Air tactics during the Vietnam War

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Gums

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Unread post28 Feb 2005, 22:26

Horrido!

c'mon, Snake-breath!!! Chrissakes!

Tell the yutes about a Mig kill.

Go ahead and admit you ripppled off all the Sparrows and 'winders and got lucky 'cause the gomer just flew out in front.

Would still make a decent war story, IMHO.

out,
Gums
Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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Snake-1

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 01:14

In Order to Placate Gums.

It was the last trip up North before the bombing halt and the start of the 11 days of Christmas. My Gib and I were number 3 of a four ship escorting a 20 ship strike force (four ship echelon formations in trail with each other, five flight in a row) against a target near Hanoi. Our Escort flight was divided into elements flying on each side of the strtike force. Our element was on the south side of the strike force. The weasels were already in the target area and reporting marginal weather for the strike.

Shortly after we started our ingress Red Crown advised us of two MIG-21's south bound out of GIA LAM airport (Hanoi). Five minutes later the Crown came up again and advised us that the first two MIGs had turned west and two more were now airborne from GIA LAM following the same route and low altitude. After another couple of minutes the Crown advised us that the first two bandits had now turned North (towards us and the strike flight) with the remaining two MIGS following the same flight path. My GIB got a twitch on the radar and our element turned towards the threat, started a gradual descent, went to full military power and armed all systems with AIM 7's selected. The remaining escort element took over our position on the South side of the strike force to cover any other developing threat. We then lost the radar contact but Red Crown called bandits merging and the next thing we knew we had two Migs in trail going past and vertical on us. It seems that they decided that since we were only two birds and ten miles south of the rapidly departing strike force we were raw meat.

The next twelve minutes were a hand full of every BFM,ACT, and ACM maneuver in the book plus several changes of leads between us and 4 as the MIGs made maximum use of available cloud cover and tried to tempt us into a turning fight. Add to this the addition of the second two MIGS and it became very hairy as to who had who and when. About this time the MIG Killers from Udorn arrived and the odds changed rapidly in our favor.

I could hear from the calls of the Udorn Mig Killers that two of the four bandits were dispatched very quickly. About this time my GIB called out one of the remaining bandits going vertical at our eleven o clock position. I turned to that area spotted him and started tracking we tried for a quick lockup but were unsuccessful. So instead I pulled the trigger launching an aim 7 hoping that if the bandit saw it he would figure we had a lock and would try to evade the shot. If he evaded he only had one place to go and that was down. He did and swapped ends faster then I've ever seen anyone do as he came down through my climbing flight path he must have lost us in his overhead glare sheild and we rolled inverted and followed him down in full AB.

We lost him when he went through some low puffy clouds but caught up with him shortly thereafter. He must have thought he lost us because he wasn't exercising hard evasive maneuvers. Instead his interest changed to a parachute off to his (and our) right and he rolled out some of his bank to take a better look. I already had toggled the weapons switch to AIM 9 and started to get a growl stronger then a junk-yard dog. So I punched it off and it tracked right for him exploding either in or near the tail pipe with the MIG going inverted and starting down from about 3000'. At this point we got a "Break" call and I janked with all I had towards the west and never did see him go in.

Out of the four Migs that came up that day none made it home and all were shot down or crashed on landing. Since I didn't see the bandit crash into the ground I still question the credit because the Mig Killers from Udorn were really cleaning clock with the bad guys and there were five claims against four kills. My second concern that I really feel bad about is that during that long twelve minute encounter (eternity!!!!) my wingman, a totally superb pilot and GIB who was flying wing while I was engaged and having trouble locking up the target called a Lock on and asked permission to fire. In the heat of it all with all the internal and external chatter neither my GIB or I heard him and he missed what I would call a confirmed kill.

And finally, Gums is right, it was pure luck in getting the shot off but pure skill to last twelve minutes in a 2 vs 4 environment with a vastly superior turning aircraft until the calvary arrived. THe spooks told us afterwards that two of the MIG drivers were aces and the other two maturing air to air drivers.

Gums, you now owe me a drink.

