Chi-Com? ordnance Viet Nam 1968

I took this picture in Early Dec. 1968 immediately following Operation Meade River which took place in the area of Go Noi Island know to us as “Dodge City”. About 15 Miles south of the city of Danang. Not sure what the correct ID on the rockets and other equipment is. I am pretty sure someone here will know. Picture location is the Regt. HQ of the 1st. Marine Regt., 1st Mar. Div.

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Sportclay, great to see somebody was part of historic events! It must have been an interesting time there.

Without more detailed images and measurements ist is hard to tell details but here what can be seen or concluded (from top left to lower right):

  • Appears to be an improvised rocket with self made (rigid) fin section, caliber could be 122mm as per the long launch tube at the bottom (judging diameters). I can not see a launcher for this one here in the image.

  • The launch tube on the wooden desk seems to be the improvised launcher for the rocket to the right which could be a version (improvised?) of a 140mm M-14 rocket for the BM-14 system. Though these usually can be fired from the bare ground or sandbags as shown in the photo.

  • The mentioned launch tube at the bottom is a dismounted tube of a 122mm BM-21 launcher (or one of it’s versions). This is still often done today in scenarios with NSAs (in the Middle East and Africa). This way they get “portable” rocket launchers with quite long range. Much easier to handle in remote areas, in mountainous terrain and also easier to conceal.

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Alex, Thank you for the info! I thought I recalled that the rocket with fins was a 122mm. The other I had no idea. These were the first I had seen that I was not on the receiving end…


The link above will give a brief overview of Op Meade River. I was a combat FMF Corpsman with D Co. 1stBn., 1st Marines. In June and July of '68 I was part of Operation Allen Brook in the same area.

Sportclay, you maybe have more images or ammo and ordnance from these days?

Did you ever come across enemy small arms ammo? Did you check headstamps?


This was taken after the same operation. I don’t think I have any ammo pictures. We found/ captured a lot of small arms ammo. Didn’t pay any attention to the headstamps, wish I had. Many times it was the spam/ containers of ammo. I spent a total of 2 years and 3 1/2 months there. 1966 and then back again in Feb. '68 to May 12th 1969 when I was med evaced for the third and final time. Opportunities to take photos were random at best. I have a lot of photos but not not much of ordnance or ammo . Quite a few of ordnance in use. air strikes, artillery and some when I pulled the lanyard of a 105 or dropped a round down the tube of a 60mm or 81mm.
One of the weapons that are stacked was the primary focus of a mini gun firing from a “spooky” gun ship and had at least 30-40 bullet strikes on it. Thermal imaging sighting system.

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Sportclay, thanks! Maybe you can show some air strike images ? Being ammo related after all.

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OV-10 Bronco firing WP rocket to mark target for the fast movers.

A-4 Skyhawk dropping Napalm on his second run, first run HE probably Mk 82
This area had concrete bunkers 3 levels deep.
The USS New Jersey fired a number of rounds of 16" trying to breach the bunkers one night. Pretty impressive. Could see the sky horizon light up when the New Jersey fired and hear the incoming shell. Unforgettable sound. The hole in the ground would be big enough to swallow the average house. During the 20 +days of Meade River there was a constant overhead cover by either Marine or Navy A-4’s and F-4’s. This was the largest operation during the war. Korean, Australian, US, and VN forces. Within a few weeks the VC and NVA re-occupied the Go Noi Island complex…

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Interesting!
You were so close to “permanent” (bunkers) NVA installations?
Do you happen to have images of the 16" craters?

Many of the bunkers were built during the French occupation. This area, Go Noi Island had been a staging/training area for VC and NVA regulars that would be working in the Danang, Hoi Ahn coastal area for decades. This was a free fire zone and we regularly ran squad to company size patrols and search and clear operations there. Did not have to request permission to fire. Anyone there was a target. Hospital and communication were the largest of the bunkers. Some of the entrances were under water in the bank of the river used a “j” tunnel similar to a toilet J trap. Ventilation was disguised by using large bamboo “pipes” , antennas were hidden inside the bamboo also. I have some aerial pic taken from helicopters that show heavily bombed and shelled area

s but can’t say which are from the 16" guns. Some of the craters are very large. The area on the right in this picture wa one of the bunkers. Hill 55 was about 6 miles to the west and they had a 155 battery so much of the damage here was likely from them There are some good sized holes there.

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Sportclay, thanks for the great photos! And even more important, thanks so much for your service!

