Vietnam War Booby Traps, Gordon L. Rottman

Vietnam War Booby Traps, Gordon L. Rottman

Elite 236

One of the most familiar images of the Vietnam War is of a US patrol running into booby traps somewhere on an isolated jungle path. This book looks at the impressively wide range of traps used by the North Vietnamese and VC, covering the traps themselves, and how they were used.

The Vietnamese produced an impressive range of traps during the war, ranging from simple spike pits to massive IEDs. Some of the non-explosive traps were very elaborate, with spikes on hinged plates over small pits, small crossbows hidden in trees etc. The explosive ones tended to use different ways to detonate grenades, so there is a short section on the most common types of grenades found in Vietnamese booby traps. 

Unusually there is also a section on the American use of booby traps, which was much less widespread but also more technologically advanced, and was largely limited to the defences of US bases, and especially within the barbed wire barriers.

The author actually served in Vietnam, so some of the material comes from his own first hand experience, which gives the book a level of authenticity that you rarely find (although it also sometimes leads to the use of wartime jargon – in particular the choice of Free World and ComBloc for the two sides).

These traps were quite effective, probably inflicting about 11% of US deaths and 17% of casualties, at almost no risk to the North Vietnamese. As the author points out, they also undermined the operation in question, as the Americans would stop to evacuate any casualties, revealing their location and delaying or on occasion stopping the original mission.

Non-mechanical Booby Traps
Mechanical or Non-explosive Booby Traps
Hand Grenades as Booby Traps
Explosive Booby Traps and Mines
The Military Use of Booby Traps
Free World Forces’ Mines and Booby Traps

Author: Gordon L. Rottman
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 64
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2020

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