SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

There were a dozen different major themes of Allied psychological operations (PSYOP) during the Vietnam War. One of the most interesting was the use of images and messages telling of the overwhelming military might of the United States and Government of Vietnam forces. Dozens of leaflets were prepared showing aircraft, sea craft, and land weapons like tanks and artillery in an attempt to frighten the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army regulars and cause them to surrender or rally to the government of South Vietnam. Robert W. Chandler discusses this theme in The War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, a Westview Special Study, Boulder, Colorado, 1981:

The fear appeal was used to convince the individual soldier or civilian that he faced an overwhelming danger of being killed if he remained with the Communists…The omnipresent threat of death was reinforced by complimentary themes, including the surprise and destructiveness of B-52 bomber raids, the mounting casualty rate, and the possibility of being buried in an unmarked grave, forever forgotten…Photographs of massed government and Allied weapons were used to reinforce the impression of ultimate victory by the Republic – “The Government forces are winning. Their firepower is overwhelming. Their resources are inexhaustible.”


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B 52

Although many different Allied aircraft were depicted on leaflets, the one seen most was certainly the B-52 bomber. It appeared on dozens of Allied propaganda leaflets, and probably with good cause. There is some evidence that of all the weapons, this was the one that the enemy feared most. It flew so high that they never heard, and sometimes did not even see the bombers. The first they knew of their presence was when the ground erupted and death ensued.

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Leaflet 4537

I chose leaflet 4537 because it has an interesting look and message. It is a bit more artistic that the usual leaflet, which just shows the bomber. To the right of the image the strange text is:

This is the B-52 evil genius, a constant threat to you.

The back is all text. The message is:

Dear North Vietnamese Communist Cadre:

On your supply routes into the south, you have surely heard a lot about the terrible death and destruction of the B-52 evil genius.

The B-52 evil genius is capable of carrying many different kinds of bombs. It usually flies at an altitude of more than 10 kilometers, so that you can neither see it nor hear it.

Unmarked graves on both sides of the road are the consequences of bombing by the B-52 evil genius. Therefore, whenever the North Vietnamese Communists make you move supplies to the South, you will be bombed. Do you still hope to escape the Angel of Death and return to your families?

You had better find a way to escape and save your lives. The Government of Vietnam will welcome you with open arms.

I assume that the above text was written by a Vietnamese. It certainly does not have the feel of “American” English. Another clue is that the leaflet fact sheet states that the illustration is of a “B-52 Flying Fortress.” The “Flying Fortress” was the B-17 bomber of WWII. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, turbojet, strategic bomber flown by the United States Air Force since 1955. In June 1964, 28 B-52Fs were fitted with external racks for twenty-four 750 pound bombs. Later, another 46 aircraft received similar modifications. In December 1965, a number of B-52Ds underwent Big Belly modifications to increase bomb capacity for carpet bombings. While the external payload remained at twenty-four 500 pound or 750 pound bombs, the internal capacity increased from twenty-seven to eighty-four 500 pound bombs or from twenty-seven to forty-two 750 pound bombs. The Big Belly modification created the capacity for a total of 60,000 pounds in 108 bombs.

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Leaflet 4569

The same photograph of the shadow of an unknown aircraft over a bombed bridge appears in about a dozen Allied leaflets. The aircraft is an F-101 Voodoo. The Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command had three squadrons operating the Voodoo during the Vietnam War; all of them flying reconnaissance missions doing bomb damage assessment and taking photos of potential targets. I assume that the F-101 was taking pictures of the bridge and happened to photograph its own shadow. The image appears on leaflets SP-484, 4565, 4566, 4569, 4570, 4573, and 4574 and many others. Leaflet SP-484 actually identifies the target as the My Dac bridge located 30 kilometers north of the 17th parallel, attacked and destroyed on 22 April, 1965.

The text on the front of Leaflet 4569 is:

Bombing to Continue

Destruction of bridges and other lines of communication such as the one in this photograph are to reduce supplies going to the North Vietnamese invaders of the Republic of Vietnam. Work to repair damage like this will be negated by future air strikes. Only when the Communist leadership stops its agtression can peace return and the repair work continue uninterrupted.

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Leaflet 4-125-68

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Phantoms bomb North Vietnam

This official USAF photograph was released in December 1965 with the caption:

U.S. F-4 Phantoms bomb North Vietnam before a Christmas Eve bombing halt.

The bombing resumed in January 1966.

American PSYOP later used the edited photo in a propaganda leaflet. This leaflet has two photographs, the first depicting artillery and the second a U.S.A.F. bombing raid somewhere over North Vietnam. The center aircraft is an F-4 Phantom; the lower aircraft an EB-66 Destroyer.

