How Much Do You Know About the Weapons and Equipment of the Vietnam War?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

Whether you fought on the side of the Communists or the South Vietnamese and Americans, it took guts to grab a rifle and wander into the jungles during the Vietnam War. The dark, dank forests were a quagmire of swamps, booby traps, snakes and enemy bullets. Do you think you’d be brave enough to fight in those conditions?

The Vietnam War was a political nightmare, but in the war zone, the grunts called to arms didn't have time to fuss over diplomacy. Do you know what sort of rifles they used to attack the enemy? When they ventured out on patrol, do you understand the kinds of booby traps they feared at every moment?

Did you know that there were two main factions fighting for the Communists, and that they often had vastly different equipment? One was a regular army … the other was basically a poorly armed guerrilla force.

On the other side, the United States had access to all manner of high-tech weaponry. Can you identify the machine guns the Americans used, and do you know how well (or poorly) those guns worked in the often-squalid conditions of Vietnam?

Many of the weapons America brought to bear in WWII were practically useless in Vietnam, which featured a whole new enemy in a very different environment. Let’s see if you can gather your platoon and make sense of the weapons and vehicles of the Vietnam War!

Which weapon became the standard service rifle for U.S. troops during the Vietnam War?

During the war, the M16 assault rifle became the standard weapon for U.S. troops. Its blend of metal and plastics was a striking departure from old wood-based designs.


The M16 was a replacement for which weapon?

The M16 was meant as a replacement for the M14. The M14 was itself a replacement for the M1 Garand, which had served as a powerful weapon during WWII.


Which rifle did the North Vietnamese use?

The North Vietnamese relied heavily on the AK-47, an assault rifle made famous in the USSR following WWII. The weapon was reliable, rugged and deadly.


What is napalm?

Napalm is jellied gasoline. It was often loaded into canisters and dropped into the jungles, where it incinerated just about everything.


The NVA often deployed the MiG-21, which was what sort of weapon?

The MiG-21 was a Soviet-made jet fighter that harassed American planes throughout the war. Its speed and maneuverability made it a worthy adversary.


A bomb that contains many smaller bombs is called what?

The U.S. used many cluster bombs during the war. One big bomb would detonate and then blast smaller bombs all over the place, greatly increasing the weapon's effectiveness.


A "Claymore" is what type of weapon?

Claymores were directional antipersonnel mines used by U.S. troops. The VC often captured these mines and used them as booby traps which could maim and dismember American troops.


Punji traps relied on ____ to hurt enemy troops.

The VC often set Punji stick traps, sharpened sticks meant to wound enemy soldiers. Often, the sticks were concealed in a deep hole that was then covered for concealment. Then, passing troops would fall and impale themselves on the sticks.


What sort of weapon was the M60?

The M60 was a belt-fed light machine gun introduced at the end of the 1950s. It was usually operated in teams -- one person to shoot, while one or more men carried the ammo.


What was one drawback the M60?

The 23-pound M60 was a beast to lug around in the heat and humidity of Vietnam. Sometimes, though, the M60s firepower was worth the trouble.


True or false, was the NVA air force ever a serious threat during the war?

Compared to American air power, the NVA air force never really had a chance. However, their fighters did manage to create some losses in the American ranks.


What sort of vehicle was the "Huey"?

The U.S. used many UH-1 "Huey" helicopters throughout the war. They ferried many troops in and out of battle zones.


What was the purpose of a "SAM"?

"SAM" stands for "surface-to-air" missile, and the NVA used a lot of these in attempts to shoot down American aircraft. American countermeasures, like jamming, often prevented SAMs from being effective.


True or false, is the AK-47 a fully-automatic assault rifle?

It's true, so long as you hold the trigger, the AK-47 will keep firing until you run out of rounds. It's an ideal weapon for suppressive fire.


What was the purpose of "Agent Orange"?

Americans sprayed Agent Orange -- a toxic herbicide -- by the millions of gallons to take away their enemy's forest cover and to ruin crops. The chemicals caused all sorts of health problems in people who were exposed to it.


Why did the Americans have difficulty deploying armored vehicles in Vietnam?

Vietnam is not known for its gentle, open terrain. Its jungles and swamps made it very difficult for armored vehicles to move across the countryside.


Which country provided most of the weapons used by the NVA and VC?

During the war, Communist China provided the bulk of the weapons used to fight the South. But the Soviet Union provided a good number of armaments, too.


American troops often used the explosives in Claymore mines for what (unsanctioned) purpose?

The C-4 explosive in Claymores burned hot when exposed to flame … making it perfect for heating up food in the field. It was an unofficial but very effective stove.


Which American weapon was vital to Operation Rolling Thunder?

In Operation Rolling Thunder, the U.S. unleashed an immense bombing campaign. B-52 bombers dropped countless tons of munitions on NVA and VC positions.


What percentage of American battle wounds were caused by booby traps?

The VC often resorted to guerrilla tactics like booby traps, which caused perhaps 10% of American casualties. Bullets and diseases caused a lot more.


Which weapon was superior given the conditions of Vietnam?

Most historians give the edge to the AK-47, which held up better in the environmental extremes of Vietnam. The M16, particularly in its first versions, was sometimes faulty due to gunpowder problems.


What sort of weapon was the TT-30?

The TT-30 was a pistol often used by the NVA during the war. It was invented by the Soviets in the 1930s.


What type of vehicle was the AH-1 Cobra?

The AH-1 Cobra was an attack helicopter that laid waste to many NVA and VC positions. It often teamed up with scout aircraft to form deadly "hunter-killer" teams.


The VC often used the PPSh-41, which was what?

The PPSh-41 was a type of submachine gun that was often used during WWII. Although it was outdated by the time Vietnam rolled around, its high rate of fire still made it a desireable and deadly weapon.


True or false, did the North Vietnamese use any tanks during the war?

Although many were destroyed before they made it to battle, the North Vietnamese did use a number of Soviet T-54 tanks during the war. Those tanks made a significant impact at the end of the conflict.


U.S. troops often used the Remington Model 870, which was what?

The Remington Model 870 is an ultra-famous shotgun that was used in a lot of close-quarter combat during Vietnam. It is reliable and powerful.


What was the "Malay Whip" booby trap?

The VC often constructed Malay Whips, which were large, spiked logs oriented to sweep across enemy troops when activated by tripwire. These traps were often fatal.


What sort of vehicle was the PBR?

The Patrol Boat, River (PBR) was a major part of the "brown water navy" that was active in the waters of the Mekong Delta. They were armed with grenade launchers and machine guns to make them as deadly as possible.


To make them more dangerous, what material did VC often apply to punji sticks?

The VC would sometimes roll the punji sticks in fecal matter. Then, when the sticks penetrated human flesh, the feces would make it more likely that enemy troops would be sickened by the booby trap.


Which side used the RPD machine gun?

The VC distributed many of the RPD light machine gun during the war. The gun featured a distinctive drum-shaped container that stored the belt ammo.


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