ANZACs in Vietnam – Steven’s Wargaming Project

When I was a kid, New Zealand troops were still fighting in Vietnam. I knew we had engineers, artillery and SAS over there. What I only realised recently is we also had infantry fighting alongside the Aussies. In fact New Zealand contributed one or two companies to an ANZAC battalion from May 1967 to Nov 1971. That is enough national connection for me, and I instantly started collecting figures for a new wargaming project. For Crossfire of course.


Introduction

ANZAC is the acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The term dates from WW1 but Anzac is now used any time ‘Kiwis’ are fighting alongside ‘Diggers’. Anzacs fought in Vietnam and had an unrivalled reputation for professionalism and effective soldiering. My interest is the infantry of 1st Australian Task Force (1AFT) particularly in the period where New Zealand contributed ground troops (May 1967 to Nov 1971). New Zealand had the only fully professional army in the Vietnam War, and the men had combat experience of jungle warfare in Borneo and Malaysia. The Australians also had a solid core of professionals but added national servicemen (‘nashos’) for numbers.

This is for For Crossfire. Probably more like the Schueler variant than Incoming!.


Steven’s Order of Battle

I want an ANZAC infantry battalion with some support assets from 1AFT. I particularly like the interesting M113 variants fielded by the Aussies.

Elements of 1AFT

  • 1 x ANZAC Infantry Battalion1
    • 1 x Battalion HQ
      • 1 x BC (+2)2
      • 1 x AR/SMG Squad17
      • 1 x OP/Air Liaison Team3
    • 3 x Australian Infantry Companies (A, B, C)4
      • 1 x CC (+2)2
      • 3 x Infantry Platoons
        • 1 x PC (+1)2
        • 3 x AR Squads17
        • 1 x 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher “Wombat Gun”5
    • 2 x New Zealand Infantry Companies (V, W)4
      • 1 x CC (+2)2
      • 1 x AR Assault Engineer Squad6
      • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm mortars (4 FM) 7
      • 3 x Infantry Platoons
        • 1 x PC (+1)2
        • 3 x AR Squads17
        • 1 x 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher “Wombat Gun”5
    • 1 x Support Company
      • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm mortars (12 FM) 8
      • 1 x Anti-tank or Dog-Tracker platoon9
        • Either Anti-tank platoon: 2 x 90mm M67 Recoilless Rifles
        • Or Dog-Tracker Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 2 x Dog-Tracker AR/SMG Squads
      • 1 x Recce platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 3 x AR/SMG Recon Squads17
      • 1 x MG platoon: 3 x HMG with M60 on tripod19
      • 1 x Assault Pioneer Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 2 x AR Assault Engineer Squads17
  • Elements of APC Transport Squadron10
    • 1 x 1966-70 APC Transport Section (1): 3 x M113A111,15
    • 1 x 1966-70 APC Transport Section (2): 3 x M113A1 with gun shield12,15
    • 1 x 1967-72 APC Transport Section (3)13:
      • 2 x M113A1 LRV with .30/.30 machine guns
      • 1 x M113A1
    • 1 x 1967-72 APC Transport Section (4)13:
      • 2 x M113A1 LRV with .30/.30 machine guns
      • 1 x M113A1 with gun shield
    • 1 x 1971-72 Support Troop: 4 x M113A1 FSV14,15
  • Elements of Tank Squadron
    • 1 x Troop: 4 x Centurion Mk 5/118
  • Off Table Task Force Assets
    • 1 x APC Troop/Battery: 4 or 6 x M125 81mm mortar carriers
    • 3 x Artillery Battery: 8 x 105mm M56 (1966) or M101 (1967+)15

Notes are in the sections below.


