Formed in January 1964, MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command-Vietnam Studies & Observations Group) was an elite U.S. Special Forces unit tasked with conducting clandestine unconventional warfare operations during the Vietnam War.
The highly classified organization conducted a range of activities across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, from reconnaissance missions to the rescuing of downed pilots. SOG’s mission statement was:
“To execute an intensified program of harassment, diversion, political pressure, capture of prisoners, physical destruction, acquisition of intelligence, generation of propaganda, and diversion of resources, against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.”
With three field commands formed in 1967: Command & Control North, Central and South (CCN, CCC, CCS), SOG was made up of highly qualified personnel from a range of Special Forces backgrounds. In addition to its all-volunteer force of U.S. personnel, around 8000 indigenous Vietnamese, Cambodians, Ethnic Chinese Nungs and Montagnards served with MACV-SOG. Referred to as Special Commando Unit personnel, they provided additional firepower and support on patrols.
Deactivated in April 1972, SOG had taken part in most of the major campaigns of the war. Having provided critical recon and counter-guerilla assets to the U.S. effort in Vietnam, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that knowledge of SOG’s existence and operations was formally recognized.
This latest release from Bravo 6
is the third in their ‘Top Secret MACV-SOG’ range, the subject of this release being two indigenous personnel engaged in a fire fight. Packaged in the distinctive brown box, the set consists of 15 parts cast in high quality grey resin and sculpted by the very talented Vladimir Demchenko.
Lying in a semi-prone position reloading an M79 grenade launcher, consisting of eight parts, the figure is broken down into main body, separate arms, M79 with molded hand, and accessories. The figure is depicted with a typically eclectic load out and mix of clothing characteristic of the SOG teams. He wears the CISO (Counterinsurgency Support Office) 2-pocket NVA shirt, U.S. 3rd pattern tropical trousers and U.S. M-1966 jungle boots. The NVA shirt was worn mainly by the indigenous recon team members and was designed for deniable cross-border operations. The clothing drapery sculpting is very good, and some very fine detailing is present on the boot tread face.
This trooper’s load out consists of M-1956 belt with STABO harnesses, ChiCom chest rig and CISO Indigenous rucksack. Attached to the belt are 4x M-1956 canteen covers, which were used by SOG personnel to stow 30rd CAR-15 magazines and other ammo. In this case the trooper is removing a 40mm grenade round from such a pouch. The STABO (Stabilized Body) extraction harness, designed by a Special Forces SFC, enabled individuals to be rescued from locations which prevented the landing of a helicopter, such as dense jungle. SOG personal and other Special Forces units in Vietnam commonly wore the harness. Attached to this figures harness are two finely cast d-ring carabineers and an XM28 lightweight riot control mask case.
The ChiCom chest-rig, often worn by SOG personnel for additional ammo storage and to confuse enemy combatants, is exquisitely detailed with some very fine toggles and should paint up very nicely. The quality of sculpting and casting on the main body is absolutely fantastic, with a great deal of very fine detail molded in situ. The head sculpt is equally very good, with natural looking Asian facial features. My sample had no visible mold seams or casting imperfections such as air bubbles. The separate arms slot into place with ease, with the join requiring very little in the way of filling, and the main body featuring small locating pins.
The M79 ‘blopper’ is depicted split open in the re-loading position with hollow barrel openings and the figures hand molded in place for a much more natural appearance. Finally there are some additional accessories in the form of SOG’s weapon of choice, the XM177E2 Carbine with lengthened barrel to reduce muzzle flash; a K-Bar combat knife; M34 WP (white Phosphorus) ‘Willie Pete’ grenade and M18 smoke grenade. Again all are nicely cast with no air bubbles or imperfections. The Carbine comes molded onto its pour block with a thin sheet of resin beneath the barrel; this will require some careful cleaning but does prevent damage in transit.
My one gripe with this figure is going to be the immense difficulty in removing the main body from the casting block. This is possibly unavoidable to an extent, but the contact surface is quite substantial leaving one with the unenviable task of either carving out main block and sanding away the excess resin until flat or attempting to saw the figure off in one cut. The risk of damaging the figure during this process seems quite likely so real care and precision will be needed, definitely not something for beginners or those without decent resin cutting tools (remember to wear a mask when sawing resin, the dust is potentially deadly!).
Standing in a slightly hunched posture, the second figure is depicted peering down the iron site firing his XM177E2 Carbine. Consisting of eight parts the figure is broken down into main body, separate arms, Carbine with both hands molded in situ, 2x M-1956 canteens and accessories. As with figure 1, this trooper wears the CISO 2-pocket NVA shirt, as well as similar pattern trousers with 2 button thigh pockets. The trousers are depicted pulled in just below the knee and above the ankle with strips of material. The folds and creases of the uniform are very pleasing; however there is unfortunately some mold slippage on the figure’s right leg leaving a visible mold line to carve away. Unlike the first figure this trooper wears NVA pattern canvas and rubber lightweight combat boots.
The head sculpt is once again first class, with some breath-taking detail such as the hair and ears. The right cheek is slightly indented where the rifle butt stock is pressed in, and the non-aiming eye is depicted closed-fantastic attention to detail! There is a small fillet of scrap resin on the neck and chin, which will need to be cut away. Once again this guy is wearing the M-1956 belt with STABO harness, XM28 pouch and SOG Bowie recon knife molded on the suspenders and d-ring carabineers. Molded in situ are 4x M-1956 canteen pouches as 30rd magazine stowage and a single M-1956 universal pouch. Additionally there are 2 M-1956 canteen pouches molded separately, these fit into pre-defined ridges on the figures lower back for a natural and snug fit. Protruding from this figures Indigenous rucksack is the handle of a CISO sourced machete, molded as a separate piece. This isn’t particularly clear in any of the product photos, but there is a small parting on the rucksack flap on the right side where this part glues in.
The two separate arms fit very well onto the main torso, which again has some small locating pins. The XM177E2 Carbine features both hands molded in place for a much more natural and realistic grip. The weapon has the ejector port cover open, correct for a weapon that is being fired-another excellent little detail. Unfortunately there was a small air bubble present on the end of the hand guard. An excellent figure with plenty of detail and character, the pose is very good and well-proportioned and you can almost hear the spent casings flying out of the chamber. Just be aware of the mold line that runs faintly up the figures right side and will need careful scraping to remove.
All in all this is an excellent pair of figures, featuring high quality sculpting and generally very good molding. The level of detail is quite stunning with some incredibly fine sculpting present such the buckle detailing on the figures belts and harnesses or the superb little carabineers. The figure proportions hold up well and look realistically a little bit slighter and shorter than their American counterparts. Some experience of working with resin will be essential with these two as there are some mold lines which require careful removal to prevent damaging any of the detail, as well as the awkward casting block removal on the prone figure. Despite this I can highly recommend these figures, with Bravo 6 welcomingly continue to fill a niche among Vietnam War subjects.
MACV-SOG Living History Group website
Rottman, Gordon L. US ‘MACV-SOG Reconnaissance Team in Vietnam: Osprey, 2011.