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Captured NVA weapons and Equipment


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Gil,

In 1970 there was a huge shortage of MOS 11B & 11C. In Chu Chi (25th ID main base camp) we were told we were going to be "fast tracked"

to the base camp in Tay Nihn (largest base camp near the Cambodian border) for unit assignment. One guy returning from hospital for reassignment

stood up and yelled "Not Tay Nihn, not ROCKET CITY, don't send me to ROCKET CITY!" That gave us Newbies some serious doubts about what was in store

for us. Upon arrival in Tay Nihn we were quickly processed to our new units and for me the 1/5 Mech in Dau Tieng fire base and the old French fort.

The rocket used by the NVA/VC was an 122 mm usually fired from crude launchers but with pretty good accuracy. They could do a lot of damage as well.

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Above in post # 3, I mentioned the 37mm Gun barrel and breach. I found the photo of it that was taken of it in front of the 2/17th Air Cav TOC. The freshly unloaded 37mm HE round is also in this photo. The gun barrel was later mounted at an angle in concrete.

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"The rocket used by the NVA/VC was an 122 mm usually fired from crude launchers but with pretty good accuracy. They could do a lot of damage as well".

 

Here are a few 122mm rockets that one our Ranger teams located and captured. We brought them back for the intel guys to do their thing. Like mentioned above these things could be fired with just a simple bamboo bipod to aim them and they had a range of around 11 clicks (11 thousand meters) for the high explosive warhead. Shown in the photo (L-R) are the point detonating fuses, 122mm Rocket warheads and rocket motors. All were found in a cache within range of one of our Firebases. RLTW!

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Here is a photo of Thanh demonstrating the correct firing stance for the RPG-2. The B-40 round is loaded at the front and the weapon is on the right shoulder since the launcher has a gas escape port on the right side.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Great pics and stories, thanks. The side folder is an AMD from Hungary. The one above it is a Chinese Type 56. It has the swivel for the spike bayonet, but the bayonet has been removed. I cant tell what exact model the two bottom folders are, could be almost any countries AKS.

 

In the large lot of weapons the non AK guns from left to right are 2 french FM 24/29, 2 rpg-7, US M1 Garand, US M1 Carbine, RPD. Very bottom middle is a Czech VZ 58 V, the folding stock version. I don't know mortars. The AKs the details are too small to tell anything except that several are Type 56 with the bayonets removed.

 

Thanh has a type 56 with the bayonet removed.

 

RPG 7 was called B-41, even though both are 40mm, to differentiate them from the B-40, like how the US 106mm recoiless rifle was really 105mm but there was a different 105 they didn't want it mixed up with.

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Thanks. That black AK side folder made for a lot of excitement after capture as no one had ever seen one before in 1970. The intel folks loved it. I recall there was speculation that it was East German. I never knew for sure. I only saw that one the whole time I was there.The only other side folder I recall was a Czech VZ-58 which you correctly identified. I recall that regular AK Magazines would not work in the Czech VZ/AK's. They had different Mag's made of aluminum that also had an extra lip in the front. Those Aluminum VZ-58 mags were really scarce, but we captured a few of them too and got to fire the VZ-58 out on the bunker line. It fired the standard AK Round, 7.62 x 39mm. The VZ was an interesting weapon in that it did have a bolt hold open device and a M-16 like selector switch. We did not encounter too many of them, but I always thought it was a much better design that the AK-47 or AKM.

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While we were conducting Recon operations, occasionally we would find well-concealed bunkers and cache sites. We would destroy most all ammo, explosives, rockets and mortars and exfiltrate the weapons, documents and other items to deny their use by the enemy. Some weapons and ammunition were kept for training purposes.

The French 1924 M29 Light Machines guns (example shown here) were found in one such cache. They were wrapped in an oil cloths for protection. The French Chatellerault 7.5mm 1924 M29 Machinegun is an unusual weapon for many reasons. It has two triggers. The front trigger is for semi auto fire and the rear trigger is full auto. It also has a bipod and a strange perforated cone shaped flash suppressor. The magazine loads at the top of the weapon, so it has off set sights. These Machineguns were obviously captured earlier from the French during the Indo-China war that ended in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu. We had three of these unusual LMG's that were just used as training aids in weapons identification. I don't think the enemy ever used them once they ran out of French ammunition.

