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Vietnam Ironclads: A Pictorial History Of U.S. Navy River Assault Craft, 1966-1970 Paperback – January 19, 2008
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About the Author
John was born a military brat in Fairbanks, Alaska. He joined the U.S. Army and served twenty years as an airborne-infantryman retiring a Sergeant First Class in 2004. He is currently employed as a Department of the Army civilian serving as a JOPES Functional Manager for the Headquarters, United States Forces Command in Atlanta, GA. He earned his Associate of Arts degree from the University of Maryland in 2004 and has written several articles for military modeling magazines. His hobbies include collecting Vietnam War militaria, restoring military vehicles, and building model riverine craft from scratch. His curiosity about the Brown Water Navy began in 1979 when he watched the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. This movie sparked a life-long interest in the U.S. Navy's involvement in Vietnam; so much, that he is currently restoring two Mark II, River Patrol Boats (PBR). Once both PBRs are completely restored and sea worthy, he plans to organize a naval reenactment group dedicated to remembering the sacrifices of America's brown water sailors.
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This book is the end to your woes. Focusing only on TF 117/MRF and its LCM-based "ironclads" and purpose-built ASPBs, it finally lifts the confusion and half-hearted blanket coverage that has been too common. Carrico covers in extensive detail the LCM-based ATCs, ATC(H)s, MONs, CCBs and their variants, and the ASPBs. Carrico clarifies that all of these craft were built in "Program 4 (FY 1967)" and "Program 5 (FY 1968)," and these are the "two generations" vaguely hand-waved by other Riverine books. The differences are significant: Program 4 ATC(H)s were modified in-theater, while almost all Program 5 ATC(H)s were built with improved helo decks, Program 4 MONs carried a MK 52 40mm turret on the bow, while the Program 5 MONs carried a 105mm turreted howitzer like that used on the USMC LVTH-6. Program 5 vessels also generally replaced the coffee-can shaped MK 50 and 51 turrets with the more effective MK 48 turrets used on the ASPBs. Of all these MRF vessels, only the ASPB did not display significant exterior changes between Programs 4 and 5. In all photos, Carrico's captions clearly identify whether a craft is Program 4 and Program 5, which aids the reader in sorting out all of the configuration differences that are ignored or passed over in most Riverine books.
The book also covers variants of the above: ATC(F) expedient and modified flamethrowers, the two ATC(W) water cannon boats, ATC(R) refuelers, ATC(H) "Pinkeye" modified with a xenon searchlight, the four Program 4 MON(F) and six Program 5 MON(F) "Zippo" boats (the Program 4 boats retained their 40mm turret, the Program 5 boats mounted the two flame guns in place of the limited-supply howitzer turrets), the ASPB-derived MSR minesweeper and MSD minesweeping drones, and the ten LCM-derived MSM minesweepers and four CSB salvage boats.
Beyond the impressive detail and clarity above, this book includes color on almost every page, photographs that have not been published before, cutaway, top, side, and internal line drawings of the original LCM(6) craft and the resulting ATCs, tables showing production of all Program 4 and 5 craft by type as well as combat damage and losses, representative MRF organization tables from different periods, tables and clear captions identifying all turrets and weapons and the vessels that carried them (MK 50, 51, 52, 63, MK 48 Mod 0, Mod 1, Mod 2), color plates showing marking standards for Program 4 ASPBs, ATCs, MONs, and CCBs. The book ends with nine pages of color photos of the sole surviving Vietnam ironclad, CCB-18 in Coronado. This book is as complete as it could possibly get. The only boat that it does NOT include (it mentions it briefly on page 28) is the "ASPB MK II" with the howitzer turret atop the deckhouse, but these were only prototypes and never made it to Vietnam. In case you're wondering, yes, Carrico's footnoted research does draw on Friedman's U.S. Small Combatants, so its hard, detailed information is absolutely congruent with that great authority. But if you don't want to drop $150.00 on that out-of-print tome, or are only interested in the Vietnam MRF, this book is all you need. Even if you've already got Friedman's book, Carrico's is filled with hundreds of detailed photos, colored shots, and graphics you won't find in Friedman, so you'll want this one as well.
This is the way these books ought to be written, even if we did have to wait until 2007 for it. This is the book you've been waiting for, you know you want it.