AIR CUSHIONED VEHICLE UNIT
Provisional

ACV UNIT (PROVISIONAL) INSIGNIA

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VIEW #1 - ACV AREA AT DONG TAM    VIEW #2 - DAMAGED ACV #901 BEING SCAVENGED FOR PARTS    VIEW #3 - ACV #902 PARKED COMBAT READY    VIEW #4 - ACV #903 ON JACKS GETTING ITS FRONT NOSE SKIRTING REPLACED

View #1  - The Air Cushioned Vehicle area at Dong Tam was in the southeast quadrant of the base near the main gate. View #2  - ACV #901 was taken out-of-service when an ARVN soldier tragically went through the lift fan with his equipment. The damage was not cost effective to repair and the ship was scavenged for parts to maintain the remaining two ACVs. View #3  - ACV #902 rests on the ground in combat ready trim. This was the only ACV equipped with an automatic grenade launcher on its portside bow. It also has an unintelligible inscription painted on its nose. View #4  - ACV #903 is elevated on jacks to facilitate the replacement of its nose skirting.

In operation ACVs were supported by a cushion of high-volume, low-pressure, compressed air generated by a centrifugal lift fan. The fan building up air pressure in the cushion lifted the vehicle. When on the air cushion the ACV was almost frictionless, allowing easy propulsion up to a speed of seventy-five knots. The same engine that powered the lift fan also drove a nine-foot, three-blade propeller that enabled the ACVs to speed over the Delta terrain. To maintain enough air under the ACV for it to clear obstacles, flexible rubber canvas skirts were hung from their edges to within a fraction of an inch off the ground. They could clear solid obstacles up to 3' high and rice paddy dikes, with sloping sides, up to 6 feet high. The ACV could force its way through grasses and small trees, as well as navigate ditches and canals.

         

Three 39' long, 16' high, upgraded, Air Cushioned Vehicles came to the 9th Infantry Division at about the time the US Navy determined that the operational effectiveness of their three earlier model Patrol Air Cushioned Vehicles (PACV) needed to be reevaluated. The 9th Infantry Division designated their unique unit the Air Cushioned Vehicle Unit (Provisional) and placed it under the command of Major David G. Moore. Major Moore was charge with developing how to operate these vehicles in combat. Major Moore retained command of the ACV Unit for an unprecedented 12 month period (officers were required to serve only 6-months in combat). The Army ACVs differed from the three US Navy PACVs in that they were an improved design better suited to support infantry operations. The ACVs were designed with flat decks to carry 12 troops, more powerful engines, and twin machinegun turrets in a wider cabin. Both the US Navy's PACVs and the Army's ACVs had been civilian craft manufactured by the British Hovercraft Company in England and refitted for military use in the USA by Bell Aerosystems. Although the Army test concluded that the ACVs were successful in their combat roles, their initial purchase price of $1,000,000 and subsequent high maintenance costs did not warrant further expansion of the fleet. When the 9th Infantry Division headquarters, and 1st and 2nd Brigades withdrew from Vietnam in August 1969, the ACV Unit (Provisional) remained with 3rd Brigade and was re-designated as the 39th Cavalry Platoon (unauthorized name signifying 3rd Brigade - 9th Infantry Division). Tragedy stuck the 39th Cavalry Platoon on August 3, 1970, when ACV #903 was destroyed in combat, killing the unit commander - Major Barry Francis Graham - and the crew. Command of the 39th Cavalry Platoon then went to Lieutenant George E. Rogers who commanded the single ship for two months until September 1970 when the platoon was disbanded.

ACV UNIT COMMANDERS

MAY 1968 - APR 1969

MAJ David G. Moore

APR 1969 - JUL 1969

MAJ Edward R. Szeman

39th CAVALRY PLATOON

JUL 1969 - DEC 1969

MAJ Edward R. Szeman

DEC 1969 - JUL 1970

MAJ Duane B. Root

JUL 1969 - AUG 1970

MAJ Barry F. Graham KIA*

AUG 1970 - SEP 1970

1st LT George E. Rogers
*August 3, 1970

Background Sound: "Gunfire Sequence"                                                                     RETURN TO DONG TAM