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The De Lattre Line, near Hanoi, 1951

The Second World War (French Indochina), Homegrown Rules, 28mm

My pal Bill Cainan has done it again. He pretty exclusively wargames the First Indochina War (1946-54. To entertain us while most wargame clubs are still closed, he sent me a bunch of pictures of a madcap project of his. He recreated a massive French defensive belt near Hanoi, in 1/56 scale. The result is as crazy as it is admirable. Here are his pictures…In case you didn’t know, the De Lattre Line, was a heavy defensive belt built by the French in Northern Indochina during the early 1950’s. It curved in a huge arc around Hanoi and the Red River Delta, and was built to keep the Viet Minh well away from the city.It consisted of a jumbled mixture of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons, all surrounded by barbed wire, minefields and cleared fields of fire. It was certainly an impressive edifice – and ultimately it didn’t really help the French hold on to their colony in Indochina. They probably should have learned their lesson after the Maginot Line…Anyway, here’s Bill’s table. Actually, he sent me so many pictures I’ve had to split this in two. I’ll post the rest, of Firebase 5 in a few days. Above you can see a huge truck convoy passing the lines, near a concrete fire bunker topped by a tank turret. Down below is the local brothel, complete with French period posters and Vietnamese hookers…Next is the convoy again, approaching the main gate, and in the lead is a French tank, its crew on the lookout for any signs of a Viet Minh ambush…And here’s the main gate itself, surrounded by a mass of wire and firing positions.The wire stretches all along the line – rolls and rolls of it. The wiring alone must have take Bill ages to do…Then there are all the bunkers and entrenchments. Below is the main command bunker, most of which is underground…… and of course Bill couldn’t resist modelling the underground bit too…The lines themselves were built between late 1950 and late 1952. It was abandoned two years later, when the French pulled out. In this final shot, you can see its still being built – a work in progress if you like. Of course, knowing Bill he might well finish it. In the next post, we’ll feature the centrepiece of Bill’s table – Firebase 5, a little way outside Hanoi. It’s just as cool as this little lot.







2 Responses “The De Lattre Line, near Hanoi, 1951”

  1. Peter Nicholson
    7th August 2020 at 10:09 am

    Beautiful work, really impressive.

    • 7th August 2020 at 11:05 am

      It’s quite something Peter. Wait until you see his firebase!

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