Snake-1
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JR007

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 03:35

Aim9-1, you didn't go to the Academy, back when it was "Bring Me Men" days, with Gums did you?

Gums, Are all your driver friends Missile Aces and Mig Killers?

Thanks for the story...
Burning debris never reversed on anyone…

JR
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parrothead

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 03:49

Great stuff :D ! Please keep it coming!
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TC

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 05:46

Well Snake, if you saw the 'winder explode in or near his tailpipe, and he rolled in at 3000 AGL, that works for me! 8) I also must say you are much more gracious about it than I would have been. I would have been like, "Hell yeah! No question, I got him! We came, we saw, we kicked his @$$!!!!" :mrgreen: But maybe that's just me.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Snake-1

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 07:26

TC

That's the exact way we did feel, and the certification board agreed that the kill was ours (and they had access to the spook files). But the fact remains that we didn't see him crash (and we told that to the board). I guess time has the habit of filing the fangs down a bit but it is still there and I've nursed some pretty beat up birds back to the barn after a rough day.

However, we did a lot of damage that day and dealt Charlie a hell of a blow by losing four of his own in sight of his own. We kept those four Mig away from the strike force for a long time, and if it wasn't for the Udorn birds coming to our aid we very likely might have ended up in the loss column instead of them. Coming home every bone, muscle, tendon, lungs, etc, etc, hurt like you cannot even begin to believe. And if anyone ever asked why I put 8 G's on the bird I would have told them cause I couldn't get any more out of her.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

But the gleam in the eye is still there.

Snake-1
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Lieven

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 19:04

Fantastic reading Snake-1. I'm sure I'm not the only one if I say that I'm really glad you found your way to this board!
Lieven Dewitte
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Gums

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 21:10

".... good men at your back"

Sorry J.R., I just had great timing and went to the right schools.

Snake ain't a Zoomie! We flew together in A-37's at Bien Hoa in 68.

I just happened to be at Korat in the SLUF when he got the kill. 'course, I later flew with the 34th when they checked out in the Viper. Was a 34th bird that I landed with the LEF broken/stuck up.

My friends include first zoomie Mig-killer, Snake-breath, several astronauts, a few chief's of staff, and all the heroes from my class like Ritchie, Richter, Lodge, Croker, etc. And ten POW's. So timing was everything. Also got my diploma handed to me by Curt LeMay!

I'll start a mud-beater thread soon, and maybe get some search-and-rescue types to chime in. Snake flew more air to mud than air to air, so he can back me up.
Gums
Viper pilot '79
"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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Snake-1

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Unread post01 Mar 2005, 22:42

Thanks for the words Lieven

And yes folks, Gums did rub elbows with greatness!!!!

Since you got me started on this thread I've got to relate one of two of the grestest MIG Kills during the closing days of the conflict in SEA. It was flown by two more of the great crews of the 34th. One each Gordy Clouser with Cice Brunsom in the back and Charlie Barton with George Watson as the GIB. (So, robin-1 Cice was with us until later in 72 before he became a POW). On this day Gordy and Cice were number 3 and Charlie and George were number 4 in a Hunter Killer team with Numbers 1 and 2 being F-105s. THe hunters would find and suppress the SAMS and the Killers armed with large, heavy, and high drag CBU cannisters would go and kill the sites. THeir area of operation was primarily low altitude, trolling in a weave pattern with the Double Uglies operationing inside the THuds flight path because of the THud speed advantage and the drag disadvantage of the CBUs.

Paraphasing from the narrative in the USAF Document "Aces and Aerial Victories:

