Weapons of the Vietnam War
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This article is about the weapons used in the Vietnam War, which involved the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) or North Vietnamese Army (NVA), National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC), and the armed forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), United States, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand, and the Australian, New Zealand defence forces, and a variety of irregular troops.
Nearly all United States-allied forces were armed with U.S. weapons including the M1 Garand, M1 carbine, M-14 and M-16. The Australian and New Zealand forces employed the 7.62 mm L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle as their service rifle, with the occasional US M16.
The PAVN, although having inherited a variety of American, French, and Japanese weapons from World War II and the First Indochina War (aka French Indochina War), were largely armed and supplied by the People's Republic of China, the Soviet Union, and its Warsaw Pact allies. In addition, some weapons—notably anti-personnel explosives, the K-50M (a PPSh-41 copy), and “home-made” versions of the RPG-2—were manufactured in North Vietnam. By 1969 the US Army had identified 40 rifle/carbine types, 22 machine gun types, 17 types of mortar, 20 recoilless rifle or rocket launcher types, 9 types of antitank weapons, and 14 anti-aircraft artillery weapons used by ground troops on all sides. Also in use, primarily by anti-communist forces, were the 24 types of armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery, and 26 types of field artillery & rocket launchers.
- 1 Communist forces and weapons
- 2 US weapons
- 3 Weapons of the ARVN, U.S., South Korean, Australian, and New Zealand Forces
- 3.1 Pistols and revolvers
- 3.2 Infantry rifles
- 3.3 Sniper/marksman rifles
- 3.4 Submachine guns
- 3.5 Shotguns
- 3.6 Machine guns
- 3.7 Grenades and mines
- 3.8 Grenade launchers
- 3.9 Flamethrowers
- 3.10 Infantry support weapons
- 3.11 Optics
- 3.12 Artillery
- 3.13 Aircraft ordnance
- 3.14 Aircraft weapons
- 3.15 Vehicles
- 3.16 Combat vehicles
- 3.17 Naval craft
- 3.18 Communications
- 4 Weapons of the PAVN/NLF/North Korea/Soviet Union/China
- 4.1 Artillery
- 4.2 Aircraft
- 4.3 Aircraft weapons
- 4.4 Small arms
- 4.5 Tanks
- 4.6 Other armored vehicles
- 4.7 Vehicles
- 5 Substitute standard weapons used by irregular forces
- 6 Other ways of obtaining weapons
- 7 Citations and notes
- 8 See also
Communist forces and weapons
Communist forces were principally armed with Chinese and Soviet weaponry though some VC guerrilla units were equipped with Western infantry weapons either captured from French stocks during the first Indochina war, such as the MAT-49, or from ARVN units or requisitioned through illicit purchase.
The American M16 rifle, which replaced the M14, was lighter and considered more accurate than the AK-47 but was prone to malfunction. Often the gun suffered from a type II malfunction known as failure to extract or "brass low", which meant that a spent cartridge case remained lodged in the chamber after a bullet flew out the muzzle. According to a congressional report, the malfunction was caused primarily by a change of gunpowder in the ammunition, which was done without adequate testing and reflected a decision for which the safety of soldiers was a secondary consideration.
The heavily armored, 90 mm gun M48A3 'Patton' tank saw extensive action during the Vietnam War and over 600 were deployed with U.S. forces. They played an important role in infantry support though there were few tank versus tank battles. The M67A1 flamethrower tank (nicknamed the Zippo) was an M48 variant used in Vietnam. Artillery was used extensively by both sides but the Americans were able to ferry the lightweight 105 mm M102 howitzer by helicopter to remote locations on quick notice. With its 17-mile (27 km) range, the Soviet 130 mm M-46 towed field gun was a highly regarded weapon and used to good effect by the PAVN. It was countered by the long-range, American 175 mm M107 Self-Propelled Gun.
The United States had air superiority though many aircraft were lost to surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. U.S. airpower was credited with breaking the siege of Khe Sanh and blunting the 1972 Easter Offensive against South Vietnam. At sea, the U.S. Navy had the run of the coastline, using aircraft carriers as platforms for offshore strikes and other naval vessels for offshore artillery support. Offshore naval fire played a pivotal role in the Battle of Huế in February 1968, providing accurate fire in support of the U.S. counter-offensive to retake the city.
The Vietnam War was the first conflict that saw wide scale tactical deployment of helicopters. The Bell UH-1 Iroquois nicknamed "Huey" was used extensively in counter-guerilla operations both as a troop carrier and a gunship. In the latter role it was outfitted with a variety of armaments including M60 machine guns, multi-barreled 7.62 mm Miniguns and unguided air-to-surface rockets. The Hueys were also successfully used in MEDEVAC and search and rescue roles.
