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Door Gunner/Crew Chief Questions

This is a discussion on Door Gunner/Crew Chief Questions within the Military History forums, part of the Armed Services category; So, I got notice today about an individual's request for a crew chief/door gunner for a flight out on a Huey. Given the short suspense, ...


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Old May 18th, 2016, 08:43 AM   #1
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Door Gunner/Crew Chief Questions

So, I got notice today about an individual's request for a crew chief/door gunner for a flight out on a Huey. Given the short suspense, I'm very limited in my options, although I'll have my M14/M1A and several M16 rifles. Unfortunately, I'd have been able to afford it easier if I didn't need to restore my AFH-1 shell

Although I have seen documentation showing that M14s and M16s were used without the M60s, I've never seen this practice implemented and want to make sure I'm doing the best job that I can with whatever is available. If I REALLY make the budget tight, I can get an airsoft M60 that will LOOK the same and bungee it to the aircraft....but my fear is on the quality of an airsoft weapon. My bigger fear is not adequately representing a door gunner/crew chief. As a Soldier myself, memory of those that served before me is paramount.

Was the M14 or M16 ever used on it's own in later UH-1s? (This is a UH-1H) If so, how did the gunner deal with magazines/gear???? I think my FIRST thought is going to be getting the M60 airsoft if my budget allows....but I'll have to see if it IS indeed possible. I'd appreciate the help from the rest that are in the know.

Beyond that, I do have a monkey harness and the AFH-1 helmet (as well as an SPH-4 that may work). Currently, I'm also on the hunt for a Ham and Lima Beans can that I could have attached to the side of the M60 if I can get it/when I can get it. Also, would love to go the distance and add in some personal touches if you guys had something special that you put in the chest pocket of the aircrew body armor.

Thanks in advance.....just want to make sure I do you guys proud....
v/r,
Jon

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Old May 24th, 2016, 02:47 PM   #2
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Never heard of a slick that didn't have a 60 on both sides. Some gunners also carried a rifle of some sort in case they were shot down and couldn't get the 60 off the bird. I had a Swedish K clipped to the wall on my left shoulder for a what if!
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Old May 25th, 2016, 09:53 PM   #3
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Doesn't have to be Ham and Lima Beans.
This isn't even chow.
I took this pic over Song Be in1968.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Web doorgun.jpg (24.3 KB, 53 views)

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Old May 25th, 2016, 10:44 PM   #4
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What was a door gunner MOS,in the U.S.Army!

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Old May 25th, 2016, 11:33 PM   #5
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Never heard of an MOS for gunner.
A door gunner was anyone who wanted to fly and could operate an M 60.
I'm sure there were undoubtedly some units that had special training, usv.
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Old May 25th, 2016, 11:54 PM   #6
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The main problem I see is that the UH-1D/H/M (long body) Hueys used the M-23 Armament Subsystem pintle mounts. These mounts were used throughout the Vietnam War and are what you see in almost all videos of Hueys. Over 4,316 units were built and were used until the Huey was phased out of Army service. The Marines and Air Force might still use the system on their Hueys, but that's another story.
The "Bunge Cord" mounts were used only on the short body UH-1B/C Hueys until the Sagami mount was developed and introduced in theater. This mount was never Type Classified (XM/M-xx) but was used to develop the M-23 system.
To be 100% accurate in your depiction of a crew chief/door gunner on a UH-1H the bird would have to have both M-23s mounted along with the M-60Ds. Plus, you would need the ammo boxes and chutes that were included in the M-23 system. Luckily, these can easily be mocked up with sheet metal (or plywood) for the boxes and the chutes are available via surplus.
As you can see, an accurate depiction of the door gunner's positions is a bit more involved than originally thought but the M-23 system is available. Just might take more time than you have to acquire and cost more than your budget allows but to do it right it's the only way to go.

EDIT: Regarding the second door gunner, this usually is a volunteer from the aviation unit's supporting units. Cooks, supply or personnel clerks, motor pool or anyone who wants to fly and shoot. They are given training on use and maintenance of the MG, leading targets, target identification, intercom usage and flight terminology. IIRC, they are eligible for flight pay and the Aircrew Badge after a set number of missions. Now the present-day requirements may be different than the ones I remember from 1980-86 when I was a 68J (Aircraft Weapons Systems Repairer) with the 101st but that's how it was explained to me then.

