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™ squadron/signal publications Leu SADE S AND ‘ILL MIG I or ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book has been four years in the making. At times | despaired of ever getting it to press. | never would have been able to complete it if it had not been for the generous assistance of a great many people. | am especially indebted to the MIG killers who gave of their time to tell me of their experiences. Most of these experiences are related within the pages of this book. The many, many support personnel in both Navy and Air Force information offices come in for special mention. Space limitations preclude my mentioning all of them, but | would like to acknowledge the assistance given me by the following; Major Shirley Bach, Ms. Anna Urband, Commander Carlene Hess, Captain John Taylor, Major Larry Brown, Bob Carlisle, and of course all of the private collectors who so generously loaned me photos from their collections. Without the interest and encouragement given me by the latter this book would have been impossible to compile. oa AND AIR TO AIR COMBAT IN THE VIETNAM WAR by Lou Drendel a P= squadron/signal publications COPYRIGHT © 1974 by SQUADRON/SIGNAL PUBLICATIONS, INC. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED. IN ANY FORM WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE PUBLISHER 3461 E. TEN MILE ROAD, WARREN, MICHIGAN 48091 Photo Credits USAF USN Koku-Fan Magazine Norman E. Taylor G. Geer Grajek Charles Mayer Maj. Dan Cherry Dick Coe Sam White J.G. Handelman LT. Jim Sullivan Harry Walker Bob Hughes Thomas S. Cuddy I Don Kenske “Taco” Bell INTRODUCTION One of the most significant military lessons. of the vistnam War was that control ef the air over the enemy's homeland: must be wrested ftom him by men Waived tor hat purpose. On. the face of it, that wlll sound like a redundant slatement. After all, hasnt the same. lesson been learned. from all previods "ware. In” the twontith Century? OF course it has” but tecnologicsl presccupations Someriow seem fo nave binded us to the Importance of the man. in the cockpit and to the fact that atclo-air combat Stil boils down to ihe man and hie tactice, In the docade following ‘the Korean War, the Unites States. did) not Gevelop a pure air supertonty fighter, and did not tain is fignter pists thoroughly n the exacting ant of air combat maneuvering. Fortunatey, there were enough veterans from previous wars to pase on’ some of the expertise Tearmes In Those wars, anc American ighter pilots wore able to acquit themselves’ credibly unl comprenensive. ar combat maneuvering programe could be institutes Winen tne United States entered the Vietnam War, ite premier fighter plane was tne. F-4 Phantom, whieh nad Been ‘developes fs. test alr defonse interceptor. It was not armed with a_gun. The missiles it carried nad. been Geveloped to shoot down bombors, and wore at a ciatinet Sisadvantage agamet a nimole fighter avterat. (The enemy Was no loss anort-sightes Invthle respect. Ite only {unarmed fighters were 1860's vintage, and-no’ match Tor the Phantom in terms of speed or sophistication, ana ie Inlosiles were copies of the American ‘Sidewinder Missile.) ‘The Phantom Temained the most. important Tighter plan throughout the Vietnam War, but before it closed out ts Involvement, i, was armed. ith a. gun and. was. carrying Splle Scogtignt” missiles. The North’ Vietnamese. Air Fores fSceived: more. sophisticated versions of the Soviet Built Inigs ‘before the conclusion Of the aerial campaign, bul their basic ‘design philosophy cemained the. same. Point dotense and. alt "suporionty. The tactics. ‘on both sides hanged from time to time, and the pilots got better. snd ining end ir was tne men in the cockplte who decided the Dalles: cand the. wer Fighicr Plot""The profeasion today ie more demanding, bointprysteally ang mentally, than 11 has ever been. | hove heard modern fighter. pilots called. "button pushers monitors of, and slaves fo their intricate instruments of War. Believe me, nathing could be frther from the uth. 1 Ie'true that the weapons of today are more sophisticated but “sophistication doesnt neccessarily make weapon easier to employ. Alre-ar missle parameters, may alfon You fo shoot an enemy at greater range, ut that means Jou must see him sooner aNd, though radar plays a large Bart‘ aerial intercepts, the yebals are sti the lighter Bilors most important asset. Mover fighter aircraft move 41 breathtaking Speeds and. your enemy canbe at your 21x Selock and firing valmost before "you know. what is Rappening it ne'doesn't nave to close to gun range. Ane i you'ger into a turning battle with tho enemy, those breath UUking speeds turn 10 crushing @ forces. The men with the physical stamina to wiihetend the figors of air combat has a'Batter chance of emerging victorious. The sophistication St modern averat ‘demangs mental concentration and Capacity farin excess ofthat fequired of any fighter plots Gt ine past, But one thing remains the sarme..the samo ae ft nas'in 4918, or 1844" or 195t) Despite the pletnors of {echnical knosiledge required oi them,” madern. fighter pilots are far from the automatons some have made them Eur to be, They are as much the tiger as Rickenbacker or Bong, or McConnell. Alter ll, shay still call themaaives Sfighter pilot ‘Piss Fortunate enough to get a test nanc impression of what today's dogtigh involves. During. brief visit 10 Miramar Naval Ait Station in tne spring ot 4974, | begged 3 Mido inthe back seat of a VF-802 Phantom on an ACM nop ‘ly nost at VF-ab? was LCOR Guy Freeborn, and” my pilot was LCDR ete Pettigrew, both of them NiGrkiNers tuhose storiss appear in, this book We were briefed for a'one-oncio” fight. ..our Phantom against 2 pair of F-Bs from VE-201" K was a erudey ay on fe groune. tow, rain laden straius and less than good Visilty” We coordinated the rules of engagement with the {wo F-8 pilots before teke-of. There would be no hasealing Botew 16,000 fet (the, day before our fight an Air Force Petes nad chased’ ana info’ tne uncersast and crashed Into the ocean) and twas agreed that when someone "got fa shot" we would break it off and start over again. Pete Sxplained that most engagements lasted about a minute to minute and a hall, before someone got the advantage He thought’ we would’ have time. for about of four ‘engagements, Ne arranged for a radar controller to handle the Intercept, geiting us into position for a Read-on pass. fon the Grusaders, then letting Us g9 to It once we acquired Sach other visually. Pete and the F-8 pilots assured each ther tnat they would watch for the drag chute to come cut I Some one of Us was_unlucky enough to get into. 2 spin, land call" "good chute” or "No. chute”. That ‘started iNé Butterflies fo flapping In my stomach. (Phantoms are not known for their spin recovery abilities.) ‘The acceleration of the Phantom is smoothly impressive, In Iitie more time than it takes to read tnis, we had roared from zero to 160 kta and were rotting aff Miramar ran Slickened runway. Pele got the gear and flaps up and went fo the gages as wo climbed into tho clouds: Ho loveled off, briefly St'3,000 