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UNITED STATES

IN SOUTHEAST

ACES
and
AERIAL
VICTORIES

The United StatesAir Force in SoutheastAsia 1965*19?3
by R Frank Fuirefl William H Cireenhalph Carl Gruhh
Gerard E Hassclwander Robert F Jakoh Charle\ A Ravcn\ieln

Edited by
James N Eastman. Jr. Walter Hanak I awrence J Paszek

The AIhPrr F . S r m p w n
Hirrorir 01 Research C m t e r
Air U nivi=rsrfv
ond
O f i r e ($Air Force Hirrnrr
Hrirdqii,rrrers U S A b
1976

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Main entry under title:
The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia-aces and aerial victories, 1965-1973.
Includes index and glossary.
1. Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975-Aerial operations, American. 2. Viet-
namese Conflict, 1961-1975-Personal narratives, American. 3. United States. Air
Force-History. I. Futrell, Robert Frank. 11. Eastman, James N. 111. Hanak, Walter
K. IV. Paszek, Lawrence J. V. Title: Aces and aerial victories, The United States Air
Force in Southeast Asia 1965-1973.
DS558.8.U53 1976 959.704'348 76-7485

Foreword

During the war in Southeast Asia, U.S. Air Force radar systems. These elements sought to interdict
fighter pilots and crewmen were repeatedly chal- and defeat the U.S. bombing campaign against
lenged by enemy MIG’s in the skies over North North Vietnam’s lines of communication and its
Vietnam. The air battles which ensued were unique military and industrial base. The primary mission of
in American history because U.S. fighter and smke U.S. fighter pilots was to prevent the North Viet-
forces operated under stringent rules of engagement. namese MIG’s from interfering with U.S. strike
With periodic exceptions, for example, MIG bases operations. This book tells how American
could not be struck. The rules generally forbade airmen-assisted by an armada of other USAF air-
bombing or strafing of military and industrial targets craft whose crews refueled their planes, warned of
in and around the enemy’s heartland, encompassing approaching enemy MIG’s and SAM’S, and flew
the capital of Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong. rescue missions when they were shot down-
These restrictions gave the North Vietnamese sub- managed to emerge from their aerial battles with
stantial military advantage. Free from American at- both victories and honor.
tack and helped by its Soviet and Chinese allies, the
enemy was able to construct one of the most formid-
able antiaircraft defenses the world has even seen. It
included MIG forces, surface-to-air missile (SAM)
batteries, heavy concentrations of antiaircraft artil- JOHN W. HUSTON, Major General, USAF
lery (AAA) units, and an array of early warning Chief, Office of Air Force History

111
...

Falk Deputy Chief Historian-Max Rosenberg Chief. Holley. Bymes Louis Morton Indiana University Dartmouth College Lt. USAF Academy Columbia University Robert F. Furlong Jack L.) Director. Stempler Commander. Maj.Huston Chief Historian-Stanley L. Eisenhower Institute for Historical Research Lt. Jr. ADVISORY COMMITTEE I. Gen. James R. Paszek iv . Dwight D . Clark Forrest C. Albert P. Duke University Lt. Histories Division-Carl Berger Senior Editor-Lawrence J. Graff Superintendent.B. Gen. Air University The General Counsel. Raymond B. Gen. Allen Henry F. Gen. USAF Ofice of Air Force History Chief. Pogue USAF (ret. John W.

and one from personnel. A year elapsed before Headquarters Seventh attitude or position from which recovery was impos- Air Force. Credit was given to pilots of any air- awarding them. disintegrated. and for the destruction of enemy aircraft. claim within 24 hours. The narratives are taken di. six officers-three from operations. V . The claim had to be South Vietnam. Preface Aces and Aerial Victories is a collection of first. located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base (AB) in sible. The honorific title was used again enemy aircraft became official upon publication of a during World War 11. lost a major com- had no plan for handling claims or awarding victory ponent vital for flight. or some other positive intelligence that credits. however. share in a victory credit to one-fourth. days to process the claim and to forward it through rectly from aircrew after-action reports. The manner of Korean War. each combat wing or separate squadron was had to be described as clearly as possible to insure required to establish an Enemy Aircraft Claims that claims were evaluated judiciously and speedily. and their 24 hours after the shootdown. The board had 10 victories and defeats. code words).g. exploded. but only to ters. They reviewed the World War I in recognition of a combat pilot who evidence and were required to confirm or deny the had shot down five enemy aircraft (including obser. has varied from war to craft and to gunners in multiplace aircraft if they war and even from theater to theater (as in World fired the weapon that destroyed the enemy aircraft or War 11). or if its pilot bailed out. caused it to crash. confirmed its total destruction. however. By this time at least 16 MIG’s had been aerial or ground observers. When the Air Force found itself engaged in aerial An enemy aircraft was considered destroyed if it combat over North Vietnam beginning in 1965. A number the unit commander to Seventh Air Force headquar- of direct quotations have been altered.. a report downed by USAF crews. The different guidelines reflected the differ. This headquarters board consisted of of their profession (e. accepted for probable destruction or damage. single enemy aircraft. it crashed. the difficult and dangerous tactical quired to submit a written claim to the board within maneuvers they had to perform to survive. developed a method for awarding substantiated by written testimony from one or more credits. gun camera film.They recall their air battles with enemy A crew seeking confirmation of a “kill” was re- MIG fighters. two from intel- The unofficial title of “ace” originated during ligence. entered into an credits. On 12 November Seventh that the wreckage of the enemy aircraft had been Air Force published a regulation to govern victory recovered. No more than two quarters USAF authorized the Pacific Air Forces to 2-man crews could be credited with downing a publish confirming orders. Each was hand accounts by Air Force fighter crews who flew composed of at least two rated officers. and 1973. the Korean War. Evaluation Board of four to six members. it was not until 1967 that Head. caught fire. in Southeast Asia to recognize similar exploits. thus limiting the smallest In accordance with the Seventh Air Force regula. and the war Seventh Air Force general order. the senior combat missions over North Vietnam between 1965 operations officer. The criteria established for aerial victory credits Credits for the destruction of enemy aircraft in the were not much different from those used during the area are confirmed by the Air Force. Every detail tion. and the unit’s intelligence officer. Credit for destroying an vation balloons). While credits were awarded only ent circumstances in each theater and each war. where another board was convened to review clarify for the reader the very specialized language the evidence. claims were the weapons technology employed by both sides.

One reason for this was that enemy arrived in Southeast Asia. flying alone in an F-105. He announced that each member of a 2-man Dr. Olds shared crewmen assisted in locating and recovering downed the credits with his F-4 weapon systems officers and fighter crews. Seventh Air Force commanders to decide when to After USAF operations over the North were re. DeBellevue shot down their first MIG. When the MIG pilots did the conflict on 10 May 1972. Finally. the highest kill scores consisted of only enemy territory. Ryan. Another reason for the came under the fire of USAF guns and missiles. Richard S. Charles A. U. vi . The policy became re- high victory scores that were common in World War troactive to April 1965. Search and rescue Robin Olds and Capt.launch the strike force. Gen. (Steve) Ritchie and Capt. Feinstein. can bombing planes. became the third tions) until the spring of 1972. R. also were indebted to the USAF electronic warfare When President Lyndon B. whose aim was to get peace negotiations missions. victories between aircrew members of dual-place Individual contributors to this volume included: fighters. who made it possible for the pleted their 1-year combat tours without having the fighters to engage the enemy in the skies over North opportunity to engage the enemy in the air except on Vietnam and return safely to base. the date when the first F 4 ’ s I1 and Korea.fueling squadrons.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft was responsible for the destruction of four enemy brought back photo intelligence needed by top aircraft. and. maintenance. The war in Southeast Asia was peculiar and did crew would be assigned full credit for each hostile not provide U.Air Force was not far behind. As a consequence. strategy probably was devised by their commanders Following the Communist Easter offensive of in an effort to conserve aircraft obtained from March-April 1972. flying deep into At that time. Johnson announced crews. and other support units kept Chief of Staff.enabling U. destroyed commanders to direct air operations. the victory.S. Another weapon systems in November 1%8 and lasted (with certain excep. changed the policy of dividing aerial the fighter planes flying.downed his fifth on 28 August. and DeBellevue can air operations over North Vietnam. sought out and destroyed the SAM two victories each. air units were ordered back into foreign sources and to introduce their newly trained action over North Vietnam and MIG’s once again pilots into combat gradually. Brestel. hunting Wild Weasel aircraft. Air Force two aircraft. Jeffrey S. aer. Capt.officer. and no crewmember approached the magic weather situation in the theater. Max C. kill ratio was low because of restraints imposed on The achievements of the fighter crews. The Navy produced the first aces of antiaircraft artillery units. many airmen com. Charles Another important factor which limited U. airmen throughout the war and the many in. Capt. who jammed enemy radars and interfered the complete bombing halt of 1 November 1968. which enabled score of five victories. when he scored his fifth a massive invasion of South Vietnam. This list. he with North Vietnamese fighter control. when Lieutenants scramble to challenge U. Fighter pilots limited occasions. pilots the opportunity to amass the aircraft downed in combat.S. SAM- placed North Vietnam off limits to fighter aircraft. But the other war-supporting industrial facilities by Ameri. On the same day. The Air Force thus had no aces at the weather men provided vital information on the time. Frank Futrell. fliers to score sufficient victories to lied heavily upon Soviet surface-to-air missiles and become aces. limited number of victories was that the enemy re. of course. Brestel. awarded to two pilots: Col.could not have been accomplished without the termittent halts of air operations between 1965 and assistance of other USAF airmen flying supporting 1968. it was to Randy Cunningham and William Driscoll destroyed prevent the destruction of vital transportation and three MIG’s to bring their total score to five. strike aircraft. Mr. which began followed on 9 September. USAF sumed in the spring of 1972.S. The latter included members of aerial re- under way. supply. Ritchie ial victories was the 3% year standdown in Ameri.B. As a result. sites and their radar systems. Olds was pilots did not engage American aircraft whenever awarded four kills and he thus headed the victory the North Vietnamese were at a disadvantage. when Hanoi launched USAF ace on 13 October.S. Ravenstein. John D. however.

James N... J. who compiled the information on editing. tributions. supervised the work and also contributed to the H. of the Office of Air Force signee to the Office. Hasselwander. Jane Mot- extensive editorid revisiun by MT.Mr. William Ala.4FB. at the Cmm. Mrs.MTS. and Col. Pas.Maxwell . Jewel1 Newman. and MSgts. L a m c e 3. zek. H-Wxs.k& a i d Cxl Gmbb.Elbdx& S C h W i % r m l m . EJeam Pauerwn. m &r significant c* Simp. History. Walter Hanak. Mr. mobilization as. Robert F. Aiben I. F-4C Fighter vii . Gerard E. W A F . and M n . Chief. Jr. the writers are indebted to Mr.. The task of typing the manuscript and its awarding victory credits. Eastman. and Mrs. Greenhalgh. The manuscript underwent numerous revisions was shared by Mrs. Historical Research Branch.Historical Reseearch Center. Office of Air Fmce History. Scha Shea~. ley.

.

22 Gerard E .. .. 53 An Old-Fashioned Dogfight . .. ... .......... 141 Heavy Opposition Again . 35 Another Successful Ruse ... . ... .. 73 List of Illustrations .. . .. 43 The MIG-Killers ..... . .... I1 COMBAT NARRATIVES: 1965-1968 .. . Ravenstein First USAF MIG Kills .. ... ....... .. 3 The First USAF Aces .. Hasselwander Enemy Stand-Down ...... . . .. Foreword . ... .. ... I THE SITUATION Linebacker Operations ... . .. .. ..... ... 14 USAF’s Third Ace ...... 16 Score Two for B-52 Gunners . 111 .. .... . ... ..... ....... .. . 45 Aircraft and Armament ... .. .. 155 MIG Fight for Survival ..... . ..... 44 Their Units ......... .. TOOLS. .. ..... ... .. .. 109 Linebacker I1 ... ... .. ..... iii 66 Preface ...... .. .... 26 Robert F . .. .. .... . . . .... 92 MIG’s Intensify Threat . ..... . ....... . .. 117 A Temporary Lull . .. ............. ... IV THE MEN: Charles A . ... .. .. ... 85 89 Dr ... . . . ....... .. ... . .... .... . .. ..... ..... . Renewed Opposition . Robert Frank Futrell “Triple-Nickel” Hits Jackpot ..... . . ... .. ... xiii Charles A ..... ............ . . ... . ........ .. ... . . . Ravenstein Victories over Laos ....... .... ........ .... . .. Contents Page Page . 27 Carl Grubb Operation Bolo .... v New MIG Tactics .. .. ... . . . ... . .. 48 Their Tactics . .... .... I11 COMBAT NARRATIVES: 1972-1973 List of Tables .... .. . . 160 Seven Victories in One Day ... .... . ... .. .. ........ Ravenstein THEIR UNITS...... AND TACTICS Charles A . ....... 179 ix b ..... .. ...... .. .. ..... . ..... .. ........ ...... .... ...... ... ...... .. ..... xii . .. .. .. 64 Index ..... .. ... 102 Freedom Train and Linebacker . ........ .. . ... .. 58 Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations .. .. 172 Another MIG Stand-Down . ... ... .. .... .. ...... .. x List of Maps and Charts .. % Rolling Thunder ..... . .... .. Jakob More MIG Kills .. . .. .. ... . . ...... . .. . . .....

. 28 An AIMAE Falcon missile . Kuster and Capt. . . . . Keith and Lt. . Capt. Base. . . . of all attacks north of the 19th parallel. . . 3 Col. . . 56 . Leland Dawson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 North Vietnamese pilots rush for their Lt. . Lt. . . . 42 An AA unit in Hanoi. . . . . . . . . . . . . Smith. Momyer with Col. . . . . Lts. . . . and Rose . . . . . . . . . . . 19 December Capt. a North . . 80 Capt. . . Maj. . . . . Golberg and Lt. Basel . . . . . . . 52 AIM-7 Sparrow. . . . . MIG-17 F-4E Phantom I1 Fighter . . Ritchie displays fifth star on his F-4 to shortly before it was shot down on 13 May Capt. . . . . . . . . . Lt. . .. . Blake 1 967 . George . . . 26 air battle north of Fanoi. . . . 32 A SAM photographed in flight. . . . . 10 Capts. 30 . .. . . . .. . . . . 82 Lts. . . MIG-21’s at Phuc Yen . . . . . Evans . Squadron’s motto displayed on sign . . . Swendner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Craig. . . . Lt. March 1973. . . . . . 55 Buttrey. Talley. . . . . . . . . . . . . List of Illustrations Page Page . . . Kittinger. . . . . . . Wiggins . . .. . . . . Gen. .. . . . . . . . Russell’s 20-mm cannon. . . . . ings. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . a North Vietnamese Capt. . . . announcing termination A MIG-17. . . . Forrest L. air-to-air missile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Base. . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 F4D’s in flight. . . . . Hunter Hams. . Evans. . . . . . . . . . . . Wilson and Richter . 101 A close-up of a MIG-17 in flight. . . . . Thies. . . Lts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and Col. . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 heads earthward on 18 October 1967-a March 1968 . . . “Triple-Nickel’’ Dunnegan. . . “Chappie” James and his GIB. 71 Members of the first USAF flight to down A MIG-17 in a firing pass at an F-105 in an MIG jets over North Vietnam . ern . . . Glynn and Cary. . . 34 namese S A M . . Feinstein . 63 Rauscher . Pascoe and Wells . . . . in flight. . . . . . . . . . Col. . . Taylor. . . . Cameron and Lt. . . . . . Krieps MIG-17’s in response to alarm that USAF and Martin receive congratulations from planes are in the area. . . . . surface-to-air missile . . . . . . . Kirk . . . . 97 Entrance to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Capts. West. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 recorded on the gun camera of an F-105 Capt. . . . . . . 60 in Southeast Asia . . . . . . DeBellevue and Ritchie. . . . and Lt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Cam Ranh Bay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 SAM unit. . . . . . . an F-4C refueling . preparing to nail four more red EC. . . . . . 1967 . . . . . . . . . . 29 North Vietnamese prepare to launch a Capt. . . . . . F-4C Fighter . . 18 Capt. . . Col. 87 Col. . . . . Capt. McGrath and Maj. . . .. . Lts. . . . . A USAF Phantom falls prey to a North Viet- Rabeni . . . . . . Raspberry and Lt . . . . 104 X . . . . . . .121D aircraft. . . . . . . Jameson . . . . . 61 Lt. . . 92 . Sgt. . . . . DeMuth. . 37 . . . . . An F-4C Phantom approaching runway at Capt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . November 1966 . . . Maj. . . . trailing flames and smoke. . . . . . . DeBellevue. . Capt. . and Sgt. . . . . . . . . . 81 . . Lt. . . . . . . . . . Olds.. . . . . . . . . . Jr. . . . . . . 100 Hoyt S. 13 victim of Maj. . . . Maj. . . . . Vandenberg. . . . a MIG with mark- Lt. . . . . . . . Butell and Capt. . . . . . . . . . . . . and Lt. Hargrove. . .. . . 65 President Johnson. . Capt. 79 and Lt. . Gossard . . . . . . . . providing radar coverage stars to the 8th TFW scoreboard . Dowel1 F-4D Fighter. . . Klause and Latham. . . . . . vii Maj. . . .. . . Kjer and Maj. . . . . . Bleakley . Gilmore and Lt. . . . . . . 76 Maj. . . . . released from captivity on 28 . . . . 73 and Lt. . . . . . . lbck. Lts. . MIG-21’s in flight. . . . . Dilger. . . . . . . . . . 84 Col. . . . . . Baily with Capt. . . . . . . Robin Olds. . . Col. . . Anderson . . . . . . . . . . . . Hardgrave . Gen. . . visiting Pleiku Air and Lt. . 33 Vietnamese SAM site near Haiphong .

. Crew boards B-52 .. 147 USAF fighters........... 48Oth. Feinstein.. Meyer awards Silver Star to S/Sgt.. Barry load B-52CID bomber ..... .. 109 469th... and 435th Tac- tical Fighter Squadrons . and 355th Tactical Fighter Wings... and Sgt..... 143 fully unpacks Sidewinder missile at Da 366th and 388th Tactical Fighter Wings.... 141 Sparrow missile on F-4.. a MIG kill recorded on camera 126 field. DeBellevue. .... and 58th Tactical unloads a 37-mm AA Gun used against Fighter Squadrons . USAF’s second ace .. 115 Bokshar guide an SUU-23 into shop for F-105 refuels in flight .. Donald F. ...... and 523d Tactical Fighter A North Vietnamese SAM fired at USAF Squadrons .. and 357th Tactical runway of Kien An Airfield.AlC Greg E. Page Page Capt........” one of last Thuds in Vernon E.. 390th.. The “Polish Glider...... .... USAF’s third ace... .......... . ... F... . . Kisinger. Hart- Vietnam............ Mincer. ... 159 389th... Sgt... 421st........... . NVN pilots discuss mission. Clements and... NVN SA-2 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron . 354th. 8th. NVN crew 35th.. 151 xi . B-52 in flight .... ... Seventh Air Force. 433d... Nang .. ......... lbmer 112 Sniegowski load an SUU-23 gun pod......45th...... . 116 overhauling. A1C Lonnie J... .... 105 Unit Insignia: Capt.... F-105 Thunder- Unit Insignia: chiefs stand ready for night maintenance. ... Sgt....... Host and AlC William B. ... Sgt.. North Viet- Fighter Squadrons . John C. Phineas T.. ...... 114 Sgt. two Sidewinder missiles mounted under 35th.. 154 burst recorded on camera.. James E. Faison care- 307th Strategic Wing . ......... 158 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing..... ......... ..... MIG-17’s parked on the 307th.. 2d Air Division. A1C Gary P... ..... .. 153 strike aircraft northwest of Hanoi. wing of F-105... 149 nam . 145 missile unit responds to alert..... 44th.. . a SAM 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron ........ .. 336th... John.. Gen... ..

. . .. ..... ..... ...... 164 North Vietnam: Vinh Yen. . USAF-Navy Air Strikes....... . . ... 96 Reconnaissance Boundaries .. .... 48 Split-S .... 86 Major Infiltration Routes (Ho Chi Minh North Vietnam: Yen Bai ... .... . . .. . Kep.. . 1973 .. 163 Kep ..... ... 8 Phuc Yen and Viet Tri ...... 162 North Vietnam: Xuan Mai . .... 15 North Vietnam: Yen Bai.... . ..... . . Thai Nguyen. ...... 6 North Vietnam: Yen Bai.. ... 'han Quan. ........ ....... . .... . .......... . 106 Communist Thrusts into South Vietnam.... . 19 Tho............. 36 Basic Escort Formation . .. . .... ...... xiv Laos . 24 7/ 13th Air Force . .... 90 Trail) .. . . ... . 1972 . ... North Vietnam: Yen Bai.. . 171 xii ... .. . ... ... ...... . 107 March-April.. List of Maps and Charts Page Page Mainland Southeast Asia ........ . and Ha Dong .... 1972 . . and Viet Tri . ...... . ... Vertical Rolling Scissors . ... 93 North Vietnam-Rolling Thunder Armed North Vietnam: Thai Nguyen and Kep . 51 Scissors . . 140 North Vietnam: Bac Giang ... . 27 Sketches: North Vietnam: Dap Cau .. ... Kep. 46 Fluid Four .... 170 Wagon Wheel Formation . .... .... 110 Principal USAF Bases in Southeast Asia . and Phuc Yen .. ... . ..... ... 70 YO-YO .... . 83 Pop-up Tactic .. .. . Phu North Vietnam: Thanh Hoa .. 23 Organizational Chart... ... and Finger Tip or Finger Four ....... .... 2 North Vietnam: Yen Bai and Phu Tho . .. Phu Tho.. .. .. . .. .. . 163 North Vietnam: Hoa Lac. . .. . ..... . 165 North Vietnam: Yen Bai..... .... .. Thai Nguyen. .... ...... .... ....... 99 Route Package Areas and Operational Re...... .... ...... .. ... .... 166 Bac Giang...... 161 North Vietnam Airfields. ... ......... . . ... 7th Air Force and North Vietnam: Yen Bai . .. ... ....... ... ..... . . ... ........ . ......... .... .. Immelmann ..... 62 High-speed YO-YOand Low-Speed Hanoi Rail Net . .... . . ..... . . . 169 Threat Areas.. . Kep....... .. North Vietnam: Airfields. .... ..... ... .. .. . .. .. .... ... ..... Phuc Yen.... . .. . ...... Bac Giang. ..... ..... . ... .. 1965-1966 .... . ... ... Dai Loi......... ....... 168 North Vietnam Surface-to-Air Missile Barrel Roll Attack ... . .. Kep. ... . . 33 Field of Maneuver ..... ... and Yen Vien .... 1967 ...... .... . ........ . . ....... .. 164 Bac Le.. ..... Thai strictions .. .. .. . . ..... 9 Nguyen.. .. .. .........

. Used in MIG Victories . . Xlll .. . 4.... . . . . List of Tables Page Page 1 ... .. . . 118 MIG’s in Air-to-Air Combat. . Chronological Order of USAF Aerial 3. Alphabetical Order of USAF Fliers Scor. . 142 2. . . . 157 . . Aircraft and Weapons Combinations ing Aerial Victories in Southeast Asia 127 . Units Credited with the Destruction of Victories in Southeast Asia.. . . .

COH sou Mainland Southeast Asia .

mando and ground force advisors sought to assist gents began their operations against the French in Vietnamese military forces to counter the infiltration 1946 and 4 years later received active support from of Communist cadres southward and the growing Red China and the Soviet Union. tactical air power during World War I1 Republic of Vietnam and a non-Communist Repub- and the Korean conflict. the likes of which never independent course. launched campaigns in Southeast dispatched U. when Gen. At first the United insurgency within the country. Cambodia. Switzerland. the latter led by Ngo officially defined as “that degree of dominance in Dinh Diem. I The Situation Attainment of air superiority was the primary mis. President Harry S Truman ing in military operations.S. sea. soon after his the conduct of operations by the former and its inauguration into office in January 1953. since the Ho along to be stopped. Gen. Kennedy of Ho Chi Minh and his military commander. Hanoi’s interference in the affairs of Laos suppress the insurgency. government sponsored Southeast Asia the Communists unwisely conceded establishment of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organi- air superiority to the allies operating within South zation and provided military assistance to South Vietnam. The military climax of this Chi Minh trail wended its way through the Laotian phase of the conflict came in May 1954. the U. The air war over North Vietnam. President John F. forces into a renewed war aimed at uniting Vietnam. panhandle into South Vietnam. Air com- Asia. into a northern Communist-controlled Democratic sion of U.S. and air operations. Air superiority has been lic of Vietnam in the south. it was too far was essential to the Communist cause. By 1959. Vietnam. As part for successful land.S. Eisenhower. and air forces at a given time and mitted the United States to assist South Vietnam and place without prohibitive interference by the oppos. Laos. under the leadership Against this background. in early 1%1 increased American aid to Saigon and Vo Nguyen Giap. the other free countries of Southeast Asia to defend ing force. Ho Chi Minh sent his guerrilla before had been seen in history. both in South Vietnam then ordered materiel assistance sent to help France and Laos. they started with guerrilla tactics. had com- related land. sea.S. when the Communists were so clearly that the North Vietnamese were actively participat- in command in East Asia. was another story. At the subsequent international surgency would have to be defeated within South peace conference held in Geneva. ever. Vietnam and operations should not be expanded into Vietnam was temporarily divided at the 17th parallel North Vietnam. States remained aloof of the problems of Indochina During the early 1960’s Washington recognized but in 1950. the air battle of one force over another which permits President Dwight D. In of this commitment. However. Washington officials decided that the in- at Dien Bien Phu. When the North Vietnamese. A major U. ” Establishing air superiority is essential themselves against Communist aggression. objective in 1961- 1 . There the enemy waged an noting that the Republic of Vietnam was pursuing an all-out air defensive battle. and Thailand. Despite this know- eral Giap’s forces overwhelmed the French garrison ledge. advisors to Vietnam. how. Ho’s insur.

.at.t* Ulin . MAJOR INFILTRATION ROUTES ( Ho Chi Minh Trail) 0 5 1 0 10 a UI y1 5.

