Weaponry Used by U.S. and Communist Forces
This is an assorted display of Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) weaponry used against our boats and personnel. The top three are Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). The enemy primarily used these rockets against our boats. They were fed into a small shoulder mounted tube for firing. The rockets would burn with intense heat and had several explosive stages. All of our boat exteriors were lined with 1/2" rebar that was placed 2" on center. This was an attempt to set off the first explosive stage so that the rocket would have less impact when entering the central part of the boat. Our engine rooms were targeted by the enemy in an attempt to disable a boat so that confusion would set in. The enemy would also purposely shoot upwards in order to hit underneath the mini-flight decks on our Armored Troop Carriers. The impact would then spray shrapnel upon everyone in the vicinity of the impact zone.
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The 20MM Cannon was first used as an anti-aircraft weapon during World War II. Although the 20MM was initially gravity fed, when it was placed on our boats it changed to an electric belt fed unit. This caused many problems for our crewmembers. The ammunition would often jamb due to the weight of pulling the shells upwards from the large ammo tray. When this happened the gunner automatically was exposed to great danger. If the chamber could not be cleared quickly then the round would "cook off" and cause personal injury. Many of our sailors were wounded by their own weapons. When the 20MM was operating in good fashion it was an excellent weapon.
The two pictures on the left show our port and starboard 20MM cannons. Note the writing in the far left photo. Robin Lee was from Kaaawa, Hawaii and proud of it. The third photo is of Don Campbell in his 20MM battle station. The image on the right is of a 20MM turret that had taken a direct hit with an RPG. I recall that this gunner took this hit and then a day or two later took another hit in his turret. He was wounded during both incidents. Note the "bar armor" surrounding the turret.
MK-19 Grenade Launcher
Thanks to Larry Kennedy (T-131-13), I now have a photo of a MK-19 Grenade Launcher. The MK-19 was an electric belt fed weapon that could shoot 200 grenades a minute. When shooting a short burst you could see the grenades sailing though the air all in a perfect row. The enemy did not like these weapons. Often we operated in rivers/canals so tight that the grenade shrapnel would come back on us. This is the reason for the M-60 Machine Gun being placed in the MK-19 turret.
"Zippo" or Flame Boat
These boats were extremely deadly. The Zippo turrets could shoot compressed napalm up to 200 yards. No one could escape them. The napalm was like jelly and spread everywhere. The intense heat immediately burned the oxygen in its vicinity adding a secondary threat to anyone near its lethal path. Often the enemy would attempt to strike this boat or a Monitor boat before any others.
The newer Program V Monitors in our River Assault Squadron 15 had a 105 Howitzer mounted on the bow. A "fleshette" round was usually in the chamber awaiting the enemy. Each fleshette round had over 10,000 nail like projectiles in it. In the picture above I captured a Monitor blowing up a bunker to the left.
The picture on the left shows "Cunningham" helping load Hand Grenades onto our boat from a once hidden barrel. The photo on the right is a display of brand new AK-47 and SKS rifles that were recovered from a sunken sampan following a secondary explosion. Note that the rifles are heavily greased in order to protect them in the water cache.
"McCurdy" is holding two Rockets that stuck in the side of T-152-5 without exploding. This was on "Charlie Canal" near Vi Thanh village near Rach Gia where we often refueled.
Here are a series of pictures that I took of an ambush. In the first two photos we are firing back at the enemy. We beached our troops so that they could assault the ambush. The third image shows some of the destruction from our weapons.
Water or "Douche" Boat
In 1969 someone came up with a novel idea to turn an Armored Troop Carrier into a high pressured water boat. The purpose was to wash away solid clay bunkers. The (2) Water Cannons turned out to be very effective.