Gun Trucks in Vietnam

During the Vietnam War, the mission of the US Army Transportation Corps was to ferry supplies from the coastal ports of Qui Nhon and Cam Ranh Bay to inland bases located at Bong Son, An Khê, Pleiku, Da Lat, and Buon Ma Thuot. The logistical requirements of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) were huge, and 200 truck convoys were not uncommon. The large convoys became tempting targets for the Viet Cong (VC) guerrilla groups who often sprung ambushes in remote areas. When official channels failed to provide additional protection, the truck drivers countered the threat by modifying their trucks, adding armor plating and more firepower.


FRENCH INDOCHINA WAR

The Battle of Mang Giang Pass (Mang Yang) was the last battle of the war and was one of the bloodiest defeats of the French Colonial forces, along with the earlier battle at Dien Bien Phu.

Groupement Mobile No. 100 (“Mobile Group 100” or G.M. 100) was a regimental task force unit of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps which was assembled as a convoy. It included the elite veteran UN Bataillon de Corée who fought during the Korean War at Chipyong-ni, Wonju and Heartbreak Ridge. The commander was Colonel Barrou. To avoid a second disaster like the siege at Dien Bien Phu, the French Chief of Staff ordered G.M. 100 to abandon their isolated position in the Central Highlands under the code name Opération Églantine.

On 24 June 1954, G.M. 100 received orders to leave its defensive positions at An Khê and fall back to Pleiku, about 50 miles (80 km) to the west along Route Coloniale 19. At the road marker “Kilometer 15”, the column was ambushed by Việt Minh troops of the 803rd Regiment and suffered heavy losses. The survivors of G.M. 100 managed to break through the ambush. The remnants of G.M. 100, now with G.M. 42 and the 1st Airborne Group had to travel over 19 miles (30 km) more enemy controlled road and was ambushed on June 28 and 29 at Dak Ya-Ayun by the Việt Minh 108th Regiment. The survivors finally reached Pleiku the following day. After 5 days of fighting, G.M. 100 lost 85% of its vehicles, 100% of its artillery, 68% of its signal equipment and 50% of its crew-served weapons.

Three weeks later, on 20 July 1954, a ceasefire was announced when the Geneva agreements were signed, and on August 1st an armistice went into effect. The country was split in two forming communist North Vietnam (Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam) with the demilitarized zone (DMZ) running along the Ben Hai River at the 17th parallel.


US IN VIETNAM

The 8th Transportation Group (Motor Transport) was formed on 9 December 1943 at Fort Lawton, Washington, with the original designation of the 8th Traffic Regulation Group. After training in Washington state, the group was sent to the European Theater of Operations where they served in northern France and the Rhineland campaigns. In June of 1946, the group was deactivated at Rheims, France. The group was reactivated on 15 October 1949, and served with US Army units in Germany throughout the 1950’s.

In June of 1966, the 8th Transportation Group was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, when it received orders for deployment to Vietnam. By mid-September, the group completed its training and was ready for war. On September 24, the group boarded the USNS General LeRoy Eltinge (T-AP-154) at Oakland, California, and sailed to Southeast Asia arriving at Qui Nhon on 19 October 1966. The 8th Transportation Group became part of the 5th Transportation Command and assumed command and control of the motor transport units of the US Army Support Command located at Qui Nhon. The headquarters setup its camp in the Thanh Valley.

   
   8th Transportation Group

   27th Transportation Battalion (Truck)
        2nd   Transportation Company (Medium)
        58th  Transportation Company (Light) 
        444th Transportation Company (Light)
        585th Transportation Company (Medium)
        597th Transportation Company (Medium)
        505th Transportation Detachment (TTP)

   54th Transportation Battalion (Truck)
        57th  Transportation Company (Light) "Nam Nomads"
        512th Transportation Company (Light) 
        523rd Transportation Company (Light)
        666th Transportation Company (Light)
        669th Transportation Company (Light)

   124th Transportation Battalion (Truck)
        64th  Transportation Company (Medium)
        88th  Transportation Company (Light) 
        541st Transportation Company (Light)
        563rd Transportation Company (Medium)
        28th  Transportation Platoon
        520th Transportation Detachment (TTP)


   26th Transportation Group

   39th Transportation Battalion (Truck) 
        515th Transportation Company (Light) 
        585th Transportation Company (Medium)
        863rd Transportation Company (Light)
        630th Transportation Company (Medium)

   57th Transportation Battalion (Truck)
        57th Transportation Company (Light)
        585th Transportation Company (Medium)
        515th Transportation Company (Light) 


   All Transportation Battalions included HQ and HQ Detachments.

   Individual Transportation Companies were designated as:
       Light - 2½-ton trucks
       Medium - 5-ton trucks
       TTP - Trailer Transfer Points

   Transportation Company Organization:
       (1) Headquarters Platoon
       (1) Maintenance Platoon
       (3) Truck Platoons: each platoon had (2) squads

After its arrival in Vietnam, the 8th Transportation Group spent a few weeks getting acquainted with their mission and their area of operation. The 8th operated as far north as Bon Song along the coast and as far west as Pleiku, Kon Tum and Dak To.

Camp Radcliff (also known as An Khê Army Airfield, An Khê Base or the “Golf Course”) was the base camp for the US 1st Air Cavalry Division. The camp was named after 1/9 Cavalry Major Donald Gordon Radcliff, the 1st Cavalry’s first combat death, who was killed on 18 August 1965 while flying his helicopter gunship supporting the US Marines during Operation Starlite. Pleiku was strategically important because it was a primary terminal of the military supply logistics corridor extending westwards from the coastal population center and port facilities of Qui Nhơn.

From October 1966 through to August 1967 which was during the US escalation period of the war, the 8th Group had a fairly quiet time. There were only occasional sniper incidents. Their support of the infantry and air units grew as more of their truck companies became operational. The group carried food, fuel, ammunition, lumber, clothes and any other commodities or supplies the infantry or air units needed to carry on the war. The period of peaceful trips ended in late August when the enemy realized that the US mighty war machine had an Achilles heel, all the supplies for the units in the An Khê and Pleiku areas were transported by highway along Route 19. The US military was oblivious of the prior history of Route 19.

Route Coloniale 19 (RC19) was built by the French in the early 20th century and was the main road connecting the Central Highlands with the coastal region of Vietnam. After the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the highway was renamed National Route 19 (Vietnamese: Quốc lộ 19 [QL19] or Đường 19). Two dangerous stretches of the highway between Qui Nhon and Pleiku became the enemy’s most favorite ambush zones, An Khê Pass and “Ambush Alley” east of Mang Giang Pass as incidents occurred in these areas almost on a daily basis.

