Vietnam War Report; Military Science Of Vietnam
Vietnam war report a program heard weekly at this time. Good evening this is Crocker snow speaking in past weeks we've presented a wide variety of material pertaining to the war in Southeast Asia. Two weeks ago a report for example on war sentiment in Britain and an interview with Harrison Solsbury of the New York Times on prospects of a settlement six months after his well-publicized journey to Hanoi last week a documentary report patrol from demanding prepared by the Australian Broadcasting Company. This week a new and different feature a look at some of the new developments in military science occasioned by the war. There are many of these the M-16 rapid fire combat rifle is one hot air blowers to cook out a Vietcong from their tunnel labyrinths is another. A jungle landing pad for helicopters formed by air dropped bags of hardening fiberglass and a body odor smelling device for night patrol. These are all new items occasioned by the war and will be taking up each one in turn.
I have with me here in the studios WGBH science reporter Oliver Strauss to be our bridge to the military science of Vietnam. Oliver First let's talk about the M-16. This has caused the most comment lately. Just what is the M-16 and how does it reflect a technological advance. Well the M-16 basically is a replacement for the M-14 rifle and it differs from it in four or five ways that are rather important to the combat soldier. First it's something over a pound lighter. Secondly it throws a lighter slug only slightly heavier than a 22 long at a higher muzzle velocity velocity than the M-14. But at a shorter range. In other words the M4 the M-14 was designed with a rather open country of Europe in mind so that it has some accuracy well above 300 yards. The M-16 the new rifle you have to be put in quotation marks is
been some six or eight years in development is really designed for only a maximum of 300 yards and most of the work is done with it is from 50 25 yards 100. The lighter bullet is adequate as far stopping power goes and it in fact it tumbles more once it enters and the higher muzzle velocity helps this. Because the bullets a lot lighter there's less recoil. And being an automatic or semiautomatic rifle where you shoot a burst of rounds out of a single 20 round clip. The lower recoil that goes along with the lighter weight of lead in it makes it a somewhat more accurate weapon in a burst and a lot easier on the soldier's shoulder. But it's just one pound lighter than the M-14. Don't hold me to this I think is one pound five ounces. It has a plastic stock I brought this I understand it has although this and this is good but basically
unimportant it's more resistant to fungus and all that sort of thing being made of nylon or downright nylon I think. Well I think the big objection to the gun that the combat troops in the Marines have had is the fact that it tends to jam if not clean properly. Yeah this is been a Charges been leveled mainly by soldiers marines and others who have had this specific trouble. And this is one of the large problems in designing any military weapon for find target use. The idea in design is to get the maximum precision the smallest tolerances you can manufacture into the thing. And if it jams you have a chance of another shot with a Viet Cong guerrilla coming at you. This trance is obviously denied and consequently jamming is almost a key difference in the design of military and civilian target weapons. The objective then
on a new weapon of this sort or any field weapon is to be able to dunk it in the mud to get sand in it within limits and have the tolerances so loose that is the clearance between the various mating parts that these minor amounts of dust grit mud foliage and what have you to get in will in general not interfere. On the other hand given the vicissitudes of. Combat conditions in talking to various going to experts you know very much more about it than I do. They tell me there isn't a gun made that has ever been made that will that you cannot jam you with a pebble or bit of grit large enough. Well how do you how does the M-16 comparing us in this regard to the M-14 this is a $64 question and one which has gotten a lot of publicity as we've all seen. Largely because of the germs at a crucial time that the foot soldier is going to say it was a weapons fall in Army
tests during the development of this. It had as good a record of functioning under a body and other dirty conditions as the M-14 which was previously standard. The other thing which is not been mentioned I think ought to be emphasized. I cannot understand why it hasn't come up in the public press or congressional discussions for that matter. Is the fact that the combination of. The round you put into the gun and the gun are one of the crucial things in Johnny For instance it will jam if the cartridge is not of dejected clean. This can happen if there is poor quality control in the ammunition itself. The load as opposed to the construction of the gun and one of the questions that I think should be asked by the public and possibly at higher levels in the Defense Department is what kind of quality control do you have for the ammunition which is being served as well as for the