Weapons of the ARVN, U.S., South Korean, Australian, and New Zealand Forces
Pistols and revolvers
- Colt M1911A1 – standard U.S. military sidearm.
- Browning High Power – used by Australian and New Zealand forces. Also used on an unofficial basis by U.S. reconnaissance and Special Forces units.
- Smith & Wesson Mark 22 Mod.0 "Hush Puppy" – Suppressed pistol used by US Navy SEALs and other U.S. special operations forces.
- Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless – carried by U.S. military officers. Replaced by the Colt Commander in the mid-1960s
- Colt Commander – replaced the Colt M1903 as an officer's sidearm in the mid-1960s.
- M1917 revolver – Used by the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces during the beginning of the war alongside the Smith & Wesson Model 10. Used rather prominently by 'Tunnel Rat' units.
- Smith & Wesson Model 10 – used concurrently with Colt and S&W M1917 Revolvers.
- Smith & Wesson Model 12 – carried by U.S. Army and USAF pilots.
- Smith & Wesson Model 15 – carried by USAF Security Police Units
- Smith & Wesson Model 27 – carried by MACV-SOG
- High Standard HDM – Integrally suppressed .22LR handgun, supplemented by the Mark 22 Mod 0 in the later stages of the war.
- L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle – used by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Vietnam
- AR-10 – Limited use
- M1 Garand – used by the South Vietnamese, South Koreans and Laotians. Limited numbers were carried by early U.S. advisors and USMC troops.
- M1, M1A1, & M2 Carbine – used by the South Vietnamese Military, Police and Security Forces, U.S. military, and Laotians supplied by the U.S.
- M14 rifle - issued to most U.S. troops from the early stages of the war until 1967-68, when it was replaced by the M16.
- M16, XM16E1, and M16A1 – M16 was issued in 1963, but due to reliability issues, it was replaced by the M16A1 in 1967 which added the forward assist and chrome-lined barrel to the rifle for increased reliability.
- CAR-15 – carbine variant of the M16 produced in very limited numbers, fielded by special operations early on. Later supplemented by the improved XM177.
- XM177 (Colt Commando)/GAU-5 – further development of the CAR-15, used heavily by MACV-SOG, the US Air Force, and US Army.
- Stoner 63 – used by US Navy SEALs and USMC.
- Heckler & Koch G3 – used by Thai forces.
- Heckler & Koch HK33 – used by Thai forces that were not armed by the United States. It was chambered for the same cartridge as the M16
- T223 – a copy of the Heckler & Koch HK33 built under license by Harrington & Richardson used in small numbers by SEAL teams. Even though the empty H&R T223 was 0.9 pounds (0.41 kg) heavier than an empty M16A1, the weapon had a forty-round magazine available for it and this made it attractive to the SEALS.
- M1C/D Garand – limited numbers were used by the South Vietnamese.
- M1903A4 Springfield – used by the USMC throughout the war, replaced by the M40.
- M21 Sniper Weapon System – designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) used by the US Army.
- M40 – bolt-action sniper rifle meant to replace the M1903 Springfield rifle; used by the USMC.
- Winchester Model 70 – used by the USMC.
- Thompson submachine gun – used often by South Vietnamese troops, and in small quantities by U.S. artillery and helicopter units.
- M3 Grease gun – standard U.S. military submachine-gun, also used by the South Vietnamese
- Ingram MAC-10 – used by U.S. special operations forces.
- Swedish K – used by Navy SEALs in the beginning of the war, but later replaced by the Smith & Wesson M76 in the late 1960s. Significant numbers were also utilized by the South Vietnamese, and limited numbers were used in Laos by advisors, and Laotian fighters.
- Smith & Wesson M76 – copy of the Swedish K, replacing it in 1967.
- Madsen M-50 – used by the U.S. Special Forces and MACV-SOG and by South Vietnamese forces, supplied from Denmark.
- Owen Gun – standard Australian submachine-gun in the early stages of the war, later replaced by the F1.
- F1 submachine gun – replaced the Owen Gun in Australian service.
- Sterling submachine gun – used by Australian Special Air Service Regiment and other special operations units.
- Sten submachine gun – used by U.S. special operations forces, often with a suppressor mounted.
- Uzi – used by special operations forces, supplied from Israel.
- Beretta M12 – limited numbers were used by U.S. Embassy security units.
- MAT-49 submachine gun – captured models were used in limited numbers 
- M50/55 Reising – limited numbers were used by MACV-SOG and other irregular forces.
The shotguns were used as an individual weapon during jungle patrol; infantry units were authorized a shotgun by TO & E (Table of Organization & Equipment). Shotguns were not general issue to all infantrymen, but were select issue weapons, such as one per squad, etc.
