The Korean War using Crossfire

Some musing on using Crossfire for the Korean War. I took these notes from a thread on the Crossfire Discussion forum.

Dick Bryant

I use CF for the Korean War almost exclusively. Did a bit of research and was toying with
putting together a scenario book for the period. The North Koreans used Russian organization. I
have never been able to find info on the platoon and c0ompany level organization of the Chinese!
From various readings it would seem that they used a lot of Ad Hoc organization at that level.
Accounts talk of platoons or even companies armed only with hand grenades or with Sub machine guns
or with no weapons at all- they move through previous killed friendes and pick up theirs!

I usually give them 4 platoons to the company, one armed only with Submachine guns. They used a
lot of Russian and Nationalist Chinese (read WWII foreign aid US) weaponry.

The Chinese and NK charge like Japanese (ignore pins, etc) they have the leadership probs that the
Russians do. I also add a “Commissar”, a party operative that went along with the troops to insure
political loyalty. He adds 1 to help removal of Pins and Suppresses when within 2″ of the stand
being rallied.

The Chinese get 120mm off board mortars though there is some evidence that they didn’t use their
FOs properly and most of their artillery was pre-planned bombardment (see Hit the Dirt), the US
get recoilless rifles they act as HE against Infantry and AP against armor.

flamethrowers were used by the US. They come into play only in close combat where if present they
add 2 to the US side. More than one per company is too much, however.

The Chinese can use the human wave rule given in Hit The Dirt as well!

Bob Johnson

I’ve been reading the Korean War by Michael Hickey. Basically a history of the British
Commonwealth forces.
However, he gives this as the components of the NKPA Infantry Divisions with full complements:

12,000 men
HQ which includes a divisional commissar with deputies down to the battalion level.
Recce Coy
MG Battalion
3 Inf regiments with 3 battalions each
Mortar Battery
Field Artillery Company, Artillery Regt of 2 field, 1 medium and 1 SPA battalions
A Mortar Battalion
An Armored Infantry Battalion in APCs
Signal Battalion
Transport Battalion

The Invasion Force was organized as a Soviet Front with two armies:
1st Army = 1st Rifle Dv, 3rd Gds Dv, 4th Rifle DV, 6th Rifle Dv and 105th Armor Bde
2nd Army = 2nd Rifle, 7th Rifle and 7th Rifle
Not sure where the 206 Mech Infantry Regiment was, possibly with the 105th.
The 105th had three bns of T34/85 Tanks
Newer units (13th, 15, 19th Divs) held in Reserve
Other formations indluded:
122mm Heavy Arty Regiment
Various AA units
Motorcycle Recce Unit
Various Signal Units
Seaborne Commandos
Internal Security Units
Border Constabulary Units

NOTE: the 5th Dv was previously the PLA 164th Div; and the 6th was the 166th.
The 1st, 4th and 7th were partially formed from PLA Korean units as well.

Unfortunately he does not give the number of guns or tanks or men in the lower level units, nor
gives any information on how many coys and of what weapons were in a battalion or whether they
used platoons and squad formations.

From Joseph Bermudez on a defunct KW list serv

North Korean 4th Infantry Division (Estimated TOE strength: 11,000)

HQ Company

5th Rifle Regiment (Estimated TOE strength: 2,500)

Headquarters Company

Guard Platoon

Reconnaissance Platoon

Infantry Battalion (x3)

Infantry Company (x3)

Machinegun Section (2 x heavy machineguns)

Infantry Platoons (x3)

Machinegun Company (9 x heavy machineguns)

Mortar Company (9 x 82 mm mortars)

Antitank Rifle Platoon (9 x 14.5 mm antitank rifles)

Antitank Gun Platoon (2 x 45 mm antitank guns)

Signal Platoon

Battalion Rear Services

Heavy Machinegun Company (9 x heavy machine guns)

Sub-machinegun Company

Signal Company

AAA Platoon (6 x 12.7 mm AAMG)

