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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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All the battles of the 1st CAV DIV with detailed description

1st AIR CAVALRY DIVISION (Airmobile) [ Top of Page ]



AHC = Assault Helicopter Co
Arty = Artillery
Bd = Brigade
Bn = Battalion
Brty = Battery
Co = Company
Dv = Division
Gp = Group
LIB = Light Infantry Brigade
Ord = Ordinance

History of the 1st Cavalry Division
1st Cavalry Division Association Web Pages
Armed Falcon
Bullwhip Squadron Association
HHC, 1st Brigade: 'Flying Circus'
Cavalry Battalions (Airmobile Infantry)

5th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
7th Cavalry (1st, 2nd & 5th Battalions)
8th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
B Company 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment 'Jumping Mustangs'
C Company 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
D Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment 'Angry Skipper'
D Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
12th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
Cavalry Regiment
Divisional Aviation
11th Aviation Group
227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) B Company 227th AHB 'The Good Deal Company'
C Company 227th AHB 'Snakes'
D Company 227th AHB 'El Lobo'
228th Aviation Battalion (Assault Support Helicopter) 229th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) 11th Aviation Company (General Support)
17th Aviation Company (Fixed Wing Transport)
478th Aviation Company (Heavy Helicopter)
Divisional Artillery
2nd Battalion, 20th Aerial Rocket Artillery
Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron
1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment (Air)
A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
B Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
B Troop 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav

__________________________________________________ _____
Platoon / US Air Cavalry Squadron
Platoon HQ Squad - in Bell UH-1D
Officer - Armed with M16
Platoon Sergeant - Armed with M16
Radio Operator - Armed with M16, Radio

4 x Rifle Squads - in Bell UH-1D
Squad Leader - Armed with M16
1 x Machine Gunners - Armed with M60
1 x Assisstant Machine Gunners - Armed with M16
1 x Grenadier - Armed with M79 "Blooper" Grenade Launcher
2 x Riflemen - Armed with M16

Scout Section
2 x OH-6A

Weapons Section
2 x AH-1G Cobra or 2 x UH-1B Gunship

D Troop, 3/5th Air Cavalry
Submitted by Don Armstrong

I. Introduction

The purpose, operation, mission, composition, and a typical day's operation of D troop 3/5 Cav.

II. Mission

To extend by aerial means the reconnaissance and security capabilities of the ground units. To engage in offensive defensive, or delaying actions within its capability and to seize and dominate lightly defended areas or terrain features. * (note: real mission was to search and destroy.)

III. Composition

A. TOE Authorized
1. 216 enlisted men
2. 14 officers
3. 36 warrant officers

B. TOE Actual
1. 221 enlisted
2. 18 officers
3. 29 warrant officers

C. Aircraft
1. 8 UH-1H lift ships
2. 10 OH6 scout ships
3. 9 AH-1G cobras

D. Troop makeup
1. Hq section
2. Aero Scout Platoon (War Wagons)
3. Aero Weapons Platoon (Crusaders)
4. Aero Lift Platoon (Longknives)
5. Aero Rifle Platoon (Doughboys)
6. Maintenance Platoon (Scavengers)

IV. Platoon Makeup & Tactics

1. Scout Platoon (Warwagons)

A. 2 Sections
(1) 2 teams each section
(2) 2 ships each team

B. OH6 Armament
(1) M60 on bunji cord-operated by door gunner
(2) 4000 rounds per minute mini gun operated by pilot
(3) 40 lbs of explosives
(a) frags
(b) CS gas
(c) smoke
(d) baby bombs-also known as W.W.A.S. (Warwagon air assault)
[1] 1 lb tnt 2 lbs C4
[2] 1 lb C4 a can of transmission fluid.

