Operation Biho (Flying Tiger)-6

30 January 1966

 

by W.S. McCallum

 

 

Go Noi Island lies inland in Quang Nam Province, about 20 km south of Da Nang (the area circled in red with the number 5 in the map below).

 

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Formed by the confluence of several rivers, the island is a fertile flood plain that also offers fertile ground for VC activity. Since January 9th, two battalions of the ROKA Tiger Division, with helicopter support from the 1st AirCav, have been clearing the area of VC units. Now, in the closing days of the operation, the hunt is on for an elusive VC HQ base that is rumoured to be in this area of the island:

 

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With the VCs' backs to the river, this road intersection looks like a good place for the Koreans to spring a search and destroy mission:

 

The intersection itself seems deserted.

 

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Further inland it is quiet too:

 

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The quietness is shattered by the distinctive sound of a low-flying AirCav Huey:

 

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And the clanking of ROKA tracks:

 

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The Game

 

The ROKA force moves up along both sides of the road, expecting an ambush at any moment:

 

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The VC offer their first riposte in the form of a 57mm recoilless rifle. As a dirty trick on their part, they have sited it right beside the local pho cart, doubtless hoping its location in this strategic spot will dissuade Free World fire:

 

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Not a bad opening shot:

 

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The leading M113 goes up in smoke:

 

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The burning track attracts the attention of the UH1-B Frog, which roars over to identify the source of the shooting:

 

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The pilot lines up along the road and homes in on the recoilless rifle:

 

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And in a sharp piece of shooting, takes out the weapon and its crew:

 

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The advance continues past the burning M113:

 

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The helicopter tries recon by fire against a nearby treeline but it is fruitless:

 

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But the trees are not unoccupied: a VC platoon moves forward under cover to take up firing positions:

 

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The tell-tale signature of smoke from RPG fire and a rocket whistling past wide of the Huey gives the game away:

 

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The whole platoon opens fire at the helicopter: RPGs, LMGs, rifles and AK-47s. The helicopter returns fire with rockets:

 

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VC start falling as the first rockets hit their mark. Undeterred, their comrades continue firing, and missing, until one RPG scores a bullseye:

 

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It drops like a stone, just metres ahead of the advancing ROKA unit:

 

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Throwing caution to the wind, the South Korean commander orders a flanking movement on the VC in the trees:

 

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The advance includes the squad that just had its track destroyed in front of it:

 

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They draw rifle and RPG fire:

 

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Which misses! The Korean track commander opens up with a 0.50 calibre MG and VC start falling, including the RPG team:

 

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Unnerved by the accuracy of the machine gun fire, apart from one pinned rifle team, most of the rest of the VC platoon cautiously withdraws to the far side of the trees:

 

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Their fears are not unwarranted; the Koreans are deploying their heavy weapons teams to tear up the woods with more machine gun and bazooka fire:

 

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While another squad crosses some small paddy fields to take up position opposite the trees:

 

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The order is given to attack the trees:

 

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The Koreans advance, having finished off the last pinned VC still hiding in the trees:

 

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Advancing from the paddy fields, a second squad moves into the edges of the trees:

 

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Fire is exchanged through the trees with the members of the withdrawing VC platoon:

 

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They are rapidly mown down by the M113's commander:

 

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In the meantime, another ROKA squad is flanking the VC position:

 

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And takes possession of the pho cart:

 

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Reinforcements arrive to cover the intersection:

 

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They are close enough to cutting off all retreat for the VC base commander to order a general withdrawal:

 

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He decides not to stick around himself either:

 

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The remaining VC platoon turns and runs, out of view of the nearby Koreans:

 

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The remnants of the VC platoon that was holding the woods return sporadic fire and duck for cover in nearby buildings, losing more men in the process:

 

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The VC's 12.7 mm AA gun team also decide to break cover and run, carrying their MG with them:

 

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The surviving members of the shattered first VC platoon now make a run across the road, in the face of .50 calibre MG fire from the ROKA squads at the intersection:

 

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They dodge the Korean bullets and manage to get away. A second detachment is also successful in escaping past the local pool hall:

 

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The Koreans give chase, but by the time they have cleared the nearest houses and found the VC HQ base, all of the remaining VC have fled:

 

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Although the ROKA player achieved his objective and wiped out half of the VC force, the VC player won the game on points, having knocked out both a helicopter and an M113:

 

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The objective was taken, but with unacceptable losses.

 

It was a close-run thing. The points total at the end of the game was ROKA: 28; VC 35. We used the Incoming! points system along with Crossfire rules and yes, downing a helicopter swung the game (it is not easy to do under those rules, but the VC player threw a 12!). Finding the base got the ROKA 10 points, but that and the VC losses they clocked up were not enough. Interestingly, the VC failed to hit any ROKA infantry due to heavy covering fire from the M113s, and once they had lost the recoilless rifle and all their RPG teams it was time for them to leave.

 

W.S. McCallum 2 September 2014

 

 

 

 

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