Friday, July 24, 2015

Thiết giáp: Republic of Vietnam Armor

A Republic of Vietnam tank crossing a river in Svay Rieng, Cambodia, May 27, 1970.
       When the Republic of Vietnam came into being in 1955, the armor branch was modest, consisting of only a small mixture of vehicles and equipment still in serviceable condition after the French departure. However, by the late 1960s, the armor units of the Republic of Vietnam had grown substantially, and played a vital role in nearly every operation conducted by the armed forces. Armor units served in support of operations against guerillas, main force enemy units, and tank-to-tank engagements.
An armor unit presenting for review, 1960-70s.
An armor unit aligned for equipment inspection, 1960s-70s.
       Personnel in the armor branch were trained at the armor school in Thu Duc. Many volunteered specifically for service in the armor, or were otherwise selected due to proficiencies with mechanics. From 1955 to 1975, tens of thousands would serve in Republic of Vietnam armor units.
An armor 2nd lieutenant with family (note the armor qualification badge above the name tape),
1968, RVNHS Archive.
        Armor crews typically wore Republic of Vietnam issue olive-drab green fatigue uniforms. A unique feature of armor uniforms was the black beret worn with the left side facing (berets in other branches of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces were worn to the right). Level or rank was also more clearly signified on armor berets than any other branch of the military. Different beret badges existed for regular enlisted (recruit to senior corporal), non-commissioned officers (junior sergeant to warrant officer), company level officers (2nd lieutenant to captain), field officers (major to colonel), and generals. For other branches, if there were any distinctions in beret badges, it was usually only between enlisted and officers of any rank.
A sample of different patterns of armor beret badges as worn on berets. Top-left; field officer, Top-right; company officer, Lower-left; company officer (variant), Lower-right; enlisted.
RVNHS Archive.
Armor officers at Tan Son Nhut airport after returning from training in the United States, 1960s, RVNHS Archive.
Examples of armor unit insignia variants.
Top; 7th Armor Regiment - left, printed; right, silk woven,
Bottom: 17th Armor Regiment - left silk woven colored ; right, silk woven subdued.
RVNHS Archive.
Armor unit on parade, Saigon.

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