Late in the day on 2 September 1967, 39 vehicles of the 8th Transportation Group departed Pleiku on their return trip to Qui Nhơn. The trucks in the convoy were empty, having transported their loads to the 1st Cavalry Division and other US units in Pleiku earlier that day. At 1855 hours, the convoy was about 10 miles (16 km) east of Mang Giang Pass and 6 miles (9.6 km) west of An Khê. A 5000 gallon (18927 Liter) fuel tanker, located near the end of the convoy, was having trouble keeping up and had split the convoy into two separate sections and there was a 500 meter (547 yards) gap between the two sections of the convoy. The convoy commander was concerned, since there were only two M151 jeeps armed with 7.62 M60 MGs as the convoy’s only protection and with the convoy split up they were not be able to support one another in the event of an ambush.

Without warning, the enemy sprung their ambush, opening up with 57mm recoil-less rifle and small arms fire. A 57mm rocket slammed into the lead M151 jeep killing one soldier and wounding two others. At that moment, about 29 trucks were caught in a 700 meter (765 yards) kill zone. The enemy force, about the size of an infantry company, was concealed in the treeline on the south side of the highway sprayed the trucks with rifle and MG fire. In a matter of minutes, the second, third and fourth trucks in the column were disabled by recoil-less rifle fire or command detonated mines. Almost simultaneously with the attack on the leading section of the convoy, enemy 57mm recoil-less rifle gunners scored a direct hit on the trailing 5000 gallon fuel tanker. Fortunately, a company of the 1st Cavalry Division was stationed nearby. With darkness closing in, A/1/7 Cav, located less than a mile (1.6 km) east of the ambush site, quickly loaded into their helicopters and flew west towards the convoy. It took them 15 minutes to reach the ambush site and by the time they arrived, it was all over. The enemy had faded back into the surrounding jungle. US helicopter gunships sprayed the treeline with MG fire and an hour later an AC-47 Spooky gunship arrived and added its broadside of mini-guns to the effort. The US casualties were 17 KIA and 17 WIA with about 30 vehicles damaged or destroyed.

The truck drivers knew that the war was heating up and they were becoming targets. If convoys were going to continue travel Route 19, they were going to need a different form of protection and better defensive tactics. The officers of the 8th Group analyzed the pattern of enemy activity and devised procedures to minimize the effects of an unexpected ambush on a moving convoy. The problem was the existing M151 escort jeeps armed with only a 7.62mm M60 MG and a M79 grenade launcher was not adequate enough to provide proper protection against the new threat. The truckers needed larger vehicles that could ride along with the convoy with enough firepower to defend the convoy if it was attacked. The obvious choice would be an armored vehicle like tanks or armored personnel carriers (APC) but there were very few of them in country and they were engaged in other operations. They realized to get more protection for their convoys, they would have to it themselves.

The US Army had no provisions for arming Transportation Groups for what would be basically offensive operations. Machine guns and other heavy weapons were strictly controlled by the Army’s Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) and the US Army also frowned on modifying the trucks which could damage components such as the transmission and suspension. The 8th Group command position was men’s lives were on the line and the difference between life or death was the ability of the US truckers to build gun trucks. For soldiers of many nations, this would been a daunting task but for young US soldiers it was simply a matter of applying American ingenuity to the task at hand.

Within days, armor plate, scrounged from various sources, began to appear on floors and doors of convoy vehicles. These modifications were designed to protect the drivers and crews of the trucks from small arms fire and mines. It provided them vital safety during the first few seconds of an ambush to allow them to bring their personal weapons to bear on the attacking enemy.

The first gun trucks were only authorized to have one M60 MG and the crew’s personal weapons which may have included a hand held M79 grenade launcher with a limited supply of ammunition. Many gun truckers kept unauthorized weapons such as a WWII era M3 sub-machine gun “Grease Gun”, 45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) or a captured enemy AK-47 since they did not trust the standard issued M16 rifle which was prone to jamming and lacked adequate knock down power.

As enemy activity increased and attacks on convoys became more destructive and deadly, the gun trucks needed to be able to overwelm the enemy with more fire power which would not only defend the convoys but also be a deterrent against further attacks. By early 1968, larger weapons began to appear on gun trucks like twin mounted M60 or M60D machine guns or a couple of M2HB Browning .50 Caliber heavy machine guns. Some trucks carried a few M72 LAWs (Light Anti-Tank Weapon), a portable one shot 66mm unguided anti-tank (AT) rocket launcher, which the crew used against fortified enemy positions. There were no standard design for the armor or weapons used on the gun trucks.

The most powerful weapons mounted on gun trucks were scrounged from US helicopters. The M75 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher came from the Bell UH-1C “Huey Hog” gunships and the later M129 40mm Grenade Launcher from the Bell UH-1H and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. The most fearsome weapon acquired was the M134 mini-gun which were mounted on Hughes OH-6 Cayuse “Loach”, Bell AH-1 Cobra, and on Bell UH-1D/H Huey transport helicopters.

The M134 Mini-gun was a US 7.62×51mm NATO six-barrel rotary machine gun with a high rate of fire (2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute). It had a Gatling-style rotating barrel assembly with an external power source, normally an electric motor. The crew of gun truck named “Pure hell” mounted a scrounged M134 mini-gun without an electric motor. They built a crude manual hand crank for the mini-gun which made it reminiscent of the old Gatling guns of the American Civil War era.

Film: How U.S. Soldiers Built Their Own Deadly Gun Trucks

Film: Vietnam Gun Trucks_Heavy Metal Truckers


GUN TRUCK NAMES

Gun truck names were derived from many sources which were familiar subjects that reminded the crews of home or the “real” world. They were usually based on the culture of the time such as popular songs, comic or cartoon characters, movies or TV shows, military slang, etc. Names were usually allowed to be chosen by the crew and most units required the potential names be submitted to the unit commander for review. The review was supposedly to reject any embarrassing, indecent, or offensive in nature names, but a few names somehow managed to escape the scrutiny of the commander.

On early gun trucks, names were reluctantly allowed to be applied to the truck’s door or hood using small 2 or 3 inch stencils but as gun trucks evolved during the war the names became elaborate colorful murals with large lettering that would rival any WWII/Korean War bomber nose art. Originally, the gun truck’s name was intended to be exclusive to one particular truck and no two gun trucks would have the same name but that did not happened. There were a number of gun trucks with the same name each painted differently and the trucks were in different units. A number of gun trucks went through several names which were changed when a new crew took over or when the gun truck was rebuilt. There are many photos of named gun trucks and they all cannot be displayed in a single blog post.

