Air-Ground in Vietnam

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Snake-1

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 06:49

There were several types of targets you could go against. THe first were what they called pre-planned targets. THese were usually of the category that the FAC or Army had been watching, or they got intell on and classified the potential area as being unfriendly. The ordnance would usually be what was best to destroy or reveal the potential target. THis category included but was not limited too, assembly areas (bombs, nap, and CBU) Truck and Fuel Parks, ammo dumps (Bombs, Nap, sometimes rockets). This type mission would usually be days in the planning, and getting executing authority so it was usually mud moving by the time we got there.

Alert pad birds would usually be armed with a generic load to meet all eventualities ( Bombs and Nap) and would be launches for TIC (Troops in Contact), enemy in the open, special forces base camps under attack or any other target that the high command felt needed quick response. The result of this type mission was usually a fair to good BDA where you could count on getting shot at.

THe third was an airborne divert (usually from a pre-planned target) in support of a immediate, time critical, target that would usually be backed up by alert birds just getting airborne (if necessary). Lots of enemy fire on this one and the odds of being diverted from a pre-planned were usually about 50 percent.

The last two categories were by far the best because you really felt like you were accomplishing something, especially when you had the opportunity to save someones bacon.

GUMS --- if I missed something chime in!!!!

THe Snake
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Gums

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 06:51

Salute!

Ord versus targets was always a problem.

HHQ assigned the mudbeaters against Army/USMC/ARVN tgts.

For static tgts it was usually bombs. For LZ insertions it would be like bombs and maybe rocks/nape. For the scramble missions off the alert pad it would be bombs, nape and CBU - troops in contact was usual mission there.

All of this is good history, but not real applicable to today's environment or weapons or planes. Won't go there..........

out,
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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Guysmiley

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 17:43

How effective were CBUs in Vietnam? Don't trees really mess with the fuses? Was the dud rate back then significant? In ODS even there were a lot of dud bomblets that had to be cleaned up, and that was on (mostly) flat desert.
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TC

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 19:00

Don't know how effective they were, but I know that Charlie made booby traps out of unexploded CBU bomblets. Those could screw your day all up.

To Err is Human. To Forgive is NOT ACC Policy.
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Snake-1

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 21:49

Re: Guysmiley's questions.

I don't think we ever did a stat study of the duds on those little beauties. If they came out of the cannister or tubes it was a good weapon. In the A-37 we used either a six or seven tube dispenser or the clam shell cannister. The tube usually dropped the CBU with pushers props on them which would spin them up to arming speed and make them active. If the props didn't spin the bomblet wouldn't arm and you get a dud. Additionally, some of those little beauties had delay timers in them and could go off much later then the actual delivery. The cannister bomblets were the size and shape of baseballs with cresent shaped ridges around them to again spin them up to arming speed. They (like the prop driven ones) exploded when the spinning stops or is interrupted (like hitting the ground or trees) and shredded everything in sight. I think I was told once that the baseball bomblet contained over 300 fluchets going out at the speed of sound.

In the Hun and the F-4 we only carried the cannister CBU's and then only for area targets. THe only aircraft that was permitted to deploy CBU's for a TIC mission in my times was the A-37 because it could control the delivery pattern and envelope by Stuka'ing the delivery. GUMS can address the A-7's capability in this role.

Another hard and fast rule was that if you attempted to delivery and the bomblet didn't deploy you had to jettison that cannister (usually out to sea) in a cleared area. This included jettisoning the affected pylon or all pylons. If you had to drop it in the target area you had to notify the FAC and he would then direct your remaining delivery runs against the dud CBU cannister. You NEVER brought a hung CBU cannister back to base.

The Snake
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Guysmiley

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Unread post06 Dec 2005, 22:20

Wow, interesting, thanks for the info Snake!
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LWF

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Unread post10 Dec 2005, 04:10

When performing CAS in S. Vietnam, would you generally loiter in the area providing support as needed or was it 'One Pass, Haul ---'? From what I've read, usually the flyboys would try and get out quickly, but I've also read about a time when they did something different.
On this mission there was always an F-4 waiting fully loaded on the runway while the others were dropping their bombs, and when one was out he would head back to base and the guy waiting would take off and join the fight.
The next day a special forces unit was sent for BDA and reported around 5,000 dead NVA.
It takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21!
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Unread post10 Dec 2005, 06:09

Salute!

Urban legend, LWF.

Best I ever had by actual count (small village near Plieku during '68 Tet) was about 100. A N Viet company got lost and didn't meet up with the local yokel. They ran into a group of trees but didn't know that it was only a thicket, not a forest. So we pounded it. Village chief rolled bodies into town on flatbed trucks for all to see. Our intel troop actually got to be there for interrogation of one of the survivors, hence we know how they wound up there.

The alert birds were primarily troops in contact missions. Sometimes a regular tree-buster or LZ insertion mission would get diverted to a TIC mission.