This picture appears in an Air Force Magazine article entitled “Basic Beliefs” that discusses changes in Air Force Doctrine. The caption of the picture is:

During the Vietnam War, doctrine often defined the Air Force’s role as being support of ground forces. Here, a flight of F-4C Phantoms under radar control of an EB-66 electronic warfare airplane bomb North Vietnamese targets. (USAF photo)

The F-4 was capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 2.2. The F-4 could carry up to 18,650 pounds of weapons on nine external hard-points, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Air combat experience over North Vietnam led to the adoption of the Phantom by both the Navy and Air Force as the primary air superiority fighter of both services. Its large wing and powerful engines gave it competitive performance against smaller MiGs, and the weapons systems officer assisted in spotting opposing fighters in visual range dogfights as well as with radar.

The B-66 Destroyer was produced by the McDonnell-Douglas for the US Air Force. It was used on many clandestine missions. A number of EB-66E aircraft served throughout Vietnam War. Unarmed, these aircraft were packed with special electronics for electronic reconnaissance and tactical ECM jamming.

The text beneath the photographs is:

The firepower of the Army of Republic of Vietnam and allied forces are ready to destroy you

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Leaflet 4-33-70

The United States Army 4th PSYOP Group prepared this leaflet in June 1970 for Vietnamese troops in Cambodia to warn them that their sanctuaries will be bombed.

This is just one of about a dozen similar leaflets produced by the Group. The leaflet depicts a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter releasing a bomb and the text:


The back is all text:


Your violation of Cambodia’s neutrality will no longer be tolerated. You no longer have a sanctuary here. The bombs are already seeking out your units and war supplies. Your weapons are of little use against the devastation coming to you. Save your lives – leave your units and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to rejoin your family.

The same image and front appears on 4-35-70. The message on the back is different:


Cambodia has been a neutral nation ever since it became independent many years ago. But your leaders violate this neutrality by making you bring the machines and supplies of war into Cambodia. Now you have no sanctuaries. Why die needlessly on foreign soil where you do no belong? Save your lives – leave your unit and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to join your family.

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Leaflet T-014

I similar image is depicted in Ho Chi Minh Trail Campaign leaflet T-014. This leaflet attempts to frighten the enemy workers and keep them from rebuilding the trail. The front shows an American F-5 fighter-bomber dropping bombs and the text:


The back is all text:


Aircraft will continue to come and drop bombs here. If you come to repair the damage you will be killed because while you are working, the aircraft will return and drop more bombs. These bombings have the objective of stopping the soldiers from the North going to the South to kill your compatriots. Don’t lose your life uselessly to help this aggression.

Compatriots - Leave this area and live and work somewhere else where it is safe.

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Leaflet 27

Leaflet 27 was dropped on North Vietnam during the period that the Americans bombed the North. It depicts the might of the American Navy and Air Force. The front of the leaflet bears three photographs of different American aircraft filling the skies over Vietnam. Leaflet 27 was one of three leaflets in a group of 6,000,000 dropped by the USAF on 10 October 1965. The aircraft at the top of the leaflet is the F-4 Phantom.

The aircraft in the center are USAF F-104 Starfighters. The Starfighter was used both in the air-superiority role and in air support missions. Starfighter squadrons made two deployments to Vietnam; the first was from April 1965 to November 1965, flying 2,937 combat sorties. The second was from June 1966 until July 1967, in which time they flew a further 2,269 combat sorties, for a total of 5,206 sorties.

The aircraft at the bottom of the leaflet are T-28D Trojans, a converted 2 seat trainer used as fighter-bombers. They had three hard-points on each wing, capable of handling munitions up to 500-pound bombs or 1000-pound bombs if only one hard-point under each wing was used. They could carry rocket pods, CBU dispensers, Napalm, etc., on the hard-points depending on mission, and also mounted .50 Caliber heavy machineguns internal to the wings. The text is:

For your safety, stay away from military installations

The back depicts a grandson speaking to his grandfather:

Grandpa, the Party tells us that hundreds of enemy planes have been shot down. Why do so many of them keep coming daily?

Grandson, this is a state secret. Nobody except the Party is allowed to count the number of enemy planes shot down. As for us, the people are at least allowed to count the number of enemy planes that fly over our heads. We had better keep the count to ourselves and stay away from the Party’s military installations when the planes come.