C. Tactics:

The scouts are given an area to work by the C & C (command and control) A/C. Only 1 team will work an area at any one time. They move into an area at tree top level and check any suspicious areas thoroughly. Some of the things the scout looks for are fresh trails, military clothing and equipment, fresh activity in abandoned areas and suspicious military age males. To help the scout to perform his mission of finding and killing VC, he uses a variety of armament which are utilized to blow bunkers, clear underbrush and kill VC. The lead scout is the one that does most of the work. The trail scout ship is closely behind the lead to give him cover at all times, and in case the lead is shot down the trail ship will be right there to pick up the downed crew. Some of the other function of the scout team was to screen for troops moving into an area, giving them constant air cover. Also, the scouts will pick out a suitable LZ for lift ships to insert troops.

2. Aero Weapons Platoon (Crusaders)

A. 2 sections
(1) 2 teams to each section
(2) 2 ships to each team

B. AH-1G armament
(1) 2-M59 Rocket Pods holding 19 rockets
(2) 2-M27 Rocket Pods holding 7 rockets
(3) 1 XM-28 turrent
(a) 1 mini gun- 1500 RPM, or 4,000 RPM
(b) 40 mm - 340 RPM
(c) or any combination of the above

C. Tactics
(1) The cobra is a vital part of the Aero weapons platoon. The aircraft commander is in charge of the aircraft and sits in the rear seat and controls the firing of the rockets. The gunner (also a lot) pilot control the firing of the turret and sits up front. He can also fly from the front seat to relieve the pilot.

(2) As with the scouts, the cobras only have 1 team on station at any one time (usually). The cobras cover the scouts in the A/O (area of operation) and usually orbit around them about 1200 feet. Anytime the scouts call "taking fire", the lead cobra automatically rolls in to cover the scouts exit out of the area. While the lead cobra is rolling in the gunner in the front seat is already putting down a heavy volume of mini gun fire into the area the scouts received fire. When the lead ship is in position he fires rockets into the area. Also at this time the trail cobra is putting rockets into the area to cover the leads break and to keep constant fire in the area. By the time the trail ship is ready to break the lead cobra has already gained altitude and is ready cover the trails break.

This cycle can continue until the cobras feel it's safe for the scouts to return or until the target is destroyed. Some of the other functions of the cobras is to cover the lift ships on insertions and extractions, and to destroy targets given to them by either the scouts or the ground troops. The cobras can provide close support to the ground commander.

3. Lift Platoon (Longknives)

A. UH-1H
2 sections with 7 ships for each section

B. Lift

UH-H (Huey) carries 2 M60 machine guns, troop capacity 8 U.S. or 10 ARVN

C. Tactics

The lift platoon uses 4 A/C to carry troops. They usually will fly a staggered formation or trail formation. The main purpose of the lift platoon is to insert and extract troops into the LZ. The lift ships are usually staged out of a staging area which is usually a base camp close to the AO. Another function of the lift ships is to be used as a medevac, or ash and trash missions.

4. The Aero Rifle Platoon (Doughboys)

A. 4 squads - 40 men (10 men each squad)

B. Armament
(1) 8 45 cal pistols
(2) 8 M-79's
(3) 32 M-16 rifles

C. Tactics

The Doughboys are equipped and trained to be ground pounders. Their main purpose is to give a ground reconnaissance of areas that the scout ships cannot check out by air. They are strictly a recon element. They are not a main fighting force and only about 32 soldiers are inserted at any one time. They can handle small numbers of VC. Anything of a larger size would have to be dealt with by a regular infantry company which would be brought in by an Assault Helicopter Company. Another function of the Doughboys (outside of details) is to secure any of our downed aircraft until it can be extracted.