Infantry

(1) The Australian 1st Task Force (1AFT) had two Infantry Battalions in 1966-1967 and three in 1968-1972 (Bevis, 2015). Australian infantry battalions had four infantry companies but the New Zealand companies were additional so the ANZAC battalions often had five companies (Wikipedia: New Zealand in the Vietnam War). The New Zealand contingent were all from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR). Over the course of the war several battalions were ANZAC (Lyles, 2004):

Battalion Dates Infantry Companies Australian New Zealand
2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) May 1967 – May 1968 5 4 companies 2RAR Victor One Company (V1) (V2 from Dec 1967)
3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) Dec 1967 – May 1968 5 4 companies 3RAR Whisky One Company (W1)
ANZAC Battalion (2RAR/NZ) Mar 1967 – May 1968 5 A, B, and C Companies of 2RAR V2 (V3 from May 1968) and W1
ANZAC Battalion (4RAR/NZ) Jun 1968 – May 1969 5 three companies of 4RAR V3 and W1 (W2 from Nov 1968)
ANZAC Battalion (6RAR/NZ) May 1969 – May 1970 5 A, B, and D of 6RAR V4 and W2 (W3 from Nov 1969)
ANZAC Battalion (2RAR/NZ) May 1970 – May 1971 5 then 4 three companies of 2RAR V5 and W3 (withdrawn without replacement in Nov 1970)
ANZAC Battalion (4RAR/NZ) May 1971 – Nov 1971 4 B, C, and D companies of 4RAR V6

(2) Based on their combat record I think the ANZACs warrant +1 and +2 commanders, similar to the standard organisation for WW2 Germans.

(3) The “OP/Air Liaison Team”, where OP = Observation Post, was to arrange artillery and airforce support. I’m not sure yet whether I will depict them separately in Crossfire or assume all Commanders have this ability.

(4) Infantry Companies A, B and C are Australian and V and W are New Zealand (Wikipedia: New Zealand in the Vietnam War). See Note 1. Australian companies were numbered A, B, C and D, like British Battalions of WW2. Which company served in theatre depended on the battalion and the period.

(5) One 40mm M79 grenade launcher – “Wombat Gun” to the Aussies – was issued to each section. The grenadier carried an M16A1 to compensate for the weight of the grenade launcher. The M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot, shoulder-fired, break-action grenade launcher that fires a 40×46mm grenade (Wikipedia: M79 grenade launcher). The M79 can fire a wide variety of 40 mm rounds, including explosive, anti-personnel, smoke, buckshot, flechette (pointed steel projectiles with a vaned tail for stable flight), and illumination. US troops gave it a variety of nicknames based on its distinctive report (“Thumper”, “Thump-Gun”, “Bloop Tube”, “Big Ed”, “Elephant Gun,” and “Blooper”), or grenade size (“Can Cannon”). The M79 was viewed as “the platoon leader’s artillery” so in Crossfire I have grouped these at platoon level and treat them exactly like a on-table small mortar. It seems to me this was their function.

(6) From 19 May 1969 Assault Pioneer Sections were added to each of the New Zealand companies (Fairhead, 2014, cited in Wikipedia: New Zealand in the Vietnam War).

(7) From 19 May 1969 Mortar Sections were added to each of the New Zealand companies (Fairhead, 2014, cited in Wikipedia: New Zealand in the Vietnam War). This is a section rather than a battery so, to simulate this unit in Crossfire, I have reduced the fire missions available from the normal 12 FM to 4 FM. [I could have aggregated them to the battalion, but given it was just the Kiwi companies that had these extra mortars I figured I’d simulate it with the section inside the company.]

(8) Each battalion had a battery of six 81mm mortars. In Crossfire this is a single FO with off-table mortars.

(9) The 90mm M67 recoilless rifle was issued to ANZAC anti-tank platoons (Wikipedia: M67 recoilless rifle). It was considered effective but heavy. Due to its weight the ANZACs used it near the perimeter of their fire base. It was primarily used against personnel in combat, and saw little or no use against armour or fortifications. The M67 had a crew of three (gunner, assistant gunner and ammo bearer) (Weapons of the Vietnam War). In Crossfire I treat this as a 90mm direct fire HE weapon. But because the M67 was used so little, the anti-tank platoon doubled as dog-tracker platoon. I treat these guys as Recon troops.

(17) Bevis (2015) says the infantry squad had 1-2 66mm M72 LAW from 1968. Before that they had nothing, as they left their Carl Gustavs behind.

(19) The MG Platoon had 6 M60s on tripods. But I can’t for the life of me find M60s on tripods in 15mm scale. I suspect I’ll have to use guys with a bipod, lying down.

(AR) Assault Rifle. Two men in each section had a M16A1 because it was lighter and counter balanced other equipment they had to carry (radio, 40mm M79 grenade launcher). The others carried the SLR. In Crossfire I treat these as Rifle Squads (3d6 and 2d6 into cover) but with the SMG’s advantage of short range fire (4d6 and 3d6 into cover)

(AR/SMG) Battalion and company command squads and their escorts had a high proportion of Owen SMG amongst the assault rifles. I view this as an aesthetic thing at the level of Crossfire so count these as a normal AR squad.


M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers

(10) The Australians used several variants of the M113 in Vietnam (Wikipedia: M113 Armored Personnel Carrier; Wikipedia: Variants of the M113 armored personnel carrier):

  • M113A1 – the unmodified version with a .50 cal browning machine gun
  • M113A1 with gun shield – The Australians experimented with various gun shields to protect the commander. The main design of which was similar to the gun shield used on the U.S. M113 ACAV version.
  • M113A1 with M74C – The M74C turret, with twin 30 calibre machine guns, was an interim measure pending a final turret selection (Australian Military Vehicles Research: Australian Modifications to the M113A1 FOV in Vietnam). The turret is a simple drop in type of weapons system and fitted the standard commander’s cupola position. 20 were fitted during November – December 1966 to Alpha and Bravo vehicles. The turrets were not popular, only four were in service by December 1968, and the last were out of service in March 1969.
  • M113A1 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV) – The Australians eventually standardised on the Cadillac-Cage T-50 turret. This is the turret used on used on the V100/V150 series of armoured cars. This could be fitted with either two .30 cal Browning machine guns, or a combination with a M2 .50 cal machine gun and a .30 cal. Apparently the twin 30 was seen as a weapons system for an APC Regiment and the 50/30 combination was seen as a Cavalry Regiment type of weapon. The first turrets arrived and were fitted on July 1966. By the end of the Vietnam conflict most of the M113A1 with T50 turrets were still equipped with the 30/30 combination.
  • M113A1 Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) – Full designation “Carrier, Fire Support, Full Track M113A1 (FS) Saladin Turret”. The Saladin armoured car turret, with a 76 mm gun, made this a useful a fire support vehicle. [Note: the MRV variant, with the Scorpion turret, replaced the FSV after the Vietnam war. I didn’t realise before I purchased 4 MRV kits. Damn.]
  • M113 Fitter – Armoured recovery vehicle
  • M125 81mm mortar carriers

Wikipedia: Order of battle of Australian forces during the Vietnam War says these units provided the APCs:

1st APC Squadron – M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (May 1966 – January 1967)
A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment – M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (January 1967 – May 1969)
B Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment – M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (May 1969 – January 1971)

Here are my intended APCs in a different format:

Variant APC Section 1 APC Section 2 APC Section 3 APC Section 4 Support Troop Total
M113A1 3 1 4
M113A1 with gun shield 3 1 4
M113A1 LRV with .30/.30 2 2 4
M113A1 FSV 4 4
Total 3 3 3 3 4 16

(11) Bevis (2015) gives the 1966-70 order of battle for an APC section as ‘3x M113A1’. This section uses the unmodified version.

(12) Bevis (2015) gives the 1966-70 order of battle for an APC section as ‘3x M113A1’. This section has the variant with gun shields. Similar to the US ACAV variant.

(13) Bevis (2015) gives the 1967-72 order of battle for an APC section as ‘2x M113A1/twin .30″ turret, 1x M113A1/.50″ M2’. The ‘M113A1/twin .30″ turret’ has to the LRV with the T-50 turret and .30/.30 machine guns. Bevis (private communication) confirmed that the ‘M113A1/.50″ M2’ is the “vanilla M113A1 with the standard pintle mount fifty cal HMG”. I guess that is either the unmodified version or the variant with gun shields.