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There weren't many VZ 58s in Vietnam in 1970. According to the book Československé zbraně ve světě: V míru i za válk, 1,300-1,500 were sent by Czechoslovakia in 1965, 10,000 in 1969, and 8,000 in 1970. So a little under 20,000 at the end of 1970. Every year after 10,000-15,000 were sent, so by the time the war ended almost 100,000 were sent to Vietnam.

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I had no idea that many VZ-58's made it to Vietnam. I recall maybe three or four and they were very rarely encountered. You seem to have a real insight about them. Thanks.

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  • Just to keep everyone informed, Here are a couple of photos of the VZ-58 that looks like an AK-47, but is very much different in many ways:
  • The VZ 58 has a milled receiver, the AKM is stamped -earlier AK-47's were milled
  • Even with the milled receiver it is almost one pound lighter than a stamped AK-47.
  • The bolt of the VZ 58 stays open after the last round in the magazine has been fired. BIG PLUS!
  • The VZ 58 has a more natural point of aim and is faster handling.
  • The safety is more ergonomic making a faster first shot possible with the VZ 58.(much like an M-16)
  • The ejection port is HUGE. There is no chance of an empty case getting stuck in the action of the VZ 58.
  • The VZ 58 gas piston can be removed or exchanged without tools.
  • The alloy magazine of the VZ 58 is half the weight of the steel AK-47 magazine. (.42 lb. vs. .84 lb.)
  • VZ 58 is easier to field strip.
  • The VZ 58 is striker fired unlike the hammer fired AK-47. This reduces the number of parts and possible points of failure.

  • Specifications:
  • Caliber: 7.62x39 mm
  • Action: Gas operated, tilting breech block
  • Overall length: 913 mm / 35.94''
  • Barrel length: 410 mm / 16.14''
  • Weight: with empty magazine 3.32 kg / 7.32 lbs
  • Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
  • Sights: 100 to 800 meter adjustable rear, hooded front
  • Stock: Folding Metal Wood-Bakelite plastic

 

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This is the folding stock version of the VZ-58. Both of these are excellent weapons and while they appear on the outside to be an AK-47, they are completely different on the inside.

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  • 8 months later...

Such an excellent post- thank you for sharing the pictures with us!

Yes, I wish we had more like it on the forum!

 

I don't think the enemy ever used them once they ran out of French ammunition.

 

This seems to have been a real problem for them.

 

They converted a good number of French MAT- 49s which were originally chambered 9x19mm Luger to 7.62x25mm Tokarev which was supplied by the CCCP and PRC. Because this was a more powerful cartridge and they did not replace the recoil spring this had the effect of increasing the rate of fire. The 7.62x25mm barrels they installed were longer than the original French barrels. I don't know for sure who preformed the conversions, but I feel it was more likely done by factories in Hanoi rather than "VC" workshops in the RVN. I also don't know the details of what magazines they used.

 

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Caption unknown, two are wearing capes made from US camouflage parachutes, this was a very common practice with the "VC" and "NVA"

 

compare the length of the barrel of the 7.62x25mm converted MAT-49 in the photo above to the unmodified MAT-49 in the picture below, you can see it extends much further beyond the barrel shroud

 

French Foreign Legion paratroopers in 1953 or 1954.

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here is another caliber conversion due to their shortage of French ammunition

 

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"VC" carrying a dud bomb to a workshop, where it will be sawn open and the explosives used in the production of mines or grenades. The man on the left carries a French MAS 36 that was converted to another caliber, clearly a necked cartridge due to the curve in the magazine, possibly 7.62x25mm magazines for the PPS / Type 54.

 

Compare the magazine in the picture above to the straight 7.65x20mm Longue magazines the MAS-36 originally used.

 

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In late 1964 students, staff, and teachers of the Hanoi Polytechnical College sign an application to become members of the 3 sẵn sàng (3 ready/willing movement: ready to fight, willing to enlist, willing to do anything the country needs).

