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unusual armor vest worn by USN Swift boat crew


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#1 BOLO

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 08:32 PM

Boat Gunner, Vietnam

A side view of an American swift boat gunner on a river in the southern Delta VN 1968.

notice the extra padding on top of the shoulder?

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#2 filupe

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 10:53 PM

I have had the opportunity years ago to examine one of these vests. The armour for the main body is actually made up of small overlapping (titanium?) metal plates whereas the 'shoulder pads' are of ballistic nylon. Externally it looks akin to an OD PASGT vest. A little more is written about it in Osprey's Men-at-arms series # 157 'Flak Jackets'

#3 coolman

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:25 PM

it's called the variable armour vest

#4 New Romantic

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:18 PM

I looked up vests in Stanton's Vietnam Uniforms book. The vest shown here appears to be the body armour, fragmentation protective, vest with 3/4 collar, titanium/ nylon composite Stanton mentions on pages 92- 94. According to Stanton the vest weighed 9 lbs and had the shoulder pads as seen in the photos and rifle patches were sewn to the shoulder and chest, also seen here. Stanton goes on to mention the vest " was not used often in Vietnam b/c of it's greater stiffness, inflexibility, and heat retention."

#5 DiGilio

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 06:31 PM

One of these vests was on ebay not too long ago. It went up to over $800 with reserve not met.

#6 Steve Brannan

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 06:55 PM

I was on Swifts in Vietnam 69-70 and all I ever had was a flak jacket that would float but wouldn't stop a rifle bullet. I would have been glad to have had something better. Also had the flak pants that always fell around your ankles when things got hot. I guess I just puckered too much.
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#7 BOLO

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:09 PM

I was on Swifts in Vietnam 69-70 and all I ever had was a flak jacket that would float but wouldn't stop a rifle bullet. I would have been glad to have had something better. Also had the flak pants that always fell around your ankles when things got hot. I guess I just puckered too much.


cool photo Steve, thanks for sharing your personal experience as a Swift boat sailor http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

Edited by BOLO, 12 February 2009 - 08:09 PM.


#8 Bob Hudson

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:18 PM

This is not the same vest is it? It's called "variable armor" too. (this is from the always helpful http://www.vietnamge...kit.aspx?kit=31 )

variablearmor.jpg

#9 coolman

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:49 PM

This is not the same vest is it? It's called "variable armor" too. (this is from the always helpful http://www.vietnamge...kit.aspx?kit=31 )

variablearmor.jpg

that's for helicopter crews...the pilots version with armor only to the front & the door gunners both to the front & back

#10 New Romantic

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 09:38 PM

A bit of clarification on the vests shown and discussed thus far needs to be done.

The vest being worn by the Swift Boat crew member is the 3/4 collar vest of titanium/ nylon composite as I had mentioned and not the variable armour.

Forum Support posted a photo of the variable armour, though it is similar in appearance to the air crew armor Coolman mentions.

Here is link which has some good photos. For some reason I can't save them to my desktop.

http://www.vietnamge...kit.aspx?kit=31

#11 Captainofthe7th

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 03:53 AM

Posted Image


I love his helmet graffiti!

Rob

#12 New Romantic

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 04:50 PM

Here's the vest in question, currently on Bay State Militaria's site.

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#13 New Romantic

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 04:51 PM

The 1966 contract label.

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