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KEVIN LYLES
VIETNAM: US UNIFORMS IN COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

COMBAT VEHICLE CREWMAN, US MARINES

The Marines had employed armoured vehicles in Vietnam from the outset and by 1966 had a number of tracked vehicles in service. Most widely used was the Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel 5 (LVTP-5) of the armoured amphibious companies. This amphibious tractor or 'Amtrack' was the Marines' equivalent of the armoured personnel carrier used by the Army. Designed for ship-to-shore transport, the LVTP was commonly used for ferrying troops in inundated areas and coastal regions. Amtracks of the 1st Armored Amphibious Company had turret-mounted 105mm howitzers. The Marine Corps also made wide use of the M-48 Main Battle Tank and its M-67 variant known as the 'flametank'. One vehicle unique to the Corps was the 'Ontos', a small tracked vehicle armed with six 106mm recoilless rifles. The Ontos (from the Greek, meaning 'the Thing') was designed as an anti-tank vehicle but was much employed as an infantry support weapon and bunker-buster. It would later prove immensely valuable against entrenched enemy snipers on the streets of Hue.

The Combat Vehicle Crewman's Helmet or CVC was common to the Marine Corps and the Army. The helmet featured built-in earphones and a boom-type microphone compatible with the vehicle's internal communications equipment. Often seen worn with the CVC were the Sun, Wind and Dust Goggles used by drivers of tracked vehicles to protect the eyes when on the move. A neckerchief fashioned from a triangular bandage is similarly used to keep dust out of the nose and mouth.

OG107 utility trousers are worn with black combat boots and a white undershirt.

The internal ballistic plates of the M1955 body armour can clearly be seen through the fabric of the cover. These overlapping curved Doron plates provided protection to the vital areas of the abdomen and lower back. The rest of the vest is constructed of thirteen layers of flexible ballistic nylon including a three-quarter collar. The 'rope-ridge' on the right shoulder was designed to prevent the sling of a rifle from slipping off. The vest, like most body armour, would protect the vital areas from low velocity fragments from grenades, booby traps, etc., but would rarely withstand small arms projectiles.

Armoured crews carried a variety of sidearms as personal protection, the most common being the M1911A1 pistol. Shoulder holsters were favoured due to the limited room inside a vehicle; this example is of World War 2/Korean War vintage.

The ammunition can holds linked rounds for the .50 cal. machine gun with which many armoured vehicles were equipped.

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