feet, still in tne clouds, as control of our fllgnt was’ passed’ trom Miramar departure ‘control 10 ‘Cobra the controller who would henle our intercert With ‘adar contact established, we were cleared to climo, and I felt the power of the twin J-79's as Pete went 16 Burner and we emerged trom the. overcast into riliant Sunshine. We climbed to 28,000 and leveled off. | could hear the controller giving instructions to Pete and to the Fes ‘The butterflies were now extremely active. | nad never een alsick before, and I had. Rag. flights “in high Derlormance jet fighters, including the Phantom. But | had Fever been subjected to sustained high G batore, and the VE-302 ground crewmen had insisted that I take a sick sack with me, despite my assurances. that_my stomach was equal to the fight. Thad been given a crash course in the operation of the Phantom’s radar and, a8 the range fo the F-8s closed to twenty tive miles, Pete asked me to. try for a lock on. | actually managed to get a couple of “paints” on them, but Goulan't hola them: (Operating that radar requires @ dood eal of finesee, and the iO's should be given mors credit than ‘they’ receive for, the job they 0.) 1 gat 'a few last, second Instructions: “When the tight starts, Til tall you to take one of the F-8'. Watch himl'If he gais into our rear quadrant, and starts to pull his nose to” bear ‘on ‘us, fat'mo know. Til’ work on the other guy until Ris. wingman forces us to break. And watch our airspeed Indicator get its felative position set in your mind. I-may ask you {o pve me, roading at some. time nthe, ight.” Wrat for? |'wondered. Well, no time now for silly questions, ‘The range Was down’ {0 five miles when | heard. the lead "FB call: “Tve" got a smoker at twelve o'clock low!” 1 thought; “That's “got to be us!” (Only. the Phantom leaves. enough ofa. signature from ite. twin foxhausts 16 merit that kind of @ nickname.) Pete called the F-8's high on the nose, and | looked up 10 the right in time to. spot_one of. them flash past, about a thousand feet high ona reciprocal Reading. | expected a fast hard break Into them, but Instead’ | found myself weightless ase pushed the stick forward. He had negated our atial ane G with the push over and, now in burner, was building speod for tho first break. "ust had enough time to ask "is. that wnat ‘is known as “unloading”? | got a “kind of Invreply, then we broke hard From that point onward in the fight, | cannot give you an ‘accurate ‘chronological “secount of ‘cur maneuvers. We Pulled s good sh G's in the break, and I'felt tne G suit fntiate, Squeezing my calves. thighs, and stomach. Unprepared as. was, ! also got the first indications of greyaut. Then Pote called tho position of tha F-s's, and | Branked my ‘head. around and picked up the wingman. Tailed: “Ive got one at eight o'clock, nose olf! ‘Roger. keep him in sight!” | dont know where the other fone was.-.Pote was" working on him. "My" F-B got to Sur seven’ o'clock, and started. to pull his nose on us. Suadenty, we broke again, into @ screaming climb. Post him, “but” Pete reassured me ihat he nad ther both insight Then | was hanging in ine straps as. we ‘went Over the tap inverted. Tha horizon slowly revolved 35 ‘We tame over ana started down, i ‘sald I couldn't give you. an accurate account of what exactly we did, and can't. fean only give you Impressions. ..fleating glimpses of what was happening. Everpresent G forces, ‘crushing me into the seat, ‘and finaly" forcing me to iterally “hold my "nead up By grabbing the bottom of the oxygen mask an plghing up. la order to fan eye on. that “ot ‘which was ‘always. just about to ‘get. into tiring position. The constant squeezing of the G sult, wringing Sweat from pore invmy body. One ‘of ‘the F-8S. flashing across. in ‘ront of "us, his. distinctive planform clearly outlined against the white undoreast. (I we had had 4.gun we would have had him, or at least had-a shot at him) The eerie sensation of hanging in ihe straps as. we went over the top, seemingly motionless for the moment then screaming down the backside of the loop. A jolt of alarm as | looked at the airspeed insloator going over the {op and read 50 knots! | remember thinking’ "This is one fell of @ long two minutes! Finally, we broke It off. We had reached ten thousand fect, and'by mutual consent, ended the fight. We had-gone for a full ten minutes, at speeds ranging trom 50 knots 10 Mach 1.05. No one had gotten a shot. Pete had fought the {wo of hem toa draw. Later, everyone agreed that it had Deena great fight.-one in’ hundred. 0 that's what i's like!” | was reflective as we let down for our GCI approach to Miramar. Everything ‘seemed to have happened go fast! We had staited dead even, 0 there was no enance to get into a tallchase, and | had hardly been able to Keep tack of what was happening. Well, at least my butterties had been silenced By the first turn, But NORTH oe wf THAILAND re Udon Ratchathant "Nakhon Ratchasin (ores BANGKO) GULF OF TW) The author, after his ACM ride | was more impressed than ever with the modern fighter pilot. Button pushers? Sure they. are. Supersonic super-athlotes with the instincts of the hunter, ang the brane to employ al of shoge Buttons... that's what they are? VET NAM 100 ia'niooe fy ad CAMBODIA SCENARIO FOR AERIAL COMBAT The aerial campaigns against North Vietnam were from the outset of the war conceived as exercises designed to interdict the flow of men and material into South Vietnam, or to discourage the enemy from continuing his sponsorship of war by destroying his industrial capacity to wage war. The political grounds upon which this policy was built were not concrete enough to allow the use of the maximum force available and, as a consequence, the results of the campaign were often less than completely satisfactory High level policy often restricted not only the list of targets which could be struck to achieve the objectives of the campaign, but in many cases, the time frame in which these targets could’ be struck. Faced with such crippling restrictions, military planners were forced to tactics which they did not consider ideal. One example of this was the manner in which they dealt with the North Vietnamese Air Force early the war. Since it was so important that they put the maximum effort on each target, they loaded the F-4’s, which would normally accompany the F-105 bombers as fighter escort, with bombs. Early in the war this was a feasible policy, since the MIG threat was relatively low. But as the North Vietnamese radar system improved, and the MIG-17 force was bolstered by the ‘addition of MIG-21's, it became necessary to designate a certain portion of the F-4 strike force as MIG CAP. The North Vietnamese realized that the bombers were the real threat, and they avoided combat with the fighters whenever possible. They developed the tactic of holding the MIG-17 at low altitude, where he was hard to spot, and popping him up for one pass at the bombers, irying to get them to jettison their bombs. AS long as the fighter escort was high, (which was the normally accepted position for fighter escort) the MIGs were often successful. When that tactic was established as standard, the