- Winchester Model 1912 – pump-action shotgun was used by the Marines during the early stages of the war
- Ithaca 37 – pump-action shotgun used by NAVY SEALs.
- Remington 7188 – experimental select fire shotgun, withdrawn due to lack of reliability
- Remington Model 870 – pump-action shotgun primary shotgun used by Marines after 1966
- Special Operations Weapon a modification for a Remington 1100 which made it fully automatic
- Remington 11-48 – semi-automatic shotgun used by the Marines in small quantities
- Winchester Model 1897 – used by the Marines during the early stages of the war, but was later replaced by the Remington Model 870
- Winchester Model 1200 – pump-action shotgun used by the U.S. Army
- Stevens Model 520-30 and Model 620
- Stevens Model 77E – pump-action shotgun used by Army and Marine forces. Almost 70,000 Model 77Es were procured by the military for use in SE Asia during the 1960s
- Browning Auto-5 - Remington M11 Semi-automatic shotgun used by the South Vietnamese Forces
- Winchester Model 21 - used by the South Vietnamese Forces
- Remington 31 - used by the South Vietnamese Forces
- Stoner M63a Commando & Mark 23 Mod.0 – used by Navy SEALs and tested by Force Recon.
- M60 machine gun – standard General-purpose machine gun for the U.S., Australian, New Zealand, and South Vietnamese forces.
- M1918A2 – used by the ARVN during the early stages of the war, many were airdropped into Laos and used by Laotian fighters.
- M1917 Browning machine gun – .30cal heavy machine gun issued to the ARVN and also in limited use by the U.S. Army.
- M1919 Browning machine gun – vehicle and helicopter mounted machine gun. Also fitted to Australian M113 Light Reconnaissance Vehicles. Meanwhile, still of use by many South Vietnamese and Laotion infantry forces.
- Heckler & Koch HK21 – used by Thai forces.
- Colt CMG-2 – experimental light machine gun deployed by SEAL Team 2 in 1970.
- Browning M2HB .50cal Heavy Machine Gun 
Grenades and mines
- Mark 2 Fragmentation Hand/Rifle Grenade
- M61 Fragmentation Hand Grenade
- M34 white phosphorus grenade – smoke grenade that uses white phosphorus, which, when in contact with air ignites and creates white smoke. The white phosphorus was also a useful way to dislodge the Viet Cong from tunnels or other enclosed spaces as the burning white phosphorus absorbs oxygen, causing the victims to suffocate or suffer serious burns.
- M18 grenade Smoke Hand Grenade
- Claymore M18A1 – anti-personnel mine
- M67 grenade
- M16 mine – bounding anti-personnel mine
- Mills Bomb
- M79 Grenade Launcher - primary U.S. grenade launcher used by all branches of the US military.
- The China Lake Grenade Launcher - pump action weapon used in very small numbers.
- XM148 - experimental underbarrel 40mm grenade launcher, used by Navy SEALs and Australian SAS. Withdrawn due to safety reasons.
- M203 grenade launcher - single-shot 40mm underslung grenade launcher designed to attach to a M16 rifle. First tested in combat April 1969.
- M7 grenade launcher - rifle grenade launcher used with the M1 Garand, used by the South Vietnamese soldiers.
Infantry support weapons
- M18 recoilless rifle 57 mm
- M20 recoilless rifle 75 mm
- M67 recoilless rifle Anti-Tank 90 mm
- M40 recoilless rifle 106 mm
- M19 Mortar 60 mm
- M29 Mortar 81 mm
- 4.2 inch mortar 107 mm commonly referred to as the "four deuce"
- M72 LAW – Light Anti-Tank Weapon
- M31 HEAT Rifle Grenade – Used primarily by the U.S. Army before the introduction of the M72 LAW. Fired from the M1 Garand and M14 Rifle.
- M20 Super Bazooka – Used mainly by USMC before the introduction of the M72 LAW
- FIM-43 Redeye MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defence System) – shoulder-fired heat-seeking anti-air missile, used by the U.S. Army and USMC.
- Rocket Launcher M1/M1A1/M9 (Bazooka) – Used by ARVN until late 1960s
- M202 - multishot incendiary rocket launcher.
- Colt Scope - Colt-manufactured 3x-magnification scope mounted on the carrying handle of the M16 and CAR-15 family.
- Adjustable Ranging Telescope - a 3-9x adjustable magnification scope that served as the primary optic of the XM21 sniper rifle. Also mounted on the Model 655 and 656 sniper variants of the M16.
- M82/M84 - 2.2x-magnification scope used on the M1C and M1D Garand sniper rifles.
