by Sal Provensano
This M113 is an armored personnel carrier that served with Army units in Vietnam, (1968), and was used as a “reconnaissance by force” tool.
Eventually, the white stars and lettering were removed or subdued to eliminate “aiming points”. No matter how they tried, officers could never cut down on the practice of “personalization”, known also as graffiti.
Note the concertina wire and chain link fence attached to the front of the vehicle. These were used to dissuade attackers from infiltration at night as well as provide protection from RPGs as they would detonate when hitting the fence which was placed in front of the vehicle at bivouac sites. Units also attached a variety of personal gear to the vehicle when on maneuvers hence the “C” rats, Alice unit, camouflage cover, and grenade launcher.
The M113 is a very versatile armored personnel carrier born out of necessity during the Vietnam Conflict. Originally intended to be a front line armored personnel carrier to deploy infantry units like the Abrams Fighting Vehicle does today, the armor proved too thin to protect against RPGs and the vehicle design structurally unable to withstand blasts from mines placed along roads.
Inexpensive to produce and effective as a troop transport offering more protection than truck carriers, it is used by many of the “free world’s” armies transporting troops from staging areas to the battle zone.
This one has the Armored Fighting Vehicle, (AFV), upgrade in order to provide better protection for the Commander’s machine gun. There are also two shields along the rear body so that defenders will be better protected while operating two M60s. These features were born of necessity in Vietnam due to “choke points” chosen along the roads by the VC that provided natural cover for ambush.
Interesting is the fact soldiers chose to ride on top of the vehicle because of its quickly gained reputation for secondary explosions that incinerated troops riding inside. Also interesting is the unwritten law that legs and feet not dangle over the edge due to traumatic amputation in the event the vehicle hit a land mine.
Photos by Phil Novak