Osprey Combat Aircraft - F Starfighter Units in Combat - dokument [*.pdf] F STARFIGHTER UNITS IN COMBAT Peter E Davies. This title covers the technical characteristics of the F Starfighter, one of the most PDF eBook (Watermarked) About F Starfighter Units in Combat. FC WINS FIGHTER WEAPONS MEET. The entire horizontal stabilizer of the FG Super Starfighter T-tail moves as a unit. There is no elevator. . configuration emphasises air-to-air combat capabilities.
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Osprey Combat Aircraft - F Starfighter Units in Combat. Home · Osprey Combat Aircraft downloads Views 4MB Size. Download PDF. These th Tactical Fighter Squadron FCLOs are loaded with The th was the first of four Starfighter units to deploy to Southeast Asia, flying from ISBN: 6 PDF e-book ISBN: e-Pub ISBN: The 'missile with a man in it' was known for its blistering speed and deadliness in air combat. The FC flew more than 14, combat hours in Vietnam as a.
The s engendered unprecedentedly rapid development and change, both in aviation technology and defence requirements. The unexpected appearance of Soviet MiG fighters in Korea in November , when the Cold War turned hot, had kick-started a surge of fighter development to restore American aerial superiority. Aircraft designers had to devise complex solutions to unforeseen military situations in record time, requiring enormous expenditure and designers with vision, daring and talent approaching genius level.
He had created the P Lightning long-range interceptor, an innovative twin-boomed aircraft with a distinguished World War 2 record. Although the Lockheed factory was already producing 28 warplanes daily, Johnson managed to assemble a team of designers and they delivered his XP prototype 37 days early.
It was the first US production jet fighter, and the first to exceed mph. At a time when the USAF was demanding heavier and more complex fighters, Johnson like his contemporary, designer Ed Heinemann with his A-4 Skyhawk aimed for light weight, small size and simplicity.
The result was a fighter with roughly three times the performance of an F Most obvious among the innovations were the unprecedentedly thin, strong tapered wings, extending only 7.
The XF missed it by one day after a year in the building process. Its temporary J65 engine installation limited maximum speed to Mach 1.
Together with the wing anhedral, the ventral fin added to production Fs decreased the positive dihedral effect of theT-tail. It also significantly improved high- Mach directional stability and provided a convenient location for the radio antenna.
The landing gear had back-up manual retraction and anti-skid brakes. Braking was assisted by an ft ring- slot parachute. Additional fuel could be carried in gallon wingtip tanks or in two underwing gallon tanks. None of the control systems required external fairings. The biconvex aerofoil had a butter- knife sharp leading edge, with a 0. The ribless wing structures were simply attached to five heavy- duty forgings that were tied into the tapered wing skins.
To prevent twisting when flying controls were operated at high speeds, and to also provide adequate strength and rigidity, the wing skins were attached to a core structure manufactured from a single slab of aluminium. Chuck Dildine and I were the rudder and elevator [control] team that landed many of the drone missions.
As safety pilot I would fly a functional test flight the day before a pilotless flight, set the QFA up for takeoff on the end of the runway, get out of the aircraft and then man the elevator position as back-up transmitter during takeoff. Then came the long wait to see what shape the QFA would be in for landing. I really loved that airplane. Only one aircraft has the usual USAF marking above its right wing, painted on to the white finish that was applied to the carefully prepared upperwing surface to ensure the smoothest possible airflow.
All but the furthest example the only one with an arresting hook later flew with the RJAF. Once again, this aircraft clearly lacks a Vulcan cannon. Fitting two wingtip tanks with gallons of fuel added to the gallons held in fuselage tanks. I recall during the checkout being sternly warned that on the takeoff roll, just before lift-off, I should grab the landing gear handle so as to yank the gear up immediately after leaving the ground so that I would not exceed the geardown limit.
It was a very fast aircraft in every flight condition. The clearance was approved, as was a high-speed pass along the runway on departure.
There were only a few seconds between transmissions. I asked the controller my ground speed and he reported something like knots. What is he flying? After several practice intercepts he finally enquired as to my fuel status, and I remember his alarm when I told him. We immediately climbed to medium altitude to return to base. As we approached the airfield I could detect that he was going to enter a normal initial approach for a routine landing.
I took exception to this and declared myself on a base turn to final approach. Later, the crew chief told me I had less than 50 gallons of JP-4 in the aircraft when I shut down. In the F that fuel would have lasted about three minutes during low-altitude operations.
On 13 August he sealed off most of the border-crossing points between East and West Berlin and constructed a wall to divide the city. Another 11 ANG squadrons were mobilised on short-notice alert to deploy as part of Operation Stair Step the codename for the rapid aerial movement of the fighters to Europe.