- Weaver Model 330/330C - 2.75x-magnification scope used on the M1903A4 sniper rifle. Also designated as the M73/M73B1 scopes.
- Redfield Accurange - Redfield-manufactured 3-9x adjustable magnification scope that served as the primary optic of the M40 sniper rifle.
- Unertl 10x - Unertl-manufactured 10x-magnification scope that served as the primary optic of the M40A1 sniper rifle.
- Unertl 8x43 - Unertl-manufactured 8x-magnification scope that served as the primary optic of the Winchester Model 70 sniper rifle.
- Single Point - a primitive occluded eye gunsight meant to be mounted on the M16 and CAR-15 family. The predecessor of the modern red dot sight.
- AN/PAS-4 - Infrared scope mounted on the M14 rifle.
- AN/PVS-1 Starlight Scope - night-vision scope used for night operations; replaced the AN/PAS-4. Typically mounted on the M14 rifle.
- AN/PVS-2 Starlight Scope - successor to the AN/PVS-1. Typically mounted on the M16 rifle, but could also be mounted on the XM21 sniper rifle.
- AN/PVS-3A Starlight Scope - successor to the AN/PVS-2. Like the AN/PVS-2, it could be mounted on the M16 and XM21.
- 105 mm Howitzer M2A1
- 105 mm Howitzer M102
- 155 mm Howitzer M114
- M53 Self-propelled 155mm gun
- M55 Self-propelled 8-inch howitzer
- M107 Self-propelled 175mm gun
- M108 Self-propelled 105 mm howitzer
- M109 Self-propelled 155 mm howitzer
- M110 Self-propelled 8-inch howitzer
- 75mm Pack Howitzer M1
- L5 pack howitzer 105 mm pack howitzer used by Australia
- MIM-23 Hawk
Artillery ammunition types
- Beehive anti-personnel rounds
- White phosphorus (marking round) "Willie Pete"
- HE, general-purpose (High Explosive)
(listed alphabetically by modified/basic mission code, then numerically in ascending order by design number/series letter)
- A-1 Skyraider - ground attack aircraft
- A-3 Skywarrior - carrier-based bomber
- A-4 Skyhawk - carrier-based strike aircraft
- A-6 Intruder - carrier-based all weather strike aircraft
- A-7 Corsair II - carrier-based strike aircraft
- A-26 Invader - light bomber
- A-37 Dragonfly - ground attack aircraft
- AC-47 Spooky - gunship
- AC-119G "Shadow" - gunship
- AC-119K "Stinger" - gunship
- AC-130 "Spectre" - gunship
- AU-23 Peacemaker - ground attack aircraft
- AU-24 Stallion - ground attack aircraft
- B-26 Marauder - medium bomber
- B-52 Stratofortress - heavy bomber
- B-57 Canberra - medium bomber
- B-66 Destroyer - medium bomber
- Canberra B.20 - Royal Australian Air Force medium bomber
- C-1 Trader - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-2 Greyhound - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-5 Galaxy - strategic lift cargo aircraft
- C-7 Caribou - tactical cargo aircraft, used by the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force
- C-46 - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-47 - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-97 Stratofreighter - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-119 Boxcar - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-123 Provider - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-124 Globemaster II - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-130 Hercules - cargo/transport plane
- C-133 Cargomaster - cargo/transport aircraft
- C-141 Starlifter - strategic cargo aircraft
- CA-27 Sabre - fighter jet used by the Royal Australian Air Force
- E-1 Tracer - carrier-based airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft
- E-2 Hawkeye - carrier-based airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft
- EA-3 Skywarrior - carrier-based tactical electronic reconnaissance aircraft
- EA-6B Prowler - carrier-based electronic warfare & attack aircraft
- EB-57 Canberra - tactical electronic reconnaissance aircraft
- EB-66 - tactical electronic reconnaissance aircraft
- EC-121 - reconnaissance aircraft
- EF-10 Skyknight - tactical electronic warfare aircraft
- EKA-3B Skywarrior - carrier-based tactical electronic warfare aircraft
- F-4 Phantom II - carrier and land based fighter-bomber
- F-5 Freedom Fighter - light-weight fighter used in strike aircraft role
- F-8 Crusader - carrier and land based fighter-bomber
- F-14 Tomcat - carrier-based fighter, made its combat debut during Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, in April 1975
- F-100 Super Sabre - fighter-bomber
- F-102 Delta Dagger - fighter
- F-104 Starfighter - fighter
- F-105 Thunderchief - fighter-bomber
- F-111 Aardvark - medium bomber
- HU-16 Albatross - rescue amphibian
- KA-3 Skywarrior - carrier-based tactical aerial refueler aircraft
- KA-6 Intruder - carrier-based tactical aerial refueler aircraft
