The Combat Support Platoon provides the heavy firepower for the NVA Company. In addition to the platoon command stand, the platoon contains three weapon bases and a mortar FO.
The command group consists of a single command figure and two crew figures. Both the 12.7mm DShK HMG and the 57mm Recoilless Rifle squads have three crew figures each, whilst the 60mm mortar has two crew figures and a single crew figure acting as the mortar forward observer.
All figures were painted using the same techniques already referred to in previous articles (see NVA Rifle Platoon).
The weapons were simply undercoated with a black primer and then dry-brushed with gun metal (GW Gun Metal). This literally took a couple of seconds and yet the result is instantly noticeable with the dry-brushing quite clearly 'lifting' the details of the weapons.
Heavy Machine Gun Stand
The rules covering the use of HMG stands in Incoming! are non-generic and no attempt is made at differentiating between types of HMG. I use the US M-60 weapons squad of the US Rifle Platoon as an HMG stand (as per Incoming! rule 6.4) even though these weapons are not technically HMG's. Nonetheless, when used in the sustained fire role the two M-60s put out sufficient firepower for justification of this. The downside of using them as such is that movement and fire restrictions that apply to HMG stands also apply to the M-60s stand.
On the other hand, the 12.7mm HMG of the Combat Support Platoon is a 'pure' HMG stand, being a fully crew-served weapon and, as such, capable of independent operation (which I do not allow the M-60 stand). In addition to being able to operate independently, the HMG may be attached to a particular platoon in the rifle company (in fact, up to three such weapons may be so attached - see later article regarding the Battalion Combat Support Company that contains six HMG stands).
HMGs are ideal for laying down suppressive fire, that is, fire on the target that achieves either a 'Pin' or 'Suppressed' result. In the case of a 'Pinned' result, the target cannot move and is thus fixed in position. This is an ideal way of breaking up the momentum of advancing units. Achieving a 'Suppressed' result gives the phasing player an even greater advantage since, not only is the target 'fixed' but it is also unable to fire and can subsequently be assaulted or outflanked without the danger of your forces attracting reactive fire.
A fire group of HMGs can seriously impede the enemy in his ability to fire and maneuver and as a consequence of this HMGs become priority targets for destruction by the enemy. In Incoming! it is likely that your HMGs are going to attract the attention of US fire support, either from artillery or from air assets, and as such, you should take great care in their placement.
60mm Mortar Stand
Historically, the VC and the NVA made great use of mortars and the VC in particular were extremely skilled in their use (as attested to by numerous US Veterans).
Unlike the 82mm mortars of the battalion combat support company that have 3 crew figures, the 60mm mortar represented in the combat support platoon is crewed by only two. This reflects the lighter and more mobile nature of the weapon - remember, on table mortars of up to 60mm caliber may be moved and fired in the same way as HMGs and RCLs - although 60mm Mortars may not fire in the same initiative in which they move. This represents considerable advantages over larger caliber mortars that must be set up in an established firing position at the start of the game and which, may not move from these positions although they may pivot as normal.
Also, whereas the mortar section of the US Rifle Company's Weapon Platoon has a single forward observer team controlling the three mortars in the section, the NVA/VC mortar stands each have an individual Forward Observer. This may, at first sight, not look to be of particular consequence (in fact, at first glance, it looks as if the NVA/VC mortars are placed at a distinct advantage) until you look more closely at the Incoming! rules covering Forward Observers (Section 7.0 Indirect Fire). According to these rules, NVA and Main Force VC mortars can only be controlled by a specialist FO and cannot, unlike Free World forces, be controlled by command stands including the Company Combat Support Platoon's own command stand.. The consequence of this is that NVA and VC mortars that lose their forward observer are limited to direct fire over open sights for the remainder of the game.
57mm Recoilless Rifle
In addition to it's use in the anti-personnel role, the platoon's 57mm recoilless rifle provides some measure of offensive capability against Free World armored forces. Whilst it is clear that there remains some ongoing discussion regarding the Incoming! rules concerning anti-tank weapons, it is clear that recoilless rifles (and RPG's) pose a serious threat to most armor that appears on the table top.
Just like the HMG stand, the recoilless rifle stand may operate independently or may be attached to a particular platoon within the company, in which case a maximum of three such weapons may be attached. Whilst they may not be set up within buildings or bunkers, when deployed using the 'hidden placement' rules, recoilless rifles can provide both infantry and armored forces with a nasty surprise, particularly if firing from ambush. However, due to the back-blast of the recoilless rifle, the stand is automatically spotted when it fires and must be immediately placed on the table. From that point on you can expect it, like the HMG, to become a priority target.
All three weapons of the Combat Support Platoon pose significant threats to aircraft and, in particular, to helicopters.
HMGs can combine their fire with that of other eligible units to engage attacking aircraft. The results of this can range from forcing the Free World player to abort the attack pass of a single aircraft or to lose the entire air strike mission, or at best, destroy the attacking aircraft completely.
At even greater risk are Free World helicopters which may be engaged with direct, indirect or reactive fire from all three weapon stands. Particularly vulnerable are helicopters that are on the ground. Whilst HMGs can engage helicopters that are flying, landing/taking off or stationary (subject to LOS restrictions), RCLs (and RPGs) can engage helicopters that are landing/taking off or stationary. Similarly, the 60mm mortar, firing in the direct fire mode over open sights, can be used to attack a stationary helicopter target providing that it has a line of sight.
Any helicopter that is on the ground is destroyed by a 'Kill' result, whilst those that are flying, landing or taking off are destroyed by a roll of 10 or more on two dice.
It can be seen then why there is such an imperative on the Free World player to secure not only the landing zone itself from possible line of sight direct fire attack, but also the approaches to the LZ itself. An LZ that is either surrounded or at least within the line of sight of these weapons and supporting infantry fires is an extremely hostile and dangerous place. The Free World player will have to take either great risk when bringing in helicopters or else expend a lot of time, effort and combat resources trying to secure the LZ and surrounding area.
All figures are from my own personal collection, painted and photographed by Mike R © 2001