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Last edited by Albud3; May 26th, 2016 at 12:25 AM.
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Old May 26th, 2016, 08:28 AM   #7
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PM Hueygunner here on this forum. He'll know.
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Old May 26th, 2016, 08:54 AM   #8
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If I understand the question correctly...

And based upon My experiences Only...in RVN in '68-69 in the 2/7th, 1st CAV Div...

Virtually all Huey's had '60's on both sides...
No doubt there might have been some exceptions where it was believed the Huey's operations were going to be strictly Non-Combat,
BUT...the problem was that Mr. Victor Charles was just too darn unpredictable!

Anytime Combat Unit Troops were transported by Huey, one or two individuals would sit on each side of the aircraft's deck with legs dangling and pointing their '16's or '14's outward...
Why? Even the Best Door-gunner or Crew Chief could have malfunctions leaving one side of the ship temporarily unprotected...
Any Additional Fire-Power was always a plus !!!

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Old May 26th, 2016, 09:08 AM   #9
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Gentlemen, You might find this old film of interest;
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Old May 26th, 2016, 04:10 PM   #10
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Not sure if you thought about this option, how about getting some Red Cross stickers made and become "Dust Off". In that case I think an M16 would work perfect

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Old May 30th, 2016, 09:13 PM   #11
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Dust off-atually was a call sign for a certain unit. Most medivacs had 60 mounts and used them
I got hauled up on a rigid litter through double canopy and both gunners were blazing away and bullets were bonking against the ship.
They easily coud have cut me loose and di-di'd.
One bunch I worked with had a .50 cal mounted on one side like a door gun.
A guy was using it as a ladder to climb out of the bird and shot himself in the leg
Fini VN for him.
I watched a bunch of VN reenactors prancing about a gathering I go to.
I think about how hard some fought in those days to keep out of it and then see guys making a game of it.
I know all the standard retorts-heard them a dozen times.
My opinion is just that.

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Old May 31st, 2016, 03:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
Never heard of an MOS for gunner.
A door gunner was anyone who wanted to fly and could operate an M 60.
I'm sure there were undoubtedly some units that had special training, usv.
Sarge
Best as I remember, In the 1st-12th 1st Air Calvery if you wanted to become a door gunner to get out of the bush you had to extend 6 months. There was a waiting list.

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Old May 31st, 2016, 06:17 AM   #13
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Thanks to all for the responses. I wasn't able to get back to people right away, but I wanted to let them know that I appreciated them and give an update. I have things set and I THINK I'll be able to field the equipment of a door gunner come 12 June. At this point, I'm getting equipment for the helicopter helmet and hopefully going to have it all tested. I can't do anything regarding the M60 pintle mounts, but my hope is that I can generate enough of a buzz with this helicopter owner that he'll help by allowing the pintle mounts to be installed.

If able, I'll post pics of things as they all come together.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
Never heard of a slick that didn't have a 60 on both sides. Some gunners also carried a rifle of some sort in case they were shot down and couldn't get the 60 off the bird. I had a Swedish K clipped to the wall on my left shoulder for a what if!
Sarge
Thanks. From further research, studying pictures, etc....I think what Wikipedia was basing it off of was basically the early H-21s and other VERY early helicopters sometimes used it. I've seen a select few photos of people with M1 carbines or other weapons. We found ONE grainy image of someone with a M16 being used. Presumably though, the M60 had failed or something at that point....but it is a grainy still image.

