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Captured NVA weapons and Equipment


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These are a few examples of the weapons and equipment my unit captured while operating in Northern I Corps of the Republic of Vietnam 1970-1971. The four AK's here are all chambered for the Soviet 7.62 x 39mm round. I believe that the 3rd one from the top is a rare East German AK with the side folding stock, front pistol grip and unusual flash hider. I never confirmed the origin, so I may be wrong on that. We only found this one and the Intel guys really liked it. My view on the AK-47 and AKM is that they were very reliable weapons. You could leave one in a rice paddy and come back a week later, shake out the mud and water and it would fire.The down side of the AK design is the safety lever/selector switch requires the user to take a hand off the weapon to operate and the first click down is full auto. It is an awkward move and takes time. Secondly, the AK does not have an 'empty magazine bolt hold open' feature. In other words, when the last round is fired, the bolt slams shut on an empty chamber. This is a major flaw in the design. Also takes a second to realize you are out of ammo and must change mags. After installing a new mag, you must operate the bolt to chamber a fresh round. The Czech VZ-58 series addressed those two faults and fixed them both in their design. We captured some of them too, but I can't find the photos. Lastly notice the knife/dagger next to the chest AK magazine carrier. That knife was one of the few items that I could bring back. See next photo.

 

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Here is that same knife today. I think it was modified from some other knife or bayonet. The Soviet data plate is from a captured 37mm Anti Aircraft gun that we liberated out in the Ashau Valley. I will post a photo of that below. The NVA buckle is one part of a two piece that got burned a bit. I never found the other part.

The bullet is an original AK-47 round also used with the SKS and RPD light machine gun.

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Here is the 37mm AA Gun that was spotted by a LOACH (OH-6A). We were tasked to go get it and bring it back. This gun sat on a 4 wheel carriage and was too heavy for a Huey to lift. We needed a CH-47, but they refused to fly out to the Ashau Valley as it was too hot. So we blew the barrel and receiver off the deck of the gun carriage and loaded it into a huey (UH-1H). It was later mounted in front of the TOC as a trophy. We did not know it until we got it back, that it was loaded with a live round in the chamber. It was a high explosive point detonating round. I removed the metal data plate from the receiver and that is the one shown above. This gun never shot at the good guys again.

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Shown here are (L-R) two 23mm rounds, a 37mm AA round and a RPG-2 rocket. The 37mm AA round in the middle was one taken when the above gun was captured. There were a number of rounds with it but luckily it was unmanned at the time.

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Here is what the whole Soviet 37mm AA weapon would look like had we been able to retrieve it intact. This is another one that was captured and on display at Camp Evans (above Hue). You can visualize that it was pretty heavy. It had to be towed into position by a truck. The one we captured was also dug in inside a bunker with overhead cover. Only the flash suppressor was visible when the little bird spotted it.

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Here are three RPG launchers. RPG stands for Rocket Propelled Grenade. These Soviet made rocket launchers were/are very effective weapons that send a flying shaped charge toward its target. They are very loud and intimidating! The RPG-2 is shown on both top and bottom and they have simple metallic sights. The RPG-7 is in the middle and has optical sights. RPG-7's being more advanced and with better range were more commonly encountered when making contact with the NVA during my time there. The older RPG-2's were used mostly by the VC or Viet Cong. NEVER fire an RPG-2 from your left shoulder! They are both recoilless, so back blast is a concern. I am sure that these are still is use today in several conflict areas.

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Another captured NVA weapon. This one shot down one of our helicopters before it was taken. This is a 12.7mm DShK M1938 heavy Machine Gun (Soviet made). It fires a .50 caliber bullet that could do considerable damage to an aircraft. This one was used as a training weapon and we fired it out on the bunker line until the ammo was depleted. It is mounted on an anti aircraft tripod, but was also mounted on wheeled carriages. The Soviet ammunition was not interchangable with our .50 Cal MG.

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More captured weapons. Look carefully and you can see an M-1 Garand, M-1 Carbine, two RPG-7's, an RPD, a 60mm mortar and even a couple of old French weapons in this bunch. Mostly Ak-47's that while dirty and rusty could still function.

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This is Thanh, our Kit Carson Scout. He was a former NVA soldier who came over to our side. This kid was about 17 years old and was absolutely great in the bush. He saved our hides several times by spotting NVA signs and warning us about danger areas. We called him "Baby San" on occasion.

We dressed him up as an NVA soldier on occasion for photos. The knife in the photo above is attached to his canteen. This is what an NVA soldier looked like (minus the 101st patch) and if you spotted one, you might only have a few seconds to figure out what to do next. I have often wondered what became of Thanh. He was loyal and devoted to our unit. I hope he survived.

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This is an RPD light machine gun in action. It fired the same ammunition as the AK-47 but from a 100 round drum. The bullets were attached to a non-disintegrating metallic link belt that separated into three smaller belts that could be reloaded with loose ammo as time permitted. In this photo you can see one of the belts detach and fall. This was a very well made and reliable machine gun. It was not crew served and was lighter than the US M-60 MG. Although extended here, the bipods folded when not needed.

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They (the NVA) had a jungle boot also. It was green and black and was like a high top canvas sneaker. We called them "Ho Chi Minh jump boots". They also got US made boots from the VC on the black market as well as other US equipment that was lost in combat or sold illegally. Almost every NVA soldier we encountered had some US item with them; a piece of a parachute, a discarded aluminum flare tube made into a spoon or an lamp made from spent brass casings. Some wore Ho Chi Minh sandals made from discarded rubber tires and inner tubes. But yes, Thanh is wearing extra small short OD jungle fatigues and US issued jungle boots in this photo. He lived a good life while with us. WE took good care of him and he did like wise.

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Here's a couple of USMC news release photos I picked up years ago. Unfortunately I did not keep a copy of the news release info, but they identified the round as a B-40 rocket. I think the intent of the one photo was to show the Soviet markings.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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They (the NVA) had a jungle boot also. It was green and black and was like a high top canvas sneaker. We called them "Ho Chi Minh jump boots".

 

These were Chinese-made copies of French jungle boots known as 'pataugas', already used by the French in Indo-China and a slightly different model with a buckled anklet was still in use till recently (maybe still in limited use?) by the French army. Remarkably, the original model is still being sold as a civilian unisex sneaker in various colours by Palladium, one of the original manufacturers as the 'Hi Pampa' model. As you noted, the original ones were OD canvas with a black or very dark OD rubber sole and were reportedly very comfortable.

 

Your pics and captions are extremely informative, thanks for posting them!

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The RPG round in post #19 is an RPG-7 rocket with the booster. I know the RPG-2 rockets were called B-40, but can't recall if the RPG-7 also carried that number. I don't think so, but someone here may know. The RPG-7 has an extended range out to 500 meters where the RPG-2 was only effective to about 100 meters.

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TripleC,

I don't recall RPGs referred to as anything other than "RPG-2" or "RPG-7." B-40s were suppose to be different but I no longer remember

what that was.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RPG-7

 

Early on and after seeing what one of these could do to an M-113 "they scared the living crap out of me!"

One became ever more aware to look out for RPG teams and that's for sure!!!

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The RPG round in post #19 is an RPG-7 rocket with the booster. I know the RPG-2 rockets were called B-40, but can't recall if the RPG-7 also carried that number. I don't think so, but someone here may know. The RPG-7 has an extended range out to 500 meters where the RPG-2 was only effective to about 100 meters.

 

I remember the news reports that came out of Vietnam reporting that so and so airbase had been hit with "B-40" rockets, without further explanation. It left you with the impression that they'd been hit with something massive. It took me years to realize it was something much smaller.

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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