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Dien Bien Phu

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  • Thomas491
    Yes i know about Colonel Piroth and him saying that no Viet Minh gun will fire more than 3 shoots before his artillery destroyed it and also refusing more guns. I guess i should have said a different commander of the artillery as well as more guns.

    Never thought about the ammo consumption of the Quads, just remember reading about how they would stop many enemy attacks in there tracks. Just figured if they had a few more it might have proved decisive or just delayed the inevitable.

    I know the Me 323 is a wild card but the engines were made in france during the war and i thougtht if they could use Ju 52's why not get the designs for Me 323 and produce them for the French military. The only reason why i like it so much is because of its lift capability which wasn't match until the Hercules came into service. Maybe they could have increased the amount of C-119's and made it the main transport instead of using the C 47. This way they would have had a better chance to deliver more of the much needed defensive supplies. But along with the bomber question the french would have to train crews for the larger transports and so be more commited to the war as a whole.

    The tanks did take a while to strip down and reassemble on the airstrip but i believe by then end of December they had delivered all 10 and the battle didn't start till march so why not just keep them comming? They had the tanks and they also had the half tracks in service and could be used to carry armoured infantry trained to work with the tanks.

    My idea of changing up the troops in the valey was meant to be done before the valley was even occupied instead of switching up the troops already in place which would cost considerabel resources. The T'ia were good at guerrilla warfare but were not the best troops to be put in a conventional battle also the African troops were affected allot by the psychological warfare the Viet Minh were using. Why continue to fight an enemy who was just trying to win their freedom from their colonial oppressor when they themselves were being oppressed. There were less desertions in the FFL, they were the best troops the french had and there was already 4 battalions in the valley. Why not make all of them FFL and leave the number of battalions to 10 or even 12. Major Bigeard did say that if he have had 10,000 SS they would have held. I don't believe the stories about all the FFL being SS or even German but there was allot of battle hardened German veterans in the ranks.

    The French had so many factors working agaisnt them in the battle mainly their own high command but they were still able to hold out for 56 days once the battle has started. I guess thats why i find it so interesting and was curious to hear others views on my changes to the battle. Thanks for your reply and i will be sure to check out the link

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  • Dogsbody67

    Well, where to begin?

    ME 323's - where would they have come from? They were an extinct bird by the time of DBP and just as well because the Viets AA guns would have made very short work of them.

    Bring in more 105mm and 155mm guns and more Quad 50's? Colonel Piroth was regularly offered more artillery and just as regularly declined them as not necessary. He quickly came to see the folly of his deployments and commited suicide with the aid of a hand grenade. More Quad 50's would have helped but they ate up a phenomenal amout of ammunition and in their own way would probably have created extra supply problems.

    Additional M-24's and half tracks. Well, I'll give you that one, Colonel de Castries was partly chosen to command the fortress as he had a proven track record commanding light armour and a full strength unit should have been brought in but remember that all such equipment had to be broken down and put back together again once in the valley. That took time and as for the half track idea - where were they to come from and how would they be used in the hunt for the VM guns dug in around the valley? This was not tank country by any stretch of the imagination.

    Additional bomber aircraft? Yes, they would of course have been useful, but who would have flown B-29's in support of the valley (leaving aside the short lived option of Operation Vulture)? Where would they have come from? B-29's were not B-26's and were not on offer from the Americans (who were footing the bill for 80% and more of the war by this stage? Even if they were then France had neither the trained crews or ground staff to handle them. Its a non starter.

    You touch on a good point about the 'Internal Deserters' or 'Rats of the Nam Youm' and you are right in one respect. Once it became clear that DBP was not going to be used as originally envisaged then the T'ai troops should have been removed as they were in no way suitable for the coming battle - it was a missed opportunity and one which cost the defenders dearly. Trouble is, there was no capacity (even if there had have been the desire, which in any case there wasn't) to swap them over with the troops you suggest. France's political 'masters' (and I use the term in its loosest possible sense) had refused General Navarre any significant troop increases in manpower and thanks to the decision to restrict French conscripts from being deployed outside of Metropolitan France (but that didn't count Algeria), reinforcements were in even shorter supply.

    Read the Dien Bien Phu thread mentioned at the top of this post and look out for the the likes of Chippymick, Lirelou and Altus (they post on these Forums) as they have much to say and offer on this and related subjects (you may not always agree with them).

    The French played a poor hand but they did deal themselves some truely crappy cards.
    Last edited by Dogsbody67; 29 Jun 09, 15:02.

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  • Thomas491
    started a topic Dien Bien Phu

    Dien Bien Phu

    I have read allot about the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and have always wondered if they could have held. There were many factors against the French and they weren't really commited to the war its self but if they had done the following I think they would have had a better chance and may even have held out.

    a)Bring in more tanks and have some armoured half tracks and together act as a Quick reaction force. Im thinking increase the tanks to 24 M-24's and have the same amount of Halftracks with infantry and use them together to take out the AA guns surrounding the airfield.

    b)Use the ME 323 Transport to give the airlift a larger capability to bring in all the defensive supplies needed to properly dig in and protect the positions. Yes it was slow and under powered but it had a large lift capability and the large front loading doors would allow quick and easy off loading. If they even had 50 of them they could have delivered 1000 tones a day and therefore could have flown in the 36,000 tons of defensive supplies that were needed to dig in 10 full battalions.

    c) Bring in more 105's and 155 How's to even up the odds. They had around 28 105's and 4 155 How's which was very inadequete to defend such a large positon so if they increased to 4 battalions of 105's and 1 full battalion of 155's, dug the guns in better and given the crews the flack vest right from the start. They had the guns but the errogance of the commanders in the fortress would not allow them to take more.

    d)Give each defensive postion 4 quad 50's to give them a better chance at defeating the human waves of Viet Minh troops. The whole base only had 4 in total but im sure they could have asked for more from the americans if they didn't have enough.

    e)Eliminate the Isabelle postion but keep the troops that occupied it. It divided the forces and the supplies and the postions was its own little hell even worse that the main postion. The temporary airstrip was never used and was a wasted effort to build and its could not support all of the main base because the range was too far forn its artillery.

    f) Create a strong bomber force with B-29's so they could destroy allot of the Viet Minh troops moving into the valley before the battle. A force of 50 bombers with have had a devistating affect on the Viet Minh troops moving into the valley and once the battle had started they would have been able to stop assults in its track with close air support missions.

    g) and finally bring in 3 full regiments of French Foriegn Legion Infatry and one full regiment of French regulars instead of the colonial troops to reduce the internal deserters which caused allot of problems for the fortress. Also have a full regiment of airborne troops to be used with the armoured forces in the QRF. They did have two battalions of airborne being used in this way but they had a third and allowed them to remain the QRF instead of holding postions on the front line plus have two more in reserve back in Hanio ready to deploy im sure they would have had enough troops to counter attack and retake any fallen postions.

    I could go on because i have found that there are allot of what ifs with this battle but i will wait and see what you all have to think about my ideas.

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