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Leaflet HQ-18-67

This 1967 leaflet was printed both in black and in blue. The text on the blue version is larger and easier to read, while the pictures on the black version are easier to see. The leaflet depicts a number of Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs on a bombing mission at the top, and below we see bombs bursting on the ground. The Mach 2 capable F-105 Thunderchief, commonly known as the “Thud” by its crews, was a single-seat supersonic fighter-bomber that bore the brunt of strike bombing over North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War. It could carry up to 14,000 pounds of bombs and missiles. Some of the text on this leaflet is:

To The People Who are in the Areas Temporarily Occupied by the Viet Cong

It is regrettable that the Government of Vietnam has to use bombs and artillery to drive the Viet Cong from places where they're hiding. In order to liberate your area, sometimes there is no other means. To protect your lives the government asks you to follow these measures:

Do not live close to where the Viet Cong are gathering.

Do not attend meetings hosted by the Viet Cong.

Do not work for the Viet Cong.

Dear citizens. You can protect you and your family by taking the following actions:

Ask the Viet Cong to leave the village.

Ask the Viet Cong to stop hiding in the village and firing weapons; that is the reason for Government bombing.

Ask the Viet Cong not to gather people for meetings because they may get killed by bombs and artillery.

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Leaflet 7-536-68

The crude leaflet was prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1968. I add it because it is one of the few that depicts an F-100 Super Sabre (sometimes called “the Hun”). As the F-100 pulls away, three Viet Cong run from the bomb blast. The F-100Ds arrived in Southeast Asia in 1962 and began flying combat missions, used primarily for close air support and ground attacks within South Vietnam. On 4 April 1965 an F-100 Super Sabre shot down one of the first enemy jet aircraft in aerial combat in Vietnam, a MiG-17, using cannon fire. The text on the front is:

You can not win under the powerful fire power of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces and its Allies. Don't wait any longer, return to the protection of the Republic of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 7-449-68

Another crude leaflet prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1968. I add it because although it is a tactical leaflet aimed at the 52 Regiment, besides the B-52 bomber, tank, attack helicopter and infantry men, it depicts the U.S.A.F Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. The Delta Dagger was a fighter aircraft built to intercept invading Soviet bomber fleets. The F-102 served in Vietnam, flying fighter patrols and serving as bomber escorts. The F-102 became fairly heavily used in the air-to-ground role. The interceptor was equipped with twenty-four 2.75-inch folding fin aerial rockets in the fuselage bay doors, and these weapons were used to good effect against various types of North Vietnamese targets. Additionally, heat-seeking Falcon missiles used in conjunction with the F-102s nose-mounted Infrared Search & Track were employed on night time harassment raids along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

To the officers of the 52nd Regiment: Your future will be like this if you don't return to the Republic of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 3402

This leaflet depicts what appears to be a United States Air Force C-119, better known by us who occasionally flew in it as “the flying coffin.” It was a big aircraft with what appeared to be very small engines. It was never a comfortable flight. The image shows a number of South Vietnamese soldiers boarding the aircraft. The text on the front says:

Mobility like that is one of the reasons for the Army of the Government of Vietnam’s Superiority.

The message on the back of 3402 says in part:

Today the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam have grown in both quality and strength, capable of replacing the Allied forces in the fight to defeat the Communists and safeguard the people’s peaceful life…

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Leaflet 4-47-70

Gunships have been a favorite weapon of the United States since the Vietnam War. They are extremely mobile, can appear at the scene of a battle very quickly and cover that battlefield with exceptionally well-aimed and lethal Gatling gun and artillery fire. The first American gunship was the AC-47 in 1964, then the AC-130 in 1966, and the AC-119 “G” version in 1968 and the improved “K” version in 1969. As the aircraft changed, the call signs changed too: the AC-47 was “Puff” (also called “Snoopy”), the AC-119G was “Shadow,” the AC-119K was “Stinger,” the AC-130H was “Spectre” and the AC-130U was “Spooky.”

Retired Master Sergeant James Sands forwards leaflet 4-47-70, which was printed by the 4th PSYOP Group in 1970 and depicts a C-119 gunship with four weapons protruding from its port side. The Shadow (G Model) had four six-barrel 7.62mm mini-guns, armor plating, flare-launchers, and night-capable infrared equipment. The Stinger (K Model) had 4 miniguns and two 20mm cannon, improved avionics, and two underwing-mounted General Electric J85-GE-17 turbojet engines, adding nearly 6,000 pounds of thrust for increased lift.  Over the course of the war the AC-119's were located at Phan Rang, Phu Cat, Tan Son Nhut, Da Nang and Udorn in Thailand. Text on the front of the leaflet is:



The message on the back of the leaflet is:

To the cadres and troops in the Communist forces.

