Australian M113A1 hull top ammunition stowage – Vietnam War 1965-1972

 

A group of M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carriers and a water tanker (background) at the Petrol Oil and Lubricant point, Nui Dat.
Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.



by John Myszka

 

Introduction

The first Australian M113A1 Armoured personnel carriers were delivered to Vietnam in June 1965.  The vehicles were armed with a .50 inch (12.7mm) calibre machine gun to be operated by the commander.

After a short time of combat experience extra 50 calibre ammunition liners were carried internally under the troop seats.  This soon became difficult as it required the infantry troops to pass up liners to the commander.  The ammunition liners then were carried on the hull roof within easy reach of the commander.

During the period 1965 to 1969 the ammunition liners were carried in a number of ways:

By mid 1969 rectangular angle iron frames seem to have been constructed and again lashed to the aerial brushguards.  These structures had either no upright “legs” or did have “legs” but were still not welded to the hull roof.

It was not until 1970 that the more iconic angle iron structure at the lower edge was welded to “legs” which in turn were welded to the hull roof but also had a flat steel upper support which allowed loose liners to be stored safely.

These two layer liners storage racks came in various lengths and shapes.

All this is based on the Australian War Memorial (AWM) images on their website (www.awn.gov.au) and is by observation. Illustration of these arrangements from the AWM image archive can be found using these image references:

Image

Description

DNE/65/0164/VN P04670.011

1965 liners strapped down to spot welded tiedowns

P05923.021

1968 50 shield  - liners in wooden box

P03856.005

1968 50 shield  - held on roof by saplings

EKN/69/0060/VN

1969 August angle iron structure

P04656.578

1969 50 shield - liners held in by wooden plank (Normie Rowe’s APC)

P04656.780

1969 ammo liners strapped down to spot welded tiedowns

COM/69/0297/VN

1969 liners in a wooden box one side only

P04568.002

1969 50 shield -  liners in metal box (possibly US 90mm ammo box)

P05132.006

1970 liner in angle iron frame but held in place by strapping & showing  “legs”

 

 

 

Summary

Ammunition liners were carried inside the M113A1 APCs under the troop compartment seats.  These were soon carried on the roof and were generally strapped down to spot welded tiedowns points in groups of two-three liners.
The strapping inhibited easy access to extra liners so the liners were carried in wooden or metal boxes from tank ammunition.  At the same time the liners were carried loose on the roof but boards / star pickets / saplings lashed to the aerial brush guards stopped the liners from falling over board.

From 1969 the early angle iron structures were used without the top rail to store the liners in long rows. The early structures were simply laid on the roof. 

The final version of the RAEME produced angle iron structure had an angle iron base plus a top rail and was mounted on legs.