Among them were the three FA units, mobilised on 1 October. The Arizona pilots flew patrols towards and along the border with the Soviet bloc until August You can imagine the excitement throughout the squadron.
A few months after their arrival our unit was activated and sent to Ramstein. Many of the pilots had minimal time on the aircraft and the weather in Germany did not resemble what we were accustomed to. When we got to Spain the USAF sent over civilian employees to put the aeroplanes back together, but I insisted that our master sergeants had the last word on whether or not they were properly ready to fly. However, the presence of Starfighters was a powerful air superiority deterrent, as it had been in Taiwan.
They demonstrated very fast reaction times and stellar acceleration, which made them superior to all other available fighters in practice interceptions. Pilots adapted to the crowded European airspace environment and the weather very different from Arizona conditions , but there were mishaps. One of the effects of the small F wing was that pilots in formation had difficulty at night or in poor visibility in immediately seeing whether the lead aircraft had initiated a roll.
At close quarters this occasionally left insufficient time for avoiding action, and a solution eventually came in the form of extra formation lights. The Tennessee Guardsmen lost another jet near Wiesbaden when it exceeded pitch-up limits and began an unrecoverable flat spin, obliging Capt Pierce to eject. Even the F Sabre had two systems.
We lost two aircraft in the USA and four in Spain. His engine failed at 26, ft and he stuck with it and ejected at ft, not knowing whether the aircraft had an upward or downward-ejecting seat! Our planes were being modified at the time, and it so happened that his was the last to receive an upward-ejecting seat.
He steered it away from the Harrisburg area towards the Susquehannah River. Quickly choosing to make a water landing, McEntire did not have time to get his flaps down.
He had a full fuel load, no flaps and a high AOA. When he hit the water the aeroplane just slapped down and broke up. In Spain, one aircraft had to divert from a fog-bound runway and ran out of fuel en route to its diversionary airfield, but three were lost because of engine failure. Two were FAs and , and FB , en route to a flight safety conference at Madrid, was written off when a severe nose-wheel shimmy on takeoff threw rubber debris into the engine.
The back-seat instructor pilot sustained spinal damage that terminated his flying career. M-2 bombing computers enabled low-altitude delivery or over-theshoulder LABS toss bombing attacks, followed by a very rapid escape.
The nautical mile flight took 7 hrs 22 min, and was a first for the F This line of reasoning was not entirely objective either — there were eight pilots who took a rather subjective viewpoint of this aspect of the exercise!
Our greatest problem with the aircraft had been afterburner failures while in flight. A fix had been made, which an accelerated flight programme on selected aircraft had verified. Takeoff was on time. The weather was clear, with a last-quarter moon. This was just as well as the F accelerated rapidly on takeoff and was extremely hard to spot in the dark, which made night join-ups difficult.
In Vietnam, these aircraft would conduct similar refuelling sessions on very many occasions, and verifying the technique at this early stage was reassuring. While the FC would just wallow around before dropping off [the tanker], the FC just gave up and fell off suddenly. It did not like to go slow. The only way to get full tanks if you were carrying all four was to call for a toboggan descent when things started getting heavy.
When jet-powered KCA tankers became available they could keep pace with the fighters and make the crossing with them. On their own, Starfighters could cruise at around Mach 0. For pilots, the journey which could last more than They also knew that if their single engine failed the chances of survival in the freezing Atlantic were minimal. In order to maintain mission readiness for any likely action there was considerable air-to-air combat practice flown between the FC flights.
TAC also required the deployed squadrons to maintain currency in gunnery and ordnance delivery, so they spent time on the Zaragosa range. Pilots had been warned that their arrival might trigger a response from the East German MiGs that were based a few miles across the border from them. We were told that the Russians were threatening to shoot down some of the cargo aeroplanes that were supplying Berlin.
Capt Charles Tofferi, alternately flying FCs and , beat 14 F and FD pilots in conventional and nuclear delivery and in gunnery. Tofferi would subsequently be killed in action over Laos in October I could have gone up another 10, ft with no trouble at all, but I slowed down with a split-S manoeuvre at 63, ft and returned to base, as I was getting too far south.
We were sworn to secrecy, but were later told that the target was a U-2, probably a CIA one, and we had been sent, without partial pressure suits, to establish what it was. He was told that he could have the aeroplanes without the pilots, so they gave us the FA Delta Dagger instead. The aircraft had their JGE-3A engines replaced by the JGE models in the mids, the latter featuring an improved jet nozzle and high compression ratios.
