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Novel M60 Door Gunner Configuration


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I'm on a couple of Vietnam vet FB pages.   On one, the subject came up on "free" M60's (weapons hand held by the gunner / observer vrs being fixed to a pintle mount).   It appears that some of these guys cut off the barrel in line with the gas cylinder and removed the buttstock, replacing it with the shorten rear receiver (the shorter buffer spring allowed for a higher rate of fire).    This resulted in a rather unusual M60 but according to these guys, this allowed them easier movement of the weapon.     It get's more interesting.   A couple of vets chimed in that they then affixed a trigger / hand grip assembly to the forward, right side of the weapon.   This allowed them to fire the 60 sideways (ammo feed on top), using their pinkey finger to pull the trigger.  I actually thought these guys were messing with me or embellishing but lo and behold, they posted pictures of this.    

 

So the bottom line is that if we ever get a decent large scale OH-6A, and you see a model of mine with a cut-down 60 in it, sporting a trigger grip sticking off the side, don't judge me!   It really happened.    

Edited by 11bee
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RG-24.jpg.2f4a0936e99db723c458d9a2c7828cff.jpg

 

Don´t know if if that M60 applies to your description, but I remember as well seeing pictures of M60s with an additional hand-grip. Came along when I did my Hueys, decades ago, I think.

 

 

HAJO

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Quick search:

Found on https://www.warboats.org/stonerordnotes/M60 GPMG R5.html

M60%20GPMG%20R5%202.jpg

 

Text: A modified M60B (unofficial designation) “free gun” as used by the door gunners of Light Attack Helicopter Squadron THREE [HA(L)-3]. Gunners would attach themselves to the airframe with their gunner’s safety belts and hang out the door firing these guns to protect the belly and tail of the UH-1 when suppressing ground fire. This particular gun has a mechanical buffer fitted to boost its rate of fire. The buttstock of the ground gun has been replaced by the sheet metal cover from a M60C. The bipod has been removed from the barrel and a second pistol grip fitted to the forearm. Extra springs have been added to the inside of the feed cover to help draw the belt. On some guns, the forearm was removed and the pistol grip was attached to the operating rod cylinder. In action, the gunner flipped the gun on its side so that the belt draped over the feed cover and the links and brass ejected downward. (Photo: www.seawolves.org)
 

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Here’s that custom rig in action.   Still can’t figure out how they fired the thing using their pinkie but these guys swear it works fine.   

4F6F26C8-6983-4B1D-BF26-C74C483FBC8A.jpeg

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I can: The original handgrip is still in his right hand, but "upside down" in the hand. So his pinkie is necessary to pull the trigger.

 

Looks very "gangster":

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

😄

 

 

HAJO

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most M60's on slicks used the gun with the butterfly attachment. I came in after the bunge cord idea, and most all guns were mounted to a post. Guess it was kinda whatever floated your boat at the time. Not a big deal as most door gunners I've seen couldn't hit the broadside of a red barn at a hundred fifty feet! Plus it's a lot harder to shoot out of a chopper than you'd think if it's moving. I have shot an M16 out the side of a slick a couple times, and doubt I hit anything. The M79 was a complete recipe for disaster in the Huey. 

 

On the other hand, I've seen pilots with M3 grease guns, and M2 carbines inside the cockpit. Even saw one with an AK50. He said if he went down, there'd be plenty of ammo to pick up. Guess it once again is whatever floats your boat and makes you comfortable. I went down five times in choppers, and never saw a door gunner with enough sense to remove the 60! Guess it was just too heavy for him to hump outta there.

gary

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On 2/16/2021 at 2:01 PM, Sarathi S. said:

That's gotta require some very strong pinky muscles.  I don't know what the pull is like on an M60 but that's gotta be a workout.

after you shoot a couple bursts, you don't have any comprehension of trigger pull or weight of the pull. Your mind just shuts that part down. I shot the 60 off hand nearly as well as prone, and you honestly never completely get used to it. The weight is not the issue, as is the recoil and it climbing from seven o clock to two o clock and beyond. You can always tell the new guy as he aims at what he's shooting at. Nay not so! Start low and work your way up. Took me a few weeks and a lot of wasted ammo to figure that out. The M60 could well have been a great weapon system with some minor re-engineering. The newer versions look like they've addressed many of these issues. Still about four or five pounds too heavy

gary

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The problem with the hand held M60 in the Huey was that you could hit/shoot your own rotor blades, etc with it. A mount had stops so the movement of the M60 was restricted to prevent this.

Of course in the Huey gunship with the handheld M60 the gunner could better fire below and behind the helicopter when leaving a target.

This was a problem with the Cobra when it arrived...no gunner to fire to the rear when the aircraft was leaving the target. This was an important matter and the VC was also aware of this.

