Many weapons were used during the Vietnam War by both sides, some, extremely simple and others, deadly and complex. When researching for this post, I was floored when coming across an extensive list of weaponry comprised of over 600 line items. I sure got an education. I always heard it said that war is a good place for weapon manufacturers to test out their products and get rich – that’s probably why there were so many used during the 20-year war. Check out this post and let me know your thoughts.
From air power to infantry to chemicals, the weapons used in the Vietnam War were more devastating than those of any previous conflict. United States and South Vietnamese forces relied heavily on their superior air power, including B-52 bombers and other aircraft that dropped thousands of pounds of explosives over North Vietnam and Communist targets in South Vietnam. While U.S. troops and their allies used mainly American-manufactured weapons, Communist forces used weapons manufactured in the Soviet Union, China, and other European communist countries. In addition to artillery and infantry weapons, both sides utilized a variety of tools to further their war aims, including highly toxic chemical defoliants or herbicides (on the U.S. side) and inventive booby traps using sharpened bamboo sticks or crossbows triggered by tripwires (on the North Vietnamese-Viet Cong side).
Weapons of the Air
The war saw the U.S. Air Force and their South Vietnamese allies fly thousands of massive low-altitude bombing missions over North and South Vietnam as well as over sites of suspected Communist activity in neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The B-52 heavy bomber, developed by Boeing in the late 1940s, helped the U.S. and South Vietnamese dominate the skies, along with smaller, more easily maneuverable fighter planes like the F-4 Phantom. Also widely used was the Bell UH-1 helicopter, dubbed the “Huey,” which could fly at low altitudes and speeds and land easily in small spaces. U.S. forces used the Huey to transport troops, supplies and equipment, aid ground troops with additional firepower and evacuated killed or wounded soldiers.
Did you know? The U.S.-made M-16 rifle was redesigned in 1966 to perform better in the wet, dirty conditions that prevailed in ground combat during the Vietnam War, and it became the weapon most commonly associated with U.S. troops in the conflict. Before this change, M16s were plagued with malfunctions that costs many lives during firefights when soldiers could not defend themselves.
Among the more devastating explosives used in U.S. and South Vietnamese bombing runs was napalm, a chemical compound developed during World War II. When mixed with gasoline and included in incendiary bombs or flamethrowers, napalm could be propelled greater distances than gasoline and released large amounts of carbon monoxide when it exploded, poisoning the air and causing even greater damage than traditional bombs. Though the large-scale U.S. and South Vietnamese aerial bombardment efforts damaged or destroyed much of the land and population of Vietnam, they proved less destructive to the enemy than expected, as North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops fought an irregular style of guerrilla warfare that proved much more resilient than the Americans had hoped.
U.S. and South Vietnamese Artillery & Infantry Weapons
The M-48 tank, with mounted machine guns, could travel up to 30 mph and was used to provide support for U.S. and South Vietnamese troops. Due to Vietnam’s soggy jungle terrain, tanks were not used extensively in combat during the Vietnam War. Armored personnel carriers such as the M-113 transported troops and performed reconnaissance and support functions. A common artillery weapon, previously used in World War II, was the 105mm howitzer, which could be towed behind a truck or carried by helicopter and dropped into position. Operated by crews of eight men each, the howitzers fired high-explosive shrapnel shells or “beehive” cartridges (thousands of small, sharp darts) at a rate of three to eight rounds per minute over a range of some 12,500 yards.
One of the most common infantry weapons used by U.S. troops in Vietnam was the M-60 machine gun, which could also be used as an artillery weapon when mounted or operated from a helicopter or tank. The gas-powered M-60 could fire up to 550 bullets in quick succession at a range of almost 2,000 yards, or at short range when fired from the shoulder. One drawback of the M-60 was the heavyweight of its cartridge belts, which limited the ammunition that soldiers could carry. Standard issue for infantrymen in Vietnam was the M-16, a gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle that could fire 5.56 mm-caliber bullets accurately over several hundred yards at 700-900 rounds per minute on its automatic setting; it could also be used as a semi-automatic. Its ammunition came in magazines of 20-30 rounds, making it relatively easy to reload.
North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Weapons in Vietnam
Most of the weapons, uniforms and equipment used by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were manufactured by the Soviet Union and China. The portable, shoulder-fired SA-7 Grail missile was one of many anti-aircraft weapons extensively against American aircraft conducting bombing raids in North Vietnam. On the ground, the DP 7.62mm light machine gun (the equivalent to the U.S.-made M-60) was based on a Soviet design and manufactured in both the Soviet Union and China. The simple but deadly accurate AK-47, known to many as the “peasant’s rifle,” was shorter and heavier than the M-16, with a lower rate of fire (up to about 600 rounds per minute). It was extraordinarily durable, however, and was able to fire 7.62mm bullets either automatically or semi-automatically from a 30-round clip at a rate of up to about 600 rounds per minute, at a range of up to 435 yards. Another widely used semi-automatic rifle was the SKS carbine or “Chicom.”
