The Vietnam battle saw the fastest price of weapon development of any duration since WWII. The ever before increasing ferocity of the combat, and the human body count, meant that unmatched levels of resources were poured right into weapon development.

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Vietnam appropriately saw the perfection of many of the tools of ahead wars, with attack rifles in certain assuming their modern type during the conflict. It also saw the manufacturing of numerous totally brand-new weapon systems, several of which would later go ~ above to become standard military equipment, and also some of i beg your pardon would never ever be seen again.

The multi-theater nature that the war additionally meant the the tools that to be developed used to air pressures as much as infantry troops, and as lot to pho as naval warfare. In fact, Vietnam required a formerly unknown level of cooperation in between forces from various branches that the military, and the advances in weapon modern technology made by one branch to be in some instances quickly carried over into others.

Today, I’ll take it you through several of the most essential weapons used during the Vietnam war. We’ll take a watch at part artillery, the most efficient aircraft supplied in the conflict, and also some the the more strange concepts that occurred during the war. First, though, let’s start with the humble …

Colt 1911

Yes, the Colt 1911 experienced a far-ranging amount of activity during the Vietnam War. Though originally embraced for use in 1911, as the name suggests, this iconic style was to serve v the US army until 1986.

Having verified itself a reliable pistol in WW2, the US army saw no factor to change the pistol together a typical sidearm throughout the Vietnam conflict. In fact, throughout Vietnam the 1911s approve to us troops were basically identical to those of WW2.

For those of friend unfamiliar v this pistol, permit me give you one idea of why it was provided for therefore long. Throughout the Philippine-American War method back in 1903, the was discovered that the then-standard infantry pistol, the .38 lengthy Colt, did not deliver enough power. Jungle war in the Philippines meant that most adversaries were engaged at very close range and plenty of soldiers required to carrying your sidearm in hand in situation they to be ambushed. The 1911 to be Colt’s prize - chambered in .45 ACP, it ceded a huge amount of strength at near range.


And the course, the same functions that brought about the 1911’s adoption in the Philippines also suited it an extremely well come Vietnam. Not only was that powerful, however the sturdy construction meant the it placed up really well through jungle conditions: countless Vietnam veterans report that they to be issued 1911s the were some 30 years old, and also they still functioned perfectly. Because that this reason, the 1911 remains famous today among beginner and advanced shooters alike.


Ah yes, the M16. Maybe no infantry rifle has actually been more effective and much more influential than this one. Though based upon earlier rifles, the M16 stood for a change in thinking about infantry weapons, and also is quiet the base on i m sorry all modern infantry rifles room based. And also though mostly a military weapon, the even concerned influence civilian hunting guns, like the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, i m sorry is largely based upon this Vietnam-era gun.


At the really beginning of what would end up being the Vietnam War, ago in 1954, US military advisors were equipped for the first time. The weapon favored was the 7.62mm M14 rifle. Though this rifle had actually proven itself up to that point, in essence the M14 was just a slightly adjusted version of the Garand M1 rifle that had actually been provided in WW2. As the Vietnam war intensified, it conveniently became noticeable that a much better rifle was needed.

This rifle emerged in the beforehand 1960s, after ~ Kennedy committed more US army advisors to Vietnam. The Armalite coporation, group re-thought the M1 in participation with Colt. The new rifle to be lighter 보다 the M1, weighing in in ~ an superior 6 pounds, and the gas system was greatly upgraded. Though initial trials of the new rifle indicated that it had some problems with jamming, specifically when firing contempt damaged ammunition, some changes were made and also the brand-new design to be standardized together the M16A1.

This M16, minus a couple of minor changes, is basically identical to the still in use by united state infantry pressures today (though times space a-changin’). Developing 3,250 feet per 2nd of muzzle velocity, and firing the damaging 7.62mm round, it confirmed a very adaptable infantry weapon.

M-61 Grenade

Alongside their M16s, us infantry in Vietnam held a stock of M-61 grenades. This grenade was also of WW2 vintage, but likewise went with a far-reaching period of breakthrough during Vietnam.


Since WW2, military thinking about grenades had actually stayed largely regular – they to be designed, made, and also issued in 2 types, offensive and defensive. The offensive grenade was smaller and lighter, so the infantry soldiers could carry a good stock of them, though much less powerful than the protective variant.

A kill radius that fifteen feet was taken into consideration optimal for offensive grenades, vice versa, seventy five feet was usual for the heavier defensive variants. Attack grenades had a flash and blast detonation, whereas the protective grenades provided a fragmentation architecture to create plenty of deadly shrapnel.

The M-series that grenades to be the primary set of grenades issued to united state troops throughout the Vietnam conflict, and they came in a vast variety of species and sizes. Vietnam experienced the development of the humble grenade right into several different types, each with dozens the variants. Chemical grenades were filled through white phosphorous in order to clear big areas of Viet Cong.

Incendiary grenades were generally used to destroy equipment and also building, using a chemical fire to create 4300 degrees fahrenheit of heat and start fires. Illumination grenades were extensively used by distinct forces, and could light locations of as much as 600 feet because that 25 seconds. Last, there was a whole range of exhilaration grenades because that signalling and also screening, and in certain to display helicopters wherein to land.

Amongst every these M-series grenades, the is tough to pick the many important. However, i’ve gone for the M-61 since it was developed specifically for Vietnam. The M61 was essentially a M26A1 grenade, however with one extra safety and security attached to the arming lever. Us soldiers called this the “jungle clip”, and also you can probably assumption: v why.

The most common technique of carrying grenades to be on straps on your ammunition pouches, and this to be the encourage practice. However, soldiers were reported to additionally carry their grenades hooked into their belt or straps by the safety lever. If the sounds choose a poor idea, it to be – when trekking through the hefty vegetation the the Vietnamese jungle, grenades could be ripped off a soldier, armed, and deposited at your feet. This was why the M61 came v an extra safety.

