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Rumble in the Jungle: American Tanks in Vietnam

Served with the 3rd Squadron 5th Cavalry, 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. I was there from February 1968 to February 1969. As soon as I arrived, about 5 February 1968, three Troops of the 3rd 5th Cav, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Troops, were moved north, by way of Da Nang, to the area around Hue. Alpha Troop was attached to the Marines at Hue. I do not believe they ever entered the city. Bravo and Charlie Troops operated with the Marines in I Corp. As a member of Charlie Troop, most of my time was in the area around Quang Tri, Phu Bia, Cau Viet and Dong Ha. Each Troop was made up of 3 Platoons. Each Platoon consisted of 3 M48A3 tanks and 6 M113 ACAVs. This represented a substantial amount of fire power which could move quickly, on the roads or through the jungle, to respond to any need.
In the early to mid-70s as a cadet would meet 3/5 Cav troopers at Fort Lewis when they moved the 9th ID there. They were very professional and proud bunch IMO.
 
Good article about armor in Vietnam but Captain Dye forgot to mention the M42A1 dusters of 1st BN 44th ARTY were U.S. Army, not U.S. Marines. I was gunner on track #131 - 1st Platoon, C BTRY based out of Camp Carroll, Nov. 66 to Oct. 67. We were attached to 3rd Marines.
 
Good article about armor in Vietnam but Captain Dye forgot to mention the M42A1 dusters of 1st BN 44th ARTY were U.S. Army, not U.S. Marines. I was gunner on track #131 - 1st Platoon, C BTRY based out of Camp Carroll, Nov. 66 to Oct. 67. We were attached to 3rd Marines.
My memory isn't the best but weren't the dusters using 40mm Bofors guns. I think I remember seeing one at either Chu Chi or in the Ashau in 67-68.
 
I was with the 1st Infantry Division in 1970 when our AO was turned over to the ARVN. The division was returning to Fort Riley, KS, due to Nixon's Vietnamizaion program. Being a combat photographer, I was one of the last to leave. For my final assignment, I was assigned to go with an element of the 11th Armored Cavalry as they patrolled QL13, "Thunder Road," armed with "dusters." Those guys would light up a tree line with those 40mm guns if the suspected any VC shenanigans. I saw them fire at night and it was quite a show. On a motorcycle trip not too long ago, I was surprised to see one in State College, PA.
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Brought back a few memories. Welcome home all you RVN vets.

Mike
 
Found this forum while looking for info on U.S.M.C Patton tanks in Vietnam for hist. novel I'm writing. If anyone saw a Patton stricken by an RPG anti-tank grenade. I'd like to know extent of damage. One of our dusters was turned to scrap iron by one but the Patton had much heavier armor.
 
I did not see any Armor in 1965, 173rd Abn Bde, Army, near Bien Hoa, but I was not there but three months. I went back in 1966/1967 and my brigade had an Armored Company, or maybe it was a reinforced Platoon/ M-48s and M-113s and even an M-114.
Back again in 1969 with 1st Inf Div, M-48s seemed to take a back seat to M-113s. We had 113 flamethrowers and we called them Zippo's. The few Sheridans I saw seemed to be very effective and could traverse shallow rice paddies. We did find a M-41 tank several klicks SW of Lai khe, but north of War Zone D. The tank was hidden in a VC bunker it had been stolen further south, by Phu Loi, from the ARVN
In fact the first armor deployed by the U.S. forces was in 1965 with the coming of the USMC Battalion Landing Team, which included a tank section. When the administration approved the deployment of the BLT, they were not aware that tanks were organic to the unit. The USMC had been given no reason to reorganize a BLT so their arrival was a surprise to everyone except the USMC.
You would have been witnessing some of the earliest deployed M551's in '69. By the time I fetched up in 2/11th ACR they were ~3 years old and looked it.
 
The main Army tank in RVN was the M60, Marines used the M48. ARVNs used the M41. A lot of southern I Corps was paddies or steep mountains, not good tank country. I did see some used on Go Noi Island, but it was a sea of elephant grass. Semper Fi.
No, Sir. The M60 never served in Vietnam. The very distinct variant of Combat Engineer Vehicle, the M728 saw some use, but it is quite a different beast.
The USMC introduced the M48 when the first BLT arrived. The Army deployed them in increasing numbers, rapidly replacing any gassers with the M48A3 diesels. Many of these would be transferred to the ARVN during the "Vietnamization" period.
 
The 25th Inf Div was deployed to Vietnam in 1965. I can't be positive but I think 2nd BN 34th Armor deployed with them. I deployed in 67, the 34th was at Chu Chi. I was a door gunner for about 6 months, then transferred to the 34th in C company that was in th Phu Bai area. The company was split into platoons each assigned to different outfits.
 
I did not see any Armor in 1965, 173rd Abn Bde, Army, near Bien Hoa, but I was not there but three months. I went back in 1966/1967 and my brigade had an Armored Company, or maybe it was a reinforced Platoon/ M-48s and M-113s and even an M-114.
Back again in 1969 with 1st Inf Div, M-48s seemed to take a back seat to M-113s. We had 113 flamethrowers and we called them Zippo's. The few Sheridans I saw seemed to be very effective and could traverse shallow rice paddies. We did find a M-41 tank several klicks SW of Lai khe, but north of War Zone D. The tank was hidden in a VC bunker it had been stolen further south, by Phu Loi, from the ARVN
While in Germany with 1/68 Armor we were told the M-114 was being phased out of service. I got to drive one of them, a real treat. The little suckers were fast but had a tendency to roll over, nearly flipped the one I was driving.
 