- KB-50 Superfortress - aerial refueling aircraft
- KC-130F Hercules - tactical aerial refueler/assault transport aircraft
- KC-135 Stratotanker - aerial refueling aircraft
- O-1 Bird Dog - light observation airplane
- O-2 Skymaster - observation aircraft
- OV-1 Mohawk - battlefield surveillance and light strike aircraft
- OV-10 Bronco - light attack/observation aircraft
- P-2 Neptune - maritime patrol aircraft
- P-3 Orion - maritime patrol aircraft
- QU-22 Pave Eagle (Beech Bonanza) - electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft
- RA-3B Skywarrior - carrier-based tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RA-5C Vigilante - carrier-based tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RB-47 Stratojet - tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RB-57 Canberra - tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RB-66 - tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RF-4 Phantom II - carrier and land-based tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RF-8 Crusader - carrier-based tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- RF-101 Voodoo - tactical photographic reconnaissance aircraft
- S-2 Tracker - carrier-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft
- SR-71 Blackbird - strategic reconnaissance aircraft
- TA-4F Skyhawk - fast forward air controller
- TF-9J Cougar - fast forward air controller
- T-28 Trojan - trainer/ground attack aircraft
- U-2 - reconnaissance aircraft
- U-6 Beaver - utility aircraft
- U-10 Helio Courier - utility aircraft
- U-17 Skywagon - utility aircraft
- YO-3 Quiet Star - light observation airplane
(listed numerically in ascending order by design number/series letter, then alphabetically by mission code)
- UH-1A/B/C/D/E/F/H/L/M/P Iroquois "Huey" - utility transport and gunship helicopter
- AH-1G HueyCobra - attack helicopter
- AH-1J SeaCobra - twin-engine attack helicopter
- HH-1K Iroquois - search and rescue (SAR) helicopter
- UH-1N Iroquois - twin-engine utility helicopter
- SH-2 Seasprite - carrier-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter
- UH-2 Seasprite - carrier-based utility helicopter
- CH-3 Sea King - long-range transport helicopter
- HH-3 "Jolly Green Giant" - long-range combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter
- SH-3 Sea King - carrier-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter
- UH-3 Sea King - carrier-based utility helicopter
- OH-6A Cayuse "Loach" (from LOH - Light Observation Helicopter) - light transport/observation (i.e., scout) helicopter
- OH-13 Sioux - light observation helicopter
- UH-19 Chickasaw - utility transport helicopter
- CH-21 Shawnee - cargo/transport helicopter
- OH-23 Raven - light utility helicopter
- CH-34 Choctaw - cargo/transport helicopter
- CH-37 Mojave - cargo/transport helicopter
- HH-43 Huskie -firefighting/rescue helicopter
- CH-46 Sea Knight - cargo/transport helicopter
- CH-47 Chinook - cargo/transport helicopter
- CH-53 Sea Stallion - heavy-lift transport helicopter
- HH-53 "Super Jolly Green Giant" - long-range combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter
- MH-53 Pave Low - special operations missions helicopter.
- CH-54 Tarhe "Sky Crane" - heavy lift helicopter
- OH-58A Kiowa - light transport/observation helicopter
- BLU-82 Daisy cutter
- Bomb, 250 lb, 500 lb, 750 lb, 1000 lb, HE (high explosive), general-purpose
- Rocket, aerial, HE (High Explosive), 2.75 inch
- M61 Vulcan - 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- M39 cannon - 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- AN/M3 cannon - 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- Minigun - 7.62 mm (aircraft and helicopter mount)
- M197 Gatling gun - 20 mm
- M60 machine gun - 7.62mm (helicopter mount)
- AIM-4 Falcon
- AIM-7 Sparrow
- AIM-9 Sidewinder
- AGM-12 Bullpup
- AGM-62 Walleye
- AGM-45 Shrike
- AGM-78 Standard ARM
- Agent Orange – While not developed to be used as a weapon against infantry, it was later revealed that it had the potential to cause cancer and other diseases in those who came in contact with it.
- M38A1 - 1/4 ton jeep
- M151 - 1/4 ton jeep
- Dodge M37 - 3/4 ton truck
- Kaiser-Jeep M715 - 1¼ ton truck
- Truck, cargo/troops - 2½ ton (deuce and a half)
- Truck, cargo/troops -5 ton
- M520 Goer - Truck, cargo, 8-ton, 4×4
- Land Rover short and long wheelbase – Australian and New Zealand forces.
- M76 Otter - amphibious cargo carrier used by USMC
- M135 troop/Cargo trucks - 2 1/2 ton
- M211 Cargo/troop truck - 2 1/2 ton
- M24 Chaffee – light tank; main ARVN tank early in the war, used at least as late as the Tet Offensive.