You have just experienced the violence of the AC-119 gunship's attack. This close-support gunship is armed with two 20mm cannon and four 7.62mm machine guns, each with the rate-of-fire of 6,000 rounds per minute, enough to put six rounds per second into each square meter of your position. The aircraft can carry a load of ammunition large enough to completely erase the target. Moreover, the AC-119 has the latest electronic equipment to detect and pinpoint your exact location, by night as well as day.

We are going to keep on attacking you. Ask yourself, will you be able to escape death next time? Get smart. Rally to the Government side to hasten the return of peace for our country and to escape a horrible death yourself.

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Leaflet 3405

Leaflet 3405 shows a number of troops dismounting from a Bell UH-1 (Huey) helicopter. Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) symbols are at the left and right. The Bell UH-1 series Iroquois was the most used helicopter in Vietnam They first arrived in 1963 and by the end of the conflict, more than 5,000 of these aircraft were deployed to Southeast Asia. “Hueys” were used for Medical evacuation, command and control, air assault; to transport personnel and materiel; and as gun ships. The message on the front of leaflet 3405 is:


The message on the back says in part:

The brilliant victories of the Republic of Vietnam armed forces on battlefields are the result of sustained training in both techniques and tactics. The Republic of Vietnam armed forces are able to crush all aggressive attempts of the Communists in any battle condition to protect the lives of the people…

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Leaflet 8(1)9-307-68A

This 1968 leaflet from the 8th PSYOP Battalion depicts a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Jet flying Over Vietnam. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. Later models incorporated a Vulcan rotary cannon. During the Vietnam War, the F-4 was used extensively as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The text on the front is:

Do Not Wait Until This Aircraft Returns

The text on the back is:

We warn you that this aircraft will return sowing death and you won’t have enough time to choose a way of life.

80,000 of your friends have used the Government’s safe conduct pass to return to live in warmth, peace and security. You can emulate them or remain to die a miserable and horrible death.

Those who remain will never know when bombs will be dropped on them. So, be wise and don’t hesitate any longer. The Government and people of South Vietnam will welcome you in a spirit of brotherly love. Rally now! A much better life is awaiting you. Don’t hesitate any longer! Rally now!


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A number of Allied leaflets showed every kind of sea craft from the famous “Patrol Boat River” (PBR) to battleships and aircraft carriers. American carrier task forces were always off the coasts of North Vietnam and within striking range.

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Leaflet 4503

Leaflet 4503 depicts an aircraft carrier off the coast of North Vietnam and the text in part:

One of several United States carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin with the mission of interdicting supplies destined for North Vietnamese Army forces in South Vietnam

United States action in mining the entrances to all North Vietnamese ports is directed against the military capability of North Vietnam and not against other nations…This action has been taken to shorten the war and stop the killing throughout all of Indochina.

The same image and a similar message appear on leaflet 4577.

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Leaflet 3029

Leaflet 3029 depicts the battle ship New Jersey on the front and the text:


The battleship New Jersey is operating off the shores of Vietnam.This battleship has nine 406mm guns with warheads weighing over 860kg that can fire a distance in excess of 33 kilometers and twenty 127mm guns.

The 406mm warhead can penetrate over 9 meters of reinforced concrete.

Before the tremendous firepower of the Republic of Vietnam and Allied Forces, the Communists can never realize their dream of the invasion of South Vietnam. To end the war honorably, the Hanoi authorities must show their sincere desire for peace in the Paris talks.

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Patrol Boat River (PBR)

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Leaflet 2223

This leaflet is one of many that shows a small river patrol boat. Some of the leaflets feature U.S. crews; this one features a Vietnamese crew. Some of the text is:


For the security of our compatriots, this kind of navy patrol boat will be operating day and night on the streams and rivers.

The Viet Cong use the waterways to transport deadly weapons which they will often use to kill or wound innocent people. On the waterways, the Viet Cong also try to transport rice and foodstuffs taken from our compatriots or paid for with worthless receipts. On these waterways, the Viet Cong also levy taxes on commodities that our peasants being to the market to sell. Without these weapons and foodstuffs and taxes, the Viet Cong would not be able to continue their war against the people…

A former sailor who served in Vietnam points out that the boat flies a US ensign and the man under the canopy opposite the coxswain appears to have a Navy bird pined on his cap. As for the two Vietnamese national police, the sailor states that he often had Vietnamese National Police on the boat during daytime patrols.

