The game was out with the normal historical scope of my blog as it was a variant of the Vietnam War scenario ‘Of the Birds and the Bees’ from the rulebook. We used the same forces as per the scenario – 6 US fire teams defending a firebase being attacked by initially 5 NVA fire teams who receive reinforcements each turn. The scenario as set out in FOF is to be played on a 2ft by 2ft table – we expanded that to 4ft by 4ft with eventually disastrous results for the NVA. We needed a bigger table as we had 6 members playing the game plus another 3 helping (!) make sense of the rules.
|US fire team surprised|
The game opens with the NVA automatically having the initiative for the first 3 turns with their objective being to overrun the base and eliminate all the US troops. The NVA quickly knocked out one US fire team and also ransacked the unoccupied US HQ but were held in check by a long continuing firefight with 2 of the other US fire teams. On turn 4 the NVA still held the initiative but the US players where then able to employ the 155mm guns in the firebase firing beehive shells – i.e. canister -directly at the NVA troops. This proved devastating as they hit 5 of the NVA fire teams effectively eliminating 3 of them. The game ended at that point – so the US were not able to deploy their gunship helicopter due on turn 5.
|US Firing line - M47 substituting for 155mm Howizter|
The first move of the game took over an hour to play as we all tried to understand the rules in particular the key action – reaction mechanism of the rules but the subsequent 3 moves were played in approx 20 minutes each. The game and the rules were enough of a success that I think we will be trying the rules again.
A fuller review of the rules will be published on Angus Konstam’s Edinburgh Wargames blog.
Notes on Beehive rounds Beehive is an anti-personnel round fired from an artillery gun. The round is packed with metal flechettes which are ejected from the shell during flight by a mechanical time fuze. It is so called because of the 'buzzing' sound the darts make when flying through the air. It is intended for use in direct fire against enemy troops.
The first round actually termed "beehive" was first fired in combat in 1966 and was thereafter used extensively in the Vietnam War, though the later development of the Killer Junior air burst technique provided an alternative to beehive in some situations. The primary beehive round for this purpose was the M546 anti-personnel tracer (APERS-T) shell which projected 8000 flechettes and was direct fired from a near horizontally levelled 105 mm howitzer. Beehive rounds were also created for 155mm Howitzers, recoilless anti-tank weapons including 90 mm, 106 mm, Ontoses and M48 tanks.
Beehive rounds were extensively used in the Vietnam War, for defence of firebase perimeters against massed enemy attacks, and because it could penetrate the thick canopy of the jungle and "pad" it out.