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When the Americans started to pull out of the Vietnam War in 1972. The VNAF took over the burden of helicopter troop-transportation. The ARVN soldiers who rode to the battle in VNAF choppers suddenly became the "VNAF cavaliers." Enjoy the sound track and the magnificent pictures of VNAF choppers in battle.
Added 3 photos of VNAF CHOPPERS
(Photo Courtesy of D.T.Vu & PQK)
VNAF CHOPPERS, THE LEGACY OF VALOR
My last tour in Vietnam was as an airmobile advisor to the VNAF in II Corps at Pleiku while assigned to Air Force Advisory Team 6. I found the VNAF helicopter squadrons were much criticized by the US military services, in particular, the Army. Some of the criticism was deserved, most was not.
Typical of the VNAF helicopter criticism was that which came to my attention in September 1972. The ranger border camp at Duc Co had been besieged by a reinforced two battalion NVA force for about three weeks and was in desperate need of 105mm howitzer ammunition resupply. VNAF CH-47s supported by VNAF gunships attempted to sling load munitions into the camp, but reported heavy enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire on approach to the camp. The U.S. Army colonel advisor summoned me to his office for a berating. He told me the VNAF pilots were simply "chicken" and that there was not any consequential enemy fire. I told the colonel that if he allowed his captain horseholder to accompany me, we would ride aboard the next CH-47 resupply mission to Duc Co. About a mile out from the camp, the gunships reported that we were receiving fire, but we took no hits. At about a half mile out we started to take small arms and receive 12.7mm machine gun hits with so many pings that only the 12.7mm machine-gun hits could be counted. The door-gunner took a hit in the thigh and fell onto the troop seats to be attended to by the U.S. Army ranger captain while the flight engineer sprayed his CO2 fire extinguisher into the many 12.7mm bullet holes to extinguish the electrical system fires. I took over the door gun and poured fire on the enemy troops less than 100 feet below us on short final. I recall that I could clearly see their faces and see them shooting at us while I was shooting at them. The zapping of rounds past my ears was fierce and the pinging of rounds hitting the Chinook was constant. After punching off our ammo load into the camp, the pilots wanted to make a forced landing into the mine fields surrounding the camp, but I yelled for them to climb and get out of the area. I knew we would be goners if we went down in an open mine field and preferred to take my chances in the jungle. At any rate, we made it back to Pleiku Air Base and landed on the runway. The area below the Chinook quickly became flooded with JP-4 leaking from the shot up bird. That Chinook never flew again. My last words to the Army captain were "You tell your colonel about this and if I EVER hear him say again that the VNAF pilots are 'chicken' I will take it personal." The colonel later called me to apologize.
David A. Measels (Source: VHPAMuseum)
PHAM QUANG KHIEM' S VNAF CHOPPER COLLECTION
UH-1 HUEY IN VIETNAM
The first Hueys to operate in Vietnam were medevac HU-1As that arrived in April 1962, before the United States became officially involved in the conflict. These Hueys supported the South Vietnamese Army, but American crews flew them. In October, the first armed Hueys, equipped with 2.75-inch rockets and .30 caliber machine guns, began flying in Vietnam.
The main role of these Huey 'gunships' was to escort Army and Marine transport helicopters. By the end of 1964, the Army was flying more than 300 'A and 'B model Hueys.
During the next decade, the Huey was upgraded and modified based on lessons learned in combat: Bell introduced the UH-1D and UH-1H variants.
It was in Vietnam that Army and Marine soldiers first tested the new tactics of airmobile warfare.
In a typical air assault mission, Huey helicopters inserted infantry deep in enemy territory while Huey gunships, equipped with machine guns, rockets, and grenade launchers, often escorted the transports. Within minutes, helicopters could insert entire battalions into the heart of enemy territory - this was airmobility.
The Huey became a symbol of U.S. combat forces in Vietnam and millions of people worldwide watched it fly in TV news reports. At its peak in March 1970, the U.S. military operated more than 3,900 helicopters in the war in Vietnam and two thirds of them were Hueys.
Their impact was profound, not only in the new tactics and strategies of airmobile operations, but on the survival rate of battlefield casualties. U.S. Army patients made up 390,000 of the total number of people transported by medevac helicopters in Southeast Asia. Almost a third of this total (120,000) were combat casualties. The Huey airlifted ninety percent of these casualties directly to medical facilities.
From the very beginnings and over the next decade Camp Holloway became the center of operations and headquarters to numerous Army aviation, maintenance, security, and support units which were involved in some of the Central Highlands' and Vietnam's fiercest battles.
During the course of the war, the UH-1 went through several upgrades. The UH-1A, B, and C models (short fuselage, Bell 204) and the UH-1D and H models (stretched-fuselage, Bell 205) each had improved performance and load-carrying capabilities. The UH-1B and C performed the gunship and some of the transport duties until 1967, when the new AH-1 Cobra arrived on the scene. The newer Cobra, a purpose-built attack helicopter based on the UH-1 was faster, sleeker, harder to hit, and could carry more ordnance. The increasing intensity and sophistication of NVA anti-aircraft defenses made continued use of gunships based on the UH-1 impractical, and after Vietnam the Cobra was adopted as the Army's main attack helicopter. Devotees of the UH-1 in the gunship role cite its ability to act as an impromptu dustoff if the need arose, as well as the superior observational capabilities of the larger Huey cockpit, which allowed return fire from door gunners to the rear and sides of the aircraft.
(compiled from various source)
CLICK THE LEFT THUMBNAIL PICTURE TO VIEW THE VIDEO CLIP OF "THE RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES" (a sciene of air raid by US Cavalry in the movie "Apocalypse Now").
HELICOPTER ART OF VIETNAM WAR
Most of the above art works are done by Lou Drendel and Joe Kline. Lou Drendel is a renowned aviation artist. More of his works can be seen at www.aviation-art.net.
Joe Kline was a helicopter crew chief with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1970-71. You can see more of his aviation art at www.joekline.com
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