M-106 4.2-inch Mortar Carrier

Fitted with a 4.2-inch mortar on a rotating turntable mounted in the rear compartment, the M-106 provided quick and highly mobile firepower. The mortar could be dismounted and used externally from the vehicle and the base plate and tripod were often carried on the outside of the vehicle when not in use. Another variant, the M-125, was an 81-mm mortar carrier.

The mortar is mounted on a turntable in the passenger compartment and is fired to the rear of the vehicle through the rear top hatch opening. A base plate and tripod was often mounted externally so that the mortar could be dismounted from the vehicle and used externally.

The floor of the basic M-113 had a reinforced beam added in order to compensate for some of the recoil from the weapon. Average ammo load was 88 rounds. A two-part circular hatch allowed for traversing the mortar within the vehicle.

M106 and Crew firing Mortar  

Close up of crew firing mortar

M-125 81mm Mortar Carrier

The 81mm mortar could be traversed through 360 degrees and fired from within the vehicle. Using a base plate and tripod, the mortar could also be used from outside of the vehicle. The firing hatch comprised a three-piece assembly which provided adequate clearance for the firing of the weapon.

Rear view of M125 being prepared to fire

The vehicle carried 114 rounds of 81mm ammunition.

M-577A1 Field Aid Station

Based on an enlarged version of the standard M-113, the M-577 had a raised rear compartment to allow personnel to stand upright in the vehicle. This variant was employed as a Command Post, Communications Vehicle, Artillery FDC,  as well as a Field Aid Station pictured below (see Picture Gallery).

M577A1 Field Aid Station

The M-577 was a standard M-113 but with a raised rear compartment allowing passengers to stand upright. In this configuration, one of the primary roles was as a Command & Control vehicle.

M577 in column

Operating as an Armored Command Post the M-577 carried a large tent extension which could be erected at the rear of the vehicle to provide more space for the operational staff. The vehicle could accommodate a four man operational team as well as the vehicle driver with standing room sufficient for staff to read large maps on map boards.

Interior of tent extension

An externally mounted petrol engine, mounted on the front superstructure of the vehicle, provided power for the command compartment. Map boards and radio equipment allowed for fully independent operations in the field.

Used as a mobile Tactical Operations Center, they were usually set up directly behind the front lines of a combat operations area. Often grouped together as several vehicles the TOC could be quite high level.

Front view of M577 auxilliary engine

One particular use of the vehicle was as an armored ambulance which accompanied the armored troops in the field. The M-577, with it's enlarged crew compartment could be fitted out as a fully functional field aid station or, using a field modification kit, allowed the mounting of litters for the transport of wounded from the combat zone.

M577A1 Field Aid Station

M-163 Vulcan

Originally designed for an air defence role, the M-163 mounted a six-barrel 20mm vulcun gatling gun. Used in the ground assault role similar to the M-42 Duster, the M-163 could lay down some devastating fire-power. One problem however was the vast quantity of ammunition required to keep the vehicle fully operational (see Picture Gallery).

M163 Vulcan

Only a small number of M-113's were converted to carry the Vulcan 20mm six-barreled machine gun.

Designated the M-163, the vehicle was originally intended as an air defense vehicle capable of firing up to 3000 rounds per minute.

M163 Vulcan in action

Since there was little if no air threat for US Army units in RVN the vehicles were switched to convoy support duty. The M-163 could lay down a withering hail of fire and was ideal for sweeping areas of vegetation which were adjacent to the convoy route. However, due to the high rate of fire ammunition usage and supply was a problem. The M-163 carried about 2,300 rounds of 20mm ammo on-board - enough for barely 1 minute of fire.

M163 fording water obstacle

The additional weight of the M61 Vulcan Air Defense System, mounted in a purpose designed turret, destabilized the vehicle when used in an amphibious role.

To counter this the vehicle was provided with additional flotation devices fitted on either side of the hull and on the vehicles trim vane.

M-132 Self Propelled Flame-Thrower

With the crew compartment converted for the carrying of napalm and a turret mounting a flame canon, the M-132, though particularly vulnerable itself was nonetheless a formidable assault vehicle and a very successful variant (see Picture Gallery).

M132 Self-propelled Flame Thrower

The first M-132's arrived in RVN in August 1962 but saw little practical use. In December 1964, 1st Armored Cavalry took delivery of two vehicles in order to conduct field tests which proved highly successful. The recommendation from 1st AC was that each regiment should incorporate four M-132's along with two M-113 service vehicles.

Zippo in action

Zippo at rest!

Nicknamed the 'Zippo' after the popular american cigarette lighter, instead of the standard commander's cupola the M-132 had a small enclosed one-man turret. The turret had a dual mount consisting of a flame-gun and a machine-gun.

200 gallons of napalm fuel was carried on-board, stored in the converted crew compartment.

Close view of Zippo turret Zippo clearing vegetation





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