5. Maintenance Platoon (Scavengers)

A. 4 sections and a platoon Hq
(1) A/C maint section
(a) Cobra maint team
(b) Huey maint team
(c) LOH maint team

(2) Allied Shops section
(a) engine shop
(b) prop and rotor shop
(c) sheet metal shop
(d) electrical shop
(e) avionics shop

(3) Armament Section
(a) Cobra armament
(b) LOH armament

(4) Tec supply section

B. Mission
To maintain and repair our A/C. 110 soldiers sometimes working 24 hours a day.

V. Typical Days Operation.

During the night the aviation battalion TOC will give our troop operations a mission. The crews are already scheduled for the next days operation. Wake up 4:15 a.m. shower, shave and eat breakfast. Briefing is at 5:15 a.m. for the lead scouts, lead cobra pilots, and lead lift pilots. At this time they are briefed on the mission and any special instructions. Meanwhile the "Pete's" are out preflighting their aircraft.

The troop takes off at 0600 a.m. and reports to the staging field at 0700 hrs. The mission commander goes into the TOC to receive his briefing on the days mission. At this time he meets his backseat (US Advisor) and the ARVN counterpart. The backseat has given us several areas that he would like to check out. At this time the mission commander will ask for "free fire" in those areas and rules of engagement. Also the U.S. Advisor will indicate where the ARVN Troops are located and if there are any friendly troops in the area.

We have been given several areas along the canal to check out. These have been designated as free fire areas. The scouts move into the area along the canal checking for camouflaged hooches and bunkers and dropping CS into those areas with fresh activity around them. Meanwhile the C & C aircraft is orbiting about 800 feet above the scouts and the cobras are covering the scouts at 1120 ft. (commonly called cutting doughnuts).

After working about an hour the scouts report a lot of fresh signs and activity. The lead scout has taken fire and the cobras are "inbound". The scouts return into the area for damage assessment and continue to work the area. The scouts just reported that this would be a good area to insert troops. The mission commander agrees and coordinates with the backseat and he in turn gets approval from his counterpart. The mission commander cranks up the lift ships to bring the troops out into the A.O.. Meanwhile the scouts have found a good L.Z. near the area, to be checked out. The lift ships are in the area and called "on long final" The scouts drop smoke in the L.Z. and depart the area. The cobras's pick up the lift ships (they're in position behind and high above the slicks and lay down continuous fire into the tree line in case they receive fire). The slicks are on the ground and men are coming out. The lead cobra has broke right and the trail has picked up the slicks to cover their exit from the L.Z.. As soon as the lift ships are clear the cobras break off and cover the scouts who have moved back into the area to give constant air cover to the ground troops. The troops are moving slowly into the area. They have come across a few hooches and are continue into the target area. The ground troops have reported coming into thick underbrush that has slowed them up. They have also reported finding several booby traps and bunkers. The ground troops also confirmed two KBA's for the scouts.

The troops are moving back out into the P.Z. and are waiting for the slicks. The scouts move out of the area and the cobras again pick up the lift ships for the extraction.

The troops have been extracted and are being returned to their base camp. The scouts make a final check to see that no one was left behind.

The mission commander notices that there isn't much daylight left and asks for a release from the backseat, which he gets and then returns the backseat and counterpart back to their base camp. It's already 1903 hrs and the troop reaches Vinh Long at 2000 hrs.- refuel, rearm fill out forms and do a good post flight.

The mission commander returns to operations to spend another hour filling out after action reports .

This concludes a typical day.

This article was taken from the D Troop 3/5th Air Cavalry web site and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Don Armstrong. This material is copyright of that site.

__________________________________________________ ___


There was normally a single Air Cav Troop organic to each Armoured Cavalry Squadron and three Air Cav Troops organic to the Air Cav Squadron of the Airmobile Division. For a full commentary on the role and organisation of an actual Air Cavalry Troop see D Troop 3/5th Air Cavalry. An Air Cav Troop contained an Aero Weapons Platoon, an Aero Scout Platoon and an Aero Rifle Platoon.

The high proportion of Warrant Officers is due to the fact that most air crew were of this rank. In the schematic below I have only shown the 'combat' elements of the Troop - there was also a Maintenance Section and an Aviation Section.


