Weapons of the Vietnam War

A wide variety of weapons were used by the different armies operating in the Vietnam War, which included the opposing Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) and People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) during the war, the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), better known as the Viet Cong (VC), as well as all services of the U.S. military, the South Korean and Australian armies, and a variety of irregular troops armed and equipped by both sides. The ARVN and Koreans were armed with U.S. Army weapons, some of which, such as the M1 Carbine, were substitute standard weapons dating from World War II. The PAVN (NVA), although having inherited a miscellany of American, French, and Japanese weapons from earlier stages of the conflict, were largely armed and supplied by its Warsaw Pact allies. In addition some weapons were manufactured in Vietnam, notably anti-personnel explosives, the K-50M (a PPSh-41 variant), and “home-made” versions of the RPG-2. By 1969 the US Army had identified 40 rifle/carbine types, 22 machine gun typs, 17 types of mortar, 20 recoilless rifle or rocket launcher types, 9 types of antitank weapons, and 14 anti-aircraft artillery weapons used by ground troops on all sides. Also in use primarily by anticommunist forces were the 24 types of armored vehicles and self propelled artillery and 26 types of field artillery rocket launchers. [Department of Army Pamphlet 381-10, Weapons and Equipment Recognition Guide Southeast Asia, March 1969]

ARVN, US, South Korean, Australian, and New Zealand weapons

Chemical weapons

In 1961 and 62 the Kennedy administration authorized the use of chemicals to destroy vegetation in South Vietnam. Between 1961 and 1967 the US Air Force sprayed 12 million US gallons of concentrated herbicides, mainly Agent Orange (a Dioxin) over 6 million acres (24,000 km²) of foliage and trees, affecting an estimated 13% of South Vietnam's land.In 1997, an article published by the Wall Street Journal reported that up to half a million children were born with dioxin related deformities, and that the birth defects in South Vietnam were fourfold those in the North.The use of Agent Orange may have been contrary to international rules of war at the time. It is also of note that the most likely victims of such an assault would be small children. A 1967 study by the Agronomy Section of the Japanese Science Council concluded that 3.8 million acres (15,000 km²) of land had been destroyed, killing 1000 peasants and 13,000 livestock.

mall arms

1. Edged weapons(Combat knives, bayonet)
* Randall No. 1
* Gerber Mark II
* M1 bayonet
* M6 bayonet
* M7 bayonet
* KCB70 bayonet (Limited use with Stoner 63 rifle only)

2. Pistols & Revolvers
* FNH Browning H-P Mk III pistol - used by Australian and New Zealand forces
* Smith & Wesson Mark 22 Mod.0 "Hush Puppy" - Suppressed pistol used by SEALs, among others
* Colt M1911A1 pistol
* Smith & Wesson Model 15 (USAF M-15) carried by USAF SPs (Security Police Units)
* Smith & Wesson Model 12

The beginning of the war to March - November 1967 but also US Army infantry (not Cavalry or Airborne) units in 1965, then replaced by M-16s
* L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) - Used by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Vietnam
* Springfield M1903
* Ithaca 37 pump-action shotgun
* Remington 870 pump-action shotgun
* Remington 11-48 semi-automatic shotgun
* (The shotguns were used as an individual weapon during jungle patrol; infantry units are (were) authorized a shotgun by TO & E (Table of Organization & Equipment). Shotguns were not general issue to all infantrymen, but were select issue, such as one per squad, etc.)

6. Sniper Rifles
* Winchester Model 70 bolt-action sniper rifles - used by U.S. Marine Corps snipers
* M-40 sniper rifle - used by U.S. Marine Corps snipers
* M21 Sniper Weapon System (or XM21 in test phase) - an accurized version of M-14
* Springfield M1903A4 sniper rifle

7. Machine guns
* Stoner M63a Commando & Mark 23 Mod.0 - used by U.S. Navy SEALs and tested by Force Recon
* Saco Defence M60 GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun), also known as "Pig"
* M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle, Caliber .30 known as BAR
* Browning M1919-A6 medium machine gun
* Browning M2HB .50cal Heavy Machine Gun

8. Grenades and Mines
* Mark 2 Fragmentation Hand/Rifle Grenade
* Claymore M18A1 is an anti-personnel mine
* M61 Fragmentation Hand Grenade
* WP M34 grenade White Phosphorus Hand Grenade is a smoke grenade that uses white phosphorus, which, when in contact with air ignites and creates white smoke. The white phosphorus was also a useful way to dislodge the Viet Cong from tunnels or other enclosed spaces as the burning white phosphorus absorbs oxygen, causing the victims to suffocate or suffer serious burns.
* M18 grenade Smoke Hand Grenade

9. Grenade Launcher
* M79 grenade launcher
*China Lake NATIC a pump-action grenade launcher - used by U.S. Navy SEALs
* XM148 grenade launcher
* Mk.19 Automatic Grenade Launcher

