M113 in Vietnam War
M113 was first used in Vietnam at the beginning of 1960s decades, as a role of mechanized infantry and amoured transporter (in Vietnam the tactics is called "thiết xa vận", 鉄車運). In other words, it is some sort of a "battlefield taxi".
The two first companies of Saigon goverment using M113 was formed on 30th Feb 1962, with the total number of M113 were 30 pieces. The two units was sent to the battlefields at Mekong River Delta. More and more M113 appeared in Vietnam battlefield, both in Saigon forces and in the U.S. forces. It became the main amoured vehicle that Saigon goverment used in confronts against the Vietcong and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). In 1975, it is estimated that there is about 1,500 M113s in Saigon goverment's asset.
M113 in the assets of Saigon goverment armed forces.
M113 on Saigon streets in November 1963.
During the early phase of the war, M113 caused great difficuties against the PAVN and inflicted great casualties against them. After all, the PAVN at South Vietnam during that time are mainly guerilla with small firearms, mines, and grenades, and the "steel monsters" like M113 was something hard to fight against. The M113 armour can withstand small firearms, it also have great mobility, speed, and cross-country capability. Indeed, the M113 had little difficulties in crossing the rivers, channels and creeks which are numerous in the Mekong Delta.
But then, as time passed, the Vietcong and PAVN managed to gain more experiences and found out the methods to destroy M113, using firearms, mines, explosive, and extensive system of trenches, obstacles, and traps. In the later periods, the PAVN guerillas manged to received anti-tank weapons like B-40 and B-41 (a.k.a RPG), PGN-2. As a results, the number of destroyed M113 drastically inreased. The causualties of mechanized troops was so high that the U.S. and Saigon goverment had to install additonal sandbags, applique armor, anti-RPG slat armours.
It is said that the PAVN had sold the wrecks of destroyed M113s to the local scrap dealers as additional income, and they managed to gain a great deal of income... because a lot of M113s were destroyed.
M113s were destroyed by anti-tank weapons and penetrating firearms bullets.
M113 in the People's Army of Vietnam
PAVN's M113s in the war against Khmer Rouge.
After 1975, the PAVN managed to recover several hundreds of M113s from Saigon goverments. All of them were redeployed inside the ranks of PAVN and participated in later conflicts, for example the war against Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.
The PAVN pays a great regards to her old enemies, considers the M113 as a very useful and capable AFV. Vietnamese soldiers claimed that the M113s are highly mobile, fast, and easy to drive, thanks to the hydraulic drive system. M113 played a significant role in the victory against Khmer Rouge, and sometimes its performance surpassed the contemporary Soviet and Chinese AFVs.
Modification and Modernization
But due to years of wars and long period of insufficient funds, there were times that Vietnamese M113s' conditions degenerated into a teribble level. A recent estimation claimed that there was only 200 Vietnamese M113s could be able to operate. Much of the Vietnamese M113s are kept in storage, waiting for refurbishing, some are being sent overseas for maintenance and fixing. Some are being modified and modernized by domestic weapon factories.
Recently, the PAVN has been trying various methods to modernize the M113, or replacing the US weapons and systems by domestic ones - in the circumstance that the U.S. weaponary embargo has not been lifted yet. For example, the Browning machine gun was replaced by Russian 12.7mm NSV. Domestic 106mm and 75mm recoiless gun were also fitted into the M113. In 2001, about 80 M113s were refurbished and modernized by Vietnamese factories.
On 23 May 2014, several "Vietnamization" M113 were tested in the K3 test field of Military Industry Department. The modificated M113s were fitted with 12.7mm NSV for short-range AA, SPG-9 for anti-tank role, and 7.62mm PKMSN for soft targets. The test was considered successful, all the M113s did fullfil all the tasks and missions assigned for the test.
Vietnamese M113 during the test on 23 May 2014
Discussion about the use of SPG-9 on the M113