With the JGE-3A engine the FA took up to four minutes to accelerate from high subsonic speed to Mach 2, but the improved J79, which was similar to the version used in the final production Starfighter the FS and also the F-4E Phantom II, halved that time in a quarter of the distance This th FIS FALO has its hydraulic service panel lowered, allowing easy access to the two hydraulic systems.
Behind this an arresting hook was later installed, for the first time in a Century Series fighter. The hook was a last resort in an emergency landing since the ft diameter braking parachute was the usual method employed for slowing the aircraft down, reducing the landing roll by about 15 per cent.
The brake-chute induced a slight nosedown attitude so the pilot had to wait until all three wheels were on the runway before pulling the dragchute control. Wearing partial pressure suits, pilots flew practice interceptions of U-2s above 60, ft, meeting their targets at around Mach 1. The aircraft also had their M61 guns re-installed and received an upgraded cockpit pressurisation system.
Realising that subsonic turning fights were to be avoided, the F pilots relied on sustained high speed and use of the vertical dimension wherever possible. This approach required a training programme that qualified all new pilots as flight leaders. For Starfighter pilots over Florida it proved to be a successful way of defeating missile-armed FAs. Pilots also became very proficient in aerial gunnery through the use of towed dart targets, with good scores at ranges of up to ft being attained.
The th TFW pilots arrived in style, flying a series of formation passes over the base, but the squadron commander, the colourful Lt Col George Laven, making the first landing, blew both main landing gear tyres, as did the other members of the flight!
George Wells, arriving with the th TFS noticed his oil pressure warning light glowing red as he approached Key West. If that happened, both the aeroplane and I would stop flying very shortly thereafter. I informed the tower that I had an emergency and flew a wide traffic pattern at low power so that if my engine quit I would still have enough altitude to make it to the runway without assistance from the engine.
This type of approach is flown at a considerably increased speed and a reduced degree of extended flaps. The runway at Boca Chica was a bit of a challenge since it was only ft long. My engine continued to operate and I landed my aeroplane right where it should have been on the runway.
Crusader pilots escorting RF-8A reconnaissance flights over northern Cuba were often practice-intercepted by Fs as they returned to US airspace. The Vulcan weapon was bore-sighted using a Weaver scope, mounted on the firing mechanism. Both the loader and ammunition were delivered to the aircraft aboard an F2A trailer, which was also used to transport preloaded ammunition boxes to laterserial Fs. One F would pass about ft from the suspect aircraft to identify it and be ready to return for an attack if necessary.
It fought in afterburner, which was smokeless, making the jet very hard to spot. Capt Delashaw and other George AFB pilots would find this experience valuable when they deployed to Vietnam a few years later. During the Cuba affair the Fs were selected partly because, in addition to Il bombers and numerous nuclear-tipped missiles, Soviet MiGs had been sighted on the island.
From more than tactical fighter and fighter-bomber aircraft poised to defend the southern areas of the USA, including F Thunderchiefs and F-4 Phantom IIs, the F was thought most capable of meeting and defeating these opponents. The F was very fast — we could accelerate above the speed of sound in an incredibly short time, so perhaps we could be of assistance if we were needed. I did make a couple of turns at about 15, ft over Havana on one flight, but stopped doing so when we were informed that anti-aircraft guns were being installed on the roofs of hotels and other tall buildings.
We literally jumped into our flying suits and ran out of our rooms, still zipping up the zippers. We were greeted by about a dozen reporters taking our pictures as rapidly as they could.
I guess the operation was not as big a secret as we had imagined. I rolled out of my vehicle and almost fell on the ramp as I scrambled for the ladder up to the cockpit. My crew chief was already there with the auxiliary power unit fired up. I transmitted on the designated frequency that I was ready to go. I could not comprehend the enormity and the implications of what might happen, but I was mentally prepared to charge ahead into whatever the day had in store for me.
After about 15 minutes we were informed over the radio that the operation had been cancelled. No matter how willing and even somewhat eager I was to launch my aeroplane into an unknown possible nuclear confrontation, I was equally relieved when I was informed that it was not going to happen, at least at that time.
However, the th pilots remained at Key West until 8 December, completing a day deployment. I would hear many stories of how political influence and other extraordinary efforts were used to get the assignment.
As I taxied out on my first solo flight, I did not experience the usual feeling of apprehension. Instead, it seemed that this airplane was built specifically for me. I felt totally comfortable and I had not even arrived at the takeoff end of the runway yet. I found that its flying characteristics and performance were far superior to the F The F was really fun to fly, and it was just about the fastest thing in the air back in the early s.