gun itself. This to my mind is the missing link in the whole problem. Right well that's interesting I see that General Green of the Marines and general Wald who was the commander in chief until just two weeks ago or over in Vietnam have both gone out of their way to defend the rifle and it appears not just because they are expected to do this but because they sincerely believe it. On the other hand I've read headlines recently about marine. In fact it was a Massachusetts Marine who had written his brother that the gun was nothing more than a toy and the Defense Department Department announcement of his death came tragically two days later. And this of course is has caused caused all of the commotion Well this has a tremendous emotional impact naturally. But it is my feeling that such a charge simply cannot be substantiated. There's bound to be some tragic accidents of that sort. By and large with the moderate care which can be given and over the
whole range of doors and ammunition variations and so on. The all the records show that the M-16 is as rugged in terms of not jamming as the earlier M-14 and then the other advantages are really quite substantial. The 20 rounds in a clip and the rapid fire rate in the light weight and so forth. So I think one really thoughtfully has to pretty well write off the opinion of a single person as being perhaps emotionally loaded by his own prejudices. Or possibly a person who is used to speaking in hyperbole and in short that the M-16 does represent a technological advance. Yes it does. The next one I'd like to point this out. Perhaps wrapping up the discussion of the M-16 that I've had some contact with the design of new guns and the problem of putting them into production. One of the questions that has always occurred to everyone is why does it take six or eight or
sometimes ten years to. Standardized on a new weapon. And I think there's two answers one weapon fanciers tend to be tremendous individualists with very strong opinions. As we know from the National Rifle Association and their lobby about other matters such as gun control. The second thing is that the tooling alone to go into production probably will take from two to four years. It is entirely different to tooling up almost any other piece of weaponry. And this is the other factor that's generally not appreciated. Well fine I appreciate your comments on the M-16 and I think we've covered that well. Let's turn to a news dispatch on another new scientific development of the war Bob Monteagle. There's a report of power for blowers to cook up Viet Cong guerrillas with blasts of hair air heat heated to 1000 degrees being used north of Saigon. The blowers are the latest gadgetry to evolve in the frustrating wars of the tunnel in
the old Communist hideouts in the populated areas around Saigon. US First Division troops have been experimenting with the air blowers in a tangled jungle east of the district town of light seen 10 miles north of Saigon. The heated air was blasted into a tunnel complex this week after a Vietcong had thrown grenades at two first division tunnel rats. He did not come out and apparently escaped through a hidden exit. Another common technique and other common techniques to clear tunnels are to blow in tear gas or burn the insides with flame throwers. The hot air technique utilizes the 300 pound Mighty Mite blowers used normally and forcing tear gas into tunnels. The air is heated by a power generator working off a battery and forced into a tunnel entrance. The hot air technique is applied gradually to tunnels where VietCong are believed hiding the tunnel inhabitants are warned by loudspeaker. Then the blowers began that I would speakers continue exhorting the
Viet Cong to leave the tunnels at the. As the temperature rises eventually blasts of 1000 degrees were directed into the tunnel tunnel rats can explore the tunnel soon afterward because they coop quickly when gases use tunnels are contaminated for days. Now back to Congress no. Well Oliver what do you think of this massive blow or almost a glorified blowtorch to a degree it sounds a bit farfetched to me. I don't really see why I would disagree with that possibly with one item of the news report that was just read. I'm sure they do not work on batteries. In fact my information is that they have generators carried on trucks with our portable ones on the trailers of trucks of batteries just as they have not been strong enough to drive the family car around yet are also not strong enough to provide that quantity of hot air. It would have carried many many tons of batteries to provide power. That's a small point. My feeling is that this is one of the better brainstorms for