GUN TRUCK COLOR

The regulation Olive Drab (OD) paint on many gun trucks was repainted with black paint to make the gun truck appear more sinister and threatening to further intimidate the enemy. In order for gun truck crews to circumvent this regulation, they would rub diesel fuel onto the OD paint to make it appear darker or they defiantly mix a few spoonfuls of OD paint into each gallon of black paint so they can honestly state that it did contain some OD paint. Eventually, all gun trucks were painted black. During the repainting of the gun truck, the bumper codes and other regulation markings usually had to be re-applied but not always by regulations.

CONVOY MARKING

The 240th Quartermaster Battalion was the first unit to paint the front of their vehicle’s hood (nose) white to make them more identifiable from the air for the unit commander when he was flying over the convoy in a helicopter. Soon afterwards, Colonel Alexander Langston, commander of the 8th Transportation Group also thought that it was also a good idea and in early 1969 ordered the front of all vehicles in the group to be painted yellow which included jeeps, cargo trucks, gun trucks, tractors, wreckers, etc. A variant was a yellow nose with a black line along the inner edge which might have indicated the 26th Transportation Group. It would been hard for the unit commander to see the black line on the yellow nose while flying high overhead in a helicopter. As the war progressed, some truck drivers began to customize the convoy marker by adding additional various patterns to the unit’s required color scheme but photo evidence of these trucks are hard to find. A US Army Security Agency clandestine unit called the 8th Radio Research Field Station (8 RRFS) “Northernmost” of the 509th Radio Research Group located at Phu Bai painted the front of their hoods with highly recognizable red, white and blue segments.


M151 JEEP

The M151 MUTT (Military Utility Tactical Truck) was the successor to the Korean War M38 and M38A1 jeep Light Utility Vehicles. It was a large departure from previous jeeps, both in looks and design. The M151 had a unitized body with an integral box frame. It was the same weight as an WWII jeep even though it was a larger vehicle. It had a longer wheelbase, was wider and lower than the military version of the civilian CJ-5 which became the M38A1. Although it was not really a jeep at all, it was still called a jeep like the M38A1 model it replaced. The M151 jeep was mainly used by convoy commanders (CC). The M151 did had a tendency to roll over at high speed due to the design of the rear suspension.

The M151A1 was the main variant used in Vietnam. In 1970, the M151A2 began to enter into service and was also used in Vietnam, first by MP units and later reached regular transportation units on a limited basis. The M151A2 could easily be identified by the large combination turn signal/blackout lights set in scallops on the front fenders, which also had been modified to mount larger lights, as compared to the M151A1 which had flat front fenders. The A2 also had a one piece windshield and a different steering wheel with a collapsible column.

The name on the windshield armor of M151A1 gun jeep “Little Angel” is illegible. Unit: 8 Gp, 124 Bn, 563 TC, #62

This M151A1 gun jeep was named “BOSSES BABY No.1”. “BOSS’s BABY #2” was a M37 gun truck. Unit: 8 Gp, 124 Bn, 545 TC

M151A1 gun jeep “Wolfman”, 523rd Transportation Company (TC), 1968. This photo shows the rear armor and the jeep was probably named after the popular American disc jockey Robert Weston Smith AKA “Wolfman Jack”.


M37 TRUCK

The Dodge M37 3⁄4-ton 4×4 truck (G741) was Dodge’s successor to their WWII WC series. It entered service in 1951 and was used by the NATO and US forces during the Korean war. It was still in US service throughout the Vietnam War. Like the WWII WC series, the M37 was also call the “Beep” which stemmed from the fact the 3/4-ton was bigger than a jeep.

Film: 3/4 TON GUN TRUCK’S OF THE VIETNAM WAR

M37 Gun Truck “Otto II” was named after a Mort Walker’s “Beetle Bailey” comic strip character. OTTO was Sergeant Snorkel’s (Beetle’s platoon sergeant) pet bulldog. The “II” indicate the second build for this truck. The soldiers in the photo are unidentified.

Units:
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 64 TC, #22
QNSC (Qui Nhon Supply Command), 27 Bn, 359 TC, #77
QNSC, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #26

M37 Gun Truck “Godzilla” was named after the popular fictional prehistoric sea monster from the Japanese Sci-Fi monster movies from 1954 to 2014.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 512 TC, #329
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 512 TC, #329

M37 Gun Truck “Daughter of Darkness” was named after a song by Tom Jones released in 1970 from his album, “I Who Have Nothing.” The truck was originally named “Wild Thing”, then was changed to “Malfunction” before becoming “Daughter of Darkness”. Unit: 26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #200

Video: Daughter of Darkness (w/lyrics) ~ Tom Jones

M37 Gun Truck “Mr Nice”, 523rd Transportation Company, 1971. Gun Truck “Uncle Meat” (See below) is in background, with the convoy commander.

Units:
8 Gp, 124 Bn, Det-1, 523 TC, #421
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #421

(the armor from “Mr Nice” was later used on a Coast Guard M37 gun truck in 1972)


M35 TRUCK

The M35 2½-ton cargo truck was a long-lived truck initially used by the US Army and subsequently utilized by many nations around the world. Over time it evolved into a family of specialized vehicles and it inherited the nickname “Deuce and a Half” from the WWII era GMC CCKW 2½-ton truck. The M35 started as a 1949 REO Motor Car Company design for a 2½-ton 6×6 off-road truck. The original 6-wheel M34 version was quickly superseded by the 10-wheel M35 design with dual rear wheels. The basic M35 cargo truck was rated to carry 5000 pounds (2300 kg) off-road or 10000 pounds (4500 kg) on roads.

Gun Truck “Puff The Tragic Wagon”, 88th Transportation Company at Camp Radcliff, An Khê, 1966. The name was a takeoff of a popular 1963 song “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, written by Peter Yarrow of the American folk group “Peter, Paul and Mary”.

Gun Truck “Puff The Tragic Wagon” had “KILLER II JR” painted on the rear and it had some modifications made. Unit: 8 Gp, 27 Bn, 88 TC, #3

This is another Gun Truck named “Puff The Tragic Wagon” which shows more than one truck had the same name. Note how the name was painted differently. Unit: 102 Eng Det, 815 Eng, A109

Some early M35 sun trucks were built with armor that fitted within the cargo bed called multi-angled armor. When viewed from above the single plate armor formed a keyhole shape and was also referred to as keyhole armor. It was designed to add more protection by providing multiple convex angles to the armor with the intention of defecting small arms fire and shrapnel away from the crew but in two places it formed concave angles. Also, there was was very little space inside for the crew to operate their weapons. The design was relatively short lived and the keyhole armor was quickly replaced with the single walled, four sided, armored fighting box.