President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. Gen. Hunter Harris. the basic objectives of air attacks against North Vietnam were to: *a reduce the flow andlor increase the cost of in- 1 filtration of men and supplies from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. They decided that bombing North Vietnam would be a supplement to and not a substitute for an effective pacification campaign within South Vietnam. Commander in Chief. However. Pacific Air Forces. %&”) W W M attacks. Pacific Air Forces. by demonstration of America’s determination to re- the autumn of 1964. all-out offensive to destroy Saigon’s military forces. he saw them as a greatly increased infiltration into the south and. According to Sec- retary McNamara. Hunter Harris.. Also. In Washington. a division of North Vietnamese regu- lars began to deploy down the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos heading for South Vietnam. Nov. boats boldly attacked the U. while seeking no campaign. and finally launching an Resideat 3skrrSsrr agreed W M these &jectives. 1966. McNamara rejested the plan. Against this background of a more unfavorable military situation. the Joint Chiefs-with Gen. The immediate reac- Under these circumstances.S. Navy destroyerMud- McConnell. 3 . during the next several weeks. decisive campaign.1%4 was therefore to strengthen the Republic of ship so long its hey conhue their aggression Vietnam and to enable it to withstand the Com. North Vietnamese strategy called for building an Raise the morale of the South Vietnamese insurgent force in the south. air superiority and destroy Hanoi’s ability to continue to support opera- tions against South Vietnam. On the night of 4 August directed that air operations against North Vietnam the Maddox and 7&rnerJoy again reported torpedo ( h L m by tile rri&n. tion from the Communist side was to deploy some Jr. boards Make it clear to the North Vietnamese leader. the North.. wider war.Seventh Fleet carrier aircraft attacked North Rolling Thunder Vietnamese patrol boat bases. John P. Accordingly. they will have to pay a price in munist guerrilla effort to topple it. then starting wide- spread guerrilla operations. dissenting- dox in the Gulf of Tonkin.S. Gen. Meanwhile. the U. was determined to honor its commit- ments in Southeast Asia.S. Commander. his T-39 after a visit to PIeiku Air Base.S. President Johnson an- k limited in scope and not be a hard-hitting military nounced that the United States. 16-day air campaign against 94 targets in North Vietnam to establish U. South Vietnam. apparently were ready to start taliate against military targets so tRat Hanoi wodb the final. pro- 30 MIG-15/17 jet fighters from China to Hanoi’s posed to strike the Communist MIG base at Phuc Phuc Yen airfield on 7 August. In late 1%4 the Joint Chiefs recommended a “fast/full squeeze” hard- hitting. Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up contingency plans for American air opera- tions against North Vietnam. when in early 1965 he authorized the first After December 1963 North Vietnam’s rulers strikes against North Vietnam. Thus. on the U&4?%d W a s IkQt b’llZlUIR fIDlll ZtUZtCk night of 2 August 1964 North Vietnamese torpedo Accordingly. the USAF Chief of Staff. ‘‘Rdii. against the South. on 5 August U.

land promised to increase the effectiveness of MIG ficient protection for aircrews. Accordingly. while USAF strikes were in progress. downed two with cannon fire reprisal air strikes. but growing enemy opposition forced them Communist China. Hoa. a toll of Air Force planes. were for those involving a corresponding reactions. Low clouds. consisted of approximately 1. By the end of March 1965 they mediate threat to U. low-altitude penetration to a target fol. The following day. high-speed tactics did not provide suf. on the occasion of the Tonkin ing their turn to attack. however. strike pilots to begin their attacks without great effective GCI range of the MIG’s. U. enemy automatic “red” immediate danger warnings to U. tial advantages over the bomb-laden F-105’s which lowed by a pop-up maneuver to unload the nuclear lacked a warning system of impending attacks. often en. At higher operating altitudes. pilots trained with ground control intercept (GCI) ned strike-initially included in the first Rolling controllers. these EB-66’s were prise. pilots of weapons and small caliber AAA soon began to take impending MIG activity. a nam below 20 degrees North latitude. 22 early warning radars. However. Rolling Thunder was bombing a road and rail bridges near Thanh attacks were directed against military and transporta. and operate 85-mm radar- for a night strike against Phuc Yen. The enemy pilots pounced upon the portunity was authorized. with the aid of the Soviet Union and nam. ment of Air Defense Command EC-121 “Big Eye” cquntered en route and in the vicinity of the assigned aircraft was deployed to the theater and began flying North Vietnamese targets. The EC-121’s thusiastic aircrews to make multiple passes on were equipped to provide “yellow” caution and targets at low altitude. Between 2 March 1965. These tactics involved a jet pilots working with their GCI units had substan- high-speed. This rudimentary defense allowed operations would continue against targets outside the U. aimed at jamming enemy fire control radars- 20. occupy. North Vietnamese air defenses away to safe areas over Laos and the Gulf of Tonkin 4 . 2 height finders. In the to be followed at first light by tactical fighters to early weeks of the air war. proposal was not immediately approved. Navy strike force that the first phase of operations ended. The initial flight of MIG-17’s was apparently vectored by GCI attacks were against fixed targets. justified this tactic for radar surveillance orbits over the Gulf of Tonkin conventional ordnance.000 feet and dive-bombed their targets. air operations.S.426 antiaircraft artil. heavily loaded F-105’s orbiting over the target wait- In August 1964. tion targets in the panhandle of southern North Viet.S. thus cut. On 6 April President Johnson directed that the lery weapons. But by 3 April several MIG-17 pilots were authority. USAF combat air patrols. Another USAF deployment- pilots changed their methods and ascended to 15. To device onto the target and then to depart as fast as provide advance warning.Yen. this plan.S. It became common for en. But the first MIG concern about enemy AAA defenses. This air raid was controlled gun positions in as few as 8 days. (MIGCAP). the and 9 AAA control radars and demonstrated an abil- Strategic Air Command armed 30 B-52’s on Guam ity to construct. termeasures (ECM) equipment could be used against however. but appeared reluctant to engage in Thunder operations order-was cancelled by higher combat. pilots sacrificed the element of sur. when USAF F-105’s attacked the same bridge. North Vietnam’s air defenses and escaped at high speed. and 11 May when three MIG’s attacked a U. Their initial engagement and growing enemy AAA demanded flight tactics. It became evident that Arrival of USAF F 4 C fighters at bases in Thai- low-altitude. It was obvious that enemy nuclear weapons strike. rapidly improved. hostile AAA radars. in April 1965 a detach- possible before detonation. However. 76 miles south of Hanoi. when the first ready for action and air-to-air fighting ensued when tactical air strikes were launched. and destroy an im. Initially. Although this possessed’31early warning radars.S. able to operate without difficulty over North Viet- Meanwhile.S. brought the first EB-66C “Brown Cradle” aircraft ting losses by operating above the effective altitude to Southeast Asia where their electronics coun- of most enemy guns. North Vietnamese MIG complete the job of destruction. situated north of Hanoi. but on 19 March around USAF F-100’s flying MIG combat air patrol the first armed reconnaissance against targets of op. and 4 fire “slowly ascending” tempo of the Rolling Thunder control radars.

On 17 June two Navy missions were suspended. aircraft. resulting in the loss of one der. or within 30 miles of Hanoi and 10 miles of plane and damage to the other three. missiles. but the pilots would break off tember new targets were approved for strikes. During this standdown. in. F 4 B ’ s downed two MIG-17’s with Sparrow mis- the Air Force evaluated the results of its air cam. When Washington’s peace efforts proved un. U. positioned at the end of a strike force-downed fruitful. The immediate reaction of American pilots in training status. was to return to low-profile missions in SAM- lenges to combat-loaded F-105 fighters.S.where they would orbit during Rolling Thunder MIG pilots who did appear tried to use the supe- strikes. rior turning ability of their aircraft to get into 6 During the week of 12-17 May 1965. were tinued into October-December but were rigidly con. In force apparently again stood down and renewed July some additional strikes were authorized against extensive training. MIG pilots remained aircraft. But this man- officials sought to get the North Vietnamese to begin euver worked . siles and on 10 July two Air Force F4C’s- paign. o’clock positions behind the F-105’s. dispersed about Hanoi and Haiphong. month 11 missile firings destroyed two more U. Enemy GCI controllers not fixed bridge targets on the northwestern rail line infrequently positioned MIG’s for stem attacks between Hanoi and the Chinese border. against U. The following Haiphong . On 24 July 1965 Soviet-built SA-2 surface-to-air The air operations into the northeast quadrant con.S.armed reconnaissance and strike F 4 B ’ s or USAF F4C’s. F 4 C strike aircraft.S. two SA-2’s were fired at a flight of four enter a 30-mile buffer zone along the Chinese bor. expanded somewhat. In Sep. On trolled by Washington. Pilots were not permitted to that day.poorly whenever used against Navy peace talks. The few defended areas. During the summer of 1965. Rolling Thunder (Phase 11) was initiated and two other MIG-17’s with Sidewinder missiles. used for the first time by the North Vietnamese. cluding four bridges on the Hanoi-China rail line.S. 5 . there were only sporadic chal. while U. before engaging. approaching and departing their EC-12ID airera) sent io Souiheasi Asia in April 1%5 to provide ra&r coverage and conirol in areas over ihe Guy of Tonkin and over Hanoi and Haiphong harbor. The first target north of 20 After 10 July and through March 1966 the MIG degrees latitude was cleared for attack on 18 May.

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the SA-2 As an additional precaution to prevent enemy in- proved less dangerous than flying at low level into terference with the air campaign. which attempted to intercept the F-100 crews to home in on SA-2 Fansong radar F-105’s as they came off target. each ance to the strike force. arms and automatic weapons fire. Hanoi ordered its MIG’s into (nickname Wild Weasel) equipped with radar hom. ings while USAF EB-66’s (also with F-4C cover) Rolling Thunder limited strikes to lower North Viet. the cure was worse than the dis. (nickname Iron Hand). flight and mission integrity was and supporting F-4C’s arrived first over assigned disrupted or destroyed when the SAM’s were fired. was vulnerable to attack. aside from specific great compared to losses due to other causes. Instead.000-foot ahead of strike forces and by assisting strike aircraft altitude and within a few months to 6-9. but more total of no more than 300 sorties per day. The high- effect of the SA-2 on strike forces was nevertheless light of this massive new series of strikes was an considerable. April 1966. 1966. But while F-100F gave the Air Force its first real capability to this return to low-altitude attack was effective detect an impending SAM launch. On 25 and 26 April. Successful evasive manuevers were developed to Toward the end of the monsoon season in early avoid the SAM’s provided the launchings were de. During these major penetration strikes. maneuvers often demanded jettisoning of ordnance. employed their jammers. The launched a high-altitude attack against the EB-66’s. Evasive Hanoi and Haiphong areas from 29 June to 1 July.000 feet. F-100F’s and F-105’s orbited the day’s target and positioned themselves in order to suppress SA-2 *Wild Weasel 11 was an experimental model tested at Eglin firings that might threaten the strike force. On 23 April there took place a major air ing and warning (RHAW) sets proved of great assist. It was soon clear that while SAM site. and each petroleum-oil-lubricant (POL) storage areas in the flight gave little mutual support to the other. The AFB. two of rockets for strikes by accompanying F-105’s the enemy planes were downed. the strike F-105’s descended ference table. At the same time.500 feet. When they received no response. This equipment enabled the under GCI control. targets and were then followed over the same route During the 37 days of the “Christmas Truce” (25 by other strike F-105’s with a 3. In au. Attacks were run in streams of four. While the Iron Hand aircraft North Vietnam ceased while the President and his and the accompanying F-4C’s prepared to react to aides sought once again to bring Hanoi to the con. in the event MIG’s slipped past the screen. F-105 strike force by flying MIG Screen orbits U. President Johnson an EC-121 orbited the area to provide MIG warn- still maintained tight control over the operations. all bombing of tion between flights. 7 . Moreover. probably because of the importance of the military The arrival in Thailand of F-lOOF aircraft targets under attack.S.to 5-minute separa- December 1965 to 30 January 1966). with a further perfection of tactics. In May and July 1966 the F-100’s were the SA-2 was dangerous. On 18 April against the SAM. nam and the Air Force and Navy were authorized a Perhaps because of improving weather. the fourth phase of Rolling Thunder tected in time. F-105’s At the very least. All of North Vietnam. flights gradually returned to 34. thorizing these renewed strikes. from altitude and dashed into the SAM defense ring Rolling Thunder (Phase 111) was launched on 31 at an altitude just above the effective height of small January and continued to 31 March 1966. The F-100F’s also gave MIG-21’s entered the air battle for the first time and early warning of an impending SAM firing. the sanctuary areas. attack by Air Force planes against seven major bulk ship flights spaced 1 to 3 minutes apart. an F-l00F ease since aircraft losses to other types of enemy launched its own AGM-45 Shrike missile against a ground fire rose sharply. action. enemy SAM launches. the MIG’s guidance signals and to mark their location with found themselves engaged by F ~ C ’ Sand .targets at an altitude of 500 to 1. Although losses to SAM’s were not began. it could be avoided replaced by the higher performance F-105F’s through appropriate maneuvers if advance warning (known as Wild Weasel III).* was received by strike pilots. clash involving two flights of eight MIG-l7’s. during the first the most lethal part of the AAA and automatic quarter of 1966 F 4 ’ s were employed to assist the weapons flak envelope. Fla.

S T A T U T E MILES &HEAVILY . Following these losses. an EB-66 protected by F 4 ’ s . while it attempted to attack two Sidewinder hits on the North Vietnamese air.6 . MIG pilots seemed F-105 downed another.HIGHWAY - HIT SECTORS RAILROAD -RIVER EM4RCRTION The first MIG-21 was shot down on the 26th by an committed in May and June. reluctant to engage the large numbers of F 4 C ’ s Although MIG pilots appeared to be unskilled in 8 . ~ ~~~~ USAF-NAVY AIR STRIKES 1965-1 966 CHINA NORTH VIETNAM GULF OF TONKIN SEVENTH SCALE . The next month an craft. In May only one F 4 C flying combat air patrol when the latter scored MIG-17 was shot down.

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7thAir Force commanair.jlew a strike mission wirh Col. Vietnamese airfields be struck to reduce the MIG others assumed positions to threaten American threat. MIG’s. only 107 sorties-or 2.S. American strike forces became quite difficult to handle. and the missiles could fight for their lives to reach the route packages north not maneuver fast enough in a fighter engagement. however. and flak posed a cessfully out-maneuver most U. Commander of the Seventh Air (AIM-7) and the Sidewinder (AIM-9) had been Force. appeared in the 1966.Gen. U. Vice-Commanderof rhe3d Tac Fighter Wing. U. Rauscher (right). By the end of 1966. the at high altitude. commented that his crews were forced to designed to down bombers. This rather clearly demonstrated that MIG-2 1 were distinctive.S. As a solution.73 percent) jettisoned and autumn of 1966. 3.S. The roles of the MIG-17 and their ordnance. The enemy’s objective enemy threat was not sufficient to interfere with was to force strike aircraft to jettison their ordnance. In air-to-air engagements. Although some MIG’s still tried to Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended that North interdict U. approximately 150 As a consequence. January 1967 aerial combat.6A. The MIG pilots also discovered that they could suc. Pilots called this area combat in May 1967. strike operations.” according and 6B. Gen. p. 9) during Septembe-December to creditable intelligence sources. of the 192 strike aircraft actually en- threat. Lt. Of the crews held the edge over the North Vietnamese. Wil- with a rapid turning descent. SAM’S. But Secretary McNamara believed that the planes en route to targets.strike aircraft during their bomb runs. MIG attacks against U.S. In combination. pilots asked that guns be SAM sites provided continuous coverage of a zone installed on their F 4 ’ s . however. since the Sparrow liam W. to get a close look at his units in action.” accomplished.72 percent-jettisoned North Vietnamese Air Force along with NVAF 10 . Experienced North Korean “instructors.5. 107 (or 55. External 20-mm gun pods extending from Yen Bai to Haiphong in the north were mounted on the F-4C’s and were first used in and to Ha Tinh in the south. Momyer. Until the modification was “Slaughter Alley. see Map. strikes on those on low-level interceptions while the latter operated days when they were committed. Momyer. of Hanoi. a fact that became evident during the summer gaged by MIG’s.S. the former concentrating the MIG’s reduced the effect of U. On the them time to mold their force into a more serious other hand. the slowly escalating air war gave ordnance as a result of MIG interceptions. Forrest L .938 strike sorties flown (Route Packages 4. air-to-air missiles difficult problem for the strike forces.

using borrowed electronic jamming As new ECM equipment became available for pods. The the U. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed During the Christmas-New Year interlude begin. By April 1967 it be- The next phase of Rolling Thunder operation+ came evident to the North Vietnamese that the conducted between 14 February to 24 December MIG’s would have to bear the brunt of the defense of 1967-reached a new peak of intensity as U. In addition. As anticipated. and sys.. The result was the destruction of craft. .S. this point when he stated: “Much has been written tronic equipment (ECM jamming pods) to improve about the MIG-killing campaign . well-coordinated tematic strikes were launched against rail transporta. including about 15 MIG-21’s.which through April 1967 There was no damage to USAF aircraft. adverse northeast monsoon weather re. For the first again the F-105’s were forced to jettison ordnance 11 . equip other aircraft-including the FA’S-with the Slay. nated attacks to highly effective. in agreement with Gen. The permitted to hit military facilities both within the North Vietnamese were also developing and using China buffer zone and the “Hanoi Circle. Any MIG capability and was probably the most significant kills obtained were considered as a bonus. strike forces with their first self-protection objective was to protect the strike force.crews trained in the Soviet Union. i. emphasized that any excessive losses of USAF electronic countermeasure device. ranging from single. Once tion targets (yards and repair facilities). MIG-killing decidedly took second place to stricted operations severely. Gen. tactics. launched Operation Bolo. F-105 wings usually employed three trained Vietnamese pilots fresh from the Soviet Un. USAF strike forces were able to return that the North Vietnamese would engage in an air to mass formation tactics reminiscent of World War battle. of that year. Maj. the MIG operations were habitually cyclical. When major air strikes were MIG-21 force. The down of a strike aircraft was considered . attacks on North Vietnamese targets fectiveness of the North Vietnamese Air Force.r 1966. challenged what they thought were primarily flak suppressors. Pilots were were based at Phuc Yen and Kep airfields. On 6 normally preceded the strike force by 5 minutes to January F-4C’s simulated a weather reconnaissance “sweep” the target area of MIG’s and then stand by mission and this lure resulted in the destruction of to fly cover. a F-105 strike wings received their initial allotment of mission failure regardless of the number of MIG’s pods in Octob6.e. May and June strike forces began the destruction of Hanoi’s indus. their airmen tried a great variety of trial base.S. Stunned by their losses. tance of targets under attack. two more MIG-21’s. apparently uncoordi- key military airfields came under attack. and one flight of Iron Hand air: F-105 crews.” General Momyer. In order to insure general use. their key military facilities.” other fields to serve as MIG dispersal areas. but on some days bombing. four-ship flights of strike aircraft. the strike force usually was es- seven MIG-21’s within 12 minutes of combat. . aircrews could very well have led Washington offi- Meanwhile. perhaps North Vietnamese Air Force stood down for further geared to training and definitely related to the impor- training which extended to February 1967. a force of FAC’s simulated an impending I1 and Korea. group attacks involving as many as 16 aircraft. I will only dramatically their operations. Alton D. More time was required to killed. a large range of enemy flak. were approved for controlled attacks. Slay elaborated upon American airmen could exploit newly-arrived elec. one flight of four ion.. the were suspended for 48 hours over New Year’s Day overriding purpose of the aerial campaign remained and for a 6-day period during the lunar New Year that of placing ordnance precisely on assigned (8-15 February). Some 70 North time. targets in restricted areas of North Vietnam Vietnamese MIG’s. required. interest in setting up another MIG trap similar to ning on 24 December 1966 and continuing to mid. On occasion throughout this targets with the least possible loss of American period. Major power plants were knocked out. to operate at altitudes above the F-105 and F A C strike. Operation Bolo to further erode the morale and ef- February 1967. Fighter Wing. on 2 January 1967 the 8th Tactical cials to reduce or terminate the operations. crews. This device provided add that MIG-killing was not our objective. quite possibIy manned by newly. A shoot- item of equipment introduced into the air war. . corted by four F-~C’S. In April.

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estab- surances from Hanoi that they would respect the lishing GCI sites at Vinh. Both continue to fly unarmed reconnaissance aircraft over SAM’S and AAA units were deployed southward as North Vietnam and that if they were fired upon. appeared on nation-wide TV to announce termination of all attacks north of the 19th parallel.” trol. and was downed by a U. Bac Mai. for a iota1 of 246 aircraft. however. Even as the talks continued. ensure the withdrawal of all non- silence. Between 1 November 1971 and 31 13 . and increasingly they began to fire at U. demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South By early 1972. on 31 March 1968. and would begin peace talks in good faith. and Chap Le. was his policy of “Vietnamizatign. he hoped that the since they had no GCI support. Some MIG’s did peace talks under way in Paris would secure a super- attempt to raid southward under radio and radar vised ceasefire. armed escort fighters would return the fire. to “clear the air” whenever MIG’s appeared over President Nixon directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the North Vietnamese panhandle and to give the expedite the military training and equipping of South Talos “clear fire” at the target. Following this. would cease attacks on South Vietnamese 93 MIG-21’s (some of them newer models.S. the North Vietnamese refused November 1968. nated the “Export Fishbed-J”). The North Vietnamese Air Force Vietnam. when President Johnson halted all to proceed with substantive negotiations and used air and naval attacks against North Vietnam. reconnaissance aircraft and also across the border When President Richard M. U.S. In one such incident on 23 May. 33 MIG-19’s and Hanoi also understood that the United States would 120 MIG-I5/17’s. forces were instructed of South Vietnam. Navy Talos surface-to-air guarantee political self-determination for the people missile. However. White House in January 1969. the NVAF fighter inventory included Vietnam. Mr. Johnson had received reasonable as. the North Vietnamese forces to enable them to take over the Vietnamese seem to have soon recognized that the conduct of the war while U. Nixon entered the into Laos. the respite from air attack to develop further their When he suspended air operations against North military forces. Their air threat thus dwindled well before 1 At Pans. North Vietnamese were unable to work effectively.S.S. a MIG-21 South Vietnamese forces from South Vietnam. This MIG’s could not operate without their ground con. President Johnson. desig- cities. forces withdrew. extended radar control down the panhandle. well.

MIGCAP. In February and chaff. protect his heartland and rail links to China. during Linebacker I was not infrequently as high as namese forces commenced an all-out field attack 5 to 1 in comparision with strike aircraft. the areas where November 1971. photo. Vietnam. Red Crown control ship in the Gulf provided addi- and in 13 air-to-air engagements the United States tional warning of MIG activity. and search and rescue missions) On the night of 30 March 1972. excellent position. the ratio of support aircraft (those Linebacker assigned chaff. the United States would halt all offensive operations tected enemy radar signals indicating a firing was when Hanoi agreed to release American prisoners of imminent. At the same time. their tactical fighter aircraft were now “Disco”) and F4D’s were deployed to Southeast equipped with new military hardware: laser guided Asia. who would get airborne. Support through the DMZ into Quang Tri province. Additional EC-121’s (with a new call sign: other hand. Special F-4D crews were designated and au. bombs (LGB’s) for strikes. Giap confidently believed that these division-level Most MIG-21 interceptions were clearly flown by assaults with heavy armor would overwhelm experienced pilots. ECM. American Vietnamese ports and a resumption of air and naval pilots could launch protective reaction strikes if the strikes against military targets throughout North enemy fired AAA or SAM’S against friendly recon. USAF strike aircraft were sent aloft to fly fighter crews flying FA’S lost some of their profi- combat air patrol and to serve as escorts for B-52 ciency because of a lack of aerial combat. The Joint Chiefs of Staff gave the Seventh activity. and escort flights. Gulf of Tonkin were assigned the task of controlling tions served to check MIG activity. Navy “Red Crown” radar warning and control (“Disco”) EC-121’s orbiting over Laos and the vessel operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. ECM chaff. In Laos increasing MIG interference with USAF Between the period Rolling Thunder terminated ’ < operations also demanded attention.S. pick up a lot of “smash” (speed and ceasefire and install a coalition government in South energy). airmen continued resume attacks (nicknamed Freedom Train) as far attacks against North Vietnamese infiltration of men north as 20 degrees latitude. SAWflak sup- pression. As a conse. and 35 in March. Because of the strength of North Vietnamese de- fenses and the need to provide maximum protection to the limited number of F a ’ s equipped for laser- Freedom Train and guided bombing. cruise Saigon’s forces. 30 in February. College Eye U. strike. These ac. but the North launched from Laos and Cambodia into Kontum and Vietnamese MIG force-although still essentially Binh Long provinces of South Vietnam. expanded into Linebacker I on 8 May when Presi- Under the rules of engagement which prevailed dent Nixon authorized the aerial mining of North for U. escort. This operation was and supplies southward.S. and im- thorized to intercept MIG’s penetrating toward Laos proved electronic countermeasures for tactical which had been identified either by “Disco” or the fighter mutual self-protection. January 1972 there were 57 MIG incursions into the On 6 April American airmen were authorized to panhandle of Laos. This forces were able to counter the extensive and well- action was quickly followed by other attacks disciplined SAM and AAA defenses. The Navy’s March 1972 there were only 10 enemy penetrations. or if USAF planes de. and Linebacker I operations began. Vietnam.” and then 14 .S. strike from 6 o’clock with good control. On the strikes. Captured limited by too few combat ready pilots-was still a North Vietnamese documents reveal that General serious threat. forces between 1969 and 1971. lost one aircraft while the Communists lost five. the President stated that naissance or strike aircraft. The frequency of protective reaction war and to accept an internationally supervised strikes increased in proportion to increasing enemy ceasefire. 27 in January the enemy concentrated his strongest defenses to 1972. 29 in December. and “much overtake. USAF tactical quence. North Viet. after which Hanoi could demand a at low altitude. There were 14 such strikes by F-4 or F-105 Air Force responsibility for attacking prevalidated aircraft escorting reconnaissance planes in targets in Route Packages 5 and 6A. where U.

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it is probable that 75 percent of the USAF other aircraft. the and flew escort and MIGCAP’s. Kissinger. and they re. onset of bad weather during the northeast monsoon MIG fighters got airborne but flew through B-52 seriously would hamper U. “it was decided to try to 1972 the use of EC-121’s and the Navy’s control bring home. on 22 October ders which provided long-range navigatiodtarget 3 1972. agreed upon. Haiphong.S. together with positive control over counter-air by day. port and enemy’s infrared missile streaking in. and departed at low level and high October 1972 that peace arrangementswould shortly speeds. tactical fighter attacks formations apparently without knowing what to do. an intensive USAF and Navy day- tacks. But in June In order to convince North Vietnam. developed a ECM jamming. and airfields around Hanoi and of the F 4 ’ s against the MIG’s now was due primar. In fact. 16 . fended Hanoi and Haiphong areas. The F-4’s established chaff corridors losses could have been avoided. F-105 and F 4 hunter-killer missions against the fined tactics which resulted in a 4-1 ratio in favor of enemy’s SAM complex. In May words of Dr. Quite often under such circumstances. really to both Vietnamese parties. “Therefore. working with the Navy.” enemy planes was moderately effective. made single high-speed ordnance de- National Security Affairs. railways and railyards. Each B-52 attack was supported heavily by fighters. Quite possibly. EB-66’s orbited for U.S. the and-night attack against electrical power plants and first warning of an attack was the sighting of an broadcast stations. While Hanoi stalled the talks. employed the new A-7 and F-1 11 tactical fighters as ing 24 MIG’s. During this daily around-the-clock opera- ily to the greater proficiency and aggressiveness of tion. The F-11 1’s were assigned USAF pilots between 1 August and 15 October specific targets. for the first time. the Linebacker I air campaign ended. but in June and July of that year air strike aircraft. Strategic Air combat victories and losses were on a one-to-one Command B-52’s struck targets in the heavily de- basis. As a result of progressing diplomatic talks. It was not and that its forces could ride out the strikes as they uncommon for some of these MIG actions to last no had done before. F 4 ’ s equipped with laser bombs struck high priority Linebacker I1 targets with precision. 4 more than 12 to 14 minutes. and F-105’s flew Iron Hand or new command and control capability. acquisition for delivery of unguided bombs by other FA’S or A-7 aircraft. Between February and single stand down on Christmas Day. Also. livery passes. frequently airfields. that ship to alert MIGCAP aircraft of the approach of the continuation of the war had its price. These new tactical fighters approached their targets Henry Kissinger. tacks being bracketed in between B-52 waves. The support forces for day- time strikes were equivalent to that provided for the Contrary to expectations. Air Force. which lasted through 29 December with but a the American fighter pilots. the North Vietnamese B-52’s at night. The success storage facilities. Daylight tactical air included F 4 Pathfin- be accepted in Paris. highly compressed operations with B-52’s vided “look-down’’ radar coverage of the. was confident in mid. Had the Seyenth Air Force possessed an airborne The Air Force campaign was divided into two warning and control system which could have pro. Linebacker 11. disengage and head for home on the deck. This gave USAF pilots Saigon became more rigid. When weather permitted. distinct. the United and July the MIG threat burgeoned when North States on the night of 18 December 1972 launched Vietnamese pilots launched their supersonic rear at. many of the support aircraft continued to drag out the peace negotiations. Hanoi anticipated a The intensity of Linebacker I1 operations com- resumption of bombing attacks in the Hanoi and pletely disrupted North Vietnamese air defenses and Haiphong areas but believed that the impending did not allow them to recover during the campaign. target and F-111’s attacking by night and F a ’ s and A-7’s area. Dr.” in the very little reaction time or margin for error. Fortunately. President Nixon’s Assistant for at low level. with their at- 1972. the Air Force July 1972 the Air Force lost 18 aircraft while down. Accordingly. raising (and sometimes the same tired crews) flew both day many technical objections to propositions already and night missions.

” stated Adm. Kissinger would resume 9% flying days. 613 tactical strike sorties. “I am convinced. return of U. Kissinger said: “. all by nam. the B-52’s being hardest hit with 15 ical self-determination for the people of South Viet- losses and severe damage to 3 other bombers. tions . . . confirmed its effec- of Linebacker I1 effective on 29 December 1972. . on 8 January. The enemy stn3: of S?’. prisoners of war. “that Three other tactical aircraft were lost to AAA and Linebacker XI served as a catalyst for the negotia- two to MIG’s. he tiveness as an instrument of national power-in just included the news that Dr. ceasefire. what the United States wanted: a supervised and 2. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Thomas H. but the January 1973.066 support sorties. One SAM also downed a tactical aircraft.S. and polit- craft were lost. Airpower. . The effect of Linebacker I1 clearly enemy fired nearly a thousand SA-2’s at the big hastened the conclusion of peace negotiations or. evidently by visu. there was a deadlock in the ally sighted barrage fire. as bombers and downed 15 of them.” 17 . .two were shot down by B-52 tail gunners. On 23 January 1973. there was a rapid move- began to diminish and only 15 to 20 missiles were ment when negotiations resumed. SAM’S. . Moorer. SAM negotiations with the North Vietnamese in Pans on 8 direction radars were jammed successfully. given its day in court after When President Nixon announced the termination almost a decade of frustration. Twenty-seven USAF air.M’c middle of December . . the Air Force Le Duc Tho initialed the agreement that provided flew 729 B-52 sorties. Kissinger and North Vietnam’s During the course of Linebacker 11. .” fired at the B-52’s on the night of 28 December.

18 . following a mission in Vietnam. An F 4 C Phantom flies low over the South China Sea as it makes a fmol approach to the runway at Cam Ranh Bay air base.

