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Vietnam Ironclads: A Pictorial History of U.S. Navy River Assault Craft, 1966- 1970

by John M. Carrico. Brown Water Enterprises, 2007, $39.95

Gunboat diplomacy became a byword for Western imperialism before World War II, and the U.S. Navy deployed its share in China and the Pacific at that time. In Vietnam, however, Viet Cong ambushes of riverine traffic with deadly rocket-propelled grenades and mortars compelled naval personnel to revive a breed of heavily armored war vessels it had last used in the American Civil War—including turreted monitors, converted on the hulls of LCM(6) landing craft. Besides their front turrets housing 40mm cannons, the new monitors were distinguished by the rows of bar armor meant to predetonate RPGs so they could not penetrate the plate armor it covered.

Combining a wealth of Vietnam-era photographs with surviving vessels—including the sole remaining command and communications boat version of the monitor, CCB- 18—John M. Carrico has turned out a labor of love in Vietnam Ironclads, which gives details, inside and out, of each version of riverine fighting vessel and the armament it carried, including flamethrowers and helicopters. Quite possibly the definitive book on the “Mekong battleships,” Vietnam Ironclads should be welcomed by the men who served aboard them, as well as nautical modelers and restorers (like the author) with a penchant for their unique design.


Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here