My instructor, Ray Krasovitch, who was one of the best F pilots, in my estimation, in the world, explained the techniques to shoot holes in the dart and how the radar worked. The radar in my aeroplane did work, which was pretty rare I was told.
Since the gun was certified to be accurate at ft I could start shooting any time I had my sight lined up properly on the target. The thought crossed my mind that I should wait until I was a little closer to the target, but since every parameter had been met I elected to hose off a few rounds just to get a little practice in pulling the trigger on the control stick. To my great surprise I not only scored hits on the dart but completely destroyed it.
The honeycomb structure was covered with an aluminium coating, and the dart formed a sparkling, glittering cloud in the bright sunshine as it descended to the desert below.
The pilots were required to fire at the target, which was flying steadily at around ft to make it more visible to the ground-based movie cameras. F Thunderchiefs were sent to Thailand from mid, and when Operation Rolling Thunder began in March two F wings were involved in attacks on North Vietnam.
Starfighters had been deployed to Florida, Taiwan and Europe for similar reasons, and Vietnam also seemed to require the same undisputed air superiority capability to keep MiGs at bay. He had to organise tankers for 18 fighters on one of the longest over-water flights ever made by TAC aircraft, via Hickam AFB, Hawaii, with seven in-flight refuelling hook-ups.
Four aircraft had to abort en route with mechanical problems. Once in Taiwan following the four-day transit, the squadron awaited further orders. TAC units had to be capable of deploying rapidly to trouble spots across the globe.
He also logged 20 missions escorting EB Destroyer electronic intelligence aircraft over the North and witnessed his first SAM launch when one was shot down by an SA The VNAF bombs fell in the town, missing their objective, leaving the FCs, led by Lt Col Howard Dale, with the task of destroying the target with a series of direct hits in dives from 14, ft.
Although three FA Delta Daggers were destroyed by sappers throwing hand grenades into their open cockpits and firing guns up their tailpipes on 1 July , the FCs all escaped harm. However, a few days after its arrival the squadron sustained its first hits by ground fire when an FC returned from a strike with substantial wing damage. Originally a US Navy aircraft, the EC was designed to protect the fleet by detecting airborne intruders over the sea. It had difficulty, therefore, in achieving clear radar imagery over land due to terrain interference, particularly over mountainous North Vietnam.
Flying at low altitude also helped to protect the vulnerable ECs from detection by enemy radars. Flying at low altitudes in poor weather or at night was difficult enough for the Big Eye crews, operating at speeds below mph.
Close escort by considerably faster FCs was clearly impossible, so separate barrier combat air patrol BARCAP orbits by up to three flights of Starfighters and their KCA tankers at altitudes of between 15, ft and 20, ft were established to keep MiGs away from the two Big Eye patrol tracks.
Ethan Alpha Track was flown by one ECD at low altitude, close to the coast, while the Ethan Bravo Track — some 50 to 60 miles long, and at an altitude of 10, ft — was serviced by the second aircraft also acting as an airborne spare and providing radar cover for the Alpha aeroplane further out to sea. The Bravo track was replaced in October by an Ethan Charlie orbit over Laos, which, from August , had the secondary purpose of identifying US pilots who pursued MiGs across the Chinese border.
Usually four FCs covered each ECD, with a third flight cycling to a tanker before moving in to replace the flight escorting the Bravo Track fighters, which would in turn move to replace the Alpha Track escort flight, freeing them up to refuel. Each mission therefore required 12 FCs and two tankers, increasing to four tankers when the Starfighters were later supplemented by thirstier F-4C Phantom IIs.
Starfighter cover occasionally had to be reduced to two-aircraft flights if insufficient jets were available. The patrol areas were divided into a grid of ten nautical mile squares, and each was allocated a two-letter code, while MiGs had a colour code — blue for MiGs, red for MiGs and white for MiGs. However, because MiG pilots did not anticipate being vectored into engagements with Fs, they had no specific training in air-to-air strategies for use against them. Protection of the vulnerable Big Eye was seen from the outset as vital, and most strike missions were cancelled if the FC escort was unavailable, or curtailed if the fighters had to abort their BARCAP.
Twenty-four others followed in the 13, combat missions flown by Big Eye crews, and the FC pilots could legitimately claim a share of those successes. On one occasion George Wells was leading an escort flight when the EC crew announced that they had picked up a potential enemy interceptor heading their way from Hainan. Wells and his wingman initiated a sharp turn into the bogie, which promptly headed back in the direction of the island.
The Fs returned to their patrol station, only to be told a short while later that the bogie had resumed its course towards them. I knew that I should be able to pick the target up visually very soon at this range. I was probably running pretty high on adrenaline as all the training and fighter experience that I had accumulated over the years was hopefully going to be put to use by shooting down a MiG.
