Air tactics during the Vietnam War

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EriktheF16462

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Unread post03 Feb 2005, 15:07

go here for a little insight on when things went right.

http://www.afa.org/magazine/Nov1998/1198mig.asp

Thuds, Phantoms and plugging Migs!
F16 462 AD USAF. Crew dog for 3 and Even a pointy head for a few months.
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TC

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Unread post04 Feb 2005, 01:03

What happened in Kosovo should never be compared to Nam. Vietnam was an air and ground war that really had no comparison to anything before or afterward. Kosovo was a battle that had a clear objective, a defined opposition, and the U.S. walked over the Serbian AF. The U.S. did not suffer a single air-to-air loss in Kosovo. Besides, it only took a couple of months to complete the airstrikes, and depose Slobodan Milosevic. Hell, we kept fighting in Nam after Ho Chi Minh died! The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan would be a more accurate comparison, but the Sovs didn't lose as many troops there, as we did in Vietnam. However, it had the same affect amongst the Soviet people, as Vietnam had on the American homefront. But, I got off topic there. This thread is about what happened in Vietnam, and the lessons we learned.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Gums

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Unread post04 Feb 2005, 05:29

Yo Ho!

Glad to have a good discussion of real stuff.

Cylon has 99% of it right. And, GASP!, he's a clueless yute!!!

- Our ROE in 'nam was criminal. Both air-to-ground and air-to-air. Hence, we clever folks developed tactics such as "shooter-eyeball" for the BVR missile shots. And we started to exploit new tech stuff that we can't talk about here.

- A Tally is worth a thousand mile radar contact. No truer words in all the books. OTOH, if you are absolutely sure that the radar lock is on a bad guy, then hose away before he hoses at you!

- As some know, Chuck Horner was my first Wing King student in the Viper - back in 1980. I have his signature on that Clancy book, and he only lives a few miles from here. A really super troop.

- Cylon may not realize that even in 'nam, the 'real' commanders let the bright, shiny folks have their chance. PLZ look up Karl Richter. This guy was mission commander for 200-plane raids when he was still a First LT. 'course, he already had over 100 missions in the Thud and a Mig kill with his cannon.........

- Cylon is right about tactics versus politics. ROE is another matter. more on that later, as I still have bad vibes..........

- Biggest change I saw in tactics from 1965 to today was the exploitation of the new tech stuff. Welded wing was OK in WW2, but nowadays the wingie can easily use his radar to help sort the tgts and then go where the lead tells him to. Comm is better, GCI is better, displays are better, radars are better, and the jets are better.

- It is true that the Navy got more serious first. USAF followed. This was funny, as USAF got their Phantoms armed with the internal cannon and Navy didn't. Cunningham got all his kills with missiles, as did Ritchie. Nevertheless, the cannon was cheap and all-aspect and didn't need a million-dollar fire control system. Besides, when the gomer flew out in front, inside of missile range, the cannon was real good.

gotta go.........
Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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ram816

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Unread post04 Feb 2005, 18:34

Gums wrote:- It is true that the Navy got more serious first. USAF followed. This was funny, as USAF got their Phantoms armed with the internal cannon and Navy didn't. Cunningham got all his kills with missiles, as did Ritchie. Nevertheless, the cannon was cheap and all-aspect and didn't need a million-dollar fire control system. Besides, when the gomer flew out in front, inside of missile range, the cannon was real good.


Actually, the F-4C and D didn't come with an internal gun. The use of a Gun in an Air Force Phantom was materialized in the form of a SUU-23 pod mounted on the centerline station (although they were sometimes seen on the wing stations for A-G use). Still, because it's a gunpod instead of an internal gun, there's always that "Scatter Gun" effect. But as gums pointed out, if you could get the other guy to overshoot, he'd be close enough that accuraccy wouldn't be your biggest problem. Just gotta Weave through the debris when youre done with him. :wink:

The F-4E with the internally-mounted vulcan didn't come along until after the war. The Navy, on the other hand, never asked for a gun-equipped Phantom, as it got its first F-14s in mid '73... leaving Navy and Marine Phantom squadrons to hold on until they all moved to the F-14 and the F/A-18 respectively.
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Unread post05 Feb 2005, 00:52

The USAF quickly realized the futility of their gunless Phantoms against the tight-turning MiG-17s, so the E model came about in 69, and was in service shortly thereafter. It served in Nam until we evacuated Saigon in '75. There are some E models with MiG kills, including the last ever U.S. guns kill, which was made in 1973 by an old acquiantance BGen (I believe he was a 1LT at the time) Gary Rubus.

As far as the gun pods go, yes, we carried the 23s and the smaller sized (but I believe same caliber) SUU-16. MiG kills were also made by gunpod-equipped Phantoms. They could be centerline mounted, or a pair on the wings could be mounted as well. Only problem was the drag it created.

A misconception that persists is that the E was the top of the line Phantom. It is true that they were updated quite frequently with new gizmos, but while the E's had the gun, the D's were really the ones that had all the cool doofers in the backseat. A Sony tv to fly Walleye bombs, and some other stuff we can't talk about here. This is why AD/TAC kept the D's around for so long in the Air Defense role (served with FIS units til about 89-90).

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Cylon

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Unread post05 Feb 2005, 02:51

I'll role ROE and ROE interpretation into leadership (more towards the military leadership)... I think that's fair.

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Unread post05 Feb 2005, 05:47

Yo Ho!

Thank you, TC, for setting RAM-breath straight.