And like mentioned above the gunner needed practice to use his weapon accurately.

I was a pilot with the 121st AHC Soc Trang Tigers during 67/68.

Our CE's and Gunners were very good and their quick and accurate fire saved us many a time.Thank You!

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2 hours ago, shaky said:

The problem with the hand held M60 in the Huey was that you could hit/shoot your own rotor blades, etc with it. A mount had stops so the movement of the M60 was restricted to prevent this.

Of course in the Huey gunship with the handheld M60 the gunner could better fire below and behind the helicopter when leaving a target.

This was a problem with the Cobra when it arrived...no gunner to fire to the rear when the aircraft was leaving the target. This was an important matter and the VC was also aware of this.

And like mentioned above the gunner needed practice to use his weapon accurately.

I was a pilot with the 121st AHC Soc Trang Tigers during 67/68.

Our CE's and Gunners were very good and their quick and accurate fire saved us many a time.Thank You!

Honestly I never paid the slightest attention to the gun mount on a Huey. Probably should have for future reference. I just wanted out that flimsy contraption! Once I saw how they were built, I knew I was never gonna like flying in one. 80% of the time I watched a door gunner shoot, it was just strait out in space! They never watch what's going outside, so the have no way of instantly being on top of a fast paced situation. I always watched the ground as we flew but looking at other things. Like "blue crossings" and rivers flowing thru. Plus the depth of the valleys. If I'm going down, I want to know what and where I headed into. Now firing strait out in to no where has it's pluses as most will not know. It makes those NVA Regulars put their heads down to the ground, so you can't completely knock the guys. 

 

I've cussed more than one pilot for the way he flew, and let him know a few times. Flying the nap of the earth looks great on paper. Then the locals just set up on a high point in you line of flight (they always flew the same flight path unless they've been shot up a few times). He sees you coming and he's got two or three 51's set up on hill sides and one at the far end of a valley. You cross that hill top and they shoot a couple AK's at you to get you undivided attention. The pilot will almost automatically take the ship deep into that valley to make him harder to shoot at. But now he's got three 50 cal. something that's gonna eat you alive. The Russian 51 with the good sights makes busting choppers look easy. He should have circled back and took the ship up at least five hundred feet and maybe went in five hundred yards from the north. I think a lot of it was poor training, and never knowing what to do the first time it happens. An old crew was a breeze, and I'd catch zee's all the way in or out. But the new ones (you can spot them) would make you uncomfortable. Speaking of uncomfortable! I was on a flight out into the valley (really deep), and I look over and see the door gunner with a sand bag full of grenades! I start praying for the Lord to just get me off this thing before he blows it up. I heard it happed a few weeks later. 

 

I'm an I-Corp Rat, class of 68. A.O. was west of Da Nang from Ross to the fence. Furthest north I did anything at was two klicks south of the Ashau with the 101st on an operation that ended up being a bust. (well I did see a female tiger and two cubs) Got south all the way to the II-Corp state line. And did manage to get stranded at the garden spot known as Kam Duc. Just couldn't get outta there soon enough! Would not trade my indentured  enslavement for much of anything, but never again.

gary

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John,

  Loach doorgunners never used the pistol grip strapped to the side of the forearm.  That was exclusively a HAL-3 Sewolves mod as far as I can tell.  Here's a pretty typical Loach M60A setup from Joe Crockett.  The factory A model buttstock was replaced with the rear piece from a M60C.  I also added a pic of the Vietnam era M60 family photo for those who don't know the different models.

    Ray

OH-6 (137).jpg

M-60 family (Large).jpg

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On 2/18/2021 at 4:21 PM, ChesshireCat said:

I went down five times in choppers, and never saw a door gunner with enough sense to remove the 60! Guess it was just too heavy for him to hump outta there.

gary

Gary,

  You musta been with the wrong gunners then!  Or else you were in a slick in which case the M60D is not meant to be fired from the ground and while possible is not something you would usually take time to remove form the pintle mount.  By the way, the reason these guys have the rods on the barrels was to keep them from swinging the gun inside the cabin while they were firing.  This was NOT a common mod but some units did it.  

   Ray

5211.jpg

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We in our unit always thought it most important not to leave any weapons behind for the enemy to capture!

Of course it always depends on the actual situation the crew is in.

The M60 was a fantastic weapon. Ours in our slicks were of course those with the double hand grips, ie M60D's.

After getting shot down during TET 68 and spending 5 days in a small outpost fighting off the VC we were thankful that we had our two M60D's, two M-14's and our two 45's.

A great advantage of the M14 was that it used the same ammo as the M60!