- M41 Walker Bulldog – light tank, replaced the M24 Chaffee as the main ARVN tank in 1964-1965.
- M48 Patton medium tank – main tank of the U.S. Army and Marines throughout the war, and also used by ARVN forces late-war.
- M67 "Zippo" – flamethrower variant of the M48 Patton.
- M551 Sheridan – Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicle/Light Tank, used by the U.S. Army from 1969.
- Centurion MK.V Main Battle Tank – used by the Australian Army.
Other armored vehicles
- M113 - APC (Armored Personnel Carrier)
- M113 ACAV - Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle
- M163 Vulcan - self-propelled anti-aircraft tank
- M3 Scout Car - used by South Vietnamese forces early in the war.
- M3 Half-track - used by South Vietnamese forces early in the war.
- M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle - modified M60 Patton tank equipped with dozer blade, short-barreled 165mm M135 Demolition Gun, and A-Frame crane.
- M60 AVLB - armored vehicle launched bridge using M60 Patton chassis.
- M88 Recovery Vehicle - armored recovery vehicle based on M48 and M60 chassis.
- M8 Greyhound Used by ARVN forces early in the war.
- LVTP5 (aka AMTRACs) - amphibious tractors/landing craft used by USMC
- M50 Ontos - self-propelled 106 mm recoilless rifle carrier used by the USMC until 1969. Some were later transferred to ARVN forces.
- Cadillac Gage V-100 Commando
- Mark I PBRs (Patrol Boat River)
- M114 - reconnaissance vehicle
- M42 Duster - M41 based hull, with a twin 40 mm antiaircraft gun mounted on an open turret
- LCVP - Landing craft vehicle personal
- LCM - Landing craft mecanised
- M56 Scorpion
- M2 Half Track Car
- M5 Half-track
- M9 Half-track
- M59 (APC)
- M75 (APC)
Often, non-combat logistical vehicles were armored and adopted to carry several machine guns to be used for convoy escort duties
- Gun trucks - 2½ and 5 ton cargo trucks with quad .50 cal machine guns mounted in the back
- M3 halftracks with quad .50 cal machine guns in the back
- M151A1C with M40 recoilless rifle 106 mm or M60 machine guns
- Land Rovers with single and twin M60 machine guns mounted used by Australian and NZ forces
- Tango, LCM - Monitor, heavily gunned riverine craft
- Swift Boat - Patrol Craft Fast (PCF)
- ASPB - assault support patrol boat, (known as Alpha boats)
- PBR - Patrol Boat River, all-fiberglass boats propelled by twin water jets, used by the US Navy
The geographically dispersed nature of the war challenged existing military communications. From 1965 to the final redeployment of tactical units, numerous communications-electronics systems were introduced in Vietnam to upgrade the quality and quantity of tactical communications and replace obsolete gear:
- AN/PRT-4 and PRR-9 squad radios - replaced the AN/PRC-6.
- AN/PRC-25 and 77 - short-range FM radios replaced the AN/PRC-8-10.
- AN/VRC-12 series - FM radios replaced the RT-66-67-68/GRC (including AN/GRC 3-8, VRC 7-10, VRC 20-22, and VRQ 1-3 sets).
- AN/GRC-106 - AM radios and teletypewriter replaced the AN/GRC-19.
- NESTOR - tactical secure voice system, including the TSEC/KY-8, 28 and 38 was used with the PRC-77 and VRC-12
- KW-26 - protected higher level teletype traffic
- KW-37 - protected the U.S. Navy fleet broadcast
- KL-7 - provided offline security
- A number of paper encryption and authentication products, including one time pads and the KAL-55B Tactical Authentication System
Weapons of the PAVN/NLF/North Korea/Soviet Union/China
NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and the Southern communist guerrillas NLF, or Viet Cong as they were commonly referred to during the war, largely used standard Warsaw Pact weapons. Weapons used by the North Vietnamese also included Chinese Communist variants, which were referred to as CHICOM's by the US military. Captured weapons were also widely used; almost every small arm used by SEATO may have seen limited enemy use. During the early '50, US material captured in Korea was also sent to the Vietminh.
