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(Added 7 photos) VNAF DOUGLAS C-47
VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47
VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47
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VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47 VNAF C-47

       Few aircraft are as well known or were so widely used for so long as the C-47, or "Gooney Bird" as it was affectionately nicknamed. The aircraft was adapted from the DC-3 commercial airliner that appeared in 1936. The first C-47s were ordered in 1940 and by the end of World War II, 9,348 had been procured for USAAF use. They carried personnel and cargo, and in a combat role, towed troop-carrying gliders and dropped paratroops into enemy territory.

After WWII, many C-47s remained in USAF service, participating in the Berlin Airlift and other peacetime activities. During the Korean War, C-47s hauled supplies, dropped paratroops, evacuated wounded and dropped flares for night bombing attacks. In Vietnam, the C-47 served again as a transport, but it was also used in a variety of other ways which included flying ground attack (gunship), reconnaissance and psychological warfare missions.

The C-47D on display, the last C-47 in routine USAF use, was flown to the museum in 1975. It is displayed as a C-47A of the 88th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group, which participated in the invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

GUN SHIP

      On Dec. 15, 1964, an entirely new weapons system was introduced into combat in Vietnam. The first AC-47 gunship took to the air from Bien Hoa Air Base carrying an armament of three 7.62mm General Electric SUU-11A miniguns, each capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute. The "Spooky" was an instant success in breaking up enemy attacks on hamlets and other defensive positions, and within a year substantial numbers of rehabilitated "Gooney Birds" were in action throughout the combat area.

In September 1967, the USAF's prototype AC-130A gunship was sent to South Vietnam for combat tests; however, its commercially-built fire control computer failed almost immediately so an urgent telegram was sent to the United States for a replacement. It was needed for installation in the AC-130A at Okinawa within 10 days.

DOUGLAS AC-47D "SPOOKY & HOA LONG"

      The AC-47D combat test program was very successful and the Air Force created the 4th Air Commando Squadron in August 1965 as the first operational unit equipped with the "Spooky" gunship. Although the 4th ACS was based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, it operated several forward operating locations throughout South Vietnam (Bien Hoa, Pleiku, Na Trang, Da Nang and Can Tho). In November 1965, the 4th ACS was assigned 16 operational aircraft with four more assigned as "advanced attrition" aircraft. Because of a shortage of SUU-11A gun pods, the AC-47Ds were fitted with only two miniguns rather than three. A few aircraft were temporarily fitted with 8 or 10 .30-cal. M2 machine guns, but all were later refitted with miniguns. By early 1966, production of the minigun increased so each of the 16 AC-47Ds was equipped with all three guns.

With the success of the AC-47 gunship, two more squadrons were created: the 3rd and 5th ACS, all under the 14th Air Commando Wing. In August 1968, the unit designations were changed from Air Commando to Special Operations.

The USAF converted 53 C-47s for use as gunships during the Vietnam War. Although the AC-47 was an effective attack system, it was also vulnerable to enemy fire. Fifteen aircraft were lost between Dec. 17, 1965, when the first AC-47 was lost due to ground fire and Sept. 5, 1969, when an VNAF AC-47D crashed due to pilot error. In 1969 the USAF turned over its AC-47Ds to the VNAF under the "Vietnamization" program.

The lessons learned with the AC-47D Gunship I program were used to design an improved version in the Gunship II program using the Lockheed C-130 as the base platform. Later, the Gunship III program converted Fairchild C-119s into side-firing gunships.
(Source: U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet)

DOUGLAS C-47

SPECIFICATIONS :

•Span: 95 ft.
•Length: 64 ft. 5 in.
•Height: 16 ft. 11 in.
•Weight: 33,000 lbs. loaded
•Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830s of 1,200 hp each
•Armament: Three SUU-11A 7.62mm miniguns firing at up to 6,000 rpm. The AC-47D typically carried about 16,500 rounds of ammunition. Note: Three aircraft initially equipped with 8 or 10 .30-cal. machine guns and others had just two SUU-11A miniguns (due to lack of availability from the manufacturer). Later, the SUU-11As were replaced by specially designed General Electric MXU-470/A 7.62mm miniguns. 48 MK-24 Mod 3 flares with 2 million candlepower and a 3-minute maximum burn duration. Note: Initially (in 1964 and early 1965) 30 MK-6 flares of 750,000 candlepower were carried before the MK-24 flares were available. Later in the war, several replacements for the MK-24 flares were proposed including the MK-33 one million candlepower rocket and MLU-32/B99 "Briteye" 5 million candlepower flare

PERFORMANCE:

•Maximum speed: 232 mph
•Cruising speed: 175 mph
•Attack speed: 120 knots
•Range: 1,513 miles
•Service ceiling: 24,450 ft.



VNAF B-57 CANBERRA
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US B-57 CANBERRA

B-57 Crash, Downtown Nha Trang

      The B57 Canberra was a light tactical bomber that first arrived in Southeast Asia in 1964. As a veteran of operations Rolling Thunder in North Vietnam and Steel Tiger in Laos, it played an important roll in interdicting communist supplies moving along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Some of the B57's from the 13th Bomb Squadron located at DaNang and the 8th Tactical Bomb Squadron at Phan Rang, South Vietnam had also been equipped with infrared sensors for night strike operations in Tropic Moon II and III in the spring of 1967.

