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When Pigs Fly: The Heliborne M60 Machine Gun in Vietnam

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The first of its kind in U.S. military service, the M60 General Purpose Machine Gun replaced at least three other guns. Nicknamed “The Pig,” it saw service on the ground, on the water and in the air.

The conflict in Vietnam is considered by many to have been an infantryman’s war. While that may be true, it certainly took a tremendous amount of support from the air and the sea to give American soldiers and Marines a competitive advantage in the harsh environment of Southeast Asia. New arms were used in new ways, but the goal was still the same—to put as much firepower on the target as possible.
M60 Machine gun sight

This gunner’s-eye view looks down the barrel of an M60 into the jungles of Vietnam

The Vietnam War also saw the combat debut of several U.S. military small arms, including the M16 rifle and the M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). After a lengthy development process, the U.S. Army officially adopted the M60, chambered for the 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridge, during 1957. By the end of 1958, the first M60s began to reach the troops, introducing the concept of the GPMG into the U.S. military.

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