Call signs

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sundowner11

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Unread post10 Mar 2010, 03:04

In the Vietnam war, I know various flights used different call signs, for example on the Mission Steve Ritchie scored his first kill, his flight call sign was Oyster. Were call signs assigned to a particular unit? Could you give me an example like for the Triple Nickel Mig Killers? Any help would be appreciated as this has always confused me a little.
I'm new here and young, any help would be appreciated.
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LinkF16SimDude

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Unread post10 Mar 2010, 04:19

As I understood it, in peacetime, when flights stay in the local area, the flight takes the callsign of the flight leader. So you'd have "JoBlo 01 Flight" for example, and each element then becomes JoBlo 02, 03, etc. For an off-site meet like a Flag exercise or a Bomb Comp, callsigns can reference the unit's nickname (like "Wolfpack" (Kunsan) or "Tigre" (Tucson ANG)) or it can be something made up by the meet's tasking authority.

In actual war ops, callsigns are generated when the ATO (Air Tasking Order) is finalized. These callsigns usually don't have any unit reference, can be a random word, or follow a "theme" (for lack of a better word) so as not to give away who the units are and what they can do. IIRC, on at least one occasion during Desert Storm, a strike package of something like 40+ Vipers was given element callsigns referencing US auto makes: Chevy flight, Olds flight, Buick flight, etc.

Clear as mud? :wink:
Last edited by LinkF16SimDude on 11 Mar 2010, 04:07, edited 1 time in total.
Why does "monosyllabic" have 5 syllables?
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sundowner11

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Unread post10 Mar 2010, 22:54

Somewhat clear. Something tells me your ex Air Force.
Does it work the same way for the Navy and Marines? For example, Duke Cunningham's callsign during his infamous 3 kill mission was Showtime 100, how did that work out? By the way, what is ATO? :wink:
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LinkF16SimDude

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Unread post11 Mar 2010, 04:03

ATO = Air Tasking Order. Essentially the game plan for everybody flying missions that day. Bombers, tankers, strikers, fighter cover/escort, AEW, ground support, etc., and the target packages for each. I think the weapon loads were left up to the individual units but don't quote me.

The Navy/USMC may assign callsigns somewhat the same way as USAF with their own little quirks. Cunningham's callsign that day was probably generated by the ship's battle staff and since it was an operational mission it kinda followed the security guidelines I mentioned earlier. Duke was in VF-96 (the Fighting Falcons, ironically enough) so the "Showtime" callsign didn't reference what unit he was with. The "100" was the number on the nose of Duke's jet I believe.

And no. I was never in USAF but I helped train Viper drivers as a civilian for 11 years, so info and lingo by osmosis. :wink:
Why does "monosyllabic" have 5 syllables?
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Unread post11 Mar 2010, 04:16

My small impute.....During a mission I was part of over Bosnia on October 30th 1994, it (the Call Sign) was called "Lobster Box", I heard later it was because it was "hot as hell in that area of operation during several battles on the ground with ground forces - UK types". I was in an EC-130 for twelve hours circling that area (part of Command and Control Operations for NATO)....long story but that Call Sign was directly related to the on-going operations of ground troops (that is what we were briefed anyway, I have no reason to doubt it).

You just never know about call signs, folks get real creative and not just in combat operations, peacetime too in all branches of the military and in all nations.
Last edited by Meathook on 11 Mar 2010, 23:06, edited 1 time in total.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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sundowner11

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Unread post11 Mar 2010, 22:38

Wow thanks!! You gave me all I wanted to know and more. It's one thing to read about it, but to talk to someone who knows there stuff and was actually in a combat situation is another thing entirely. Thank you for your answers and your service.
I'm hoping to strike up all sorts of conversations with you guys here.!! :thanks:
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Meathook

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Unread post12 Mar 2010, 02:06

You will find many folks in these forums that have shared or experianced crazy adventures both in the air and on the ground, there is a vast wealth of knowledge throughout this site - happy hunting and welcome to the world of the F-16, those that flew her and maintained her
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Gums

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Unread post15 Mar 2010, 16:18

Salute!

During linebacker II, we had really neat callsigns that allowed us to easily figure out who was transmitting.

Got a few tapes to digitize, but this is the basic theme we used for the Twelve Days of Christmas blitz.