In addition to Soviet- or Chinese-supplied arms, Communist forces also carried weapons captured from the French and the Japanese in earlier Indochina wars or used weapons made by hand in Vietnam. Troops in the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) had access to more standard-issue clothing and weapons, while Viet Cong often used improvised weapons and wore peasant clothing to blend in with the South Vietnamese population.
Other Weapons Used in Vietnam
In addition to rifles and machine guns, U.S. infantry troops were armed with hand grenades (such as the Mark-2), which could be thrown or propelled using rifle-mounted launchers. Mines were used to guard the perimeter around campsites; they could be triggered by trip wires or exploded manually. In terms of chemical weapons, U.S. Air Force planes sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972 as part of Operation Ranch Hand, a large-scale defoliation program aimed at eliminating forest cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, as well as crops that might be used to feed them. The most commonly used defoliant, a mixture of herbicides containing the toxic dioxin and known as Agent Orange, was later revealed to cause serious health issues–including tumors, birth defects, rashes, psychological symptoms and cancer–among returning U.S. servicemen and their families as well as among large sections of the Vietnamese population.
For their part, North Vietnamese and particularly Viet Cong forces often used explosives captured from U.S. and South Vietnamese forces or cut open unexploded bombs to manufacture their own crude explosives. They also employed booby traps, including hidden bamboo maces or crossbows that could be triggered when soldiers stepped on a tripwire. One particularly common menace was the punji stake trap, a bed of sharpened bamboo stakes that was concealed in a pit for enemy soldiers to stumble across.
The information above was obtained from the History.com channel under the same name. Here’s the direct link: https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/weapons-of-the-vietnam-war
Here is the list of weapons – over 600 line items – from both sides (citations are available on the original piece on Wikipedia.com). I wasn’t prepared for such an extensive list and it blew my mind. Many of the weapons are linked to either a picture or redirected back to Wikipedia for further explanation (not sure how this will work on cellphones). If you do click on the links, use the back arrow at the top left of the screen to return to this article.
Weapons of the South Vietnamese, U.S. South Korean, Australian, Philippine, and New Zealand Forces
>Hand combat weapons
- L1A1 and L1A2 bayonets – used on L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle
- M1905 bayonet – used on the M1 Garand.
- M1917 bayonet – used on various shotguns.
- M1 Bayonet – used on the M1 Garand.
- M3 fighting knife
- M4 bayonet – used on the M1 and M2 Carbine.
- M5 bayonet – used on the M1 Garand.
- M6 bayonet – used on the M14.
- M7 Bayonet – used on the M16.
- Ka-Bar Utility/fighting Knife – used by the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
- Gerber Mark II U.S. Armed Forces
- Randall Made Knives – personally purchased by some US soldiers.
- M1905, M1917, M1 and Lee Enfield bayonets cut down and converted in to fighting knives.
- Bow – used by US Mobile Riverine Force.
- Crossbow – used by South Vietnamese Montagnards
>Pistols and Revolvers
- Colt M1911A1 – standard US and ARVN sidearm.
- Colt Commander – used by US military officers and US Special forces.
- Browning Hi-Power – used by Australian and New Zealand forces (L9 pistol). Also used on an unofficial basis by US reconnaissance and Special Forces units.
- Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless – carried by US military officers. Replaced by the Colt Commander in the mid-1960s
- Colt Detective Special – .38 Special revolver, used by some ARVN officers
- Colt Police Positive Special – .38 Special revolver, used by USAF and tunnel rats
- High Standard HDM – Integrally suppressed .22LR handgun, supplemented by the Mark 22 Mod 0 in the later stages of the war.
- Ingram MAC-10 – automatic pistol used by US special operations forces.
- Luger P08 – CIA provided pistol
- M1917 revolver – .45 ACP revolver used by the South Vietnamese and US forces during the beginning of the war alongside the Smith & Wesson Model 10. Used rather prominently by tunnel rats.
- Quiet Special Purpose Revolver – 40. revolver used by tunnel rats.
- Smith & Wesson Model 10 – .38 Special revolver used by ARVN, by US Army and USAF pilots and by tunnel rats
- Smith & Wesson Model 12 – .38 Special revolver carried by US Army and USAF pilots.
- Smith & Wesson Model 15 – .38 Special revolver carried by USAF Security Police Units.
- Colt Python – .357 Magnum revolver carried by MACVSOG.
- Smith & Wesson Model 27 – .357 Magnum revolver carried by MACVSOG.
- Smith & Wesson Mark 22 Mod.0 “Hush Puppy” – Suppressed pistol used by US Navy SEALs and other U.S. special operations forces.
- Walther P38 – CIA provided pistol
- L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle – used by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Vietnam
- M1 Garand – used by the South Vietnamese and South Koreans
- M1, M1A1, & M2 Carbine – used by the South Vietnamese Military, Police and Security Forces, South Koreans, U.S. military, and Laotians supplied by the U.S.
- M14, M14E2, M14A1 – 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 1964, 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.
- 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.