Engineer Platoon

Regimental Artillery

76 mm Gun Battery (4 x 76 mm guns)

120 mm Howitzer Company (6 x 120 mm mortars)

45 mm Antitank Company (6 x 45mm antitank guns)

Regimental Rear Services

Supply Platoon

Maintenance Platoon

Medical Company

Veterinary Unit


16th Rifle Regiment

18th Rifle Regiment

4th Artillery Regiment

Observation, Signal, Reconnaissance Platoon

Ammunition Platoon

76 mm Gun Battalion (x2)

76 mm Gun Battery (x3, each with 4 x 76 mm guns)

122 mm Howitzer Battalion

122 mm Howitzer Battery (x3, each with 4 x 122 mm howitzers)

451st Signal Battalion

Antitank Battalion

Self-propelled gun Battalion (SU-76)

Engineer Battalion

Training Battalion

Reconnaissance Company

Division Rear Services

Medical Battalion

Transportation Company

Supply Services

I am curious about that veterinary unit. I presume for horses (oxen?), but to pull or carry what? Or maybe raions on the foot?

There are some relatively flat areas, but by far it is a land of narrow river valleys pretty much covered with rice paddies, rough hills and mountains that tend to steepness and sheer cliffs. Roads are dirt, curving around the hills and so narrow that two jeeps could barely pass each other – forget trucks or tanks. Some hills/mountains are partially tree covered, but many i not most are bare. Villages tend to small sized of mud or stone homes and near the rice paddies. The rice paddies were crossed by even narrower causeways and were fertilized with human excrement (kimchee excrement to boot). Most RRs, but not all, were narrow gauge with many tunnels (some quite long) and bridges. Much of the coastlines had the hills and mountains come down to the waterline or a few hundred yards from the seas. There were many coves and harbours with small fishing villages and a few sandy beaches on the west coast.

An interesting book to get is Dark Moon which is about US trained partisans or guerrillas that fought in North Korea after the war stabilized along the 38th parallel in 1951. Not many ideas for wargames so much, but pretty descriptive of terrain; of course, any book about the war will discuss the terrain. Most Korean War histories have some pictures and there is one book (I forget the name, possibly from LIFE magazine) that has a lot of pictures — I have to find it myself.

I believe this might be the one must site for KW gamers. A plethora of pictures, some maps, info on tanks, infantry weapons, etc. etc.

Also look at these on a long wet, cold day —->

Change the year for 1951,52, etc.

At the bottom of this site is a link to the KW web ring which you could use to search however many KW sites are on this ring – this one is #53

This is a gamers site

Click on the different names – personal pictures

From his book

And here are pages of KW links:

Ian Shaw


?? (??). Asian Small Unit Organisations of the Korean War. The Journal of the Society of 20th Century Wargamers, 43.

These are 1950 Organisations.

NKPA Infantry Battalion

Heavy Weapons: 9 81mm mortars, and 2 x 45mm A/T guns.

3 (Probably) x Infantry Company:

CHQ – Rifles, Carbines and/or SMG – 10 men

2 x Platoons :

1st Section – Officer with pistol, signaler with SMG, 1 A/T team with PTRD41, 1 SMG, 1 Runner with SMG, 5 men with SMG or rifle.

2nd and 3rd Sections, 9-10 men – 1 LMG, 2 SMG + 6/7
Rifle or SMG.

1 x Weapons Platoon – 1 MG Section – 4 MMG

1 Mortar section – 4 60mm mortars

Weapons are Russian/Chinese.

Don Wolff

I did some gathering of materials for doing Korea as well.

Mentioned was one of the official Army history series South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu [now
there’s a name for a set of rules or a scenario book]. It’s author Roy Appleman went on to write
several more books outside the official Army series covering the theater –

Disaster in Korea: The Chinese Confront MacArthur
East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea 1950
Escaping the Trap: The US Army X Corps in Northeast Korea 1950
Ridgway Duels for Korea

At the time they were published by Texas A&M University Press. All highly recommended as he covers
the action from tactical to strategic.

