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Vietnam War US Army Body Armor


New Romantic
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New Romantic

I'm posting this topic in the fieldgear section b/c I feel it's a more appropriate section rather than the helmets section where it would soon be buried under the numerous topics posted daily.

 

This topic covers various body armor used by the US Army in South Vietnam. I'm covering the basic models but feel free to add to this topic, including variable body armor, air crew body armor, experimental pieces, etc.

 

The first type of body armor used the Army in SVN was the M1952A which was developed in the early 1950's and issued late in the Korean War. Meant to protect the soldier from shrapnel, it was a hot and heavy item when worn in the climate of Vietnam. Unless a unit commander mandated wear of the vest, it was mostly worn on short term operations or in situations that did not require excessive movement. Studying photographs of the 25th ID in 1966, I find it interesting that soldiers would wear the vest on during early operations from Feb-March. These operations most likely took place within close proximity of the Cu Chi base camp as it's early defenders were assigned the grueling task to expand the perimeter and the area was heavily booby trapped.

 

Key distinguishing features of the M1952A vest are the lack of a collar and epaulettes on the shoulder. The two web strips above each pocket could hold several hand grenades. It went on to be the Army's standard protective vest through 1968 when it was eventually replaced by the 3/4 collar vest.

post-599-1205631152.jpg

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New Romantic

The next vest is the 3/4 collar vest, also from 1966. One thing about this vest that has always puzzled me is that it is often refered to as the M69, or 1969 vest, which in my opinion is no more than a "collectorism.". Clearly this example and the previous one predate 1969 and photographs from 1967 show the vest begining to appear that year. Other vests I have seen have also been dated 68. The true M69 designation appears on the 1970 and later vest with velcro closing front flap. These earlier vests close with buttons and a zipper.

post-599-1205631863.jpg

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nguoi tien su

The 2nd is really great.

The 3rd one is very interesting due to the early date.

On the next generation, the zipper is replaced by a large velcro band.

 

Although no directly US, here is the photo of the evolution of the 4th model US produced for the vietnamese army.

It is very similar, with smaller sizes of course and a slight difference on the two cotton bands (they are smaller with only 2 places to fix the grenades, instead of 3 on the US model).

 

gpearv10.jpg

 

Note that the label is clearly US, "(RVNAF)" as been added on the production line.

 

gpearv11.jpg

 

NTS

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I also have one of these it is the same size and contract. I got it in Saigon in 2006.

Here are a couple of pics of the manual that came with the vest.

uniforms085-1.jpg

uniforms086-1.jpg

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New Romantic

Nice additions guys and thanks for posting the SVN version. I think I've also seen earlier 3/4 collar vests made prior to 1970 for the ARVN.

 

The vest in post #6 with velcro closing is what I consider to be the true M69 and the tag is so marked.

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I just found a brand new specimen hidden in a corner of a surplus store last week for $30. It is literally brand new. My tag has the same info as picture #5 with the addition of Rachman MFG Co. and the NSN is different even though it is a Medium as well. The NSN in mine is 8470-122-1300. The instruction tag is more extensive to include cleaning instructions. Got to love it wen you fall into a good find.

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New Romantic
I just found a brand new specimen hidden in a corner of a surplus store last week for $30. It is literally brand new. My tag has the same info as picture #5 with the addition of Rachman MFG Co. and the NSN is different even though it is a Medium as well. The NSN in mine is 8470-122-1300. The instruction tag is more extensive to include cleaning instructions. Got to love it wen you fall into a good find.

 

Not bad for $30, I'm assuming your vest has the earlier zipper and buttoned front? The 122 designation seems to have been added in 1969 and I have a 69 dated vest with that number. Really I don't seen any differences b/w my 1966 vest with 823 and the 1969 122. I have read that the 122 had stiffeners added but but the 1966 and 1969 feel the same to me.

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Not bad for $30, I'm assuming your vest has the earlier zipper and buttoned front? The 122 designation seems to have been added in 1969 and I have a 69 dated vest with that number. Really I don't seen any differences b/w my 1966 vest with 823 and the 1969 122. I have read that the 122 had stiffeners added but but the 1966 and 1969 feel the same to me.

 

I'm not familiar with these vest enough to know what the earlier zipper is, but it is heavy zinc steel with a little cloth pull tab on the bottom left zipper half. The flap is held down with snaps, not buttons. This vest is so new that the paint on the zipper is still unscratched. Wife will shoot me when I get it home, but it all for the better good of collecting.

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New Romantic
I'm not familiar with these vest enough to know what the earlier zipper is, but it is heavy zinc steel with a little cloth pull tab on the bottom left zipper half. The flap is held down with snaps, not buttons. This vest is so new that the paint on the zipper is still unscratched. Wife will shoot me when I get it home, but it all for the better good of collecting.

 

Sorry I should have specified if you had the velcro closure or the zipper and buttons. The zipper and buttons are what I meant by "earlier". What date is your vest? I you don't know how to read the date an example would be- DSA-100-68-xxxx ( 1968), DSA-100-69-xxxx ( 1969). 1966 dated items were only marked DSA-100-xxxx ( No Date).

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  • 1 month later...

I have also wanted to find an example of the South Vietnamese body armor. I have scoured surplus shops and gun shows for years and have seen only one example. The example I saw was many years ago at Ohio Gun Collectors Association. The seller was aking $125 for his and I just didn't have the money at the time. I was maybe 15 years old and that was a lot of money back then. I am kicking myself to this day. Thanks for showing the SV body armor.

Arch

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  • 3 months later...
I also have one of these it is the same size and contract. I got it in Saigon in 2006.
Lucky guy. No more good size in HCMC. Except for skinny teens.
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New Romantic: Thank you for identification my fragmention vest.

Its same as your 2nd described model whereto and I couldnt find any info.

Do you have any pics of label and markings? Unfortunately I have unreadable label.

Can post pics.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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