While in Germany with 1/68 Armor we were told the M-114 was being phased out of service. I got to drive one of them, a real treat. The little suckers were fast but had a tendency to roll over, nearly flipped the one I was driving.
The M114 was rapidly pulled from U.S. service in Vietnam and handed over to the ARVN, who didn't much appreciate them either. The front overhang of the hull in front of the track greatly limited it's cross-country mobility. It would be stopped by terrain that an M113 would easily take in stride.
By 1979 it had proven so useless in Germany that they were exchanged on a 5:3 basis for more M551 Sheridans, which had better mobility &, it was hoped, would be more of a deterrent by putting more MGM-51 Shillelagh Missiles on the defensive line.
The M114 was notoriously unreliable mechanically and can probably be said to be the only vehicle to make the small-block Chevy look bad (283C.I.). The commander of the 6th Recon Sqn. at Ft. Knox, who had 72 of them, did not have a good word to say about them.
 

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The M114 was rapidly pulled from U.S. service in Vietnam and handed over to the ARVN, who didn't much appreciate them either. The front overhang of the hull in front of the track greatly limited it's cross-country mobility. It would be stopped by terrain that an M113 would easily take in stride.
By 1979 it had proven so useless in Germany that they were exchanged on a 5:3 basis for more M551 Sheridans, which had better mobility &, it was hoped, would be more of a deterrent by putting more MGM-51 Shillelagh Missiles on the defensive line.
The M114 was notoriously unreliable mechanically and can probably be said to be the only vehicle to make the small-block Chevy look bad (283C.I.). The commander of the 6th Recon Sqn. at Ft. Knox, who had 72 of them, did not have a good word to say about them.
Thanks for the info.
 
The M114 was rapidly pulled from U.S. service in Vietnam and handed over to the ARVN, who didn't much appreciate them either. The front overhang of the hull in front of the track greatly limited it's cross-country mobility. It would be stopped by terrain that an M113 would easily take in stride.
By 1979 it had proven so useless in Germany that they were exchanged on a 5:3 basis for more M551 Sheridans, which had better mobility &, it was hoped, would be more of a deterrent by putting more MGM-51 Shillelagh Missiles on the defensive line.
The M114 was notoriously unreliable mechanically and can probably be said to be the only vehicle to make the small-block Chevy look bad (283C.I.). The commander of the 6th Recon Sqn. at Ft. Knox, who had 72 of them, did not have a good word to say about them.
I arrived in Germany assigned to the 2d ACR in May of 1976 and the M114s were long gone by then, and as you mention each platoon had 6 M551A1s, two M113s and one mortar track. My only experience with M114s was seeing a Mech Co Cdr riding round in one on maneuvers at Ft. Riley, KS in 1974 as part of Army Orientation Training and it was used as the "casualty" for recovery training at Ft. Knox. You're right about the 283. I had one in my '67 Chev and the NG Mech Conpany in our hometown had original M113 models with them. Quiet as heck.
 
I arrived in Germany assigned to the 2d ACR in May of 1976 and the M114s were long gone by then, and as you mention each platoon had 6 M551A1s, two M113s and one mortar track. My only experience with M114s was seeing a Mech Co Cdr riding round in one on maneuvers at Ft. Riley, KS in 1974 as part of Army Orientation Training and it was used as the "casualty" for recovery training at Ft. Knox. You're right about the 283. I had one in my '67 Chev and the NG Mech Conpany in our hometown had original M113 models with them. Quiet as heck.
If you served on the M551A1 you enjoyed the fruits of our labors. My first test project at the Armor Board after DEROS was the Hughes LASER RF, the element that made an A1 of an M551. They would also get the TTS but that work was done after my time.
Lots of gunnery on the LRF & it was a pretty durable item. The same system was a component on the M60A2 tank, no doubt one of the factors that put me on the Initial Test Project for that item as well.
 

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If you served on the M551A1 you enjoyed the fruits of our labors. My first test project at the Armor Board after DEROS was the Hughes LASER RF, the element that made an A1 of an M551. They would also get the TTS but that work was done after my time.
Lots of gunnery on the LRF & it was a pretty durable item. The same system was a component on the M60A2 tank, no doubt one of the factors that put me on the Initial Test Project for that item as well.
Yup. I once remarked to a civilian tech who came out to the range at Graf that the LRF was one of the best pieces of gear on the vehicle. Side note: The LRFs arrived before I got to Germany, but typical German left reaction ensued when media said our unit was equipped with "death rays."
 
Yup. I once remarked to a civilian tech who came out to the range at Graf that the LRF was one of the best pieces of gear on the vehicle. Side note: The LRFs arrived before I got to Germany, but typical German left reaction ensued when media said our unit was equipped with "death rays."
During the project at the Armor Board in '72 we had wooden signs on chains with the "Danger-LASER light" symbol on it. When we were running the M60A1 "hotpants" (track skirts) project the idea was floated to take the "Hotpants" vehicle, stick something ominous looking in the M85 MG tube, hang the "LASER" warning signs all over it and run an uncaptioned photo of it in Armor Magazine so certain armies abroad could jump through their a$$ figuring out what it was.
 

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