12 February 2018

US Forces in Vietnam - Part 2

In part 2 of our delve into the US forces available for selection the new 'Nam release from Battlefront and Osprey, we'll take a look at the Marines in Vietnam and also Task Force 117.

We'll finish off with taking you through all the support choice you have approved to you via MACV.

Let's crack into it!

The United States Marine Corps

The USMC were some of the first US units to be deployed to Vietnam. They didn't have all the extra bells and whistles that the Army had in terms of air mobile support, so had airbases and firebases set up from which to launch operations, such as that at Khe Sanh.

In 'Nam, you can take a couple of different Marine formations. You have access to either the Marine Rifle Company or an M48 Patton Tank Company.

If you're taking a Marine Rifle Company, your HQ is 2 M16 teams.

You have to take 2 Marine Rifle Platoons with an option for a third if you want it. There are 3 options in terms of size for the Marines, giving you either 10, 7 or 4 M16 teams with integrated LAW. You can also add up to 2 M60 teams, 2 90mm AT teams or 2 LVTP-5 Transports.

Being Marines, you'll note that these guys are a bit tougher than their buddies in the Army, with better Courage, Morale and Rally ratings as a result.

Rounding out your formation choices for your Rifle Company you can choose to take some artillery support as one of either:

- an 81mm Mortar Platoon giving you 3 tubes, or
- an 81mm Mortar Firebase from Tropic Lightning, or
- a 4.2" Mortar Firebase from Tropic Lightning.

In your tank support options, you can choose to take one of either:

- an M48 Zippo Flame-tank Platoon, or
- an M48 Patton Platoon.

These are both Marine options and so benefit from being slightly better.

In your Zippo tank platoon, you can choose to have between 1 and 5 Flame-Tanks.

Your final option here is 2 Ontos Anti-tank Platoons. This was a unique piece of kit for the Corps. Originally built as a tank destroyer, due to the massive power of it's 6 106mm recoiless guns, it also found a place as a bunker buster and infantry support weapon.

You can have between 2 and 5 Ontos in each platoon.

Your other Marine formation option is the M48 Patton Tank Company.

Your HQ will consist of either 1 or 2 tanks.

You have to take at least 2 tank platoons with an option for a third. Each platoon can have between 2 and 5 M48 Patton tanks.

Rounding out your formation choices for the Tank Company, you can choose to take:

- a Marine Rifle Platoon, and
- an Ontos Anti-tank platoon, or
- an M48 Zippo Flame-tank Platoon

River Assault Flotilla One - Task Force 117

 It wasn't just the jungles of Vietnam where battle were fought. In the rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta, control of the waterways was needed to ensure the ongoing supply of food, mainly rice, to the South Vietnamese people.

In 1966, Task Force 117 was set up as part of the US Navy and Army river operations. This task force became known as the Mobile Riverine Force or MRF.

You only have a single formation choice here in the River Assault Squadron. Your HQ choice is a single Monitor Boat.

From there, your compulsory choices are:

- An Armoured Transport Carrier (ATC) with an attached Rifle Platoon, and
- An Assault Support Boat

Your ATC is just that, its an armoured troop carrier, based on a WWII landing craft. You do have the option of replacing your 20mm gun with a 40mm grenade launcher and you can also add a helipad.

Your Rifle Platoon is the same as we've seen previously in the Tropic Lightning article part, with full and short options.

You can also expand by taking another 2 ATC - Rifle Platoon combinations.

As well as these, you take an Assault Support Patrol BOAT (ASPB) to lead the column.  These "Alpha boats" are there to provide fire support for the troop carriers. As well as your compulsory ASPB, you have the option for 2 additional Alpha Boats.

Fleshing out your formation, your remaining choice in terms of options are:

- an ATC(H) Aid Boat
- an 81mm Mortar Platoon with between 3 and 4 tubes.
- 2 Zippo Monitor Boats
- 2 Monitor Boats
- a Scout Platoon from Tropic Lightning, and
- either an 81mm or 4.2" Mortar Firebase from Tropic Lightning.

Your ATC(H) is essentially a floating hospital which has the Medevac Special Rule, which we'll take a look at at the end of the article.

Monitors are slower than the ASPB but have a huge amount of firepower to support the convoy and were known as 'Mike boat'. There were also four Monitors which were converted into Zippo Monitors by the addition of two M10-8 flame guns.

US Support Units

The sheer volume of equipment sent to Vietnam was immense ranging from air support, artillery support and everything in between. We'll take a quick skim through your options here.

M42 Duster AA Platoon: Even the PAVN have air support now and then. The best defence is a good offence, or something like that....the M42 Duster should be able to sort that side of things out. You can get these in either 2 or 4 tank platoons.

Patrol Boats: Some more support in the water for the BWN. You can buy between 1 and 4 PBR's to offer some support...or maybe go hunting for Colonel Kurtz?

Pink Team: Allowing you some more support in the air, a Pink Team secures you an additional Loach and Cobra Gunship.

Skyraiders and Skyhawks: What? You want MORE air support? Well, fast movers inbound! You can choose from either the A-1 Skyraider or the A-4 Skyhawk. Both come in either pairs or quartets and can be upgraded with either Cluster bombs, Napalm bombs or Twin miniguns.

Special Forces Patrol: Be it the SEAL's, Force Recon or the LRRP's, these Special teams are represented as Special Forces patrols. You have 4 variants to choose from here:

1. Full Patrol with Helos: 6 x M16/LAW teams with 2 Huey's.
2. Full Patrol without Helos: As above without the Huey's.
3. Short Patrol with Helo: 3 x M16/LAW teams with a Huey/
4. Short Patrol without Helo: As above, no chopper.

You also have the option of replacing your M16's with Stoner 63 teams and from there you can also replace 2 M16 or Stoner 63 teams with M60 MG teams.

Artillery: Boom.....! Nothing better than pasting an area with some heavy shells before you go in, right? We have 4 options here, but you'll likely need some eyes in the sky as well, so there is a Huey available as your C&C OP.

1. M101 105mm Firebase which come in 3 or 6 gun batteries
2. M114 155mm Firebase, again in 3 or 6 gun batteries.

You can choose to also arm these with Firecracker ammo for some Salvo fun. As they're Firebases they count as Nests.

Your other options are Tank artillery in the form of either M108 (105mm) and M109 (155mm) SP artillery guns. These are again in either 3 or 6 gun batteries but you don't have the Firecracker option here.

Those are all approved for use...


"Dust-off" was the callsign for the medevac choppers, able to quickly enter the combat zone and get the wounded out of danger.

Combining either your medevac chopper or hospital boat, you can remove wounded markers from your troops and Medics and get rid of them.

Medevac choppers can hold 6 wounded markers instead of the 3 the Medic team has, while hospital boats have an unlimited wounded marker capacity. The catch is the team transferring the marker cannot be more than 2"/5cm away.

A Medevac chopper also loses all wounded markers when it loiters, which is pretty cool.

That does it for the US Forces in 'Nam. Next up, we'll be looking at the ANZAC forces.


  1. Notice that the Stat Card for the Cobra Gunship shows the Team Yankee Cobra. The Vietnam era AH-1G had a rounded nose. Just saying. Love the write-up.

  2. Great article.
    Very interesting, Thank you.

    Will be following your blog for more articles.
    Hope I'll get my book soon!