Flames of War Vietnam

When Battlefront first announced they were putting out some rules and models to play Flames of War set in Vietnam those of us in my immediate gaming group got really excited. So excited, in fact, that my hetero life-mate James and I immediately decided who got to play U.S. and who had to play the Vietnamese. I negotiated the right to play U.S. by promising to play Syrians/Egyptians when the innevitable Arab-Israeli conflict was covered by Battlefront in the future. Once we decided who was playing what, we ran out and bought all we could: I got 3 platoons of infantry, the mortar platoon, full HQ with mortars, 3 UH-1D Slicks to deliver my boys to the battle field, and 2 UH-1B Hogs for support. That was December of 2009. Fast forward to last year when the mini-supplement came out along with the Tropic Lightning miniatures like the Pattons, Sheridans, et al. For some reason, my Namericans were still in the boxes. They were cleaned and primered, but still in the box. Ditto with James' Vietnamese. I bought a box set of the Pattons, Sheridans, M125/M106 Mortar Carriers, and a box of M113 APCs. This is also when I got the idea to build a game table replicating the scenery of the La Drang Valley, site of the major battle depicted in the Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers and the emphasis of the first Vietnam army list and scenario. Building the La Drang Valley complete with dried out river bed and Mountain was a large project all on its own. But once it was built, it was time to move on to painting the soldiers; all 4 platoons of them. Here is the story of those guys in photos:

La Drang Valley

Here is my 4' x 6' La Drang table top complete with dried out river bed and mountain ridge. I made it in 6 2'x2' sections, much like the Games Workshop board. I used hard board with insulation foam glued to it and used stacks of foam for the mountain. I also made some hills to break up the board until I get more trees, buildings, and rice paddies to fill up the scenery.

The Mountain

A shot of the mountain from across the valley at the river bed. Looks like a lot of open ground to cover. Wonder what is waiting in and around that mountain for us...

River Bed

Here is a closer perspective of the river bed. I carved it out of the foam and lined the bottom in small rocks with larger rocks marking areas where is gets more shallow near the shore. The beaches are done in the same small rock as the river bed. The river width is perfect for the JR Miniatures bridge as I wanted this table to double for Tunisia as well.

The Army

Here we see the entire force (as it stands right now) on the mountain. The HQ with medic and 3 attached mortars, three combat platoons including 2 LMGs each, and the mortar platoon consisting of 4 mortars, XO, and Observer. What I really need to find is a scale Loach Copter.

Medic

One of the highlights of the company HQ is the medic team. It moves like a heavy gun team but can keep your troops in the action after they take a wound. Seems like a good thing to have around.

1st Platoon

First platoon consists of the HQ, 6 M16 rifle teams and 2 LMGs. Each platoon has different color Silfor basing on them but all have the same color static grass as the board itself. This gives each platoon a unique and easy to identify look on the table but still ties them in with the rest of the army and their surroundings.

2nd Platoon

As you can see above, second platoon has some light colored rocks similar to the mountain cliffs as well as some browner, dried out Silfor brush clumps. I cannot recommend Silfor enough. It comes on plastic sheets, peels right off, and with a little glue goes right onto the base. Second platoon has the same make-up as first and third platoons.

Third Platoon

Third platoon has greener Silfor to make it stick out. Nothing new to say here that I didn't mention before. Note that in the Air Cav Rifle Company (Tropic Lightning p. 16) you can have 3 infantry platoons as combat choices, 1 as a weapons choice, and you can have another or a mechanized rifle platoon or Blackhorse Cavalry platoon as a divisional support choice.

Mortar HQ

Mortar platoon HQ. Notice the taller static grass distinguishing the weapons mortar platoon from the HQ mortars.

Mortar Team 1

Mortar team from the company HQ mortar platoon. Note the broken brown rocks that mark it as part of the company HQ.

Mortar Team 2

Tall static grass tells us this is a mortar from the weapons mortar platoon.

Observer

The Observer M16 rifle team attached to the weapons mortar platoon. Hidden in the dense undergrowth, he quietly observes the movemements of the North Vietnamese Army and alerts the mortar platoon of the best coordinates to strike!

Kilgore

This guy isn't so much a part of the La Drang or Tropic Lightning group. Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore is the Robert Duvall character from Apocalypes Now. I bought two platoons worth of models from Peter Pig so that my mechanized platoons would look different from the others. I got a few extra packs including tunnel rats, and leaders. One of the leader models sported the cavalry hat and made a perfect Kilgore so I had to do it.

LMG

One of my favorite poses in the Battle Front line is the prone light machine gunner. Hopefully, those two guys on their knees won't draw too much attention to them.

Platoon on the move

Third platoon is oscar mike as it gets ready to take up position to head off an assault from the numerous North Vietnamese. 

River Bed 1

What appears to be third platoon takes up position in the dried river bed to await the attack of the North Vietnamese.

River Bed Close Up

A closer view of the troops in the river bed (without seam edited).

River Bed 4

Bird's eye view of the lonely squad trying to maintain their position in the river bed. With so much ground to cover the platoon has to spread out in order to avoid being flanked. It gets real scary in the dark when you cannot see your comrades.

River Bed Up Close

"When will we be relieved? We are surrounded." says the radio man in the foreground.

Me Painting

Here I am working hard on the Namericans, trying to get them to the battlefield. In the foreground you can see the winter trees that I am also working on for our winter table. My daughter shot this photo one night when I wasn't looking. Nice to see I have a smile on my face while painting.

Base Labels

The army isn't complete until you put the base labels on. Color coded to make each model distinctive, they mark what each figure is as well as what company, platoon, and squad they belong to. If you have built your own 1st Cavalry Division army or are planning on it and would like to use the base labels I've made, click here.

That wraps up my introduction to my Namericans. Take a look at some fun photos and discussion about James' North Vietnamese HERE

Dan