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Author Topic: Nam Special Unit (LRRP,SF,SEAL...) Gear and Uniform Reference  (Read 24531 times)

Offline Kilo11

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Nam Special Unit (LRRP,SF,SEAL...) Gear and Uniform Reference
« on: December 24, 2010, 02:06:26 PM »
This thread is in no way meant to demean anyones attempt at making a Vietnam kit. the information here can be used to better construct, or improve upon, a Vietnam Special Unit kit. Special Units include LRRPs/Rangers, Special Forces, SOG, SEALs, Marine Recon. I am well versed in many of the basics of these units as far as "correct" (according to known experts, written texts, and photos) gear and uniforms. I have separated SF and SOG because there are distinct differences. If I don't know something, I have sources that I will check and get answers.



This is to help with those that would like to do a LRRP (65-68), Ranger (69-73) impression.

Short history lesson: Over the course of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, there was a steady development of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, or LRRP ("lurp"). The 5th Special Forces Group started the first recon teams early in the war. They developed much of the doctrine (standard practices) of the recon world. As regular units deployed to Vietnam, they recognized the need for small teams of men that would go out into enemy territory and report back on enemy movements, strength, what equipment they were using. These teams were also utilized to sabotage, booby trap, destroy, and ambush the enemy as well as their stockpiles. There are many storied histories and legends about each units' LRRP and Ranger companies. Most uniforms and equipment setups were very close between different recon units; due to personnel transfers, and training from the SF teams. A couple years into the war, a school was started by 5th SFG to train present, and future recon team leaders. The school was called RECONDO, a combination of the words Recon, Commando, and Doughboy (a nickname for US soldiers). This school taught troops about weapons, grenades, mines, booby traps, helicopter tactics, rappelling, explosives, and patrol techniques. The final test was an actual patrol where enemy contact was expected. Marines also had recon units, referred to as Force Recon. Many of the techniques and equipment the Marines used were the same as the Army, in part because Marines also attended RECONDO School.

This thread will focus mainly on Army recon teams. I can answer some questions about Marine Recon. I have reliable sources for more in depth questions, if you can wait a day for an answer. (I will put up basic kit lists and pics in my next post.) Feel free to add if you have knowledge or pics.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 09:00:15 PM by Kilo11 »
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Offline Dash (GRUMPS)

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2010, 12:32:48 PM »
LRRP Weapons, kit, and some standard procedures:

Weaponry:  Weapons were fairly standard but there were some quite a few "unusual" weapons employed by not just LRRPs, but other special forces units in Vietnam.  Standard Weapons included:

M16(A1)
M60E1
M14
XM177 and other CAR15 variants
M1911

And any silenced/modified variants of the above

Enemy Weapons and equipment were also occasionally used:

AK47, M, and variants thereof
RPD

Enemy weapons and equipment were normally only used by the pointman in the squad.

"Unusual weapons" would include the following:
M1/M2 carbine
Sten MK2
Thompson
MAC-10
Browning High Power
Swedish K
Grease Gun
MK2 silenced pistol

Any silenced/modified variants of the guns listed above.

There are probably more that i can't remember off the top of my head. 

Though those weapons are acceptable for a LRRP impression, remember that the standard service rifle of the day was the M16 and therefore would be the most common.  Some of these weapons would be difficult to obtain parts and ammunition for in the field.

Kit was also fairly standard:
M1956 web gear
M1967 web gear (often mixed with M1956, very rarely would a full set of M1967 gear ever be seen in Vietnam)
Boonie, Sweat band, or other variety of very light head gear.
Tiger stripe uniform made in country
ERDL lime variant uniform
Standard OGs were also used

Usually a lighter Ruck sack was worn to carry extra equipment:
CIDG Ruck
ARVN Ruck
NVA Ruck

Some common LRRP Procedures:
Using canteen covers instead of standard M1956 mag pouches (you could fit more mags per pouch in the canteen pouches).
Faces were always supposed to be painted as well as sleeves rolled down (unless you wanted to paint your arms as well).
All were airborne qualified.
The pointman would often carry an enemy weapon and would often dress as an enemy (typically just a pith helmet and NVA shirt). giving the LRRP team a few extra seconds of reaction time if they came into contact.
While on patrol, verbal communication was rare.  There was a system set up with paracord to communicate basic information between the members of the team (a one, tug for no, two for yes kind of affair).  Hand signals were quite common.

