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M16 rifle in Vietnam


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#1 phildagreek

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:16 PM

After some info if anyone can help. I'm working on some Master Box figures for the US in Vietnam that will probably go with my PBR in due course. In the set there is a very nice M16 / M203 rifle combo, it's the M16 with the M203 grenade launcher underneath.

I don't remember seeing this particular weapon in any Vietnam era pictures etc, just the single shot grenade launcher commonly called the "blooper". Wikipedia tells me that the weapon was developed in 1967/68 and first issued to the troops in the "early" 70's.

Now my little PBR could happily be in 71 or 72, but has anyone ever seen the M16 / M203 in Vietnam?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you all.

#2 Giorgio N

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:29 PM

I wasn't there so I did not actually see them, but I know they were used, although in small numbers ! :lol:
A number of XM203 (around 500) were sent for testing in 1969 to a number of US Army units. The evaluation lasted 3 months and the launchers were distributed to the 1st, 4th, 25th, 101st divisions and the 11th cavarly regiment.
After the successful results, the weapon was officially introduced, but it took a while to achieve the production rates needed, so much that by 1971 only 600 launchers had been built (by AAI). The production then switched to Colt and things started to get better. Still, the number of M203s that arrived in Vietnam was small, although a few dozens were also delivered to the ARVN.
If your diorama is set in 1971-72 it is possible that an M203 could be on your PBR. Alternatively, you might check if any of the units involved in the tests ever worked with PBRs in 1969.
The launcher most commonly seen in pictures under the M16 is the XM148, however the most common of all grenade launchers in Vietnam was the M79, that was fielded in huge numbers.

Edited by Giorgio N, 19 November 2012 - 01:29 PM.


#3 phildagreek

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 02:42 PM

Thank you! Now that's what I call information! Thanks again.

#4 Doug Rogers

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 03:21 PM

A 'good' friend of mine went backpacking in the Far East some years ago. When he came back, he came to visit me and said, 'Oh, I've got you a souvenir' and with that pulled out of his bag a badly corroded, still live, 40mm blooper grenade!!

Rang the Police, they asked me to take it round to them and I signed it over to them.

#5 phildagreek

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 04:37 PM

nice that they asked you to take it round.

#6 bigh827

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:59 AM

If the M-79 rounds are like the M-203's you do not ever want to pick up that has been fired. The war head arms after spinning a set number of times, so all you have to do is drop it or role it across your desk and boom.

#7 HL-10

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 08:44 AM

They did have M-16s fitted with grenade launchers towards the end of the Vietnam war, but I'm not sure if they were of the same design as the one Tamiya issue.
Its always dodgy brining back souvenirs. A friend of mine brought back what he was told was a deactivated Mills bomb from Ypres, only to find out it was still live!
There was no pin, only corrosion and mud held the fly off lever in place!

#8 Giorgio N

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:10 PM

They did have M-16s fitted with grenade launchers towards the end of the Vietnam war, but I'm not sure if they were of the same design as the one Tamiya issue.
Its always dodgy brining back souvenirs. A friend of mine brought back what he was told was a deactivated Mills bomb from Ypres, only to find out it was still live!
There was no pin, only corrosion and mud held the fly off lever in place!


The original XM148 type was issued in quite large numbers for an experimental weapon in January 1967 and some remained in theatre til the end of the war although they had been officially withdrawn way earlier. So in a sense rifle-attached grenade launchers were used for several years in Vietnam. I'm not too familiar with military kits (my interest in firearms is aimed at the 1/1 types...), but I believe that only an old Dragon box dedicated to the various weapons of the AR15 family included a model of an 1/35 XM148 attached to an M16 while there are plenty of models of the M203, that as said before was used in tests in 1969 and then returned in theatre around 1971-72.

Speaking of "souvenirs", the rule is that every kind of ammunition (or firearm) should be treated as if functioning unless clearly and evidently deactivated (there are ways to see if this has been done properly). And nobody without proper training should handle them if there's no confirmation of a proper deactivation.
The case of a police officer asking someone to carry a grenade to their offices is IMHO particularly bad: the grenade should have been taken in custody by a properly trained person with all the necessary precautions. Unless maybe (and I say maybe...) the person is military personnel with proper training that can provide the necessary precautions.

#9 Andrew March

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 06:38 PM

The M16A1/M203 was in use in Vietnam from 1972 onwards, in small numbers has been said and can actually be seen in the recent History channel series, lost films of the Vietnam war. The M16A1/M203 can easily be distinguished from the more recent models by (1) the flash hider, which is a slightly longer tappered model on the A1 (2) the lack of removable carry handle (3) the shorter 20 round VN style magazine, newer models use obviously the curved 30 round mag.

Pics available on request, I have one sitting upstairs.

Edited by Andrew March, 28 November 2012 - 06:40 PM.


#10 phildagreek

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:36 PM

Really? Bet it keeps the cats away!

#11 Niall

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:59 PM

A slight correction to Andrew's post - The M16A2 did not have a removable carrying handle, that is the M16A3 and M16A4(1 has 3 round burst the other full auto options).