(14) The Support Troop is part of the 1971-72 order of battle for an APC Transport Squadron (Bevis, 2015). It had four M113A1 FSV.

(15) I can use models from the 1966-70 APC Transport Section and 1971-72 Support Troop for other purposes:

  • 1971-72 Cavalry Troop: 2 x M113A1 FSV; 3 x M113A1
  • 1971-72 Recce/Security Section: 3 x M113A1

Artillery

(16) 1ATF had a regiment of three batteries (Bevis, 2015). Each battery had 105mm M56 (1966) or 6x 105mm M101 (1967+). One battery was from New Zealand.


Tanks

(18) Australian tanks were provided by (Wikipedia: Order of battle of Australian forces during the Vietnam War):
A Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment – Centurion tanks (December 1969 – December 1970)
B Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment – Centurion tanks (February – December 1969)
C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment – Centurion tanks (February 1968 – February 1969 and December 1970)

A troop had four tanks.


Figures / Models

This is what I purchased.

BattleFront / Flames of War

BattleFront are a New Zealand company so where possible I buy from them. They are the outfit that make Flames of War and Team Yankee. But there are three places you have to look for kit:

BattleFront’s Nam range is running down and hard to find. Their Team Yankee range is expanding and overlaps slightly although the period is slightly later than Vietnam. I used Amazon, Ebay, and direct from both the Flames of War site and BattleFront NZ. The purchasing spree was not particularly planned as I got stuff as I found it. So some of the purchases were a little mis-guided.

2 x VAN242 – M113 FSV (Turrets) (2 turrets per pack)

Yay. It would have been better if they came with the M113 kit rather than having to buy separately, but do-able. I need four FSV turrets and four M113 kits for the Support Troop. See M113 FSV Turret Assembly.

1 x VAN243 – M113 M74C & T50 Turrets

In a moment of excitement I purchased this pack. But it turns out the M74C wasn’t common – they only had 20 and they quickly wore out. And there is a separate pack with M113 with T50 turret. So I’m not sure I’ll use them. See M113 M74C & T50 Turrets Assembly.

1 x TABX02 – Australian M113 (T50) Platoon (5 vehicles)

Yay. Perfect. I only need 4 but so I’ll have one spare to use with an FSV turret

1 x TDBX03 – French M113 or M106 Platoon (3 vehicles)

This was a bit of a mistake. I can use the vehicles, not as French but as Australian, but I was expecting 4 in the pack not 3.

4 x TUSO03 – Plastic M113 Sprue (1 vehicle)

I think it is brilliant you can buy individual sprue which are affordable. If I’d known about this earlier I would have got more and not the French tracks.

1 x VUSBX07 – US M113 Platoon (4 vehicles)

I want them for the ACAV variant for the gun shields. But it turns out the M113 Sprues have the ACAV option so I needn’t have bothered.

0 x VANBX01 – Australian Centurion Mark 5 (2 vehicles)

I could have got two of these if I could have found them.

3 x VAN040 – Australian Centurion Mark 5 (1 vehicle)

I need four. I only found three. Booo. I’ll keep looking. See Centurion Mark 5 Assembly.

1 x VSO109 – Australian Centurion Decal Sheet

3 x VAN702 – ANZAC Rifle Platoon

The ANZAC platoon pack has lots of good stuff. I like the Owen SMGs, the M60s, the Wombat guns, and the SLRs. There does seem to be a very high proportion of M16 guys compared to FN SLR guys. I was expecting a ratio about 2:7 but it is more like 1:1. So I’m going to have to heavily dilute the FoW Anzac riflemen with figures from other sources.

1 x VAN705 – ANZAC Mortar Platoon

Lots of mortars. Really I don’t need them because mortars are usually off table in Crossfire but I got them just in case. I always get the mortars just in case, but in 20 years of buying mortars just in case I have never actually field any. Sigh. At least the pack included some figures that I added to the infantry pot.