Offline Master Chief

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2010, 04:21:01 PM »
This is a great thread for those who don't know very much about Nam loadouts or are just getting started. I've been wanted to build a Nam loadout for a while and this will give me a lot of information to make it as close to actual as I can. One other thing how much would it usually cost for just the gear part of the loadout (webbing, uniform, boonie etc..)
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Offline Dash (GRUMPS)

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2010, 04:30:18 PM »
I was thinking about making a guide to putting together a fairly decent vietnam loadout on the cheap fairly soon so people could start getting ready for BOTW.  I'll get started on it tonight.  For truly accurate and great information (if you're really that interested) I recommend going to vietnam-airsoft.com they're a very welcoming and knowledgeable community.  Also had a couple of gameplay ideas I was thinking about pitching.  I'll put up both threads sometime tonight.

Offline york

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2010, 10:58:02 PM »
Dash i love the list you compiled here, but I do have to disagree with you on one thing. I wouldn't say the canteen pouch instead of a mag pouch was a common procedure. Yes you can fit more and Im not saying it wasn't done. But from the books I've read on the subject and people Ive talked to, say it was dependent on many factors to how your gear was. It wasn't like it is now where you can have whatever gear you want or how it would even be in a line unit. It was also dependent on how many days you would be out, the area you were in, etc.  The gear for each member matched so things could be found on each other even in the dark. The team leader would usually say how to set up things or the higher unit organization.  Also the mag pouches are tighter meaning they would rattle less then a canteen pouch filled with mags. And silence on a patrol was essential. Like i said I'm not saying it wasnt done, but I dont think it was common. There was a field manual set up for LRP teams, it gave general knowledge on how to conduct a long range patrol. But it didnt say exactly how to set up gear, or anything like that. But again a great list.

Offline Kilo11

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2010, 02:32:27 PM »
York, this is what I wanted to talk about... Im not saying that you are wrong, or that your sources are wrong, but I have gathered info on this as well and the kits were not as stringent as you say.

there were 13 Ranger companies in country and more LRRP companies before that. yes, many teams followed the same doctrine, but it was really dependent on the individual team leaders (which changed frequently), the company leadership, and the parent units themselves. my understanding is that the "alternate magazine pouch" was done often enough, by enough teams to make it a legitimate kit choice. this argument is right up there with the buttpack dilemma, to have or not to have. some teams used them, others did not. the reason being that they carried a rucksack, why a buttpack? often the extra space was taken up by extra canteens. Ive heard of reconners using 2 quart covers for ammo (especially AK mags). theres alot of room for debate. it is safer to embrace the oddities rather than dismiss them. I have know that some teams used old BAR ammo belts for mag pouches. Ammo is very important when you only have 6 guys in the middle of Indian Country, why not use something that can carry more? I am not saying dont use 4 mags pouches, but dont say that any other way is wrong.

you are right about teams having similar setups so that it was easy to barrow from teammates. however, if you are on a team, you will know how that person carries items due to the nature of being on a team. there's really no difference between a canteen pouch with mags in it and an actual mag pouch. you dont need to have a Phd to figure out if there is a canteen in there or not. its all about location. if you know that your team keeps the ammo up front and to the sides, your water in the back, and so on, then there will be minimal confusion.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2010, 02:43:34 PM by Kilo11 »
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Offline Kilo11

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2010, 04:15:14 PM »
Ok, I can double post because it's my thread :P (anyone else can too, I don't care)

Here are piece by piece kit lists for several variations of known set ups.

Basic M1956 web gear: (M56 gear is generally made of Cotton Duck/Canvas material with metal hardware)
M56 "H" suspenders
M56 pistol belt (there are two variations of this, horizontal weave, and vertical weave)
M56 ammo pouches (at least 2)
M56 canteen pouches w/canteens (at least 2)
M56 1st aid/compass pouch
M61 field pack (buttpack, the m1961 replaced the original M56 pack)

Additions to M56 gear:
"Davis" buckle pistol belt (has a "quick release" buckle, not very common)
additional ammo pouches, or canteen pouches to hold mags
replace buttpack with additional canteen (or two if enough room)
post WWII M1911 ammo pouch (if you carry a sidearm, carries two mags)

Basic M1967 gear: (M67 gear is generally made of Nylon, Nam era items had plastic hardware, except the belt clips, and hardware on the suspenders and belt)
M67 "H" suspenders (these had additional clips on the back for attaching a field pack)
M67 pistol belt (these can have Davis buckles or normal buckles, have different adjustment locks)
M67 ammo pouch (these are shorter than M56s and there are two versions that carry 3 or 4 mags, at least two)
M67 canteen pouch (at least two)
M67 1st aid/compass pouch
M67 field pack (buttpack, the new suspenders could carry one on top of the shoulders as well as on the belt)

M67 gear was introduced as an improvement over the M56 gear. the cotton canvas M56 would not dry quickly, and rot in the wet climate of Vietnam. M67 was made of Nylon and featured drain holes. the plastic hardware also avoided the rust that the M56 snaps would develop. it was common practice to integrate M67 gear with M56 kits. many units did not receive the new gear in enough quantities to outfit all personnel at once. often soldiers would have to swap old M56 equipment for new M67 gear.