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Alex, Towards the end of the operation our company was assigned to security for the Marine engineers that were brought in to destroy the bunkers. CH46 helicopters brought in cargo nets loaded with Tons of c-4 and a shaped charge that I think were 40lb.(18kilo) charges of Comp.B these were quite effective against the reinforced concrete. they ould blow a hole through several feet. The C-4 was used to collapse the tunnel systems. The engineers had brought in 2 dozers to clear the soil covering the bunkers . I think they spent more time stuck in the mud than functioning. I think that somewhere around 350 concrete bunkers were destroyed.

Sportclay, again interesting!
To what I saw in other regions (in 1998) the area must be littered with UXO today.
I really like to hear people telling their stories from those days.

In Aug. of '68 the intel people had this idea that placing sensors/listening devices in a perimeter around Danang they called the “rocket belt”. This was determined by the approximate range of 122mm rockets that were fired regularly into Danang . aimed primarily at the major military installations. 1st Marine Air Wing was a frequent target as was the huge ammo depot on hill 327 “Freedom Hill”. (that ammo dump was taken care of by US personnel burning trash. Camp Tien Sha.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKYPtzUPI6c ) That blew for 2 days. Damage done as far as 2 miles away.
The monsoon season was ramping up and we were running security patrols with the intel folks and artillery FO’s . they would locate the sensing devices that had been dropped by aircraft and we would go out and register coordinates for artillery. One of these patrols they fired around 24 VT fused 105’s and 155’s apparently heavy rain screws up the ability to detonate the round. The shot would go out and we would heard it pass over and then observe the round bouncing across the flooded paddies. We marked the ones we could find and EOD blew them. I am sure the VC found the UXO. I watched 2 VC on another occasion carrying something heavy on a basket suspended from a shoulder pole. The Sniper with us that day said it was what appeared to be a dud 105 round. He fired and missed they dropped the basket and ran off. We blew the round in place. We often found hollow bomb casing (primarily Mk82) that the explosive had been removed to make smaller IED’s or as they called them then SFD, surprise firing device. Took a lot of guts to take apart a “dud” bomb.

What you have shown on your initial image makes sense then as for the “rocket belt”.
Recovery of UXO was always a source for material for IEDs and related.

Still today they are doing it in Vietnam and Laos. Just not for terrorist activity but for private use in queries and mountainous areas. And also for the scrap metal - big business there!
We had complete (life) MK82 “disappearing” over night ebfore we got hands on - locals were faster as we were observed in our activivities.
Also we actually used such recovered explosives for EOD work as there was nothing else around we could use (except for commercial explosives being unsuitable). Recovery was done by NVA. as it was not our business to interefere with this we did not comment or even asked for what and how.
I saw plenty of taken apart MK81, MK82 and MK82 + all sort of other ordnance.
No need to say they had plenty of accidents with UXO there.

Just a note from the Grammar/
Spelling dragon…

“ORDNANCE” is guns.

“ORDINANCE” is a Rule, Regulation, or even Law, promulgated by any level of Government ( usu. Called By-laws, Regulations, etc.).

In British cannon parlance, “The
Ordnance” is the actual Gun Tube. As in “Master of the Ordnance”…person in charge in late
Renaissance and later England,
in charge of cannon in the English forces…(.manufacture, supply, storage, repair). The Appointment, “Master of Ordnance” is still current in Britain and Australia.
In fact even in WWII, British Mortar barrels were still labelled Ordnance, 2-inch, or 3-inch etc.

Since we as collectors, deal with ammunition and “Ordnance” we should use the correct terminology.
And that is to help our Non-English-speaking colleagues as well. ( incl.Americans).

Doc AV
Resident Grammar dragon.

Very interesting photos. I would like to see more.


The photo firing the 81mm was on OP Meade River. The man in the foreground is our Regimental dentist. He was dropping rounds down the tube. The Jeep with the bullet hole in the wind shield was from a VC sniper that made a 500meter shot at the moving vehicle as Dr. Harris, dentist , Dr. McKenzie battalion surgeon, myself and the Marine driver were leaving a MedCAP, (medical civil action program) In the village of Ahn Trach1 sometime in early Apr. of ‘69. We might see 200 patients during one of these events. The VC would usually try to disrupt these. Bullet passed between us.
Alpha Battery, 1st Bn. 11th Marines Artillery fire mission. This was at the LZ 412 Bn. HQ. I took the photo from the 50’ observation tower.
The enlisted mens “club” 1st Bn., 1st Marine Regt. Captured weapons on the wall. Bar was 2x12’s on top of 55 gal. drums. I am not sure of the ID of the MG on the right that has a drum magazine.

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Thanks for the photos.

The MG with the drum magazine is a Soviet RPD light machine gun. This is a belt fed weapon that fires the 7.62x39 cartridge.