The L1A1 is the Australian version of the Belgian FN FAL rifle. It entered into service with the Australian Army in 1959. The L1A1 was a reliable, hard-hitting, gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle, with a maximum battle range of 300 metres and a practical rate of fire of 20 rounds per minute. In Vietnam the L1A1 was the standard personal weapon of the Australian soldier. With a full 20 round magazine it weighed 4.96Kg. The standard issue was 5 magazines per rifleman but almost all carried as many filled magazines that they could get their hands on, often dispensing with food rations in order to find room for the extra ammunition. The rational to this was that the extra 7.62 mm rounds fired from an SLR rifle would do more damage than throwing a can of Ham and Lima Beans. The soldier pictured here can be seen carrying two bandoliers each of 100 linked 7.62 mm rounds for his section’s machine gun, encased in two plastic sleeves.
Type: Battle rifle
Place of origin: Belgium
Wars: Cold War, Vietnam War, Falklands War
Manufacturer: Fabrique Nationale (FN)
Number built: Over 1 million
Weight: 4.0–4.96 kg (8.8–10.2 lb)
Length: 1,090 mm (43 in)
Barrel length: 533 mm (21 in)
Cartridge: 7.62 × 51 mm NATO
Calibre: 7.62 mm (.308 in)
Action: Gas-operated, tilting block
Rate of fire: 20 rounds/min semi auto
Muzzle velocity: 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)
Effective range: 600 m (656 yd)
Feed system: 20-round detachable box magazine,
The 7.62mm M60 Machine Gun entered service with the Australian Army in 1960. Gas operated, air cooled and belt fed, with a quick change barrel to counter overheating during sustained fire. The rate of fire was 550 rounds per minute (cyclic), with a muzzle velocity of 860 metres per second. Maximum effective range, 860 metres bipod and 1800 metres tripod. Ammunition fired; ball, tracer, incendiary and armour piercing. In South Vietnam it was the main firepower of the Australian infantry rifle section.
Type: Machine gun
Place of origin: United States
In service: 1957
Used by: Australia, Denmark, Philippines, South Korea, United States
Manufacturer: Saco Defence, U.S. Ordnance
Weight: 10.5 kg (23.1 lb)
Length: 1,077 mm (42 in)
Barrel length: 560 mm (22 in)
Cartridge: 7.62 × 51 mm NATO
Calibre: 7.62 mm (.308 in)
Action: Gas-operated, open bolt
Rate of fire: 550 round/min
Muzzle velocity: 860 m/s (2,800 ft/s)
Effective range: 1,100 m (1,200 yd)
Maximum range: 3,725 m (4,074 yd)
Feed system: Disintegrating belt
The Browning 9-mm pistol is carried by officers and soldiers who require a sidearm that can be rapidly drawn and fired, even in confined spaces. The pistol consists of a barrel, a slide, a breech block, a frame, and a 13 round magazine.
Weight: 1 kg (with empty magazine)
Length: 19.69 cm
Barrel length: 12.38 cm
Operation: recoil operated, semi-automatic
Feed: 13-round detachable magazine
Sights: Rear – fixed square notch, Front – tapered post
Sight Radius: 159mm
Muzzle Velocity: 350 m/s
M16 (more formally United States Rifle, Calibre 5.56 mm, M16) is the U.S. military designation for a family (XM16, M16/A1/A2/A3/A4) of rifles derived from the Armalite AR-15 and further developed by Colt starting in the mid-20th century. It has been the primary infantry rifle of the United States military since the 1960s. The M16 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm calibre, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle, with a rotating bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. It is constructed of steel, aluminium and composite plastics. It replaced the 9 mm Owen Machine Carbine.