MIGCAP - automobiles, as in Buick, Cadillac, DeSoto, Pontiac, Ford, Olds

AWACS - Disco

Wild Weasels - birds, like Condor, Eagle, etc

Chaff birds - fruit trees, like Apple, Cherry, etc

F-4 LORAN pathfinders and A-7D mudbeaters - western motif, like Yucca, Cactus, Pistol, Sixgun, Trigger

can't remember the EB-66 ECM callsigns....

The in-country planes in late 60's had static callsigns per squadron: Dice, Ramrod, Buzzard, Rap, Yellow Jacket, Redbird, Gunfighter, Covey, Rustic, Sidewinder, Misty, etc. You can find them with a little searching.

Thailand-based ABCCC birds were Alleycat, Blindbat, Hillsborough, Moonbeam, etc.

Thailand spec ops were Nimrod, Zorro, Spad, Raven, Hobo, Nail, et al

SAR birds were Sandy, Jolly and King

Hope that helps

Gums sends...
Gums
Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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sundowner11

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Unread post15 Mar 2010, 18:33

Wow the infamous Gums. I've read some of your posts, you know your stuff. Well that much is obvious since you used to do this stuff for a living. Thanks for the information.
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madrat

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Unread post15 Mar 2010, 23:41

Gums, when you were over there did did you know Stu Maas?
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Gums

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Unread post15 Mar 2010, 23:53

Salute!

Can't recall Stu, mad...

I was at Bien Hoa, Pleiku, and Korat ( two times). '68. '72 - '73 and '75.

later,

Gums sends ...
Gums
Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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sundowner11

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Unread post16 Mar 2010, 01:05

Mr. Gums, if you don't mind could I ask you a question. Where specific types of aircraft assigned to fly out of a particular air base? For example F-105's flew out of what base in Thailand or Vietnam?
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madrat

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Unread post16 Mar 2010, 12:19

There is a very colorful book (squadron signal series?) that covers the war over SE Asia. It's in my office and I'm on the other side of the house right now. I'll get you a proper title and isbn later today. It has a lot of specifics on that material. And if I recall right an introduction by Robin Olds.

Took #1 & #2 off the shelf:

Squadron Signal 6034 ISBN 0-89747-134-2 (C) 1982
AIR WAR over the Southeast Asia
A Pictorial Record Vol. 1 1962-1966
By Lou Drendel

Squadron Signal 6036 ISBN 0-89747-140-7 (C) 1983
AIR WAR over the Southeast Asia
A Pictorial Record Vol. 2 1967-1970
By Lou Drendel

I don't have #3 but the name is:

Squadron Signal 6038
AIR WAR over the Southeast Asia
A Pictorial Record Vol. 3 1971-1975
By Lou Drendel
Last edited by madrat on 17 Mar 2010, 17:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post16 Mar 2010, 15:50

Salute!

F-4's in-country: DaNang, Cam Rahn Bay and later PhuCat
F-4's Thailand: Udorn, Ubon and later Korat
Thuds: Takhli and Korat
A-7D's: Korat
RF-101 and RF-4: Tan Son Nhut IAP and Udorn
F-100's: Bien Hoa, Phu Cat, Phan Rang, Tuy Hoa
F-111's: Takhli and later at Korat
many special ops: Nakhon Phanom
A-37's: Bien Hoa and temporarily at Pleiku
U-2 and drone 130's: Bien Hoa
F-102: Bien Hoa, DaNang
F-104: Udorn
B-57's: Phan Rang
EC-121 Awacs: Korat
The FAC's flew outta the same bases plus a few Vietnamese bases and U.S. Army outposts

Many small detachments of strange planes at various bases, including the Raven FAC's in Laos

The alert birds at Bien Hoa and other bases in-country sometimes used different callsigns than their squadron for the alert birds

Wiki has a decent entry to use as a start:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Sta ... n_Thailand

I flew the A-37 in the "Secret War" outta Plieku from New Years of '68 until late March. Worked the Trail until Tet broke, then in-country for many close air missions. We capped several SOG units on insertion and helped them when they had to get outta Dodge quickly under fire. Those were the most sensitive as we were using actual U.S. ground forces and Huey's.

later,

Gums sends ...
Gums
Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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sundowner11

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Unread post16 Mar 2010, 20:51

Wow thanks again.
I can only imagine all the logistics and material that went into keeping all those bases operation on a day to day basis.
What would have been considered the biggest risk to the health of American Airmen over Vietnam? MiGs, SAMs, Triple-A , weather etc.

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