As to the original subject I would have thought a Pibber crew would use the M79 as they are not carrying 2 guns in the field. Also the M79 can fire longer rounds, like CS gas and possibly smoke and illiminating rounds than the M203.

#12 phildagreek

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:15 PM

Good point, it's not for the boat crew though, it's for the SEALS getting on the SEAL support craft with the PBR, all part of the bigger picture [I hope, one day, maybe.]

#13 General Jumbo

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:19 PM

I'm pretty sure they had them in the TV show "Call of Duty" so it must be true!

#14 Niall

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:55 PM

Quick google search("Navy Seals Vietnam") found a photo of a Seal with a CAR15 with an M203 -
http://www.warboats....es/car15012.jpg

#15 Andrew March

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:57 AM

Good point, it's not for the boat crew though, it's for the SEALS getting on the SEAL support craft with the PBR, all part of the bigger picture [I hope, one day, maybe.]


In which case, SEALS had a number of unusual arms including the china lake pump action 40mm grenade launcher, not sure if they had M16/M203 variant or not, probably did though, they had pretty much everything else. The phrase 'Always outnumbered, never outgunned' refers to SEALS use of massive firepower in small teams during the SEAC.

#16 Giorgio N

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:31 AM

If your team consists of Navy Seals, they received the first M203 launchers in 1970 (10 XM203 issued to Team Two). They did not replace completely the older XM148 until the end of the Vietnam war... but still, it means that if your diorama is set in 1971-2 your Seals can be armed with this.


The M16A1/M203 was in use in Vietnam from 1972 onwards, in small numbers has been said and can actually be seen in the recent History channel series, lost films of the Vietnam war. The M16A1/M203 can easily be distinguished from the more recent models by (1) the flash hider, which is a slightly longer tappered model on the A1 (2) the lack of removable carry handle (3) the shorter 20 round VN style magazine, newer models use obviously the curved 30 round mag.

Pics available on request, I have one sitting upstairs.


The magazine is not an identifying feature of any M16 type, as curved magazines were used with the original M16 and the M16A1 originally used straight magazines before switching to curved ones. Later weapons can use the straight magazines too, although these have not been issued for decades. Colt studied a number of magazines and the definitive curved one took some time to work properly (although some soldiers might tell that they never really did..). The final design was introduced in 1969 but it took a year for it to be issued. Before that date there were a number of experimental types and some XM177 curved magazines around. Again, if the diorama is set after 1971 the curved magazine would be the one to use, any earlier would likely have a straight 20 Rds. magazine.
in a 1971-72 timeframe, the most common rifle would have been the M16A1. To be honest the difference between this and the M16 in 1/35 are probably negligible. Same for an M203 equipped A1 and A2: with the handguard removed, the differences in flash hider, forward assist and stock are quite small to be noticed in this scale.

Another small thing to mention is that units like the Seals always made large use of carbine versions of the M16 with the grenade launcher. The most common in Vietnam was the XM177E1, whose production however stopped in 1970. It's known that Seal teams tried very hard to keep these weapons serviceable until the end of the war, when they were then finally replaced by other versions.

Edited by Giorgio N, 03 December 2012 - 10:34 AM.

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#17 phildagreek

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:36 AM

Thanks!

#18 snapper_city

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:00 PM

Quick google search("Navy Seals Vietnam") found a photo of a Seal with a CAR15 with an M203 

 

Looks like a XM177E2 with M203.

XM177E2 has the long flash hider compared to the XM177E1.

 

The CAR15 is literally a compressed M16A1. Smooth triangular foregrip & compact retractable stock. Not the same stock as the XM177's & M4's of today.



#19 Giorgio N

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:13 PM

Looks like a XM177E2 with M203.

XM177E2 has the long flash hider compared to the XM177E1.

 

The CAR15 is literally a compressed M16A1. Smooth triangular foregrip & compact retractable stock. Not the same stock as the XM177's & M4's of today.

I apologise in advance if I sound pedantic.... :lol:

Anyway, the XM177E1 and E2 have the same flash hider (or better, the same length of flash hider as later E2 had some differences). What is longer on the E2 is the barrel that measures 11.5" against the E1 10". The increase was aimed at solving a number of reliability issues with the E1 due to the too short barrel. The flash hider length for both was 4.5".

You're right about the CAR-15, although the same name has been used as a generic indicator for most post-Vietnam war carbine versions of the AR15/M16.



#20 snapper_city

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 04:56 PM

Anyway, the XM177E1 and E2 have the same flash hider (or better, the same length of flash hider as later E2 had some differences). What is longer on the E2 is the barrel that measures 11.5" against the E1 10". The increase was aimed at solving a number of reliability issues with the E1 due to the too short barrel. The flash hider length for both was 4.5".

You're right about the CAR-15, although the same name has been used as a generic indicator for most post-Vietnam war carbine versions of the AR15/M16.

 

You learn something new everyday, The longer barrel was needed because the powder didn't have enough time to burn completely causing excessive muzzle flash & fouling up the internals.

 

I know what you mean about the term CAR-15, that was me being pedantic... :guitar: