Air tactics during the Vietnam War

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grss1982

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Unread post23 Jun 2005, 07:13

TC wrote:The guy I mentioned before, Col. Jack Broughton, was actually court-martialed, because two of his men strafed a ship in Haiphong Harbor (which as I recall at the time was off limits). What I don't recall is whether the ship shot at them first (I'm about 99.9% sure it did), but Col. Broughton destroyed the gun camera evidence. He was found not-guilty, but his career was over after that. It's a d@mn shame too, because he was one of the best Thud pilots we had, was an excellent leader, and as an aside, was a former Thunderbirds commander. Just goes to show, that if we hadn't had restricted targets, none of that would have been necessary. Pi$$ on Robert McNamara!

Beers and MiGs (and any other potential target) were made to be pounded!


Whoa!!! I read that one about the Haiphong strafing from one of Mark Berent's books, I think it was titled Rolling Thunder. However I never thuoght that ever happened for real. Tell me TC was that a Russian or a Chinese ship that was strafed?

OH, BTW kindda new here and this here is my first post, so be gentle, please.
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TC

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Unread post25 Jun 2005, 00:43

Aloha! Welcome aboard man!

I'm pretty sure it was a Chinese boat. Also, refer to Chuck Yeager's autobiography "Yeager". He was on Broughton's court martial panel. BTW, I like Mark Berent's books as well. He takes several of his own experiences and some other factual events, and makes them into fictional situations in his books.

Enjoy the site.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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grss1982

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Unread post27 Jun 2005, 01:01

Talking about air tactics in the vietnam war, could anybody tell me if this story is true?

On it was a tiny Hmong village called Phu Pha Ti, a small garrison of Thai and Meo mercenaries for defense, a helicopter pad and ops shack for the CIA-owned Air America Airline, and the radar site, which was manned by "sheep-dipped" US Air Force enlisted men in civilian clothes. Both the US and NVN paid lip service to the fiction that Laos was a neutral country, and no foreign military were stationed there, when in reality we had a couple of hundred people spread over several sites, and NVN had thousands on the Ho Chi Minh trail in eastern Laos. This particular site was called Lima (L for Laos) Site 85. The fighter-bomber crews called it Channel 97 (the TACAN frequency), and all aircrews called it North Station, since it was the furthest north facility in "friendly" territory. Anywhere north of North Station was bad guy land.

The Channel 97 radar system was an old SAC precision bomb scoring radar which could locate an aircraft to within a few meters at a hundred miles. In this application, the strike force would fly out from Lima Site 85 a given distance on a given radial, and the site
operators would tell the strike leader precisely when to release his bomb load. It was surprisingly accurate, and allowed the strikes to be run at night or in bad weather. This capability was badly hurting the North Vietnamese war effort, so they decided to take out Lima
Site 85.

Because of the difficulty of mounting a ground assault on Lima Site 85, and its remote location, an air strike was planned. Believe it or not, the NVNAF chose biplanes as their "strike bombers!" This has to be the only combat use of biplanes since the 1930's. The aircraft used were Antonov designed AN-2 general purpose 'workhorse" biplanes with a single 1000hp radial piston engine and about one ton payload. Actually, once you get past the obvious "Snoopy and the Red Baron" image, the AN-2 was not a bad choice for this mission. Its biggest disadvantage is, like all biplanes, it is slow. The Russians use the An-2 for a multitude of things, such as medevac, parachute training, flying school bus, crop dusting, and so on. An AN-2 just recently flew over the North Pole. In fact, if you measure success of an aircraft design by the criteria of number produced and length of time in series production, you could say that the AN-2 is the most
successful aircraft design in the history of aviation!

The NVNAF fitted out their AN-2 "attack bombers with a 12 shot 57mm folding fin aerial rocket pod under each lower wing, and 20 250mm mortar rounds with aerial bomb fuses set in vertical tubes let into the floor of the aircraft cargo bay. These were dropped through holes cut in the cargo bay floor. Simple hinged bomb-bay doors closed these holes in flight. The pilot could salvo his bomb load by
opening these doors. This was a pretty good munitions load to take out a soft, undefended target like a radar site. Altogether, the mission was well planned and equipped and should have been successful, but Murphy's Law prevailed.

A three plane strike force was mounted, with two attack aircraft and one standing off as command and radio relay. They knew the radar site was on the mountaintop, but they did not have good intelligence as to its precise location, It was well camouflaged, and could not be seen readily from the air. They also did not realize that we had "anti-aircraft artillery" and "air defense interceptor" forces at the site. Neither did we realize this.

The AN-2 strike force rolled in on the target, mistook the Air America ops shack for the radar site, and proceeded to ventilate it. The aforementioned “anti-aircraft artillery” force- one little Thai mercenary about five feet tall and all balls- heard the commotion, ran out on the helicopter pad, stood in the path of the attacking aircraft spraying rockets and bombs everywhere, and emptied his AK-47 into the AN-2, which then crashed and burned. At this juncture, the second attack aircraft broke of and turned north towards home.

The "air defense interceptor" force was an unarmed Air America Huey helicopter which was by happenstance on the pad at the time, the pilot and flight mechanic having a Coke in the ops shack. When holes started appearing in the roof, they ran to their Huey and got airborne, not quite believing the sight of two biplanes fleeing north. Then the Huey pilot, no slouch in the balls department either, realized that his Huey was faster than the biplanes! So he did the only thing a real pilot could do-attack!

The Huey overtook the AN-2’s a few miles inside North Vietnam, unknown to the AN-2’s as their rearward visibility is nil. The Huey flew over the rearmost AN-2 and the helicopter’s down-wash stalled out the upper wing of the AN-2. Suddenly the hapless AN-2 pilot
found himself sinking like a stone! So he pulled the yoke back in his lap and further reduced his forward speed. Meanwhile, the Huey flight mechanic, not to be outdone in the macho contest, crawled out on the Huey’s skid and, one-handed, emptied his AK-47 into the cockpit area of the AN-2, killing or wounding the pilot and copilot. At this point, the AN-2 went into a flat spin and crashed into a moutainside, but did not burn.

It should come as no surprise that the Air America pilot and flight mechanic found themselves in a heap of trouble with the State Department REMF’s in Vientiane. In spite of the striped-pants
cookie-pushers' discomfort at (horrors!) an international incident (or perhaps, partly because of it) these guys were heroes to everybody in the theatre who didn't wear puce panties and talk with
a lisp. They accomplished a couple of firsts: (1) The first and only combat shootdown of a biplane by a helicopter, and (2) The first known CIA air-to-air victory. Not bad for a couple of spooks.

Communication with Headquarters was very good in Vietnam, and I learned of this incident within an hour or so of its happening, although I had no details. But the prospect of access to a North Vietnamese aircraft of any sort was very attractive to an intell type, so I grabbed my flyaway kit and headed for Udorn AFB in northern Thailand, where I knew I could get transport to the crash site from the Air Rescue and Recovery Service (ARRS), the Jolly Green
Giants. Sure enough, the next morning we headed for bad guy land with a flight of three Jolly Green Giants. The State Department geniuses had decided to cover their ample butts by having the
remains of the AN-2 airlifted down to Vientiane to put on display to an outraged world press, thus proving that North Vietnam had violated Laotian neutrality by sending armed aircraft against a peaceful civil airline facility. Yawn. The Air Force went along with it because it provided good cover for our intelligence operation. Of course, when State found out that I had gone in without saying Mother-may-I to them, they were really hot. But by then I had already gotten the goods we wanted, and what could they do to me? Fire me and send me to Vietnam?

We found the crashed AN-2 a few miles inside NVN. There were already some Meo mercenaries there led by a CIA field type, whose mission was to bag the crew's bodies and check to see if they were Russians. They weren't.


I actually found this on another forum. If I'm reading this right, an UH-1 helo did a number in an airplane! That would mean this is the first kill of a helo against a fixed wing aircraft!
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danhutmacher

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Unread post29 Jun 2005, 06:54

Hey TC. That boat was a russian boat and they fired first. But it went against the ROE for any attackon ships in the harbor.
COl. Broughton wrote a book called thud ridge in which he talks about the incident and the very stupid ROE that US pilots had to live under.
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TC

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Unread post30 Jun 2005, 03:08

Thanks for the clearification Dan. This Bud's for You! :beer:

...And the Russians still claim they didn't participate in the war. :roll:

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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Dammerung

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Unread post30 Jun 2005, 03:37

I honestly don't think they're lying much, they admitted to Korea, why not admit to Vietnam?

I read about that incident as well in "100 Missions North". Gotta hand it to Col. Broughton for saving his men at his own expense. And what's even more absurd is that yes, it did shoot first. ROEs in Vietnam were CRIMINAL...
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danhutmacher

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Unread post04 Jul 2005, 01:50

Yeah the russians claim that the didn't particapte in the war but it's pretty coomon knowledge that the manned the SA-2 sites in 1965 and then turned it over to the Vietnamese. What is less clear is what else they did in the war. But you can bet that they had a bigger role than we know.
What's a REAL shame about that war is the fact that we WON but had the politicans in Washington throw away that victory in jan '73 when they prohibted the US military from fighting in SEA and then cut aid to South Vietnam by up to 90% while the russiand and chinese kept right on and even increased thier aid to the North.
To All the Vietnam vets out there I salute you and GOD bless.
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TC

