was cleared with 2 Marines KIA and 29 WIA. G Company reported 39 dead NVA.

9th to 14th July
There were no more significant ground operations, only harassing artillery fire.

The operation ended on the 14th July.

The Marines reported enemy dead at 1,290 KIA and 2 captured. Marine losses in contrast totaled 159 KIA and 345 wounded.

References

  1. Operation Buffalo: USMC Fight for the DMZ by K.W. Nolan 1992
  2. U.S. Marines In Vietnam: Fighting The North Vietnamese, 1967 by Gary L Telfer; Lane Rogers; V Keith Fleming. https://archive.org/details/FightingTheNorthVietnamese…
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Buffalo_(1967)…
  4. Vietnam Tankers, Operation Buffalo, 2nd July 1967, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b34it0qisi4…
  5. http://www.talkingproud.us/Military/WalkingDead/WalkingDead.html…

 

Posted on

NAM: Up the River at No Dice, No Glory

Dane over at No Dice, No Glory has written a battlereport on a game he had using ‘Nam. This was his second game using the book and this time he opted to play the mission Up River. He faced off against Paul and his Local Forces in a 65 point game. Will the Riverine Forces come out on top or will the Local Forces overwhelm them? Check out the full article see how the battle went.

NAM: Up the River at No Dice, No Glory…

Posted on

Breakthrough Assault – Nam Demo Day At Entoyment Hobby Store

Jersey James at Breakthrough Assault did a ‘Nam Demonstration game at Entoyment Hobby Store in Parkstone on the South Coast of England. He showed off his Brown Water Navy by doing some River Patrol missions and getting a chance to show off the game to some Flames Of War regulars who might not have seen the game before hand. Check it out here to see how it went.

Breakthrough Assault – Nam Demo Day At Entoyment…

Posted on

International Table Top Day Sale This Weekend!

April 28th is International Table Top Day. It’s a day to celebrate tabletop gaming in all its glory and share the hobby with some friends, after all one of the best parts about tabletop gaming is the community. To celebrate the day we are giving a 20% discount this weekend from the 27th of April to the 30th of April on Army Boxes, Unit Card Packs and the ‘Nam book itself!

We are still running our launch sale which gives 25% off across the rest of the range but since all good things must come to an end this will be finishing on the 31st of May. That’s just time for you to pick up a book and unit cards on sale this weekend and have a chance to work out an army and pick it up at a great price.

Don’t miss out on this weekends sale on the book, unit cards and army deals though!

Posted on

‘Nam Website Update

We’ve been busy adding a pile of new product spotlights and assembly guides to the ‘Nam website to make it easier to assemble your models as well as checking out what you can expect to find in your blisters. We still have some more to go so keep an eye on the website as we add more content.

There has also been a restock of the range over the last couple of weeks so if you’ve been waiting to dive in to ‘Nam then now as your change whilst the 25% off launch sale is still on.

 

 

Posted on

‘Nam Now On Flames Of War Digital

You can now download ‘Nam on the Flames Of War Digital App.

The Flames Of War Digital App has been designed to allow you to carry all of your Flames Of War, Team Yankee and ‘Nam books in one place without having to break your back.

Find out how to get the most from the app here (over on the Flames Of War website)…

Download the app from the iTunes Store here (iPad only)…
Download the app from the Google Play store here…

Flames Of War Digital

 

Posted on

K-2 Ironclad Battalion Army Deal (VPAAB01) Spotlight

K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) Contains nine plastic T-54 Tanks, two ZSU-57-2 Tanks and one decal sheet.

Maoist doctrine calls for three phases in a revolutionary war. In the first phase, the revolutionaries gain the support of the population. In the second phase, guerrilla forces attack military and other vital targets. In the third phase, the revolutionary forces switch to conventional warfare, defeating the military, seizing cities, and taking control of the country. By 1971, with the ‘Vietnamisation’ of the war and the withdrawal of Free World forces, the Nationalists believed that the time had come for the third phase. They started forming large conventional forces including armour and artillery and conducting combined-arms operations.

Check out The K-2 Ironclad Battalion in the Online Store…

K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
T-54 Tank (plastic) (x9)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
ZSU-57-2 (x2)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)

The K-2 Ironclad Battalion In ‘Nam
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01) K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)

Assembling The K-2 Ironclad Battalion In ‘Nam
K-2 Ironclad Battalion (VPAAB01)
Posted on

Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop Army Deal (VUSAB01) Spotlight

Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Contains two plastic AH-1 Hueycobras, two plastic UH-1 Slicks, two plastic OH-6A Loachs, three M60 MG teams with M72 LAW and three decal sheets.

The ‘Skysoldiers’ of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) proved the concept of an entirely airmobile division to be not only feasible, but also highly effective against elusive guerilla forces in Operations All the Way and Silver Bayonet. Their unparalleled mobility allowed them to locate and engage the Vietnamese B3 Front in a series of battles in the Pleiku area of the Western Highlands culminating in the Battle of Ia Drang.

Check out The Airmobile Cavalry Troop in the Online Store…

Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
AH-1 Hueycobra Helicopter (plastic) (x2)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
OH-6 Loach Helicopter (plastic) (x2)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
UH-1 Slick Helicopter (plastic) (x2)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
M60 MG Team With M72 LAW (x3)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)

Decal Sheets
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)

The Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop In ‘Nam
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01) Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)

The Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop In ‘Nam
Airmobile Air Cavalry Troop (VUSAB01)