This was of course not the case with an SKS, AK, M16, M1 Carbine, etc.

Mike

 

 

Edited by shaky
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15 hours ago, rotorwash said:

Gary,

  You musta been with the wrong gunners then!  Or else you were in a slick in which case the M60D is not meant to be fired from the ground and while possible is not something you would usually take time to remove form the pintle mount.  By the way, the reason these guys have the rods on the barrels was to keep them from swinging the gun inside the cabin while they were firing.  This was NOT a common mod but some units did it.  

   Ray

5211.jpg

I never had a really band crash in one (thank God), but a couple were frightening. Think the worst was when one lucky bullet busted a triangle shaped plate in the tail boom of a slick. The boom literally folded up and the ship started going around and around all the way to the ground. We were maybe two hundred feet up at the most, and were leaving an LZ. As soon as it bounced around a couple times I was outta there. The door gunner as well. Nobody got hurt but out shorts were CBL'd. A lot of going down is knowing where you are landing, and preparing yourself mentally. You land three thousand yards out in the weeds, and you best have a plan. I always did after the first event. I was more afraid of fire than getting tagged. Still am! If we went down in one piece, and had to get outta there. Everybody had to hump something they hadn't planned on. I've seen them with a couple M16's and maybe five mags between them. Not a good thing. There was always plenty of 7.62, and I looked around as soon as I boarded for the ammo boxes (some used regular can and many used those great big boxes). Soon learned to set low on the floor after seeing an LT. get tagged setting on the bench he folded down. Anyway you hit the ground and grab the door gunner by the shoulder (he's well armed with a 38 caliber revolver) and say lets get the 60's. Most would, but a few just wanted to get away from the chopper. all your doing then is giving the NVA a prize. I think they went thru so many crews that they never had the time to teach them what and how to get out of a situation like that. Old folks (early twenties) knew and would stay fairly calm. The worst to go down with was in a Chinook; the panic started as soon as they were fired up on. Of course 90% of them were unarmed and the other guys knew it. Still never took a bad landing in one, but did go down in one once. The pilot went into the panic mode as he had some tiny pieces of metal in his inner thigh from armor piercing fifty caliber bullets that hit that tee shaped thing in the front. Lost all steering, but could go up and down. The crew chief automatically dumps the sling (6,000lb of M2 carbine ammo), and I knew instantly this was not going my way. We sat down on a gravel air strip, and I knew where I was headed in about five minutes. I might add here that the toughest crew I was ever with was also on a slick. I got conned into helping these Marines off load a chopper on an Island east of Tam Key. There was a strip that looked like a D9 CAT had cut right across the narrow island. Maybe 300 feet wide. It was heavy jungle to the south and elephant grass to the north. The big guy said to just push everything off as fast as we could (I can do that) and there were guys that came out of nowhere to carry it off. While this is going on the folks in the grass start shooting at us, and the pilot just held his ground while the door gunner shot over their heads. As we got it unloaded I showed the door gunner where to shoot, and he still shot high. I then showed him how to start at seven o clock and stitch your way across the target (he did not know this). Turned out I had an introduction to Marine Force Recon the hard way. These guys were good, and the chopper must have had forty new holes in it. I'd fly with those guys anyday!

gary

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1 hour ago, shaky said:

We in our unit always thought it most important not to leave any weapons behind for the enemy to capture!

Of course it always depends on the actual situation the crew is in.

The M60 was a fantastic weapon. Ours in our slicks were of course those with the double hand grips, ie M60D's.

After getting shot down during TET 68 and spending 5 days in a small outpost fighting off the VC we were thankful that we had our two M60D's, two M-14's and our two 45's.

A great advantage of the M14 was that it used the same ammo as the M60!

This was of course not the case with an SKS, AK, M16, M1 Carbine, etc.

Mike

 

 

first of all welcome home!

 

I never understood why they seemed to always have a couple M16's on board, but very few loaded mags! I would carry 28 mags if I went with an M16, plus a 45 tucked under my shirt. Still felt naked. If things were heavy and we were flying over it, I took my M60 and two or three belts. Guys said why carry all that weight, and I'd just smile at them. I've seen guys board with a grenade launcher because it was light weight, and others with a pistol (?). The idea of having an M14 gave you several thousand rounds of ammo, but also not fun in the mountains. Still your not going too far on foot. I always wondered how it would have been to have an M60 with the butterfly handles in a bunker complex. Had to be good. 

 

I did Tet in 68 and had a redo in 69. Sixty eight was like waking up in a bad dream that was going on all around me. Sixty nine found me right in the middle looking out. After about three months in country and a couple nasty events, I changed the way I thought to the "I'm gonna survive this mess" concept. Almost over planned everything I did from there on. 

gary

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