I know that I am old, but I sure remember seeing the 421st and 34th dudes at Korat in late '72 flying "E" model Phantoms. The only "C' models I saw were the Weasels, who were TDY there for Linebacker II.

The "Gunfighters" flew from DaNang in C and/or D models and had the pod cannon most all the time. Was neat, but they couldn't use the centerline station for that huge gas tank. And we all know that the F-4 was always low on gas, even sitting at the end of the runway. Short war story follows:

So we have an A-7 flight divert to Udorn in late '72. Refuel and get ready to head back to Korat. There's some kinda delay and the tower asks the A-7 flight lead what was his abort time. "Abort time?", replies the SLUF driver. Tower says, "When you don't have enough gas to do the mission". SLUF driver looks at fuel - about 10,000 pounds or so, and burning about 500 pounds per hour sitting there. About 150-200 miles back to Korat, so figure 1500 pounds to get home. Plus reserve of 1000 pounds. So the SLUF driver calmly replies, "O.K. Tower, we got about 14 or 15 hours!". All the F-4 pukes hissed...............

By '71, PhuCat had converted from Huns to "E' models, as a guy in my A-7 squad had just come from there in late '71. So there plenty of "E" models in 'nam before the war ended the first time.

No matter, as the only aces used missiles. Nevertheless, much of the thot in those days revolved about including a cannon in any air-to-air beast. The sucker is also neat for air-to-ground when all else fails, especially combat search and rescue.

gotta hit the rack,
Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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chickenlegs

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Unread post07 Feb 2005, 06:10

I'll swear I worked on 67 & 68 'E' models at Hahn in the seventies. No doubt they were in service during the war.
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TC

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Unread post07 Feb 2005, 08:26

LOL! Yeah, chickenlegs, you are correct. I'm fairly certain that your birds at Hahn were still painted in SEA camo as well (a dead giveaway for a 'Nam bird). I know the D's and E's that my pops worked on @ Bitburg were painted in SEA camo as well. Another dead giveaway for 'Nam service is seeing E's with kill stars on the port side intake ramp (of which I've seen numerous times). Back to the paint, even some of the first E's that came to Keflavic were painted in SEA camo. That's before the AD/TAC gray scheme became prevalent. When you visualize an F-4, the SEA scheme is typically the first thing that pops into your head. Loved that paint scheme. Hell, anything beats that lizard green Europe One camo they tried in the '80s. Yuck!

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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chickenlegs

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Unread post07 Feb 2005, 18:11

TC,
Your right on about the SEA camo. In fact, again if memory serves me, that sceme (white bottom, brown and green top) stayed on the aircraft until the F-16 conversion in 80-81. (Man were ORI's different in those days!) I also remember that Spangalem, Zweibruken (recce), along with Bitburg and bases in Spain were flying the F-4. -111's in England, OV-10's at Sembach They wanted me to extend along with the conversion but I said no thanks.
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robin1

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Unread post19 Feb 2005, 23:35

Sorry to intrude but I found this web site by accident and was intrigued by the myriad of just palin wrong information. I was a Capt F-4 pilot at Korat '71-'72. Yes we had "E's" and 'D's" came TDY. We had C-130's, EB-66's, F-105 Weasels, and even A-7's.

We flew our own tactics although the frag order arrived sometime in the wee hours of morning so the brief had to be short. We had paired crews in the 34TFS and we liked it that way. We lost ZERO pilots in 1972. Since I also served with the 7th fleet during Linebacker in Jun '72, I can relate that the pairing of crewmembers meant more than cool tactics.

For the "we were never trained right guys", I went to RTU at George. We flew dissimilar against the squids from China Lake. We flew high, low, 2 ship, four ship, etc. If someone had bad training, they had bad leadership. If you get a chance, talk to someone who actually flew during that time. Don't read their book, rather force them to tell the whole story and defend their opinion.

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Unread post20 Feb 2005, 17:41

robin1, no need for apologies :) ! Thanks for contributing!
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danhutmacher

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Unread post21 Feb 2005, 04:52

Hi Robin1, If you got such good training at george then you were the exception. Although I'm to young to have fought in vietnam I like to read about the war. Just about every book I have read says that you guys were trained to fly only intercept tactics. But the biggest problem wasn't tactics, although that was a problem, but the low PK of the sidewinder and sparrow missiles.
I was wondering if you ever thought about writing about about your tour?
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TC

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Unread post21 Feb 2005, 09:44

dan, if you want to blame somebody for what went wrong over there, blame LBJ and Robert McNamara, not the guys who busted their @$$es trying to get the job done.

This thread's getting a little too politically charged. It's time to move on.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Unread post22 Feb 2005, 17:33

Yo Ho!

Welcome to the fray, Robin!!!!

I was in the A-7 wing that deployed in Oct '72, and came back in 75.

Talked with Lon Holtz the other day, also a 34th puke ( 34th TFS, "Snortin' Goats" patch, heh heh. for those who want to know, he and I flew A-37's together back in '68. He got a Mig kill about the time our SLUFs showed up at Korat. And I proudly put on my 34th patch when I was an IP with them in the Viper. Was also a 34th jet that I landed with the LEF stuck up).

Dan? You need to talk with actual folks who did actual things and flew actual jets in actual combat. PLZ quit reading all the tripe unless it is by a real combat pilot/WSO and another troop says the same thing in another book. Sheeesh.

Maybe I can get Steve Ritchie to jump in here, or Steve Croker (Olds' back seater), or another contact who flew the Double Ugly after USN and USAF got serious about tactics. What do you guys think?

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