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CONVOY OPERATIONS IN VIETNAM  |  HARDENED CONVOY CONCEPT  |  NAMING A GUN TRUCK
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Hardened Convoy Concept
 

    Convoy security simply couldn't meet the intense ambushes from the enemy.  Escort jeeps were too lightly armed to be effective.  Armored vehicles were few in country, and engaged elsewhere.  If they were going to protect the crews and the convoys, they would have to build it themselves.

Early Gun Jeep, M151 photo

An early Gun Jeep, M151, initially used as a convoy protection vehicle with a single mounted 7.62mm M-60 machine gun. It was helpful, but too lightly armed and had no protection for its passengers during an ambush.

    Colonel Joe O. Bellino, commander of 8th Group, didn't hesitate to implement a suggestion by his maintenance officer to put armor and machine guns on a few trucks to accompany the convoys.  The Hardened Convoy Concept was officially born.

Hardened Convoy Concept graphic

Within days of the decision to harden the convoys, salvaged armor plate began to appear on doors and floors of convoy vehicles.  While allowing crewmembers precious seconds to take up their rifles, the trucks did not have sufficient firepower to drive the enemy away from the ambush.

interior bed of the "Eve of Destruction" photo interior bed of the "Eve of Destruction" photo

The interior bed of the "Eve of Destruction."

Note the double-walled steel exterior sides, extra tires, extra ammunition for the twin - .50 caliber machine guns.

 

The trucks needed firepower. Only a few machineguns were assigned to the base camp for protection.  Truckers began to cannibalize damaged weapons from infantry units that were often their return-trip cargo.  They kept all working parts, built new guns, and built a sizeable inventory of parts.  Weapons such as the M60 and the .50 caliber machinegun became standard equipment for a gun truck, and later mini-guns were added.

    Drivers, mechanics and administrators became gunners, training on base camp ranges.  Crews were formed and assigned to one truck, providing all its maintenance. The ambush SOP was changed to reflect the newest asset - the Gun Truck.

    By the end of November 1967, the hardened convoys were in business.

Gunners of the "Misfits" crew, at a makeshift range, firing cannibalized weapons from the bed of their truck

Gunners of the "Misfits" crew, at a makeshift range, firing cannibalized weapons from the bed of their truck.

 

"Eve of Destruction" being loaded onto a cargo ship photo

"Eve of Destruction" being loaded onto a cargo ship for her trip from Vietnam to Fort Eustis, Virginia, home of the Army Transportation Corps.    The "Eve" was selected for return to the states for the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, and is believed to be the only gun truck to survive, all others being left behind in Vietnam.

 

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