several reasons. It was mentioned that if you were used tear gas on tunnels there are the problem of its persistence and its being a great handicap to our own troops when they go in who would then have to go in with gas masks and protective gear. There's also a certain amount of opposition actually to the use of any of the personnel gas this is a nasty word ever since World War 1 in terms of the technology the air is heated up gradually and even if it reaches at the muzzle a thousand degrees the muzzle of the hot air thrower as opposed to flame thrower by the time it is diluted in a great number of cubic feet of tunnel. That's going to be just uncomfortably hot rather than a lethal weapon unless the man happens to be standing just inside the mouth. Furthermore. If you haven't tried to eat a roast in another you realize that he is not transmitted by air very fast to the. In this case though the roast in the pan not nearly as fast as it is
transmitted by water. For instance the analog here is that the walls of the tunnel themselves are like the roast in the oven they don't heat up very much. It's just the air rushing through the ambient air the gets heated so that a very few seconds or minutes after the end of the blowing of hot air to get rid of the hostile person hostile troops in the tunnel our own troops can go in with complete impunity. What seems to me though that hot air is a pretty easy thing to do away with Couldn't with the apparently very complex tunnel structures that the Vietcong have Couldn't they just isolate the hardier down a dead end channel or out through or through an air your head or something. I'm not familiar enough with the actual structure of the tunnels to give a positive answer but my impression of the their complexity is in terms of having a great many side branches in the right many alternate passage ways for escape. But they are not equipped with air tight air lock such as we associate with the. Silos for four.
Harden our missiles didn't didn't mean that at all but i wouldn't it be fairly easy if if you do have such a complex network of different tunnels to erect a barrier at one point and channel all the hot air down and an occupied branch. Well here we're trying to be military strategists and I don't know how well I can too on it. But it's my notion that the element of surprise here is such that unless they equip every tunnel or every tunnel system with that kind of a barrier. It would be very unlikely that they would have put barriers at the particular opening that we happened to discover and decide to go down and clear of the enemy personnel that day. Do you regard this as is so all pervasive and so rapidly encompassing so to speak that once the blowing had started that it would be impossible for personnel to start work on a barrier sandbags or something. Yes I would think so I see. This then answers my question. The question that is unanswered here in any of the dispatches
reports I've seen is how far down the tunnel this is effective is effective 50 yards 100 yards 200 yards. Can you continue this for some minutes or even parts of an hour and completely fill the tunnel with hot air and really flush all the personnel. This is unanswered and undoubtedly like any new weapon there is a rationale of use which has been written up in field manuals or passed on when they distribute the equipment and this must be known and used accordingly. This this whole concept of effecting nature changing the temperature and so forth rings a little bit to me of the defoliants that are in use apparently in Vietnam. Well I think the fact that this is a good deal of the research work has gone on to replace the use of tear gas is part of our attempt which I know we're making to avoid the use of chemical agents possibly recall that last September a group of
scientists biologists and others wrote a letter to President Johnson protesting the use of any kind of chemical agent pointing out whether it be tear gas or defoliant or you name it pointing out that. Because of the graded nature of these different agents and because everything is dependent on dosage even to harm relatively harmless agent like tear gas may overcome cause the death of children or of the invalid's or something of that sort. So the elderly and the infirm. So there has been tremendous pressure to try and get other means of achieving our military objectives and teargas and other personnel control weapons which we may use in a riot on a hot summer in one of our own cities is still terribly bad propaganda and hence the motivation for this kind of a thing Lee Harvey or throw a hot air blower.
