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Vietnam airfield blast wall

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On 5/20/2023 at 9:01 PM, Finn said:

Look here:




on page 2 there are a couple of drawings giving dimensions.



Thanks, Jari, that is very helpful. Also some good photos of them. There was some question if they were ever painted, and it doesn't look as though they were. Also a question whether the builders used loose earth of sandbags. Clearly not the latter.

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Hi again,


Along the years, I also collected a lot of information about such Armco Steel Wall Revetments. We already discussed that in...2012 and, in 2018, there was a more detailed thread ("South East Asia revetments question " in the General discussion forum) but it disappeared! I guess the original poster had asked for removing his contents and as far as I know this erased fully the threads he created. Hopefully I had saved it for whatever reason and here's what I posted at that time:



You are lucky as I studied seriously that topic some years ago!


Well, unfortunately, the Lone Star wall set is not accurate for a SEA version :-( I was quite disappointed to see it when I got them. It looks they based their set on drawings available on the web and did not double check with wartime pictures. I guess the problem came from the fact the initial prototypes tested in the US (such as Hill AFB) had more sections and consequently the initial manual views reflected that. A normal SEA wall was made of nine embossed horizontal sections of steel sheet. Alas, the Lone Star vacformed wall has 11 or 12 of them (I do not remember). A missed opportunity!


Have a look here for a comparison between the CONUS and SEA types and also some information about the way they were built: http://public.fotki.com/tsumner/scale-modeling/revetments/


There is at least one manual describing the construction of such walls: the Field Manual 5-15 - Field Fortifications document from 27th of June 1972.

A company named Armco Inc. built such pre-fabricated steel sheets. They were named "Armco Steel Wall Revetment". Armco revetment was delivered in packages combining a series of 10 foot interlocking sections.


The sheets were 12 feet high and 10 feet wide (with the poles) and the smaller end sheets had a 5 feet 6 inches width (poles included). Such Armco made pre-fabricated steel sheets were bolted together with hollow steel column posts to make walls.


The hollow walls were then filled with earth/laterite and theoretically capped with a thin layer of two inches of concrete. Earth was prefered whereas the manual indicated that sand should be used to fill the walls for a simple reason: the sand went out of the walls from the creases between the sheets and poles. So, this asked for the use of some specific material to fill the seams whereas this was not a problem when earth was used.


Hence, for a SEA diorama, either simulate earth/laterite color or concrete color but not sand. This use of earth rather than sand even in Vietnam coastal areas is confirmed by Seabees reports.


Typically, for "small" planes bays, the side wall length was made of seven to eigth sections as they were made when the Air Force was using shorter planes than the F-105 or Phantoms (e.g. Supersabres). For the width (the rear), it does not look there were hard rules. This really depended on the bases. Some just used the side walls without rear wall, some had single plane bays whereas others put two planes in one larger bay. Moreover, the separation walls between bays were sometimes built against the middle of a section of the rear wall of the bay. So you could for instance have a bay with 7.5 sections of rear wall.


Here is a view of the components:




With regard to Phantoms, I found pictures of single plane bays in Ubon, Udorn, Bien Hoa, Tuy Hoa and Phan Rang and larger (two planes) bays in Ubon, Cam Ranh, Bien Hoa, Phan Rang, etc. Globally, I would not really worry about the type of bays as planes moved between bases and even on the same base. Nonetheless, keep in mind there were not that common on some bases. For instance, Da Nang mainly relied on covered plane shelters. The best thing to do is to try to find pictures of the base you want to replicate, check the era and do a search for an aerial view of the base at that time period. Another tool I used was Google earth as many walls are still there!


Note that some pictures on the web actually show eighties Phantoms parked in revetments in Korean bases such as Kunsan.


Last, it looks like the walls had various hues of satin - metallic mid to dark grey colors. However, on some bases, a kind of brick red primer was seen or even a dark olive paint was used (as in Ubon). "



I did not find a lot of additional relevant information since that time.


However, I went back to that topic yesterday and looked at my pictures. Very often the walls were not painted but the surface quickly oxydized and got a dark grey dull color. I think this explains the grey colors. Sometimes they were painted with a color that looks to be black (possibly to avoid corroding effects in very wet environments) but that color became lighter with the sun! So, between the oxydized metal and the black color that changed here and there because of the sun, it is quite difficult to specify a definite color hue! I have at least twenty color pictures taken in SEA and the variety of color effects is obvious. So, if you use variations of dark dull greys, you should be OK!


Note, as abovementioned, the size of the revetment varied according to the bases, the use and the type of planes (one or two fighters, one large bomber, gunship or transport plane). Some Vietnam examples (depth x width):


Can Ranh:  120ft x 120ft

Tuy Hoa: 75ft x 90ft

Phan Rang: 90ft x 130ft & 75ft x 50ft

Bien Hoa: 90ft x 115ft & 75ft x 50ft







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Another example of matting was the AM-2 which is still in use today:




Back in SEA:






looks easier to scratchbuild, full scale 12' X 2' X 1.5" thick.



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