At about a mile or two from the Chinese shoreline I executed a 6g turn in the opposite direction. My almost instantaneous reaction was a result of the realisation that this was very likely a Chinese MiG, and it would be prudent not to fly over Chinese mainland territory and shoot down one of their aeroplanes.
I reported this incident to Intelligence after I landed at Da Nang and never heard a word about it from my superiors. I guess we accomplished our mission, for the EC did not get shot down.
All were hit by AAA, which was by far the most common cause of F losses in the conflict. As MiGCAPs were usually positioned near MiG bases to block their access to the strikers, the FCs or F-4Cs were consequently at some distance from the incoming Fs when enemy jets attacked from other directions, delaying their intervention.
There were also frequent, distracting communications problems between flights or the ship-borne Red Crown or ECD radar controllers, often as a result of over-loaded radio channels. Enemy aircraft flying above ft could be plotted by Big Eye ECDs for the benefit of American aircrew in the area, but their altitudes could not be established.
Flight surgeons were often carried to deal with cases of heat exhaustion. The fact not a single aircraft fell victim to VPAF fighters whilst orbiting just off the enemy coastline proves just how effective Starfighter and later F-4 Phantom II units were in protecting them on sorties that could last for up to 17 hours. They had a shorter distance to fly to the area than we did. The two elements of the FC flight were about 1.
I called this out to Maj Irwin and he responded that he had the bogie in sight. We all armed our guns and watched intently as the black dot developed into the form of an aeroplane.
As we lit our afterburners and started a hard left turn towards the MiG he jettisoned all his fuel tanks. They were spinning and oscillating with raw fuel misting up the area around them. There was so much distance between us when we completed the turn that none of us could locate him.
It became clear that the flight had been seen to exceed the western limits of its designated patrol orbit while dealing with the MiG. According to the storytellers, this was because the F-4 Phantom II was replacing the F, and an effort was being made to prove what a superior aeroplane it was thanks to its advanced radar and missile system. It would not have looked good if an old aeroplane such as the F was shown to be just as effective in combat as the latest technology.
Our job was to clear the area, keep him in sight and deter any airborne threats. Operating the gun required at least 96 per cent of engine power to provide enough electrical power to fire it. Bullet cases were retained to avoid airframe or engine damage but links were ejected downwards.
The gun took 0. To prevent jamming, dud rounds were ejected automatically. GCI confirmed them as bandits and I turned towards them.
At about five miles off the Hainan coast they reversed course to remain over land. I read this as trying to drag us over their territory so that their AAA could shoot at us. No thanks! We turned back to Silver Dawn. As predicted, the MiGs also turned back towards us, so back we went — with the same results. Obviously if they had wanted to engage us they would never have attacked while leaving contrails. With our last turn back towards Silver Dawn our cat and mouse game ended.
Besides, they were probably at bingo fuel after climbing that high.
Unfortunately, this was the only MiG sighting I made in combat missions, of which were over North Vietnam. No runs, no hits, no errors and Silver Dawn remained safe, so I guess our mission was a success.
We would be sent up North to act as clay pigeons on missions that rarely had any effect on the outcome of the war, and then when we would debrief we would again be threatened with court-martial if we took any initiative of our own. We could have sawn them in half with our 20 mm guns, but sinking them was prohibited. In fact, the troops were South Vietnamese operating American equipment within their own borders.
The survivors reported that they had been attacked by MiGs, but examination of 20 mm rounds at the site incriminated the FC crews, who all left the USAF shortly thereafter.
F utilisation had been intense, and the ten aircraft retained at Kung Kuan were frequently rotated to Da Nang to replace jets needing deep maintenance. One aircraft was lost when Capt Richard Cole had to eject from FC during a 29 June CAS sortie after his hydraulic systems ran down and control of the aircraft became impossible.
Recovered by helicopter near Tri Dao, Cole later took part in a SAM site attack, hitting it with M bombs and 20 mm fire after Fs had launched 2. FCs could reach targets nautical miles from Da Nang in around 30 minutes from takeoff. Their two M bombs were often delivered separately for greater accuracy, and BLU-1 napalm canisters were sometimes loaded for CAS sorties.
An alternative pylon load included BLU-1 napalm canisters. Finned napalm could be dropped from a degree dive for greater accuracy, whereas un-finned canisters usually required a lowaltitude, level drop. They also ran the gauntlet of ever-increasing AAA in virtually all the areas of Vietnam where the missions were scheduled. He joined up with us over Chu Lai as No 2. After two successful passes that cleaned off the external ordnance, we made our first strafing pass.