Gun Truck “MOON’S PUB” had a Andy Capp comic strip character painted on the sides of its multi-angled “keyhole” armor. Unit: 8 Gp, 124 Bn, 563 TC


QUAD 50 GUN TRUCKS

The quad 50 mounting four M2HB Browning .50 Caliber heavy machine guns was developed during WWII by the W. L. Maxson Company as an anti-aircraft weapon and it was mounted on the M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC) half-track. It was also found to be very effective against enemy ground troops, especially during the 1950-53 Korean War against Chinese human wave attacks where it received the nickname, “The Meat Chopper”.

The M55 Machine Gun Trailer Mount was the M45 Maxson quad 50 turret mounted on a M20 trailer. In Vietnam, the Maxson unit including trailer or just the Maxson unit by itself was mounted in the cargo bed of a M35 2½-ton or M54 5-ton truck. The four electrically synchronized .50 cal MGs which could fire 2000 rounds per minute had a new, more powerful generator. The old WWII “tombstone” ammo cans were replaced with larger new ammo cans and the gun barrels had gun flash suppressors mounted. A typical quad 50 gun truck would had a crew of 6, a driver, NCO in charge (NCOIC), gunner and several loaders. Names on quad 50 gun trucks can sometimes be confusing since the name on the Maxson turret and gun shields could be different from the name on the host truck itself.

M35 2½-ton Quad 50 Gun Truck “NANCY” was very well known.

Units:
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 444 TC, #72
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 444 TC, #55
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 88 TC, #66 (Late Dec 1968, no stars on doors)
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 28 TC, #9

M54 5-ton Quad 50 Gun Truck “BOUNTY HUNTER” had the name on the turret and on the side shields. Note the field built storage bin mounted to the rear of the cargo bed. The crew was credited with surprising and wiping out a large number of Viet Cong (VC) when they were caught crossing a road.

Units:
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 28 TC, #74
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 444 TC, #80
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 444 TC, #74 (photo)

This is another photo of Gun Truck “BOUNTY HUNTER” on a highway. The rear half of the truck is coated with reddish dust and a crewman had wiped off the dust covering the bumper codes. In northern Vietnam, the heavy monsoon rains wash away rich humus from the highlands leaving slow-dissolving alumina and iron oxides which gave the soil its characteristic reddish color.

Film: QUAD 50’S OF THE VIETNAM WAR


M54 TRUCK

The M39 series 5-ton 6×6 truck (G744) was a family of heavy tactical trucks built for the US Armed Forces and was the primary heavy truck of the US Army and US Marine forces during the Vietnam War, and was also used by the US Navy, US Air Force, and ARVN forces. The M54 truck was the standard cargo version of the series. It had a 7 foot (2.1 m) × 14 foot (4.3 m) low-sided cargo bed with a bottom-hinged tailgate. Side racks, troop seats, and overhead bows with a canvas cover were standard and a front-mounted winch was optional.

Gun Truck “Uncle Meat” was armed with three .50 Cal MGs with two of them on a twin mount. The rear section of the cargo bed on many gun trucks carried a supply of spare tires.

Units:
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 523 TC, #201
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #201
509 Gp, 8 RRFS, GT 147

Gun Truck “Uncle Meat” is parked between Gun Trucks “Executioner” and “Babysitters” with their red, white and blue hood fronts, after being transferred to the 8 RRFS (8th Radio Research Field Station). Painted on the center of the front bumper was “God is my Shotgun”. In 1972, “Uncle Meat” had mounted a M213 .50 Cal MG which was used as a pintle-mounted door gun on UH-1H helicopters feed by the M59 armament subsystem.

Gun Truck “Uncle Meat” was named after a 1969 double album released by Frank Zappa and “The Mothers Of Invention.” Sandra Hurvitz was a singer and flautist who performed with the Mothers during their 1967 concert series. She came up with the name “Uncle Meat”. Zappa liked the name and would introduce Sandy to the audience as “Uncle Meat”. After a couple of months, she no longer wanted to be “Uncle Meat” and left the group. Zappa moved on and used the name for the group’s 5th album.

Audio Clip: Uncle Meat: Main Title Theme

In the early 1970’s, Sandy Hurvitz changed her name to Essra Mohawk, “Essra” (S-ra) is an abbreviated form of Sandra. Some of Generation X might recognize her voice from the mid-1970’s Saturday morning TV series “Schoolhouse Rock!”, as she lent her voice to “Interjections!”, “Mother Necessity” and “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage”. She also sang the theme song to “Teeny Little Super Guy”, a regular segment on the popular 1980’s children’s TV series “Sesame Street”.

Gun Truck “PSYCHOTIC REACTION” went through a number of different names. It previous was named “Nowhere Man” with “Crosstown Truth” painted on front bumper and it was changed to “Psychotic Reaction”. The name later changed to “The Judge”, “Kelley’s Heroes” (1970 war movie), and then back to “Psychotic Reaction” again. Then it became “Devil’s Partisan” and later “Pandemonium”.

Units:
QNSC, 27 Bn, 88 TC, #101
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 88 TC, #101

Gun Truck “LIL SURESHOT” has a forward fighting box raised above the cab with three .50 Cal MGs. The rear section of the cargo bed appears to be large enough to hold a whole set of 10 spare tires, in case all the tires get shot out in an ambush. Two crewmen are getting some always needed sleep in the cool shade underneath the truck.

Units:
5 Gp, 805 TC, #200
26 GP, 39 Bn, 805 TC, #23 (“Gear Jammers” painted on hood.)

Gun Trucks “SNOOPY”, “THE RED BARON” and “FRUSTRATION” are lined up. Note Gun Truck “THE RED BARON” has a M134 mini-gun mounted and the non-regulation white outlining around the bumper codes on all three trucks. Unit: QNSC, 27 Bn, 444 TC, (#82 -“SNOOPY”, #84 – “THE RED BARON”, #83 – “FRUSTRATION”)

There were three gun trucks that were named “SNOOPY”. Two were M35 gun trucks with early armor of 27 Bn, 28 TC and 54 Bn, 666 TC. This third gun truck was actually named “SNOOPY II”. Note the “II” painted next to Snoopy’s helmet in these photos. Snoopy is a character from Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz and Snoopy is the pet beagle of the comic strip’s main character, Charlie Brown.

Gun Truck “SNOOPY II” also mounted a rare weapon at the rear of the armored bed, a 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher.

This is a photo of Gun Truck “THE RED BARON” during a rebuilt or repaint. The bumper codes had not been repainted yet. This is a good view of the M134 mini-gun in its custom built mount which is painted red.

Gun Trucks “SNOOPY” and “THE RED BARON” are a matching pair. Although the Red Baron was not portrayed in the Peanuts comic strip, Snoopy laid on top of his doghouse dreaming of being a WWI ace flying a Sopwith Camel fighter over France battling the infamous Red Baron. Snoopy’s battle scene was animated and aired in this US Halloween holiday TV special.