As a result, I had a M60 airsoft version custom made so it could be reinforced and sent to me in time for this event. I will probably donate it to the owner, as I have no need (nor a desire) to maintain a toy...but I think it will be far better for display purposes so that you can allow the public to feel the heft without having to consider security concerns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Doesn't have to be Ham and Lima Beans.
This isn't even chow.
I took this pic over Song Be in1968.
Gorgeous pic!! Thank you for sharing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
Never heard of an MOS for gunner.
A door gunner was anyone who wanted to fly and could operate an M 60.
I'm sure there were undoubtedly some units that had special training, usv.
Sarge
Correct/Seconded. There is no door gunner MOS. The 25th ID put together a training film basically talking about a class for the door gunners. Mostly consisted of familiarization and other things. That was one of the videos I used to try to identify proper gear and equipment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albud3 View Post
The main problem I see is that the UH-1D/H/M (long body) Hueys used the M-23 Armament Subsystem pintle mounts. These mounts were used throughout the Vietnam War and are what you see in almost all videos of Hueys. Over 4,316 units were built and were used until the Huey was phased out of Army service. The Marines and Air Force might still use the system on their Hueys, but that's another story.
The "Bunge Cord" mounts were used only on the short body UH-1B/C Hueys until the Sagami mount was developed and introduced in theater. This mount was never Type Classified (XM/M-xx) but was used to develop the M-23 system.
To be 100% accurate in your depiction of a crew chief/door gunner on a UH-1H the bird would have to have both M-23s mounted along with the M-60Ds. Plus, you would need the ammo boxes and chutes that were included in the M-23 system. Luckily, these can easily be mocked up with sheet metal (or plywood) for the boxes and the chutes are available via surplus.
As you can see, an accurate depiction of the door gunner's positions is a bit more involved than originally thought but the M-23 system is available. Just might take more time than you have to acquire and cost more than your budget allows but to do it right it's the only way to go.

EDIT: Regarding the second door gunner, this usually is a volunteer from the aviation unit's supporting units. Cooks, supply or personnel clerks, motor pool or anyone who wants to fly and shoot. They are given training on use and maintenance of the MG, leading targets, target identification, intercom usage and flight terminology. IIRC, they are eligible for flight pay and the Aircrew Badge after a set number of missions. Now the present-day requirements may be different than the ones I remember from 1980-86 when I was a 68J (Aircraft Weapons Systems Repairer) with the 101st but that's how it was explained to me then.
I fully agree that the M23 and M60D are the typical combination. This guy definitely doesn't have M60s, and I don't believe he has the mounts. The challenge is that the UH-1 isn't mine, so doing permanent modifications is something that will be left up to him. I'm going to talk to the guy and see if I can purchase and donate two M60s that will have the D modifications (airsoft or dummy...would rather the latter so that the public can still touch/play....etc and not worry about destroying it), and get him to do the pintles in the long run.

Photographs DO show that the sling modification with a standard M60 or M60D were common enough that I wouldn't feel like a dirtbag using them. I have seen around 10-15 photos of bungee corded M60s, probably 1/3 were in UH-1 long bodies.

That being said.....I will make it as close as I can and say "this was less common than the mounts" to people when asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVman View Post
If I understand the question correctly...

And based upon My experiences Only...in RVN in '68-69 in the 2/7th, 1st CAV Div...

Virtually all Huey's had '60's on both sides...
No doubt there might have been some exceptions where it was believed the Huey's operations were going to be strictly Non-Combat,
BUT...the problem was that Mr. Victor Charles was just too darn unpredictable!

Anytime Combat Unit Troops were transported by Huey, one or two individuals would sit on each side of the aircraft's deck with legs dangling and pointing their '16's or '14's outward...
Why? Even the Best Door-gunner or Crew Chief could have malfunctions leaving one side of the ship temporarily unprotected...
Any Additional Fire-Power was always a plus !!!