F-4's were brought to lower altitude. The F-4, using its superior speed and acceleration, was then able to spot the MIGs and successfully intercept thom before they got into the strike force. As long as the F-4 used a hit and run tactic, he would have the advantage. If he got into a turning fight with the MIG, he was in trouble, for the MIG pilot knew that as long as he stayed within the minimum range of the F-4’s missiles, the only one who was in danger of getting shot down was the F-4. The North Vietnamese employed their limited MIG-21 force carefully. Under full GCI control, the MIG-21's would attempt to_ make six o'clock attacks on the strike force. The MIGs would make one pass at better than Mach One, fire their missiles, and dive for home. If the escorting fighters were not forewarned, and were flying at the speed of the strike force (usually about 480 knots on the ingress) they had scant chance to engage the MiGs. The MiGs would not engage if they thought conditions were anything but ideal. The North Vietnamese MIG force could not have hoped to succeed, or even survive by itself. But integrated with the most awesome array of radar directed AAA and SAMs, it was a formid- able obstacle in the road to American success in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese, or their mentors, became most adept at coordinating the efforts of their anti-aircraft defenses. Early ECM equipment carried by American aircraft demanded strict adherence to set formations to achieve successful masking of North Vietnamese search and tracking radars. If a pilot paid too much attention to maintaining his slot in the formation, he was apt to find a MIG at his six before he knew what was happening. Too little attention to formating and he strayed from the protective screem of ECM, becoming the focus of attention for every SAM and AAA site in his immediate area. The period between the bombing halt of 1968, and the resumption of heavy bombing of the north in 1972 gave both sides time to refine their tactics and weapons systems. Clearly, the United States accomplished more in that period than did the communists. Of course, the phenomenal successes enjoyed by U.S. air arms in the 1972 campaign were not due entirely. to improved weapons and tactics. When the aerial armadas went north in 1972, they went with the latitude needed to accomplish the mission. United States Foreign Policy had undergone rejuvenation, and the changes made were demonstrated’ in the will to use what we had in a more effective manner. Because of the recent nature of the war, much of the information regarding weapons and tactics is and will remain classified for years to come. Without that information it is almost impossible to write a definitive history of the air-to-air war over Vietnam. But this book is not intended to be a definitive history anyway. It is intended as a tribute to the modem fighter pilot and it therefore seems fitting that the story of these most recent of aerial battles in our history be told in the words of the men who did the flying and the fighting. 6530 by ale 7S8-b ‘Arming an F-4 for MIGCAP mission from Cam Ranh Bay, 1968. Radar guided AIN-7 Sparrows are in foreground. Sparrow is 12'feet long, has a launch weight of 400 Ibs., and carries @ 60 Ib. HE warhead. It has a range of 14 miles (USAF). icon missiles mounted on Phantom. Falcon is ‘seeker, and has a max speed of Mach 4, range Phantom with Vulcan 2Omm gun pod, mounted, onthe | ‘Adin of, the gun. made the Phantom more jgainst MiGst7"s Late model AIM.9E Sidewinder (USAF). F-AE was the first Phantom to mount the 20mm six barrel cannon internally (lett) (USAF). Col. Robin Olds, Commander of the sth TFW “Wolfpack”, retlights his Phantom (left, and adds kill marking after 4 May, 1967 kill (right). An Ace in WWII, Olds brought the experience and leadership necessary to make the Bth the most successful MIG killing wing In S.€. Asia (USAF). 4 May 1967 mic-21 F-4G 555th TFS, 8th TEW Code “FP” A/C Ser. No. 37-680, Call Sign "Flamingo 01" Col. Robin Olds 47. willtam D. Late We were headed down Thud Ridge, to a target just north of Hanoi. The MIG-21 hit us just about fifteen miles short ‘Of the ead Of the ridge, where Phuc Yen ie located. He Game in from seven o@idck high on the tight of Thuds In front of us. | screamed for tne Thuds to Break hard ‘eft {and | broke into the MIG. The MIG broke to the left, which Was stupid. T got pretty much behind him. ..nol ag much 436 1 like io Nave been, ‘but | was somewhere in his rear Quadrant. He just went ape everyway.--it was a hell of 2 fight for position. I worked and worked and worked to get ina good shot at him-and, after ting off all of my Sparrows, and ali_but two of my Sidewinders, | got tne Shot T wanted, My next to last Sidewinder went off right, Under his tail, He snapped @ couple of times and wound up inva turn to the right, headed northwest. He continued to turn, and he didn't look as. though ne had been mortally hit $0 1 stayed behind him. | nad one Sidewinder left, Dut | outer eta tone on HT was determined tht ne wasn’ ‘going to get away though... didn't get him, 1 was going Yo get my wingman into position to knock nim down. He Continued his right turn, by this time diving steeply for Phuc Yen, which is a place you dont want fo fly over if you can help i.- .but 1 wasn't about to break it off. Just as, began to ook ae though he were going to make it into Phuc'Yén, the MiG erupted in brillant flame all along the left side of his fuselage. It was the kind of fire you get only when magnesium ts burning, and I knew that we fad him, and it'didn't much matter whether or not We followed him: Then the tlak started coming up, and It was. pretty damn intense and “accurate. "My nuinber thes. started hollering Yor me to break it off Because of the tak. | broke hard right, and didn't get to see the MIG crash, Number three ‘saw him though, a6_he crashed right on top of an Bem AAA site In the Middle of his own alrield! | thought that"wag great, we ‘chuckled’ about that for weeks afterwards! But as | said, we wore in a hard right break. We came back left, and haaded down towards Hand to. cover the ‘Thuds coming off the target. ‘There was no action there, except for a hell of a fot of flak. We broke right again and, though didnt realize | was doing it at the time, ended Up going right over tho canter of Hanol at rooftop lovel, lust bout supersonic. We weren't supposed to do that, ‘but | ouldn't help it..