Clip: It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966) – Snoopy and The Red Baron

Gun Truck “FRUSTRATION I” AKA “FRUSTRATION” was pronounced Frustration One. Frustration Two was a M151 gun jeep. It had previous names “PURE POISON” and “RUNNIN BARE”. The letters of the name “FRUSTRATION” were repainted several times in different colors.

Gun Truck “THE REBEL” had an unique one of a kind box design with double-hulled armor that was slanted outward which supposedly provided more internal space for the gun crew. The truck was previously named “Pure Hell”, “Nixon’s Hired Assassins”, and “The Assassin!”. Note the fog lights mounted under the front bumper.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 57 TC, #195
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 512 TC, #58 (Photo?)

This is another photo of Gun Truck “THE REBEL” taken in Phu Bai in late 1971. The bumper codes on the rear are illegible. Note the ladder mounted on the rear.

Photo: Doug Kibbey

Gun Truck “BLACK WIDOW” was “dead lined” for having no brakes and it was previously named “True Grit” (1969 western movie starring John Wayne). “BLACK WIDOW” was heavily damaged in an ambush between Qu Nhon and Charang Valley near a small VC village on the night of 25 April 1970.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #310 – ambushed on 25 April 1970
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #314

Gun Truck “LITTLE RESPECT” with “To Charles With Love” painted on the center of the front bumper was armed with two mini-guns, two .50 cal MGs and two M60 MGs.

Units:
QNSC, 27 Bn, 444 TC, #80
QNSC, 27 Bn, 597 TC, #103


APC GUN TRUCKS

A number of M54 5-ton trucks were converted into hybrid vehicles called APC gun trucks and sometimes they were referred to as instant gun trucks. The tracks and complete drive train were stripped from an acquired M113 APC. The engine and fuel tanks were probably also removed. The stripped APC hull was mounted into the M54 truck’s cargo bed usually facing forward.

The cold-rolled M113 hull was made of an aluminum, manganese and magnesium alloy and its armor thickness varied from .75 to 1.25 inches (19 to 31.75 mm). The alloy armor provided protection against small arms fire and small shell fragments, but was not very effective against blasts from RPG’s, mortars or land mines. The MG gun shields from the Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV) kit were usually installed.

The stripped M113 hull was quite heavy and added a considerable strain on the M54 truck engine which greatly diminished acceleration. The extra weight on the suspension also created a detrimental effect on the truck’s steering, breaking and other handling characteristics which were not good to start with. With the heavy loaded M113 hull mounted in the cargo bed of the truck, it became somewhat top heavy and the resulting high center of gravity made the combination very prone to rollovers.

This is an early APC gun truck conversion which has not yet received a name. This photo shows the lower M113 hull minus its tracks and suspension.

The name lettering is white and orange on Gun Truck “THE LIFER”. The Sergeant Snorkel type character is from the Beetle Bailey comic strip. In military slang, a “Lifer” is a solider who made the service his career and most likely had volunteered for multiple tours of duty in Vietnam.

Units:
80 Gp, 563 TC, #148
80 Gp, 52 Bn, 63 TC, #148
26 Gp, 124 Bn, 63 TC, #148

On the rear of Gun Truck “THE LIFER” was “Killing is Our Business, And Business is GOOD!”. Note the small white skull and cross bones painted on the exclamation point.

Gun Truck “COLONEL” AKA “THE COLONEL” has “ROAD RUNNER” painted on the nose of the hood. The name painted on the center of the front bumper is illeg1ble. Note the US flag flying on the radio antenna.

Units:
80 Gp, 52 Bn, 363 TC, #141 (Photo)
5 Gp, 52 Bn, 363 TC, #148

This the right side view of Gun Truck “THE COLONEL”. Note the Road Runner cartoon character painted on the open rear hatch of the M113 APC hull.

Gun Truck “KING COBRA” was previously named “COBRA” and nicknamed “The Five Aces”. On the front bumper was “Dirty Third” and it had large snakes painted on the sides. Note the crudely painted white star on the cab door. Unit: 8 Gp, 27 Bn, 597 TC, #100

The 360th Transportation Company had a number of gun trucks with the M113 APC hull mounted backwards facing to the rear. Supposedly it placed more protective armor behind the driver’s back. A few known gun trucks with this configuration were named “FROM HELL IT CAME” (1957 Sci-Fi horror movie), “GROGHAN’S HERO’S”, “NOBODY’S CHILD”, “MISCARRIAGE”, “ROACH COACH”, and “THE JUDGE”.

This unnamed gun truck which probably was just acquired has the M113 APC hull mounted backwards. Note it only has a single M60 machine gun mounted for protection. This photo gives a good view of the M113 APC lower front hull with the tracks and sprockets removed.


ENGINEER GUN TRUCKS

Many combat engineer units found it necessary to build their own gun trucks for security of mine sweeping operations, protecting their convoys, construction sites and base perimeters. When the dump trucks were converted to gun trucks, they were no longer required to haul regular cargo. The M51 5-ton dump truck made an excellent gun truck. The heavy hauling characteristics made it ideal to handle the weight of single or doubled spaced armor, various weapons and plenty of ammunition.

M51 dump gun truck “INVADER II” belonged to the 937th Group, 299th Engineers, B-32. It was previously named “Shallow of Death” and the “II” indicate it was the second truck built with that name.

The engineers built this gun truck on a variant of the M54 Truck, a M328 Bridge Transporting Stake Truck. The M328 had a stake body 20 feet (6.1 meters) long by 7 feet (2.1 meters) wide for carrying bridging equipment and components. It had a roller on the rear to help unloading and small winches on the side for securing cargo. The stake sides were removable to enable oversize loads to be carried. This truck had the largest tires in the series, 14.00×20, and used with dual rear tires. The other models in the M54 series had 11.00×20 or 12.00×20 size tires.

This gun truck named “Road Runners” with a Road Runner cartoon character belonged to the 4th Platoon, 553rd Engineer Company (Float Bridge). They did more convoying than bridge building. The bridge building they did do included ferry landing areas, temporary replacements for blown facilities, and natural disaster assistance (monsoon flooding). Although bridging was their primary mission, in actual practice they spent most of their time convoying and hauling supplies for construction battalions. Their unit location – near Cam Rahn Bay – was for contingency bridging should the mainland bridge is blown. This truck became the trailing vehicle in all of their convoys. “Road Runners” became the 4th platoon’s motto. Note that the removable stake sides were installed reversed with the planks facing outwards and it has a full ACAV kit installed with “BEEP! BEEP!” painted across the commander’s MG gun shield.

This is the right side of the same truck. Note the large number “4” painted on the hatch on the rear of the M113 APC hull. The truck was later renamed “Lead Zeppelin” after the popular British rock band.