- SA-2 Soviet high-altitude air defence system
- ZPU-4 quad 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine gun
- ZU-23 twin 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon
- M1939 37 mm anti-aircraft gun
- S-60 57 mm anti-aircraft gun
- 85 mm air defense gun M1939 (52-K)
- 100 mm air defense gun KS-19
- 82 mm, 107 mm, 120 mm, and 160mm mortars
- 122 mm Katyusha rockets
- Type 63 multiple rocket launcher
- BM-21 Grad
- BM-25 (MRL) limited numbers
- 122 mm gun M1931/37 (A-19)
- 122 mm howitzer M1938 (M-30)
- D-74 122 mm Field Gun
- 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46)
- 152 mm howitzer M1943 (D-1)
- 152 mm towed gun-howitzer M1955 (D-20)
- MiG-21 jet fighter
- MiG-19 jet fighter, used in limited numbers
- MiG-17 jet fighter
- MiG-15 jet fighter, used in limited numbers
- Shenyang J-6 jet fighter
- Shenyang J-5 jet fighter
- Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack aircraft
- Ilyushin Il-4 bomber, torpedo-bomber
- Ilyushin Il-10 Shturmovik ground attack aircraft
- An-2 aircraft
Handguns and revolvers
- Tokarev TT-33
- Makarov PM
- P-64 CZAK handgun
- Nagant M1895 revolver
- Type 14 8 mm Nambu Pistol – Captured from the Japanese during World War II
- Stechkin automatic pistol
- Walther P38 – Captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- Luger P08 – Captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- Mauser C96 – Locally produced copies were used alongside Chinese copies and German variants supplied by the Soviets
- M1935 – Captured from the French in the Indochina War.
- M1892 – Captured from the French in the Indochina War.
Automatic and semi-automatic rifles
- AK-47– from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries
- AKM – from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries
- Type 56 assault rifle – from the People's Republic of China
- Type 58 assault rifle – from North Korea
- Vz. 58 assault rifle – from Czechoslovakia
- Type 63 assault rifle
- Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle, captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- SVD-63 semi-automatic marksman rifle
- MAS-49 rifle – captured French rifle from first Indochina War
- SKS semi-automatic carbine
- SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle[dubious ]
- FG 42 – captured by the Soviets during World War II
- MAS-36 rifle – Captured French rifle from first Indochina War, used by NVA in earlier stages of the Vietnam War
- Mosin–Nagant – Bolt-action rifles and carbines from the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries, and the People's Republic of China
- Mauser Kar98k – Bolt-action rifle (many of the Mausers used by the VPA and the NLF were from rifles captured from the French during the First Indochina War and rifles provided to them by the Soviets as military aid)
- Type 38 Rifle – Captured from the Japanese during World War II
- Type 99 Rifle – Captured from the Japanese during World War II
- vz. 24 – Used by the Vietcong Forces.
- K-50M submachine gun (Vietnamese edition, based on Chinese version of Russian PPSh-41, under licence)
- PPS-43 submachine gun
- PPSh-41 submachine gun (both Soviet and Chinese versions)
- PPD-34/38 submachine gun[dubious ]
- PPD-40 submachine gun[dubious ]
- MP-38/MP-40 – (captured by the Soviets during World War II)
- Škorpion vz. 61 submachine gun
- MAT-49 submachine gun – Captured during the French-Indochina War. Many were converted from 9x19mm to 7.62x25 Tokarev
- MAS-38 submachine gun – Captured from the French in the Indochina War.
- PM-63 submachine gun
- Type 100 submachine gun – Captured in very limited amounts from the Japanese during World War II.
- vz.48 - Used by the North Vietnamese Forces.
- RPD light machine gun
- RPK light machine gun
- PK light machine gun
- Degtyarev DP light machine gun
- SG-43/SGM medium machine guns including Communist Chinese copies of these guns
- MG-34 light machine gun captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- MG-42 medium machine gun captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- ZB vz. 26 light machine gun
- Uk vz. 59 general-purpose machine gun
- DShK heavy machine gun
- PM M1910 heavy machine gun
- FM-24/29 captured from the French in the Indochina War
- DS-39 - used by the Vietcong Forces
- MG 08 - used by the Vietcong Forces
- Type 92 - captured from the Japanese during World War II
- Type 96 - captured from the Japanese during World War II
- Type 99 - captured from the Japanese during World War II
- ZB vz.30 - light machine gun from Czechoslovakia
- ZB vz.50 - heavy machine gun from Czechoslovakia
- ZB-53 - Medium machine gun from Czechoslovakia
- ZB vz.60 - heavy machine gun from Czechoslovakia
Grenades and other explosives
- F1 grenade
- Type 67 ChiCom Stick Grenade
- RG-42 grenade
- RGD-5 grenade
- 9K32 Strela-2 anti-aircraft weapon
- RPG-2 anti-tank weapon (both Soviet and locally produced B-40 and B-50 variants used)
- RPG-7 anti-tank weapon
- Type 69 RPG anti-tank weapon
- SPG-9 73 mm recoilless rifle
- B-10 recoilless rifle
- B-11 recoilless rifle
- Type 56 recoilless rifle
- M-24 Stick Grenade
- M-43 Stick Grenade
- RGD-33 With handle grenades
- Molotov cocktail
- Model 1914 grenade
- RG-42 Fragmentation Hand Grenade
- RPG-40 Anti-Tank Hand Grenade
- RPG-41 Anti-Tank Hand Grenade
- RPG-43 HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) Hand Grenade
- PTRD Used by the Vietcong Forces.