I immediately went into afterburner and quickly joined on his left wing. I reported that when the flap separated it had hit the upper fuselage and torn off some aluminium skin, leaving a gash above the engine. Roy reported that he had lost oil pressure. Now we had a serious problem so we turned towards Chu Lai, about 20 miles away.
I stayed on his wing in a close chase position so I could watch the approach better, since it would be a left turn to land on the newly constructed pierced steel planking runway at the austere Marine base that had not long been operational. I maintained my position, which was about one wingspan separation off his right side.
It looked like a normal approach, but I became concerned that he had not lowered his landing gear. I told him so, thinking he was concentrating on making the landing under emergency conditions. There was no response and we were getting close to the runway. Unfortunately the bomb pylons were what touched the steel planking, causing him to swerve to the left. He went off the runway and ploughed into a small hill of sand.
The aeroplane exploded into a fireball. I executed my go-around from about ten feet above the right side of the runway with a sick feeling permeating through my body. I knew immediately that I had lost my flight commander and a good friend with whom I had flown many times. He was awarded the DFC posthumously for attempting to recover the aircraft rather than ejecting and risking casualties on the ground.
We spotted them and their VC attackers and rolled in on them. The wing also flew pairs of FCs over North Vietnam as weather reconnaissance aircraft. He replaced Capt Harvey E Quackenbush, whose Starfighter had aborted ten minutes into the flight to the escort orbit area with a damaged in-flight refuelling probe that prevented him from taking fuel from a KCA.
On this, his 80th combat mission, Smith was driven to his aircraft by his squadron commander, who told him to be sure to stay away from Hainan Island. He picked up his tanker at a range of 17 miles on an unusually efficient radar set and refuelled over the Gulf of Tonkin alongside the deputy flight leader, R E Smith. Flight leader Ken Kerwin, with Don Madonna, were meanwhile holding the fort on the patrol orbit.
Kerwin then ordered Capt P E Smith to meet them, leaving R E Smith to protect the tanker so that the flight could resume its original refuelling sequence. Calculating that he was about to approach Hainan at around knots, he turned south and detected another aircraft, high and behind him. Smith reported this to Panama and turned to face the unidentified aircraft.
After a short pursuit at knots he had to abandon the chase as he was nearing China again, although solid cloud cover prevented him from seeing sea or terrain. Panama made repeated attempts to find him on radar, but Smith then discovered that both his heading indicator and standby compass were inoperative. A request to the tanker for a fix on his position produced inconclusive results. Desperate to establish some idea of his position Smith was reduced to using a pencil as a rudimentary sundial, but with the mid-day sun directly overhead even that was useless.
He spied a coastline through a gap in the cloud base and descended to ft to investigate but nothing looked familiar. His right arm was also struk by 37 mm bullet fragments. They had dived at Smith from the clouds above him and fatally damaged his FC with gunfire at close quarters. Many warning lights appeared in the cockpit, but Smith also saw a fleeting hope of retaliation as the leading MiG passed ahead of him with its afterburners blazing. He focused on gaining enough speed to get behind the MiG, but his engine stalled.
As he re-started it he also heard the growl of the remaining AIM-9B, indicating that it had acquired the target. Smith began a turn behind the MiG to launch the missile but at that moment his control column suddenly failed to respond. Both of his hydraulic systems had been knocked out. With his aircraft in a steep dive towards the sea several miles off the coast, Smith ejected close to a Chinese fishing fleet.
He was immediately captured and spent seven-and-a-half years in a Peking prison, mostly in solitary confinement, as the only USAF pilot known to have been incarcerated in China after the only air-to-air shoot-down of an F during the Vietnam War. This shoot-down resulted indirectly in the loss of two more th TFS aircraft. Extra markings were usually limited to squadron colours on external fuel tanks.
The squadron had flown exclusively in daylight until then, and these lighting systems had not been required or prioritised in maintenance routines. Unable to see his instruments for landing, Carlson had to follow Quackenbush for a formation landing. As they began a left turn on approach Carlson lost sight of his leader in thick cloud and requested a burst of afterburner flame to locate the other FC.
Seconds later the two FCs and collided and both pilots ejected as their aircraft disintegrated, landing close to each other in the sea just off Da Nang. Udorn was the most northerly Thai base, placing it closer to northern Laos and North Vietnam and reducing the tanking requirement for FCs. The F-4C pilots would then attempt a long-range Sparrow launch and the FCs could then return for a Sidewinder or gun attack from the rear quarter.