1 x VAN707 – ANZAC Anti-tank Platoon

I got six M67 and I only need two, but hey. Of course the anti-tank platoon was more often used as a dog-tracker platoon and FoW don’t have that variant. I’ll have to look elsewhere.

2 x TABX01 – Australian M113 MRV

They look cool. I purchased some of these before I realised I couldn’t use them for Vietnam. Damn.

That left me short a few things:

  • 1 x Centurion (out of stock)
  • 21 x Wombat guns (I dunno where I’m going to find them. The FoW pack has a few but I’d need to buy lots of surplus guys to get what I need)
  • 4 x Company Commander figures – officer and radio man
  • 5 x M60 for the squads
  • 1 x LAW for the squads
  • 3 x M60 on tripod with crew of two (nobody makes these. Urg!)
  • 9 x Platoon Commanders
  • 63 x FN SLR guys

So had a look at Peter Pig and Flashpoint Miniatures to fill in the gaps.

Flashpoint Miniatures

Flashpoint Minis: Vietnam were new to me. They have an extensive Vietnam range and, from what I can tell on their website, the figures look good. They also have interesting options missing from FoW and Peter Pig. Anzac tracker-dog teams and sappers. Yay!

By the way, their service is great. I recommend them.

ANZAC
1 x ANZ-01 ANZ Task Force HQ Platoon

I haven’t seen them yet but the pack looks promising. The website says, “45 Pieces; Enough Company HQ support specialists to support your Platoons in the field. Includes FO team, Aussie ‘sappers’, tracker-dog teams, Interpreter, M60 gunners.” Yay. I can get my dog-tracker platoon and perhaps the M60s on tripod. The FO team and Interpreter probably go into my Battalion Commander stand. And the sappers can give me more variety in the assault pioneers.

1 x ANZ-02 ANZ Task Force Rifle Platoon

The website says, “42 Figures – Enough of a wide selection of figures for a full strength Rifle platoon of three Sections.” I hope there are some Wombat Guns in there. And I hope I get lots of SLRs to compensate for the M16s in the FoW pack.

Peter Pig

From Peter Pig: Range 1 Vietnam tend to be small compared to other ranges so I don’t really want to use them too much. I usually use them to fill in gaps and that is what I’m doing here. There Anzac range doesn’t have the 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher. Damn.

4 x 15. Australians with FN rifle

There will only be three variants, so Peter Pig will give me a lot of the same. But mixed in with the other manufacturers it’ll be okay. And they have SLRs, yay!

1 x 50. Australian infantry with LMG

Good chance I’ll have too many M60s. But better too many than too few.

0 x 19. US troops with M79 Grenade launchers

Worse comes to worst I’ll have to buy some US troops with Wombat Gun and do some head swaps. Lose the US Helmet and add a Bush hat. I don’t fancy doing that 21 times.

From Peter Pig: Range 6 Heads

0 x 25. Modern bush hat

The brim is actually too big for an Anzac bush hat in Vietnam

0 x 26. Australian/Gurkha hat

The Aussies were proud of their hats, but didn’t wear them in theatre. But if I’m going to do a head swap, something I hate doing, then I may as well get something unique.

0 x 116. Australian/Gurkha that with side up

Ditto

0 x 115. Bandaged heads (all periods)

Okay, I’m being silly now.


References

Bevis, M. (2015). List AS18M Australian 1st Task Force: 1966-1972 Vietnam BT2

Fairhead, F. (2014). A duty done : a summary of operations by the Royal Australian Regiment in the Vietnam war 1965-1972 / by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Fred Fairhead. The Royal Australian Regiment Association SA Inc.

Lyles, K. (2004). Vietnam ANZACS: Australian and New Zealand Troops in Vietnam 1962-72 [Elite 103]. Osprey.

Wikipedia: M67 recoilless rifle

Wikipedia: New Zealand in the Vietnam War

Wikipedia: Order of battle of Australian forces during the Vietnam War

Wikipedia: M113 Armored Personnel Carrier

Wikipedia: Variants of the M113 armored personnel carrier

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