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After the fireball 15. only the MIG’s wing tips were visible. it was Mach 1.000 feet. executing a right roll and going into a and started a “ 4 4 pull-up” (a climb.000 executed a hard left turn into the MIG.e.000 feet.and when the MIG overshot. three-fourths of a mile away. When the MIG reached cone. Roberts lost sight of the increased to a 5-mile separation. but scored no tone with the third Sidewinder and fired. four times 30” dive. roll- burner had been turned on in the initial break and ing slowly to the left in a bank. He fired a Sidewinder missile. While the crew members tried to A fall-off to the left and a turn gave Roberts an clear up their misunderstanding.. the MIG started to discharge white the MIG ahead.” Udorn. but in line with it. Later. but smoke from its tailpipe.000 feet. the pounds.000 and debris emitting from the aircraft. Roberts rolled nothing happened. The MIG tried to give chase and ended up at 7 The MIG lost ground behind him but continued to o’clock. It was simple from then on. they started to dive from 20. weapons visually). Lt.800 pounds of fuel remaining aboard each aircraft. but they did see a fireball as the Sidewinder. Holcombe turned the tail and detonated about 4 to 6 feet from the left slightly left to maintain the M E in sight and then wing tip. During the pull-up.000 feet. for just at MIG entered the cloud. but since he fired hastily.95. since his fuel level had dropped to 3.e. The flight landed with approximately :” craft 4 br ke to the right. Roberts fired a Sidewinder. Clark Rolling out at the top of the climb.000 feet in afterburner and unloaded the aircraft.9 to . Cap. The missile hits. This gap pursue. It streaked past Once the MIG had passed. The two Andersons in air. flying at a speed of Mach . As Holcombe dished back (i. Neither Holcombe nor Clark saw inverted. ” maneuvers to evade the flak while leaving the area.000 to 5. witnessed the attack and warning. nosed toward the MIG. He did not watch for results.3. Roberts reported: “The MIG obviously lost tain Holcombe broke left and intended to head for sight of me.4 at 12. sounded a flak craft 2. After firing his fourth and last Sidewinder. he saw the MIG tried to advise his aircraft commander that the radar at 28.. Holcombe misinterpreted descended slightly to the left. the MIG opened fire missile proved ineffective. large fireball at or slightly to the right of the tail slowly closing distance. almost head-on. He fired the fourth missile and again his aircraft was about to overshoot. The fireball expanded until turned. The MIG pilot smoothly pulled out in a 20” bank and seeking homing device). and fired his fourth the MIG explode. without an audio indicator that roll with the MIG behind at about 1 mile. from Udorn. it was 60”nose down and inverted. as Roberts came out of radar and told Clark to “Go boresight” (to fire the afterburner. He saw no Holcombe’s aircraft was now between 13. Comman- 25 . following the detonation but remained in flight. after Roberts and Anderson in air. leveled. and descended toward a cloud. on the other hand.000 feet ahead. Roberts then established from 7 o’clock at a range of 1/2 mile. nothing happened. The F-4 reached the 270” position.000 feet separation. General Joseph Maore. By now his radar was completely inoperative. From the rear of his aircraft. falling off on its left wing was out and to “Go heat” (he wanted Holcombe to into a 90” bank and then making a vertical recovery. Roberts went into afterburner and began saw the enemy aircraft “blow completely apart. emerged from tracked well and exploded just short of the MIG’s the maneuver) the MIG again overshot and then tail. 1. The third missile detonated slightly to the right 6. placing himself about the message as a problem in detecting the MIG on 4. Since of the MIG.000 or 29. The MIG rocked its wings several times made a very steep dive to 10. As his aircraft closed on the very close head-on and fired but scored no hits. MIG. The after. attacking feet. with had subsided. Holcombe then enemy aircraft but continued his climb to 33. the pull of gravity). When the the radar track was locked on for the missile). so the F 4 ’ s speed increased to second Sidewinder. in the rear. Roberts fired a was still operating. to get into position for an attack. that moment Anderson. F 4 ’ s left the battle area and rejoined about 30 miles Meanwhile. the MIG passed excellent firing position. Holcombe then initiated a h i g h 4 barrel without tone (i. A second Sidewinder produced a Roberts continued to descend with the MIG. he decided to gain Roberts accelerated to about Mach 1. On 1 1 July.000 As soon as Roberts completed his encounter. use a Sidewinder missile equipped with the heat.

Clark.S.S. Prior to receipt of initial vector to target until beginning transitiodto July 1965. appropriate awards tions the F-4’s enjoyed superiority. the other terattack. of attack. Kenneth D . but broke off before U. aircraft and made dry firing passes (feinting an attack) under GCI radar vector- ing.S. members of the first USAF fight to effectively used the superior turning capability of down MIG jeis over North Vietnam whoop it up.Air Force was duly proud of its fighter pilots who had achieved aerial victories and had nullified high altitudes to escape small arms fire and flak. Capt. Holcombe. American enemy are five phases of maneuvers: (a) climb crews shot down five MIG’sp four u*s. 26 . Against FA’S armed with radar-controlled two aircrews were awarded Distinguished Flying and heat-seeking missiles. MIG pilots relied on turn son.fighters could engage them. When aerial encounters did occur. this threat became significant and strike primary objective at any time during the conflict. Arthur C . (c) transition phase. The NVN Air Force seemed more intent upon improving its electronic defenses and at the same time began a considerable expansion of its surface-to-air (SAM) sites and Antiaircraft Artillery/Automatic Weapons network. However. (d) attack phase-turn to attack heading. since under these condi- ial victories were achieved. MIG pilots Afrer receiving awards. acquisition of target. Harold Ander- down to follow or turn. the MIG-17’s Crosses. Capt. would be made to the aircrews. air forces customarily attacked targets from U. to r. were at a disadvantage when they employed turn radius and cut-off tactics. their aircraft to achieve a 6 o’clock position. Wilbure radius and cut-off tactics almost exclusively to attain Anderson. (b) maneuver phase- fighters were lost to the enemy’s aircraft. Flight Comman.* This training period extended from July 1965 through April 1966. Richard Hall gets a ride on the shoulders of the other then endangered F-105 strike aircraft if they slowed jlighr members: (1. Maj. awarded Silver Stars to order to take evasive action and prepare for coun- the men scoring these two aerial victories.increase or de- M I G . aircraft shifted to lower approach and withdrawal altitudes. North Vietnam had augmented its attack speed and altitude. When gunfire again Sporadic encounters between MIG’s and U. MIG kills were not a When NVN introduced surfacpto-air missiles in mid-1965. Anderson.~ ~ with versions of crease of speed and altitude required for the attack.~ ~ / M I G force . and Capt. in the foreground) Capt. while the U. This established a tradition for the tenure of the Vietnam conflict that. and. *Ground control intercept (GCI)radar vectoring is the elec- fighters occurred during the 9 months following the tronic control of a friendly aircraft from the ground.S. Hall. but they showed a marked phas-breakaway to landing. a viable combat attack capability. and turn to breakaway heading. since SAM’S were less effective at these levels. phase-airborne to cruising altitude. the MIG threat to strike forces. which der Maj. whenever significant aer. (e) recovery frared homing missiles. American aircraft would then pop up to higher Enemy Stand-Down altitudes and make their attack. than defensive roles. Capt. however. The MIG’s would break away reluctance to commit this jet fighter force to other sometime before the attack phase. They usually forced F-105 aircraft to jettison their ordnance in der of the 2d Air Division. completion the M1G-21’ which were equipped with in.S. The integration of GCI and MIG systems produced excellent training for inex- perienced NVN pilots and ground controllers in de- veloping their intercept capability. Once beyond the concentrations of SAM sites. Ronald C . in the contact by a friendly aircraft with an victories’During this period. In air interception-that is. North Viet- namese MIG’s were committed to lengthy training exercises against U.

27 . The first encounter came on 23 April with a flight of four F Z ’ s of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squad- ron. meanwhile.OOO and 18. the F a ’ s left orbit to assist the strike tion on both Cameron and Blake. Maj. protect. Blake and 1st Lt. As I came out of the roll. I More MIG Kills fired one Sparrow. then the rolled down to the right. 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. as NVN fighter pilots became in- creasingly aggressive. Four MIG-17’s were detected on radar at a distance of about 15 miles.” strike aircraft). He applied full power and dove toward a valley. Paul J. North Vietnam. and 1st Lt. but this threat was more potential than real MIG behind our flight leader’s wingman. the strike aircraft return*d to “We could see little flashes of light when the lead higher levels where. Robert E. falling apart and trailing thick. the aircrews could outmaneuver Cameron later reported. The flight lead and aircraft 2 each fired one Spar: row. Smith in the back. and there was a corresponding reac. I had a bad angle on him and missed but I realigned and fired again. Cameron’s rear seat pilot.” he said.W.. achieved a firing posi- Screen flight. Lieutenant Evans. 25 miles north- east of Hanoi.became too effective. For the next 10 minutes. with advance warning and time MIG fired at our number two man with his cannon. on 26 April. Blake followed the MIG.caused by MIG tactics he thought the Sidewinder went up the MIG’s tail- against strike forces. promised American strike missions and affected the William T. then went after the second altitudes. None of them made a hit.e. but was unable to force. the F-4’s pipe. the MIG. MIG Screen aircraft escorted the strike flights from “I went into a diving roll and came straight down on the target area. Evans) and 4 (Capt. Robert E. “The pilot must have seen us on his tail. MIG’s were more of a threat at the higher winder missile at him. Three days later. one of them firing without making a hit. “The smoke looked like taffy streaming April 1966. Max F. Gil- tion in MIG activity. Seven Phantoms and one Thunderchief downed eight MIG’s between late April and June. The NVN Air Force com. When no MIG’s engaged. and the two forces met in a near head-on pass. the aircraft were in a left-turning en- gagement between 10. more. in the front seat of the lead FAC. Three of the MIG’s gained position on aircraft 2. When MIG’s bypassed the MIG Another MIG.” to see the missiles. George). “I quickly fired a Side- them.000 feet. “As the MIG went down.’’ Blake said. whitish-gray ing fighters were placed between the threat and the smoke. by March 1966. American activity increased against from the rear.” he later commented. Camemn fired a Sidewinder during this head- on contact. S. “it was began to fly “MIG Screen” missions (i. Cameron and Blake maneuvered their F 4 ’ s to attack the three MIG’s. Cameron and 1st Lt. downed the first security of strike aircraft. Involved in the two MIG-17 victories were flight aircraft 3 (Capt. flying MIG Screen in support of Thunderchief strikes against the Bac Giang highway and railroad bridge. follow their climbing separation maneuver and tained until the last F-105 departed target.” in 1965 and early 1966. said With the growing nuisance.” This one When the northeast monsoon season ended in connected. the orbit was main.

c 7
MIG-21 of the war. They were part of a flight of
three F-4’s flying escort for two RB-66’s. Launch-
ing from Da Nang, they rendezvoused with the
RB-66’s and proceeded north to the Red River,
where one RB-66 and one F-4 split off for a sepa-
rate mission. Gilmore, flying the other F-4, and the
other RB-66 proceeded northeast of Hanoi. Almost
at once they spotted two or three MIG’s coming high
in the 2 o’clock position and closing rapidly. Gil-
more and his wingman jettisoned their external
tanks, lit their afterburners, and broke into a hard
left-descending turn while the RB-66 departed the
area.
Gilmore pulled out of his vertical reversal at
12,000 feet, with his wingman flying a tight wing
position. They pulled up after the MIG’s, which
were in afterburner, heading northwest at 30,000
feet.
The second MIG was descending very slowly,
trailing white vapor toward the east. The F-4 air-
crews lost sight of this aircraft as they closed rapidly
on the first, which was making gentle clearing turns
as he climbed away. Gilmore had several boresight
lock-ons but was out of range for a good Sparrow
.
I

Capr. Cameron (left) and Lr. Evans pose beside Sidewinder
missiles upon return from their vicrory.

shot. At a range of 3,000 feet, Gilmore fired one
Sidewinder with a good tone; he then maneuvered to
the left to gain more separation and as a result did
not see his first missile track.
Later, Gilmore reported that the had not realized
that he had scored a victory with his first missile:
“My wingman, flying cover for me, told me later
the MIG pilot had ejected after I fired the first mis-
sile. I didn’t realize I’d hit him the first time. My
wingman wondered why I kept after him as I had hit
him the first time and the pilot ejected.” Because of
radio difficulties, his wingman could not inform
Gilmore of his success.
After his maneuver to gain separation, Gilmore
pulled up behind the pilotless MIG-21 again and
fired another Sidewinder without effect. He again
rolled to the left, pulled up, and fired his third
Sidewinder at a range of 3,000 feet. “After missing
Capr. Blake (left) and Lr. George [he thought] twice,” Gilmore later told newsmen,

28

years in the tactical fighter business.”
Phantom aircrews of the 555th TFS destroyed two
more MIG-17’s on 29 April, when they were flying
MIGCAP for a force of F-105’s attacking the Bac
Giang bridge about 25 miles northeast of Hanoi. The
Phantoms met four of them north of the strike area,
and the F 4 C crewed by Capt. William B. D. Dow-
ell and 1st Lt. Halbert E. Gossard downed one of
them with an AIM-9 Sidewinder.
The flight leader, Capt. Larry R. Keith, flying
with 1st Lt. Robert A. Bleakley, accounted for a
second MIG by maneuvering him into a crash. Ob-
serving the two aircraft of the other element rolling
into the MIG’s, Keith broke off in the opposite
direction. He saw a MIG preparing to attack Gossard
and quickly fired a Sidewinder to distract the pilot.
The MIG then executed an evasive maneuver, but
Keith followed in hot pursuit. At a distance of 6,000
feet behind the MIG, Keith’s F-4 was just beginning
to get Sidewinder tone. During his evasive tactics,
the MIG inverted rolling to the left at an altitude of
2,500 feet. He crashed. The flight leader recalled
later that the MIG pilot “either lost control of the

Maj. Gilmore (lefr) and Lr. Smith pose beneath rhe red star
painted on their aircrajl for downing rhefirsr MIG-21 of the war.

“I was quite disgusted. I started talking to myself.
Then I got my gunsights on him and fired a third
time. I observed my missile go directly in his tail-
pipe and explode his tail.”
The two F-4 aircrews then descended to watch the
debris impact. As Gilmore commenced his pull-up
he spotted another MIG-21 tracking his wingman
and called for a defensive split. He broke to the left
and down while his wingman broke to the right and
UP.
When Gilmore emerged from the roll, he sighted
the MIG ahead, in afterburner and climbing away.
He rolled in behind this aircraft and climbed in
afterburner until he was directly behind. He fired his
fourth Sidewinder, but the range was too short and
the missile passed over the MIG’s left wing. Be-
cause of low fuel reserves, both F 4 ’ s then left the
battle area. The 6-minute aerial battle Was Gilmore’s ~ ~ (lejlr)a~ d k .~ Gosswd
1 shot1 down thefirsrMlG-17
first encounter with an enemy plane “after twelve destroyed in aerial combat on 29 April 1966.

29

aircraft or attempted a Split-S with insufficient al- appamtly unable to eject, for no parachute was
titude.” observed. The battle continued a little longer with-
On the morning of 30 April an element of two out any further losses on either side, and the two
F-4C.s (aircraft 3 and 4) were alternating with forces then disengaged.
another element (1 and 2) in air refueling. They were The first half of 1966 ended with another MIG-17
providing rescue combat air patrol (RESCAP) for kill by an F-105D pilot: Maj. Fred L. Tracy, 388th
two pilots downed about 100 miles west-northwest TFW, Korat AFB, Thailand. This was the first in-
of Hanoi. The number 3 and 4 aircraft were with- stance in which a Thunderchief claimed a victory. A
drawing from the area and 1 and 2 were returning flight of four F-105’s was flying an Iron Hand (SAM
when four MIG-17’s attacked. The MIG’s, under suppression) mission during the afternoon of 29 June
ground-control, flew out of the sun and waited until when it encountered four MIG-17’s about 25 miles
the FA’S were low on fuel before closing. They north-northwest of Hanoi. The F-105’s had just left
were headed directly for the Phantoms when the their target when they detected the MIG’s closing at
aircrew of aircraft 3 sighted them at a range of 5 7 o’clock.
miles. In the ensuing air battle, Capt. Lawrence H. The first MIG fired, but missed the third Thunder-
Golberg and 1st Lt. Gerald D. Hardgrave in aircraft chief which along with number 4 was breaking and
4 fired a Sidewinder into a MIG’s tailpipe. The diving. The first and second MIG’s then pursued the
aircraft exploded. The two Phantoms, then low on lead element. The third and fourth MIG’s followed,
fuel, hurriedly left the battle area. Golberg landed at but did not take an active part in the engagement.
Udorn with only 400 pounds of fuel on board.* The F-105 flight leader and his wingman had begun
Controversy erupted from the next USAF MIG a left turn when the MIG’s were sighted. The
kill, on 12 May, when Communist China charged American aircraft went to afterburners and jettisoned
that U.S. fighters had intruded into Chinese airspace their ordnance as they commenced a dive to the left.
and shot down a Chinese aircraft. China’s report
placed the air battle in Yunnan Province, 25 miles
north of the border.
Involved in this aerial victory was an F-4C
crewed by Maj. Wilbur R. Dudley and 1st Lt. Im-
ants Kringelis, the third aircraft of a flight of three
Phantoms escorting an EB-66 on an ECM mission
in the Red River Valley. Four MIG-17’s jumped the
flight about 105 to 115 miles northwest of Hanoi,
more than 20 miles south of China’s frontier.
“The enemy flier seemed to be a pretty good
pilot, but he made one mistake,” Dudley later re-
ported. “He apparently had a case of tunnel vision
when he bore in on the EB-66 and never knew we
were behind him. That was his mistake. And one
mistake is all you’re allowed in this game.”
Dudley missed with his first Sidewinder, fired just
as the MIG began descending in what appeared to be
a Split4 maneuver designed to regain an offensive
position. When the MIG rolled out behind the
EB-66, Dudley fired a second missile. It guided up
the MIG’s tailpipe and the aircraft disintegrated. It
spun out of control and crashed. The pilot was
Capt. Keith (left) and Lt. Bleakley maneuvered a MIG-I7
*Flying time was about 4 minutes. into a crash.

30

in a right turn. and the MIG pilot lit his afterburner. part of a flight of four FA’S providing MIG cover for an Iron Hand flight of three F-105’s. As MIG activity picked up. but seconds later a third one went up the MIG’s tailpipe and blew the enemy aircraft into pieces. when Thunder- 31 . During July. The MIG pilots equipment. Tracy then left the battle most of the high-altitude intercept role. Jr.000 feet. F 4 C aircrews of the 480th TFS. The lead and actively engaged them to prevent them from Thunderchief pilot fired about 200 rounds of attacking strike forces. the pilot continued his Shrike launch. Capt. but scored no hits. Just after the MIG missed that air- craft with a missile and initiated a climb with after- burner on. The Phantoms kept watch for MIG aircraft fourth MIG. and trated almost exclusively upon the F-105 strike made several hits. Capt. Captain Swendner and his wingman gave chase. ent that the primary objective of NVN was to pre- putting him out of afterburner and damaging his vent as many strike aircraft as possible from reach- instruments. they quickly withdrew. meanwhile. Air Force aircrews until 18 August. area. William J. and 1st Lts. August. with aircraft 3 providing cover. Hardgravefired a Sidewinder into No additional aerial victories were chalked up by the tailpipe of a MIG-17. and September 1966. Aircraft 4 engaged the sions. The F a ’ s jet- tisoned their tanks and spotted a second MIG pursu- ing the third F-105. Buttell. Krieps the number 2 aircraft. had maneuvered behind the second MIG. Martin and MIG’s were downed by Air Force F 4 ’ s and Richard N. which had joined in the battle. hit evolved during this period into pure MIGCAP mis- and damaged the lead F-105. The MIG overshot the Thunderchief and attacked the F-105’s during their bomb runs and ended up at Tracy’s 12 o’clock position. Lieutenant Martin. One 23-mm slug entered the forces. initiating a 30“ climb to the right. Tracy fired 200 rounds of 20-mm. in aircraft 2. the Phantom flight. area. and six more lead Phantom. sighted the first MIG-21 in a 7 o’clock position. however. Because of this same period. Swendner’s first Sidewinder passed close to the MIG’s canopy without detonating. meanwhile. Golberg (left)and Lt. The earlier MIG Screen flights of American F a ’ s Cannon fire from the second MIG. it became appar- cockpit and knocked Tracy’s hand off the throttle. and Two MIG-21’s were destroyed on 14 July by again he apparently missed. The MIG rolled over and did a Split-S son their ordnance. including his gun sight and oxygen ing their targets with ordnance. Martin fired a Sidewinder which im- pacted near the right side of the MIG’s tail. MIG-17’s concen. observing Once they succeeded in forcing strike pilots to jetti- about 10 hits. Even though the second MIG closed in on the F-105. Ronald G. flew the Vietnamese MIG activity increased. Swendner’s second Sidewinder detonated be- hind the MIG. which was attacking the fourth Phantom. Duane A. During into clouds at an altitude of 2. MIG pilots. During this period. North Swendner and 1st Lt. MIG-21’s slowly began to assume the damage to this aircraft. The pilot ejected at once. he fired a burst at the departing MIG’s. Following the Thunderchiefs north of Hanoi. The lead MIG fired at Tracy. at 20-mm. Before departing the times out-maneuvered American air-to-air missiles. They were F-105’s. often caused enough distraction to disrupt the attack.

During the air battle. for shooting down a MIG-21. Lts. Flying aircraft 2. Krieps (lefr) and Martin (center) receive congratulations from Lt. First Lieutenants Jerry W. The first of three September MIG kills came on the 16th when at least four MIG-17’s were sighted by a flight of three F 4 C ’ s of the 555th TFS at Ubon.” Jameson later told newsmen. Their third Sidewinder destroyed a MIG-17. the lead Phantom fired all of his Sidewinders and two of his Sparrows at several MIG’s. Jameson (left) and Rose scored against a MI-7. which was conducting a strike/CAP mission against the Dap Cau railroad and highway bridge. Blank maneuvered into a 6 o’clock position on the MIG and opened fire with his 20-mm gun. One MIG came in firing his cannon at the lead Thunderchief. what I was doing. Swendner. volved in an Iron Hand SAM suppression mission on that day sighted two MIG-17’s. The second MIG broke off and fled. Kenneth T. He fired about 200 rounds at a range of 400 to 600 feet before the MIG burst into flames. trying to 32 . Col. entered an inverted dive. and hit the ground. Leland Dawson. !heir squadron commander. Blank of the 34th TFS Lt. A flight of four F-105’s in- went up the tailpipe of a MIG-21 and blew the enemy aircraft to pieces. The entire engagement took less than 2 minutes. chief pilot Maj. The number three Phantom fought with two MIG’s and did not return from the mission. “I think for the first 3 or 4 minutes I didn’t realize Lts. Butell (left) and Capt. Jame- son and Douglas B. “It seemed unreal. but all escaped damage. Rose downed the only MIG lost by the enemy that day. I was just hanging on.

Richter’s wingman shot at this MIG but did not score any hits. Richter got within 2. 23 years old at the The second flight on that day comprised four time. and then Richter fired a second time. 33 . After I got away I started putting into practice what I had learned in training. ignited afterburner again. which went into a left turn after failing to overtake 1 and 2. Then I turned hard to the left and back to the right again to get away from another MIG that had begun firing on me. Richter in number 3 and his wingman. “At about a mile out. Another MIG was sighted dead ahead. First Lieutenant Karl W. The second MIG broke sharply to the left. flying number 4. hitting the first MIG.” he reported. but Jameson was unable to pick it up with radar so he could launch a Sparrow. the slower but more maneuverable MIG went into a tight turn and ended up on his tail. MIG-I 7 kills on 2k September 1966. “I saw my 20-mm rounds statt to sparkle on his right wing the second time I fired. When the MIG pilot began firing his 23-mm gun. which rolled out level and then went into a hard right turn. made a hard right turn. Jameson put his F-4 into afterburner.get away from a MIG that was chasing me. Wilson (lefr) and Richter scored MIG.” Richter later reported. Both 3 and 4 stayed with the first MIG. As I flew past I saw the MIG’s canopy pop off. Aircraft 4 sighted the MIG’s visually as they closed in on aircraft in positions 1 and 2. When I straightened out again I saw debris a d a man in the air. “I fired two missiles. “His right wing fell off. turned hard to the left and then hard to the right to escape. and observed still another MIG at his 12 o’clock position. Richter. He overshot the MIG. performing different missions. was the youngest pilot to score a MIG kill in Vietnam.” F-105 pilots made the other two MIG kills on September 21. watching it hit the ground. The first flight of one F-105F and three F-lO5D’s from the 388th TFW at Korat was flying an Iron Hand mission against SAM sites in support of a large strike force directed against the Dap Cau highway and railroad bridge.” The enemy pilot ejected as Richter and his wingman the Thunderchief pilots Lts. He then jettisoned his tanks and ordnance and returned to the engagement. The two Thunderchiefs were from different wings.” When Jameson had tried to get behind one of the MIG’s in order to fire his Sidewin- ders. then turned into the MIG’s.000feet and opened fire with his 20-mm gun.

Jr.). the MIG’s as- in afterburner. US. this flight also The aggressiveness of MIG pilots continued un- sighted a MIG-17 in a 12 o’clock low position. Breaking hard left. time. tiveness resulted in the loss of several American 1st Lt. in two F ~ C ’ Sshot .” Wilson fired off 280 rounds. cended each day. Within a few minutes after hits were observed. firing 135 rounds before Thailand. he then action. Rabeni. leaving 3 and 4 as high cover.strike effec- left behind the F-105 lead. Fred A. he noted. Number 3 attacked. and Lt. Wilson. Three MIG’s were destr6yed by Air Force observed an explosion in the area where the MIG crews during the last quarter of 1966. Ark. to r. My sights were not even set up. No the Dap Cau bridge. This marked the first continuous The lead F-105 fired a burst of 154 rounds and use of these aircraft for active air defense purposes. flying in position 2. They were flying a strike mission against his guns jammed and the MIG broke hard left. Aircraft 3 and 4 in the meantime spotted another Four F 4 C ’ s of the 366th TFW were providing 34 . began‘shooting at the aircraft. Lts. shooting off a broke off engagements once the American aircraft portion of the MIG’s aft section. and Latham. Between 4 September 1966 and January Aircraft 1 and 2 descended to the 6 o’clock position 1967. But. abated. Maj. The kill ratio was still favorable for the MIG from the 6 o’clock position. I just kept although-as earlier-the MIG pilots generally firing. these was credited to an F-105 pilot. down two MIG-21’sin 3 minutes. I just During December MIG activity further increased. rushed up behind him firing my 20-mm guns all the particularly against Thunderchief strike aircraft. and one of could have crashed. Richter had downed his MIG-17. The lead F-105 dumped their ordnance and prepared for offensive was safe.S. The North Vietnamese pilot then North Vietnam’s intention to employ as fully as suddenly lit his afterburner and pulled up and rolled possible its MIG force to reduce U. F-lO5D’s of the 355th TFW from Takhli AFB.but the MIG threat clearly demanded special “He [the MIG pilot] still had some fight left in attention. him and he could have fired at the leader. M E . with the exception of 4 days.. Klause (1. damaged the MIG.

the launched a Sidewinder. Gia Lam (east of Hanoi). radar-guided or heat-seeking missiles. Shortly after the EB-66 executed a left turn. His flight With outright destruction of MIG’s on the ground was one of several in a second wave assigned to prohibited for political reasons.000 feet behind and slightly above then to destroy them in air-to-air combat. to com- MIG kills gave the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron plicate matters. The entire bombing aircraft.. Kien An Meanwhile. Roy S. The fire on it. Olds ar- level. James E. John J. Wilbur Haiphong)-the MIG’s enjoyed a degree of immun- J. the MIG’s at a 2 o’clock position. scored the final victory of 1966. to launch an the target. which pre- Maj. the area and all of the escorting Phantoms were near Dickey took evasive action and after entering a steep the minimum fuel level for a safe return to their dive. launched three Sparrow missiles. sented a direct threat to American fighter aircraft. and Tuck and his pilot. it was necessary to cover the airfields and 20-mm guns as he closed to within 700 feet. a second MIG got on the tail of Major (southwest of Haiphong). forcing them to jettison bomb air battle lasted less than 3 minutes. 1st Lts. another MIG had begun to fire at Haiphong. April 1%7. At the the MIG’s 4 o’clock position. the nate or reduce the threat. Dickey of the 388th TFW at Korat. and lost sight of the home station. Ra. east of Hanoi). and the pilot ejected. and Cat Bi (east of Tuck’s Phantom. The execu- wing roots. flying the lead F-4. cember. saw the MIG’s visually and called them out to his flight. The missile missed. He routes which they might use to recover or escape to ceased firing when the MIG burst into flames at the China. The F 4 ’ s and MIG’s also spiraled MIG activity directed at the strike forces late in down. Jr. several thousand feet below their flight offensive fighter sweep of North Vietnam. Dickey last saw the attacked by two or more MIG-21’s in the northeast. The entire fuselage behind the cockpit tion of this plan in all its phases required a large was a sheet of flame. rived on 22 December 1966 at Headquatters Seventh As Dickey came off his bomb run. Robin Thunderchiefs sighted four MIG-17’s directly over Olds.S. and he enemy airfields. 3 . Latham. Tuck. attacking aircraft The first step was to get the MIG’s airborne and 3. These and return to their safe havens. The missile exploded near MIG’s could feint air attacks against American the MIG’s tailpipe. During the execution of this maneuver. The ex. and the pilot ejected. counteract the threat. 1966 was unusually high and demanded measures to beni. maneuvered to ity so long as they remained on the ground. so he began to fire his same time. This threat had to be negated. the MIG’s would withdraw Club” at Da Nang’s officers’ open mess. the later model MIG-21’s carried its fifth aerial victory.. Assured of such immunity. the commander of strike a railroad yard approximately 2 miles north of Seventh Air Force hit upon another scheme to elimi- Hanoi. loads prematurely. leveled out at 50 feet. commander of the 8th TFW. em section of North Vietnam. second MIG. Kep (north- flame out. near Hanoi and Meanwhile. flying in a flight of four Thunderchiefs on 4 De. and Klaus J. Klause.500 feet. Maj.escort for an EB-66 on 5 November when they were right wing and began spinning. The entire mission hinged on this. he saw one of Air Force. barring strike forces from bombing ously observed) pull up in front of him. The EB-66 was making its final orbit of Dickey from the Thunderchief‘s 6 o’clock position. The MIG rolled over on its force of F a ’ s to be airborne at staggered intervals. United States imposed political restrictions until 23 Latham saw a MIG (possibly a third one not previ. 1st Lt. where operation “Bolo” was outlined. The first MIG launched a missile at the EB-66 Operation Bolo just as that aircraft broke into a diving spiral. He called upon Col. The MIG’s were first detected on radar at a range of 18 miles. As the flight rolled in on the target. That night there was a celebration in the “Doom jets in air-to-air combat. MIG in a flat right-hand spin at 3. Operating from five principal plosion from the third Sparrow caused the MIG to airfields-Phuc Yen (north of Hanoi). He was then 2. Jr. and his wingman. But instead of confronting U. Moreover.