Type: Service rifle
Place of origin: United States of America
Weight: 3.5Kg (7.5 Lbs)
Length: 1,006 mm (39.5 in)
Barrel length: 508 mm (20 in)
Cartridge: 5.56 by 45 mm NATO, .223 Remington
Calibre: 5.56 mm (.223 in)
Action: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire: 750 to 900 round/min, cyclic
Muzzle velocity: 975 m/s (3,200 ft/s), 930 m/s (3,050 ft/s) (see
Effective range: 550 m (600 yd)
Feed system: 20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
The M79 is a 40 x 46 mm grenade launcher that first appeared during the Vietnam War. Commonly known as the “Thump-Gun”, “Thumper”, or “Blooper” in US service, it is also known to some Australian units as the “Wombat Gun”.
Resembling a sawn-off shotgun, the grenade launcher was designed as a close-support weapon for the infantry. It plugged the gap between the maximum throwing distance of a hand grenade and the lowest range of supporting mortars. The M79 was a single shot, shoulder-fired weapon which broke open for loading into the breech. It fired a 40 mm grenade and had a killing range of 5 metres. Its weight loaded, was 3Kg, with a muzzle velocity of 75 metres per second and a maximum range of 400 metres.
Type: Grenade launcher
Weight: 8.10 kg (17.81 lbs)
Length: 737 mm (29 in)
Barrel length: 355 mm
Cartridge: 40 mm grenade
Action: Single shot, breech loaded
Rate of fire: Single shot
Effective range: 50-300 metres
Feed system: Single shot, breech loaded
Sights: Iron sight
Muzzle Velocity: 75 metres per second
Radius: Enough explosive within a steel casing that upon impact with the target would produce over 300 fragments at 1,524 metres per second within a lethal radius of up to 5 metres.
Arming Device: Stabilised in flight by the spin imparted on it by the rifled barrel, the grenade rotated at 3,700rpm, this in turn after approximately 15 meters of flight armed the grenade.
The combination M16A1 automatic rifle and M203 ( a version of the M79) grenade launcher was produced to avoid the problem of a infantryman having to carry a grenade launcher as well as a weapon for personal protection. The 5.56mm M16A1 is a gas operated, magazine-fed rifle capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire with an effective range of 300 metres and a practical rate of fire of 60 rpm. The M79 40mm grenade launcher was used to provide additional fire support for the infantry by delivering high explosive, parachute flares and canister rounds . The high explosive had a maximum range of 400 metres and a casualty radius of 5 metres. While both weapons were used separately by infantry sections, the combination was used extensively by SAS troops.
A smooth bodied high explosive grenade, it weighed 425g with a fuse delay of five seconds. The average throwing distance was 40 metres. Its blast radius was ten metres, with a killing distance of 5 metres and a wounding distance of up to 25 metres. Our members were initially issued with two M26 grenades per man.
The M113A1 armoured personnel carrier (APC), shown in the cutaway drawing above, was used for transporting troops and other tasks in Vietnam. A reliable, U.S. made vehicle, the APC is amphibious, and with a crew of two, can carry 11 troops. Modifications were made to Australian APC’s as the war progressed, one of them being the fitting of a small turret in which were mounted two machine-guns, either two .30-calobre or a .30 and .50 combination. Some APC’s were fitted with 76mm guns; these vehicles were sent to Nui Dat to provide support for the withdrawal of troops before their return to Australia.
Main Battle Tank
The Centurion was designed at the end of WW2 and has proved capable of development for over 30 years as it is still in service with Canada. Centurion is still being used as a potent weapon with many armies outside of NATO and some variants of Centurion are serving in NATO.
Centurion moves quite gracefully at 22 mph with its 54 tons. The Meteor is a gasoline powered engine and is the same engine used in WW2 aircraft. The capacity of Centurion to absorb punishment has become legendary among armies of the world that have used it in battle. Different variants are available.