-1 just broke to avoid the flak, and didn’t ven gee the ity’ until 1 was about halfway through the urn. We proceeded on to the west of Hancl, towards the then. new airfield. at Hoa Loc. It was a rather Interesting iiight across the delta towards Hoa Loc. We had a couple of SAMs shot at us, ono of which passed right through the formation without exploding, AS we came up on Hoa Loc, we saw a whole sky full of MIG-17's in the traffic pattern Well, didn't have any missiles left, but | thought 1 could got thy number two out front, in the lead, and betwen him ana 'number three and four, maybe we could get in some shots, We were all damn low on fuel, so | knew we Gidnt have much time Tor hasseling around ‘We got right into tho ‘raffle pattern at Hoa Loc, and wo weran shot at that | know of". at least | didn't see any Wagers oF flak. I suppose because there were so. many, MiG-17"s in the sky that the AKA gunners ‘were afraid. of Aitting thelr own people. Well, there we were, anywhere {ror 200 feet up 16 a!couple ct thousand feet, right over thelr alield, inva hell of a gosaraund with the MiGs! And there | was, making passes at MIGs....with no missiles A way of firing. | would Just press into their tails as close 38 I could, sometimes to within twenty feet or so, before Buling up. kind of amusea me. after ail, they’ had no ‘way of knowing that T couldnt shoot. til bet that there were three or four NIG pilots changing their laundry after they landed that-day! TR was number three’s first mission to Route Package Six, and ‘that is_@ hell of an experience for the first mission! He had a little toubie getting oriented. and didn't Come In when he ‘should nave. thon number four got utully Tow on fuel, so we Nad to get the hell out of there ‘without getting any'shots at the MiGs. But in that one day wwe had had two separate engagements, one of which was Succeesful, and one which was hilarious, u 20 May 1967, 2 MIG-17'5 F-4C "433rd TFS, 8th TFW Code “FG” A/C Ser, Nov 40-828 Call Sign “Tampa 07" Col, Robin Olds ULE Steve Croker Tho month of May, 1967 was a very in the war because the MiGs wore up, the the ‘strikes went In often, ond almost dally. We had Some’ damn good battles Guring ihe month. of May. ‘On the 20th the sth Wing was fragged 10 provide MIGCAP to. one of the. Thalland.based Thug wings, they were coming in over the Gulf of Tonkin, down Mie. Ridge to sirke'a target close to the North Vietnamese airfield ai Kop. As | sald, contact with the MiGs was almost dally Guting this period. so interest ang excitement was tunran at a fever pitch. We were as ready as you can get for acta ‘combat when we took off that day. One of the great things We'had going for us was a real close rapport with the tes, ‘hud wings “We exchanged information on ‘dally ba so each knew what the other was going to do, and whal the'Gther had experiences. | know that sounds elementary, But twas hind of hard to achieve Intitly. ‘After rieting, we took otf hit the tanker, and proceeded non Everything went according to. plana we hit out Checkpoints on time.and turned. ito North Vietnam’ at the altitude ‘we had agreed upon. As soon as we crossed the oast we bagan {8 get reports of MiGs aitorne fem our radar surveillance. Every sense was tuned to the highest pitch, but in spite of that, our first waming of MiGs was, [ust almost’ too late, becsuse they were on us! We were about fiteon to twenty miles trom the target when they Mt Us." was leading wo fight of Phanioms @) and we, wore lumped by about sixteen MiGs. The Thuds just Kept ecving forthe target, while we got to wrestling around’ with the Migs. was a pretty damn good fight! Matter of fact only ‘one oF two others that thadover beon in were that goos! lasted, a9 close as 1 can estimate, some twelve fo fninioon minutes, which 1s an absolute ‘etemity. in aif’ combat Usually it's two to three minutes, and it's over with Ths MiGs Were quite agressive, and there were fols of them en they uh Sara’ a broa to get bohind a fight of four MIG3. Then | noticed four more MiGs coming In‘on Us at our four otlock. | started a Break into them, then had to op t momentary a8 a Hight of ude flashed through {hat particular plece of sky. Alter they cleared, | continued the break, making a screaming 270 degree’ roling turn down after the bulk of the MiGs, which were DeIGw US though there wore many more spotted up higher, tn the middle of this" break | glanced Dack ‘over my “houlder te heck my wingman. What | saw was hie aera, a mags of flames from the canopy ‘back, start to nose up. Ast watched the pitch up ineteased and, as his airplane ran out Of airspeed. the canopies came off and tne seats carne out I saw the chutes blossom and knew that af least tey had getter Qu All ofthis occuttet "in actions af 8. second bout that time, another MIG, possibly the one that nad shot’ down ‘my’ wingman, ‘began shooting ot me. The Catronbalis Were whlzing yemy eancpye “rora” down and'to the leit, getting rid-of him without ever Seoing hin "Saw more MiGs below and. went aiter them. As the fight progressed, ‘he MiGs ‘entored a defenaie ‘circle. Tielfo! thevcircie was. over their home. sirield of Kop. and. you couldn't chase them in that halt of the circle, becatee ‘every time you got near the place the whole sky ‘would {i with tracers and Srmm and 87mm flak bursts. $0 they were pretty safe in that hall of the circle. So then the trick was {o'iy fo get around ana get behind them in # part of the circle that as away from Kep. Well, this ig'a hell of @ lot fasier to talk about then it was to doy Every time b would Get into the circle and ‘ry to-get s missile off ata MIG. g Couple of his tuddies would: break across the ‘citcle ang get on my tail. Well, | made four separate passes. before 1 Got a Sparrow off and got one of the MiGs. ‘ut on each of these passes had a couple of MiGs behind me, with their cannonballs practically bouncing lt my canopy) fall of the time | wag making these passes at the circle, | noticed a ono MIGt17 right down on the grass. He was in a tle Open area between a couple of Willy flying ‘very Slowly and doing figure eights. | figured that he must nave been directing iraffic. Unfortunately. the F-4 leaves a hell fof a'smoke plume when it's in full rllitary power, and you an be seen trom a great distance, whichis hell ota disadvantage, igures. that thls Guy. was watching the fight. and whenever one of us would stat to threaten a MiG,’ he would direct the other MiGs onto us 8) the way, st one point in the fight. the Thuds had come off the target and had egressed right ‘inrough that piece of sky. That was preity damn interesting, Dacause You had Thvide going about 600 knots right trough the Conter of this fight, you had MIGe all around, and you had your own people in Feds, ‘That was a pretty crowded piece. Of Sky for'a few seconds! |'don't know why the hell we. didn't run into each other, but we didnt. Finally’ we got down to bingo fuel and | had to. start hollering for the guys to break it off and get out of there. ‘They acknowledged one by one, and | finally realized. that they were all headed home..1'was following’ along behind them, thinking about that MiG down In the grass. | looked at my fuel gauge, did some rapid mental calculations, and figured I'mignt just get away with going after him, s0 1 got Int_down on the grass myself and neaded back to where the fight hed occurred. | was no more than ten feet off the eck, going ike a singed til ape, wen I'spetted the MIG Up ahead of me. As I approached, ho turned and headed for the hills that were between ith and nis home field of Kep. He must have seen me coming, because all of a sudden he started to dodge and weave, staying low, but with his ‘afterburner going. I had to slow down 0" stay behind him. T Just kept tying along fight behing him as he dodged and weaved. Finally he got to the hills, but ne stayed low, popping up over the hills, then back dovin Into, the hollows, 1 stayed with him until he got himeelt Into. a valley. really 2 sort of box canyon. Iwas within firing. range for a Sidewinder. but | knew that 1 wouldn't guide with any assurance with the MIG down low and his heat Source ‘masked ‘by "the ground. |/wanted 10. gat him silhouetted against the sky, where | knew the Sidewinder ‘would guide to him. As he headed up the valley, | said to my backseater; “Sieve, watch this!’ That’ SOB is either going to have to run into the canyon wall, or pull up over it and clther way he's deadi" Well, he got to the end of the canyon, and pulled up. I Just pulled my nose up on him and, with the annunciator growling, “squeezed off the Sidewinder. It camo off the rail and guided right to the MIG. PLOW -Knoeked him Gown i was time for me to get the hell Out of there, and | just barely’ made it to the tanker. just barely. think | had about 800 pounds left, which is eight minutes, Col. Olds is greeted in exuberant his 100th. mission over North Vietnam. An extremely Popular commander, Olds led the Btn Wing In viel Knocking down 4 of the 24 kills the 8th got whil commanded it (USAF). sshion upon roturn from mic 19 {lames and smoke, plunges earthwatd after receiving 20mm hits from F-105, Oct 18, 1867 (USAF), ith TFS at Cam Rahn Bay, RVN 1968. This was personal aireratt of the squadron commander, Col. Billy Rogers (Grajek). Olds leads pilots out of briefing prior to 1967 mission over North Vietnam (USAF). u F-AC of the 480th TFS, 966th TFW “Gunfighters”, Danang, RVN, 1967. Groon and white stripes on rudder. Close-up of Gunfighters marking, and kill markings on intake ie shown’ at right (Neal Schneider via Charlee Mayer. er F-4C of the 366th TFW (USAF). 20 May, 1967 F-4C, 3asth TFS, 366th TFW, Call mic-21 ign “Elgin-03" LiGol. Robert F. Titus Lt. Milan Zimer We were in the second flight of F's, covering the rear fend of the F105 flight. We started down what we call Thud Fidge, that mass of rocks thal sticks up so obviously on the map about 20 miles north of Hanoi. While flying down the Ridge, someone called; “MIGS!" | called; “MiGs? Where? Who called them?” (One of the most important things in air discipline is to Identify yourself, such as “This |s Buckshot One, | nave MIGS at such and such a position.” This wasn't done. The call just came; *MIGS!” | Fepeated; “Where?" and whoever it was answered; “Right under Buckshot Flight. ..they're going right to left!" | looked out and sure enough there were two MIGs starting pass on the strike force. They apparently saw us {and decided we were in too good a position to take them fon, 80 they went right under us going fast and away. | instinctively tumed into them hard and said; “Elgin Three is padlocked!” This meant that | had them and was taking tham under attack. |Lwont to afterburner and started to accelerate fast. Major Bob Janca, who led the mission, then called “Honaymoon", which meant “O.K., | know you're attacking and I'l be behind covering you.” At that point {told my back-seater, Lt Milan Zimer, to go Boresight. | put the pipper on the MiG and he got a lock-on, then we got @ good attack Gisplay. Just then, | lost sight of the MIG. He had been flashing briliantly in the sun, but after he tured | couldn't see him. So | reverted immediately to radar. The steering dot charged off to the left. The steering dot is merely an indication of where the target is, and you turn the airplane and fly for it. After a real hard tun towards the center of the scope, he came over nicely. And then Zimer lost his Jock. Around and around we went, eventually heading northwest when Zimer got another lock-on. In the ‘meantime, the MIG was rolling out and going like hell. So were wel We were supersonic at about 16,000 feet, All of sudden | saw him again. | got in closer and closer, and the equipment told me | was in firing range for ‘a missile, Just ae | was about to pull the trigger, there was f tremendous amount of confusion and commotion on the radio. | thought | heard someone yell “BREAK!” It was Stu Bowen. He sald; “Three, this Four. Break hard left!" In the meantime, Zimer's in the back seat yelling; "SHOOT! SHOOT! You got him!” But I said no and honkod it around, fa full hard rudder turn. It was very discouraging, of course, because obviously there was a lost MIG. ‘We came back around and down the Ridge. | wanted to get back to the Thuds, because they were still vulnerable, Seconds later, | saw another MIG, so | wont after him, hard left. And this MIG really folded in tight. Again I went boresight, out the pipper on him, and again Zimer got @ lock. At this point we were going very fast, about Mach 1.2, and we were quite low, about 10,000 feet. In a hard. fasar"Einaliy, we picked him ‘up visually when he was Sboui five miles oul from Phue Yen. He ‘was on finel Spproach and ‘had his gear and. flaps Gown. He. hadn't Spotted us yet, and | pulled in behind him, It was asilvor Mig.21 and’It looked as tHough we couldn possibly miss Iola Chuck to-go boresight ang lock on. | squeezed off two Sparrow but Goh of thom migseg. Gur crertake. was 39 feat thai we. quickly, essed through minimum. range finally stoppea in tne wiG's 2 o'clock position at about i tnoudand feet. He saw us, pulled up Nis gear and Taps, it the afterburner and started 16 accelerate. I looked as though the engagement wae going to tum into a resl maneuvering fight. | punched off my wing tanks and started a scissors to get behind the 21. After two turns 1 was. again. behind th MiG"but stil inside minimum range. Tibbett called that ne ‘was in position, so | cleared him ih. Just as | did, the MIG. {utned away from me, putting me at his 6 o'clock, In para meters for a shot. told Brian {0 break off because | was in batter position now. He didn't hear me and continued his, attack, leaving me no alternative But to cover him. Brian fired two missiles. both missed, Dut he hada gun, so ne moved in fo gun range, Ae Tibbett fired his gun we could S00 the 20mm ‘strikes all over the top of tno MIG. ‘The MIG. driver ‘nad had ‘enough.--he punched out. His airplane folled over and crashed on the perimeter of Phuc Yen, We had maintained our flight integrity. throughout the fight, 50 | called’a tum to a-heading that would take us back to our assigned orbit point. We wore no sooner steady ‘on our new heading than | Fecelved 2 call fram the controle ler ingicating that we had'a couple of bandits at ur she Sclock. | called a turn back into them. We tumed around 4nd started looking for them. Chuck picked them up on the fadar at ten degraes port, 15 miles and called “alligators {olet the flight know we Intended to attack. | called that the MiGs would be al eleven o'clock. Shortly thereafter. my number two man, Mike Francisco, spotted “them there About one and a halt mites out. it was a pair of MIG-10s. One was camoutlaged and the other was aquamarine biue = they were fiving a fighting wing formation. | called a turn into them, We pulled hard, about 8 G's, ang went through about 90 degrees of turn beiore they spotted us. Whan they ‘Saw us they began a hard turn toward us and punched their wing tanks off. | increased my turn to about eight G's. It Was