I have found myself looking at the Portuguese Colonial War again recently. Last night I was reading “The Chopper Boys: Helicopter Warfare in Africa” by Al J Venter again and thought I’d share something on Helicopter Landing Zone Requirements and Procedures.
Chopper Landing Zones (LZ)
Of course all of “The Chopper Boys” is about helicopter warfare but the Landing Zone (LZ) requirements and procedures are on page 159.
Venter specifies the details for a Puma but I assume something similar applied to the Alouette III helicopters used by the Portuguese.
The short story is:
- 15m circle: Central hard surface where the helicopter lands. Cleared to ground level. A natural grass covering is best. Rubbish, tree stumps, loose gravel, loose grass, dust and ash are all bad.
- 35m circle: Cleared to ground level
- 50m circle: Cleared to 1m high
Judging by photos pilots sometimes softened these requirements and landed in tall grass.
Landing Zone (LZ) in Crossfire
So what does a helicopter LZ look like in Crossfire. Actually there are three sub-questions to be answered:
- Where can the LZ be on table?
- How big is the LZ on table?
- Does the LZ provide cover?
I reckon a LZ is either a open space between terrain features that is suitably large or a cleared area within a terrain feature. An example of the latter would be an area of elephant grass with a LZ cleared in the middle. Personally I would be disinclined to put a LZ in the middle of a Woods feature, but would be happy enough to put it in the gap between Woods features.
I believe Ground Scale in Crossfire is anything in the range 1:300 to 1:1700 and have settled on 1:1000 for most of my own games. At this scale a helicopter LZ would be 5cm (2″) across – much smaller than my area terrain features which start at 4″ across.
My choice of ground scale is unusual and most people play Crossfire at 1:300 to 1:500 scale. In fact for Fogo Cruzado variant, which is 1-to-1 figure scale, the smaller ground scale seems appropriate. This would make the LZ of 17cm or 10cm respectively, which corresponds to the size of my medium (6″) or small (4″) terrain features. So either a bigger gap between terrain features or a bigger gap in the middle of my elephant grass.
A cleared LZ should not provide cover. If, however, the LZ is improvised, say in long grass, then it would provide cover to direct fire.
Venter, A. J. (1994). The Chopper Boys: Helicopter Warfare in Africa. London: Greenhill Books.