On TIC, we held and held and held to see how things developed. The A-37 and the A-7D had really good loiter time, as did the A-1. The Phantoms were always outta gas and looking for a tanker. The Thuds about the same. The F-5's as well.
I "held high and dry" many times in the SLUF when an F-4 flight showed up. FAC would expend the Phantoms quick, then we could go back to business when they booked outta the area screaming for gas.

later,

Gums sends........
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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LWF

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Unread post13 Dec 2005, 02:54

It seems I made a rather large mistake, I couldn't find the book I read it from, so I made a rather large error, the correct number was 900 NVA killed.
I'll never live this one down. :oops:

I also found more details, this particular engagement took place in Laos, and when they rolled in they took a massive blanket of flak. Solution- fly lower, also the arrangement of the F-4s was in a wagon wheel over the target, and kept attacking until nothing was left of the target.
It takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21!
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Snake-1

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Unread post13 Dec 2005, 19:15

There were good and bad things about the wagon wheel concept of delivery.

If you had an aircraft that could keep constant pressure on the enemy and not give him the opportunity to recover from the first attack, acquire you, and get some shots off the wheel worked fine. Birds like the A-1, A-7, A-37, and maybe the A-4 with lotta's of power and a short turning radius could operate rather safely (especially if the FAC cleared you for random run-in headings). Many are the times when we went on a TIC mission in the super tweet where our guys were in critical hurts-vil we could suppress the enemy to such a degree that our guys could STAND UP and vacate the area or reposition to counter the threat. Launch a couple of two ship flights like this and the tide of battle would quickly turn to our favor. Using a flight of 4's, Thuds, or Hun's didn't give you the same advantages because of turning and performance limitations, and timing of the bird. If you were in a four ship the situation was improved as you had more time to set up and get back in the fight while your other wingmates delivered but still not ideal. I damn near got my S@*t shot away leading a four ship of F-4s into a pre-planned target in Four Corps one day where the bird took eight hits from small arms fire using the wagon wheel from random run-in headings (another story).

In the North a wagon wheel was very, very, dangerous as you flew a predicdable flight path in a heavily defended area. With the exception of the ZOT bombers (Loran), or fighter escort supporting the strike package, it was almost always one pass haul a$$ in and out of dodge so you were dependent on Lead to pick and bomb the right target as 2, 3, and 4 would be right behind him going down the chute. The maneuver was similiar to the pitch out with an 8 second spacing for the remainder of the flight to avoid shrapnel. ID'ing the target was based upon DETAILED target study, a really good INS, and four eye balls in a detailed seach mode. There was no such thing as GPS back in the Dinosaur age.

THe Snake
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LWF

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Unread post16 Dec 2005, 23:18

Which of the main CAS birds was the most survivable? I've heard the A-1 could take a lot of damage but it was very slow, the A-37 was hard to hit, and the A-7 was accurate but which was the most survivable in a hostile environment?
It takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21!
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Snake-1

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Unread post17 Dec 2005, 22:48

LWF

I think in order to answer this you have got to consider the threat environment for each of the aircraft mentioned. AS far as the A-37 is concerned I think the max they lost during their four or five years in Nam was 4 or 5 but they operated pretty much in the Corp areas which I would consider a fairly low to medium for threats. The A-1's did both the Corp and Route Pac areas (when they flew Sandy -- air rescue -- support) so their threat was the same as the A-37 in the South, but high in the Pac areas so the numb's would be completely different. But the A-1 was a flying tank and could really get beat up before giving up the ghost. GUMS would have to address the SLUF but I would imagine the rationale offered would hold up for them also.

To All you Vipers in Harm's way ---- Keep Checking 6
To all you Vipers elsewhere --- keep the faith.
To all of you ---- EVERYWHERE ---- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

The Snake
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LWF

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Unread post29 Jan 2006, 21:26

Weren't CBU's at first very effective against AA sites, until the NVA developed countermeasures against them? I seem to recall reading that the GP bombs because they only destroyed things in a small radius were ineffective, but the wide radius of the CBU was more effective, until the NVA developed something like big steel enclosures that they would put around the guns with the barrel pointing down the route we would always take.
It takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21!
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Snake-1

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Unread post29 Jan 2006, 23:36

We were still using CBU on the killer (F-4) portion of the Hunter (F-105G Weasel birds) Killer teams out of Korat in 72 and during the 12 days of Christmas. I don't remember the NVA establishing a real defense against them as mentioned as they wanted to keep their sites mobile and if you had that much iron/steel plating you would probably leave a logistic footprint that the weasels could follow to the new site. Additionally, remember that the sites were usually positioned in a six pointed star array with the radar vans and power supplies near the center. So while they might be able to protect the radar van the missiles and power supplies might still be vulnerable. All you got to do is get one of the three components (Van, missiles, power supply) and you've shut them down.

The Snake
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MKopack

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Unread post23 Feb 2006, 20:38

Since the A-37 has been mentioned quite a bit here, I thought I'd post this. From many, many years ago...

A mid-70's airshow with the 174th TFW 'The Boys from Syracuse'.

Mike
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F-16A/B/C/D P&W/GE Crew Chief and Phased Maint.
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