- MAS-36 rifle – used by South Vietnamese militias
- AK-47, AKM and Type 56 – Captured rifles were used by South Vietnamese and U.S forces.
- M1C/D Garand and MC52 – used by CIA advisors, the USMC and the US Navy early in the war. Approximately 520 were supplied to the ARVN and 460 to the Thai forces.
- M1903A4 Springfield – used by the USMC early in the war, replaced by the M40.
- M21 Sniper Weapon System – sniper variant of the M14 rifle used by the US Army.
- M40 (Remington Model 700)– bolt-action sniper rifle meant to replace the M1903A4 Springfield rifle and Winchester Model 70; used by the USMC
- Parker-Hale M82 – used by ANZAC forces
- Winchester Model 70 – used by the USMC
- Mosin Nagant – used by South Vietnamese militias
- Beretta M12 – limited numbers were used by U.S. Embassy security units.
- Carl Gustaf m/45 – 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 MAC-V-SOG, the South Vietnamese, and limited numbers were used in Laos by advisors, and Laotian fighters.
- Smith & Wesson M76 – copy of the Carl Gustaf m/45. Few were actually shipped to Navy SEALs fighting in Vietnam.
- F1 submachine gun – replaced the Owen Gun in Australian service.
- M3 Grease gun – standard U.S. military submachine gun, also used by the South Vietnamese
- M50/55 Reising – limited numbers were used by MACVSOG and other irregular forces.
- Madsen M-50 – used by South Vietnamese forces, supplied by the CIA.
- MAS-38 submachine gun – used by South Vietnamese militias.
- MAT-49 submachine gun – used by South Vietnamese militias. Captured models were used in limited numbers
- MP 40 submachine gun – used by South Vietnamese forces, supplied by the CIA.
- Owen Gun – standard Australian submachine-gun in the early stages of the war, later replaced by the F1.
- Sten submachine gun – used by US special operations forces, often with a suppressor mounted.
- Sterling submachine gun – used by Australian Special Air Service Regiment and other special operations units.
- Thompson submachine gun – used often by South Vietnamese troops, and in small quantities by US artillery and helicopter units.
- Uzi – used by special operations forces and some South Vietnamese, supplied from Israel.
Shotguns were used as an individual weapon during jungle patrol; infantry units have authorized a shotgun by TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment). Shotguns were not a general issue to all infantrymen but were select issue weapons, such as one per squad, etc.
- Ithaca 37 – pump-action shotgun used by the United States and ARVN.
- Remington Model 10 – pump-action shotgun used by the United States.
- Remington Model 11-48 – semi-automatic shotgun used by US Army.
- Remington Model 31 – pump-action shotgun used by the US Army, the SEALs and the ARVN.
- Remington Model 870 – pump-action shotgun primary shotgun used by Marines, Army and Navy after 1966.
- Remington 7188 – experimental select fire shotgun, withdrawn due to lack of reliability. Used by US Navy SEALs
- Savage Model 69E – pump-action shotgun used by the US Army.
- Savage Model 720 – semi-automatic shotgun.
- 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. Also very popular with the ARVN because of its small size.
- Stevens Model 520/620
- Winchester Model 1912 – used by USMC.
- Winchester Model 1200 – pump-action shotgun used by the US Army
- Winchester Model 1897 – used by the Marines during the early stages of the war.
- M60 machine gun – standard General-purpose machine gun for US, ANZAC, and ARVN forces throughout the war.
US Marine fires his M60 machine gun at an enemy position during the Battle of Huế.
- Colt Machine Gun – experimental light machine gun deployed by SEAL Team 2 in 1970.
- M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle – used by the ARVN during the early stages of the war, as well as many that were airdropped into Laos and used by Laotian fighters.
- FM 24/29 light machine gun – used by South Vietnamese militias
- RPD machine gun (and Type 56) – captured and used by reconnaissance teams of Mobile Strike Forces, MAC-V-SOG and other special operation forces. Also commonly modified to cut down the barrel.
- Stoner M63A Commando & Mark 23 Mod.0 – used by Navy SEALs and tested by Force Recon.
- M134 Minigun – 7.62 mm vehicle mounted machine gun (rare)
- 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 (and variants such as M37) – vehicle-mounted machine gun. Meanwhile, still of use by many South Vietnamese infantry.
- M73 machine gun – tank-mounted machine gun.
- Browning M2HB .50cal Heavy Machine Gun
>Grenades and Mines
Claymore anti-personnel mine in use in Vietnam
- AN-M8 – white smoke grenade
- C4 explosive
- Mark 2 fragmentation grenade
- M1 smoke pot
- M26 fragmentation grenade and many subvariants
- M59 and M67 fragmentation grenade
- M6/M7-series riot control grenades – Used to clear NVA/VC out of caves, tunnels and buildings or stop a pursuer.
- AN/M14 TH3 thermite grenade – Incendiary grenade used to destroy equipment and as a fire-starting device.