 

I don't know of any rifle caliber conversions, probably due to both the higher tolerances needed for rifles vs open bolt sub machine guns and due to the lack of a suitable cartridge to convert too, the 7.62x54R round that the CCCP and PRC (and in small numbers Warsaw pact members) supplied was rimmed, vs the rimless 7.5x54mm used in the FM 24/29 and MAS-36, which would complicate conversions. The only rimless rifle cartridges available to the "VC" and "NVA" were the 7.62x51mm and 30.06 captured from the US and ARVN, and 7.92x57mm Mauser supplied by the CCCP from their vast stocks of captured German weapons, but that was probably needed for CCCP supplied K98ks and MG-34s.

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  • 9 months later...

I'll try to get this thread going again with this interesting pic.

 

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Lance Corporal B. D. Young examines a Czechoslovakian made vz. 54 sniper rifle captured in an arms cache by the 1st Marine Division South-West of Da Nang during Operation Oklahoma Hills (31 March - 29 May 1969). DOD (USMC) photo digitized by the USMC Archives from their Jonathan F. Abel Collection. 
 

The vz. 54 was converted from existing Soviet-made M91/30 Mosin-Nagants that the Czech army had in inventory. The barrel was replaced by one that had a thicker profile, was 3 cm shorter, and had a front sight more similar to a K98k than a M91/30. The stock would not look out of place on a sporter hunting rifle. The rifle was equipped with a 2.5 magnification scope, as compared to the 3.5x scope used on the Soviet M91/30. These rifles were only produced between 1955 and 1958, and less than 6,000 were made, so this certainly was an uncommon rifle in Vietnam. There is one vz. 54 on display at the War Remnants Museum in Hanoi.

 

 

Edited by Cap Camouflage Pattern I
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The Kbkg. wz. 60 (also commonly know as the PMK-DGN 60 in English) was a Polish milled AK specially designed to fire rifle grenades.

 

It had a special threaded muzzle with a cone on the end onto which the LON-1 spigot-type grenade launcher attached. The stock had a metal bracket embedded in the sides which a rubber recoil pad snapped onto. A rifle grenade sight was attached next to the rear sight, in 1970 it was redesigned and moved to the front sight. I haven't seen any of those newer models in pictures of Vietnam, but it is possible the DRV received some as the Poles were still supplying them after 1970 as evidenced by the destruction of the Polish merchant ship the MS Joseph Conrad in Haiphong by US bombers on December 20th 1972, to the outrage of the Polish. To fire a rifle grenade first a proprietary 10-round magazine loaded with blanks was inserted, this magazine had a plate inside which prevented the loading of live ammunition. Then a switch on the right side of the gas block was turned, cutting off the gas system and increasing the pressure for launching the grenades. With the gas tube shut off the rifle had to be cycled manually. Then the grenade was placed over the spigot on the end of the rifle and pulled all the way down. Out to 100m the grenade was fired direct-fire from the shoulder, hence the recoil pad. 50 and 75m had their own apertures, the 100m used the 75m apertures with a leaf extended. Past 100m out to 240m the grenade was fired indirect-fire by placing the butt on the ground and aiming with a bubble level on the side of the grenade sight.

 

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Four Kbkg. wz. 60s lay in a pile of NVA equipment captured in the area of Cam Lo, Quang Tri province. 3 February 1968 DOD (USMC) photo by Sgt. PL Shackmann, US National Archives Collection, digitized and made available by fold3

 

If you look closely at the gas blocks you will see the switch to close off the gas system.

 

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This photograph obviously had some sort of a problem like being bumped during a long exposure or something but it's still a great photo that shows a F-1N-60 grenade and a blank captured in an arms cache in the Da Krong Valley, Quang Tri,  by the 1st Battalion 9th Marines during Operation Dewey Canyon. 7 March 1969 DOD photo by SP/4 Earl Mallie 221st Signal Co (Pictorial) US National Archives Collection, digitized and made available by fold3.

 

The crimped tip of the blank was painted white to differentiate it from the lower-pressure blanks used for training. The warhead of the  F-1N-60 was a Polish copy of the ubiquitous Soviet F-1 grenade. It was attached to a fin-less tube that held a DC-1 inertia fuze and slid over the LON-1 spigot. The two circles on the left are caps that cover the openings during shipping. I don't know the significance of the vertical white paint on the grenade, however all F-1N-60s I have seen, even in Polish hands, had either a vertical or horizontal white stripe on them, or both. 