This is another engineer gun truck based on a M328 truck belonging to the 2nd Platoon, 509th Engineer Company named “V.C. BIRTH CONTROL – THE PILL”. Note the large spare tire mounted on the front of the M113 APC hull. To the right is the rear hull of a M706 V-100 Cadillac Gage Commando armored car which were mainly used by MP and Security Force units.

This the other side of Gun Truck “V.C BIRTH CONTROL – THE PILL”. Note it now has the ACAV gun shields installed.


HAZARDOUS ROUTES

Route 19 was not the only dangerous place for convoys to travel on. Any road or highway in Vietnam was potentially dangerous such as Routes 1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 19A (bypass), 20, 21 and other smaller unpaved roads that are not even on the map. Some roads were more dangerous than others at only certain times and many had treacherous mountain passes which had to be traveled through. The nickname “Ambush Alley” was given to several different places in Vietnam where there were a high number of ambushes took place.

DEO HAI VAN PASS

The name in Vietnamese means “The Pass in The Clouds”. It was a beautiful mountain pass but very dangerous. The road was paved and wound over a mountain that served as the northern approach to the DaNang area. With the South China Sea on one side of the road and a steep mountain on the other, extremely thick fog made a hair raising ride. The north side around a waterfall was where most of the ambushes occurred on the return trip from Bhu Bai. The mountain had a series of switchbacks carved into it facing another sheer rock cliff with a large waterfall. The enemy used the many natural caves and tunnels there to hide in and ambush convoys. In late August and early September 1971, two battalions of NVA regulars moved into this area overnight and wrecked havoc on convoys traveling in both directions trying to close the road with daily ambushes.

DA LAT PASS

Located on Route 11 between the city of Da Lat and Phan Rang air base, Da Lat Pass was the scene of a great many enemy ambushes. The steep grades, twisting curves and thick vegetation made it a prime location for enemy activity.

BAO LOC PASS

Located between Di Linh and Da Lat on Route 20, this mountain pass was very dangerous to travel through at anytime due to heavy vegetation, steep drop-offs and tight turns.

This diagram shows the enemy hot spots for the area of operations of the 8th Transportation Group.

Twin M60D machine guns are mounted behind the cab of Gun Truck “COLD SWEAT”. The truck’s radio is behind the driver’s head on the left with the phone laying on top.

In convoys, the ratio was one gun truck to about every ten cargo/tanker trucks. Many gun truck crews did not really like escorting tanker trucks because they exploded when hit by enemy rockets. Do not know who was braver, the gun truck crewman riding in a open top gun truck or the truck driver driving a tanker truck full of flammable fuel.

A grim reminder for the truckers, wreckage of a destroyed tanker truck remain on the side of the highway from a past ambush.

This photo was taken soon after an ambush in Mang Giang Pass. The tanker truck in the center appears to have taken a head on RPG hit and convoy trucks are driving around the wreckage. In the upper right hand corner is a M37 truck and wrecker of the Maintenance Platoon about to tow the wreck back to the base. A M113 APC is standing by providing security. The gun trucks had moved on with the convoy.

This view is around the bend of the ambush site above with the M37 truck and wrecker parked on the side of the highway. Another M113 APC is standing guard off to the right. Note how close the tree line is to the highway.

A convoy of empty trucks of the 541st Transportation Company are driving through Mang Giang Pass in 1968. Note the truck driver scanning the hillside while sitting upright on the wooden cargo bed rail. To the right on the highway shoulder is the remains of a road grader.

This is my close up of the photo above. The third 6×6 truck in the column is odd as it is missing its rear pair of wheels on the left side.

This an aerial view of the “Devil’s Hairpin” in An Khê Pass, 1969. US engineers had cleared most of the trees surrounding the hairpin turn and the defoliant Agent Orange was heavily sprayed over the surrounding jungle.

Gun Truck “Brutus” sits disabled alongside Route 19 after an ambush in which several vehicles were destroyed on 21 November 1970. An enemy mortar round exploded under the front left fender blowing out both front tires. The blast went through the cab floorboard and shrapnel mortally wounded the driver, SP/4 Jimmy Ray Callison.

Units:
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #10
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #142

The original Gun Truck “ACE OF SPADES” (#306) was a typical early M54 in 1968 with single armor bolted to the outside of a non-drop side bed. The ace of spades logo changed slightly a number of times depending on what the current crew decided and about seven different ace of spades cards were painted on the sides of the truck. The armored box was later transferred to a newer M54A2C drop-side model with #114. It was updated to include extra hinged armor on the doors and windshield and the single armor was doubled and placed inside the cargo bed. On 16 February 1971, “ACE OF SPADES” #114 was completely destroyed when it crashed into a ravine on Route 9. The truck rolled over and landed upside down at the edge of a river bed killing the driver and severely injuring the gunner.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #306
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #327
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #114
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #109

The 669th Transportation Company built Gun Truck “SATANS LI’L ANGEL” in 1968. On the night of 20 February 1971 during Operation Lam Son 719/Dewey Canyon II , it was destroyed in a major ambush. The armored box from “SATANS LI’L ANGEL” was transferred to 523rd Transportation Company truck #316 and was renamed “PROUD AMERICAN”, however the gun truck crew did not even had a chance to paint the new name on the sides before it was completely destroyed in yet another ambush 20 days later, 12 March 1971, on Route 19.

Units:
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 669 TC, #326
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 669 TC, #326
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #316


METAL OF HONOR

Gun truck crews felt committed to their fellow crew members where many of them would not take their R&R leave and would drive right up to the last day. Their sense of dedication obliged them to fill in for other crew members regardless of the company. Gun truck crews felt such a special bond with their trucks and with each other that each would sacrifice his life to save any fellow crew member. Gun truck crews were considered the elite truck drivers and did not turn down any missions or requests.

Specialist Four Larry G. Dahl, a gunner, served in the 359th Transportation Company of the 27th Transportation Battalion and on 21 November 1970, he along with Sergeant Richard Bond, Ronald Mallory and Charles Hauser became the crew of the Gun Truck “Brutus”.

On 23 February 1971, two fuel convoys were on Route 19 between Pleiku and Qui Nhon. Bond had that day off so Sergeant Hector Diaz filled in as the NCOIC of the Gun Truck “Brutus”. Although Hauser was not the NCOIC, he operated the radio since he knew the truck. The lead fuel convoy escorted by gun trucks of the 545th Transportation Company was ambushed by a significantly large enemy force as it crossed over the top of An Khê Pass. Gun Truck “Play Boys” was in the 545th and was a spare truck that day so it escorted jet fuel in 5000 gallon tanker trucks of the 359th Transportation Company.