It may be just as uncomfortable and indeed at times if you get too much in the way just as damaging as a tear gas or morsel but it doesn't have the political and emotional smell that any of the actual chemical agents have chemical agents or a nasty word. In all countries of the world and so I think we're terribly well advised to use something like this insofar as it is effective and will serve our absolute needs. Well let's look at another dispatch now by Monteagle the Pentagon has given up trying to land helicopters on Vietnam's jungle tops. But there's still hope for a sort of instant landing pad formed by dropped bags of fiberglass which Harden upon impact. Both projects illustrate the lengths to which the military scientists are going to provide fancy new warfare items these days. Some succeed and some don't. What was originally hailed as a remarkable
invention the so-called jungle canopy platform turned out to be a flop. The troops couldn't be persuaded it was worth using. It seemed like a good idea however according to Army press kit helicopters would form the platform by Lane two steel nets in cross fashion over thick jungle 100 to 200 foot high. The center would support an 18 foot hexagonal platform from which a host would raise and lower soldiers and cargo to the jungle floor. It took 15 minutes to set up an army drawing called it one of the discoveries of the Vietnam War and that was last April. Units were rushed to Southeast Asia for Battlefield evaluation on December 30 1st 1966. The Army concept team in Vietnam terminated the evaluation because of lack of interest by the operational units. The Pentagon reports total outlay six hundred forty seven thousand dollars seven hundred nineteen.
Now another item. The Air Force has come up with a rapid technique of making chopper landing pads with a plastic book. Originally they had in mind spraying a quick curing polyester resin fiberglass material over the ground to form instant helicopter pads. That's another good idea the Pentagon says but the feasibility of spraying ground areas from a hovering helicopter has not been demonstrated until the spraying problem is I and out the air force is pushing a sort of cookie drop technique. Air dropping bags of pre-mixed materials 30 foot diameter landing sites have been created this way so they say. The Pentagon says the Do It Yourself pad equipment will be available to U.S. commanders in the field in three to six months. If they want it and now back to caucus No. What do you think of this all or are you persuaded me at least partially that there is some sum once of Russia now in this blow or this gigantic blow or how about these two
techniques for even further utilizing the concept of vertical envelopment in a helicopter. Well that's the concept of vertical envelopment envelopment I have very little say no military strategist as far as the development of a platform which you said on the heavy jungle treetops. My only feeling is that if one were to exercise a rigid censorship on the fellows in Wright Patterson field or wherever they may be an army Development Agency and said You may not think of ideas we'd probably miss something. So perhaps the 600 some thousand dollars spent on this is justified on the basis of a certain sort of academic freedom in the in the armed services research and development program. Anyone who has seen descriptions of rain forests know that they are dense. But it seems to me that only a civil servant of relatively narrow experience can find by haps to Peoria Illinois or some such place. I would take this business of dense foliage so seriously as to think that you
could spread out netting or mesh work platforms on the top of the trees and have them stay. I only know one thing to do about a proposal like this and to laugh and say they were a big country we can afford the half million plus the 600000. That's what you think all should be said about this book. I think it's lovely because it illustrates at least a certain kind of open mindedness. But beyond that even that carried too far might cease to be a virtue primarily because you feel that the treetops just cannot support such a thing. That's right and you have to position them you probably have to get down on the ground look up and see that you are on the top of the great bell Bob tree or whatever they may have authority for drily and position it so accurately with knowledge of forethought that you might as well go down the ground and land people in some other fashion. As far as the plastic goes I think that's more interesting and the description of a cookie. Very runny cookie dough which spreads out on the ground and hardens very fast and very fast might be 10
to 20 minutes. So there would be a good platform at the end of that time. That seems relatively. Less fanciful cause there's gotta be some kind of a clearing so that the whirly bird can get down there and hence you don't have the freedom of the total jungle as I'm sure the man perhaps from Peoria conceived land anywhere could so think it doesn't matter technologically Is there such or is there such a product. Yeah a little bit there will spread out and out and then harden very rapidly. Yes there are there are problems which the press reports have not mentioned about this. I worked for some years with fiber glass polyester and fiberglass poxy the fiberglass or the fibers in the book is that is the binder and one of the problems that they have to solve a lot to make this practical is the fact they say the quality of the gook which in industrial situations I call pop life that I say that you're going to make a sailboat out of fiberglass and resin.
