Partly in preparation for the Launch of CS Vietnam next year I have got my hands on “Valley of the Shadow”, the new book by Kevin Boylan and Luc Olivier on Dien Bien Phu.
Its well worth it with some new detailed maps and a look in depth at the sequence of attacks and counter attacks for the various positions. Reading it has also prompted me to go back and look at “The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam” by Martin Windrow, which looks at the battle within the context of the wider war, and came out back in 2004.
One of the things that stands out from both books is the need for a special kind of unit to represent the bulk of the Viet Minh artillery units that were emplaced before the battle started on the forward slopes overlooking the valley.
Its clear that these pretty much had their protective bunkers built round them indeed , “Valley of the Shadow” makes the point that these fortified artillery positions gave rather better defensive cover than the French strongpoint’s they were there to attack.
The flip side of this is that it was difficult if not impossible to move these units once they were in place, that their fields of fire would necessarily have been fixed and that they used direct rather than indirect fire, partly from choice and partly due to the limited training their crews had received,
I wonder if we need something here akin to the “Pantherturm” tank turret fortification units, in East and West Front but mounting the relevent 75mm and 105mm guns able to do direct fire only. In the ideal world these units would only be able to fire through a limited ark but as the coding for that is (as far as I know) not yet available, as historically they were placed in fairly restrictive terrain a way back from the front lines, that will probably restrict their fields of fire in any case.
Perhaps when you get to West Front II and want to do casement fortifications for the Maginot Line and Fort Eben-Emael that would be the time to update the Viet Minh artillery bunkers envisaged here.
Also with Dien Bien Phu mind how about the 13th March next year (the 75th anniversary of the start of the battle) as a release date for the CS Vietnam game ?
Really looking forward to this one but please take as much time as you need to get it right.
All the best