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Handout 2159

A number of propaganda leaflets and posters depict various small naval craft. Handout 2159 was printed in September 1967 in 8 x 10.5-inches and depicts an armed junk, a Coast Guard boat and a PBR.

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Poster 2073

The same general product was first printed in July 1967 as a 17 x 22-inch poster coded 2073. The text is identical, but there are three different types of boats depicted. The text is:


They are dedicated to support our country in building a just society with equal opportunity for all citizen. You who love along the coast and rivers can contribute to the defeat of the Viet Cong and the soldiers from the North. This is your concern and your help is needed to bring happiness to each home and each individual. You will receive a monetary reward and offered protection for the following types of information:

The location of enemy personnel shelters, food and supplies.
Infiltration activities including ships and small craft.
The location of mines, booby traps and planned ambushes.
The location and name of known Viet Cong.
Location of POW camps, where Vietnamese and Allied prisoners are located.
Information which leads to the defection of a Viet Cong leader.
Information on Viet Cong tax soliciting activities.

If you have information:

Hail or approach Vietnamese or Allied boats as shown in the photo.

Contact other military personnel, local police or authorities. A reward will be presented by Naval authorities.

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Poster 1763

A third version of this poster in 17 x 22-inches, coded 1763 was prepared in March 1967 and depicted a fourth LST (landing craft) besides the three boats shown above. The title of this poster is: 



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Leaflet 19-81-67

This leaflet depicts what appear to be the same three ships in slightly different poses. It was printed by the 19th PSYOP Company; deployed to Can Tho, Vietnam, 19 November 1966 to provide advice and support in IV Corps. The top picture is a standard PBR. The same picture appears on poster 1763. The boat at lower left is probably a Command Control Boat (CCB). The boat at lower right is unidentified but may be a “Landing Craft Personnel” or “Higgins Boat.” As the war neared its end, the United States turned over most of its small boats to Vietnam. It shows the Republic of Vietnam flag and the hull number “GC 407.” Some of the text is:


The patrolling water-craft on the Mekong delta are for:

Helping citizens to travel the waterways easier

Giving the Viet Cong cadres more chances to escape

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Leaflet 3577

This leaflet shows the usual Patrol Boat River but claims it is under Vietnamese control rather than U.S. Perhaps this leaflet was produced near the beginning of Vietnamization when the U.S. tried to hand over military affairs to the Vietnamese. The text explains in part:


Today, the Army of Vietnam is replacing the Allied forces as it steadily assumes the full responsibility for defending the country. The sea, air and ground forces of the Government of Vietnam are rapidly being equipped and trained in the use of modern weapons to thwart any aggression.

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Leaflet 2786

This leaflet depicts a Vietnamese Navy armed junk on patrol. The back bears a photograph of Vietnamese and American naval officers studying a map of suspected Viet Cong supply routes. Some of the text is:


The junk force of the Vietnamese Navy is always present on its territorial water to intercept infiltration of the Communists from the North via waterway, and at the same time provide security to the people and crush aggressive plots of the Communists.

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Leaflet 10-152-69

This leaflet was printed by the 10th PSYOP Battalion in 1969. The leaflet depicts an Armored Troop Carrier. An ATC could carry a full infantry platoon. It was armed with three 20mm cannon or an Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher and two 20mm cannon, up to two .50 caliber machine guns and four 7.62mm machine guns, two Mark 18 40mm grenade launchers, plus various small arms, the ATCs not only landed troops, but also re-supplied them and provided close-in fire support during operations.

It was protected by “stand-off” or bar armor, a series of 1-inch concrete reinforcing steel rods set about 12 to 18 inches from the boat’s hull and superstructure. The bar armor was designed to detonate an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) or recoilless rifle rounds before they hit the armor plate. “Stand-off armor” proved to be very effective against both hand held and crew served weapons used by the VC, and significantly reduced casualties and damage when a riverine craft was hit by enemy fire. Some ATCs were modified with a helicopter flight deck counted over the troop wells. The text on the back is:

To Our Compatriots Living Along the Rivers

The Government of the Republic of Vietnam sends patrol boats to protect you, to block communist infiltration, and to prevent the Communists from forcing you to pay taxes to them. You should help the patrol boats by telling them where Communist tax collection points are located, if you have precise information on those locations, or by telling them the locations of Viet Cong weapons caches. You will receive a reward.

