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Air Defense Artillery in Vietnam

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Air Defense Artillery in Vietnam

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  • October 21, 2012
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Air Defense Artillery systems utilized during the Vietnam War era had more to do on the battlefields other than protect air bases. These weapons served as a geographical benefit because of the heavy firepower they would deliver in times of serious land warfare. The variety of missions executed determined the methods of how Air Defense Artillery systems deployed. A battery size element would rarely stay together operating as a whole unit even if a brigade that gives support tries to maintain overall control. Sometimes these artillery units assisted battalions or companies as well. Whether at the platoon or squad level, Air Defense Artillery sections helped protect armor, field artillery, infantry units, and airfields. Although designated mainly for air defense missions, these weapon systems also had a role for indirect fire and direct fire. Instead, these deadly systems: the M163 Vulcan, M42A1 Skysweeper, and MIM23 HAWK top emphasis was on ground threats and attacks throughout the Vietnam War period. Each of these weapons is unique in their own way capable of doing mass amounts of damage to incoming above ground or ground attacks.

The M163 Vulcan was a full-tracked armored personnel carrier that had “great cross country mobility and a mounted turret with a 6-barrel M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon that fired 20-mm high explosive and armor piercing projectiles” (Laur and Llanso 195). The crew consisted of four to six members depending on combat situations. Rather than serving its main purpose to provide forward air defense against low flying aircraft, it provided security as a soldier foot patrol escort and perimeter defense on isolated fire support bases when at a standstill. The Vulcan was a great benefit for infantrymen on small base defense because of the high firing rate and heavy rounds that destroyed ground targets nearby. The M42A1 Skysweeper was equipped with a twin set of antiaircraft 40-mm self-propelled guns in an open turret on a tank...