all | could do'to get the pipper on the trailing MiG. After about 180 degraee of turn, I fired a Sidewinder. it was 2 reasonably nigh angle-oft stot, ut the missile guided Perfecily. exploding close to the MiGs tail. We had Started {he fight at about 7,500 feet, with about §50 to 600 knots of airspeed, so there was net’ a lot of room to maneuver. | Continued alter the ‘other MIG by performing 2 low-speed 0-y0 10 pull In behing him, AsV plied Up fred another idewincer. It too guided perfectly: Impacting the MIGs tal, ‘The MIG reiaxed his tum, folled Inverted and crashed into 3 Tice paddy and exploded. ‘The whole encounter had taken fess tian two minutes, Dut we were nearing bingo Tuol, 80 we turned to egress heading and exited North Vietnam at Tow Tovel and ‘high speed, 12 October, 1972 F-4D, s85th TRS, a32nd TRW AIC. Sor Sign “Vega 1" Captain John A. Madder Captain Ley Pettit, 9 October 12, 1972, Capt, Larry Pett and I ware “Vega Oi leading a tight of four Fats. My wingman was Capt ‘Nordie" Notwood with Lt. ‘Dave Stair in’ nis back Seat Number three, nas Capt. Mike Francisco’ with Capt. Mike Hittaa’ and Capt Bob Homack with Lie Jonn Caugarman twas number four. We were MIGCAP for a'stnke force that vias ging to hit‘one of the bridges on the northeast ‘ai Ieaa As we came [ig tho are, ho ME launched out of Phuc Yen. it was obvious that they vere. going to attempt fn aitack on the strike lorce, Our radar survellance watoned them as they Ne out paraliel to ihe northeast alton in ‘one of thai customary. attack profiles, They turned. ast trying 1a get Bating us to get atthe strike force. Naturally we ined (0 keep ourselves between tha sinke force and The Migs."Ad’they-got in closer, they turned to attack us "Tne only MiG'I sam, we engaged head-on, at ‘d'mach, at 25,000 feet. He want by my left sice, about a thousand feet aniay In slight fet Wn. He wes close enough ‘or me ta identity the rational markings. ashe lashed by. 1 turned har oun 1the righ calculating ina to be the fastest Way 16 get in behind him. He had continued his loft turn, and a rolled out behing him, ne pulled arg Into. me forcing us to overshoot slightly’ We were sti pening fir though, ang as I ined Yo get info the insize of ms turn, ne pulled harder yet. it the atterouener ‘and rolled invorieu, Bulling through in 2 spit-S. it was.as tnougn ‘ne had had Enough and mented (0 disengage In the quickest possible wor “About 4,000 fest below us was a cloud deck, which was mays thousand tet ick Appsreniy the MiG fluted tre would get away by siving thiougn We rolled over ater him though, and-wrien we bfoke info the clear he must have been Tooking over ns shoulder and saw us coming, because he just continued down im about an eighty degros dive, with Nistbutner going. There was another layer abot sx or savan thousane feet above the ground which ment almost down {0 the ground, ‘The MiG desded to go fort and’ in so gong Eommitteg himealt fo a manuever from whieh ne cole Not fecover” Without aven ting a missile, we. Grave Rim into the ground near Kep Ha. That was my ‘Cost Effective Kil F.4D flown by John Madden on his double MIG killing mission. Second star wi Conditioning intake was dark green (USAF), ‘Miss Martha”. Fin tip, canopy ra 5 October, 1972 mig-21 F-4E, 34th TFS, 98gth TFW A/C Ser. No. 68.493 Code “id” Call Sign “Robin 1” Capt. Dick Coe aVLtviken Webb We wore flying out of Korat RTAB at the time of my kill The 888th was a composite wing at that time, consisting af two F-4 ‘squadrons, and. the only F-105 “Wild Weasel” squadron in Southeast Asia. All'of our missions were to Toute package six'in Nortn Vietnam. Tha majority of our flights'were in suppor of strike flighis, and in some cases insupport of the Wild Weasels, On'the day of my Kill, | was assigned as the only spare fight lead for three’ MIGCAP fights and two flights In Sup- pot of the Wild Weasel. As soon as got on the grouré equency, the leader of the last Tlight ‘in. support ‘of the bombers atorted. He told me to go ahead and take his fight: started my engines and Bogan to taxi. At that time my number three’ aborted, iecvingme with only two and four’ We took’ oft and nesded for our rendezvous with the tanker. About half way to the tanker, umber two, aborted Number four, flown ‘by “Capteina Dave ‘Ladd and. George Sebren, both of whom were TEY from Lakenneath, England. and had very litle experience. In" missions over North Vietnam, closed in on my wing and we continued the mis sion. A the time we Were. not supposed to-go into. the target area on a support mission with only two fighter aire call. However, since it was tte last strika of the day, and Name on air ‘and number block on nose gear door of S5Sth TFS Phantoms F-4E of Dick Coe refueling on egress from North Vietnam alter kill. Note missing AIM-7! (Dick Coe). it was a vory strategie target, | decided to press on anywa When ‘wa its the- tanker, Icame. up “onthe. digcrast trequency’ and briefed. my wingman on what our tactics would''be, “We ‘were tiying. what the "Air Force, calla a “Double Aitack” tyoe of formation, in which it 1s assumed that each man in the element is of equa ability and the men thal Spotelthe MiG fist gooe ator him, withthe other men covering his is We ‘dropped off the tanker at the same time as the bombers we were estorting. They were four Fal's loaded with laser guides bombs. Their target was the Nonhsaat Rall Line. since we were the lat sire fight of the day. oc iS beaee ou Ingen we Nard and aw ooh plan leaving North Vietnam. We leveled off at about 20,000 feet and Took up our covering position for the trike ight. | Called the Navy cI Conttdier and he acknowledged that fe had us oud and clear. His call was followed Immediate. Iy'by a call trom the airbome Air Force Gel controller who also had us Toud and clear, and mos getting good. radar Coverage. ‘The Navy relinquished contra to. the Air Force, land he mimediately began calling positions on MIG aierat We were still out Gver tne Gull of"Torkin at this time, and the action sounded pretty good. The controler called two Migs-at about 30 miles off Gt Manol: which were interoape €8. by two olher MIGCAP F-4's" whian foreed: the: Nowth Vietnamese fo hustle back to Hanol Werhit our IP about the time. we coasted into North \istam coast fhe Chinese borer we ware dong about 480 knois, tying to keep our energy Up, wnile the ste flight was’ only doing about $50 to a00 Knots. In order to maintain position we. were. perlorming a constant weave, Which onabled us to cheek het sixandours simultaneously. Re Soon as we crossed the coastina, we began to gel mors Calls of MiGs out of Hanol, plus, we had Indications that they were sectoring us with the BAA radar and that tne SAM radars were looking at us. Many times they wil ust do al ffthis as trough they wore flexing their muscles. We felt that inay intended 10 Go. tie: more today, though. sines Wwe were getting all ofthese indications simultaneously {They'do this to keep you busy looking for SAMS and flak figuring’ that you'l be toe busy to check your six, and maybe they” sneak “a MIG up on your tail) Gur Gcl ‘controler continued to call the positions of the MiGs, and ‘You coula tell by the direction