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ADA in Vietnam – M42 Duster
Image by Fidgit the Time Bandit
The display reads:
ADA in Vietnam – M42 Duster
Combat experience in the Korea War quickly showed that while the M19 40mm Gun Motor Carriage was a capable platform, it needed improvement. By 1952, a new anti-aircraft tank was in development, designated the T141. The new vehicle used the same turret and gun mount from the M19, but mated it with the larger, more powerful M41 Walker Bulldog light tank hull. The resulting vehicle was standardized as the M42 40mm Gun Motor Carriage by 1952 and entered full production that year.
However, with the service entry of the Nike Ajax system in 1953, the Army was focused on missile systems and with the introduction of the Hawk missile in the late 1950s, the M42 was quickly passed to National Guard units and all but removed from the active inventory by 1963.
Just two years later, US forces entered combat in South Vietnam. Two Hawk missile battalions were deployed to provide air defense around Saigon and along the DMZ, but an additional system was needed to cover potential low-altitude threats. In addition to the air defense requirement, the Army also needed a vehicle that could provide heavy firepower for both convoy escort and firebase defense. The M42 was back in demand and by the beginning of 1966, three battalions were formed for service in Vietnam.
Those three units, 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery; 4th Battalion, 60th Artillery; and 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery arrived in-theater by mid-year and immediately had a significant impact on operations in their respective areas of operation. Each “Duster” battalion had a quad .50 battery and searchlight battery attached, forming an air defense task force that could respond to both air and ground threats, day or night.
On 20 June 1968, Air Defense and Field Artillery split the Artillery branch and the Duster, Quad, Searchlight and Hawk units were then designated ADA rather than “Artillery,” with the parenthetical Automatic Weapons, Searchlight or Guided Missile designation.
The story of Army Air Defense in Vietnam provides a fascinating contrast to the operations and equipment of the rest of the branch during the 1960s and early 1970s. While Army Air Defense of the day was focused on the strategic threat of a Soviet nuclear strike and were using the latest technology to deter that threat, the three ADA Duster battalions effectively used weapon systems from the “last war” to provide low altitude air defense and on-call direct fire support to infantry and artillery units across the entirety of South Vietnam from 1966 through 1972.
M42 Duster Specifications:
Weight: 50,000 lbs fully loaded
Height: 9 feet 4 inches
Length: 19 feet
Width: 10 feet 7 inches
Crew: Commander, driver, two loaders, two gunners
Armament: Two M2A1 40mm automatic anti-aircraft guns with 240 rounds per gun; 1-2 7.62 M60 Machine Guns with 1,750 rounds
Main Armament Rate of Fire: 120 rounds per minute, per gun
Engine: Continental AOS-895-3 6-cylinder opposed gasoline engine
Range: 100 miles
Speed 45 mph
The museum’s Duster served with the 1-44th Artillery in 1968.
The Duster occasionally towed the M332 ammunition trailer, which doubled the Duster’s ammunition capacity. However, it would be a liability in combat and would normally be removed before the Duster would be used in the convoy escort role.
Most Dusters in Vietnam carried some form of artwork. Usually the crew would name both the front hatch and the gun shield above the main armament.
Sergeant Mitchell W. Stout was born in Lenoir City, Tennessee on 24 February, 1950. He enlisted in the Army on 15 August 1967 and served his first tour in Vietnam as a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment in the Mekong Delta from August 1968 to August 1969. After completing his first tour, SGT Stout rotated back to the US, but returned to South Vietnam just five months later as a M42 Duster crewman.
Three months into his second tour, SGT Stout was commanding an M42 Duster at the Khe Gio bridge along Route 9, a strategic east-west route that was the supply lifeline to friendly outposts in western I Corps.
SGT Mitchell Stout
C/1-44th Artillery (Automatic Weapons), Khe Gio Bridge
The U.S. Army outpost at Khe Gio Bridge on Highway 9 near the DMZ was overrun by North Vietnamese troops on 12 March 1970. Fourteen Americans held the outpost along with a platoon of ARVN Infantry. Two M42 Dusters from C Battery 1-44th Artillery gave the small force a significant amount of firepower to protect the bridge, while an M151A1 searchlight jeep from G Battery, 29th Artillery provided nighttime battlefield illumination. Of those fourteen Americans, two were killed in action, five wounded and one was captured. Yet they fought valiantly and protected the bridge on Route 9, sparing it from destruction. Sergeant Mitchell Stout’s actions during the battle would earn him a posthumous Medal of Honor:
Sgt. Stout distinguished himself during an attack by a North Vietnamese Army Sapper company on his unit’s firing position at Khe Gio Bridge. Sgt. Stout was in a bunker with members of a searchlight crew when the position came under heavy enemy mortar fire and ground attack. When the intensity of the mortar attack subsided, an enemy grenade was thrown into the bunker. Displaying great courage, Sgt. Stout ran to the grenade, picked it up, and started out of the bunker. As he reached the door, the grenade exploded. By holding the grenade close to his body and shielding its blast, he protected his fellow soldiers in the bunker from further injury or death. Sgt. Stout’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the cost of his own life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the U.S. Army.
Taken December 13th, 2013.
M1025 HMMWV Armament Carrier
Image by greenboxhouse
After the US Military ran a thorough comparative analysis on prototypes developed by three different companies, the XM998 prototype of AM General was found to be not only the lightest, but also to exhibit performance levels beyond expectation. The Humvee features an aluminum body reinforced with a sturdy steel frame. Employing a V8 diesel engine capable of 150hp output as well as an advanced 4WD system, automatic transmission, and power steering. Depending on its variation and employment type, the Humvee, deployed by the US Military in 1985, can serve as a cargo or troop transport vehicle, armament carrier, TOW anti-tank missile or ground-to-air missile employing vehicle, rescue vehicle, and more. The M1025 was fitted for armament, but unlike some of its armed predecessors, the M1025 featured a metal roof in place of a canvas roof and door. The M1025 could be equipped with M2 or M60 machine guns, as well as MK.19 grenade launchers. The Humvee first was deployed to the Panama conflict and later demonstrated incredible mobility during its deployment in the Gulf War. The HUMVEE also was deployed to conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. Currently, this vehicle plays an indispensable role in the U.S. Military. (source: www.tamiya.com/english/products/35263humvee/ )
SE Asia 2006 205 David at firing range Cu Chi tunnels Vietnam
Image by David Holt London
M60 machine gun