Infantry support weapons

* M18 recoilless rifle 57-mm,
* M20 recoilless rifle 75-mm
* M67 recoilless rifle 90mm
* M40 recoilless rifle 106-mm
* M19 Mortar 60 mm
* M29 Mortar 81 mm
* 4.2 inch mortar 107 mm commonly referred to as the "four deuce"
* M20 Super Bazooka used mainly by U.S. Marine Corps before introduction of M72 LAW
* M72 LAW Light Anti-Tank Weapon
* FIM-43 Redeye MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defence System)


* 75mm Pack Howitzer M1
* 105 mm Howitzer M102
* 105 mm Howitzer M2A1
* L5 (Aust) Pack Howitzer 105-mm
* M109 155 mm self-propelled howitzer
* M107 Self-Propelled Gun 175 mm gun
* M110 8-inch self-propelled howitzer

Artillery ammunition

* Beehive rounds
* White phosphorus (marking round) "Willy Peter"
* HE, general purpose (High Explosive)
* Canister

Combat aircraft

* A-1 Skyraider ground attack aircraft
* A-37 Dragonfly ground attack aircraft
* F-5 Freedom Fighter fighter used in strike aircraft role
* A-4 Skyhawk carrier borne multirole strike aircraft
* A-6 Intruder carrier borne all weather multirole strike aircraft
* A-7 Corsair II carrier borne multirole strike aircraft
* AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter
* AC-47 Spooky gunship (four) with the 1st Air Cavalry Division
* AC-130 "Spectre" Gunship
* AC-119G "Shadow" Gunship
* AC-119K "Stinger" Gunship
* B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber
* B-57 Canberra medium bombers - used by the U.S. Air Force
* Canberra B.20 Royal Australian Air Force medium bomber
* F-4 Phantom II carrier and land based fighter-bomber
* F-8 Crusader carrier borne fighter-bomber
* F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber
* F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bomber
* F-101 Voodoo (RF-101) fighter-bomber/reconnaissance plane
* F-102 Delta Dagger fighter
* F-104 Starfighter fighter
* F-111 Aardvark medium bomber
* OH-6 Cayuse Transport/ Observation helicopter
* OH-58 Kiowa Transport/ Observation helicopter
* OV-10 Bronco, light attack/observation aircraft
* UH-1 "Huey" gunship role (various models)

upport aircraft

* C-123 Provider tactical cargo aircraft
* C-130 Hercules tactical cargo aircraft
* C-141 Starlifter strategic cargo aircraft
* UH-1 Iroquois helicopters in several configurations
* CH-47 Chinook medium lift helicopter
* C-5 Galaxy strategic lift cargo aircraft
* C-7 Caribou tactical cargo aircraft - used by the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force
* CH-46 Sea Knight rescue helicopter
* H-2 Seasprite helicopter
* H-3 Sea King rescue and recovery helicopter
* UH-34 Seahorse Transport/Cargo helicopter
* CH-53 Sea Stallion medium lift helicopter
* CH-54 Skycrane heavy lift helicopter
* H-43 Huskie Transport/cargo helicopter
* O-1 Bird Dog, observation aircraft
* O-2 Skymaster, observation aircraft
* OV-1 Mohawk battlefield surveillance and light strike aircraft

Aircraft Ordnance

* GBUs
* CBUs
* BLU-82 Daisy cutter
* Napalm
* Bomb, 250 lb, 500 lb, 750 lb, 1000 lb, HE (high explosive), general purpose
* Rocket, aerial, HE (High Explosive), 2.75 inch

Aircraft weapons

* M61 Vulcan, 20 mm (aircraft mount)
* Minigun, 7.62 mm (aircraft and helicopter mount)
* M197 Gatling gun, 20mm


* M38A1 1/4 ton jeep
* Ford M151 MUTT 1/4 ton Military Utility Tactical Truck (jeep)
* Dodge M37, 3/4 ton (pick-up truck)
* Truck, cargo/troops, 2 1/2 ton (deuce and a half)
* Truck, cargo/troops, 5 ton
* M520 Goer Truck, Cargo, 8-ton, 4x4
* Land Rover short and long wheelbase Australian and New Zealand forces.

Armoured fighting vehicles

* M24 Chaffee light tank
* M41 Walker Bulldog light tank
* M48 Patton medium tank
* M551 Sheridan airborne reconnaissance assault vehicle, currently referred to as a light tank
* Centurion main battle tank - used by the Australian Army

Army and USMC vehicles
* M113 APC (Armored Personnel Carrier)
* M113 ACAV Armoured Cavalry Assault Vehicle
* M8 Greyhound,used only by (ARVN)
* LVTP5 Landing Craft
* M50 Ontos
* Cadillac Gage V-100 Commando
* Mark I PBRs (Patrol Boat River)
* AMTRAC'S, amphibious tractors, US Marine Corps
* M-114 Reconnaissance vehicle
* M42 Duster (M-41 light tank hull, with a naval twin 40MM mounted on an open turret)Naval craft
* Monitor, heavily gunned riverine craft
* Swift Boat, (PCF) Patrol Craft Fast
* ASPB, Assault Support Patrol Boat, (known as Alpha boats)


Vehicles (commonly cargo), armed with automatic weapons.