CAVman in WYoming
After sitting down and thinking ...I ended up basically pulling everything to try to get this M60 taken care of. Basically, I think the Wiki page is wrong (shocker eh?). Using an M16 or M14 as a primary weapon makes no sense. The ROF on the two weapons, combined with the simple nature of helicopter operations doesn't add up. The photos I've found were from an H21 and other helicopters, likely done before the M60 came to be. 1919A4s were also supposedly used, but I didn't find any photos of that. Basically, a magazine fed weapon doesn't make sense for a helicopter, because you'd be able to "suppress" for maybe 10-15 seconds if you let off the trigger, then have to change a magazine in a bouncing bird with someone(s) shooting at you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtime7 View Post
Not sure if you thought about this option, how about getting some Red Cross stickers made and become "Dust Off". In that case I think an M16 would work perfect
The aircraft isn't mine, so I'm limited to what I can do with my own impression. However, I did order an airsoft M60 (until I can get semi M60s made)...that is full metal/close to actual weight. I had a machinist friend reinforce and make it far more sturdy so that I could feel better about having it getting beaten up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Dust off-atually was a call sign for a certain unit. Most medivacs had 60 mounts and used them
I got hauled up on a rigid litter through double canopy and both gunners were blazing away and bullets were bonking against the ship.
They easily coud have cut me loose and di-di'd.
One bunch I worked with had a .50 cal mounted on one side like a door gun.
A guy was using it as a ladder to climb out of the bird and shot himself in the leg
Fini VN for him.
I watched a bunch of VN reenactors prancing about a gathering I go to.
I think about how hard some fought in those days to keep out of it and then see guys making a game of it.
I know all the standard retorts-heard them a dozen times.
My opinion is just that.
Thank you for your stories sir. I'm more looking to do the history talks and remember the stories. Currently, I'm a US Army Reserve officer and have had a passion for history for ages. A young man (18y/o) talked me into doing it, but I warned him that I don't think I'll ever be able to do "battles" beyond, because there are some people that get so wrapped up in this alter-ego that they forget that their rank is worth $4.99, and if they're being a prick....my bad side comes out if they're wrong or forget their place.

I have Soldiers that I sent overseas that never made it home, some of which I cleared to go. Likewise, my unit has been hit hard with the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've had 2 suicides and 3 attempted suicides within the last 2-3 years....many stemming from PTSD. Likewise, I have had friends who were Vietnam vets and I know the bulk of the stories that they were willing to share. These are the things I want to share with people. I want people to remember the veterans, honor the stories and create an avenue for veterans still living to maybe discuss with their families. Also, I am trying to create positive memories, as there are a few people that I see doing this that I want to counter...as they are perpetuating the negative stereotypes.

I could create a whole bunch of posts regarding attitudes of reenactors and the misguided motivations driving them....but that's a WHOLE other post.
v/r,
Jon

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Old May 31st, 2016, 04:56 PM   #14
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DC9legacy,
Just to clear up a common misunderstanding regarding the M-23 system: it is NOT a permanent mount, the whole system uses quick-release pins so the whole system can be attached/detached in under 10 minutes using hard points factory built-in on all UH-1D/H/Ns. I detached, checked, repaired and reattached many of the -23 systems that 30+ years later I could probably set them up still under 10-15! Seriously, they're that simple and easy to do.
Good luck on this project, too many people still have the wrong impression of VN Vets thanks to hollyweird and slanted news reports. Thanks for attempting to tell the truth.
Jeff

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Old May 31st, 2016, 05:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Albud3 View Post
DC9legacy,
Just to clear up a common misunderstanding regarding the M-23 system: it is NOT a permanent mount, the whole system uses quick-tempered pins so the whole system can be attached/detached in under 10 minutes using hard points factory built-in on all UH-1D/H/Ns. I detached, checked, repaired and reattached many of the -23 systems that 30+ years later I could probably set them up still under 10-15! Seriously, they're that simple and easy to do.
Good luck on this project, too many people still have the wrong impression of VN Vets thanks to hollyweird and slanted news reports. Thanks for attempting to tell the truth.
Jeff
They deserve it. Thanks for the clarification on the M23 system. That does explain some of the things I had been thinking of. I saw a photo of a guy doing the door gunner duties from one of the troop seats. I'll start looking into what the costs are....(I did find a repair manual so that I can hopefully inspire this guy to put them together).

I don't suppose you have ANY idea where I could even start looking for an M23?? I'm not sure I can afford something quite like that either, but I'll certainly do the best I can. Unfortunately, I have a number of expensive hobbies......lol. I'm just really determined I'm not going to do a shoddy job on a representation of veterans. Now....I just gotta work on improving the physical conditioning if the body will hold up for it.....
v/r,
Jon

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