The Patton 48

Vietnam is not a place for tanks. Covered in thick jungle and steep mountains, the armor tactics occurred during Korea and WW2 were never going to work in Vietnam. Despite you may have seen movie of tanks crashing through dense foliage, in reality the three-level canopies the the Vietnamese tropical made the use of tanks practically impossible.

That is, through the exemption of one tank – the Patton 48 series. Though fairly an old tank by the moment of Vietnam, this auto was uncovered to be the just one light, powerful, and maneuverable enough to be reliable in combat.


Several adaptations were made come the simple tank, many notably the enhancement of a bulldozer former plate that can knock foliage and even trees the end of the way. When used in this way, the Patton 48 was able to clear a reasonably wide course through the jungle, and thereby provide a trail because that infantry forces.

Six hundreds Patton tanks were offered in Vietnam, organized into 57 tank systems at battalion level. Lock were offered both offensively and also defensively, transporting infantry into strikes but also used for mine laying and also the defense the forward operation bases.

Though absolutely effective, Patton crews regularly had reason to resent the visibility of their tanks. In a war combated largely in thick jungle, and between forces constantly trying come ambush every other, also a reasonably small tank was straightforward to spot, and represented a grand prize because that anyone who might disable it. Despite the special armor that the Patton was able to resist most RPG attacks, together time advanced the Soviets started to it is provided the Viet Minh with powerful anti-tank grenades the were able to disable the tank. The minimal range of these grenades made their usage a self-destruction mission, however in the finish they accounted for a large number of destroyed Pattons.

Perhaps the most effective use that the Patton, however, and the one that represented something the an advance in use of armor, to be the mounting the the M67 flamethrower ~ above the key turret. Through long-range engagements all however impossible, this weapon was offered to clean jungle, and also to engage enemy troops at short range. The marines, fighting together Pattons equipped v this flamethrower, dubbed it the “Zippo”, after the brand of cigarette lighters.

The Flak Jacket

I know, i know, this is no a weapon. However, the humble flak jacket made together a contribution to the performance of infantry troops in Vietnam the no list like this one would be finish without it.


Flak jackets to be first presented to the US armed Forces in 1945, but the first versions the these were pretty ineffective against rifle rounds versus anything the same, similar thing close soldier combat. The claustrophobic battles of Vietnam because of this spurred the advancement of extra protection. By 1962, flak jackets detailed cover because that the chest, abdomen, back, and also neck against tiny arms fire and grenade fragments. This jackets to be those provided for many Marine and Army infantrymen and also weighed around 10 pounds.

In the wait Force, both gunners and also pilots to be afforded a much better level the protection. Gunners wore full body armor, and also pilots only frontal protection, yet these suits were far an ext rugged 보다 those issued to the infantry. They had an extra inner surface ar of aluminium and ceramic, and legs were protected by stole plates. The weight of this full armor approached 25 pounds, however, and so was not handy for many ground troops.

Though the advancement of body armor is often overlooked in the history of weapon development, and this is a shame. This is due to the fact that it is daunting to understand the ever-increasing power of tiny arms there is no looking at what they space designed come actually perform – permeate body armor. That is no coincidence that the M16, with a vast muzzle velocity in comparison to WW2-era weapons, was arisen alongside reliable body armor.

By the end of the Vietnam War advances in an innovation meant that body armor was an ext effective than ever before. Notably, the widespread usage of Kevlar intended that the plenty of of the Viet Minh’s rifles were no able to penetrate the armor that American soldiers, and forced them to upgrade their weapons.

Vietnam to be arguably the conflict that cemented the location of body armor in modern-day infantry forces. Never again would certainly marines or military infantry be expected to get in the field unarmored – simply look at any snapshot of the battles in Iraq or Afghanistan because that a an excellent illustration that this.

M102 Howitzer

Though Vietnam is often thought of as an waiting war, in fact artillery was a far more important component of the us forces’ technique than Air pressure bombers. In comparison to aircraft, united state artillery can fire a much more comprehensive range the ammunition, fire more sustainably, and most importantly much more accurately.


Accordingly, the number of artillery piece deployed in Vietnam is how amazing large. Eventually, there were some 69 pho battalions involved in the war, supporting 93 maneuver battalions. The tactics offered were quite similar to previous problems – a typically equal distribution of direct fire guns and indirect fire howitzers, with speed of movement and engagement regarded as the most important element of each energetic unit.

Though that was commonly reported the the Viet Cong feared artillery bombardment much more than any type of other weapon offered by the US, again the jungle presented challenges for traditional artillery tactics. Gunners and also spotters were seldom able to engaged massed enemy formations, where explosive shells were most effective, and the dense canopy expected that spotting also individual targets was pretty difficult.

Manoeuvrability, both in deploying infantry and also then making use of it, was because of this key. The was hence that the M102 howitzer was developed. In a good example that inter-branch co-operation, this howitzer to be designed come be broken down and also carried through helicopter to the prior line. It could also traverse 360 degrees, making that highly reliable in fast-moving battles.

Firing a new high-explosive pho shell, this howitzer was likewise able to engage adversaries at relatively close range, to reduce the effectiveness of the Viet Cong tactic of “hugging” their pressures close to united state artillery.

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The united state Soldier and Marine


Of course, all of these weapons count on one more piece of extremely advanced modern technology – the us Soldier and also Marine. Despite a lot of military background blogs, and perhaps this article included, have tendency to emphasis on the technology improvements in firepower during Vietnam (and other wars), it’s incredibly essential to remember the it is the old-fashioned training, dedication, and also sacrifice of our brave young men and women the our toughness is constructed on, not on our an elaborate technology.