 

I have not seen any pictures of any of the other models of grenades in Vietnam, however I have read one Kbkg. wz. 60 allegedly was used to destroy a dozen American tanks. Although this story is likely embellished if it has a kernel of truth then it means the PGN-60 High-Explosive Anti Tank shaped charge warhead was also used.

 

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Unfortunately I have been unable to find the original source of the image so I cannot properly credit Mr. Lively.

The broad variety of weapons means this display is almost certainly a unit's "museum" rather than the contents of an arms cache or trophies of a recent battle. Care has been taken that only one example of each model is on display, with the notable exception that a second Kbkg. wz. 60 with it's distinctive rubber-padded stock can be seen on the right edge of the image. Since the Kbkg on the left has a F-1N-60 attached, it seems very likely that the one on the right has a PGN-60 HEAT grenade attached, earning it a spot in the lineup as different weapon. If only the camera was rotated a few degrees. Also notice that grenade launching sight is visible folded out from the rear sight base.

 

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This photo was taken by Terry Johnson of the 8th Battalion, 4th Artillery presumably in 1970 or 1971 and posted on the battalion website. Due to the heavy compression of this image I can't be sure if that is the grenade sight sticking up or not.

At this time the 8th Battalion was located in Quang Tri, just south of the DMZ, with A Battery at Camp JJ. Carroll, B Battery, at FSB Charlie 2, and C Battery at Con Thien. What's interesting about this is Camp Carroll is less than 10 miles North-East of the Da Krong Valley (where the four rifles in the first pic were captured), less than 5 miles North-East of it is Cam Lo(which the F-1N-60 in the second picture was captured in the area of), FSB Charlie 2 is only 3 miles North-East from there, and Con Thein is just four miles North of that, making the West edge of Leatherneck Square with Cam Lo.

What this means is all captures with known location were captured in a 5-10 mile radius of each other.

This heavily suggests they belonged to a single division, almost certainly NVA, operating in Quang Tri.

And although I can't be certain that he is the man that took the photo, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website a Ted Lively left a heartfelt remembrance for his friend Lcpl Crudo who was KIA in Quang Tri, so the third picture may have been taken in Quang Tri as well. 

With what seems like only one unit using the weapon, I suspect that only a small number of Kbkg. wz. 60s were supplied to the DRV, and from a logistical standpoint issuing them all to one unit is a no-brainer. 

 

 

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I regret to say I do not have background information on these photos.  

 

As these are RVN naval personnel, I would imagine these were seized from a cargo ship that was trying to move arms along the coast.

Lot 3 A Weapons.jpg

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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Additional photos of ARVN personnel examining enemy weapons.

Lot 3 C Weapons.jpg

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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Press photo showing a captured PT-76 in Cambodia.  It must have been taken by surprise.

Lot 3 D Weapons.jpg

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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Great pictures gwb123, thanks for sharing!

 

My guess is the Navy photos were taken in 1965 or 1966 as the rifles are all older models, K98ks on the left, M1917s and a lone M-44 or T-53 on right. This is just speculation, but I doubt they would waste their time shipping them later in the war when most of those weapons, K98ks and M1917s especially, were retired to arms caches, replaced in the field by SKSs and AKs. It couldn't be earlier than February 1965, as that was when the first trawler was spotted and captured at Vung Ro Bay, which was a pretty big deal.

 

In the second set of pictures the soldiers above have a couple of Nationalist Chinese Type 24 maxim guns, large numbers of them were captured by the PRC at the end of the Chinese Civil War. In the picture below the soldier is sitting on a Soviet ZPU-1 and the back are the receivers of a Type 65, a Communist Chinese double-barreled copy of the M1939 which triplecanopy encountered. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

The day after I made my post I rediscovered another pic of a kbkg I had forgotten, isn't that just the way it goes?

 

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This photo was taken by Captain Forrest B. Lindley, a 5th SFG advisor to the ARVN Airborne Division in August 1969. The location of the photo is not recorded, but in the same month he was in Tay Ninh so its safe to say this was somewhere in III Corps, which throws a wrench in the nice close cluster of sightings. The display a lot of different weapons, so perhaps it is somewhere like Saigon and contains weapons captured all across RVN and the kbkg was captured in I Corps. I will admit I am biased and this may be wishful thinking to preserve my theory. This photo is from Texas Tech University's Vietnam Center & Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive's Virtual Archive. 

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