* Gun trucks, 2 1/2 ton (deuce an a half), and 5 ton cargo trucks with quad .50 cal machinguns mounted in the back
* M16 Halftracks with quad .50 cal machineguns in the back
* Gun jeeps, 1/4 tons with mounted M-60 machineguns

* Land Rover, short and long wheelbase, with single and twin M60 machineguns. Aust. and NZ forces

PAVN (NVA)(VC) weapons

The PAVN, or NVA (North Vietnamese Army), VC (Viet Cong-Southern communist guerrillas) as they were commonly referred to during the war, largely used standard Warsaw Pact weapons. All Warsaw Pact weapons used by the North Vietnamese, also included Chinese Communist variants, which were referred to as CHICOM's by the US military. This distinction was in recognition of Taiwan (Nationalist China), a US ally.

mall arms

1. Pistols
* Nagant M1895
* Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol
* Stechkin APS selective fire (single shot/automatic) pistol
* Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol
* Mauser C-96 Mod.1916

2. Machine-Pistols/Sub Machine-guns
*Škorpion vz. 61

3. Assault Rifle
*Sturmgewehr 44 (WW2 German assault rifle, imported in limited numbers by the Russians and used by the Viet Cong)
*AK-47 (Soviet Union)
*Chicom Type 56 People's Republic of China
*Sa vz.58 (Imported into North Vietnam by the Soviets from Czechoslovakia)

4. Battle Rifle
* Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles and carbines - both Soviet (e.g. M-1891/1930 rifles, M-1938 carbines, and M-1944 carbines) and Red Chinese (e.g. The CHICOM Type 53 carbine (a CHICOM copy of the M-1944 carbine)) versions.
* Mauser Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifles - came from various sources. A number of Mauser Kar-98ks that were in the hands of the NLF and the NVA were captured from and/or left behind by French forces from the First Indochina War. Later, Mauser Kar-98ks used by NVA and NLF came from the Soviet Union due to the Soviets capturing large numbers of these rifles from the Germans during and after World War II and were providing them as military aid to pro-Moscow nations and Marxist movements.
* SKS semi-automatic rifles - both Soviet and Red Chinese versions. The Red Chinese versions of the SKS are known as the Type 56 Carbine.
* Tokarev SVT-40 semiautomatic rifle

5. Sniper Rifle
* Mosin-Nagant with PU or PO scope
* Dragunov Sniper Rifle SVD-63 with PSO-1 scope

6. Machine-guns
* RPK light machine guns
* RPD light machine guns - both Soviet and Red Chinese versions.
* Degtyarev DP28, DPM and RP-46 - both Soviet and Red Chinese versions.
* Vz. 59
* MG 34
* Type 11 Light Machine Gun
* Type 24 machine gun
* Type 26 light machine gun
* Type 30 light machine gun
* Type 99 light machine gun
* Fusil-Mitrailleur Mle 1915 'CSRG', 'Chauchat'

7. Hand-Grenade and Mines
* F1 grenades (Limonka)
* RG-42 grenades
* RGD-33 grenades
* POMZ-2 mines
* TMB-2 mines
* TM-41 mines

8. Portable Grenade Launcher
* RPG-2 rocket-propelled grenades
* RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades


* ZPU-4 quad 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine gun
* ZU-23 quad 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon
* M1939 37 mm anti-aircraft gun
* S-60 57 mm anti-aircraft gun
* 82 mm and 120 mm mortars (M1938)
* 122 mm Katyusha Rockets
* 120 mm guns


* MiG-21 jet fighter
* MiG-19 jet fighter, used in limited numbers
* MiG-17 jet fighter
* MiG-15 jet fighter, used in limited numbers
* AN-2 aircraft
* Mi-4 helicopter
* Mi-8 helicopter


* PT-76 amphibious tank
* BTR-50 APC
* ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft self-propelled systems
* T-34/85 medium tank, used in limited numbers
* T-55 main battle tanks
* ZSU-57-2 anti-aircraft self-propelled system, fielded in limited numbers.

ubstitute standard weapons used by Irregular forces

mall arms

* Arisaka rifles, bolt action
* M1 Garand rifle, semi-automatic
* M1 carbines, semi-automatic
* Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifles
* MAS-36 rifles
* MAS-49 rifles
* MAT-49 submachine gun and local variants
* MP40 submachine guns
* PPS-43 submachine gun and local variants
* Swedish K submachine guns
* Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles and carbines
* Mauser Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifles

Hand combat weapons

*M6 bayonet U.S. Used on M-14
*M1 Bayonet U.S. and ARVN Used on M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and M-14
*M7 Bayonet U.S. Use with the M-16
*Other types of knives, bayonets, and blades.

A wide variety of anti-personnel landmines and booby traps were used in the Vietnam war, including punji stakes.

Citations and notes

ee also

*NLF and PAVN strategy, organization and structure
*NLF and PAVN logistics and equipment
*NLF and PAVN battle tactics

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