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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kelley's Heroes (VUSBX11) Review- US Brown Water Navy Force

By Tom Burgess,

By far one of my favorite period to play Flames of War in is the Vietnam war.  I suppose this is in part due to my Father’s service in Vietnam, but even more so I think is because Flames of War Vietnam is just so different than “standard” WW2 Flames of War gaming.  Well, Battlefront has pushed the envelope even further away from “standard” Flames of War with the introduction of Brown Water Navy and its riverine combat actions. So I was keen to volunteer to review any products for Brown Water Navy and was lucky enough to nab this assignment.

To let players get started on riverine operations in Vietnam quickly, Battlefront has made available the "Kelley's Heroes" boxed set.

 The set cost $120 (US) and is available in the online store:  Kelley's Heroes (VUSBX11) - Flames of War

The "Kelley's Heroes" boxed set will allow you to field a full Riverine Assault Force, with HQ, three boats, and a full US Rifle platoon.  This will come in at 605pts total if using all the upgrade options like 40mm Grenade Launchers and the 90mm Recoilless Rifle attachment for the US Rifle platoon.

So let's get to the "unboxing" shall we?

The set includes enough infantry figures for a US Rifle platoon with 90mm Recoilless Rifle team. There were almost enough M60 gunners to let you field this force with MG teams vice M16 teams using the option to drop the LMG teams. However it appears my blister was one M60 figure short of letting me do this. Additionally, you get the CO and 2IC teams for the assault force along with a medic team. The figures are the better US Rifle figures and I had no issues with these.

The smallest of the three boats is the Assault Support Patrol Boat which is about 5.5" long. Very cleanly cast for a big piece of resin.

The ASPB assembled very easily. Much easier than any tank model I ever had from Battlefront! The only let down was that no magnets were included for the turrets on this model or any other of the boats.  This is purely an aesthetic thing. In game terms these boats work a lot like the WW1 tanks in Great War, so turret facing is not important. But I still wanted to be able to rotate turrets for those dramatic action photos while clearing the river banks of the VC! So I added magnets to all of my boat turrets.

Next up was the Assault Transport Craft (Helicopter) or ATC(H).This model comes in at about 6.25" long and is an impressive hunk of resin! I'm really glad Battlefront added the ATC(H) rather than the "Ragtop" ATC to this set. The ATC(H) can be either a combat platoon transport or an "Aid Boat" as a Weapon's platoon choice.

Assembly of the ATC(H) was a snap and the model includes the 40mm Grenade Launcher turret option as a full separate turret allowing you to switch back and forth from the options as needed.

Finally we had the "Battleship of the Mekong," a 7" long Monitor. This included the parts to build this as a Command Control Boat (CCB) or a Zippo boat with flamethrowers mounted on each side. It also had the extra 40mm Grenade Launcher turret.

Unfortunately there really was not good way to model the Monitor so that you could switch back and forth from CCB, Zippo, or regular Monitor. I chose to just permanently model mine as the more common basic Monitor. A friend of mine is doing his as a Zippo boat.

The only let down from the ton of resin casting in this set was a bit of a miscast on the starboard bow of my Monitor. Battlefront would easily replace part this if I asked, but I wanted to get these models done and this review out quickly. I opted to drive on and smooth it out with "Green Stuff," which I was already planning to use to fix some of the gaps.

All assembled and ready for priming!

The "Green Stuff" fix on the Monitor seemed to be fine. A little bumpy maybe, but I figure the bows on these things would be dented and such from collisions with logs or other obstacle on occasion. So I was happy to have a bit of a battle worn look here.

I was also worried that this pattern on the ATC(H)'s flight deck would be a problem. However it was fine and did not show through the primer or paint.

Though the box contents did not list them, my set came with three decal sheets. You really need no more than two, so you'll have a lot of spares. That was a nice surprise as I almost ordered decals when I found out I'd be getting the set to review.

After priming I cut out templates of magnetic sheeting. I store all my Flames of War miniatures in metal boxes and have magnetic bases on these boats would not escape that rule!

And with that it was of to painting.....

I used my airbrush with Tamiya XF-58 "Olive Green" with a touch of Tamiya XF-66 "Light Grey" added to apply the base coat to all the boats.

The hardest thing about painting was taping off the helo pad on the ATC(H). This was the first time I've ever tried masking with my airbrush.

Not too bad! The Tamiya XF-2 "Flat White" sprayed well and I got the basic look I needed with only minor touch up needed.

In the end I was really happy with the ATC(H)'s look. I decided to add a US Flag and radio antennae to finish it off properly. The flags were downloaded from and mounted on pins. My antennae are nylon bristles from a small hand broom. I just drilled antennae holes into the roof of the pilot house to match the photos I've seen for them.

The ASPB also came out great! I dry brushed all the boats with a mix of Vallejo Dark Cameo Green and Light Grey. The ASPB also got the US Flag and antennae added. The mounts for the later are already modeled on the front of the pilot house.

And finally the finished Monitor.  Note the starboard bow repair is not even noticeable, which kind of disappointed me as I was kind of hoping for a more banged up look! I really like the "Star" on top of the 40mm turret.

The whole "Kelley's Heroes" Riverine Assault force ready for the table top!

My only problem now was that I really did not have a lot of "River" terrain pieces...but then it occurred to me to just roll up my grass base mat and use my GEO-HEX terrain system on top of bare Masonite board o represent the "Brown Water!"'s my "Kelley's Heroes" making their first trip "Up River!"'s my little 605pt task force making it's first assault landing.

Finally, I could not close this review without showing "The World's smallest aircraft carrier" in operation!
I'm really pleased with the "Kelley's Heroes" set and  highly recommend it.  I realize at $120 for just 605 points of stuff that it may be a bit of a luxury. But for doing what I really love about Flames of Wars Vietnam, letting me play in some really different Flames of War games, this is a very hard set to let pass by. I'm all pumped up to get some games going and post some "Up River" AARs here on WWPD!
Miniatures, except for the UH-1, provided by Battlefront
Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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