The Basic housing of the APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) was made out of plywood.
I am just a guy who is as they say in his “later years” and I seem to have some ability to make things I have seen or has pictures of. I am in my 60’s and never thought I would make this far. Anyway I served in Vietnam in the 60’s, my duties were on a flamethrower apc a M132. It was basically a modified m113, instead of troops on the inside; we had large tanks pressurized with Napalm. There were very few of these vehicles in each area of Vietnam. When you hear about or see them in films and books they do not realize that the same flame unit was moving from battle to battle. This also covered working with other divisions, branches i.e. assigned to the Marines, Navy or even other countries. So much for that and no need to get heavy into much of the time spent on the flame (Zippo) unit. Almost everyone knows the term Zippo in relationship to the flamethrower and the lighter. But the term actually means is it goes off on the first strike. Think about that for a moment- it means that if hit in the right spot the weapon goes off- and I mean 2,000lbs of pressure released with heat and flame- we won’t talk about the two-crew members inside. You just think about the area around the apc and that much power and napalm being released in seconds. Note: The Geneva Convention decided that it was cruel a weapon and made it non acceptable to use.
Now the M132 and its variations a1, a2 etc. I built this one in 1/6 scale all out of wood. Wood for me is an easy medium to work with. My family goes back to the building farm equipment, wagons (horse drawn), stagecoaches, etc. I never really worked at that for a living, just as a hobby. I remember my grandfather saying after he gave me a piece of wood, “If you want a toy horse, just take away all the wood that doesn’t belong.” That applied to anything you wanted to make, carve or create. This one I had the specs from the apc and did lots of math to get the 1/6 scale
Old men reminisce a lot, sorry. Anyway the APC is done in 1/6 scale and just the exterior is all that is shown or detailed. It still need further detailing, numbers, mud and personal items for the troops. There will also be a Dragon with flame coming out of its mouth on each side. As with all soldiers you try to express your feelings towards the enemy and using “nose art” is/was a expression if the time. The military does frown on it, but many times they let it go if its not to offensive.
The build itself is plywood,
2 x 4, with lots of cuts. Sanding and some modification to make it look like it’s not wood. Such as the tracks are two 2 x 4’s cut to lengths then the road wheels are outlined then carved to create a 3D effect with the depth of ¼ inch around them. Prior to painting them I also used a hand saw to grove the track across the width to give individual segments for each track- The idea when painted it looks like they function and more realistic. The sides are mad from ¼ inch plywood. The drivers hatch opens and closes, the flame turret rotates. It is made from carving a couple of 2 x 4’s them cutting the circle out, once the shape was accomplished I whittled dowel rods into the oval shape to create the view ports around the sides of it. The top periscope is also a smaller dowel rod, and then I cut a rectangle piece of metal and bent it over top to form the U shape that covers the scope.
The unit had, of course the flame barrel and an additional weapon, it had an electric machinegun 7.62 caliber. Basically the same weapon as a M60 just modified to be mounted in a fixed position and fired electronically. Regrettably it jammed a lot and had poor electronics and would jam or not respond to the trigger switch. The electric wires would not make a good connection, banging and swearing seemed to help or at least at that moment it felt good.
The tow cable on the rear of the APC is 10 guage wire I removed the insulation then twisted it around the circle which I had cut out then grooved the center to give it the spaced apart look all I did was cut a small section out of the circle then mount the two sections as though it was still it full diameter. The board on the front of the APC was made to swing out and fold back as it did. The only variant was to mount the hinge or arm on the sides of the board rather than carve out the material on the front of the APC. If you do not know the function of this, it would be extended out to ford water. The shape of an apc from the side the aerodynamics would make it “submarine”, this extension made the configuration change so it no longer wanted to under the water, but act more like a boat and keep the nose up.
The metal brackets and the antenna are old metal coat hangers cut and bent to shape. I left enough extra so I could drill holes, glue and insert them in to stay. The addition of a small dowel rod with lines carved all around and its cent drilled, end-to-end, slid down the antenna make it look like the spring the antenna mounted too.
The rubber on the outside of the road wheels is a 1/8 plywood attached after the carving and initial painting, the real purpose was to assist in propulsion in water.
The article on the Flame apc is a prelude to a larger build I am finished with except for detail for more realism. The reason they go together is the fact that we were assigned to the Navy to be part of the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong delta. We placed the flamethrower in the well deck of an ATC [armored troop carrier). The program was to test the feasibility of the flamethrower along the rivers and canals while in pursuit of the VC. We spent several months on board the boat firing from this position in the boat. The idea worked well and the Navy built several Zippo boats and quality put them in action. Sometimes the waterway was so narrow that you just had to fight thru to the other side. There was not enough room to turn around and impossible to back up. Just as a final note, 1/3 of our unit was either killed or wounded. The boat was described as the workhorse of the Brown Water Navy. It was approximately 60 ft long and 18 ft wide. Well I decided to build a 1/6 scale of that craft. The one I built is the same boat I was assigned to, remember I was in the Army and the boat was Navy. The MRF was the first time the Army and Navy had worked together since the civil war. There is now a Riverine force in Iraq, there are a lot of waterways in the delta region of it also.
I have more pictures of this Flame Thrower here
Paul has also built a scale model Armored troop Carrier (ATC) You can see that project here: The Scale model ATC
He also made a miniature M3 Scout. This has a machine gun and sirens. And it is built on a lawnmower so it really rolls! The Miniature M3 Scout