Vehicle: Centurion (Main Battle Tank)
Length 32’3″(with gun) 25’7″(hull)
Weight 54 Tons
Main gun 105mm L7A2
Secondary 7.62 coaxial machine gun
7.62 cupola machine gun
Engine: Rolls Royce Meteor
Agent Orange (Dioxin)
In 1961 and 62 the Kennedy administration authorized the use of chemicals to destroy rice crops in South Vietnam. Between 1961 and 1967 the US Air Force sprayed 20 million US gallons (76 million litres) of concentrated herbicides (mainly Agent Orange) over 6 million acres (24,000 km²) of crops and trees, affecting an estimated 13% of South Vietnam’s land. In 1997, an article published by the Wall Street Journal reported that up to half a million children were born with dioxin related deformities, and that the birth defects in South Vietnam were fourfold those in the North. The use of Agent Orange may have been contrary to international rules of war at the time. It is also of note that the most likely victims of such an assault would be small children. A 1967 study by the Agronomy Section of the Japanese Science Council concluded that 3.8 million acres (15,000 km²) of land had been destroyed, killing 1000 peasants and 13,000 livestock.
The M18A1 was standardized in 1960 for the Vietnam War. Its primary use was in perimeter defences and ambushing. The M18A1 comprised of a curved rectangular cast-iron box with spikes fitted to the base. It has an olive coloured plastic casing with the words “Front Toward Enemy” on it. It has two sets of adjustable legs. It is equipped with a knife edge style sight on currently fielded models (older models featured a fixed plastic slit-type sight which was not as effective for aiming and resulted in the mine being aimed too low, shortening the blast radius), and two detonator wells. The weapon and all its accessories are carried in the M7 bandolier. An instruction sheet for the M18A1 is attached to the inside cover of the bandolier.
Weight: 1.6 Kg (3.5Lbs)
Length: 21.5 cm (8 in)
Height: 8 cm (3 in)
Propellant: 680gms (1.5Lbs) composite C4 plastic explosive
Fragmentation: 700 steel ball bearings
Initiator: No 2 electric blasting cap
Australian submachine gun of 9mm calibre.
The 9 millimetre F1 was a standard Australian submachine gun. Issued to Australian army troops in July of 1963 it replaced the Owen machine carbine. The F1 was retired in 1991 and replaced by the F88C Austeyr, an Australian-built version of the Steyr AUG Carbine with slight modifications. The F1 had a robust and simple design and proved useful in close-quarters fighting during the Vietnam War.
The F1 is a simple blowback design firing from an open bolt. It shares many design features with the British Sterling submachine gun. Unlike both the Sterling and its predecessor the Owen the F1 has a fixed wooden stock and pistol grip. A curved detachable box magazine is inserted in a magazine housing on top of the barrel. The butt-plate and pistol-grip are identical to those on the L1A1 SLR.
Calibre: 9x19mm Parabellum
Mass: 3.7 kg empty 4.30 kg loaded
Length: 714 mm
Barrel length: 213 mm
Rate of fire: 600-640 rounds per minute
Muzzle Velocity: 366 m/s
Magazine capacity: 34-round detachable box
Effective range: 150 meters
Although not a weapon, nevertheless smoke grenades saved the lives of many Australians by marking directly the location for the ‘Dust Offs’ (casualty evacuation helicopters) and giving wind information. Also when in close contact with the enemy, ‘smoke’ was also used to ‘mark’ the Australian position so that air support would know the location of friendly forces prior to strafing and bombing close enemy targets.
The Owen was the only Australian-designed service firearm of WWII. Evelyn Owen, an inventor from Wollongong, was 24 in July 1939 when he presented his prototype “Machine Carbine” to ordnance officers at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney.
Although somewhat bulky the Owen rapidly became very popular due to its reliability. It was so successful that it was ordered by the US and New Zealand. The Owen was used in front-line service in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It remained a standard weapon of the Australian Army until the early 1960s, 1RAR, 5RAR and 6RAR on their first tours carried the weapon to Vietnam when it was finally declared to be unsuitable and was replaced with the American M15 and M16 automatic rifles.
Place of origin: Australia
Number Built: 50,000
Weight: 4.21Kg (9.37Lb)
Length: 806 mm (32 in)
Barrel Length: 247mm (9.75 in)
Cartridge: 9 mm Parabellum
Calibre: 9 mm
Rate of Fire: 700 round/Min
Muzzle Velocity: 420m/sec (1250 ft/sec)
Feed System: 32 round detachable box magazine.
