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Mission 24 - Weapons
John Kerry's Silver Star

 Friendly Forces
Patrol Craft Fast (Swift) Boat
These boats were designed shortly after 1965 when a North Vietnamese boat was found smuggling large amounts of arms, ammo, and explosives into the South. The Navy quickly issued a report calling for small, quick, patrol boats with 500 mile patrol ranges to interdict supplies and run counter-insurgency missions. The Swift Boat was born. [show more...]

Factoid: Before the 50-ft. aluminum boats were custom-made for this work, the first Swift Boats were loaned to the Navy by the US Coast Guard. But the Navy eventually had the Stewart Seacraft company design a model based on their boats that supplied oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Length: 50 ft.
Beam: 13.5 ft.
Hull: 1/4 inch aluminum alloy plate
Weight (empty): 36,913 lbs.
Weight (loaded): 47,047 lbs.
Speed: 32 knots

Twin .50-caliber Browning machine guns
Installed in a ring turret on the Swift Boat, these belt-fed guns could blast away with lethal accuracy at anything up to 1,000 yards away and hit ranges much greater. The weapon was also equipped with an 81mm mortar for tougher targets. [show more...]

Factoid: The Browning was designed by John Moses Browning, an American inventor who first built a machine gun called “the Peacemaker” used in the Spanish-American War.

Rate of fire: 550/min.
Ammunition: 500 to 600 rounds per gun
Max. range: 7,000 yards

M60 Machine Gun
Light enough to be carried on patrol, the M60 fired rounds off a gas-powered belt feed and could be mounted on a bipod or tripod. It’s been in use since 1950, and its only drawback is that its cartridge belts are heavy and limit the amount of ammo a soldier can take into combat.The US Army replaced it with the M249 SAW in 1984. [show more...]

Factoid: Though its effective range is much shorter, the M60 can fire rounds up to 2 miles.

Length: 42.4 in.
Weight: 18.75 lbs.
Max. effective range: : 3,609 ft.
Rate of fire: 550 rounds per minute

M-79 grenade launcher
Making its debut in the Vietnam War, the M-79 was a breech-loaded, single barrel grenade launcher that could fire a single devastating high-explosive shell up to 300 yards away. Aiming is done with front and back sites, and the gun fires 40mm rounds. It was eventually replaced by the M203. [show more...]

Factoid: The M-79 was nicknamed the Blooper.

Length: Approx. 2 ft.
Weight: 2 lbs.
Muzzle velocity: 75 yds./second

Ithaca riot gun
A pump-action gun first released in 1937, this was based on the Remington Model 17 pump by the Ithaca Gun Company which had been making rifles since 1883. Combat models in Vietnam were made with 18 in. barrels as “riot guns” and 20 in. barrels as “trench guns.” [show more...]

Factoid: Shotguns have been used by American troops since the Revolution. And today the Ithaca M37 is used by SEAL teams.

Length: Approx. 43 in.
Weight: Approx. 7 lbs.
Gauge: 12
Feed: 6 or 8 rounds

UH-1 Helicopter
Known as the "Huey," this was the workhorse for the US troops in the Vietnam War because it was maneuverable under fire and could fly low and land in tight spots. It brought troops and supplies into the field, provided close air support during combat, and evacuated the wounded. [show more...]

Factoid: The reason for the helicopter’s nickname is because that its original designation was HU-1, and HU stood for “Helicopter Utility.”

Rotor Diameter: 44 ft
Length: 53 ft
Width: 14 ft
Height: 5,055 lbs.
Max Speed: 138 mph
Ceiling: 21,000 ft
Range: 286 miles
Crew: 2

F-4 Phantom
Equipped with a 20mm cannon and air-to-air missiles, the Phantom could take on MiG’s and hit ground targets too well-protected for the slow-moving B-52 to reach. It could also prep target areas by blanketing them with chaff to scramble enemy radar.[show more...]

Factoid: One of the most popular fighter jock songs of the war was a number called “Tchepone,” written by F-4 pilot Toby Hughes. Here is the score.

Wingspan: 38 ft.
Length: 58 ft.
Height: 16.5 ft.
Weight: 58,000 lbs.
Cruising speed: 590 mph
Ceiling: 59,600 ft.
Range: 1,750 miles
Crew: Two

The Chinese and the Soviet provided versions of this rifle to Communist forces in Vietnam. Known as a "peasant rifle," it was simple, reliable, and fired a 7.62mm round with good accuracy at up to 400 yards. [show more...]

Factoid: The SKS carbine version was called the "Chico," and had a greater range than the AK-47.

Weight: 9 lbs
Length: 40 in.
Muzzle velocity: 2,411 fps


John Kerry's Silver Star

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