- M15 and M34 smoke grenades – are filled with white phosphorus, which ignites on contact with air and creates thick white smoke. Used for signaling and screening purposes, as well as an anti-personnel weapon in enclosed spaces, as the burning white phosphorus would rapidly consume any oxygen, suffocating the victims.
- M18 grenade Smoke Hand Grenade – Signaling/screening grenade available in red, yellow, green, and purple.
- V40 Mini-Grenade
- OF 37 grenade and DF 37 grenade, French grenades used by the ARVN in the 1950s
- XM58 riot control grenade – A miniature riot control grenade used by MACVSOG and Navy SEALs.
- M14 mine – anti-personnel blast mine
- M15 mine – anti-tank mine
- M16 mine – bounding anti-personnel fragmentation mine
- M18/M18A1 Claymore – command-detonated directional anti-personnel mine
- M19 mine – anti-tank mine
>Grenade and Rocket Launchers
- M1/M2 rifle grenade adapters – used to convert a standard fragmentation grenade (M1) or smoke grenade (M2) into a rifle grenade in conjunction with the M7 grenade launcher.
- M7 and M8 rifle grenade launcher – rifle grenade launcher used with respectively the M1 Garand and the M1 carbine, used by the South Vietnamese. Could fire the M9 and M17 rifle grenades.
- 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.
- M79 Grenade Launcher – primary U.S. grenade launcher used by all branches of the US military, as well as ANZAC forces and the ARVN.
- China Lake Grenade Launcher – pump-action weapon used in very small numbers.
- XM148 – experimental under-barrel 40mm grenade launcher that could be attached to the M16 rifle or XM177 carbine. Withdrawn due to safety reasons.
- M203 grenade launcher – single-shot 40mm underslung grenade launcher designed to attach to an M16 rifle (or XM177 carbine, with modifications to the launcher). First tested in combat in April 1969.
- Mark 18 Mod 0 grenade launcher – Hand-cranked, belt-fed, 40x46mm grenade launcher used by the US Navy.
- Mark 19 grenade launcher – Automatic, belt-fed, 40x53mm grenade launcher.
- Mk 20 Mod 0 grenade launcher – Automatic, belt-fed, 40x46mm grenade launcher. Primarily used by riverine crews but also used by Air Force Special Operations.
- XM174 grenade launcher – Automatic, belt-fed, 40x46mm grenade launcher used mainly by the US Army.
- Bazooka – The M9 variant was supplied to the ARVN during the early years of the war, while the M20 “Super Bazooka” was used by the USMC and the ARVN until the full introduction of the M67 90mm recoilless rifle and of the M72 LAW.
- M72 LAW – 66mm anti-tank rocket launcher.
- XM202 – experimental four-shot 66mm incendiary rocket launcher.
- FIM-43 Redeye MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defence System) – shoulder-fired heat-seeking anti-air missile, used by the US Army and USMC.
- BGM-71 TOW – wire-guided anti-tank missile
>Infantry Support Weapons
- M18 recoilless rifle – 57mm shoulder-fired/tripod mounted recoilless rifle, used by the ARVN early in the war.
- M20 recoilless rifle – 75mm tripod/vehicle-mounted recoilless rifle, used by US and ARVN forces early in the war.
- M67 recoilless rifle – 90mm shoulder-fired anti-tank recoilless rifle, used by the US Army, US Marine Corps, ANZAC and ARVN selected forces.
- M40 recoilless rifle 106mm tripod/vehicle-mounted recoilless rifle.
- M2 mortar – 60mm mortar, used in conjunction with the lighter but less accurate and lower-range M19 mortar.
- M19 mortar – 60mm mortar, used in conjunction with the older, heavier M2 mortar.
- Brandt Mle 27/31 – 81mm mortar, used by ARVN forces
- M1 mortar – 81mm mortar, used by ARVN forces.
- M29 mortar – 81mm mortar, used by US and ARVN forces.
- L16A1 mortar – 81mm, used by ANZAC forces.
- 82-BM-37 – captured 82mm mortar, few used by USMC with US rounds
- M30 mortar 107mm mortar, used by US and ARVN forces.
- M98 Howtar, a variant of the latter mounted on an M116 howitzer carriage
- M55 quad machine gun – used to defend US Army bases and on vehicles
- Oerlikon 20 mm cannon – used on riverine crafts
- Bofors 40 mm gun – used on riverine crafts
- 105 mm Howitzer M101A1/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 and New Zealand
- MIM-23 Hawk – medium-range surface to air missile used in very small quantities by the US Marines.
Artillery ammunition types
- HE (High Explosive) – standard artillery round.
- High-explosive anti-tank round – fired by 105mm guns.
- White phosphorus – used for screening or incendiary purposes.
- Smoke shells – used for screening.
- Leaflet shell
- Beehive flechette rounds – antipersonnel rounds.
- Improved Conventional Munition – antipersonnel shell with sub-munitions.