Other Accessories:
SDU-5 strobe light with pouch (this is designed to attach to the shoulder of the suspenders)
utility knife - can be a K-bar, pilots survival knife, other knives of the era (for practical airsoft purposes rubber replicas of these can be found, taping to the shoulder was done, but on the belt is also common)

Rucksacks: Dash touched on this but I will expand
Light Weight Rucksack: it had a metal frame and a bag made of nylon that had a large main pocket covered by a top flap and three outer pockets, it was about half the height of the frame that covered the user's back. the shoulder straps and waist support attached to the frame, the bag could not be used alone. the upper portion of the frame was used for a radio or to carry additional mission items.
CIDG Rucksack: the Civilian Irregular Defense Group was a CIA program to arm and equip the local populace in order to defend themselves from the VC. several unique equipment items were created that were based on old US equipment. the CIDG rucksack, made of cotton canvas, was a sought after item by LRRPs. it did not have a frame and had its own shoulder straps and waist tie. it was cometically the same as the LW ruck. it also had a map pocket in the back. LRRPs often made shoulder pads for the straps.
ARVN Rucksack: (ARVN-Army of the Republic of VietNam) though not commonly used by US forces, some units had access to them. it had integrated shoulder straps, was made of cotton canvas, had a main pocket and two outer pockets. a main feature was an integrated "X" frame.
NVA Rucksack: these were essentially a copy of the CIDG ruck, with some minor differences. made of cotton canvas and a lighter tan color than the CIDG ruck, which were more of an OD or grey color.
Tropical Rucksack: This was developed in conjunction with the M67 gear. though the LW ruck was still used and issued, the Tropical ruck was a vast improvement. it combined many elements from other rucks. it was made of nylon, had integrated shoulder straps with quick release buckles, an integrated "X" frame, a main pocket, and three outer pockets. the snaps were made of plastic. this was the preferred ruck for Rangers.

Examples:
M1956 kit with canteen pouches for ammo, also integrated M67 pouches


Tropical rucksack (RTO-radio operator set up)




Ranger in ERDL

« Last Edit: December 28, 2010, 04:19:02 PM by Kilo11 »
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Offline york

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2010, 07:02:43 PM »
My sources are books suggested off of vietnam-airsoft.com and my units history. But seeing as how none of us were there, anyhting could of been the norm.

Offline Kilo11

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2010, 07:19:40 PM »
I am not doubting your sources, just saying that I also have sources.
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Offline Dash (GRUMPS)

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2010, 04:53:40 PM »
Personally I always saw the canteen thing as one of those "quirks" some units have.  Kind of like how Navy SEALS of the day would sometimes wear blue jeans.  It was something that some did but most probably didn't. We should probably get back to more informative posts on the topic and say that it WAS done as opposed to debating how common/often.

Offline Kilo11

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 05:31:39 PM »
no problem. lets say that if it was done, it is acceptable and no one will be ridiculed for doing "it". all you need is evidence to back it up, pictoral evidence is preferred. I have pictures that show both ways of carrying ammo.


another way to carry ammo is to use an old BAR belt/pouches. heres my set up...

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Offline Micahh

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 05:38:47 PM »
Thanks kilo. Alot of what you said has cleared up some fog i had about the whole kits along with the canteen pouch thing.
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Offline Dash (GRUMPS)

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2011, 07:39:46 PM »
Nice setup Kilo. I'm looking to get a BAR belt for my upcoming SOG impression.

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2011, 10:19:09 PM »
Nice setup Kilo. I'm looking to get a BAR belt for my upcoming SOG impression.

cannot wait to see that SOG impression

Offline Robster

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Re: LRRP/Ranger gear and uniform reference
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2011, 11:12:24 PM »
Dash, weapon-wise, what are you planning to use for your SOG impression?
Personally? I would use your spelling gun with the common sense magazines.