The weapon consists of a rocket packed inside of a launcher made up of two tubes, one inside the other. While closed, the outer assembly acts as a watertight container for the rocket and the percussion cap-type firing mechanism that activates the rocket. The outer tube contains the trigger, the arming handle, front and rear sights, and the rear cover. The inner tube contains the channel assembly which houses the firing pin assembly, including the detent lever. When extended, the inner tube telescopes outward toward the rear, guided by the channel assembly which rides in an alignment slot in the outer tube’s trigger housing assembly. This causes the detent lever to move under the trigger assembly in the outer tube, both locking the inner tube in the extended position and cocking the weapon. Once armed, the weapon is no longer watertight even if the launcher is collapsed into its original configuration.
When fired, the propellant in the rocket motor completely combusts before leaving the tip of the launcher, producing gases around 1,400 °F (760°C). The rocket propels the 66 mm warhead forward without significant recoil. As the warhead emerges from the launcher, 6 fins spring out from the base of the rocket tube, stabilizing the warhead’s flight. Once fired the launcher is no longer useful and may be discarded. 5RAR soldiers used the M72 primarily against enemy bunker systems.
Length: Extended: less than 1 m (34.67 in). Closed: 0.67 m (24.8 in).
Weight: Complete M72A2: 2.3 kg (5.1 lb).
Firing mechanism: Percussion.
Front sight: reticule graduated in 25 m range increments.
Rear sight: peep sight adjusts automatically to temperature change.
Calibre: 66 mm (2.6 in)
Length: 508 mm (20 in).
Weight: 1.8 kg (2.2 lb).
Muzzle velocity: 145 m/s (475 ft/s).
Minimum range (combat): 10 m (33 ft).
Minimum arming range: 10 m (33 ft).
Maximum range: 1,000 m (3,300 ft).
Maximum effective ranges
Stationary target: 200 m (220 yd)
Moving target: 165 m (180 yd)
Beyond these ranges, there is less than a 50 % chance of hitting the target.
The M-29 81mm Mortar, is a smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded, high-angle, indirect fire weapon. It consists of a barrel, sight, bipod, and base plate. The M-29 has a greater range, and its circular base plate allows for firing in any direction. High Explosive (HE) Fragmentation and blast. Causes troop casualties and damage to light material. Red Phosphorus (RP), White Phosphorus (WP) Smoke. Used to screen, signal, and act as an incendiary. Illumination: Used to illuminate, signal, and mark.
Ammunition: 81 mm
Max Range: 6,500 m
Weight: 40-52 kg
The Browning .50 machine gun was used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the United States from the 1920s to the present day. It was heavily used during World War II, Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, as well as during operations in Iraq in the 1990s and 2000s. It is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries. It is still in use today. Its primary role was as a perimeter defence weapon for the 1st Australian Task Force.
Type: Heavy machine gun
Place of origin: United States of America
Weight: 38 kg (58 kg w/ tripod)
Length: 1,650 mm (65 in)
Barrel length: 1,140 mm (44⅞ in)
Cartridge: .50 BMG
Calibre: .50 in (12.7 mm)
Action: Recoil-operated; short recoil
Rate of fire: 550 round/min
Muzzle velocity: 3,050 ft/s (930 m/s)
Effective range: 2,000 m (2200 yards)
Feed system: Belt-fed
The AN/PRC-25 is a compact, lightweight, tactical VHF, solid state man-pack radio set. Prototypes of this set were initially tested in 1959. After some modifications, initial distribution began in 1962. It is reported that more than 130,000 sets were produced.
The ANPRC-25 was the main ‘Aussie’ communication hardware in the field. Each platoon had a dedicated radio operator (Signaller). When the Battalion, during its first tour, arrived in Vietnam with not enough radio sets, it required some members to beg, borrow, or steal from American units.
Frequency Coverage: 30 to 75.95 MHz in 2 bands
RF Power Output: 1 to 1.5 Watts
Range: 5 miles (8km)
Power Requirements: 12.5 VDC (electronics) and 3 VDC (tube filament).