If you want a view from the other side, track down Enter the Dragon: China’s undeclared war
against the U.S. in Korea 1050-1, by Russell Spurr. He tracked down and interviewed foot sloggers
who survived the war to get their glimpse into the action. Interesting to see what the other guy
thought. And its much like Grant described about his experience before Belmont when he came to
discover that the other guys feared him just as much as he fear them.

Also mentioned is S.L.M Marshall’s The River and the Gauntlet. Get a hardback or reprint copy with
the tactical maps rather then the paperback which I’ve found often lacked said maps. Makes
understanding the tactical flow a lot easier. Even rarer and very useful is his work Infantry
Operations & Weapons Usage in Korea. The old photocopy pages I have show the printer to be
Greenhill Books. It contrasts well with his work Men Under Fire and notes differences between ETO
and Korea at the lower levels.

And there are differences. If you can rummage around, you might locate a copy of Battle Casualties
and Medical Statistics – U.S. Army Experience in the Korean War, by Frank A. Reister, published by
The Surgeon General Department of the Army. A little gem for statistical wonks.

Also on line there is this piece of work, Counterattack on the Naktong, 1950 –

In fact just a level up at

you’ll find all sorts of interesting pubs not at the official U.S. Army Military History Office,
but on line. I particularly enjoy, if only for the title –

You might pick this up –

Author Name: GIANGRECO, D.M.
Title: WAR IN KOREA 1950-1953
Publisher: PRESIDIO 1990
ISBN Number: 0-89141-379-0

Its an oversized picture book crammed with black and whites of the war. Lots of good images to
give you a feel for the various terrain situations that was Korea. A mix of everything except
dense forests. What trees clusters where around on slopes and mountain tops usually ended up as
clumps of twisted telephone poles after the usual American air or artillery prep. During the early
mobile phase of the war, there was a good deal of city fighting in urban terrain that wouldn’t be
that much different in structural appearance than the eastern front or the Balkans in WWII. Just
sub Chinese or Japanese [ST: or Korean] characters for the usual Cyrillic.

Vincent Tsao

> The North Koreans used Russian organization.

They certainly used by-the-book Soviet tactics, going for the flanks while the tanks went through
the center. Mao’s folks did not have any armored doctrine. They did get some tanks later and used
them as mobile artillery. My father-in-law got a bronze star by detecting one hidden in front of
his company and getting it taken out. One source (Hastings?) I’ve read says the 2.5″ bazooka had a
lot of trouble with the T34/85. Later 3.5″ models could take them out easily but by that time most
of the NK armor – and their aggressive use – was gone.

> Accounts talk of platoons or even companies armed only with hand grenades

I recently read a book about the Chinese Red Army (a 70’s book) and they mentioned the units armed
soley with grenades. They also said the Chinese used mortars effectively but had only 12 artillery
pieces per division. After Lin Piao was wounded the second commander (I forget his name) started
massing the guns for offensives.

According to SLA Marshall’s “The River and the Gauntlet” (loaned out years ago and never returned)
the Chinese used infiltration tactics at night, tending to move through low ground thus avoiding
UN troops dug-in on high ground. In the early clashes poor fire discipline by UN troops had them
fire at bugle calls, revealing their positions. After the initial rout this was cleared up and
Chinese attacks on later UN lines lacked room to manoeuvre, thus becoming straight WWI frontal
attacks by mobs of light infantry.

The British writer of the Chinese Red Army book thinks the whole Korean adventure had
made-in-Moscow stamped on it, claiming that Mao and Co. only found out about it a short time
before the invasion was launched.

Barrie Lovell

try and watch the recent film “Brotherhood”, about a two south Korean brothers during the war.
The film is a pretty recent one and is available quite cheaply on DVD.

It covers the whole war, and includes fighting in the countryside and towns in both winter and
summer. It’s not a bad film (if you overlook the propensity for hand to hand combat!) and I’m sure
it will give you all the inspiration you’ll need for your terrain.

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