they mere heading that they Were being vectored at us, When they were about twenty miles away, by the. cals, tho sinke Iador eamo up with! "Mey guys, that’s us! (We were trying to maintain as much radio silence as possible, because the bombers have to talk back and forth alittie to get themoeives Set up forthe laser Bomb drops.) Since wo wero not flying MIGCAP, and consequently didn't realy need radar coverage tothe tant, (we were only Worried about the MiGs coming up at our'shx) our back- Sealers were acting as @ wingman would. That, they were onstantly checking our six-Ken Webb, my WSO, had boon Wvith me since he had coms in-country and we worked well 25 a Team: Ken n'a Gig husiy guy, and can really look round while pulling alot of G's. Abgut tho time we got the iastcal'irom Gur controller, Ken noticed two airratt otf to four right, We were pretty close to the Chinese border. and {MS possible that they were in China when me spotted them now they werent F-4's, because, they werent smokin enough, "and "they coulan't Be 7108's, because. there iva Weren't’ any. 10888 over there. | wasit sure at the ime Whether o7 not they were Navy aitraft. Later on we found Dut that thoy ‘detinitely wre MiGs: In the meantime: the fo MiGs coming gut of Hanah ad been called” at teen miles, in the dark’. meaning at low-level. Their maneuver wae 9 go high; then unioad-and go low to pick up energy wihite they gat Into position at your arm the do. pop-up nd fire a missile and run for home. its very afficut to piek {hem up when they come at you from down low, especially {Pihey Come’ your bling ik The next thing we, fnew, the Gcl controlier was’ calling the MiGs. merging with us tacking! Tho Stike Tight lead said; “Alnght let's start a {um into them!" We stil couldn't see them, but just as we Started the turn into thers, the number three. man came Up with: “ve gat MiGs at my’ she oclockl” My wingman came Back with; "are you sure?.™m at your Six” He, Said: No, no, they're MiGsi. on” getting’ out of herel And with thal ne jttisoned his bombs and started a hard bres immediately jettisoned my tanks snd went t0 afterourmer Inthe process of doing his, while turning to get behind umber three, one of my winglanks rolled across the belly tthe airplana and fore & chunk out of my aileron. i chan’ Site ihe performance of the airolane though, and we oldnt fing out about it until we landed, | made about one anda hat fare around, until te whole se ight was out in front of me where I could See them. About that time we gat Indications In the, coekpit-that the North Vietnamese were locked on with AAA and SAM radars. Now we were really logking around. Ken and {were yelling back and forth at tach inert see anyone naa contact. We stl couldnt See anything but good guys, But, as completed my second tum around: spotted two MiGs out in Hfont of me. They Were MiG-2i's and I thought they were about three. miles Sway at the time (1 had never Seen one in the al ‘and Wai felatvely small size fooled me on the range.) | wes at about 15,000 fest and doing about’ Mach 6, having descended From 20,000 im my turns. the turns had Been loosaned up tien | didn't pe the MiGs at first and | was unloaded. and feally accelerating. ‘The MiGs. were at about 20,000. as. I {mae inte thelr six They stil haat seen ve. Nae always thought that would tire a. Sidewinder in thie situation, Since tis simpler and more rellable than the Sparrow. (Out Sparrows had een cared long lime on tne airplanes wathout Being tited, and we diga’t Rave much faith m thom ‘oldn’t know iat’ the time, ut our missile maintenance man had done an unnecessary complete preflight on Our missiles betore we took off) The MiGs had started down, and were accelerating pretty 00d. figured that the only’ way Yo got them into Sige tind range would be to fire 3 Sparcow at ther to make them turn "put the pippsr on then ang told Ken: "Fve got hem!" He yelled; "Auto Ace, Auto Acct" Lreached dow to Errno misies and Auto Acc and a6 ooked up. the MiGs re disappearing into the sun. Without taking my e/es them “to See iI" had a lookup, | counted the fequited seconde to let the missle electronics settle, and squoczed fone off: | guess we were stil going about 1'6 and that the Migs were doing 1-1" Just then, someone Scteamed over the fadio: "Somebady has a MIG'at his six o'clock and he's tracking!" I forgot about the miseile 1 had fred, and rolled Up to check Six | glanced forward, notices the Contra rom the Sparrow, which nad tired. good, and then saw a huge black explosion, immodiately flowed by two putts of white Smoke, which Seemed to come ‘out of it dust then Kan folleres for me to bresk: 1 sidn't ask vty, just puliea! The Fes'is supposedly limited 10 8.5 G's, but | pulled a soll 8 G's In that break, and aa I gid, two other MiGs overehat ver the top of mo. | Foversed {0 tty to get on therm, But in fhe" procest of Turning ost sight of them We reasoned that what had happened was that the MIGS | nad ‘shot at_were ‘the ones we had seen coming trom Ghina and that the ones 1 broke for were the anes out of Hanoi. We had negated their initia attack witn, our fist {um and they had ome through, tured arounc, and’ came back for anotner iy at us. The whole thing hao’ taken Tess than & minute, but ag | rolled out-my wingman, who had tuck close during ‘the ‘engagement, called that no hed Joker Tuel’, which is five Nunared pounds above bingo: | UOia him: "Ainghi, let's go home." Just as we rolled out of fur tur, | heard ihe strike Tead call that they were in-on their target. When they nad soon me engage, they just lot land went to the target. minus number {hve oked out and Saw number thee going fast for the coast, Out of the omer of my eye | saw something else. | fooked again and Sawr that it was an Atoll missile’. going right for his tal- pipe. But he was going so fast thai it aidn't have a chence {elcatch nim,” and' tt just petered out and hit the ground. | aiso-saw two impacts on the ground, which turned out fo be ihe wreckage ef the MIG'T had shot down. T stil didnt know that (hag shot one down, and a8 we exited the ata at low level my wingman asked mei | had shot someone down | calied the controler to ack if he had any” MiGs down. He said that he sian. (ne never picked up the tno that came out of China’ finally tola my wingman to Torget ite eta est get fo the tanker and well work Wout on he ‘rcuind later. Wien Wwe got back and debrieted, the intelligence people though ' had shot boih MiGs down with one missile ines they were flying @ fairy ‘close formation. (flemember the {wo pults of white smoke) had fo wait untt ihe following Mording t6 get the kill contiemed. turned out that another fight had ogen exiting the same area at the time, and tha had waichea the whole thing fom up above. Tey said thet mmy/missie had impacted the MIG in mi. Wuselage, slowing SH a'wing, nenca the two putts of smoke and two Impacts otyhe Ri we itying_ 1 Ril was, particularly aratitying tor a couple of reasons. We hacalt shot any Migs down in our oquacron fang ala squadron pany the night Belore, Ken and | werd {alling everyone nhy. It was my opinion that we hasnt gotten any because we werent shooting any missiles” | {Gia"thom