A NVA company of about 50 soldiers initiated the ambush on the convoy at the top of An Khê Pass by disabling the Gun Truck “The Creeper” with a rocket, blowing out the tires. Sergeant McCatchin, NCOIC of the “The Creeper” called for help. The “Play Boys” immediately responded to the call and raced towards the kill zone. One NVA soldier stood up in the ditch near the hill and fired his B-40 (North Vietnamese clone of the Soviet RPG-2) rocket at the cab of “Play Boys”. The gun truck immediately stopped so the rocket whizzed pass while the crew blew away the enemy soldier with .50 cal machine gun fire. The “Play Boys” then proceeded around the bend into the kill zone. One fuel tanker had been hit and was leaking fuel on the road and another had jackknifed and was abandoned. Although immobilized, the crew of “The Creeper” still placed suppressive fire on the enemy. The convoy commander, a lieutenant, was riding in the “Play Boys” and he directed the gun truck to pull up next to the incapacitated tanker truck about 30 yards (27.4 meters) from “The Creeper”. “Play Boys” placed suppressive fire on the enemy and about 15 enemy soldiers either ran away from the fire or moved for better cover. The fighting continued for nearly 20 minutes, which was an eternity to those involved. The convoy commander called for air support and a tank from the nearest checkpoint to help. Whenever a lull occurred in the fighting, more enemy soldiers would move to better positions and the fighting intensified.

Gun Truck “The Creeper” is parked among other gun trucks and it was previously named “Devils Workshop”. In the foreground on the left is the rear of M37 Gun Truck “Otto II”.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 669 TC, #126
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 545 TC, #141
QNSC, 27 Bn, 545 TC, #141
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #542

Gun Truck “PLAY BOYS” carries the famous white bunny logo of the well known men’s magazine founded by Hugh Hefner on the sides and rear. “Peace Maker” was painted on the front bumper.

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 545 TC, #106
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 545 TC, #242
8 Gp, 27 Bn, 545 TC, #92
QNSC, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #242

The 359th convoy at the bottom of the pass had halted and their gun trucks radioed the ambushed convoy asking if they needed any help. Gun trucks from the 359th, “The Misfits”, “Brutus”, “The Untouchable” and M151 gun jeep “Li’l Brutus”, raced up the mountain pass into the kill zone and joined the fire fight. The ambushed convoy heard the mini-gun of “Brutus” firing as it came around the bend and “Brutus” stopped near the embankment where the NVA soldier had fired the B-40 rocket at “Play Boys”. The ambush then had five gun trucks and a tank all firing on the enemy. During the fire fight, the mini-gun on “Brutus” jammed and Diaz and Hauser quickly went to work to clear it. An NVA soldier then stood up and lobbed a grenade into the gun box of “Brutus.” Dahl saw the grenade first and without hesitation threw his body on the grenade and saved the lives of his crew-mates. The other gun truck crews saw “Brutus” erupt and knew their comrades were seriously injured. Mallory, the driver, heard the explosion and was splattered with blood. Wounded but still conscious, Hauser called Mallory over the internal radio and told him to get them out of there. Mallory quickly maneuvered “Brutus” out of the kill zone and raced to the nearest checkpoint where a MEDEVAC helicopter was waiting to pick up the wounded crew members.

Larry G. Dahl was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for giving his life for his crew-mates and Dahl has proved that even truck drivers could become heroes.

M151 gun jeep “Li’l Brutus” parked next to Gun Truck “Brutus”.

These two photos are of the M134 mini-gun mounted in Gun Truck “Brutus”. Note the crudely made uneven frame with handles and the pintle mount. Behind the mini-gun in the photo on the right is a .50 Cal MG mounted on the side of the armored box.

Gun Truck “Brutus” was named after a character in the Popeye the Sailor cartoons. In 1960, Popeye the Sailor first appeared in the British TV Comic (weekly published magazine) where “Bluto” (Popeye’s nemesis in the theatrical cartoons 1933-1957) was changed to “Brutus”. “Brutus” (often pronounced “Brutusk” by Popeye) also appeared in the 1960–62 “Popeye the Sailor” US TV cartoons.

Video: Why Was Bluto’s Name Changed To Brutus In 1960’s Popeye Cartoons?

Gun Truck “Ball of Confusion” was destroyed in an ambush and its armor was used to build Gun Truck “The Untouchable” on a M54A2C truck. The truck name probably referred to the US TV series “The Untouchables” (1959-63) which starred Robert Stack who portrayed Prohibition agent Eliot Ness and his team of law enforcement agents in early 1930’s Chicago battling Al Capone, mobsters and gangsters. Unit: QNSC, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #342

The crew is washing the red Vietnamese soil off of Gun Truck “The Untouchable”. Painted on the tailgate is “ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE”. Note the red chevron pattern on the mud flaps.

Gun Truck “The Misfits” was armed with two .50 Cal MGs and a mini-gun. Unit: QNSC, 27 Bn, 359 TC, #242


GUN TRUCK REIGN ENDS

From late 1967 through to late 1972, gun trucks were around in one form or another. During this period, gun trucks had evolved from basic, crude security vehicles to complex rolling weapon systems and became the most important wheeled vehicles of the Vietnam War.

In early 1972 during the “Vietnamization” process, the South Vietnamese took on a more significant role in the defense of their country, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) took over more responsibilities. The ARVN began to take on a false sense of bravado and became more hostile, even showing aggressiveness toward US forces. The US soldiers also had a long standing resentment toward the ARVN for many reasons. Incidents of hostility and harassment between ARVN and US forces began to occur more frequently and there were also armed stand-offs that took place between US Gun Trucks and the ARVN. These incidents were defused by HQ commands before any shots were fired but it only elevated the anger and resentment between the two armies.

As the ARVN took over more control and more US forces rotated back to the USA, US convoys became smaller and no longer needed as many gun trucks for protection as in previous years. A number of gun trucks were transferred to Military Region II (MRII) in Qui Nhon and was consolidated into the 2nd Transportation Company. A few other trucks were assigned to the 572nd Transportation Company under USARV’s 277th S&S Battalion around the Da Nang area.

Most of the remaining gun trucks where the host vehicle were in fairly good condition were retrograded, all weapons were removed and the armored boxes was either scrapped or in a few instances given to the ARVN which in turn angered many former gun truck crews.

One gun truck did survive the war completely intact.


EVE OF DESTRUCTION

Gun Truck “Eve of Destruction” was named after a popular song written by P. F. Sloan in mid-1964. Several artists had recorded the song, but the best known recording was by Barry McGuire in July 1965.

Video: Barry McGuire – Eve Of Destruction (Lyrics)

Units:
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #127 (Photo)
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #122
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #305
8 Gp, 54 Bn, 523 TC, #214
8 Gp, 124 Bn, 523 TC, #214 (Photo)
26 Gp, 39 Bn, 523 TC, #214 (Photo)

This is an very early “Eve of Destruction” (#127) which was built in the fall of 1967 with a single armored box. The truck had many changes to its weaponry, graphics and armor configurations throughout its history, including a number of different host trucks. Note the position of “EVE OF” and the strange letter “N” in the name.