550 Nautical Miles 25 50 Kilometera 36 . GULF OF TONKIN 1 THAILAND NORTH VIETNAM AIRFIELDS 1967 #t Siruiceabh $rawport Servicroble 0 Uwewic#czbl# I U n d n Cowhuction 2 .

were to fly regular Iron Hand strikes. For this operaton. approach altitudes. Lr. refueling altitudes. designated the East Force. Given the On the 2nd. “Chappie” James. RC-121 and KC-135 aircraft. Time on target for was cancelled for that day and all designated units each flight was separated by 5 minutes to provide at went into high gear to carry out the operation. approach routes. prognostication.s of the 8th TFW became the West Force and were charged with bringing the MIG’s up and covering suspected orbit areas as well as Phuc Yen e and Gia Lam airfields. “Chappie” James and his GIB. 1st Lt. The first flight over the target was given unre- For 3 days prior to the execution of Bolo. Proceeding on the preplanned route the mission proceeded on schedule. stricted use of air-to-air missiles. 4 Col. Jr. Evans. and radio call signs and communications to simulate a normal Thunderchief strike force. the F 4 C ’ s were also equipped for the first time with ECM pods to outwit the enemy’s SAM and AAA acquisition and tracking radars. A Bob C. prepare for rake-off. The next arrived at 1505-led by Col. were assigned to cover Kep and Cat Bi airfields and to block approach routes to and from the north. since any other crews received special briefings. borne for approximately 50 minutes and could de. Other West Force flights amved later. the 8th TFW’s deputy com- Because of the size of the task force and the mander for operations. D-day was set for 2 January 1967. least 55 minutes of F 4 C air coverage in the target Each flight of the West Force was comprised of area. All other flying over and to the southeast of Phuc Yen.. The F 4 C ’ s of the 366th TFW. It was believed that MIG’s could remain air. airspeeds. The F-4C. were briefed not to attempt to turn with or to try to Olds’ flight expected to encounter MIG’s about the out-turn the MIG’s. required logistical support. The 355th and 388th Wings. Daniel vote 5 minutes to aerial combat. flights of F-104’s and supporting flights of EB-66. timing was crucial. 8th. The fighter forces were drawn from the 355th. The F 4 aircrews aircraft in the vicinity would have to be a MIG. battle area minutes later. four F4C’s. and his crewman. however. equipped with F-105 Thunderchiefs. Red River or near Phuc Yen airfield. The West Force used an elaborate ruse to make the Phantoms appear to the enemy as an F-105 Rolling Thunder* strike force. all air. Evans. 6 flights of F-105 Iron Hand aircraft. 388th. The second flight entered the Phuc Yen continuing schedule from March 1965 to October 1968. no MIG’s were sighted and Olds’ flight turned to a northwest *A nickname assigned to air strikes against targets in NVN on a heading. Because of the slow MIG 37 . This was intended to de- ceive the enemy on N V N radars. The Bolo task force consisted of 14 flights of FAC’s. The third flight arrived at 1510. but only the Based on this planning and on long-term weather first three encountered MIG’s. 24-hour standdown was required prior to H-hour. and 366th Tactical Fighter Wings. The F 4 C ’ s used F-105 tanker anchors. weather conditions over the target adverse weather conditions. Olds’ flight amved over target at 1500. the N V N Air area were poor and considerable cloudiness and Force apparently did not expect a strike force and overcast was forecast. A 1-hour delay was instituted their reaction to Operation Bolo was much slower on the 2nd to await more favorable weather and then than anticipated.

111. burst of black smoke and a violent tuck-under. The second MIG’s. immediately resulting in a F a ’ s . Murray. while the number and guided right into the MIG. and 1st Lt. the East Force sighted no began a barrel roll. We then added some power and climbed o’clock and Olds 02 saw one at 10 o’clock. centered the dot. through it. and was lost by Olds 02 in the MIG’s. which afforded us an excellent advantage on one Sharp. still trailing smoke. flight acquired a low. Olds 03 ob- entire battle was fought within a 15-mile radius served one MIG-21 at 6 o’clock. one at 8 o’clock Americans fought a high-speed duel with aggressive and one at 10 o’clock. The flight then turned left and down. shedding large portions of the aft The cloud overcast made it impossible for the section. Wetterhahn and Jerry K. The missile was fired after the radar-heat second and third MIG’s. very fast radar contact at a About a minute after the first victory. swapped ends. As we turned to approximately 250’ Olds 01 enter the battle area. Olds 01 saw one at 8 tone. Olds 01 fired two AIM. but was not observed. Olds lead and salvoed two AIM-7E’s. flying in aircraft 2 in Olds’ flight reported the MIG-21. exceeding lead and climbed to 12. and Olds 01 and centered on Phuc Yen airfield. But aircraft 3 lost radar 330” when Olds 03 called contact below the cloud contact as the target passed under the flight.scramble reaction. A small fire was observed in the aft sec- West Force to cover the airfields. since its sighted the first MIG and was maneuvering for a primary mission was to cover the airfields. who passed under us apparently track- start of the air battle: ing Olds 03. and 03 swung left and slid between the lent. A left turn was continued. The cloud layer also a flat spin and rotated slowly. Unable to shot. continued on for an instant and then danger one another. It guided up to the MIG-21 (range 1% to 2 nautical ~~ miles) and impacted just forward of the stabilizer. The second MIG-21 was no longer visible behind us so we dropped down behind this Olds 03 [aircraft 3 of Olds’ flight] observed one MIG. Capt. and As the MIG entered the overcast. until disappearing in the clouds . . MIG at 6 o’clock to Olds’ flight and closing. The aircraft went into prevented a MIG recovery. Charles C. The lead was given to aircraft 3 of Olds’ flight. Olds’ was seen slightly low at 1030. heading toward radar tracking capabilities. The called MIG’s at Olds’s 6 o’clock. resumed the the contact passed under the flight.* which had just entered the target area. Olds slightly and the Sidewinder tone became excel- 01. aerial combat by diving into the overcast for cover. *Ford was the call sign assigned to the flight led by Col. Aircraft layer. 111. At this time The MIG was observed to be uncontrollable and Olds 02 achieved a boresight lock-on. emitting black smoke. who downed the second MIG. Olds’ missiles-free option was A red fireball appeared and the MIG-21 flew cancelled in order that the flights would not en. Approximately thirty seconds later Olds 01 While heading northwest from Phuc Yen. but 1. Initially we had a very poor Sidewinder MIG-21 at 6 o’clock. James. Olds and 1st. James’ flight entered the area and reported a flight. MIG-21 pilots. similar to a falling gave the MIG’s an easy means to disengage from leaf. which would have tion. 7E’s which failed to guide. It struck slightly three MIG began sliding to 6 o’clock on the three forward of the tail. Radeker. 02. The first was felt to 02 had just completed successful attacks on their launch. Olds 01 fired two Sidewinders which im. a chain of mountains northwest of As the flight began climbing again. returned violently falling. mediately guided on the undercast.000 feet. launched and it appeared just left of the radome.Clifton. They later reported: pursued the radar contact in a diving intercept to the We continued the right turn to approximately top of the cloud layer. Lt. ter S . James E. Olds 04 then performed a high speed yo-yo Lieutenants Ralph F. sun. . switch had been transferred to the heat position. Wal- distance of 17 miles from their 12 o’clock position. as Olds 01 had The weather also hampered the East Force. Ford Hanoi. Thud Ridge. For 15 minutes the 02 concentrated on two MIG’s. the mode switch to radar. 38 .

and tumbling position while others simultaneously were vectored into the clouds. they closing from 6 o’clock and was in missile firing were. Frankly. within the next few moments. corkscrewing. miles from us. and gave the order to head for from the rear encounter. looking down on my flight and saw the range on my number three and four aircraft. hung there. He also noted the NVN port of his first MIG kill: tactic of double attacks from MIG’s located at dif- At the onset of this battle. in other split second was canopy-to-canopy with me. Certain MIG tactics became obvious during the The MIG erupted in a brilliant flash of orange air battle. I fired missiles at him just as he observed the low MIG as called. twisting. flown by Capt. I pulled the nose up high about aration for attack and fired one Sidewinder. I quickly and a half away. blast the wing off Sidewinders. I went after him and ignored the max rolled from a left bank to a steep right and one behind me. As it high and one. from 6 o’clock turned out. the aircraft swapped two MIG’s attacked from the 10 and -12 o’clock ends falling. When could clearly see the pilot and the bright red star the first MIG I fired at disappeared. I called Captain Raspberry and told down. Looking for other MIG’s. going from my right to left. I words.500 to 5. which was Olds lead. a mile my rear seater was seeing. two from 10 o’clock think this was more by chance than design. I broke left. head-on. closing from the front quarter. I let him have two an F-4. Colonel Olds such a double attack was to force the F-4’s to turn checked his fuel level. I attacked by three MIG-21’s. It was during this maneuver that I saw against a brilliant blue sky. nally at 10 to 12 o’clock in position for a tail-on Although James did not get a MIG for himself. home when Radeker reported Bingo fuel. Colonel Olds describes this tactic in the re. Everett vector roll. He was called out by called me (very urgently).000 feet behind fired two AIM-9’s in rapid succession at them. This is known as a of my number two aircraft. However. inside his circle. No one could see if the pilot had in from a 5 to 7 o’clock position. At the same Olds flight pass underneath us a few seconds be- time I saw another MIG pop out of the clouds in a fore and I had a fleeting thought that this was who wide turn about my 11 o’clock position. one of which hit and blew his right another MIG in another fight in progress a few wing off. turning just hard a bit hesitant to break off the attack I already had enough to throw off his deflection. right break for 03 and 04. As the wing fell off. I got up on top of him and half upside T. but he broke right into the flight path high and rolled to the right. When I got down low wing position on my number two. my mis- turning around to the left so I pulled the nose up sile missed. putting the MIG’s origi. as I others popped out of the clouds in varying posi. 39 . just about across the circle from me. My rear seat pilot This one was just lucky. I am immediately rolled over to reposition in fighting not sure he ever saw me. observed the MIG kills. and waited for him to complete him to press the attack as the two aircraft that I more of his turn and timed it so that as I continued had initially engaged had now swung around into to roll down behind him. had already started to counter the attack of the two tions around the clock. Directed apparently by ground control. the MIG’s popped up ferent positions of the clock: out of the clouds. I slammed full markings. That’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately. he attack. afterburner and pulled in hard to gain position on I immediately started a barrel roll to gain sep- this second MIG. waiting for my started on the other two MIG’s. as I had just seen three and four men to slice in on him. I had a good missile growl and angle off and about 4. As they executed. Captain and behind. he was accelerated rapidly and broke harder left. I’d be about 20 degrees range. I him. and he was outlined by the sun Raspberry. I did not see the MIG at 6 o’clock at first. many low. stating a MIG was the second flight that had entered the area. simultaneously. As he 45 degrees. and for a position. the I’d seen another pop out in my 10 o’clock MIG broke left for some strange reason. Mind you. I called a hard disappeared into the clouds. The purpose of ejected. the first one to At approximately 1504 hours my flight was pop through came up at my 6 o’clock position. I was MIG-21 appear. flames. Raspberry.

then started into a slow. pulled again. I had them. a practice which was a prebriefed procedure at the time of launch. I covered their egress engagement.000 feet lead. Captain John B. Nearing Phuc Yen.000 feet below at optimum missile parameters. I did not observe the first Sparrow at all. Ap- craft went into a slow spiral. The air. spin. He then executed a a range of 2 nautical miles. I don’t think I had monitored the radio chatter of Olds and James pulled over four G’s at any time during the whole and had asked if his flight could assist. We were approximately 1 mile behind the other members of the flight and himself take the MIG. As soon as the missile detonated the flight of four MIG-21’s in loose formation. “burner” throughout the initial engagement. 2 MIG-21 swapped ends and stalled out. as 04. into the clouds. coming up out of an overcast on a heading of held. Dutton in aircraft 4. Shortly after com- winder and observed the missile home up his pleting the turn to the northwest we spotted a tailpipe. flight leader. I continued down with Captain Raspberry and Stone sighted two of the MIG’s crossing over Phuc remember thinking he was getting a little inside Yen in a 3 o’clock position about 4. on the outside of The maneuver positioned my aircraft at the the echelon. who 3. breaking left and down. falling toward the proximately 1 to 2 miles behind were two more undercast. and miles. My pilot secured. and 540 knots true air speed. he could not alert Stone and the pact. their egress from the area. almost flat. by boresight. a from 6 o’clock high and departed the area with full system lock-on on one of the MIG’s. I pulled lead on the MIG using the number 2 aircraft in Stones’ flight observed MIG. I assume that the MIG were turning into them. he level and observed it burst into flames (a large started in on them. but he re. I headed the flight. MIG-Zl’s. when they to follow. The MIG against Olds or Ford flights. placing him in perfect position. I called Captain Raspberry and wound up high and right from the remainder of directed him to rejoin in wing position. the MIG flight Raspberry was flying with 1st Lt. This explosion just aft of the canopy) and disappear caused the flight to slide to the right and I. The second Sparrow im- for a flight member making MIG contact. as prebriefed for The third West Force flight fought in two separate an ACT [air combat tactics] environment. the steering dot. I went “burner” and. Lee R. additional two in trail at a distance of 2 or 3 miles. placing me in a perfect We were flying at 16. Because of his radio However. released. I fired the Side. rolling maneuver.500 feet in a left turn. who were initiating pitched up violently. Using the Navy tactic of disregarding the ceived no intelligible reply. When I felt I was where I wanted to be. selected radar and interlocks out. Philip P. making a total of six observed. I had engagements. in a left turn. The pensed with their MIG’s and were rejoining to MIG’s broke left and our flight commenced the proceed out of the area. at approximately 12. battle. Stone steepened his turn Western in Ford 02 during the encounter. I saw the second from launch to im- failure. no difficulty in tracking the MIG. however. This placed Maj. I followed in down to cloud top As the MIG’s crossed in front of Stone. Stone. Due to Colonel James related what happened to the MIG their position “ahead of the beam” I wonder now Captain Raspberry fired one AIM-9 which im. two MIG’s (probably the fifth and 40 . Combies later described the pilot was not aware of my position because he chase and the victory: rolled out of his turn. leader broke left and Capt. in a position where they had to go high MIG’s 6 o’clock at a range of approximately Po clear the other members of the F-4 flight. Aircraft 4 pacted in the tailpipe area followed by a large also observed the flight of four MIG-21’s and an orange ball of fire and a chute sighting. about 20” in an easy left turn. if they were being vectored against us or possibly pacted the tail section of the MIG-21. reticle.held minimum for the Olds flight fight but they had already dis. I 21’s at 3 o’clock and at a distance of 6 nautical pulled the trigger. o’clock low at approximately 6 to 8 miles. As Stone’s flight began closing. Robert W. Combies and rolled in for the fourth victory in Operation Bolo: 1st Lt.000 feet mean sea level position to fire the AIM-9B. Meanwhile.

flown by 1st MIG’s passed low between the two F 4 ’ s and the Lts. outshot and outfought them. of 12 miles. “We see the MIG nor did I have my wingman. the NVN Air Force had more MIG-21’s “I turned toward my 7 o’clock. Combies heard a warning on I maintained illumination of the target by track. 3 miles away in a left Vietnamese operational inventory at that time. other fired cannon at a angle off. in aircraft 2. Break hard right!” When two. he could not attack because his radio was out and he did not desire to break formation with Combies. the weather been more favorable. but then he visually acquired two more seven enemy MIG-21’s-nearly half of the North MIG’s at 10 or 11 o’clock. how- “and saw a MIG at 700 feet. On a heading of about 20” Stone picked up Glynn pulled hard left and escaped the barrage. Stone and his wingman. The first Sparrow was not observed. He had locked on flight. Cary. enemy.sixth aircraft) maneuvered to gain an advantage on Aircraft 2 and 4 had tailed in behind other MIG’s. he failed to see what fired two more. at the wing root.” said Stone. piloted by Maj. 1planned to fire in salvoes of there’s a MIG on your tail. One of the pursuing and one going right and up. where he mistakenly joined aircraft 4. He recalls: Combies and Dutton.000 feet in front of the enemy aircraft. since it was never observed. Glynn fired two Sparrows at his MIG. The MIG caught fire and the Glynn. but I called for boresight and continued to turn to neither missile made contact with the target. 2. He had attacked a MIG which had been in at 2% miles and launched two AIM-7’s at a 1% mile pursuit of Stone and fired one Sparrow as the MIG range. but it passed about same two MIG’s and fired three Sparrow missiles. but counter. I fired three AIM-7E’s. Stone again closed behind the Sparrow at still another MIG. the the lead aircraft broke right in an evasive maneuver second one hit and the MIG exploded. stored in crates at Phuc Yen. fired two Spar- row missiles at the MIG they were pursuing. No impact to ignite. 1 and 2 from the flight of four. out. Operation Bolo. I then outflew. Due to the excessive chatter bies then fired four Sidewinders at the MIG-two and not knowing for sure whether we were locked detonated near the aircraft. followed one of the MIG’s. but ing with the pipper. dove into a left spiral. thus raising the day’s score to seven victories high. which caused some damage to the first and second MIG’s.” told newsmen following the spectacular air battle. Glynn flew and reversed back to the left to continue attacks on through the debris. 41 . Com- position for the kill. three radar contacts 30” to his right and at a distance Without the loss of a single American aircraft. thinking for the “wolf pack” of FA’S. Clifton P. flight departed Phuc Yen. Glynn then fired a he had rejoined Stone. Before the was observed and this MIG could not be claimed. I don’t know your call sign. Glynn’s F-4 with cannons and 8 to 10 rockets. He turned left for position on these MIG’s. The MIG pilot bailed lost his wingman. was Aircraft 3 had also attacked a MIG. so I Combies broke hard right. The missile apparently failed ond followed the MIG into the clouds. firing. Olds’ “wolf intending to launch a Sidewinder. Lawrence J. The first Sparrow did not guide and the sec. and aircraft 4 followed Captain Stone and 1st Lt. Stone’s flight had its second en. but pilot ejected. with no effect. I initiated a hard ever. Heman L. Aircraft 3. Knapp. Glynn and Lawrence E. one other MIG attacked Minutes later. the radio: “F4C. Dunnegan in another. When I reversed I could not superiority of the F-4C over the MIG-21. but he was unable pack’’ would probably have destroyed several more to do so because at that moment aircraft 3 called a enemy aircraft. spotted two more MIG’s.” Colonel Olds unloaded to make separation. with one or more going left and down. Althouih these losses hurt the MIG on the tail of an F-4. and as he was firing the on. who were attacking MIG’s which split. probably the the only F 4 still without a MIG victory in Stone’s fourth plane in the four-ship flight. Stone turned right to identify these Operation Bolo had accounted for the destruction of contacts. in aircraft 4. Had turn. The second missile detonated just happened to his missiles. Stone in the meantime the underside of his aircraft. Aircraft 2. who ended up in a left barrel roll. last two Sidewinders. did without question establish the air-to-air break up into the MIG.

42 . (Top kj?)Col. led Operation “Bolo. Dunnegan is congratulated for one of the seven victories scored on 2 January 1967. Western.” in which USAF Phantoms downed seven M I G 3 I ’ s on 2 January 1967. Raspberry (lej?)and Lt. Glynn ( l e f ) and Cary. (Bottom right) Lts. (Top right) Lr. commanding the 8th TFW. (Bottom 14)Capt. Robin Olds. Some of the crews participating appear on this page.

both crewmembers in and [fell] in uncontrollable flight through the the #2 F-4 observed the MIG pilot eject and clouds. left to decrease lateral separation and to drop to the sance aircraft. Hirsch craft. Roger J. detonate. As 1 slid in from his 4 Pascoe pounced on them. Another Successful Ruse on the second MIG. The MIG-21 was seen to burst into flame undercast in this attitude. he barrel-rolled into them at their 6 sented itself a few days later. i. He fired another Sidewinder. Pascoe reports: o’clock position to his 5 o’clock. which dove into the clouds. But they spotted him ceive the enemy radar operators into believing that during the roll and turned into him. The AIM-7 did 43 . Scheduled MIGCAP for an F-105 strike mission which passed close to the MIG’s tail but did not was cancelled due to weather conditions on the 6th. Pascoe put his gunsight pipper on sance mission. Vietnam because of MIG attacks on 3 and 4 January When the third and fourth MIG’s came out of the 1967. there was no detonation. but they attention.e. and the fight degener- time. Just prior to entering the nated. two F4C’s on clouds in wing formation. When they encoun- tered radar-controlled AAA near Phuc Yen. the MIG enemy flight leader. any sighting or radar con- MIG continued the scissors maneuvers. switched to heat. The second missile struck the was in approximately an 80” nose-down attitude MIG aircraft in the fuselage midsection and deto. heard a Sidewinder tone. The third MIG Hirsch and 1st Lt. rear of the enemy aircraft. and rolling slowly. in close formation. falling either In rolling to watch one of the enemy aircraft short or wide of the flight.. Pascoe Hirsch wrote in his report about locking on to the turned on the ECM pod to deflect the radar lock and fourth MIG at this time: caused the flak to become inaccurate. and the 8th TFW decided to try the ruse one more The two MIG’s reversed. The F-4C’s flew above cloud forma. Capt. a route similar to that normally flown by weather reconnais. but his missile apparently did not guide and could not follow the missile’s track. assuming the planned weather reconnaissance missions in North MIG’s would continue their turns in the clouds. the fourth MIG’s tailpipe. (i.. Hirsch had launched an AIM-7 at this same air. separate from the seat. The lead F-4 engaged the MIG’s as I proceed from there. Because he was in a turning maneuver. Richard M. Thomas M. As soon as he only one aircraft was flying a weather reconnais. Wells crewed the lead F-4. Preplanned tactics called dive away i lost sight of the flight leader.000 to 7. They flew in a “missiles- vantageous position and left the area.e. Pascoe continued the attack. turned to close on them. Pascoe barrel-rolled the following day flew.” even though he realized that his angle made no radar contacts nor encountered any enemy was too high. It missed.500 feet. As I approached I ob- The flight made radar contact with four MIG’s tained a radar lock-on to a MIG-21 which was in about 25 miles northwest of Hanoi. when R F 4 C weather o’clock. tact could only be an enemy. Pascoe and 1st Lt. and fired an AIM-9 to “keep their tions topping out at 7. but the fourth free” environment. and immediately a right climbing turn. Maj. The intent of the F 4 C ’ s was to de. imately one minute later I picked him up and saw maneuver the F-4’s to Sparrow parameters. but they also disappeared into the clouds. fired a third Sidewinder. Norman ated into a slow-speed scissors during which Pascoe E. completed his roll. I fired an AIM-7 I maneuvered the flight by use of airborne radar with full radar computing system. reconnaissance aircraft were forced to abort their Pascoe continued turning hard right. When next observed. feet behind the MIG. The MIG to effect a visual identification of four MIG-21C steepened his climb to near vertical and appeared aircraft and fired two AIM-7 radar missiles at the to lose airspeed. To lure the MIG’s into the air. Approx- for an attempt to establish radar contact with MIG’s. Seeing the third and fourth MIG’s at Hirsch’s 6 An opportunity to perpetuate another ruse pre- o’clock position. The missile passed about 300 to 400 aircraft. level. The ruse worked. Strasswimmer manned pilot seemed to realize he was getting into a disad- the number 2 aircraft. two MIG-21’s reappear from the undercast in a within the linear range of the missile) and then climb.

Brestel’s narrative continues: The MIG’s began to venture forth once again during I observed all MIG’s light their afterburners. which was firing at since the January disasters. hits and pieces flying off the aircraft. forces. another flight of four. The aircraft rolled over and hit three MIG-17’s which ventured too close or the ground under my left wing. north at approximately 1. Flak was normal for the area. During the latter part of January mately 3. on the fired another 2% second burst. We broke off the en- the third Thunderchief in a flight of four and was gagement at this time after approximately 1M to 2 tasked with suppressing flak in and around the Thai minutes of combat. where we turned south. I fired attacking just as the strike aircraft entered into or another 2% second burst into him. Philip C. observing hits recovered from a bombing run.500 feet. Although Colonel Gast began firing at one of the first two no longer rising in force. He also reversed to the left and I Wing Commander. and a fire in F-105 fighter-bomber pilots in March downed the left wing root. enemy losses earlier in the month dealt a serious the flight leader] from his 4 o’clock position. I called a break and closed to within bases. approximate 2% second burst at him as he was in 17’s conducted their attacks on a more or less ran.000 to 4. MIG activity was there. had encountered MIG’s. Max C. Robert R. My wingman. Scott. a right turn.not seem to detonate. A few MIG-21’s did attempt single aircraft 300-500 feet of the number four MIG. the northeast o’clock low. They lack of aggressiveness. These were the first MIG losses feet on the number three MIG. At the time. or the pilot lost control. I then closed 300 lingered too long. We deliv- intensive training phase. NVN fighters showed an understandable ward the MIG’s and passed across his tail. since hits were observed in the a point north of the target. Brestel on 10 March and the third one to the fuselage. The NVN Air Force was broke off the attack and I continued on my dive obviously stunned by its losses and entered another delivery. I did not see the pilot bail out and doubt if We proceeded to the target via the Red River to he was alive. transmitted. Gast called MIG’s at 2 and through February and March. MIG’s. Gast. in the left wing. only in Qaircraft flights. fired a 2% second burst. Behind them was The lull in the air-to-air war was only temporary. forces occasionally sighted MIG’s in their normal operating areas. Col. I fired an attacks against American strike forces. A SAM was fired at us and Nguyen steel mill and supporting other F-105 strike more flak as we exited the area. Also. The MIG reversed into a left turn. following the well-established tactic of fuselage. For the next 2 was in lead’s 8:30 o’clock position. I broke to- months. cockpit and the canopy broke up. observing more 26th. Gast [Lt.” he urged. which had preceded us on the target. fuselage and canopy. All three MIG’s fell prey Colonel Gast. none of the MIG pilots challenged As the flight pulled out at an altitude of approxi- them to combat. while MIG. Although American strike ered our ordnance as planned. I sighted two MIG-21’s mak- The two MIG-2 1 kills of 6 January and the seven ing a pass at Col. two of them to Capt. He was in a right turn and again I to fighters of the 355th TFW. 44 . Col. A Temporary Lull As the flight pulled up to gain altitude for deliv- ering our ordnance. I observed the second two begin to fire at the North Vietnamese patrolled only their own Colonel Gast. etc. March as American air strikes intensified. I blow to the North Vietnamese. I observed hits in the wing and dom basis. “I’m monsoon was in full swing. The aircraft Brestel’s aerial victories became the first USAF appeared to flip back up over my canopy and double kill of the conflict. with you. the 388th Wing. thus the MIG either flamed Numerous SAM and MIG warnings had been out.000 feet. observing hits in wing. he was flying disappeared behind me. “Let’s go get them. as I saw him about: crash. Brestel relates how his two victories came I know I destroyed the first MIG.”Brestel acknowledged as he spotted the fore curtailed as much by weather as by the need for flight of four MIG-17’s in staggered trail heading additional training.

