|Helicopter Door Gunner, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Vietnam, 1968|
|Hang out and unload the M-60 at rice paddies and jungle growth searching for Charlie!
Initially door gunners were armed with hand held M-60B machineguns. But in early 1970, the hand held weapons began to be replaced by the mounted M-60Ds with stops when too many door gunners were found to be shooting holes in various parts of their aircraft in the heat of combat. While this protected the airframe, it provided a more stable firing position, and also severely limited the weapon's field of fire.
The door gunners' prime function was suppression and control of enemy ground fire. They also acted as additional eyes and ears to the pilot. Before the introduction of Nomex uniforms, Army helcopter crews flew in standard fatigues. Ordinary body armor was worn. In late 1968 the Army introduced new types especially for aircrews. The gunners were protected with body armor commonly known as the "chickenplate vest" as a reflection on the wearer's courage. Its front and back plates comprised of aluminum oxide ceramic armor, moderately effective against high-velocity small arms projectiles.
This soldier wears the APH-5A Flyer's Helmet with integral headphones and boom mike. His weapon is the famous "Swedish K" (Kulsprutpistole M45), a 9mm weapon originally introduced into Vietnam in the early 1960s by the CIA.