- M39 Used by the North Vietnamese Army.
- T-54/55 main battle tanks
- T-34-85 medium tank, used in limited numbers
- Type 59 main battle tanks
- Type 62 light tank
- Type 63 amphibious tank
- PT-76 amphibious tank
- Type 63 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- ZSU-57-2 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- IS-2/3/10 Heavy tank supplied by the USSR and was used in limited numbers by the NVA. Used up to the early 1960s.
- SU-100 self-propelled guns in limited numbers.
- T-37 tank (amphibious)
- T-38 tank (amphibious)
- T-40 tank[dubious ]
- T-50 tank[dubious ]
- T-60 tank
- T-70 tank
- BT-2 Tank
- T-34 (Chinese type 58, a copy)
Other armored vehicles
Substitute standard weapons used by irregular forces
- Arisaka bolt-action rifles
- M1 Garand rifle, semi-automatic rifle
- M1 carbine, semi-automatic rifle
- Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifles
- MAS-36 bolt-action rifles
- MAS-49 semi-automatic rifles
- MAT-49 submachine gun and local variants
- MP 40 submachine gun
- PPSh-41 submachine gun
- PPS-43 submachine gun and local variants
- Swedish K submachine guns
- Mosin–Nagant bolt-action rifles and carbines
- Mauser Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifles
- Type 99 light machine gun Used occasionally by the Viet Cong
- Nambu semi-automatic pistol
- Colt M1911A1 Semi-Automatic Pistol
- M72 LAW
- Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle, captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- MAS-49 rifle – captured French rifle from first Indochina War
- FG 42 – captured by the Soviets during World War II
Hand combat weapons
- M1 Bayonet U.S. and ARVN Used on M1 Garand.
- M4 bayonet U.S. and ARVN Used on M1, M2 Carbine.
- M5 bayonet U.S. and ARVN Used on M1 Garand.
- M6 bayonet U.S. Used on M14.
- M7 Bayonet U.S. and ARVN with the M16
- Ka-Bar Utility/fighting Knife U.S. Navy & Marine Corps
- Gerber Mark II U.S. Armed Forces
- Other types of knives, bayonets, and blades
Area denial weapons
- M14 Mine Used by U.S. Forces until 1973
- MBV-78A1 Vietnamese variant of Russian POMZ AP mine
- Type 58 & Type 59 Chinese copy of Russian POMZ-2 and POMZ-2M AP mines
- OZM Series of Russian bounding mines
Other ways of obtaining weapons
The Viet Cong were not always able to be supplied by the NVA. They sometimes took weapons from US soldiers after an attack or raided US or South Vietnamese weapon stockpiles. This increased the number of weapons available and gave balance against the US arsenal.
Citations and notes
- Bart Hagerman, USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary, Turner Publishing Company, p.237
- Lieutenant General John J. Tolson (1989). Vietnam Studies: Airmobility 1961–71. Department of the Army. US Government Printing Office. CMH Pub 90-4.
- "ITN news reel". Youtube. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- George W. Smith, The siege at Hue, Lynne Reinner Publishers(1999) p. 142-143
- Dwayne A. Day, Helicopters at War U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
- Dockery, Kevin (December 2004). Weapons of the Navy SEALs. New York City: Berkley Publishing Group. p. 382. ISBN 0-425-19834-0.
- Gander, Jerry (2002). Jane's Infantry Weapons 2002–2003. Jane's Information Group. pp. 214, 899–906. ISBN 0-7106-2434-4.
- Canfield, Bruce (2007). Complete Guide to US Military Combat Shotguns. Mowbray Publishers Inc. pp. 163–164. ISBN 1-931464-28-6.
- Use of Hawk Missiles in Vietnam. // Department of Defense appropriations for 1970, pt. 5, pp. 377-378.
- Vietnam Studies—Division-Level Communications 1962-1973, Lieutenant General Charles R. Myer, U.S. Department of the Army, 1982, Chapter 10
- http://www.governmentattic.org/18docs/Hist_US_COMSEC_Boak_NSA_1973u.pdf A History of U.S. Communications Security; the David G. Boak Lectures, National Security Agency (NSA), Volumes I, 1973, Volumes II 1981, partially released 2008, additional portions declassified October 14, 2015
- Weapons of the Vietnam War
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