I a MIG-17 force composed of a small cadre of ex- followed the MIG. American strikes four MIG-17’s they destroyed that day. loading than U. in single ship trail with 3. smash. two. At this time I observed three learned to coordinate their attacks and to break indi- more MIG-17’s orbiting the airfield at approxi. For low-speed maneuvers. I then concentrated my attention on the and to make only hit-and-run attacks. aircraft from entering. The first MIG engagements in April which re- The northeast monsoon ended. same areas. At this time the MIG began a hard left. . aviators in the First World him strike the ground. and began fir. With lower wing- feet.S. MIG-17 pilots also employed dives to avoid missiles. MIG‘s were silver with red warned not to enter a duel with the orbiting MIG’s star. wing of the MIG and pieces of material tearing With surplus speed. heavier His account follows: U. Weskamp [Ist Lt.OOO feet spacing. 1 observed a MIG taking aircraft were at disadvantage because the MIG’s had off from Hoa Lac airfield.S.S. I did not see been popular with U. Colonel allowed coverage of everyone’s 6 o’clock position-the most vulnerable point. approximately 500 often dived in a high-G turn. War: the Lufberry circle defensive tactic. which would then Heavy Opposition Again impact into the ground. across the circle. Or.S. and the weather sulted in kills came on the 19th. The last time I saw the tage of their aircraft. models. During the recovery from the run. rate flights were involved in a hectic afternoon of ing at the enemy’s war-making capabilities in the aerial combat in the Xuan Mai army barracks target 45 . I feel I also destroyed the second MIG.000 was essential for success. keeping the faster-flying.000 feet. North Vietnam sent last maneuver could not be considered normal. employed a climbing turn as a defensive tactic be- descending turn. . and some- MIG’s. thus placing itself in a firing posi- while heading approximately 250”. Three sepa- against key targets in the north grew heavier. they MIG it was extremely low. who was leading an F-105 flight on a strike mission not far from Hoa Lac airfield on 26 March. wings. communication. MIG-21 pilots often off. his Stung by these punishing blows. NVN gained a means of efficiently using closed on the MIG it began a turn to the right. altitude ap. vidual MIG’s out of the orbit pattern. To counter the Lufberry defense. the MIG-21 could ac- complish a much tighter turn. I observed ordnance impacting on the left pilots. However. turning inside. Remaining Brestel was given credit for destroying both in a continuously turning orbit to provide each other mutual defensive support. With this nearest MIG-17 and pressed the attack. The impetus of fighter-bomberpilots had reason to take pride in the U. Increased numbers of aircraft. from across the circle could go to full power and pull bomb run. and improved tactics range was the same and hits were observed in the made these strikes more effective than ever befon. I began a left turn to a tighter turn radius. The 355th TFW’s improved considerably during April. U. approximately 150” to follow the MIG for possi. tion on the attacking American plane.S.aircraft crews were to 5.S. As I maneuver. The third MIG-17 destroyed during the month times four MIG’s formed the circle. tumble and out of control .e.000 feet. new munitions. because MIG-17’s by now had initiated a tactic which had he pitched up and over and behind. another MIG I had acquired the target and executed a dive.air activity shifted northward. This formation was credited to the 355th TFW commander. The circle Scott. Also. i. Lt. pilots ble engagement. each time a USAF aircraft attempted to engage a MIG. as the modernization. U. High speed mately 3. etc. Robert L. Weskampl also Red River delta and harassing his northern lines of observed the MIG hit the ground. American proximately 4. I began an overshoot and pulled cause of the maneuverability and climbing advan- off high and to the right. three. and rolling nose down. it’s MIG’s aloft in larger numbers to protect its vital The aircraft appeared to be in a violent pitch-up or resources. could tighten. fuselage. perienced pilots and large numbers of inexperienced ing..

The MIG turned to a northerly heading.000 feet MSL. No impacts were ob- equipped to locate and attack SAM sites. Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO). We headed toward them by following the UHF-DF steer we received from their electronic beepers and saw them in the chutes .000-1. each plane being feet in a right hand shallow pursuit curve. The MIG was approximately 100 feet low separate MIG engagements while Thorsness and his and to our left. I began “S” turning to get behind the MIG. Madison. The stars were clearly discernible. The Thorsness flight split up into While pulling up I rolled slightly to the right. and lowered the nose. Majors Thomas M. and several rips were noted on the battered account of the encounter: left wing. While several other flights had engaged MIG’s ings. We continued in a turn to the left and after turning approximately 130”again sighted the We found and delivered our ordnance on an MIG. 75 to 100 knots overtake speed. and Capt.000 feet back. MIG.m. flying The first burst of approximately 300 rounds of in an F-105F. Within a few seconds we was ahead of the main strike force and was commit. SAM-PRF [pulse recurrence frequency] they achieved no victories. The flight served on the MIG. After one and a half “S” turns the MIG had progressed from the foothills over the delta southwest of Hanoi. Leo K. Sterling. I called him to the attention of Major Thors- ness . As we pulled off the site to the MIG’s impacting the ground. .500 F-105F Wild Weasel aircraft. wefe in the 6 o’clock position with approximately ted to suppress SAM activity in the target area. I fired another About 8 to 10 MIG-17’s attacked as the flight pre. As we circled the descending crew. ground missiles. and Thomas J. Thorsness’ flight consisted of four 20-mm was fired from an estimated 2.500 feet mean sea level. EWO. tighter left turn. We were head- ing southeast and at 8. status and launch indications as I continued to The first MIG kill of the day was recorded by maneuver to attain a 6 o’clock position on the Maj. selected afterburner. Thorsness. Captain heading west.maintaining approximately the same altitude and airspeed. pilot. had to eject from their aircraft. pilot. Thorsness continued the story: The MIG was heading east and was approxi- mately 2. firing manned by a pilot and EWO and being specially with a cased sight reticle. . burst of approximately 300 rounds of 20-mm. I again looked at the crippled MIG. Johnson. I pulled into a *Radio call sign for aircraft 2. . and the crew. Captain Johnson continued to give me SAM bear- area. low at our 9 o’clock position. I pared to strike a SAM radar site with Shrike air-to. Harold E. one on top of each time was then about 4 5 5 p. Johnson provides an wing. overheat light. saw 46 . Just prior occupied SAM site. The two red wingman continued the attack against the radar. pulled up to avoid both the debris and the MIG. Kingfish 02* called that he had an Johnson sighted a MIG-17 at our 6:30 position approximately 2. still in a right descending spiral. we were on a south easterly heading when I spotted a MIG-17 heading east. . rolling to the right. . He also headed west. then three parts: the third and fourth aircraft entered into left.

Tolman were in a descending left turn. each scored after refueling to provide rescue combat air patrol hits on MIG-l7’s. My missile passed trailing a small amount of smoke. and made his kill during his to draw them off Sandy 02 and thus allow [him] to third engagement. Hunt’s gun cam. He probable that Thorsness and Johnson destroyed a provides the following account. Hunt the MIG’s had just downed his leader. Maj. firing. MIG. Seymour. At the time time I broke off to the left and observed my that Hunt was preoccupied with his third engage. Capt. it impact the ground in what appeared to be a rice Tolman’s gun camera film confirmed his MIG field. I saw number three writes: score numerous hits in the left wing and wing root area of the MIG. was the first of their number to engage in aerial I immediately headed for the area of Sandy 02. start a gentle descent. Behind me was a fourth MIG. Panda 04 was behind rounds of 20-mm at him and observed hits around this MIG. Thors. and Thorsness then left the battle area. Tolman also encountered a MIG-17. Also. Sandy 01. heading gen. I and flashes coming from the top of the fuselage just turned back to the right in an attempt to engage behind the canopy. I took my flight an AIM-9 missile. “I observed numerous hits MIG formation at a speed of Mach 1. but apparently damage was not during the search for his wingman’s aircrew. duel. Jack W.Panda 02 fired at the MIG behind nose up. 47 . over Xuan Mai army barracks. flying aircraft 1.” The MIG broke hard right and down. combat. I The lead MIG apparently decided to run for observed no large pieces of materiel coming from home at this time. the flight’s number three pilot. I saw him roll slowly to the left and *Radio call sign for an A-IE Flying RESCAP in the area. but returned Capt. egress the area. kill. The MIG passed by my air.000 feet actual for re-engagement. while his F-105 flight was assisting in some damaging hits before they were themselves RESCAP operations for a downed F-l05F. MIG-17’s making firing passes at him and that tacked by about 11 MIG-17’s. his canopy section. Hunt missed the first MIG with Spotting the four MIG-l7’s. and fired my AIM-9B at him. In the first aerial erally westerly into the foothills. Sandy 02* (an A-1E) made a desperate Army barracks entered the target area a few minutes call for help. Although it is highly Eskew’s gunfire proved fatal to another MIG-17. this kill was not confirmed. This flight was soon at. but failed to detonate. Panda O l t . ment. Flying lead. I engaged At this time the fight broke down into a Luf- afterburner and performed a high-climbing turn berry circle at approximately 3.1. Sandy 02 stated that he had four after the Thorsness flight. He was in a climbing attitude. Panda 02. there was a second MIG I closed to gun firing range. and behind this MIG was Panda 02 (Seymour). critical to either enemy aircraft. directly under his aircraft at a distance of approx- era film pack did not operate properly. MIG.05-1. craft going to my 6 o’clock position. I fired approximately 300 firing at the MIG in front. Frederick Bodenhamer-firing at a MIG-17 while both G. I noted a trail of white smoke coming from his Panda 03. Maj. tailpipe. Capt. tEskew’s aircraft. At this kill was confirmed by other evidence. flying his wing. Paul A. Howard L. second MIG. In the second en- ness and Johnson attacked another MIG and scored counter. about 40” MIG. Panda 04. After my flight passed through the This time. got into another fight but missed directly through the MIG formation in an attempt with his 20-mm gunfire. he reported. The order of the circle was MIG. My pipper at this firing position the MIG’s. William Eskew. pacted the ground I made a hard reversal and The third flight encountered two separate MIG’s descended to very near the ground. Upon sighting the MIG again ground level. attacked by other MIG-17’s. As we were approaching the area of the downed Another flight of F-105’s striking Xuan Mai aircrews. I pulled in behind the lead MIG his aircraft. at which time the behind number three. firing at him while he was MIG broke hard left. and approximately 2 miles away. but his MIG imately 15 feet. After confirming the MIG had in fact im. was just forward and a little high on his canopy. number three man-Capt. when I observed him.

creased. its air force. I saw an estimated 50-75 hits on the upper fuselage directly behind the canopy. and spontaneous recovery in the Hanoi area. Fred D. as NVN built up became particularly intense. me. MIG’s several assessments were in question. in April 1967. the MIG started a slow. And as they climbed. We then broke off the fight and proceeded strikes against Kep and Hoa Lac airfields. following the initial air bombing bases in sanctuary areas. because of this pressure the immunity derson. Their reaction tion. at an estimated range of 800-1. probably the most active of the bases. USAF aircraft with MIG aircraft enjoyed particular advantages in de. I saw the wreckage of his aircraft burning on the ground . and. pressure mounted three F 4 C ’ s from the 366th TFW encountered two amongst Americans to remove the bombing restric. While flying an air strike mission on 23 April. I then fired two short bursts at the MIG in front of me. . The strikes operated over friendly territory close to their six and aerial combat inflicted severe losses on the NVN primary bases. As I passed through 100 feet. and the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved air impact. Kjer as pilot. I pulled in behind this MIG and. ceased. and the MIG’s now struggled to survive. As I pulled up to avoid a collision with the MIG. During April. and MIG threats in NVN. choice but to accept the challenge. I did not see the missile status. AAAJAW. and Hoa Lac was nearing completion at this time. I saw the red fireball and was shaken by the shock. made the . The United States finally. restricted its aircraft from was vigorous. although SAM. Glancing back at the downed MIG. they enjoyed relative freedom of opera. An- tions. certainty destroyed nine MIG’s on the ground and fending North Vietnam. Indeed.S. Unlike USAF aircraft flying possibly three more. gentle roll to the left. I continued firing to a range of 50 feet. The MIG’s made strikes. My pipper was di- rectly on the canopy of the MIG. air-to-air combat the best of these advantages. . aircraft commander in aircraft 3 position. USAF and USN aircraft losses in. The first strike MIG Fight for Survival against the MIG’s was carried out on 23 April fol- lowed by others. and especially in May. Kep was to an emergency post-strike refueling. At this time I broke back to help Panda 03 (Bodenhamer) who was engaging two MIG’s. causing this MIG to break off from the fight. because the U. removed Captain Bodenhamer then turned and fired his North Vietnamese air bases from the exemption AIM-9B at this MIG. This permitted far better dispersal Air Force.OOO feet. This MIG broke off to the right and started a gentle climb toward the Hanoi area. Follow-up strikes on 28 April far from home bases and being subjected to heavy and on 1 and 3 May accounted for 20 more. As I passed behind the MIG which was firing at Panda 03. Robert D. the MIG broke into me. The roll could not have possibly been an evasive maneuver as the MIG never exceeded 144 G’s and his rate of roll was quite slow. Both were lucrative targets rich with MIG’s. I could see smoke from both Sandy 01 and the MIG. flights of two MIG-21’s each. flying with Capt. he exploded directly be- neath my aircraft. On the 23rd. Maj. began firing. The die had been cast and the MIG’s had no Moreover. firing.

One missile was fired that left the aircraft going slightly right of the MIG-21.” Anderson later com- mented. Kjer (lefr) and Maj. trailing steady.000 feet. At this time the range was airfield. The MIG. this time in a left turn. Moore and his pilot. According to W. “Fire!” max[imum] power. Anderson. boresight radar lock-on was obtained and then a This air battle had taken place near Phuc Yen full system lock-on. the 366th destroyed another MIG-21-this one was hit by Maj. The radar was airfield at any time. It continued the leftturn and bank increased until inverted and the plane went straight into the ground. Rolland only MIG kill during this encounter.he was out of the fight. The MIG rolled out of Chicago lead was tracking the MIG when both the turn and disappeared from Moore’s sight into the went into a cirrus cloud. The MIG was hit around 32. A large explosion was observed and fire and fuel began streaming from the MIG.OOO feet. but chose instead to lure the . wing. on the 26th. approximately 16 E miles northeast of Thai Nguyen. I don’t think Capr. AAA. The AIM-7 tracked turn. the after-action report: They were flying the lead aircraft in a MIGCAP Chicago* saw the MIG’s (two ME-21’s) turn. home free. The MIG pilot they shot down never “knew what hit him. but guided back to the target. Chicago was unable to turn tight enough to one of the several MIG-2 1’s orbiting to the left over decrease angle-off and reversed to the right to Phuc Yen. All flight mem- climbing turn to the outside was initiated and the bers felt that the MIG’s could have landed at the pipper placed again on the target. while Sears went MIG-21’s in staggered trail passing off the right boresight until he obtained a full system lock-on. He got one in his The flight immediately sighted two more sight reticle.000 feet.” he ever saw me or knew what hit him. With the pipper on the MIG. The flight met left outboard external wing tanks to engage. James F. 1st Lt. He [the MIG pilot] thought . Sears. entered a left climbing turn to a general heading of Moore looked up at 9-10 o’clock and picked out west.” Three days later. to get at the rejoin the strike force. Chicago 03 continued accelerating to attack the but this maneuver wasn’t sufficient to escape the other MIG. and selected radar. where the F 4 ’ s came under AAA fire in marginally close for a successful Sparrow shot. The MIG’s entered a right climbing turn at “We’ve got him. flight over the field. striking the MIG in the right aft fusel- age. and *Radio call sign for the flight. You have to keep looking around. “The one thing I learned. where the enemy appeared to be coordinating the attack between SAM’S. 49 . a explosion. “is that you can’t afford to be complacent up there. MIG’s. He turned hard. He made no evasive maneuvers. No chute was ob- served prior to aircraft impact. A spite of the proximity of the MIG’s. MIG’F at a 7 o’clock position. Chicago 01 began a right Moore depressed the trigger.still locked on. The about ten MIG-21’s with Moore engaging three of MIG’s were in a staggered trail formation and them in turn. cumulus clouds at the southern end of Thud Ridge. The missile fired from 1. The other MIG was in the contrail level at deadly missile gained on the MIG-2. attempting to set up an attack on the lead smoothly toward the MIG’s 6 o’clock position. nose high.” called out Sears. flight dispatched to cover a large F-105 strike force ing into the strike force and jettisoned bombs and attacking the Hanoi transformer site.

000 feet. on the morning of the 30th. The MIG’s from the 355th TFW on 28 April.000 feet and began firing 20-mm. Dennis. It continued to burn and trail smoke ted two MIG-17’s in our 1 o’clock position. and flames erupted from while ingressing. Thomas C. settings for guns and began to close. Higgins burning and spiraling toward the ground at less preceded Dennis into the target a n a by 6 minutes. closing tinued our turn to the west for egress from the to about 700 feet. heading south. ted a single MIG-17 in a left turn. Arthur F. In his own words. the MIQ impact with the into their 6 o’clock position. Lesan. and I spot. we also fired bursts at the MIG ground.000 to reaching approximately 3. level. I continued to watch it in its spiral near the tance decreased. and when I obtained a series of turning maneuvers. tion but I was unable to see it. Higgins later reported on the battle: was on the tail of another F-105 and Dennis went to After recovering from the bomb delivery. He began a steep de. Col. This and last flight of F-105’s striking rail yards northeast allowed me to gain a 30” cut-off angle and when I of Bac Giang. Gordon Jen. while on strike chased us at a high rate of speed until we finally missions against the Han Phong causeway. I completed the switch another 355th TFW pilot. I continued closing kins. of the pop? prior to the bomb run. and the MIG burst into a large area. but we were forced to break hard right to attack mission to an altitude and point from which the target can offset two more MIG’s who were firing at us from be identified and attacked. . The first was downed by flight leader and obtaining a great amount of airspeed. Higgins and the second by another glance at the MIG which I had hit showed him flight leader. than 500 feet. did not attempt evasive action. As the closure dis. I immediately turned into the enemy and engaged Two days later.500 feet. When I rolled back to the left southeast and were well out of range as we fell toward my egnss route. The MIG nine of them. fired the 4. however. 1st Lt. they continued launch indications. Lesan describes his part in the air was approximately 1. My last Maj.000 feet in our 5-6 o’clock position. *Radio call sign for the flight. Harry E. I continued my scending turn with the left wing down at approxi- mately 1. As I prolonged the firing I noticed Rattler* flight was attacked by three MIG-17’s the MIG began to smoke. Lt. we immediately spot. when guide. Capt. afterburner for closure. the missile did not completed my cockpit switch setting and. I proved easy: immediately turned into the MIG and engaged in a I closed on the MIG-17. I his assistance. 5 . to approximately 1. . began firing. finally gaining the 6 missile tone in my headset I fired the AIM-9. ground should have been in my 7-8 o’clock posi- Again we turned to egress heading. ball of flame. The MIG immediately tightened was still too far out for a good firing pass . I continued closing until about 3. see they were firing cannon. I firing was normal. Two MIG-17’s were bagged by pilots of a flight 1. 1. ?This refers to a “pop-up maneuver.500 feet I began to fire the battle: 20-mm cannon.OOO feet behind and below the hostile aircraft.” which tactical aircraft I continued to position myself for another firing use in transitioning from the low-level approach phase of an pass.000 feet. prior to pop and again at the top his left wing root section. 12 miles outdistanced them by applying negative-G forces west of Hanoi. The o’clock position. As as it went into a steeper turn to the right and nosed the MIG’s approached in a head-on pass we could over into a wide spiral toward the ground. and apparently did not see me because he By this time my wingman. Rolling out westerly. but realized I AIM-9 missile. The MIG downed a MIG-17 while he was leading the third tightened his turn. however. His flight had just pulled off the target when a The Dennis flight did not encounter a MIG until number of MIG-17’s attacked-there were about the F-105’s were departing the target area. While gaining this position. his turn to the right and the missile missed by The MIG at this time was in a shallow right turn. but I had to reverse my turn to move out aircraft without any visible damage. the engagement observed a MIG-17 in my 2 o’clock position. but was slow in doing so. . had regained excellent position and we con. We turned to of the target area because I was receiving SAM pursue the MIG’s.

I estimate that my gaged the enemy. the 8th TFW at Ubon provided two 51 . several were downed by aggressive Thunderchief pilots. I noting hits impacting down the left side of the fired a Sidewinder which could not turn with the forward fuselage and on the left wing. USAF leaders in Southeast Asia began to sandwich a flight of F A ’ S behind a lead flight of F-105’s and to place another Phantom flight in trail behind strike forces. Dilger detected two 3. which approximately 3. AIM-7. Maj. I tracked and opened fire at approxi.attack. I mately 1.000 feet high and 3. While many of them were the victims of the MIGCAP Phantom crews. but if the bombing campaign was to be con- tinued without unacceptable losses of strike aircraft. Jr. The first victory in which FAC’s were providing MIGCAP barrier for F-105 flights came on 1 May 1967. missile. At this moment I o’clock position at 8. With such MIG-17. It then disappeared to the right out of his field of view. I had to break left to avoid even lower. roliing to about 120” and descend. climbing to maintain an altitude advantage. it would be necessary to divert a portion of them back to MIGCAP role. during May. On the fourth pass he broke hard right out with his left wing in flames as his leader and struck the ground while trying to avoid the continued the right turn. Trailing about 1 mile behind Jxsan was Maj. which time he warned his flight of the MIG’s. euvered] right after delivery at approximately Mack Thies was his back-seater. the first two MIG’s.000 ft. MIG start to spin out of control at about 4. Robert G. I On each attack he would violently break into the rolled right and observed the MIG slowly leveling missile. at sighted two MIG-17’s at my 11 o’clock position. Accordingly. Since the beginning of the year. Dilger and his wingman en- began to pursue the two MIG’s.000 feet actual ground level and then back left or three enemy aircraft approaching from his 12 and started a shallow climb. James H. wrote: As 1 started to track the number two MIG they both started a rolling descending turn to the right I acquired a boresight lock-on and fired an and I followed. who observed the flaming On 4 May. After clearing him and and fired two more missiles from his 6 o’clock. then pulled up vertical and rolled to the right.. 1st Lt . and one of them fell. The missile missed. en- I jettisoned my 450-gallon drop tanks and with my abling the F 4 ’ s to end up in a 6 o’clock positon to afterburner still engaged from the bomb run. while the F-105’s were on a RESCAP mis- dive bomb run and jinked [constantly man. As a result.000 feet. Dilger was flight leader. The MIG-17 dove for the deck and made ing at 30”. Middleton. On the same day the USAF also lost three F-105’s. F-4 aircraft had been employed more for strike missions than for MIG- CAP.000 feet and descending. Most of the MIG victories were credited to USAF fighters. 26 MIG’s were destroyed with a loss of only 2 Phantoms in 72 USAF and USN MIG encounters. In exactly the same manner I yo-yoed collision with the MIG. as he broke into the attack and went a great rate of closure. sion. He spread in flames across a large area. a hard turn into the. Dilger overtake was in excess of 100 knots. which was tracking toward his 6 o’clock. I fired 100 rounds of 20-mm.000 feet out. But there were also repercussions. yo-yoed and again was at the MIG’s 6 o’clock.

Dilger (left) and Lt. “We went around with them at altitudes ranging The MIG then went into a series of frantic from 1. ings crackled on Olds’ radio just before his wingman sighted two MIG-21’s at 1 1 o’clock. I had to break off to the right as I AIM-7 firing. The aircraft ceased maneuvering and interlocks in. One 2. 85-mm barrage.000 feet. 8th Wing com- mander. dogFghr on 1 May 1967. Thies (right) explain to Lt. Col. I maneuvered to obtain AIM-9 neared Phuc Yen runway at about 2. The other guided but white fire streaming from the left side of his fuse- passed behind the MIG and did not detonate. Wil. The other F-4 flight was Hoyt S . attacking the turns. went full system. Vandenberg Jr. Colonel Olds’ ac. beneath his tailpipe. led the rear flight. The MIG-2 1 was maneuvering to heavy. snap-rolled in the opposite direction. as they came off the target. right over the airdrome. tracked.flights of Phantoms for MIGCAP for five F-105 flights of the 355th TFW which were on a strike mission. I Colonel Olds then took his flight to the target area achieved a loud growl. and fired two AIM-7’s in a ripple. it was obvi. It guided Lac airfield and dodging two SAM’S on the way.500 to 6. how they forced down a MIG-17 in a sandwiched midway in the strike force. lage. I followed vered to obtain a missile firing position on one of the MIG as he turned southeast and headed for the MIG-21’s. I snapped two AIM-9’s at the MIG and continue in a straight gentle dive and impact ap- did not observe either missile. called the F-105’s to break. Col.500 feet behind him and observed a brilliant AIM-7 went ballistic. due firing parameters.000 feet. and the missile did not discriminate. I lost sight of violently and firing position was difficult to the MIG at that point. Leading his flight to Hoa ous that the missile was locked on.” 52 . Our number 3 saw the MIG achieve. I broke the rear flight into the point. but I was not sure The MIG’s were at my 10 o’clock position and whether it was normal afterburner or damage- closing on Drill [the F-105 flight] from their induced. Lafever. reversed and presented the best parameter yet. accurate. Phuc Yen. The MIG then proximately 100 yards south of the runway. he straight for the MIG and exploded about 5-10 feet found five MIG-17’s over that airfield. and fired one and covered the last of the 355th TFW strike aircraft AIM-9. and maneu. kept the pipper on went in a straight slant for the airfield. I stayed the MIG. I obtained a boresight lock-on. MIG wam. but the shot was down toward the ground MIG’s. liam D. flying with 1st Lt. From the moment of launch. I fired the remaining AIM-9 at one 7:30 position. Robin Olds. It looked like magnesium burning with par- Knowing that I was then too close for further ticles flaking off. Fire was count picks up the encounter at this point: coming from the tailpipe. Maj. some of them so violent that the aircraft last of the Thunderchief flights.

I followed the aircraft through a 180” centrated his attack on the lead MIG while Capt. two Phantoms and five Thun. Suzanne “I began firing my Vulcan gun at 3. with me. his heat-seeking missile. Carl D. Gast. Couch in aircraft 3 focused his attack on After completing a 180” left turn the MIG rolled hard right and down and impacted. the F-105’s de. Bolo. Another flight in trail with us observed a MIG pilot eject and another MIG in a spin. flight leader. Lawrence D. and were between 5. struck the Yen Wen railroad and encoun- from the 8th TFW provided MIGCAP for them. and when in range I fired my and 10 miles away in a climbing right turn. The MIG’s then reversed to the left and at ported his flight leader’s claim. *Radio call sign for Suzanne’s wingman. the MIG pilots “As they approached head-on. Robert G. leading a flight of four the enemy aircraft. Ferguson. The AIM-9.000 feet and recalls: fired down to minimum range. I lined up on their number three man and fired a imately 1. Major Ferguson saw pinkish smoke trailing Seven Victories in One Day from one MIG.000 feet of the MIG’s.000 feet of range. Two flights of F-105’s flew air strikes against A second flight of F-lOSs. The F a ’ s ran low on fuel before any the third MIG. The MIG and served the MIG on the way down and saw a bright I were closing head-on at this time. Col.” 4. The missile detonated just to the right Thunderchiefs turned left to a position of 6 o’clock and under the tail of the MIG. As the lead aircraft in a flak suppres. receding in ‘the went under my left wing in a 70” dive. I called for afterburners and we closed on two tected three MIG-17’s at an altitude of 1. and at very flash on the ground in the position that the MIG close range he broke hard left and disappeared disappeared. “As I looked to the 800 to 1. however. con. Osborne. After bombing the first target. but since his aircraft was pointed in the next MIG kill. and a flight of F 4 C ’ s Rilling.OOO feet I fired another burst until rear [after the MIG’s passed below] I noted a gray minimum range. Gast. five MIG-17’s intercepted the strike group. Maj. flying in aircraft position 3 Cobb. ’’ white smoke. The MIG continued in this descent Couch’s attack was also successful. Suzanne. Philip C. ended up as targets for Suzanne’s flight. Maj. went after a second MIG. long burst from my 20-mm cannon. Closing to guard. Lt. Crossbow 02* ob. lent evasive action to avoid a head-on collision derchiefs downed seven MIG-17’s in aerial combat. I fired one burst of about 200 Gast’s wingman.” Gast later stated. left turn in an attempt to use the Vulcan cannon. Gast fired a Sidewin- forced to break off this encounter.Olds reported.000 feet. burning immediately and pieces were observed on pass. from my view. Then I broke off as one MIG cloud of smoke. When the MIG’s closed the gap to real engagements occurred.000 and 6. the Yen Vien railroad yard. general direction of the sun. “I think we really caught them off the two that broke off to the right. falling off. He had 53 . Alonzo L. which lost thrust and passed about 200 feet from Capt. tered MIG’s when leaving the target area.” The MIG-17 did At this time I turned into the MIG’s and tracked not return fire. and very likely could have entered a The events of this day were reminiscent of Operation spin. scored the Sidewinder. Trying to engage the lead flight. trailing distance. The MIG-17 I was firing at took vio- On 13 May 1967. sup- rounds. He stated: and disappeared under a shelf of clouds at approx. he felt that most of the sion flight of four F-105’s approached the target growl came from that celestial body and did not use area.000 feet of altitude. who commenced a head. Jacques A. in Rilling’s flight. Rilling Another flight of F-105’s from the 388th TFW went after the first MIG: struck the Vinh Yen army barracks. Charles W. tinged with pink. The aircraft began on the North Vietnamese. Capt. led by Maj. presumably the one fired on by Col. der. Couch received a tone from his F-105’s on a strike mission on 12 May.