(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-52 Stratofortress – heavy bomber
- B-57 Canberra – 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, the Royal Australian Air Force and the South Vietnamese Air Force
- C-46 Commando – cargo/transport aircraft
- C-47 – cargo/transport aircraft
- C-54 – transport aircraft
- C-97 Stratofreighter – cargo/transport aircraft
- C-119 Boxcar – cargo/transport aircraft
- C-121 Constellation – 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
- 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 – radar warning or sensor relay 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
- F8F Bearcat – piston fighter-bomber, used by the South Vietnamese Air Force until 1964.
- 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-130 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
- P-5 Marlin – antisubmarine seaplane
- 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 – 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
- RT-33A – reconnaissance jet
- S-2 Tracker – carrier-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft
- SR-71 Blackbird – strategic reconnaissance aircraft
- TF-9J Cougar – fast forward air controller
- T-28 Trojan – trainer/ground attack aircraft
- T-41 Mescalero – trainer aircraft
- U-1 Otter – transport aircraft
- U-2 – reconnaissance aircraft
- U-6 Beaver – utility aircraft
- U-8 Seminole – transport/electronic survey aircraft
- U-10 Helio Courier – utility aircraft
- U-17 Skywagon – utility aircraft
- U-21 Ute – liaison and electronic survey
- YO-3 Quiet Star – light observation airplane
(listed numerically in ascending order by design number/series letter, then alphabetically by mission code)
- UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” – utility transport and gunship helicopter
- AH-1G HueyCobra – attack helicopter
- AH-1J SeaCobra – twin-engine attack helicopter
- UH-1N Iroquois – twin-engine utility 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
- 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 – 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
- CH-54 Tarhe “Sky Crane” – heavy lift helicopter
- OH-58A Kiowa – light transport/observation helicopter
See also: List of Bombs in the Vietnam War
- 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
A minigun being fired from a combat search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam
- M60D machine gun – 7.62mm (helicopter mount)
- Minigun – 7.62 mm (aircraft and helicopter mount)
- Colt Mk 12 cannon – 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- M3 cannon – 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- M39 cannon – 20 mm (aircraft mount)
- M61 Vulcan – 20 mm (aircraft mount), M195 was used on AH-1
- M197 Gatling gun – 20 mm (used on AH-1J helicopters)
- M75 grenade launcher – 40 mm (helicopter mount)
- M129 grenade launcher – 40 mm (helicopter mount)
- AIM-4 Falcon
- AIM-7 Sparrow
- AIM-9 Sidewinder
- AGM-12 Bullpup
- AGM-45 Shrike
- AGM-62 Walleye
- AGM-78 Standard ARM
- AGM-65 Maverick
- Rainbow Herbicides
- Agent Orange – While developed to be used as a herbicide to destroy natural obstacles and tree camouflage, it was later revealed that it posed health risks to those exposed to it.
- Agent Blue – Used to destroy agricultural land that was believed to be used to grow food for the VC/NVA.
- Agent White
- CS-1 riot control agent – “Teargas”, used in grenades, cluster bomblets or (rarely) shells.
- CN gas – “teargas”
In addition to cargo-carrying and troop transport roles, many of these vehicles were also equipped with weapons and sometimes armor, serving as “gun trucks” for convoy escort duties.
- M274 Truck, Platform, Utility, 1/2 Ton, 4X4 – Commonly called a “Mechanical Mule”.
- Land Rover (short and long wheelbase) – Australian and New Zealand forces.
- CJ-3B and M606 – 1/4 ton jeep
- Willys M38A1 – ¼ ton jeep.
- M151 – ¼ ton jeep.
- Dodge M37 – 3/4 ton truck.
- Kaiser Jeep M715 – 1¼-ton truck.
- M76 Otter – 1¼-ton amphibious cargo carrier used by USMC.
- M116 Husky – 1¼-ton amphibious cargo carrier tested by USMC.
- M733 Amphibious Personnel Carrier – tested by USMC.
- M35 series 2½-ton 6×6 cargo truck
- M135 2½-ton truck
- M54 5-ton 6×6 truck
- M548 – 6-ton tracked cargo carrier
- M520 Goer – 4×4 8-ton cargo truck.
- M123 and M125 10-ton 6×6 trucks
- M24 Chaffee – light tank; main ARVN tank early in the war, used at least as late as the Tet Offensive.
- M41A3 Walker Bulldog – light tank, replaced the M24 Chaffee as the main ARVN tank from 1965.
- M48 Patton – main tank of the US Army and Marines throughout the war, and also used by ARVN forces from 1971.
- M67 “Zippo” – flamethrower variant of the M48 Patton, used by USMC.
- M551 Sheridan – Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicle/Light Tank, used by the US Army from 1969.
- Centurion Mk 5 Main Battle Tank – used by the Australian Army, with AVLB and ARV variants
>Other Armored Vehicles
- C15TA Armoured Truck – used by the ARVN early in the war
- LVTP5 (aka AMTRACs) – amphibious tractors/landing craft used by USMC and later by RVNMD
- Lynx Scout Car Mk II – used by the ARVN
- M113 – APC (Armored Personnel Carrier)
- M113 ACAV – Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle
- M163 Vulcan – self-propelled anti-aircraft tank
- M114 – reconnaissance vehicle
- M132 Armored Flamethrower
- M106 mortar carrier
- M2 Half-Track Car
- M3 Scout Car – used by South Vietnamese forces early in the war.
