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Vietnam Gun Trucks

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Just watched a fascinating Smithsonian channel programme on these. Never even knew they existed, much less made a comeback in Iraq.
    "In 1967, the U.S. had units spread throughout the Vietnamese central highlands. From airfields to firebases there were units large and small amounting to tens of thousands of soldiers in constant need of food, ammunition, fuel, and other supplies.
    Despite the efforts of helicopters and huge cargo planes like the C-130 Hercules, the U.S. military couldn’t keep up with the demand. Instead, it relied on U.S. Army Transportation Corps to convey supplies where they were needed.
    The routes from the coastal ports of Qui Nhon and Cam Ranh Bay to bases inland were often long, winding roads that were badly in need of repair. Much of the journey would also be conducted outside the protection of U.S. forces.
    The transport corps who were tasked with keeping these forces supplied became prime targets for Viet Cong (VC) ambushes. Looking for the weakest link and unable to penetrate large bases and formations effectively, the VC started daily raids on supplies.
    During one of the first of these attacks on September 2, 1967, 30 trucks were destroyed or damaged, nine drivers were killed, and another 17 were wounded. In only ten minutes, the convoy had turned into a disaster zone.
    The Army had virtually no response other than providing more armed jeeps to help provide fire support. So, the men of the transportation corps had to do what troops do best: improvise.
    To help protect their convoys and their fellow soldiers, men of the transportation corps started converting 2.5-ton trucks into mobile gun platforms. They added wood and sandbags as well as mounting M60 machine guns in the back.
    These efforts helped, but they weren’t sustainable. The added weight put too much strain on the vehicles, lowered their fuel efficiency, and often resulted in them breaking down.
    Furthermore, when the sandbags got wet, this increased the weight so the trucks couldn’t keep up with the convoys. The wooden walls provided little, if any, real protection.
    In order to adjust to the conditions, the men moved to using five-ton trucks. They started scrounging for steel plates, gun mounts, and anything they could beg, borrow, steal, or trade for what might give them protection from the VC attacks.
    There was no Standard Operation Procedure, guidelines, or issuing of equipment. The soldiers just put together what they could, and consequently, the armored gun trucks were born.
    Within a few months, the trucks started sporting an impressive amount of firepower to use against the enemy. Soon, the gun trucks were fitted with .50 caliber machine guns, grenade launchers, and XM 134 mini-guns.
    The only “authorized” armament for these transformed five-ton trucks was the M60, but the soldiers of the transport corps were very creative in how they “acquired” what they needed.
    The troops painted their new vehicles all in black instead of the traditional, drab olive color. They not only added their own artistic touches, but the soldiers began naming the trucks too. Names like “Brutus,” “Satisfaction,” and “The Untouchable” were added to the sides of the vehicles.
    Eventually, the need to provide their own security was answered. There would often be one gun truck for every ten transport vehicles in convoys that sometimes reached 200 vehicles."
    www.warhistoryonline.com/vietnam-war/mad-max-move-vietnam.html
     
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  2. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    A touch weirdly, there's a thriving reenactment scene around them in the UK.
    Though maybe not that weirdly as they're the only reenactors I've seen that carry an entire portable Tiki bar everywhere...
    They always used to put on a good show, eschewing much of an attempt at a weak plot to their displays & just banging out as much automatic fire as possible for 30 minutes or so.

    2012:

    viet5.jpg viet4.jpg viet3.jpg viet2.jpg viet1.jpg

    There's a really solid website out there on them, but I can't find it at the mo.
    Some good contemporary shots here:
    Just A Car Guy: Gun trucks of Vietnam (thanks Mike!) how has no one made a movie about these guys and a supply run on this road? These were not Army issue, they were all hand fabbed, from spare parts, and stolen machine guns from damaged helicopters

    Ah, think it was, unsurprisingly, guntrucks.com.
    Now defunct, but some traces on IA:
    Wayback Machine
     
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  3. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    And the UK didn't fight in this war...now that's weirdly...
     
  4. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    I know there's been 'Nam re-enactors in the UK since at least the '80s, but didn't think it was a widespread thing.
     
  5. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    'Nam re-enacting is a thing over here in Canada too. It's not particular widespread but I found it unusual given that no one fought under the Canadian flag in Vietnam (although there were many Canadians who joined the US military to fight in the war)
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I don't think they'd get away with it in Australia...pretenders of all flavours are stomped on here ( I met a medieval re-enactor once, but he was in the Army) - They would be told if you want to play soldiers, join up.
    I've seen a bombing of Darwin re-enactment...but this was from serving personnel.



    The zeros were a little faster on that day...
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    But do those trucks have an Easy Rider Rifle Rack?
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    I've also read that quad .50-calibers were mounted on truck beds.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  10. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    The programme showed original footage of one in a convoy.
     
  11. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    At least three guys from my home town were killed there, two with the US Army & one with the Aussies. My eldest brother emigrated to Oz in '68 and was told to keep his British passport regardless to how attached he got to his new home.
     

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