366th TFW at the provide air cover. My turn caused a great loss of Kirk saw two more MIG-17’s and fired a Side- airspeed and also allowed a third MIG-17 to turn winder at them. Wayne. I made a hard left turn edge of his left wing to the tail section. Seymour was firing. He then attacked a third MIG with a turn. about 1. I switched to heat-mode for The tone was holding good so I fired the missile Sidewinder missiles.000 feet away.” he commented. . and to go after them. southeast. flying in aircraft position 4. He pulled in behind wingman immediately broke off to go after the MIG’s. The F-105 reversed count he writes: underneath and dove for the deck. heading south. on the other spiral turn. I lost sight and observed the MIG that I had fired at still of the MIG in this spiral. The MIG’s I rolled into a slight right bank and the tone on started to reverse. He claimed hits dered the MIG. bank was required to hold the reticle on the MIG. obtained a good tone. The MIG started a very tight left diving [that] he had scored a hit also. 1st Lt. it broke up into many disorganized pieces. In his ac. ’’ on the MIG’s fuselage and right wing. Maurice E. so I Michael R. Paul A. he was serving a one-week kill and reported: exchange TDY with the 433d TFS. Yen Wen air strike on 13 May was leaving the area After pulling out from his bomb run. Dropping below the nose and out Captain Seymour. . . and that squadron and wing earned the victory credit.8th TFW. ing to the vicinity of the destroyed MIG-17. . and and it began tracking and detonated at the MIG’s fired two Sidewinders. which was in a hard left turn. as he went underneath trailing smoke and descending. the first missile failed to guide and missed climbing turn and stayed low. Seaver. rather than his parent squad- I observed two MIG-17’s firing at an F-105 ron and wing. who had become sepa. The third missile was last seen guid- Capt. Bever in aircraft 3 had observed Kirk’s dropped the nose and unloaded the G’s and began successful AIM-9 attack on the MIG just before accelerating to 550-600 knots. Lt. range of me or had any lead on me. but I saw tently fired three. . wingman was in a more vulnerable position. Catton. but inadver- good pass on myself and aircraft 4. Haeffner* and 1st Lt. however. The second fired from a position on this MIG. 54 . William L. The seventh MIG-17 of the day was destroyed by One of two F-4 flights providing MIGCAP for the Maj. of the 388th TFW. who had lagged in the left of sight.. In this reversal. Flight leader Maj. but was unable to assess any damage by Seymour reappeared. He immediately turned well and exploded approximately 30 feet behind left and began trailing smoke. Only a 10” left turn again. dropped out of sight. “The second missile pow- MIG-17 which attacked Osborne. . and his position. Fred A. not Ronald E. Col. This MIG was now at my 9 o’clock position Sparrow missile. “The MIG seemed to blow up on the only observed the aerial victories of Rilling and Osborne but he himself may have damaged the spot. but I slightly lower altitude. I didn’t believe he was either in disappeared into a cloud with unknown results. while aircraft 3 and 4 remained high to *Haeffner was assigned to the 390th TFS. However. disintegrated. He would have had a missiles from an overhead position. The MIG firing. Haeffner attempted to fire only two AIM-7 and away from my element. also saw the action. My lead called the MIG. Kirk accounted for his first MIG time of this aerial victory. then pulled up and started a left the AIM-9 peaked up normally. Jr. my Meanwhile. The MIG was on fire from the trailing MIG. The first missile tracked 3 4 o’clock position. Kirk and his pilot. Seymour. Seaver ob- when crews observed the air battle between F-105’s served a camouflaged MICi-17 at his 10 o’clock and MIG-17’s.no trouble tracking the enemy aircraft. Haeffner and Bever saw it hit the MIG except that my attacker broke off and stopped on the fuselage just behind the canopy. As I began to dive Haeffner dove after two MIG’s chasing Thunder- I saw the MIG stop firing and break to his right chiefs. in a good firing the MIG by about 100 feet. rated from his flight and joined up with Rilling. but both the aircraft and the missile and began firing. but the missile did not have a tone inside of me by the time I had completed 180” of and missed. my aircraft. Stephen A. Maj.

The entire encounter lasted less than 90 seconds. two of them were shot against three other MIG-17’s. exploded. Hargrove. Hargrove and his their F 4 ’ s to fire these missiles at short range. I broke left to avoid debris. and immediately the on in combat 7 of the 16 MIG’s. But aircrews were unable to maneuver Dropping their fuel tanks. at approximately the other flight encountered 10 MIG-17’s and de. lead F-105 called bogies at 9 o’clock. The sections. At least one S A M short-range deficiency was corrected. The MIG pilot apparently did not see the Thunderchief. The first MIG’s fell prey to this weapon on 14 Hargrove’s victory came after 5 minutes of battle. in two warnings after it departed its refueling point. When the MIG was hit. falling vertically toward the ground.flight during the air battle. it and opened fire with his 20-mm cannon. Both of the Phan. struck the ground. led by Maj. For the next 20 minutes the FA’S began carrying the SUU-16 gun pods to the scene was a beehive of activity as the F 4 ’ s took complement the missiles. On the gun camera of his F-I05 Thunderchief. when F 4 C aircrews of the 366th TFW de. According to Hargrove: racks and supply depot. long range. DeMuth. In May 1967. Over the months of air-to-air combat. . another F 4 flight was The MIG-17 was in a right-descending turn spaced between the F-105 flights. flame erupted from the top of the MIG stroyed one. at encounter on 13 May. May. I tom flights were providing MIGCM. Four forced to exit the immediate area before the MIG MIG-17’s in two elements were in hot pursuit. down by the SUU-16. during which he fired Sidewinders and Sparrows stroyed three MIG-17’s. and 4 attacked the second. The first flight opened fire at approximately 2. and Hargrove Due to other MIG’s attacking our aircraft we were spotted two F-105’s leaving the target area. . he elected to use the F-105 strike force attacking the Ha Dong army bar. they could recorded this view of the MIG-17 he shot down in the 90-second use the infrared heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder. however. James A. 300 feet. Maj. for he made no effort to evade. destroying two of them. He missed all three. 55 .S. An F 4 flight trailed an On his fourth engagement. they had the radar beam-riding AIM-7 Sparrow. fuselage. heard MIG reversed to the right and saw the MIG. At medium range. Stephen H. SUU-16 gun pod. it broke sharply to the right and its wing exploded.000 feet from the encountered 16 MIG-l7’s. MIG and continued firing until. when we attacked from a 20” angle off its tail. A close-up of a MIG-17 in flght. Almost immediately thereafter the MIG The first flight. then Jr. . and 1st Lt. many MIG’s escaped destruction by the F a ’ s simply be- cause there was a deficiency in the Phantom’s short.. Seaver range kill capability. and wingman headed for one element while aircraft 3 many of the MIG’s escaped. was fired at the U.

however. Craig describes his tactics: Three MIG-17’s were sighted at 9 o’clock low in a left turn. then reversed hard to the right as I approached gun range. the MIG burst into flames from 56 . James T. I followed the MIG through the turn reversal. and fired a 2% second burst from my 20-mm cannon. be- A n F 4 C Refueling. I initiated a follow-up attack.. Talley. DrMuth. fore I could fire. also downed a MIG with a 20-mm gun after missing two other MIG-17’s with Sparrow missiles. Craig and his pilot. Flames immediately erupted from his right wing root and extended past the tailpipe. These two Phantom crews made hisrory for the Air Force on 14 May 1967. I barrel rolled to the right and rolled in behind the trailing MIG. Jr. ) and his pilot. As I yo-yoed high the MIG rolled out to wing level in a slight descent and I observed fire coming from the left fuselage area. He tightened up his left turn. Lt. Capt. 1st Lt. pulled lead. when each crew shot down a MIG-17 with 20-mm Gatling guns mounted on their F A ’ S . Talley. commander of aircraft 3. Capt. Craig. Lt. James T. Hargrove (1.Maj. to r . Five minutes later. and his back-seater.

*Mean sea level. .” Craig later commented. root of the MIG-17. Robert W. at approximately 5. I was in a left turn and the target. Samuel 0.000feet altitude MSL ke’s flight about the MIG’s. indi- and the proximity to the ground would have pre. steering error (ASE) circle. MSL* with the higher mountains protruding The AIM-7 would not fire. Bakke explains how he and entered the clouds in a stalled condition. o’clock low position. flying in the lead aircraft.000 feet MSL to the the burning MIG. “My pilot dived vertically into the very low undercast. the “The kills with the gun mode could not have been AIM-7 would not fire unless all missile firing pa- made with a missile. . on fire from the under fuselage. North Vietnam lost no MIG aircraft to USAF Bakke and his wingman then attacked the enemy aircrews for the next 4 days.OOO to I observed several enemy aircraft at my 11 3. missile range. and I squeezed the tops of the clouds were approximately 4. two MIG-21’s were attacking the departing strike 57 . The ASE circle was got their victory at the same time that Craig and very small. cating that he was too close to the target for a cluded a successful recovery. I again glanced MIG’s encountered by the second flight also used at my radar scope and observed an attack display the same circular tactics.” The MIG pitched up to a 30” nose-high attitude The strike aircraft and Hargrove had alerted Bak. two MIG-2 l’s were downed by aircrews of the MIG-17 explode in flames and start spinning in a 366th TFW and four MIG-17’s were destroyed by vertical nose-down attitude towards the ground.000-6. the 20-mm guns “would have been much more causing an explosion and fire in the right aft wing effective against the MIG-17’s than any of the mis.” Bakke complained. One missile did gun pods. a strike force attacking the Kinh No motor vehicle Bakke chose one on the outside of his left turn and repair yards. Both of the MIG-21’s were recalled.000 feet with some mountain peaks of 4. Unlike Hargrove’s aircraft. “As this roll commenced I saw a ever. I did not observe a parachute from MIG’s. All of the aircrews were in agreement that not guide and the other “homed in” on the target. Lambert. On the 20th. The attitude of the aircraft His radar scope showed a “break-X” display. An attack was commenced on another about to fire at the time. After a the same time. enemy’s altitude of approximately 6. The two MIG-17’s seen in flames high-speed yo-yo to an altitude of approximately while I was engaged in my successful attack were 10.000 feet trigger with the MIG-17 inside my gunsight reticle. slightly above them. As the Phantom flight approached the target area. Bakke and with the steering dot in the center of the allowable Capt. indicating I was at minimum Sparrow Talley made their kill. I fired two Sparrow missiles while Bakke’s Phantom was not equipped with SUU-16 pursuing the target in a left turn.500 o’clock low position. My first engagement .000 feet During this engagement I noticed another MSL. siles. although air-to-air fighters by rolling outside in the direction of turn of engagements continued daily. The and his flight took the offensive: average terrain in the battle area is from 1. He continues in his account: MIG’s were picked off from incomplete Wagon I retarded my throttles to idle and gained proper Wheel formations. Both rameters were satisfied. Bakke then realized that observed. The called that he had a radar lock-on. Another flight of F-4C’s MIG-17 in the area and discontinued because of was in the area and engaged in aerial combat at the target outmaneuvering the attacker. defeated by a Phantom flight providing MIGCAP for Continuing the attack on the two MIG-l7’s. pass due to the two Sidewinder missiles not guiding to below me and to my right. the cockpit aft and immediately pitched over and called the pilot to try for a radar lock-on. Maj. with the interlock switch in the “in” position.OOO feet MSL I noticed two MIG’s at my 10 probably destroyed by Craig’s flight. The flight attacked these feet present.” he 8th TFW aircrews. was unsuccessful MIG-17. range separation from the target. diving from 17. No ejection was successful Sparrow launch. how- the enemy.

as his back-seater. Janca. attack. I lowered the nose and began a left turn into the Janca confirmed the Titus victory. Elgin 02 [Capt. received a good tone. Robert D. He attacked. of which we shot down a several miles away. who had initiated the streaked from the ground at the American aircraft.force. accompanied by aircraft 4. Shortly thereafter. someone called “break” and But with the appearance of the SAM’s. watching the MIG as he disappeared from flight was high and to the right of the last F-105 my line of sight at approximately 1. The other F-4 turn. The force came in from the Gulf of Tonkin. Colonel Titus and I sighted MIG’s. flight. yards. however. As the MIG continued to climb I had ejected. with one Phantom flight accompany- Zimer. This engagement we broke off be- I spotted a MIG-21 at my 9-10 o’clock high cause aircraft 4 was [at] minimum fuel. William E. which were flying MIGCAP for an other small pieces. Colonel Titus immediately elements. at which time the MIG reversed to the right Titus fired “an AIM-7 missile which impacted on and started to climb. Daniel S. the right side of the MIG-21. The MIG’s turned away. Before they could fire. when Titus for the F-105 force to divide and strike two targets at spotted yet a third MIG. We reported the engagement: were returning to strike flight when we engaged a third MIG. Wil. missiles. when aircraft 4 called flight acted separately to provide support to other MIG’s at 6 o’clock. pursued the two and the Iron Hand flight attacked the site with Shrike MIG-21’s they had seen as they entered the area. there simul- the flight broke off.000 feet.000 feet ahead. the broke off the attack. The first two did not guide. reported the engagement ing the first division and the second remaining with quite tersely: the other division. It appeared that a noon of 20 May fell victims to two flights of the 8th large piece of the MIG’s tail came off along with TFW.000 feet AGL flight. We then rejoined the strike F-105’s proceeded to assigned targets. so the taneously came a MIG warning. Col. the strike flight was attacked by of the target. Titus and 1st Lt. and framed against the An Old-Fashioned Dogfight blue sky. As liam A. The MIG started turning left into us. The other flight sighted more MIG’s engaged three MIG’s. the first flight of FA’S several MIG type aircraft. Norton] saw the MIG strike the ground. the aircraft crossed the coastal islands. so that each part of the strike While en route to target and at the north end of force would receive protection. While the F 4 ’ s engaged the MIG’s. position. [The] kill 1st Lt. who climbing turn. Ubon. Roberts. The MIG pitched up and F-105 strike force attacking the Bac Le railroad began a roll off to the right from about 8. I continued in the left de. In the next 12 to 14 minutes MIG-2lC with a Sparrow missile. The missile guided straight with very little flutter and detonated about ten to fifteen feet The other four MIG’s destroyed during the after- to the right of the MIG’s tail. I continued my with the second Thunderchief flight. Lt. We observed another MIG-21C and en- gaged him. Meanwhile. the back seat pilot.” put the pipper on him. two SAM’s Milan Zimer (flying aircraft 3). but the enemy. An EB-66 support and an Iron Hand SAM (actual ground level). zero angle-off. and suppression flight were included in the strike force. observing how MIG. The first flight of Phantoms flew line abreast and then appeared to enter a spin. Robert F. Jr. there was a massive and aggressive dogfight with 8 ing in for the kill on the first MIG we engaged F-4’s battling 12-14 MIG-17’s. Fifteen miles short Thud Ridge. We were mov. with third missile destroyed the MIG-21C. Lt. Roberts. Maj. The MIG exploded in scending turn to close and then commenced a flame and a short time later I observed the pilot. Elements of each with a full system lock-on. the Phantoms jettisoned their centerline tanks. Burr and 1st Lt. floating down in his chute. the flight leader. with a full system lock-on. The SAM’S immediately stopped guiding. and fired an AIM-9 missile with the MIG about 4. we fired Four MIG’s were destroyed in a span of 5 to 6 58 . The F 4 ’ s immediately broke off to attack the three missiles. was observed by all members of the flight. My pilot. about 20 miles east of Kep airfield. The mission called flight started to rejoin the strike force. Lieutenant the rail yards.

Each time we went in to engage near where I observed my Sidewinder hit a one of these groups. of the low hills lying north of Haiphong. three. area by myself.MIG-l7’s became the victims of Col. The minute he popped short of the target. I a defensive battle down low. and road. the back seat pilot. Two other . Olds fired one missile and told 12 to 14 minutes. which did not guide. Pardo. he is going to know he was in a F-105’s were bombing along the northeast rail. This me to “go get him. coming in headed right for him. when the pair had downed a MIG-17. and 1st Lt. he went mad. Wayne. The ensuing battle was an over I was going to get him with a Sidewinder. there was not only danger from ports: the guns of the MIG’s. east-west direction. circle. interlocks in. The first fell to a Sidewinder of Maj.minutes. fired from about 25 to 50 feet off the grass and he cious dogfight I have ever been in. and be in firing position on our tails almost The remainder of the missiles I fired did not before we could get into firing position with our guide or were not observed due to evasive action missiles. This is very distressing. These were aerial victories three and four We attacked again and again. in an twisting. He headed up a narrow from the right. and I stayed behind him. about 500 to 1. necessitated by the tactical situation. This was at approximately 08302 of the circle would go full power. The MIG’s were in small 360” turn while positioning on another MIG-17 groups of two. There were was clear of the ridge by only another 50 to 100 eight F ~ C ’ Stwelve . I don’t think he saw me for from the Gulf of Tonkin. In the middle of this circle. John flight of F-105’s on their way out from the target. vi. 1st Lt. dodging and trying to get away. Col. Kirk. to say the least. and sometimes four in a and observed an aircraft burning on the ground very wide circle. about 50 feet. but the ever-present As our flight approached the area of the sight. tumihg. turned left. considerations necessitated departure. My pilot saw the MIG erupt in flame and go down Robin Olds and his pilot. One of the two Sparrows fired in liam L. Stephen A. 59 . Stephen B. when about 10 or 12 MIG. My pilot achieved a This was Lieutenant Wayne’s second aerial vic. I observed four MIG-17’s turning in behind round and round that day with the battles lasting the F-105’s. fight. I got down on the deck. ripple guided true and exploded near the MIG. and one odd feet when the Sidewinder caught him. range about 7. MIG-l7’s. I kept my speed down so I wouldn’t overrun him 17’s came in low from the left and. which is a long time. An ace from World War 11. pull across the [Greenwich time]. The first MIG I lined up was in a gentle left turn. and for about a minute and a half me a dead astern shot. a week earlier he had flown with Major Wil. once again. either going to hit that ridge up ahead or pop over We engaged MIG-17’s approximately 15 miles the ridge to save himself.000 feet. They tried to attack the F-105’s little valley to a low ridge of hills. trying to break up for Olds. I or two minutes that was the most confused. tory. I believe.OOO then launched one Sidewinder which guided and feet. I broke left to three MIG’s circling about a hundred feet-sort of negate other MIG’s at my 8 o’clock. I fired one AIM-9 which did not track and the Our flights of F a ’ s piled into the MIG’s like a MIG pulled up over a ridge. we were in our escort position. I saw that lone MIG still circling perienced. I knew he was before they got to the target. We just cleared the last quite a while. to the left. Quite frankly. narrow gate. As I left the the 8th TFW commander was battle-tested and ex. the aircraft commander. Croker. I continued a in figure-eight patterns. But when he did. making him the leading MIG-killer at that that defensive wheel. went full system. boresight lock-on. danger of a collision to contend with. I obtained a good growl. R. fuel time in Southeast Asia. Pardo re.” particular day we found that the MIG’s went into I launched one Sparrow. exact replica of the dogfights in World War 11. there were two or struck the number four MIG-17. Olds termed the events of 20 May “quite and so I ran out about ten miles and said that even a remarkable air battle.” According to his account: if I ran out of fuel. We went ing. Finally. and gave sledge hammer. who flashed through the battle area. a group on the opposite side MIG-17.

Maj. the MIG overshot and headed directly toward Kep airfield. flight of four F-C’s. Lt. When Olds broke hard left. es- we were escorting the Thuds [F-105’s] inbound to sentially. Philip P. told him to go boresight. Combies got be- hind and fired an AIM-9 with good tone: The missile impacted in the tailpipe area of the MIG and the MIG caught on fire. on. Pardo. Combies. I was unable to get lead on him. and I lost sight of him and followed him on the I was leading the first flight that time. the first quadruple MIG-killer of the Vietnam War. Two days following this air battle. ) are: Maj. Combies. headed for the heart of Hanoi. repeated their earlier success. about 1% miles away. We learned quite a bit from this fight. Having engaged several MIG-17’s without results. Titus Col. Lafferry. I called my backseater and days later [May 221 when I got two more MIG’s. to r . a hard were south of formation. I was quite out of fuel and all out of missiles and pretty deep in enemy temtory all by myself. The MIG spewed pieces and broke hard left and down from about 200 feet. Combies climbed to reengage when he saw a MIG-17 in hot pursuit of Olds. and Lts. Col. Zimer. He made a turn around to the right. so we were in a good fighting configura- Hanoi it did seem to be a fruitful mission to get tion. and I celerating. Titus two flights at about 16. Other victors in the 20 May encounter (1. The missile tracked and exploded 5 to 10 feet to the right side of the aft fuselage. Lt. Phantom MIGCAP for a strike force directed against the Ha Dong army barracks and supply depot. so it was high time to leave. I happened to see the sun I was carrying a SUU-16 [2@mm gun pod] two reflecting off them. You are only a detriment to yourself. I went into afterburner and started had a feeling that we would get some kind of pushing forward. We learned you don’t pile into these fellows with eight airplanes all at once. The MIG’s had been flying that month in the area. and his backseater. In that particular case that I was Padlocked [a code word meaning. of course. The MIG was at approximately 1. headed west to later related the afternoon’s events: east. and we radar. The final MIG destroyed that day fell to the leader of the first flight. Lafferty flying rear seat. “I’m attacking the MIG’s”] and ac- the target. line abreast of the first climbing turn. I had already cleaned off my external and. I 60 . although I had just happened to chum up on The MIG that we locked on to started a left turn the mission that day. Oh’s. Because of numerous MIG calls reaction.500 feet at the time of missile launch. Croker and Wayne Titus’ flight was one of two that was providing (front center). about 8 miles away. and immediately called the second with a SUU-16. while leading a prepares to nail four more red stars to the 8th TFW scoreboard. when suddenly out in front 11 miles I spotted a couple of MIG’s. This was Combie’s second MIG victory. 1st Lt. I overshot and lost sight of him. with the strike force headed for tanks. Lt. The MIG went “belly up” and into an uncontrollable dive and eventually impacted into the ground. with 1st.000 feet. Maj. Daniel L.

he started to lock-on. came out on top of the did a reversal. came back around and called for my cloud deck. About this time number smoke off to the left. I looked over my left rolling all sorts of hard maneuvers. almost instantaneously. Finally I told my and got another Sidewinder tone and fired another back-seater that I thought there was something missile. F A D ’ S .000 feet while We were still in burner. I turned toward him and put the pipper on him was in a descent. deviated slightly to the right. Then.000 feet above the at a very high climb angle. SUU-16 at him. As I closed he went through the cirrus at approximately 1. could merely keep him on the right hand of the o’clock position another MIG-21 . He stopped his climb and we leveled off. cirrus deck. . I would Thud formation. Almost immediately the MIG started a hard wrong with the radar. condition. I down quite rapidly. The 555th “Triple Nickel” Squadron was the f i s t to receive improved Phantom models.000 feet. I overshot. He away. he was doing all sorts of twisting.000 feet down to about 2. c l i m b p o s s i b l y after he saw me coming at him. I was in close pursuit. In We were right in the vicinity of the Hoa Lac airport. cernible. guess. I turned there was some foreign matter in the air-very dis. I don’t know what it was. and I fired the missile. We could not obtain a radar missile. he did slow cloud. It must have been around The MIG made a very h i g h 4 pull-out and leveled 20. It seemed a ground. 25. I mentioned it to my back-seater. I saw from my 1 wing-rocking maneuver and continued on down in 61 . he climbed again. and as I did so I observed the MIG was in a shalrow. pulled up to the left. It was very shoulder and a MIG was making a pass on the impressive to see the rapid roll response and direc- formation. mation and came out of burner.500 to 2. and noted some debris in the air and number two to take him. presumably because of the ground return. about a mile scope. I called him and tional change ability of that airplane. that particular area there was a scattered overcast There was quite a bit of flak. turning reversals. off watching the MIG and called for number three. . In his pull-out he was at wing level so I got lot higher than that. Having fired the missile. came alongside the for. SAM’S were going off. I proceeded turned into him just about the time he fired the into the dive with him. The missile went through the same hole. He fired a missile. at least 50”. but two had overshot and came up to my right. I did not observe any impacts and The missile was tracking as he disappeared into the thought I had missed him. However. He agreed and we joined the descending left turn and we went from. had a the pipper on him and fired a long burst of the very strong Sidewinder tone.

Capt. The MIG exploded in flame and otherwise composed of F-4C’s. in Kuster immediately obtained a 450 angle-off position 2. Fighter Squadron of the 8th TFW.S. at about 500 feet altitude. received The aircraft began trailing a heavy white vapor. while pulling 62 . Wiggins. Ubon. This improved Phantom model soon Continuing to close on the MIG as it rolled over and entered combat. Kuster tightened up his left turn. enemy plane attempted to evade the missile but was The air-to-air posture was improved somewhat on 28 damaged.000 feet. Larry D. go get him!” the leader told TFW flying a strike mission against the Bac Giang him. Three “probable” MIG kills resulted. one er’s 11 o’clock position at a range of 1 mile. flying aircraft 3. When the F-105’s were about 15 miles short of the roll-in point. but apparently he and the three MIG’s went into a tight left-hand orbit was out of it after the first hits were taken. the first MIG was at the flight lead- MIG’s. the flight engaged 8 to 10 Meanwhile. the four strike flights pen- trated the SAM defenses. Had his kill been con. and enemy After these two MIG-21 kills. He elected to remain with the second flight during withdrawal. USAF crews flying flights completed a circle and a half before Wiggins into North Vietnam encountered a lull of several was able to fire his AIM-9B at the third MIG. F 4 D aircraft. Kuster fired a short burst in an effort to obtain photography of the active AAA gun emplacements adjacent to the target. but aircraft 4 nearly collided with the second flight off the target and lost his flight in the turn. he would have become the first “ace” of the tion at a range of 1/2 mile. The second and third flight aircraft followed their leader. downing two MIG-17’s. The flight recovered from the GULF OF TOPIXIN dive-bomb run with Kuster trailing 1. MIG’s to his leader. each destroyed one of the enemy. Wiggins’ film showed that the missile May when the 555th “Triple Nickle” Tactical went alongside the MIG’s tailpipe and exploded. Jr.500 feet be- hind the lead. did produce confirmed air-to-air victories by flight leader attacked the second MIG. Wiggins fired 376 rounds of 20-mm at Colonel Olds on 2 June flew an F-4D in a flight a high angle-off. Inbound to the target in a stand- ard “pod” formation. Ralph L. On the following day. Approximately 6 miles from the target the flight leader saw three MIG-17’s at 10 o’clock low at a range of 2 miles. and Maj. and Wiggins about a mile behind the flight leader. During the dive-bomb run for flak suppression. The U. The days during which no enemy aircraft were downed. They were in the lead flight of a force of four strike and one Iron Hand flights launched from Korat RTAFB. the shallow dive and impacted with the ground. He called the MIGs’ position and started a hard left turn. Being in a favorable position to attack the first railroad and highway bridge and adjacent railroad MIG. Kuster reported these Southeast Asia war. enemy 85-mm and 1 W m m antiaircraft opened fire. and a of them claimed by Olds. F-105 pilots of the 388th “If you can get one. shot at MIG one at about 2. while the yards. second MIG had crossed to the leader’s 1:30 posi- firmed. Thailand. started down. Providing MIGCAP crashed. Kuster. Where he was hit I don’t know. Initial maneuvering did not permit a firing pass. He thus hoped to film the sites on the ovemn of his gun camera. for an F-105 strike force.

slightly low. I disengaged and flew southeast some 3 4 a little more than 200 feet range. continues his narrative. during which no chute was observed. enough to put ling the area. tight descending turn to the left. I fired an AIM-7. Kus- ter did not have enough lead and was unable to track the MIG through the turn. “I immediately engaged them to prevent adjacent flight] called me to break right as a MIG the MIG’s from attacking an Iron Hand flight patrol.OOO feet actual ground level on a northwesterly tion . the missile did not guide. heading. Olds.” Raspberry seconds. was maximum diameter. was flying with Capt. forcing the MIG to miles and then turned back into the MIG’s. However. I observed the rate departed the area. . but ob- served no hits.200 feet. As he started a high-speed yo-yo to reduce his overshoot. Maj. MIG one reversed into a hard right turn. Gul. one in my 12 o’clock. pulling maximum G’s Qust short of complete loss of vision) was able to align his Thunderchief Maj.” At last he con- June. with his nose about 20” below the horizon. . tactics he used in downing a MIG-I7 on 3 June 1967. proaching them for the second time. Raspberry. he placed the pipper in front of MIG ‘one and fired a short burst . One flight of four F a ’ s (of the 555th TFS) nected. as the MIG rolled inverted and position and missed. of closure to be 900 knots. Several ously one of the MIG’s I had seen in my 11 MIG-17’s jumped aircraft 3 and 4. 5 to 6 G’s. Kuster was able to rotate the F-105 fuselage by rapid aft stick movement.” recalled because Col. Kus- ter. Francis M. During the ensu. Jr. crashed. I could see three MIG-17’s. Wiggins as he describes the fuselage with the MIG but was unable to pull lead. He and his wingman attacked seven or eight missile appeared to be headed straight for the other MIG’s in a Wagon Wheel formation. paaially solv- ing Kuster’s tracking problem. scoring his second victory of the war: downed the first of the enemy trio while flying MIGCAP for an Iron Hand flight in the vicinity of “My GIB locked on to a target which was obvi- Thud Ridge during the mid-afternoon. Kuster closed rapidly at about 200 knots overtake speed.. Both Thunderchief pilots received credits for victories. Kuster relaxed he left the fight to gain separation and once again back stick pressure as the fire and debris from the came back-at low altitude. possibly reducing power to force an overshoot. Everett T. [flying lead aircraft in the Raspberry. As a last resort. Time from hit to impact was 4 to 5 “On my third approach to the MIG’s. When the ASE circle flight leader. o’clock position as I turned slightly left and down ing engagement the F 4 ’ s became separated and to center the steering dot. . oncoming MIG. MIG engulfed the F-105. . My wingman 63 . He opened fire at MIG’s. I was unable to watch the impact “Upon sighting the MIG-l7’s.” Ap- fly through the stream of 20-mm cannon fire. and two more in my 11 USAF pilots scored three more victories on 5 o’clock position. With a radar lock-on. he spotted one The underside of the MIG’s left wing exploded at 12 o’clock high and attempted to hit him with an two-thirds of the way between the fuselage and A I M 4 However. After a few maneuvers Kuster again fired a few bursts of 20-mm at a range of 1. After making several turns with the the sight well in front of the MIG. slightly high. It passed about 25 feet he fired an AIM-7 at a MIG in his 11 o’clock below the MIG. Kuster (lefr) watches Capt. The MIG rolled further left and banked into a 120” dive. The lick. . but the MIG pilot estab- lished a smooth. was in my 4 o’clock and firing. 1. Again the external underslung fuel tank. “I was between 500 and and the MIG did not roll from the inverted posi.