On August 6, 1965, a US Air Force B-57 Canberra bomber crashed in downtown Nha Trang. Jester took a number of photos of the damage done, and the cleanup.
© 2007, Robert D. Jester, MSG/E8, US Army Ret

VNAF B-57 PROGRAM

       In 1964, the United States secretly agreed to supply a few B-57Bs to the Vietnamese Air Force. The United States had initially been reluctant to equip the Vietnamese Air Force with jet aircraft, since this would be a technical violation of the Geneva Accords and might further escalate the war. However, the US had already equipped other friendly nations in the region with jet aircraft, and pressure from Saigon coupled with a need to boost the sagging morale of the South Vietnamese people, led to a change of heart.

On August 1, 1965, the blanket of secrecy was removed and an announcement was made that four B-57 bombers would be provided to the Vietnam Air Force. Four B-57Bs, painted in VNAF insignia, flew past during a formal presentation ceremony held on August 9.

Shortly after the presentation ceremony, a new transition and training program for Vietnamese Air force pilots was started at Clark AB, operating more openly than the first. Two Philippine Air Force navigators were included in the program. The reason for this was strictly political, since this program was officially sponsored by the US State Department and in order for the Philippine government to allow VNAF personnel into their country, they required that two PAF navigators participate in the program. The new program began on September 20. Each pilot was to receive 70 hours in the airplane with no less than 40 training sorties. Navigator training began on October 11.

As the crews completed their training, they went to Da Nang and flew combat missions with the USAF 8th or 13th Bomb Squadrons, whichever happened to be on station at the time. To gain combat experience, each new crewmember flew with an American pilot or navigator, whichever the case may be. Eventually, the VNAF crew members flew in VNAF-marked B-57s, but their combat missions always remained strictly under USAF operational control.

The Vietnamese government felt at this stage that the VNAF B-57 program should be given some more visibility, and to celebrate Vietnamese Armed Forces Day, on October 29, 1965, five B-57s from the 8th Bomb Squadron, then based at Da Nang, were repainted with VNAF insignia and carried out an air strike against a suspected VC stronghold and landed Tan Son Nhut. After landing, the planes took off again and joined other VNAF aircraft in a formation flyover of Saigon. Although manned solely by American crews, this attack was heralded as the introduction of VNAF B-57s into combat.

Nguyen Ngoc Bien At this stage, the Vietnamese B-57 training program at Clark began to run into serious morale problems. Vietnamese crews suddenly began to complain of various illnesses, which grounded many trainees and brought their training to a standstill. In addition, on January 8, 1966 a B-57 was destroyed in a training accident, further lowering morale. Some Vietnamese crews flatly stated that they could not physically perform the maneuvers required in the B-57. To make matters even worse, Major Nguyen Ngoc Bien (see photo on the left), the leader of the VNAF B-57 program, was killed in a freak ground accident on February 23, 1966 at Da Nang. (It is not exactly certain if this accident took place at Clark Or at Da Nang--the sources differ). The death of Major Bien, who was well-liked and well-respected by both Vietnamese and Americans, resulted in a complete loss of any incentive for the Vietnamese crewmen to stay with the B-57, and from this point on there was very little Vietnamese activity in the B-57 program. On April 20, 1967, the VNAF B-57 operation was formally terminated.
(Sources: Martin B-57)



VNAF FAIRCHILD C-123 PROVIDER

VNAF C-123 PRESERVED

VNAF C-123

The aircraft on the left (click to see larger image) entered service in 1957 as a C-123B. In 1961-1972, it served in Vietnam – first as a UC-123B, then as a UC-123K – flying low-level defoliant and insecticide spray missions. During that time it received over 1,000 bullet and shrapnel hits. Its nickname, "Patches," derives from the metal patches that cover many of its battle scars. It is also decorated with seven Purple Hearts earned by crewmen wounded in the aircraft. It was flown to the museum in Dayton, Ohio in June 1980.

USAF C-123 PROVIDER


       The Provider is a short-range assault transport used to airlift troops and cargo onto short runways and unprepared airstrips. Designed by the Chase Aircraft Co., the C-123 evolved from earlier designs for large assault gliders. The first prototype XC-123 made its initial flight on Oct. 14, 1949, powered by two piston engines. A second prototype was built as the XG-20 glider. It was later test-flown, powered by four jet engines.

The production version, with two piston engines, was designated the C-123B. Chase began manufacture in 1953, but the production contract was transferred to Fairchild. The first of more than 300 Fairchild-built C-123Bs entered service in July 1955. Between 1966 and 1969, 184 C-123Bs were converted to C-123Ks by adding two J85 jet engines for improved performance.

FAIRCHILD C-123K PROVIDER

SPECIFICATIONS :

•Span: 110 ft.
•Length: 76 ft. 3 in.
•Height: 34 ft. 6 in.
•Weight: 60,000 lbs. maximum
•Armament: None
•Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800s of 2,500 hp each and two General Electric J85s of 2,850 lbs. thrust each
•Crew: Three or four

PERFORMANCE:

•Maximum speed: 240 mph
•Cruising speed: 170 mph
•Range: 1,825 miles
•Service ceiling: 28,000 ft.



PHAM QUANG KHIEM'S VNAF C-130 PHOTO COLLECTION

      Pham Quang Khiem is not only a VNAF "con-artist," (humorous title bestowed on those who made fake VNAF digital photos), but a former VNAF C-130 pilot also. The below pictures are his unique collection of VNAF C-130 herkys. Based on his "blue logo" on the corner of the photos, I believe these were real pics, not the "fake" ones. Being a "con-artist" myself, man...I couldn't tell which one is the real McCoy, but I have to rely on his "authentic trade mark!" The guy has been making a lot of VMAF digital art that I couldn't keep up for posting. More of his digital art will be soon presented in the 3rd slides show (VNAF Digital Art Section).

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