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Leaflet 2224

This October 1967 leaflet depicts Vietnamese fishermen pointing out Viet Cong boats to naval personnel at the left and a U.S. destroyer and smaller boat firing on and sinking a Viet Cong sampan at the right. The text on the front is:

To Defend Free Vietnam is the duty of every Vietnamese

Following the Viet Cong means suicide

The text on the back is:


The Communists have experienced bitter defeats in the bloody battles of Vietnam. Being baffled in the use of land communication lines to supply their troops, the Communists must use waterways to supply their blood-thirsty insurgents. They ship in money and weapons by sampans and small motor launches…

The United States and South Vietnamese warships are patrolling along the coastline to check the infiltration of Viet Cong boats and vessels into South Vietnam.

Therefore, to thwart the infiltration of Viet Cong criminal elements, and to bring peace to the country, you fishermen are required to submit to the searches conducted by the United States and South Vietnamese warships.

Your cooperation with the United States and South Vietnamese navies by immediately informing the warships or local authorities of any Viet Cong vessels you see is appreciated. The naval forces will search and immediately foil all their subversive attempts.

Note: The exact same vignette and message is found on the earlier JUSPAO leaflet coded SP-865.



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Leaflet T-04

This “threat” leaflet is designed to frighten the enemy by showing him the technological power and might of the American forces. Leaflet T-04 depicts a 175 mm cannon on the front. The back depicts a safe conduct pass at right, and text at the left:


This gun has not been aimed at you yet. If it had been aimed at you, you would not be reading these lines. This is a175 millimeter cannon. It shoots a 75 kilogram projectile more than 30 kilometers and is able to destroy everything in the target area.

Your chance to avoid this fate will come. Watch for your safe conduct pass which points the way for you to come across and live under the protection of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

Over 14 million T-4 leaflets were dropped from the DMZ to Dong Hoi in October and November 1967 and again April and May 1968. I ran across an interesting evaluation of the Trail leaflets by an “Ad Hoc Leaflet Panel” dated 10 December 1970. They considered 40 leaflets over the course of one day and judged them on suitability with recommendations that the leaflets should be rejected, retained or modified. It is interesting to note that leaflet T-04 was listed as “rejected – the threat will not work.”

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Leaflet 246-81

The same artillery piece seems to appear on leaflet 246-81. 300,000 copies of leaflet 246-81 were prepared at the request of the U.S. 1st Division by the 246th PSYOP Company. The leaflet depicts a farmer working his field while what appears to be a self-propelled M107 175mm gun is in the background. The text says in part:

You have seen and heard the large cannon being used in this area to destroy the Viet Cong.These cannon have been brought here with the cooperation of the Government of Vietnam in order to protect you and your family…

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Leaflet 246-327-67

This leaflet was produced by the 246th PSYOP Company in 1967 and depicts what appears to be an M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer clearly marked with the designation “US Army,” with the main gun aimed directly at the reader. The text above the weapon is:

You Cannot Escape

The back of the leaflet is all text and threatens the Viet Cong with artillery:

This leaflet was delivered by an artillery shell. Artillery can reach any target. What do you think? You could be killed by the next artillery volley. What should you do? Rally to the government in accordance with the government's Chieu Hoi policy.

I should also add that I suspect the message is not telling the truth. Leaflets dispersed by artillery are exploded out of the shell and often have burns and singing and a wrinkled, crackled look. This leaflet is pristine and more likely dropped from an aircraft.

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Leaflet 4584

This leaflet depicts a South Vietnamese tank near the destroyed hulk of a North Vietnamese tank. The same image appears on other leaflets such as 4493, 4495 and 4496 as well as others. The text is:

A North Vietnamese tank destroyed by the armed forces of Vietnam at the Tri-Thien Front. Steel cannot withstand rockets and bombs. What will such weapons do to flesh and bones?

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Leaflet 3577 (Back)

This leaflet depicts a group of tanks flying the Vietnamese flags and tells the enemy that the Vietnamese are taking over a greater part of the defense of the homeland and will be victorious. Some of the text is:

Recent battles between the Army of Vietnam forces and the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops serve as proof that you will never win a military victory in this war. All the blood spilled by your deaf friends on the battlefield amount to useless sacrifices….

One assumes that "deaf friends" applies to those VC and NVA who have heard the broadcast requests to go "Chieu Hoi" and come over to the the government and rejected them.

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Leaflet 2738

Leaflet 2738 points out that the ARVN are armed with America’s M16 rifle. The leaflet depicts South Vietnamese Major General Nguyen Van Minh ceremoniously receiving his M-16 from U.S. Army Major General Hay.