- M3 Half-track – used by South Vietnamese forces early in the war.
- M5 Half-track
- M9 Half-track
- Cadillac Gage V-100 Commando – replaced ARVN M8 armored cars in 1967. Also used by US forces as M706 Commando.
- M8 Greyhound Used by ARVN forces early in the war.
- M56 Scorpion – limited use in 1965–1966
- M50 Ontos – self-propelled 106 mm recoilless rifle carrier used by the USMC until 1969.
- M42 Duster – M41 based hull, with a twin 40 mm antiaircraft gun mounted on an open turret
- 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.
- M51 Armored Recovery Vehicle – fielded by US Marines.
- M578 light recovery vehicle
- M88 Recovery Vehicle – armored recovery vehicle based on M48 chassis.
- Wickums armored draisine was used by the ARVN.
Fast Patrol Craft
- LCM-6 and LCM-8 – with several modifications:
- LCVP – Landing craft vehicle personnel, some made by the French Services Techniques des Construction et Armes Navales/France Outremer and known as FOM
- Swift Boat – Patrol Craft Fast (PCF)
- ASPB – assault support patrol boat
- PBR – Patrol Boat River, all-fiberglass boats propelled by twin water jets, used by the US Navy
- Hurricane Aircat – airboat used by ARVN and US Army
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-6 and AN/PRC-10 – older short-range radios, used for outposts
- AN/PRC-25 and 77 – short-range FM radios that replaced the AN/PRC-8-10
- AN/VRC-12 series (VRC-43, VRC-45, VRC-46, VRC-47, VRC-48) – FM radios that 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 that replaced the AN/GRC-19.
- TA-312 and TA-1 field telephones.
- 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/VC
Main article: Viet Cong and PAVN logistics and equipment
The PAVN and the Southern communist guerrillas, the Viet Cong (VC) as they were commonly referred to during the war, largely used standard Warsaw Pact weapons. Weapons used by the PAVN 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 1950s, US equipment captured in Korea was also sent to the Viet Minh.
A U.S. Army M.P. inspects a Soviet AK-47 recovered in Vietnam in 1968.
VC soldier with SKS
>Hand combat weapons
The KA-BAR knife was also used by the PAVN & VietCong
- A wide variety of bayonets meant for fitting on the many types of rifles used by the NVA and VC.
- Type 30 bayonet
- Spears, used during “suicide attacks”
- Other types of knives, bayonets, and blades
>Handguns and revolvers
- Makarov PM (and Chinese Type 59)
- Mauser C96 – Locally produced copies were used alongside Chinese copies and German variants supplied by the Soviets.
- Nagant M1895
- Webley Mk2
- Mac M1892
- Smith and Wesson Model 10
- M1911 pistol
- M1935A pistol
- SA vz. 61 – automatic pistol
- Type 69 Slience
- Tokarev TT-33 – Standard pistol, including Chinese Type 51 and Type 54 copies including Zastava M57
- Walther P38 – Captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- Home-made pistols, such as copies of the M1911 or of the Mauser C96 (Cao Dai 763) or crude single-shot guns, were also used by the Viet Cong early in the war.
>Automatic and semi-automatic Rifles
- SKS (Chinese Type 56) semi-automatic carbine
- AK-47 – from the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries, China and North Korea
- AKM – from the Soviet Union, a common modernized variant of the AK-47
- M1/M2 carbines – common and popular captured semi-automatic rifles
- vz. 52 rifle semi-automatic rifle, very rarely used
- Vz. 58 assault rifle
- Sturmgewehr 44 Limited
- Type 63 assault rifle – Limited use, received during the 1970s
- M14, M16A1 – captured from US and South Vietnamese forces.
- M1 Garand – captured semi-automatic rifle
- MAS-49 rifle – captured French rifle from First Indochina War
>Bolt-action rifles/marksman rifles
- Mosin–Nagant – Bolt-action rifles and carbines from the Soviet Union and China (especially M44).
- Mauser Kar98k – Bolt-action rifle (captured from the French during the First Indochina War and also provided by the Soviets as military aid).
- Chiang Kai-shek rifle – Used by recruits and militias
- MAS-36 rifle
- Lee–Enfield – Used by the Viet Cong
- Arisaka rifles – used by Viet Cong early in the war.
- Lebel rifle – Used in earlier stages of the Vietnam War.
- vz. 24 – Used by Viet Cong Forces.
- SVD Dragunov – Soviet semi-automatic sniper rifle in limited use
- M1903 Springfield – Used by Viet Cong forces
- M1917 Enfield – Used by Viet Cong forces
- Remington Model 10 – pump-action shotgun used by the Viet Cong
- Older or rarer rifles where often modified by the Viet Cong early in the war: Gras mle 1874 carbines were rechambered to .410 bore while Destroyer carbines were modified to accept the magazine of the Walther P38.