” reports Pascoe. The enemy’s altitude of approximately 8.forces aircraft. “We picked up a single The second aerial victory took place about 5 min. The MIG continued in MIG-17’s at my 3 o’clock low position. and straight course of the damaged situation. August to a Senate subcommittee that “we have ing the radio chatter of Priester’s engagement with driven the MIG’s out of the sky for all practical the MIG’s. aircraft was totally destroyed. of us. and then: seater. “I observed three the fuselage from the tail. Priester and his rear. and then run for Pascoe however. then at 100-300 feet. Olds and Pascoe pursued the AIM-7 as it approached the MIG and observed MIG at 9 o’clock. the picture soon changed. These called for the MIG’s to approach *Pascoe and Wells were promoted following their aerial vic. I would estimate attacked the one at 3 o’clock. obviously to take a fresh look at the wings level. After 5 June the NVN Air Force stood down bum. saw the two AIM-9’s of their wingman started my dive. In this period. Richard MIG’s were minimal. but SAM’Sand AAA began to M. [Capt. for both officers. John E. Wells. MIG-17 at approximately 5 nautical miles in front utes later. 1967-Wells to Captain and Pascoe to Major. take a heavy toll of them. make a single firing pass. but they did continue to MIG pilot did not eject and crashed with his train and to practice intercepts whenever U. and in Ridge.” Priester’s his left descending turn and struck the ground as flight attacked the MIG’s.S. I fired a short burst but saw no evidence of the 20-mm hitting the MIG. Capt. Pankhurst. but the aircraft failed to force. their home bases (including some in China). The The heavy losses sustained by the NVN Air Force MIG-17 started to reverse his turn and I fired between April and June 1967 seriously undermined another burst of 20-mm. had not yet donned his gold leaves. Norman E. Cairns] was able to see the o’clock and 3 o’clock. “Inbound treme tail end and the second about three feet up to the target area. Momyer.” right turn. and aircraft 3 and 4 of his flight the MIG as it struck the ground. James L. diving from 17. were not in the northeastern corner of North Viet- The final MIG accounted for during the afternoon nam.* flying wingman for Colonel Olds. knocked In the meantime.” passed the lead to Pascoe. were leading a I fired two AIM-9’s as the MIG started a slight flight of four F4C’s on MIG combat air patrol climb and observed the first to impact at the ex- when they downed their enemy aircraft. Olds’ flight immediately reversed course purposes. as the MIG executed a hard crashed “with a large fireball.” said Priester. The pilot ejected just before the MIG number three MIG. Two large balls of flame the effectiveness of the North Vietnamese fighter exited the MIG’s tailpipe. Pries. 1st Lt. once more. Durwood K. I pulled up and in trail with the hit the MIG. air victory over the a MIG-17 from the sky-the second aerial victory MIG force was believed to be so complete that Lt. MIG’s seldom ventured out during the MIG as it impacted the ground and exploded. titude. Maj. was prompted to report on 16 and was covering the departure of F-105’s. 64 . Olds expended all the MIG’s altitude at the time of [missile] impact A I M 4 and AIM-7 missiles without effect. William W. American aircraft losses to was downed a few minutes later when Capt. Olds’ wingman saw four MIG-17’s battling late August the North Vietnamese pilots introduced Priester’s flight and single MIG-17’s high at 9 new tactics.000 feet. climb quickly to al- tory of January 6. Pascoe and his back-seater Capt. the U. Proceeding south along Thud monientarily true. I did not have a gun sight and relaxed stick pressure while assuming I had overled the MIG Another MIG Stand-Down due to the close proximity while firing.000 to the the canopy was seen to leave the aircraft.S.Monitor. I rolled over and observed the shallow dive. The remainder of June and July. Douglas B. The number three MIG pulled up vertically as I Thibodeaux. American forces at low level. While General Momyer’s statement was ” to join in the fight. commander of the Olds’ flight was on MIGCAP for a strike force Seventh Air Force. ter observed: Olds and his back-seater. Gen.

He F-4 flights in the refueling area. I then split into two “cells. The single F-4 MIG- CAP flight flew to the left rear of the F-105 box. the last strike commander identified the friendly aircraft in time. there were only three good parachutes. and started hosing off my 65 . who in a flight of four F a ’ s came from Ubon-three to strike and one for F-105’s of the 388th TFW downed a MIG-17. Heavily-laden confused dogfight. heading 360”. went tember. Two MIG-21’s then descended out of a 25. as one of the F-4 strike flights turned down Thud Ridge at 15. ing in a triangular formation. Luckily. The As I rolled to the right. struct the events. but continued down Thud bined flak suppression and strike role. one at the lead F-4 and the other at number 4. proceeding from there down Thud Ridge.000 feet. “Bandits. Pascoe ( l e f ) and Wells add another star to an F 4 C burst into a ball of flames.” he later commented. The force the time. The aircrew fired upon was Korat-three flights in strike roles.” the F-105 strike aircraft plugged in my afterburner. the air battle turned into a forces without adequate protection. The crew members ejected. four flights of Lt. In addition. Waldrop. The number two F A D aircrew also saw the mis- A contributing factor that aided MIG tactics after sile which hit the lead aircraft. It had hit the aircraft’s tailpipe and exploded.000-foot overcast and attacked from 6 o’clock. 111. it passed their own the June-July stand-down was the diversion of F a ’ s left wing and impacted with the lead FAD. Iron Hand SAM suppression role-attacked the Yen The only USAF kill of the day was awarded to 1st Vien railroad yards. siles. Such a was no problem. the aircraft MIG’s and if the situation so dictated. picked up a little in a box formation and the F 4 strike aircraft follow. It short-stop the attack by engaging the enemy. The mis- situation persisted through August and part of Sep. and strike pilots were briefed to avoid and F-lO5D’s battling numerous MIG-21’s and confrontation whenever possible. David B. The number three aircrew in this F-4D flight observed the missile which downed his wingman. “He Capts. unaware of the incident. I picked up one and broke in on him. closed in. When they could not outrun the but was actually an FAD.” someone warned on the radio. MIG-2l’s. commander later reported. from MIGCAP to strike missions.F-~D’s. In MIGCAP. five flights of F-105’s from and they did no damage. the former were to continue to the target at two AIM-7 missiles at what they thought was a MIG increased speed. I looked down and saw F-105 Iron Hand flight (two F-105D’s and two two MIG-17’s. and one in an Ridge. one F 4 C aircrew fired sighted. airspeed. and then they cros. describes the action: sed the Red River 6 miles southeast of Yen Bai. The sky over North Vietnam was strike aircraft were unable to outrun the supersonic filled with numerous engagements: F-~C’S. but apparently Waldrop attacked a The five F-105 flights rendezvoused with the four MIG soon after dropping ordnance on the target. and if MIG’s were MIG-17’s. flight could jettison its ordnance and attempt to “I told the guy in the backseat to break lock. one of which had been tracking well. one in a com. On 23 August. In the confusion.” the number 3 aircraft Phantom afer claiming their second victory. One was on the tail of an F-105 at F-105F’s) led the force to the target area. Both missiles im- pacted and destroyed the American aircraft. leaving strike From this point on. ballistic as soon as the radar lock-on was broken. All flights were composed of four aircraft the confusion of the air battle it is difficult to recon- each. Each MIG fired an air-to-air missile. northwest at 60 miles.

have said.” also engaged a MIG after his flight had left the If I had known about the new MIG tactic. and impacted the ground.000 feet. It looked like a MIG-21’s had changed their tactics prior to this shark chasing a minnow. great. I’ll bet you one hundred dollars began firing his 20-mm cannon at a range of 3. ing visual contact. He continued claim but denied his first. some fire shot from other witnesses.” The two F 4 D ’ s to MIG-2l’s. . My Givens initially was credited with a probable kill. He probably would feet.000 that he’d called off the MIG’s.” reported Colonel Olds. continued to pound at 3. and denied. The GCI controller would and his wingman pursued two more MIG’s. flying The MIG tactics employed during the 23 August the lead MIGCAP F-4D. he was on fire. and ingressed 10-15 miles ahead of thenl. . He fired 300 rounds and ob. Apparently. was inoperative. because he When the battle was over. . he would have drop began a left roll and at 7. already have picked us up on radar.500 feet. 3 and the MIG. Olds saw no parachute.” The MIG exploded. wingman and I would have turned easterly toward but upon review by the Seventh Air Force’s Enemy the Ridge prior to the strike force . Waldrop then rolled out and headed force and continued ingress. swooped over the force as they turned southeas- After Givens’ engagement. the evidence rolling right on in and blew up when he hit the was insufficient to warrant an award for the first ground. they’re on to you.Air Force lost “wanted to see where he [the MIG] went. gained 15-20 miles separation . accelerated Aircraft Claims Evaluation Board. westerly in an inverted position. rolled into an North Vietnamese elected to avoid confrontations.500 foot altitude observed our turn. That made me pretty mad because I lost Maj. and still another when an F 4 ran out of right behind him. “Break. the U. I target. but apparently the toward his tail. huge Thud right behind out later that higher headquarters knew that the him with fire coming out of his nose. During burst of 250 rounds. the commander felt. the Board confirmed Waldrop’s second I backed off and fired again. Leaving the clouds and reacquir- fuel before reaching the post-strike refueling tanker.S. another F 4 to enemy MIG had disappeared into the clouds with Waldrop AAA fire. The 388th TFW’s Enemy Aircraft Claims Board did in fact review and validate both of Waldrop’s Renewed Opposition claims for 23 August using all available data- gun camera film. could have avoided the mass confusion. encounter. our wing.500 feet. later date. Flying Strike forces. He fired more than 900 rounds of 20-mm at would have split my MIGCAP elements up. Lieutenant Waldrop terly down the Ridge. Billy R. Waldrop found that his gun sight One F-105 was badly damaged by MIG cannon fire. area. two aircraft because of this new tactic. . break. 85’ angle-off. the claim was . “but the word hadn’t filtered down to straight for the ground. inverted position. wingman testimony.” The MIG-17 was diving engagement. He found There was that great. It wasn’t the afterburner. . Wal. But out from his wingtips and about midway across when the claims were processed by the Seventh Air the wing and he started a slow roll over to the Force Enemy Aircraft Claims Evaluation Board at a right. testimony On 18 October. Waldrop opened fire once more with a were no further MIG kills by USAF fighters. MIG pilots once again initiated a 66 . . certain that he had two victories. which had been chasing another F-105 4 would have accelerated below the strike force and had in fact damaged that aircraft with gunfire.500 feet altitude and a range From 23 August through 17 October 1967 there of 2. Waldrop pulled off and left the battle enemy support and war-making installations. “It was beautiful. meanwhile. Shortly afterwards. The burst struck the MIG’s this period the Air Force assigned a larger number canopy area and Waldrop “worked the bullets back F 4 ’ s to a purely MIGCAP role. and operations reports. “The MIG-17 was diving engagements came “as a complete surprise” to toward the ground with flames coming out of his Olds. Givens. Had he been informed. cannon at him. he tailpipe.” served hits on the MIG before ceasing fire at a range Then we would have turned in behind the strike of 2. At 6. Waldrop’s flight leader.

000 feet going straight down in flames. four strike forces of USAF F-105's After delivering my ordnance on the target. I did not see the pilot eject and lost sight of him at campaign of dogged opposition against U. provides an account of the victory: Dai Loi strike. working with U. and 388th 67 . listens to Maj. and 1 opened fire at an esti- mated 1. Accordingly.. forces. 355th. Navy aircraft. McGrarh. Kirk discuss the MlG kill which resultedfrom McGrath's initial spotting of the MIG on his radar and passing the information to Kirk. The F 4 D MIGCAP flight Renewed MIG opposition prompted Pentagon trailed the Thunderchiefs into the target area and officials to authorize for the first time in the war a also encountered MIG-l7's. truiling fkrmes und . extended the speed-brakes. A strike force composed of four F-105 strike There is no doubt that this MIG was destroyed in flights.Russell's 20-mm c'unnon.S.Mu.vnokc.rohrr IV07--u LIii. the largest of North Maj. His left turn helped me to get into a good firing position. who downed the MIG in u dogfight. struck broke hard right to join the remainder of the flight the airfield. C a p . a senior weapons controller as- vigned to the College Eve Task Force. 6 days after the 4 position. bridge on that afternoon. flying an F-105 in number Vietnam's air bases./.S. MIG's had been seen in the target area just prior to roll in. but destroyed none. 1 and F-4's. After about 180 degrees of turn.rirn of' . air about 2. Pilots of the 8th. one MIG was shot down. strike against Phuc Yen airfield. if the pilot were alive.000 feet out. Donald M. for egress.500-2. I8 Oc. 1 followed him for a few moments and saw the fire increase. one F-105F Iron Hand flight. I saw a MIG-17 crossing from my left to right approximately 1. hmds rurth\vard on The aircraft rolled right and headed straight down. Russell.000 feet. Joseph E . He rolled out of his right turn and started a slow left turn to position himself in an attack position on a preced- ing F-105. Three of the four strike Gun camera and KA-71 film show the MIG flights encountered MIG-17's in the target area and smoking profusely. I noticed flames from both sides of the MIG-17 aft of the cockpit area. This MlG-17. and one F-4D that. he could not have MIGCAP flight struck the Dai Loi railroad bypass recovered from the last observed altitude/attitude. I came out of afterburner. and maneuvered to his 6 o'clock position.

William L. The first missile did not guide. and one MIG-15 destroyed or badly damaged. During this left turn I observed a parachute in visible damage. I did not observe the second observe missile detonation. but as I started up with him he then As I completed my right turn. area at this time. the lead MIG-17 and fired two AIM-7E missiles then it appeared he was trying to disengage. 68 . Gordon. Loge- time. Range to the MIG was 2. When the MIG calls indicated that the MIG’s Phuc Yen.S. James H. Bongartz. entered NVN. four MIG. and I positioned craft number 3: Capt. He appeared to go into a steep climb. I acquired AIM-7 on a collision course with the MIG.’’ pilot (Lieutenant Bongartz) acquired a radar I called the flight to turn into the MIG’s.000 feet. I placed the pipper on appeared to be aggressive for the first 360” turn. seater. William S. Alan A. and started firing. and on leading a MIGCAP flight in support of the first strike 26 October six MIG-17’s jumped a flight of four force. II.” man. They proved to be extremely accu. I siles. initially. miles. who were MIG’s continued their aggressive assaults. hanging aircraft was lost. and my flight line abreast. Monsees. FAD’S flying MIGCAP for a photographic mission “This kill wasn’t quite the same one as my first 3 miles northwest of Phuc Yen airfield. and number 4: Capt.” recalled Logeman. I then turned and flew by the MIG pilot. flak. Seventh Air Force planners had anticipated a loss The MIG pilot bailed out. McCoy. We were missile firing parameters and launched two mis.. . SAM’Sduring the Phuc Yen raid. and 1st Lt. John D. but not one U. The first AIM-7 could possibly have hard left to re-engage the MIG’s on a west head- damaged the MIG. “I observed four were 6 o’clock at 8 miles I turned our flight back MIG-17’s climbing up through a cloud layer at our 2 into the attack. The first guided well and exploded very pulled up to avoid the cannon fire and did not close to the MIG. in which the MIG would run through a missile came up into the reticle and appeared to be cloud at every opportunity. in fact I had the impression that the area of intended missile impact and a MIG-17 the MIG started to decelerate immediately after missile detonation. heading approx- rolled into me and put his nose back down. MIG calls were heard as we Larry D. As I rolled out of the 180”turn my o’clock position. This time it was a good were downed by air-to-air missiles. and the entire fuselage 17’s. As soon as one last May 13. Theodore R. 111.5 to 3 After several hard maneuvering turns and re. It was in that when he saw me approaching he turned his downed by Maj. I immediately turned missile. high and to the left of the 1st Lt. I im- mediately looked to that position and visually were in a right climbing turn approaching our 4 identified a MIG-2 1. “That one was the MIG’s appeared the reconnaissance aircraft de- a MIG-17 and there was only one pass. even though I could see no ing. One MIG-21 was destroyed in in his chute. In the ensuing battle. I got him parted. The aerial vic- old-fashioned dogfight and we fought him for a long tories went to the flight leader: Capt. who lock-on to a target 30” right at 4 miles. section was engulfed in flames. “Approximately 6 nautical miles before reaching rate. back. head-on at this time and his cannons were firing. *High explosive incendiary. o’clock position at approximately 5 miles range. I could see large pieces sance photos showed four MIG-2l’s. . trailing F-105 flight.Tactical Fighter Wings reported all bombs on target. coming off the fuselage. 1st Lt. I -At initial contact the MIG was slightly right and also called the reconnaissance flight to egress the head-on. He imately 090”at 17. The second versals. and the right and crashed in approximately a 15”dive. the mission was highly successful in rendering the The HEI* impacted on top of his fuselage be- sprawling base unserviceable. Lavoy. tween the wing roots . in boresight mode. Frederick E.” Kirk commented. Jr.Cobb and Capt. Post-strike reconnais. the MIG-2 1 rolled to of 3 percent of the strike force to MIG’s. three of the MIG’s with my air-to-air missile. I was not able to get a look at his face air-to-air combat during the initial attack. Kirk and his back. air- We took position as fragged. closed to about 500-700 feet. I then switched to guns.

fuselage. approxi. One how he downed his MIG: did not leave the aircraft. Hall and 1st After I had shot my second missile. On October 27 an F-105 pilot of the 355th TFW. At the same time he could still F-105’s were destroyed by surface-to-air missiles. but when I told him to break I attempted to fire two AIM-7E Sparrow mis. Then Cap- this time from my 10 o’clock position. At this point I called the flight to egress for We then turned right and re-entered the fight. Cap. tion. unable to fire. Albert T. We again went through the battle but separation and reattacked. I observed the AIM-4D impact on the tail fight. Gordon camed us out and up to o’clock. My rear seat fuel. when the fourth aircraft encountered wild pitch os- Again I was unable to observe the missile impact cillations. my wingman Lt. I observed an enemy chute in the middle “I disengaged. 69 . He turned tain Logeman called the flight to egress due to low away at a range of about 2 miles. At this time I observed a MIG pilot hanging of the MIG-17. pilot obtained a boresight. so he left the fight for separation. obtained a self-track necessary to avoid the attacking MIG’s.” he reported. The flight leader and Basel then joined a due to evasive action necessary to avoid the at. My On our last pass a MIG-17 obtained a 6 o’clock pilot obtained boresight. Takhli force encountered extremely heavy and accu- served another chute at lower altitude. Captain Cobb. I cooled an AIMaD. On the next attempt I had a during large-scale attacks by USAF and USN MIG-17 in my pipper for a tail shot. The MIG had been at ap. By the time I fighters against railroad and highway bridges in the selected AIMaD’s. this time. Hamilton] observed this parachute at observed two MIG-17’s egressing the battle and the same time. and position on Gordon. tain Cobb also saw the parachute. listened Hanoi area. Basel. Gordon turned his element to attack the the left. Watching the attack come in from 3 side of the fight. I fired the A I M 4 with a full system radar aircraft had aborted the mission over Thud Ridge lock-on at a range of approximately 6. We continued using these tactics during the attack. Again we turned to re-enter the fight. At this time siles. On the first turn we were MIG-17’s cannon attack from my 7 o’clock posi. Two MIG-17’s were in the pipper head-on. tells and I attempted to fire two AIM-7E missiles. The commander of aircraft 4. At eight MIG’s. but the second missile fired and appeared to be guiding. . and fired the missile with self-track sent from Takhli to strike the Canal des Rapides selected. ‘‘ then gained lateral of the battle. rate AAA fire and heavy SAM activity. I broke off the Gordon turned us into the MIG-17’s and attack at this point to maneuver away from a started to accelerate.” He observed: were unable to fire.000 feet. proximately 16. His flight was one of three F-105 flights for a tone. finally destroying one. . destroyed a MIG-17 in air-to- and reengaged two more times without obtaining air combat. Two mately 8. and he exploded and started to in a white parachute in the same location that I roll right. trailing sparks from the see the high parachute that we had observed first. but he was too close to fire a missile. . and his plane spiraled earthward in flames. About 2 minutes from the target the straight for the MIG. however. and fired the missile with 10-15” lead I disengaged again and reversed back into the angle. full system lock-on. flak suppression flight in an attempt to maintain pod tacking MIG. was descending inverted. Another MIG-17 was attacking at pursued them. We Bingo fuel. Gene I. I disengaged Capt. He was flying wing for the flight leader a good position to fire. were both able to fire a missile on this pass and we Gordon’s aerial victory came minutes after continued through the MIG’s and out the other Logeman’s. Their number 3 and 4 attack. At this time the MIG-17 pilot ejected had fired the missile. At this time my pilot ob. I was unable to see the I observed two MIG-17’s at my 10 o’clock posi- missile detonate due to evasive maneuvering tion. cooled the missile. lock-on.000 feet. full system lock-on.000 feet in a slight climb and the parachute was at approximately 16. the MIG had turned to a head-on firing bridge northeast of Hanoi. left.000 feet. Aircraft 2 [Maj. the MIG-17 broke off the attack. it appeared to guide formation. John A. Only one fired.

.

Basel points out on a map where he downed a MIG-17. Lieutenant Tax and I then joined for mutual protection and egressed the area. USAF air strikes were con- ducted against every jet-capable airfield north of the 20th parallel except Hanoi’s international airport: Capt. The MIG continued rolling left to a rear visual contact. comes from the afterburner. As American air- craft losses mounted. to avoid a mid-air collision. Yet. unable to further observe the crippled MIG’s flight path. The first F-105 ing for an attack on the flight ahead of me until he strike flight was recovering from its bomb run when felt the 20-mm impacts. Rather. The F a ’ s at once his direction abruptly. Although Captain Basel’s claim for destroying a MIG-17 was initially denied because of a lack of information. in the next 2 months they gained a slight edge in the air-to-air war. Basel leader. 71 . Basel cut inside 2-month period. Cal W. fire belching from his tail- turned south to engage the MIG’s. flying the number four in the *Because of a break or failure in the fuel system. both in the air and on the ground. USAF fighter crews succeeded in of him in a high-G turn. Simmonds served as the MIGCAP flight Looking about and flying straight and level. raw fuel s m s burning in the afien&on of h e aircraft. Turning wide to assure On the afternoon of 6 November. end of 1967. Capt. At this time Lieutenant Tax [lst Lt. with 1st Lt. Cia Lam.. The MIGCAP then turned back to the inverted position Until lost from sight. and was intent on position- airfield. significantly during this hard left to avoid flak and SAM’s. thought at that moment was to join with anyone. His main The 8th TFW provided the MIGCAP FAD’S. “belly up to him. Basel rolled out at 3.000 feet on a south. Basel found himself in di. Tax. but made no pipe. hrnst. two forces were separation.” in order downing five MIG’s in aerial combat. Approach to the target was uneventful. By the During target egress. but the NVN Air Force did not resort to this action.” he recalled. Jr. no SAM I switched to dive function on the mode selector and no MIG warnings were issued. Many NVN Air Force aircraft dispersed on a temporary basis to bases in China.000 feet pulling lead on flight recovered from its Shrike release on Kep him. Repairs in and one of the MIGCAP F-4D’s was downed by the meantime were made to North Vietnamese AAA fire over Thud Ridge. “It was a CAP. rear seat pilot. SAM’s were launched at us at that time and we were forced to take evasive action. As the Iron Hand and closed to within 2. it split into two elements to protect each side perfect set-up for a high-speed pass. the first MIG warning came. rather than sighted the MIG jettisoning his tanks and torch. At that time he reversed it was attacked by four MIG-17’s. it was confirmed after study of his gun camera film showed that the MIG-17 was on fire in its aft section and could not have recovered. sent out to strike Kep’s airfield and railroad yard. airfields and their MIG losses were replaced. were suffi- cient reason for another stand-down and more train- ing. Since this flight was the only MIG- heading due west at about 450 knots. ing* from the tailpipe. Darrell D. As the leader pulled reasonably high. as his sighted at his altitude two MIG-17’s at 10 o’clock. and flame. George H. He didn’t see me. Heavy North Vietnamese MIG losses during Oc- tober. the MIG inventory was thus still rect trail with his flight leader. of the strike force should MIG’s be sighted. McKinney. erly heading paralleling the Red River.

the F-4 flight trailed south of the main force flames. airfield. McKinney. ing to his report.northeast to rejoin the departing strike force and now two flights of EB-66 ECM aircraft. The entire effort made MIG contact. giv. MIG calls indicated that there were get more separation.OOO feet to allow separation. Accord- large orange fireball. Captain Simmonds furnishes the ac. he broke hard left and climbed. Ryan.000 feet to try to heading.500 feet of the MIG and fired my gun. and a climbing right turn and lost sight of his kill. 1st Lt. then performed a Split-S and made a him and closed. According to the last egressing flight and started firing. A flight of four MIG-17’s (not the change pilot. In the next few minutes the two was divided into two forces. At force crossed the Red River and headed toward Thud that time. made a high-speed ing when my back seat pilot. followed by a scis- close on the MIG-17. Eight F-105 and two Baker observed persistent fire and black smoke trail- F-4D flights were scheduled against three targets in ing from the hostile aircraft. The missile hit the tailpipe of the MIG.OOO feet and opened fire. and it began an uncontrolla- the effort were two flights of F-105 Iron Hand air. into a 2-nautical mile stern attack and launched one A U. but no ejection Suddenly came the warning: “Red bandit air- occurred until just before impact with the ground. When he saw me moving into second high-speed pass and fired his SUU-23.6 Mach. one striking the Lang pilots in the lead aircraft destroyed two MIG-17’s in Lau railroad bridge and the other hitting Phuc Yen short order. and for the next aerial victory. Jr. Baker waited for started up a small valley. He made 1. diving pass at the MIG17. earth in many pieces. John D. peared in a large fireball and plummeted to the but discovered it was empty. from a heading of 30” to 270”. another high-speed pass. Baker overshot Again I turned my flight toward the egress and made a high-speed yo-yo to 10. I moved to within returned to 10. observed the canopy blow off. trying to fire the SUU-23. I closed to give that aircraft permission to attack. so Baker ing me a tracking position. The MIG turned into him and attempted to evade the low and heading away from us. my flight was on a 90” beam heading to the egres. Passing beneath the hostile aircraft. if their flight leader could on the firing MIG and caused him to stop firing obtain an immediate visual contact on any MIG and take evasive action.S. Baker maneuvered his Phantom accelerate and depart the area. passing through 3. I called to the attack.000 feet. four flights of F 4 D MIGCAP aircraft. Baker. spotted a lone MIG-17 at our 4 o’clock position.” Shortly thereafter. I closed their preflight briefing. MIG opposition proved extremely heavy.000 feet and headed 120” at approxi- did not have the fuel to engage and elected to mately 0. commanded aircraft 3. aircraft 3 The chute of the MIG pilot streamered and disap. the Marine Corps ex- sing force. Doyle D. which another flight member called out. ble downward roll from 2. We then pulled up and to the right and by about 8 miles. and fired his SUU-23. borne out of Gia Lam. the Marine captain turned right I turned the flight back toward the egress head. The lethal range. Marine Corps aircraft commander flying AIMAD while in a 10”dive. and Baker re- peared into the trees just as the MIG impacted in a quested and received permission to attack. We wings at 2. The MIG then leveled his MIG’s following us at six miles and closing. The MIG-17 disap. The left wing of the Route Package 6A on 17 December. A single MIG-17 was destroyed by the MIGCAP flight My initial contact with the MIG’s came when in the strike against Phuc Yen. he would After several maneuvering tactics. dropped to about 200 feet off the ground and Keeping the MIG-17 in sight. MIG continued to turn into the attack. In support of MIG dropped sharply. As the strike within 1.000 with the 432d TRW teamed up with a USAF pilot feet. I dropped just below separation. 72 . His “guy-in- same flight that we turned into) was closing in on back” was 1st Lt. the aft section of the MIG-17 burst into Ridge. Baker executed craft. He saw us coming and sors maneuver as the MIG reversed his turn. The MIG turned into the attack. count: and one F-4D and one F-105D were destroyed. and 4 established a visual contact. Capt. Baker flight that we were going back in and turned to performed a high-speed yo-yo.