On ingress and still at altitude Disco warned the flight of approaching MIGs in the vicinity of Thai Nguyen. As prebriefed the Thuds cleared the area so that Gordy and Charlie could maneuver and engage the threatening MIGs. Gordy spotted a 21 sliding into a level seven o clock position, while Charlie saw a 19 in the Six o clock of the element getting ready to fire. Gordy called a hard left break and the element jettisoned all their air to ground ordnance and empty fuel tanks. The MIG followed with a little spacing between them and were getting ready to fire on Charlie who quickly rolled inverted pulled the nose straight down and went full burner. The MIG 19 pilot , with more fangs then smarts, followed him down, Gordy being a good wingman rolled in behind the 19 in the vertical dive and he was followed by the remaining 21. The sandwich is now an F-4, a MIG-19 chasing him, another F-4 closing on the 19, and a 21 closing on the F-4 all in a near vertical dive. With the rice paddies coming up quickly, Charlie waited until the last minute, yanked hard on the stick and bottomed out about 300' AGL. THe 19 stick was about a second to late in making his decision and drove that puppy straight into the ground. Gordy followed Charlies flight path and the 21 jock seeing the events unravelling rolled 180 degrees pulled back on his stick and, at MACH many, quickly got the hell out of Dodge. THe spooks later told Gordy and Charlie that the last words out of the 19 driver's mouth were loosely translated as "OH SH++!!!!!!!

Talk about superior airmanship and situational awaredness and downing a MIG by playing "Here, Kitty, Kitty"!!! without firing a shot is nearly unbelieveable.

And between September 2 and October 15 of 72 the 388th. got 9 MIGS and the 432nd up at Udorn got 8.

And it was grand!!!!!!

Snake-1
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TC

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Unread post02 Mar 2005, 03:21

Totally Awesome Snake! 8) I knew an Eagle Driver that got one of his kills by running a 29 into the dirt quite like that. I'm sure his last words were the Arabic equivalent to "Oh $hit!!" :lol:

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Unread post02 Mar 2005, 04:12

Great stuff guys :D ! This is a really great thread! THANKS :thumb: !
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AIr-Strike31

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Unread post02 Apr 2005, 22:50

I agree with TC, Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded! but I still can't get over the fact that they actually took the cannons off the Phantom's The four-stars were convinced that the heavyweight F-4's would do best with just bombs and missiles...

Does anyone have any comments about this?

Air-Strike31...
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TC

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Unread post03 Apr 2005, 04:30

Well, the Phantom started without cannons, which was a bad move. The name of the game pre-Vietnam was interception. BVR missiles would make dogfighting obsolete.

What was happening in Vietnam suprised some folks, and our guys used the SUU-16 and SUU-23 gun pods as a temporary fix.

Then, Mickey D built the E model with an internal cannon. It really helped the F-4 out, and our guys got quite a few guns kills with the M-61. I knew the man who made the last USAF A2A guns kill, not only in that war, but the last one to date. BGen(ret) Gary Rubus (was a Capt. at the time) downed a MiG-21 on 15 Oct 1972.

Apparently the brass learned their lesson, and we've had guns in our fighters ever since. Of course, only the Israelis have managed A2A guns kills with the Eagle. Perhaps someone can enlighten the class about A2A guns kills with the Viper.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Unread post06 Apr 2005, 08:55

To add to TCs comments:

From Jan 1, 68 to the end of the conflict (WAR!!!) 9 Migs were downed by the gun (3 with the SUU pod and 6 with the internal cannon on the E), 33 Migs met their maker by means of the AIM-7, 10 bought it via the AIM-9, 2 by B-52 gunners with 50 caliber ball, 3 (early in 1968) by AIM-4s, and 4 by maneuvering. What is interesting is that from the start of 72 until the end of ops up north 7 kills were to the gun, 10 to the Sidewinder, and all 4 of the maneuvering tactic.

Of the Mig Killers of the Triple Nickel at Udorn Steve Richie got all 5 of his with the AIM-7, John Madden got 2 with the AIM-9 and 1 by maneuvering, Cal Tibbetts got 1 with a Sidewinder and 1 with the gun. Gary Retterbush (who was TDY with the 35th TFS to the 388 at Korat got 2 with the cannon.

Gums!!!!!

Why don't you get Robin-1 to tell us of his kill on October 5, 72 when he took over lead from me because of a bad engine.

Snake-1
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parrothead

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Unread post06 Apr 2005, 16:49

Gums!!!!!

Why don't you get Robin-1 to tell us of his kill on October 5, 72 when he took over lead from me because of a bad engine.

Snake-1



I know I'd like to hear that story :D !
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