- Home-made rifles, often spring-action rifles made to look like a M1 Garand or a M1 Carbine, were also used by the Viet Cong.
- K-50M submachine gun (Vietnamese edition, based on Chinese version of Russian PPSh-41, under license)
- MAT-49 submachine gun – Captured during the French-Indochina War. Many were converted from 9x19mm to 7.62×25 Tokarev
- PPSh-41 submachine gun (both Soviet, North Korean and Chinese versions)
- PPS-43 submachine gun (both Soviet and Chinese versions)
- M3 submachine gun Limited use
- Thompson submachine gun – including Vietnamese copies
- MP 40
- MP 38 submachine gun – Limited use.
- MAS-38 submachine gun – Captured from the French in the Indochina War.
- PM-63 submachine gun – Used by tank crews
- M49 submachine gun – limited use, received from Yugoslavia
- M56 submachine gun – limited use, received from Yugoslavia
- Vietnamese home-made submachine guns, inspired by the Sten or the Thompson, were used by the Viet Cong early in the war.
- Bren light machine gun, used by Viet Cong
- Degtyarev DP (DPM and RP-46 variants and Chinese Type 53 and Type 58 copies)
- DShK heavy machine gun (including Chinese Type 54)
- FM-24/29 – used by Viet Cong Forces
- KPV heavy machine gun
- M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle
- M1917 Browning machine gun – at least 1 used by the Viet Cong
- M1919 Browning machine gun – captured from ARVN/US forces
- M60 machine gun – captured from ARVN/US forces
- M2 Browning – captured from ARVN/US forces
- MG 34 – captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- MG 42 – captured by the Soviets during World War II and provided to the VPA and the NLF as military aid
- FG 42 – Limited use, captured by the Soviets during World War II and supplied in the 1950s
- Maxim machine-gun M1910
- PK Very limited use general-purpose machine gun from Soviet Union
- RPD light machine gun (and Chinese Type 56 and North Korean Type 62 copies) – first used in 1964
- RPK light machine gun of Soviet design
- SG-43/SGM medium machine guns including Type 53 and Type 57 Chinese copies of these guns
- Type 11 light machine gun
- Type 24 machine gun (Chinese-made MG-08) – used by the Viet Cong Forces
- Type 67 machine gun
- Type 92 heavy machine gun
- Type 99 light machine gun
- Uk vz. 59 general-purpose machine gun
- ZB vz. 26 light machine gun (included Chinese copies)
- ZB vz.30 light machine gun from Czechoslovakia
Grenades, Mines and Booby Traps
- Molotov cocktail
- Home-made grenades and IEDs
- Punji sticks
- Cartridge traps
- F1 grenade (Chinese Type 1)
- M29 grenade – captured
- M79 grenade launcher – captured from US or ARVN forces
- M203 grenade launcher – captured from US or ARVN forces
- Model 1914 grenade
- RG-42 grenade (Chinese Type 42)
- RGD-1 and RGD-2 smoke grenades
- RGD-5 grenade (Chinese Type 59)
- RGD-33 stick Grenade
- RKG-3 anti-tank grenade (Chinese Type 3)
- RPG-40 Anti-Tank Hand Grenade
- RPG-43 HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) Hand Grenade
- Type 4 grenade
- Type 10 grenade
- Type 67 and RGD-33 stick grenades
- Type 64 rifle grenade – fired from AT-44 grenade launchers, fitted to Mosin-Nagant carbines
- Type 91 grenade
- Type 97 grenade
- Type 99 grenade
- Type 10 grenade discharger
- Type 89 grenade discharger
- Lunge mine
- M16 mine — Captured.
- M18/M18A1 Claymore mine — Captured.
Type 74 Chinese-built copy
Rocket Launchers, Recoilless Rifles, Anti-tank Rifles & lightweight Guided Missles
North Vietnamese soldier preparing to fire an SA-7
- Recoilless rifles were known as DKZ (Đại-bác Không Giật).
- RPG-2 recoilless rocket launcher (both Soviet, Chinese and locally produced B-40 and B-50 variants used)
- RPG-7 recoilless rocket launcher
- Type 51 (Chinese copy of the M20 Super Bazooka) – used by Viet Cong as late as 1964
- B-10 recoilless rifle
- B-11 recoilless rifle
- SPG-9 73 mm recoilless rifle
- M18 recoilless rifle (and Chinese Type 36 copy) and captured from US or ARVN forces
- M20 recoilless rifle (and Chinese Type 52 and Type 56 copies) and captured from US or ARVN forces
- PTRD Limited use by the Viet Cong Forces.