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Unread post09 Jul 2005, 03:35

Here's one for the "Where are they now?" column. I was wondering if anyone knows what became of the USAF's last ace, Jeffrey Feinstein? For those of you who are now raising questioning eyebrows, Jeffrey Feinstein was an F-4 WSO, flying out of Udorn, Thailand. In Oct., '72, Feinstein shot down a MiG-21 for his fifth kill, two months after Ritchie and DeBellevue became the first USAF aces of the war. Since he was a WSO, and built a kill total separate to the pilots he flew with (he gained his kills with more than one driver) history has seemed to pass over the great accomplishment of this man. Does anyone know what happened to him after the war, and what he is doing today? Any info is appreciated.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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JR007

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Unread post12 Jul 2005, 04:33

Jeffrey Feinstein


Never heard of him, he was a passenger.

Brig. Gen. R. Steve Ritchie, retired is the last USAF ace. The General is a member of our team, and trust me, he is the last USAF ace.
Burning debris never reversed on anyone…

JR
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TC

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Unread post12 Jul 2005, 05:17

Ritchie is the last PILOT ace. DeBellevue became an ace after Ritchie, and wound up with a 6th kill. He later became a pilot, but became an ace while as a WSO. Feinstein became an ace after Ritchie and DeBellevue. His 5th and final kill was Halloween of '72. WSOs/RIOs are credited with kills, so Feinstein's 5 makes him an ace, no matter which Martin Baker Mk.H5 he happened to be occupying.

Does anybody at all have any info on what happened to this man after the war, and his whereabouts today? He is a face on the milk carton of aviation history, but he bagged 5 Gomers so he's A-OK in my book.

P.S. Gen. Ritchie flies with you guys now? Is he still flying the Phantom as well? Perhaps he knows what became of Feinstein.

Beers and MiGs were made to be pounded!
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JR007

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Unread post12 Jul 2005, 05:46

TC,

PM...


And as you say KILL MIGS!!!
Burning debris never reversed on anyone…

JR
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busch

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Unread post04 Oct 2005, 22:26

Snake-1 wrote:To add to TCs comments:

(clip) Gary Retterbush (who was TDY with the 35th TFS to the 388 at Korat got 2 with the cannon.
(clip)


Someone call for help? Have gun, will travel!

Busch
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Gums

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Unread post14 Oct 2005, 01:50

Horrido!

Well, the Lima Site 85 stuff is veeeery interesting. Google the phrase and read lots.

I was flying the night the NV attacked for real and we heard a call on Guard that "85 was taking incoming".

Not a night later, we heard, "85 is going off the air".

I was flying night interdiction missions those days in my trusty A-37 over southern part of Steel Tiger (a Barents book, BTW) called Tigerhound. Barents also wrote a good one about LS85 called "Eagle Station".

Some of my Thud buddies got to shoot Bullpup missiles at the radar boxes due to sensitive stuff they contained. Most likely, the gomers got the goodies first..... I only met one guy who was there, and he was TDY when the attack came.

Steve Ritchie and I flew in Pilot Indoctrination Training togehter in 1963. Was a good deal, as we got 12 syllabus missions in the Tweet. Next year was a cakewalk for us, as we knew all the boldface, knew the pre-flight, weren't intimidated by the nose hose and chute, and we could fly the jet!! My IP asked me what I wanted to do for my first flight. I asked if we could practice for my first checkride, heh heh.

Saw Steve at our class reunion last Oct. Before that, got a pic of us at local airshow.

Gums sends..........
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Gums
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Unread post14 Oct 2005, 16:08

The MiGs weren't piloted by idiots, in fact many of their pilots were better then ours because the commies didn't have a 100 mission rotation, or 1 year rotation, they stayed for a while and kept improving, but you are right about the F-4 being sub par. And the Thuds didn't do well against the MiGs when the MiGs were waiting for them, because they were sluggish and unmaneuverable and slow, which is why one pilot came up with Mission Bolo, he had his F-4s equipped with ECM pods that mimicked the electronic signature of a Thud, so when the MiGs came expecting easy meat they got something that could fight back, 7 MiGs were confirmed killed that day and at least 1 more probable kill, the most successful day for the USAF.
It takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21!
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busch

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Unread post14 Oct 2005, 17:45

[quote="LWF"](clip) And the Thuds didn't do well against the MiGs when the MiGs were waiting for them, because they were sluggish and unmaneuverable and slow, (clip)

You obviously have never flown a Thud! Even today, there is nothing that will outrun a Thud on the deck! Been there, done that.

Also, please remember the Thud was designed to deliver a Nuke and not to flight MiGs.
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