You may have a marvelous resident but it may all harden up in the tub before you apply it or spray it or do whatever you do or plaster it on. And there has to be some new technology which has not been talked about in order to have any life at all for this stuff. Before you drop it and then on dropping suddenly have it harden. Well that's that's a pretty pretty far fetched thing in general but we have one more. A stance Oblio at least one first observation seems farfetched. One more thing to talk about and let's hear from Bob Monteagle on the perils of body odor are normally associated with the social scene but in the increasingly technological Vietnam War a man can get killed if he sweats too much. His nemesis could be an experimental American device nicknamed the people sniffer. It picks up the odors of men digging foxholes under a thick jungle canopy or camping beside a river and shows the intensity of the smell on a meter. A skilled operator flying above and a helicopter can see at a glance the area of a troop
concentration and bring an artillery fire to bear on invisible targets U.S. field commanders hope that the people sniffer may help to roll back the Vietcong jungle cover. The device is the latest in a line of technological gadgetry that has taken on bizarre overtones even to the extent of attempting to use hungry bed bugs to detect a hidden enemy. U.S. Army Chemical War experts dealing with the smelling device have reported the experiments a success so far and have declassified the project. The 20 pound device was designed at the limited warfare laboratory at Aberdeen Maryland and the contractor is General Electric. Its official name the EA 6 3 man PAC personal the personal detector and now Crocker. The EA 6 3 man park personnel detector all over what do you think about. Well let's refer to it as a people which is the common term I understand. I would have laughed uproariously and ignored Lee about this some
six or eight or ten years ago because the problem of identifying odors was a technology which simply was not developed six or eight or ten years ago in this interval. About then a new technique called gas chromatography which acts as a technical name is a gas chromatography has become virtually as sensitive as a human nose picking up concentrations in the atmosphere and in a gas of maybe one part in one billion one part of the thing you're trying to detect in a billion parts of it. So nowadays we are used to in laboratories. Up things that you can smell this particular one doesn't use gas chromatography it uses the fact that people give off your Ria Which Android turns into ammonia gas and in a nutshell and ammonia gas is something we can detect in very low quantities.
When you were a kid you have to take a piece of blotting paper and with some household ammonia and some Yogic acid on another piece of blotting paper hold them together and blow. I was an unscientific child I didn't. Well this is one of those things it was kid smoke generator and the chem craft sets some of us played with had four directions how to make smoke the ammonia reacts with hydrochloric acid the muriatic acid makes ammonium chloride which is a tiny little particle like a fog piece of fog. This is the principle on which this works. Actually there is a sniffer device and there is a way of electrifying this so you can get some different qualities. Expose it to hydrochloric acid. This forms a little fog and then a photocell detects the fact that there is some fog and this is quite specific of people or animals I may say. Can this be very directional. No it has all of the beauties and drawbacks of the hound or the Hound Dog quite
precisely. It goes where the wind bloweth. And the old it does and you can get things up wind but not down wind. The fact that in general warm air rises makes it possible to use it from a helicopter and it must have an enormous sensitivity to be able to fly at 100 200 feet over an encampment of people or even one person can show up from a helicopter. But a high surface wind or on the ground when carried by a platoon. If the man is in the lead the wind is from behind. He gets a spell of his own men and will mask any people it may be 20 50 100 yards away. However this is an imaginative and really extraordinarily sensible application of rather advanced technology and it doesn't strike me as all that obscure in light of the fact that I think we have some ICBMs which home in on heat. And also I've heard that we're investigating on an old earth this current Well he'd know to must not be confused and I would correct one thing. The classical
heat Homer is a sidewinder air to air missile which flies up the tailpipe of jets. However the chemical detection and heat detection are two quite different techniques. They are. Well I want to thank you very much Oliver for your thoughts and your assessment of these their various scientific developments and for being our bridge to the new military science of the war in Vietnam. We talked about the M-16 rapid fire rifle about a bot or odor body odor smelling device about instant jungle landing pads both on the tops of the treetops and on the ground. We've even talked about massive blowers massive blow torch years torches to cook the Vietcong out of their jungle readouts. This is Crocker snow speaking and inviting you to listen again next week at the same time for another Vietnam War report. The NBN as. They refer to this is propaganda. So it's a little piece of unlike
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