- 9K32 Strela-2 (SA-7) anti-aircraft weapon
- 9M14 Malyutka (AT-3 Sagger)
- Brandt Mle 1935 – 60mm mortar
- M2 mortar (including Chinese Type 31 and Type 63 copies) – 60mm mortars
- M19 mortar – 60mm mortar
- M1 mortar – 81mm
- M29 mortar – 81mm
- Brandt Mle 27/31 – 81mm mortar
- Type 97 81mm mortar
- 82-PM-37 (including Chinese Type 53 copy)- 82mm mortar
- 82-PM-41 – 82mm mortar.
- Type 67 mortar – 82mm mortar
- Type 94 90mm mortar
- Type 97 90 mm mortar
- M1938 107mm mortar
- 120-PM-43 mortar
- Type 97 150 mm mortar
- M1943 160mm mortar (including Chinese Type 55 copy)
Field Artillery Rocket Launchers
Field artillery rockets were often fired from improvised launchers, sometimes a tube fixed with bamboo.
- 102mm 102A3 rockets
- 107mm Type 63 MRL – used with single-tube or 12-tubes launchers
- single-tube 122mm 9M22M rocket taken from BM-21 Grad MRL
- single-tube 140mm M14-OF rocket taken from BM-14 MRL
- 57 mm anti-tank gun M1943 (ZiS-2)
- 70 mm Type 92 battalion gun
- Type 41 75 mm mountain gun, supplied by China
- 7.5 cm Pak 40
- 75mm M116 pack howitzer, supplied by China
- 76 mm divisional gun M1942 (ZiS-3) (and Chinese Type 54)
- 85 mm divisional gun D-44
- 100 mm field gun M1944 (BS-3)
- Type 91 10 cm howitzer, supplied by China
- M101 howitzer
- 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-gun M1937 (ML-20)
- 152 mm howitzer M1943 (D-1)
- 152 mm towed gun-howitzer M1955 (D-20)
- M114 155 mm howitzer
- ZPU-1/2/4 single, double and quad 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns
- ZU-23 twin 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon
- M1939 37 mm anti-aircraft gun (and Chinese Type 55)
- 2 cm Flak 30 anti-aircraft gun of German origin WW II
- S-60 57 mm anti-aircraft gun
- 85mm air defense gun M1944
- 100 mm air defense gun KS-19
- 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41
- S-75 Dvina Soviet high-altitude air defense system
- S-125 Neva Soviet high-altitude air defense system
- Aero Ae-45 trainer aircraft
- Aero L-29 Delfín trainer aircraft
- An-2 utility aircraft
- Cessna A-37 Dragonfly attack aircraft – limited use of captured or defected
- Ilyushin Il-12 transport aircraft
- Ilyushin Il-14 transport aircraft
- Ilyushin Il-28 jet bomber
- Lisunov Li-2 transport aircraft
- Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (and Chinese F-4) jet trainer
- MiG-17 (and Chinese F-5) jet fighter
- MiG-19 (and Chinese F-6) jet fighter
- MiG-21 jet fighter
- North American T-28 Trojan – 1 ex-Laotian used in 1964
- Yakovlev Yak-18 trainer aircraft
- Zlín Z 26 trainer aircraft
- Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23
- Nudelman-Rikhter NR-30
- Nudelman N-37
- Nudelman-Rikhter NR-23
- K-5 (missile) (RS-2US)
- K-13 (missile) (R-3S)
Other Armored Vehicles
- M24 Chaffee – light tank, captured from the French and used for training early in the war
- M41 Walker Bulldog – light tank, captured from the ARVN.
- M48 Patton – captured from the ARVN.
- PT-76 amphibious tank
- SU-76 self-propelled gun
- SU-100 self-propelled guns in limited numbers.
- SU-122 self-propelled gun in limited numbers
- T-34-85 medium tank, from 1959
- T-54 main battle tanks, used from 1965
- Type 59 main battle tanks
- Type 62 light tank
- Type 63 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- Type 63 amphibious tank
- ZSU-57-2 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
- BTR-40 APC
- BTR-50 APC
- BTR-60PB APC
- BTR-152 APC
- M3 Half-track and M8 Light Armored Car – first NVA armored vehicles. Used to protect Air Bases in the North.
- M113 armored personnel carrier – captured from the ARVN
- MTU-20 armored bridge-layer
- Type 63 APC
- AT-L light artillery tractor
- AT-S and ATS-59 medium artillery tractors
- Beijing BJ212
- Dnepr M-72
- GAZ-46 light amphibious car
- GAZ-51 truck (and Chinese copy)
- GAZ-63 truck
- IFA W 50
- KrAZ-255 heavy truck
- Mazur D-350 [pl] artillery tractor
- MAZ-502 truck
- M35 truck series (captured)
- M54 truck series (captured)
- M151 jeep (captured)
- ZIS-150 truck (and Chinese CA-10)
- UralZIS-355M truck
- ZIL-130 truck
- ZIL-151 truc
- ZIL-157 and ZIL-157K trucks (and Chinese CA-30)
- ZiS-485 amphibious vehicle
- Swatow-class gunboats
- P4 and P6 torpedo boats
- Countless civilian-type sampans – mainly used for smuggling supplies and weapons
Here’s the direct link for the list of weapons in Wikipedia:
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