which never reached its target. The MIG in. and two F 4 D force. Dalton. each from different quandrants. I observed another MIG closing on Majors Dalton and Graham. Huntley . then abruptly relaxed G’s. another flights reached the Dai Loi railroad bridge. As the force crossed the Black River . but rate of fire was very slow an F-105F Iron Hand flight. so an exact and rolled out behind the force. . flying the lead aircraft in imately 1. A North Vietnamese MIG-17 makes afiring pass at an F-105 in the air battle north of Hanoi on 19 Dee. creased his rate of turn. He thought he and his EWO. so continued northeast. I passed within 100 feet of the Enemy Aircraft Claims Evaluation Board after care- M E and yo-yoed high.. It was attacked by six MIG-21’s and four to eight MIG-17’s. When I was confident of aged by Moore and McKinney and were sub- 73 . complishing the day’s mission. in an F-105 Iron Hand aircraft in the second force. pilot. Capt. I began firing at approx. was more successful in ac- 2% miles in range. in multiple passes. when two large strike forces were sent into North Vietnam to hit Wet Tri and Tien Cuong railroad yards. poured enough gunfire into a MIG-17 to receive credit for a one-half MIG kill. Joseph D. while the MIG-17 popped up at 12 o’clock.New MIG Tactics By mid-December 1967. McKinney. consisting of four F-105 strike acquired four MIG-17’s milling through the strike flights. Moore and 1st Lt. None of the aircraft was damaged. I The second force. area of probable impact was the same area where proximately 135”of turn. George H. Ralph W. the other half was awarded to Majors William M. I ing at 6 o’clock. was in a gentle left turn. EWO. The bogies which were identified as FA’S after ap. Maj. approximately MIGCAP flights. Graham. one F-105F Iron Hand flight. . I switched to Iron Hand and MIGCAP flights engaged the same guns and began tracking the second MIG-17. flying aircraft 2 in me from 5 o’clock high and was forced to unload Huntley’s flight. another flight (also MIGCAP) called bogies clos. MIG-21’s were coor- dinating their attacks with those of MIG-17’s. one MIG-17. As I looked back to see ful study of all factors and sources of information. and one of the MIGCAP aircraft-number 0 1+rewed by Maj. Robert R.500 feet. engaged and damaged as the gun was not up to speed. and James L. The four strike As I was about to fire an AIM-7E. 1967. consisted of four F-105 and two F 4 D MIGCAP flights. These tactics were observed on the 19th. At this time the impact point could not be determined. I turned my flight back into the observed no MIG’s. who MIG’s. F-105’s called MIG’s and jettisoned ordnance. and we obtained radar lockon. I selected one at 12 o’clock. Jr. The first force. the MIG go in. The USAF aircraft jettisoned their ordnance and jumped into the numerous engage- ments. This action Major Moore relates the engagement: wasfilmed by the gunsight of another F-105. had downed the enemy aircraft. attacked the MIG-17 earlier dam- and accelerate away. I completed 360” of turn the F-105’s had jettisoned ordnance.Stearman. At this time I observed smoke coming from the but his claim was turned down by Seventh Air Force’s MIG’s fuselage. sufficient separation I turned back to re-engage.

sequently credited with one-half of an aerial victory. 180” turn back to the south. I picked up a MIG at
Finally Capt. Philip M. Drew, pilot, and Maj. Wil- my 1 o’clock high position going about the same
liam H.Wheeler, EWO flying in aircraft 3, downed direction that I was going. He appeared to be by
a MIG-17 for themselves. himself. I was low on him and I don’t believe he
Major Dalton tells how he completed the destruc- ever saw me. As he started a gentle right turn
tion of the MIG damaged by Moore and McKinney: (about 40”of bank), 1 started my attack.
I had no problem tracking him, so I continued
The mission progressed as normal until approx- my attack, firing 756 rounds of 20-mm, until I
imately 35 miles southwest of the target. At that could see the end of the MIG’s wing tips on each
time bomb smoke was noted to the right of side of the canopy bow which put him about 100
course, indicating that the strike planes had jet- feet away. Prior to breaking off my attack, I saw
tisoned their bombs. Shortly thereafter, a MIG numerous 20-mm rounds impacting in his fuse-
warning was broadcast. I saw a MIG pull up in a lage and his right wing root area. As I crossed
steep climb approximately five or six miles at 12 over the top of him, I clearly saw the aircraft
o’clock and called it out. As we continued on markings on the top of his left wing. Major
course of 068”,several aircraft came into view: Wheeler, my EWO, called that we had another
F a ’ s , F-105’s, and four to six MIG’s. MIG attacking us from our left and that he was
As we slacked off G’s I was inside and approx- shooting. I looked to my left and picked up the
imately 1,500-2,000 feet to the rear of lead, and new attacker about 1,000 feet out at 9 o’clock
at this time I saw a MIG-17 low and right, appar- with his guns ablaze. I looked back at my target
ently going after Huntley. I called him and started one last time and saw him rolling further right into
slowing down and turning right to get behind him. a 120’ bank turn and a 30” dive from about 7,000
I closed as much as I could and started tracking feet altitude. Due to my position, I could not see
and fired. I fired a short burst but was not tracking beyond the tail of the MIG that I had fired on to
him, so I let up on the trigger, repositioned the observe the intensity of the smoke and fire. I was
pipper ahead of the MIG, let him fly up to it, and still close to him, though, since I could now
tracked him. Again I opened fire. As verified by clearly see the red star on his fuselage and the
my gun camera film, I observed impacts on the same insignia on the under side of his left wing as
left wing and left side of the fuselage under the was on the top. I then pushed over, obtained 2
cockpit, at which time the MIG broke up and left. negative G’s, and continued rolling to the left
I turned to follow him but he rolled and started untii I reached 50 feet above the ground and lost
down inverted off to my left. At this time my my attacker.
EWO, Major Graham, called another MIG at our I made a slow 360” turn back to the area,
7 o’clock coming down. I broke left into him and looking for more MIG’s and to pick up my
noted that two F-4’s were in pursuit. The MIG wingman. My wingman joined up as I completed
rolled inverted and headed for the deck; the F a ’ s my turn . . . I looked back at my 4 o’clock
followed and fired a missile. I did not see the position and saw black and gray smoke mush-
missile impact the MIG. At this time we contacted rooming up from where an aircraft had impacted
lead again but were unable to rejoin, and started to the ground. This is a point that coincided exactly
leave the area to rejoin aircraft 3 and 4. During with the direction and attitude of flight from my
egress, I observed two impact points. . .which I MIG. By this time we were all well below Bingo
assumed were downed MIG’s. fuel and there were no other aircraft, friendly or
About this time Drew and Wheeler destroyed their enemy, in the area other than aircraft 2, 3, and 4,
MIG-17 “We were warned that there were two so we initiated emergency refueling as soon as
MIG’s closing at our 7 o’clock position,” said possible and returned to base.
Wheeler. Drew describes the kill:
I turned hard into them, dived down into a Beginning in January 1968, MIG pi106 were less
valley, picked up my airspeed, and did a hard prone to flee toward China. Instead, they became

74

more aggressive and frequently returned for a sec- area diverted my attention and I lost sight of the
ond pass against American strike aircraft. The smoking aircraft. I gathered my flight together
number of their kills increased and the MIG threat and continued the egress.
became more significant. U .S. forces therefore Other pilots witnessed the impact and saw the smoke
scheduled more MIGCAP missions and, at the same trailing the falling aircraft.
time, reduced the size of strike forces to provide While Squier was firing his AIM-4, he was at-
better force protection. tacked by another MIG-17 which aimed cannon fire
The first confrontation of the new year took place at him from a range of 1,000 feet, but missed. His
on the morning of 3 January. The strike force was wingman in aircraft 2 was also fired upon by a flight
involved in a major effort and consisted of two of two MIG-l7's, but again with no damage result-
separate forces. Alpha Force aimed at the Dong Dau ing. Meanwhile, the F-4 MIGCAP flight observed
railroad bridge in the Hanoi area and was made up of the engagements and descended to get a closer look
four F-105 strike flights, two F-105 Iron Hand at what was going on. Maj. Bernard J. Bogoslofski
flights, and two F-4D MIGCAP flights. This force and Capt. Richard L. Huskey, flying lead aircraft,
was attacked by MIG-21's on its approach to the observed a MIG-17 firing on Squier's wingman and
target. Bravo Force, consisting of three F A D strike decided to get it. Bogoslofski reports the encounter:
flights, one F-4D flak suppression flight, and two
F-4D MIGCAP flights, was directed against the The MIG-17 was tracking one F-4 in a tight
Trung Quang railroad yard. It was attacked by left turn and gunfire was observed coming from
MIG-17's during withdrawal. The two forces ap- the MIG-17. I was high and 5 o'clock to the
proached from different directions and at different MIG-17 and rolled in on him from 11,OOO feet at
times, thus effectively splitting the NVN MIG an estimated 80" dive angle. I tracked the MIG-17
forces. and began firing 20-mm. The MIG-17 tightened
No USAF aircraft was damaged. Bravo force en- his left turn and I performed a vertical pirouette
gagements resulted in the destruction of two MIG- left in order to continue tracking him, using
17's, one by a strike F 4 D and the other by a high-G and at least 80" of dive angle, high angle-
MIGCAP aircrew. The strike aircraft was crewed by off. A burst of fire appeared on the MIG's left
Lt. Col. Clayton K. Squier and 1st Lt. Michael D. wing and fragmentation of the aircraft's left wing
Muldoon of the 435th TFS, 8th TFW. Squier's re- was observed as I initiated a recovery.
port describes his success: Maj. Albert S. Borchik, Jr., in aircraft 4 of
I engaged four MIG-17 aircraft in a head-on Bogoslofski's flight, and Maj. Ronald L. Markey,
pass during egress from the strike target approxi- commanding aircraft 3, saw the pilot eject and the
mately 6 miles south of Bac Giang. The MIG's MIG hit the ground.
passed within 200-300 feet of my aircraft, going Approximately 2 weeks later, on the 18th, three
the opposite direction. I chandelled in afterburner large strike forces hit targets in North Vietnam.
to the left, cooling an A I M 4 missile for the Alpha Force, scheduled against the Bac Giang ther-
reengagement. After approximately 360" of turn I mal power plant, was made up of one F-105 Iron
visually acquired two MIG-17's 3 miles ahead, in Hand flight, one F 4 D flak-suppression flight, one
trail and in a gentle left turn. I selected the trailing F 4 D strike flight, and one element of an F-4D
aircraft, tracked, closed to positively identify the MIGCAP flight; the other element aborted before
type aircraft, and launched the AIM-4. entering North Vietnam due to ECM malfunctions.
The missile tracked directly to the aft section of Alpha Force met coordinated attacks from SAM'S,
the MIG-17, impacted in a ball of fire and smoke. AAA, and MIG-l7's, and in the air-to-air engage-
The MIG immediately started a solid trail of ments the F 4 D strike flight lost aircraft 1 and 2 but
graylwhite smoke and continued in a gentle left not before the flight leader had engaged and de-
turn with no maneuvering observed. As I passed stroyed a MIG-17. Bravo Force consisted of four
to the right rear of the MIG-17 and slid to the F-105 strike flights, one F-105 Iron Hand flight,
outside of the turn. other aircraft in the immediate and one F A D MIGCAP flight. Bravo Force's target

75

was the Ha Gia railroad siding, but strong resistance saw him crash about 1 to 2 miles from the target. No
from two MIG-17’s and two MIG-2l’s, in coordi- parachutes.
nated attacks, forced the Thunderchiefs to jettison In the meantime, the lead aircraft, crewed by Maj.
ordnance 2 minutes short of the target. Charlie Kenneth A. Simonet and 1st Lt. Wayne 0. Smith,
Force, composed of one F-105 Iron Hand flight, continued in a right climbing turn and observed a
four F-105 strike flights, and two F-4D MIGCAP third MIG in the 10 o’clock position. Simonet im-
flights was assigned to deliver its ordnance on the mediately reversed left, cooled an AIMAD, and
Dap Cau railroad by pass. There were no incidents fired the missile. It went up the tailpipe of the MIG
involving this force. and exploded. The MIG caught on fire, went out of
As Alpha force approached the target, Capt. control, and crashed. No parachute was observed.
Robert L. Rutherford, flying an F 4 D in the fourth During this encounter a fourth MIG-17 pulled in
slot, observed two MIG-17’s at 1 and 2 o’clock, in a behind Simonet, firing his cannon. Simonet’s F-4
climbing left turn. The flight was then at 12,OOO-foot took hits and began trailing smoke. The MIG broke
altitude, above the MIG’s, and beginning a descent off the attack and Simonet turned to the east, at-
to the target. Rutherford released his Walleye air- tempting to withdraw. His F-4 soon showed open
to-ground missile early and started a hard right flame and he and his back-seater ejected. Their
climbing turn together with aircraft 3. The flight parachutes were observed descending to the ground.
leader and his wingman, meanwhile, continued their Although Major Simonet and Lieutenant Smith
normal descent toward’ the target, released their did not return from this mission, their commanding
ordnance, and then began a right climbing turn. By officer submitted in their behalf a claim for the
this time Rutherford saw two more MIG-17’s in trail destruction of enemy aircraft. “Post flight analysis
with the first two. and review of the mission tapes of the air battle that
Aircraft 2, the target of the second MIG element, took place,” he commented, “indicate that their
called out: “They’re shooting,” and seconds later aircraft fired a missile and destroyed a MIG-17 on
his aircraft was on fire. Other members of his flight this mission.”
The next victory came on 5 February when a
small strike force attacked a target in the Thai
Nguyen area. The U.S. Air Force lost a Thunder-
chief but downed a MIG-21. The force consisted of
one F-105 Iron Hand flight, one F-105 strike flight,
and two F 4 D MIGCAP flights. A MIG-21 downed
one of the F-105’s while the MIG pilot’s wingman
was destroyed by a MIGCAP Phantom crewed by
Capt. Robert G. Hill and 1st Lt. Bruce V. Huneke.
Inbound to the target, the strike force had received
MIG warnings: “Two blue bandits airborne, Phuc
Yen.” The warnings continued, indicating two

---
MIG-21’s headed northwest out of Phuc Yen,
apparently intent upon intercepting the approaching
strike aircraft. Hill was the first to see a MIG. His
flight leader instructed him to take the lead and go
after it. While the flight turned left to attack, the
flight members lost sight of the MIG-21, and an
F-105 was destroyed by his air-to-air missile. The
American pilot safely ejected moments before his
aircraft rolled over and disappeared into the under-
cast. Hill and his wingman were rolling out of their
A I M A E Falcon missile 360” turn at 23,000 feet when the F-105 was hit.

76

crewed by Capt. but the fourth. . MIG pilots became careless and February. Lang. The aim dot was centered.000 feet with a were in a slight climb at the time. our flight was to the rear and the MIG-21. 1. At this time. “I sighted two bogies at my 9 o’clock right side of the force. trail. the lead aircraft. No parachute was observed.2. Spencer that I had a lock-on at quired the MIG’s at approximately three miles. I did not fire because Captain Aronoff did not pended with no visible effects. It never got a high tone. I immediately attacked and positioned several missiles at the MIG. downed one “Upon ingress. When Captain Aronoff nate on the MIG-21’s aft section. second missile fired as advertised and guided to- The second AIM-7E was fired with a full system ward the MIG. thinking “it may track. The strike air- their ground control. I directed that his element fall into flight. Col. accompanied by two MIGCAP flights from February. Moss. A flight of four F-4D’s providing MIG. I advised Col. The first missile was launched with a AIM-7’s. high. Jr.” reports Boles. missile guide and just prior to impact the MIG either initiated a left turn or rocked his wings to Hill’s second Falcon hit the MIG in the tailpipe. proceeded then to the alternate CAP for a strike mission were egressing the target target: Cao Nung railroad yard.S. Kep airfield was the target for a mission on 12 At times. initially. The flight broke up coast and returned to sweep the target area. Aronoff to confirm it. The first missile did not come off. and descending turns. But I fired it. I visually ac. I attempted to fire two fire a third. One such attack occurred on 6 craft.Suddenly they saw a second MIG-21 climbing to. found the MIG-21 directly in front of their aircraft. position approximately 4. crewed by Lt.500-2. It fell straight radio that I got the MIG and asked Captain down and impacted. While and went after the MIG. At that time the flight leader such multiple MIG passes because of improved MIG called for the egress. Randy P. I then cooled an immediately answer my radio transmissions when AIM-4D. He acknowledged the American forces were often successful against MIG’s destruction. At firing. Only one flight met with any suc- Robert H. firing a missile. but enroute the primary mission was screamed down on U. and 3 each fired F-105. 77 . Although I had a myself in his 6 o’clock. making a flights escorted the withdrawing strike flight to the pass from the rear quarter.” The missile did not During the engagement. gray-white explo. Hill picks up the story: after the MIG while Captain [Joel S. cess. and was observed to deto. warnings and vectoring by the warning platforms. aircraft 31 and I stayed high.. .]Aronoff [in I sighted a MIG-21 at my 10 o’clock position.” said h n g . missile detonated at the left aft wing root section. We as we were passing through 40. The two MIGCAP area when a MIG-21 suddenly appeared. too. I held the MIG at 12 lock-on and appeared to guide. 22 miles and was maneuvering to accomplish an One MIG made a climbing turn away from the identification. The interlocks were in.W radar and fired two AIM-7E’s and attempted to feet out from his plane. while the lead MIG turned left and down. I watched the second MIG-21 on our tail. The resulting in a 40-foot diameter. I then exclaimed over the of flame. I asked if I were cleared to fire. The flight leader and his wingman went down ward them. Battista. blowing off the tail section. and we had a did not fire. The MIG then exploded in a large red fireball and the MIG exploded. Ubon’s 8th TFW. During the low.000 feet high in a shallow After several MIG ‘calls. we turned into the left turn about 75 miles east of Hanoi. aircraft 4 called a break full system lock. the MIG tried evasive appear to guide. I was line abreast. threat and engaged two MIG-21’s. the left in order to look back at our flight. two MIG-21’s. as he was breaking off from an attack on an ensuing engagement aircraft 1. The second A I M 4 D worked maneuvers which consisted mainly of climbing exactly as advertised. Three F-4 aircrews missed withdrawing for the second time. The initial engagement radar lock-on and was within delivery parameters. Alfred E. The boresight lock-on and did not appear to guide. aircraft without benefit of aborted because of adverse weather. was with the SUU-23 and 100 rounds were ex. Robert B. I then selected cleared me to fire. . The third missile o’clock. and 1st Lt. sion. each flight tracked with their missiles. Boles and 1st Lt.

but then attacked one of the had in the meantime fired two AIM-7 missiles at the trailing F-105 Iron Hand flights. one visually and observed the first missile to explode F-4D strike flight. flying in aircraft 3 strike force near Thud Ridge. tracked. range and our overtake speed. tonate on the MIG or within close proximity” and Wesley D. with “slow” CAP). In the strike Lieutenant Moss and I both tracked our missiles force were two flights of Iron Hand F-l05’s. Spencer. went through the wheel with Kimball at- tumble. the other with AIM-4 and AIM-7 missiles miles in front of the destroyed MIG. that we down spin. then observed the MIG “in an uncontrollable spin or Burgess. Two Mach. At 6 miles I identified also observed the “destruction” of the MIG-21 by the second bogey as a MIG-21 and fired two their flight leader. range of 3 miles. with the MIG-17’s flying a tion of the flight.3 were the last before a 4-year hiatus set in. The flight leader. and then entered a tumbling low Wagon-Wheel orbit and the MIG-21’s flying spin. As I closed on the bogey. I then sighted the flight was armed with AIM-7 and AIM-9 air-to-air other MIG.” He also saw the MIG roll and then go into a and fuel status. Ray M. We acquired and SUU-23 gun pods. tumbling spin.S. and both under GCI control. observed the engagement from aircraft 4. Richard W. claim submitted by Spencer and Cahill. but had to break off the attack because second F-4 flight turned to approach two MIG-21’s aircraft 4 was minimum fuel. Gerald J. Kimball 78 . northeast of Phuc Yen as the F-4 flight commenced son. The first. Cros. high altitudes. One F-4 tinued in an uncontrollable spin. Altitude was The next aerial victories for the U. lock-on from dead astern and closed to 9-10 MIG warnings proved to be excellent. Allan R. according to his account. Spencer reported that the As the strike force continued. MIG-17/MIG-21 effort. altitude. The pilot did not eject and the aircraft con. and exploded very four MIG-17’s at 11 o’clock. At this time I also cleared Col. short of the enemy aircraft. We recovered at our as the strike force was inbound to the target. Lt. avoided the F a ’ s . yawed 30-40 degrees right to the direc.000 feet over the flats Maj. row appeared “to have been further to the MIG’s He also had me recheck my armament switches rear. which had been approximately 3 missiles. to set up for a pass. were in range. one element of the F-105’s returned to guided and tracked toward the target. near the MIG’s 6 to 9 o’clock position. The aircrews of numbers 4 and 2 (Capt. approximately 60” off his firmed the kill by Lang and Moss. These two MIG-21’s with 1st Lt. Sweeny) mile intervals until I fired. and the miles. Maj. The missile Lieutenant Crosson’s report differed slightly. ’* tempting to get a MIG with an AIM-4. Lieutenant Moss said that Spencer’s first AIM-7 exploded ‘‘four ship (GIB) continually advised me of the bogey’s lengths behind the MIG” and that the second Spar- azimuth. and his wingman. a climbing spiral to the right to gain separation and Levy reported seeing Spencer’s second missile “de. take and the steering dot centered. F-4’s obtained a radar lock-on. Stuart W. nose-high spin which developed into a nose- reaffirmed that the aim dot was centered. Kelly and 1st Lt. detonating Korat while the other continued on to the target area. with a full system lock-on. Kimball.000 feet and airspeed 1. he did not get a high tone. Spencer to MIG-17’s were destroyed during a strike against fire. Cahill as the rear-seater. gagement. but denied the tail. then “pitched violently upward and fell into an un. so he did not fire.. Phuc Yen airfield on 14 February 1968. and then called out ranges at one Alexander D. All of the MIGCAP aircrews As the MIG flew through the explosion he rolled were briefed to expect the standard coordinated inverted. Jr. After a brief en- lead MIG. The home base. but the MIG’s with- drew without contact and the flight rejoined the Colonel Robert V. The MIG headed toward it. and two F-4D MIGCAP flights in the MIG’s 7-8 o’clock position and the second (one fragged as “fast” CAP and the other charged missile explode in the MIG’s 10 o’clock position. At 8 miles Lieutenant Moss flat. 600 knots over. Col. ” Wagon Wheel maneuver at 8. The MIG-17’s were performing a left-hand controlled. Air Force approximately 34. The Seventh Air Force later con- AIM-7E’s at 4% miles. Levy and 1st Lt. the F-4 flight sighted second missile guided.

The lead aircraft. rolled in behind his 3 and 4 on a trailing MIG. right target.” and he replied he was. Howerton and 1st down from approximately 24. at 2. At about the same another MIG. Feighny. in aircraft position 3. interlocks in. the other MIGCAP flight attacked these same snapping spin with no left wing. on to the MIG. and 1st Lt. Cannon hits were noted on the MIG and sile tracked perfectly and detonated near the left shortly thereafter the MIG exploded and began to side of the MIG’s fuselage.500 feet above the MIG and 0. in- selected guns and began firing the SUU-23 can. The missile appeared to guide.2 Mach. Rex D. but think. I observed Kimball’s Ridge. the fray. The mis- non.000 feet.000 feet to his 5:30 Lt. and was of a square pattern. but wasn’t sure it was the said the major. tumbling downward. The MIG went down in flames with one fire in a flat spin. It was observed the MIG start a right hand turn and dove at this moment that Maj. As I looked back. rolled back to the right. his flight left the area. USAF fighter crews. flight execute an attack on the MIG’s and then In sum. so he asked me to put the pipper on I began my attack and rolled in approximately him and he selected gyro out and relocked. all flying F 4 D 79 . at ap. I pulled up at 7. exploding in a large orange fireball. I then turned back left Within 2 or 3 minutes after this engagement be- and observed another MIG-17 in a nose-down gan. Williams reports: peared to be pieces of the tail fluttering downward On February 14. I immediately yo-yoed high and wing and the tail section separated. impact in a rice paddy close to the foot of Thud proximately 15. entered to 6 o’clock position at approximately 1.000 to 1. Kimball fired 350 rounds of 20-mm time I observed a parachute with a man hanging from a range of 2. following vectors given to the behind the MIG. Jr. The left wing MIG-17’s. Ted L. Very from it. I observed the first MIG mately 10 miles northwest of Phuc Yen. When I MIG-17’s in a left-hand orbit pattern approxi. Williams. I also observed what ap- soon downed one of them. but saw no hits. we sighted four paddy terrain northeast of a large river.. burning profusely. then rolled over to clear my tail. crewed by Col. and started to climb. I observed the MIG to be in a Kimball and Burgess then made another pass at flat spin. David was 1. range light on at approximately % mile.000 feet. Voigt 11. James P.000 feet. “Observing this. Jr.. F 4 D Fighter and Burgess dived through the MIG orbit pattern. The missile was not seen to impact or shed its empennage and burst into a bright orange destruct.500 feet behind the MIG and fired an A I M 4 D which time he verified that we were now locked missile. The MIG immediately break up. I fired one AIM-7E Sparrow ing that I might be inside minimum parameters I missile in full system lock-on. One of the MIG’s attempted to fall in I asked my rear seat pilot if he was locked on behind the number one element. The chute was bright orange and white low on fuel at this point. This MIG impacted in rice flight by surveillance agencies.

With this increasing threat and the end of bad ally retreated north of the 19th parallel after making weather. it is noteworthy that the percentage of losses to the character of the air-to-air war. and other unknown fac. but April. i. One MIG-21 March. Of being used by the NVN Air Force for MIG opera- the possible causes for American aircraft losses.Phantoms. and the southern third of 3. the only jet-capable airfields within the during January and February 1968. President Lyndon B.e. North Vietnamese prepare to launch a surface-to-air missile.S. limited operating area of American forces were not nificant factor becomes evident in these months. Yet a more sig. tune for another major American effort against Only on 23 May 1968 did any sizeable force of North Vietnam's MIG force. single firing passes. the time appeared appropriate and oppor. hit-and-run tactics but usu- 1968. But then.S. to MIG's. They con- leaped to 22 percent during the first 3 months of tinued their high-speed. for the in 1966. Johnson announced the was downed by a U. the bomb line was further tones. After 3 April 1968 MIG's was a mere 1 percent during 1965. Navy Talos missile. Air Force scored no additional aerial vic- cease. destroyed eight MIG's in aerial combat sanctuary. Some first of a series of bombing restrictions. and 8 percent during 1967.. North Vietnamese moved southward to 19". These bombing restrictions dramatically changed tors. 2. tions. SAM'S. Two days later. under radio and radar silence. on 31 MIG's venture south of the bomb line. 80 . all bombing north of 20" North latitude would the U. But this figure most part. and on 1 November in Route Packages 1. AAA. Effective 1 MIG's were lost to the Navy later in that year. permitting air strikes only MIG activity virtually ceased. After 28 September 1968. 1968 all bombing in North Vietnam was halted by Thus. 3 percent MIG's ventured south of the 19th parallel. nearly all of North Vietnam became a MIG Presidential proclamation.

81 . in flight. (Left) A single MIG with markings. (Top) North Vielnamese pilots rush for their MIG-17’s in response to ahnn that VSAF planes are in the area.