I doubt that the Viet Cong were frightened by this revelation since they carried the AK47, one of the finest combat rifles ever made. At various times in my career I was issued the M1, the M1 carbine (ugh!), the M14 and the M16. The M16 was not held in very high regard and was sometimes called the “Mattel Toy” due to its plastic stock and hand guard. During the early days of the Vietnam War it was known to jam, mostly due to the ammunition and the barrel. As the war went on and improvements were made and even more important, everyone received cleaning kits, the weapon worked more efficiently. Technically known as the “Rifle, 5.56-mm, M16,” it weighed a bit over six pounds, was 39-inches long, had a maximum rate of fire of 45 to 65 rounds per minute on semiautomatic and 150 to 200 rounds per minute on full automatic. Its maximum effective range was 460 meters. It was fairly accurate at close range. I could shoot with M14s out to 200 meters; after that the big rifles ruled. Some of the text on the leaflet is:


Major General Hay presented an M16 rifle to Major General Nguyen Van Minh. General Nguyen Van Minh is the Security Chief of the Saigon Gia Dinh area. This M16 rifle is a symbol of the number of modern weapons that the United States will provide the Government of Vietnam Armed Forces.


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Slogan 1840

In order to encourage the citizens of the Republic of Vietnam to join the armed forces and fight to protect their country, JUSPAO produced a number of 8 x 22-inch slogans in April 1967 with various patriotic statements. Slogan 1840 is

Discipline is the strength of the Army.

Other slogans in this series said:

The Army of the people must be friendly to the people and help protect them.

Being a young man, you should fulfill your military obligations to avoid scorn.

The gun and sword are part of a heroic life. Join the Army and live as a brave man.

Joining the Army is a concrete patriotic action.

The Army is the place for young men who want to develop their talents and strengths.

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Leaflet SP-56

This Joint United States Public Affairs Office leaflet attempts to build up the morale of the Vietnamese Army as well as the citizens of the Republic of Vietnam by bragging of the strength and bravery of their troops. The top depicts Communist Viet Cong sneaking into a village. The bottom cartoon depicts a Vietnamese soldier daring the Viet Cong to come out and fight. The text is:

The cowardly Communists can only hide themselves behind women and children to furtively attack.

Communist guerrillas: if you are brave come here; the soldiers of Tan Phu post are waiting for you.

The back is all text:

The courageous government soldiers could easily destroy the Communists and they will exterminate them.

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Leaflet 246-041

This leaflet depicts a lone Viet Cong soldier facing ARVN troops, helicopters, fighter aircraft, armored personnel carriers, cannon and tanks. The 246th PSYOP Company prepared 100,000 of these leaflets for use in III Corps. Some of the text is:

The Viet Cong and their sympathizers can no longer survive in this area. They are faced with the tremendous power of the Allied forces. On the side of the government are swarms of aircraft, the most modern light and heavy artillery and the most deadly personal weapons, all supported by the unlimited manpower and resources…

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Leaflet 3403

This leaflet was prepared in September 1969 to show the might of the Vietnamese Armed Forces. It depicts a Vietnamese artillery unit in action on the front and the text:


The back is all-text and says in part:

The Navy, Air Force and Army of the Republic of Vietnam today are assuming more and more of the responsibility of fighting the Communists to defend the sea, air and land territories of the country, determined to thwart the Communist’s attempt at taking over the Free South. Artillery soldiers are always ready to rain shells on the heads of the Communists to protect the people’s peaceful and happy life…

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Leaflet 3722

Leaflet 3722 depicts a Vietnamese armored personnel carrier (APC) and an artillery piece. The United States used M113 and M114 armored personnel carriers in Vietnam and because of its size, this would appear to be the M113. Cannons are always hard for the non cannon-cocker to identify, but the size of this one implies that it could be a M114 version of the 155mm howitzer. The text on the front is:

How can you survive?

Text on the back warns the Communists that the ARVN is training with modern weapons and have the ability to protect the people.

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Leaflet 6-1088-69

This may seem a bit out of place because although I originally thought the ARVN in this leaflet were on APCs and it was a military image.  I later realized that next to those armored personnel carriers were bulldozers. It is not only weapons that win the war. Here the Vietnamese tell their enemies that they are clearing land with those bulldozers so that infiltrators can be seen and hit by artillery and aircraft. Of course, they were also clearing the land with defoliants, but that is another story. The text on the front is:

You Will Have No Place to Hide

The text on the back is:

Attention Communist Officers and Men!

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam and their Allies are now carrying out a program to clear the dense jungle vegetation. During this operation gigantic bulldozers have uncovered and destroyed many of your rice caches and tunnels. When they had to cross through the cleared areas many of your comrades have become the targets of Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam and allied artillery guns and helicopter gunships.