The Troop invariably undertook missions which can be categorized as follows:

INTELLIGENCE - visual reconnaissance of roads, areas, targets; bomb damage assessment (BDA); LZ reconnaissance and selection; target acquisition; Ranger/LRRP support.

SECURITY - providing early warning of impending attack; screening ops; first/last light reconnaissance; convoy protection; downed aircrew and aircraft recovery.

ECONOMY OF FORCE - artillery raids; combat assaults and ambushes; delaying actions; sustained security for construction of Fire Support Bases (FSB); base defence reaction force ops.


In order to carry out the various missions assigned to the Troop, the combat elements of the troop would, where necessary, be mixed, as appropriate, into teams as below.

Two Gunships assigned to offensive operations.

Two OH-6 assigned to recon

Combination Gunship and OH-6 ('Hunter Killer')

Blue's embarked to carry out ground recon and security.


Standard tactics for the aviation elements was to fly HIGH/LOW, that is, one aircraft would fly very low looking for targets or reconning the area (possibly attempting quite literally to 'draw' enemy fire in order for the enemy to reveal their positions) while the second aircraft flew at altitude providing cover, acting as the radio relay ship and giving the low flying aircraft navigational instructions. In operations involving OH-6's an OH-6 would always fly low.
The OH-6 would be in constant communication with the high flying AH-1G Gunship, feeding back data which would be annotated by the crew of the Gunship. If necessary the Gunship was always ready to 'roll in hot' in order to provide suppressive fire if the OH-6 came under attack. If the scout observed targets it would drop smoke marking rounds and the Gunship would roll in.


The following is an example of the way the Troop worked :

PINK TEAM makes contact with elements of the enemy; smoke used to mark contact; contact co-ordinates are relayed to Troop HQ; Gunship engages marked targets or targets of opportunity while OH-6 keeps enemy under observation, looking in particular for route of egress or re-inforcement and making attempts to establish the composition and size of enemy force as well as their deployment and the extent of their defenses.
Once Troop HQ receives contact information the decision is made as to whether to deploy BLUE team; second PINK team and/or RED team is redirected to contact in order to support and/or relieve team on station. BLUE team is scrambled..

BLUE team inserted near contact and deploys to engage the enemy; OH-6 guides BLUE team to contact, reconning forward and to the flanks of the BLUE team; BLUE team engages the enemy supported by all ships on station.
Once enemy starts to withdraw RED and PINK teams continue to interdict their routes of egress; BLUE team secures area of contact and polices battlefield.
BLUE team is extracted, enemy is pursued by RED and PINK teams. Occasionally the ARP's ( the Aero Rifle Platoon) would be re-inserted ahead of the retreating enemy as a blocking force.
Occasionally the Blues would be inserted and then find themselves on the receiving end of determined enemy forces and usually outnumbered. In preparation for this it was common to have a regular Infantry Company on stand-by to reinforce the Blues or to be inserted as a blocking force behind the enemy which the Blues were assaulting.


I strongly recommend using an Aero Rifle Platoon in your Vietnam games. The Air Cav Troop supporting an ARP platoon gives you great versatility and many options. Although technically under strength compared to a platoon from a Line Infantry Company, the ARP's made up for a lack in numbers by sheer volume of firepower. The ARP's pack a punch but they are always on the verge of being outmaneuvered and overrun since they are such a small combat element.
Nonetheless, with the aerial support which they always have on station, they can engage targets which a standard infantry platoon would avoid. Having an organic lift section of UH-1's also opens up many gaming possibilities - hot insertions, hot extractions, pilot rescue, search & destroy etc. The Air Cav Troop employed as an offensive unit against company sized enemy elements or smaller leads to some great games.

Other advantages which the ARP's 'enjoyed' as a consequence of their role, apart from being led by a captain, was extra communications equipment and a disproportionate number of NCO's. This results in greater command and control of the unit.
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