In practice, no MiGs put themselves in a position to be attacked in this way. I had visited Korat and Takhli F bases to discuss tactics with the Weasels, and I expressed my concern at their having the most dangerous mission in the war.
We had great respect for each other. No 2 [in ] was Capt Jack Kwortnik on about his fifth mission.
Understandably, he was a little apprehensive, and came to my room the night before the mission to talk tactics, specifically about SA-2s. He knew this was my second tour, and that I had come to Udorn with the advanced party, flying up North for two months before Jack and the rest of the squadron arrived in-theatre. I told him everything I had experienced, missiles that I had seen and what worked to evade them. The only problem was that this exposed us to almost every gun and SA-2 in the area.
Also, there was not a lot of manoeuvring space below us. Almost immediately the Weasels received enemy radar activity. We were in an easy right turn eastwards when they got a SAM launch signal. We were in a left-hand fingertip formation — each aircraft about ft from an element leader, with me as No 4 on the left — about ft above a horseshoe-shaped valley surrounded by mountains, opening towards Hanoi.
The Weasels were about ft ahead of us. That is exactly where the SAM came from. It appeared to be tracking on Jack on the right of the formation, not on the Weasels. I did not feel threatened, but did not know how many more had been fired. This alarmed me immediately because, with the turn rate of the F, I thought we were too close to the ground for this to be a safe manoeuvre.
A fireball began to expand outwards and Jack ejected through it. However, he separated from the seat and the parachute opened automatically.
In my turn I saw one more SAM pass pretty close to my right, but it did not detonate and was past me in a flash. Jack was getting close to the ground, but he never waved or deployed his survival kit. It probably came from the same site that got Jack. Both pilots were comparatively new to the F, joining the squadron at a time when many experienced TAC pilots had completed their tours and were being replaced by aircrew from various backgrounds, including bomber and transport units.
On one occasion two pilots fresh from conversion courses after C Hercules tours were sent on FC missions over North Vietnam the day after they had arrived in Southeast Asia! MiG sightings were actually very rare. The FC escort, at ft and knots, was heading in the opposite direction and stayed with its FF charges. Without precision bombing gear in such a high-threat environment the FCs were clearly at a disadvantage.
Mainly, it was obvious that they required ECM protection if they were to continue operations over North Vietnam, or areas where radar-directed AAA might be encountered. Installation required a blade fairing beneath the radome and two fairings just ahead of the engine tailpipe, housing four spiral antennae in total. For Wild Weasel escort the FC demonstrated a range 1.
Warnings were shown by a strobe whose length indicated the strength of the hostile signal and a series of rings measuring the distance from the threat. This ECM fit, with associated electronics added ahead of the cockpit instrument panel, was installed in all Udorn-based FCs towards the end of , but it was only a partial solution. In combat, the addition of aural warnings and lights to the already-crowded background of radio traffic, warnings from airborne and naval radar patrol sources and emergency calls on the radio Guard channel merely overloaded the pilots.
They tended to ignore or switch off the ECM and RHAW radar-homing and warning signals and focus on more relevant radio warnings from other pilots who could see the imminent threats from missiles, MiGs and guns. The only real chance the pilot had of avoiding being hit by an SA-2 was to see it in time to perform the hazardous last-second dive and turn needed to out-manoeuvre the missile. In any case, the RHAW was itself susceptible to many irrelevant transmissions that merely created distracting false alarms.
It was far less effective on a single aircraft and, in any case, the pods were scarce, with F units taking precedence in the supply chain. Escort missions over the North continued into the summer of Apparently, the Starfighters did not receive the call and their CAP orbit placed them too far north of the target area to see the MiGs, whose controller had clearly vectored his interceptors past the MiGCAP for a clear shot at the Fs. A representative from the 12th went to Udorn to get briefings on the mission, whose primary aim was to counter potential MiG attacks on support aircraft codenamed Silver Dawn and Big Eye flying off the North Vietnamese coast east of Haiphong Harbour.
These were Route Pack VI missions. The FC survived for only ten miles and Schmidt had to eject over coastal flatlands south of Dong Hoi. Capt Alston was presented with a commemorative plaque by Lockheed test pilot Tony Le Vier, the first person to fly the F A State Department recommendation that the unit should receive an award for this achievement was not acted upon by Seventh Air Force commander Gen William Momyer, however, and the statistics were then logged incorrectly in official records as figures for the entire tour.
Pilots had gained a reputation for considerable accuracy with their limited ordnance loads at a time when the USAF tended to assess fighters by their ordnance-carrying capacity.
Tofferi broke left and Lockard swung away to the right as his engine power dropped to 80 per cent — insufficient for continued flight. Lockard landed intact in tall bamboo and he was soon recovered by a HH-3 Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter.