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Leaflet 3733

This leaflet depicts ARVN troops near an APC and going into battle in helicopters. Text on the front is:

Equipment and determination like this is the reason for the Republic of Vietnam Armed Force’s superiority.

Text on the back warns the Viet Cong that the ARVN have been modernized with up-to-date weapons and equipment. They can be deployed immediately to any battlefield, whether on land, swamps, rivers, sea, or in the air.

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Leaflet 3963

Leaflet 3963 depicts a Vietnamese soldier manning a minigun on an attack helicopter. There were several miniguns modified for helicopters and it is difficult to be sure exactly which one this is, but I suspect it is the M134 modified to fire 7.62 rounds. The text is:

The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces are stronger than ever.

A similar message is found on a 6th PSYOP Battalion all-text leaflet coded 6-1132-69. The text says in part:

Dear Compatriots,

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam is getting stronger and our weapons are more modern. As a result, the ARVN has beat back all of the Communist attacks during their spring, summer and fall 1969 campaigns. Realizing that the ARVN is fully capable of assuming responsibility of the war, the President of the United States just decided to withdraw 50,800 more soldiers from now to 15 April 1970. This decision doesn't mean that the United States is compromising. In fact, this highlights the growing strength of the ARVN…

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Leaflet 2787

The United States wanted to stress the point that the Vietnamese Armed Forces had the full support of the American military. An entire series of leaflets was disseminated depicting US and Vietnamese forces working together. Leaflet 2787 depicts two Americans and two Vietnamese officers studying maps; 2788 shows an American and a Vietnamese officer discussing plans for an attack; 2790 depicts an American and Vietnamese commander checking the location of a Viet Cong hideout and 2792 features American and Vietnamese radio operators side by side. Some of the text on leaflet 2787 is:

These four Vietnamese and American officers are carefully studying a map to pinpoint the Communist hideouts. This manifests the close fighting spirit of men who are standing on the same front line and are fighting together for the same ideology: FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.

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Leaflet 1746

After the Allied victory of Operation Cedar Falls, JUSPAO printed 10 million leaflets on 25 February 1967 to tell the nation about the great victory. The front of the leaflet depicts 3.3 million kilos of captured rice with the text:


This is just a part of the more than 3.3 million kilos of rice belonging to the National Liberation Front and seized by the National Army.

The back is a long all-text message so I will just mention a few pertinent comments:

The Saigon-Cholon-Gia Dinh command headquarters of the NFL, with all its supplies, defenses and documents, as well as 700 cadre, has been captured by the Army of Vietnam….The NFL, already short of supplies, lost 3.3 million kilos of rice, 8.7 million kilos of salt, 75 individual and crew-served weapons, 7,622 uniforms, 1,099 grenades, and 392 mines…720 NFL soldiers were killed, over 700 suspects detained and another 503 voluntarily returned to the GVN through the Chieu Hoi program. When your present rations and equipment are exhausted, what will happen to you?


Can these leaflets showing the might of the government and its allies actually be worthless in some cases? Apparently yes, according to the JUSPAO November 1968 publication Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets:

Continuously impress the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army forces with the present and growing strength of the Government of Vietnam, United States and friendly forces. But do not exaggerate our military capabilities. One leaflet said, “The National Government’s heavy artillery shells and powerful troops will certainly wipe out every one of you in the near future.” Another said, “If you stop vehicles on the highway to levy taxes, ambush troops now maintaining our compatriot’s security will exterminate every one of you." These threats go beyond reality. They are not credible, and therefore they are not effective. Keep the enemy forces constantly aware of the danger of death, but do not tell them they will die tomorrow.

Can the Communists use the gradual replacement of U.S. forces by ARVN forces to their propaganda advantage? Yes. Joint PSYOP Policy 83 entitled Troop Replacement points out that the Communists are claiming that they have defeated U.S. forces and obliged them to leave. Some South Vietnamese may feel abandoned. The Communists might seek to weaken South Vietnamese morale by demonstrating that ARVN forces are inferior to U.S. Forces.

What is the American answer to such an argument? Prepare PSYOP to convince the people that the Republic of Vietnam is strong and able to protect contested areas without U.S. help. The propagandists should heavily publicize the turning over of modern equipment to ARVN forces, and advertise the programs that train ARVN troops to use the new equipment and improve their fighting ability.

This is just a brief look at the Allied attempt to frighten the Vietnam Communists with the might of the military forces of the Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America. We will add more items from time to time as we find them in our files.

As always, readers are encouraged write with comments or suggestions. The author can be contacted at .

End: 12 December 2007