XM148 Under-barrel Grenade Launcher

In the latest Armourer’s Bench video, Vic returns with a look at the CGL-4/XM148 40mm grenade launcher developed by Colt to fulfil the US Army’s requirement for an under-barrel grenade launcher for the M16. Over 20,000 were made but, as Vic explains, a number of problems with the XM148 were found during extensive troop trials in Vietnam.


Check out the video here:

I’ve written a full accompanying blog going into more detail about the XM148′s testing in Vietnam and its shortcomings. Check that out over on the TAB website – here.


Interview with a Vietnam Veteran

This is a truly fascinating interview with a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, Bill Ehrhart. Ehrhart was with the 1st Marines, from early February 1967 to late February 1968, as a member of his battalion’s intelligence section.

He discusses what he thought the war would be like before he arrived and the slow realisation of the realities of the conflict in Vietnam. Filmed in 1990 by David Hoffman as part of a series of interviews for the PBS documentary series Making Sense of the Sixties

Ehrhart talks about the confusion and numbing effect of the war and his coping mechanisms for getting through it mentally: “The questions [about the conflict] themselves were too ugly to even ask let alone try to deal with the answers.” He only came to understand the historical context of the war after he returned home. 

Going into the war and believing he was protecting the people of Vietnam from communism he explains that he understands the Vietnamese people welcoming US forces: 

“I gave them every reason to hate me. I beat them, I sometimes killed them, I destroyed their houses, 

I destroyed their crops,

I destroyed their fields,  I destroyed their culture. Why in the hell should those people like me.”

The interview is an fascinating insight into how Ehrhart personally experienced the way, how he came to understand the nature of war and the realities of Vietnam. He went on to become a poet, writer and educator.


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absolutely hot take here

I respect those who know every model of tank or every little change in a class of warship, but I will fully admit that not only do I not know the differences between an M4A1 and an M4A1E8 right off the bat, I see no need to learn it

Knowing every single tiny intimate detail about a tank or plane past its basic characteristics and capabilities does not mean you contribute to historiography and history as a profession. Such knowledge means you’re interested in engineering and design via history, rather than focusing on history at large. Which in itself is a good profession, but it’s using history as a lens to glimpse machines and their workings, not history itself as a profession.

When it comes to history itself, no one cares about the precise model of tank. What matters is how they were deployed, by whom, who was in them, and what they did, what they experienced, and who survived

Through the use of trivia, pedantic detail, memes and jokes, the humanity of these wars is lost – among non-professional historians, milhist is becoming esoterica that kids memorise to spew at each other, and not a human study of human beings. 

Now there is an entire offshoot which looks at history via the design of certain things, especially military equipment – Ian from Forgotten Weapons does a very good job of this sort of history. 

The human story to history is not the be all, end all of the profession, but it certainly is a large part of it. It is my opinion that it’s disingenuous to take the human out of the machine and discount the personal experience from it all. But I’m saying that as a maritime historian who works primarily with sailors’ memoirs, and hopes to publish oral histories later.

When I misidentify a weapon or vehicle, or do not know what it is at all, this is why. If you know those things, if it interests you, great. But it is not my focus, never has been, and never will be. My interest in the Vietnam War began on the personal level and I consumed numerous memoirs before cracking open a textbook on the matter. I want to know the effect of the war on the men and women involved in it, not the weapons they used. Yes, those things have their place, and I will leave that to people who are more interested in it to begin with.


From the source: “LTC Don Rosenblum (Ret LTG), Call Sign “Thunderball” commanded No Slack 10 Jan ’67 – 12 May ’67″

The card reads:

Compliments of
No Slack Battalion
Have Bullet
Will Bury
2nd Battalion (airborne), 327th Infantry

From the source:

A bad landing for a Dust-Off at Blackhorse caused by the dust from the down draft. 7th Surgical Hospital Blackhorse, Vietnam 1967

To solve the dust problem the soil around the helicopter pad was coated with a thick oil like substance. The landing gear was broken in this event.


Business card from the Lien Thanh Shop, 1968.

The card reads:

Lien Thanh Shop
3, Thanh-Thai Street Phuoc-Tuy
We stock all the goods you need. We receive laundry here and make your cloths gleam. We supply ice. We ask you to shop here.
3rd stall from the market.

Soldiers carry a casualty with an overturned M113 APC in the background.


“Business card” for US Army 187th Assault Helicopter Company

LZ Charlie Brown