Generally, we never reported to Brigham control [management centre for air strikes] that we had performed this mission on our own as they would most likely have forwarded this information to the 8th TFW or Seventh Air Force HQ.
They found what they were looking for and made a low pass to check it out. This brought ground fire from the vehicles. The procedure we used to deal with such a situation called for one aircraft to attack the lead vehicle and the other to attack the rear truck, hopefully blocking in the remaining vehicles.
When they returned to Udorn and reported the incident, word reached HQ in Saigon. After that, all ammunition had to be removed from the aircraft for test flights. One aircraft completed Availability was also excellent. Some Starfighter pilots looked forward to a belated chance of showing their prowess against MiGs in the main MiG interception wave, but the overall fighter force was also required to cover all MiG airfields and possible escape routes to China. The Fs were therefore given their usual CAP role, although their radar cross section was actually more like that of a Thunderchief, and could have helped with the deception if they had flown in the Ftype pod formations used by the F-4Cs carrying QRC ECM stores to simulate Fs.
The shortage of ECM pods ruled this out, however. The aircraft were configured with underwing drop tanks and wingtip Sidewinders. Heavy cloud cover rising to ft and a slow response by the VPAF reduced the possibilities for air-to-air successes. Four of the MiGs that attempted to intercept the force were able to escape into the undercast. Thick cloud covered this area, which was known to be populated with SAM sites and frequented by MiGs. Arriving on station, the aircraft divided into pairs, orbiting at ft for around 45 minutes until they were released for the homeward journey after a disappointing wait for some action.
Only one MiG had approached them, turning away at four miles range when the CAP aircraft turned to intercept it. I often wondered why it took so long! It was scheduled for 1 January but the weather was really bad, so it was re-scheduled for the next day.
We were first advised of the mission, which was to provide top cover for the F-4Cs, that morning. Only high-time F pilots were assigned to this operation, and I was one of the 12 to go. When we crossed into Laos, Preciado had a navigation problem so Gaines took the lead. The weather was not the greatest, with visibility of one to two miles and cloud up to ft. Indeed, West endured a sequence of mishaps that he was lucky to survive.
He was obliged to eject as the F descended to ft around 25 miles offshore. Disentangling himself from his parachute meant swallowing a lot of Tonkin water. A ship passed quite close to him, but he could not contact it on his RT radio, and then the radio was lost in a heavy wave while he tried to get hold of a flare — which did not ignite.
After several close passes a rescue helicopter located him visually, although the cloud ceiling was at 50 ft and visibility was restricted to ft. He returned to Udorn uninjured. Missions of three hours plus were tough on the rump! We were manoeuvring around a tanker.
As I looked back, in front of me an F passed head-on not more than 20 ft below me. It was not directed to get into combat. It was directed to stay high and provide protection. The people who flew it over there thought very highly of it, but there were many pressures to get a new aeroplane going in the US — the F in particular. They were often loaded with an extra pair of AIM-9Bs on the centreline fuselage rack, as well as underwing fuel tanks and wingtip missiles.
Removing the gun had enabled an optional gallon fuel tank to be installed. Two FBs and were also supplied. One FA was lost on 13 November when Flg Off Asghar Shah entered a spin during air-to-air training and had to eject at high speed. Both jets were replaced under MAP, by and Gunnery comprised a major part of the training, including air-to-air practice against dart and banner targets.
Dissimilar air combat training DACT against FFs was also included in a programme, which emphasised low and high altitude interception. It gave the IAF a fighter with similar performance and ground-attack capability to the FA, although the squadron was still completing training and had just eight serviceable aircraft at the outbreak of war, so its role in that conflict was only small.
In training, MiG pilots of No 28 Sqn concentrated on the high-altitude interception for which the aircraft was conceived, rather than the low and medium altitude dogfighting that they would later encounter. PAF Starfighters initially saw action during the fighting over the Rann of Kutch, a mineral-rich area of India bordering Pakistan which Pakistani forces entered in March An IAF Canberra PR 57 on a reconnaissance mission was intercepted and followed for ten minutes, but the Starfighter pilot was told not to shoot at it.
The pilot, Flt Lt Tariq Masood, was killed. This political initiative helped Pakistan in negotiating for supersonic Fs rather than the essentially subsonic F Super Sabres that the USA had preferred to supply.
Pakistan had incomplete early warning radar coverage, as there were only two main radar installations, one at Badin in the southeast of western Pakistan and a second atop Sakesar Peak — from here, a General Electric FPS-6 gave operators a good view across many IAF airfields.