This is another photo of “Eve of Destruction” being serviced by the Maintenance Platoon. The meaning of the white circle on the cab armored door is unknown.

This is my close up of the Vietnamese message painted on the cab door which was a warning to the civilians not to ride their bicycles along side the gun truck similar to the warning message which the 1-69th Armor painted on their M48A3 Patton tanks.

This is a later rebuild of “Eve of Destruction” (#214) which shows how the rear armor was moved inside the tailgate. The white sign painted on the tailgate is a convoy warning for drivers to maintain an 100 meter (109 yards) interval.

This is an overhead view of “Eve of Destruction” with the 26 Group. Painted on the center of the front bumper is “To Charles With Love” and the yellow convoy marking on the nose of the hood has a black line on the inner edge.

On 31 May 1971, the 523rd Transportation Company commanding officer, Captain Donald K. Voightritter sent a formal request to Brigadier General Alton G. Post, in charge of all logistics, US Army Vietnam (1970-1971) asking that Gun Truck “Eve Of Destruction” to be shipped back to the USA in order to preserve the historic vehicle. This gun truck was chosen because it represented the combat proven design with double walled spaced armor, four .50 caliber machine guns, double armored slanted cab doors and hinged armored windshield with bullet resistant vision blocks. Voightritter’s request was approved and the gun truck was prepared to be shipped to Fort Euists, Virginia with all it weaponry and ammunition crated up and stored in the gun box. “Eve Of Destruction” was the ONLY gun truck to have been shipped back to the USA completely intact.

Gun Truck “Eve Of Destruction” on the dock in Vietnam and being loaded on a ship destined for the USA. It arrived at Fort Euists, Virginia on 11 June 1971.

Due to a lack of inside space, “Eve Of Destruction” sat outside on the U.S. Army Transportation Museum’s grounds for many years exposed to the weather. The truck was moved a few times to different locations on the grounds and sustained minor damage. The bumper codes were changed to reflect the museum ownership. The original MP siren on the driver’s fender was removed at some point and a star was added to the doors.

Funds were obtained and a renovation to the museum was undertaken, at which time “Eve Of Destruction” was moved indoors and restored to its original condition. When the gun truck first arrived at the museum, the bumper codes were the last unit, the 26th Group, 39th Battalion. During the restoration, the bumper codes were changed to the earlier unit, the 8th Group, 124th Battalion.

“Eve Of Destruction” is currently on static display at the museum.

U.S. Army Transportation Museum
300 Washington Blvd., Besson Hall
Fort Eustis, Virginia 23604
Phone: (757) 878-1115

MUSEUM WEBSITE

Also on display:
M274 Mechanical Mule, Utility ½-ton, 4×4
Huey UH-1 helicopter
WWII Jeep, GMC DUKW and CCKW 353 2½-ton 6×6 cargo truck
WWI cargo truck

Walk around: TOADMAN’S TANK PICTURES


BOOKS

Gun Trucks, Timothy J. Kutta, Squadron/Signal Publications Inc, 1996
The Hard Ride, Vietnam Gun Trucks, James Lyles, Rhame House Publishers Inc, 2009
The Hard Ride, Vietnam Gun Trucks;Part Two, James Lyles, Rhame House Publishers Inc, April 2011
Gun Trucks in Vietnam, Have Guns – Will Travel, James Lyles, Rhame House Publishers Inc, May 2012


MODEL KITS AND DECALS

1/35:
Academy 1323 M151A1 Light Utility Truck – 2002
AFV Club AF35034 U.S. Army M35A1 Quad- .50 Gun Truck – 2011
AFV Club AF35300 M54A2 5-ton 6×6 Cargo Truck – 2018
AFV Club AF35323 US Army Gun Truck “King Cobra” M113 + M54 – 2020
Real Model RM35163 M54 Gun Truck “Black Widow” For AFV CLUB kits Conversion Set – 2018
Real Model RM35164 M54 Gun Truck “Satan’s Lil Angel” AFV CLUB Conversion Set – 2018
Real Model RM35165 M54 Gun Truck “Ace of Spades” AFV CLUB Conversion Set – 2018
Real Model RM35166 M54 Gun Truck “Uncle Meat” AFV CLUB Conversion Set – 2018
Roden 806 М37 US 3/4 ton 4×4 cargo truck – 2016

Archer AR35263 M54 Vietnam era gun truck “RED BARON” – 2007
Archer AR35264 M54 Vietnam era gun truck “LITTLE RESPECT” – 2007
Star Decals 35-C1176 Vietnam Gun Trucks #1. M54 5ton Truck with M113 – 2018
Star Decals 35-C1177 Vietnam Gun Trucks #2 ‘The COLONEL’ ‘ROAD RUNNER’ – 2018
Star Decals 35-C1177 Vietnam Gun Trucks #3 ‘The COLONEL’ 3d blue paint job – 2018
Star Decals 35-C1200 Vietnam Gun Trucks #7. M37 3/4-ton trucks – 2019
Echelon Fine Details D356274 Gun Trucks in Vietnam: M54s (Part 4) – 2019
Echelon Fine Details D356281 M151 Gun Trucks in Vietnam – 2020

1/48:
Propaganda Kompany 48525 M151A1 (OOP Resin Kit) – 2003
Tank Workshop TWS 48054 M151A1 (OOP Resin Kit)
Czech Master Kits (CMK) 3036 M-151 Vietnam armored version-conversion set – 200?

1/72:
Armo 72107 M35A1 Quad .50 cal Gun Truck – 200?
ESCI/ERTL 8601 M113 ACAV with U.S. Special Forces – 2005
Armada Hobby N72106 M54 5ton Truck with Low Side Wall (Resin Kit) – 2020
Armada Hobby N72107 M54 5ton Truck with High Side Wall (Resin kit) – 2020
Armada Hobby N72110 M54 Armored Truck, Vietnam War (Resin kit) – 2020
Hobby Den HD005 U.S. Army Ford Mutt M151 Armored GPV – 2011

Star Decals 72-A1090 Vietnam Gun Trucks M54 5-ton truck with M113 APC.
“The Lifer” and “The Colonel” – 2021
Skytrex AD70 Vietnam M35 armored truck marking Decal set (1:76)

2 thoughts on “Gun Trucks in Vietnam

  1. Hi mike, really appreciate the work you’ve done here, similiar with me i used to make websites in MS Frontpage still works lol, keep it up

    Like

  2. Amazing article, great photos and so much information. Thanks for putting this all together Mike, very fascinating!

    Like

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