ait that even ithe MIG was Gut of range, you Should: shoot anyway. just to get him 10 turn ‘and igh. ‘This was greeted mith’ lot of yeah, yoan's. | quit the party ary, bul Rem stayed” on and his” parting words wer Sete: going out there Tomorrow, ahd if we gee 2 MG were going to shoot him doun'” After we broke the oe with. Sur kilt the squadron” got “three” more in rapid Secession tore the way ended i fad wanted to be a fighter pilot since graduating trom the All Force Academy int 1968" Whan | caine. out Of i raining, there wore no fightor assignments available. Iwas {old 10! volunteer for 'sTour.in’'Southesst Asta, thon Volunteer for another tour 'n fighters. I slew one four i Ke-118"gunsnips, which I realy enjoyed, then was lucky enough fo get the fighter acalgnment f wanted Wien | came out of ATU, st George AF Twas assigned tovthe 84th TFS and also as Air Force liaison officer with the Seventh Fleet on Yankee Station. While there | had’ chance to talk 10 Mugs McKeown and come of the other Mig Killerson the Miawayt picked Up some realy good eas on what wo do and what not to do from those Guys Asa result of this, Leite lot more confidant whon we had ur engagement 4p august, 1972 mic-21 Fe4E, ath TES, 386th TW A/C Ser. No. 69-291, Code “LA” Call Sign “Pistol 3” Capt. Sam White Capt. Frank Bettine ‘Sam White joined the Air Force in. 1969. After his one yea" Of lot iaining, he was "assigned. fo ‘the’ F108 hunderchief. ‘During his Wansition to the Thud, at MeConnell AFB, the ‘Air Force reassigned all 7105's tothe Alt Reserve and Air Guard. Sam wae tansterred {0 Fea training at George AFB, Califomia. Upon completion ot tne Fet'trnsition, he was assignec to the ih TFS, 368th TEW. He reported Yo them in September 1971, at ‘Danang AB FVN. Mis one year tour in the War zone ‘encompassed all jnases of iNe Vietnam alr war, Including in-country strikes, InSouth Vietnam, strikes on the Ho Chi Minn trall in Laos, close support. missions agaist the North. Vietnamese armies invading ‘through the DMZ in tho spring of 1972, and missions orth during ihe Linebacker campaigns. He fiew a total of 205 combat missions. Mis 20dIh was the mmission that’ compressed. three years ol ‘raining as." fighter pilot into a few crucial seconds, and vindicated the hare work and dedication he tad put into tose years. ‘About the first of July, 1972, the 366th TEW moved to Takhll RTAB from Danang, in order to provide a better base fer operations against Norin Vietnam. ‘Our mission on 19 August was to act a8 MIGCAP for a flight of elght F-4 Ghat Bombers. We stere a {light of four F-l's, The chaft bombers go Into. the target area ahead of the strike force and, flying line abreast at relatively slow Speed and medium altitude, lay down a carpet of chaft to Screen. the enemy ‘radar. "They use. either bomblets. oF ispensers. todo this. The "aoult isa ‘cortidor onthe Inglose or egrets rouios thal wil, napotuly, contuco the tiple A‘and SAM fadars and leave the bombers. free. to ‘concentrate on their bomb funs, | was fiying number three, feading ‘the second element in_our flight of Tour. “Our configuration at take-off was three extemal Tuel tanks, four Sidewinder missiles, and wo Sparrow missiles, with ECM jade carried Inthe forward missile wells. Since we were ving the F-4E, we also had the 20mm cannon in the nose ‘Take-off ‘was late morning, and the summer sun had already filled the alr Over the wunways of Takhli with eat waves. as Pistol Flight roared into the trope. sky of Thailand. The four F-4's climbed away, heading east, their route took them over Laos ard ‘northern South Vioinam. nea they reached the Gulf of Tonkin, they tumed north for their rendezvous. with the Chait Bombers. Enroute to the rendezvous point ‘they made contact “with KC-135, Tankers and topped off thelr tanks with fuel ‘They made contact with the Ft Chal Bombers off the écast of Haiphong and ot into position behind hem tor the tun in to the larget area. MIG tactios during ‘this time period hhad "deen pretty "much ited to ground controlled intercepts in whieh the Gonicior would bring the Interceptor out low, pos tionirg him behind the targel aircraft before clear ing him to climb Into position behing the target for the. missile shot. To combat his. Pistol ight Stayec. behind the Chall Bombers, weaving back and terth as sloments. The Weave allowed them to Keep up thelr speed. and to clear gach others “six crolock. ‘Any MiGs that Game. out to! shoot’ down the "Chall "people would ave 9. fly right. throu Pistol Flight. 7 ‘The ingress route was just north of Hon” Gai, Gver what was known (to the propio at Takhii) 35 MiG? Rage’ MIG. Ridge isa mountain range that ‘uns in an east-west direc tion, rom “the coast line to the flat lands. around Bac Giang. Pisiol “Flight was. tuned. tothe radio frequency of "Reg Grown’, the Navy cruiser in the Gulf of Tonkin that monitored the a space in Northern North. Vietnam with i's. radars, roviding information for “Amefican aicraft tying “strike Mnigsions on the whereabouts of MiGs. During thelr run on the target area, the 12 Phantome would also be covered by aight of F-i05F- Wild Weasels, who would stay tow and ity’ To. knock ‘out. any SAM sites. “hat threatened the mission. The F-105's were designated “Eagle Flight Shortly alter they ingrossed, Pistol load checked in with Red Grown, and seconds later the F-108's were spotted low at nine lock. The mission. proceeed smoothly, with Wnite and Bettine checking the armament switches 36 they weaved back and forth behind the Chall F-4'e. Piatol load Called to remind them to check their EcM pods "on". They fad’ blown their centerline tanks off as they crossed the Coastline, and were burning off the fuel In their wing tanks fs. they pressed_on into Norh Vietnan. ‘They could hear tho Eagle Flight working on SAM sites, the ‘SAM crews turning on thel? tadats for short periods, then abruptly shutting. them down as the Wiid Weasels Bogan to home on them. Then, suddenly, they had thelr first indication of @ possible engagement. Red Crown came Up. with:. “Possible bandits, one three five, Bullseye {welve". (“Bullseye was the name assigned to’ the center of downtown Hanoi. The above call indicated that. the faniact wae. on” the 135 degree racial 12 milea. from “Bullseye") Tho adrenalin pumped a little faster...thare were MiGs airborne! The calls hom Red Crown continued: Red Crown with confirmed bandits, zero. nine tive, Bullseye dorty.” Red Grown with bandits, one 2010 2010, Bullseye forty four, headed east.” Pistol Lead reminded the rest of the flight to keep their heads up-it' appeared that the MiGs were coming thelr way Had Crown with bandits one, zero zero, Bullseye forty five, hngaded for the Eagle Flight “Eagle copy" “Eagle, copy “The Wild Weasels now diverted their attention from SAM hunting to the possibility of a MiG engagement. White ooked out and aw the F-105s go to alterburn fed Crown, bandite zero nine elght, Bulle} altitude is Unknown, estimates Tow.” "Bandits now zero nine. five, forty nine Bullseye. Beltine came up with; Theyre only forty miles ahead of “ed Crown, bandits are now two 2er0 z0r0, about ten miles from the Eagle Flight.” Eagie Lead came on with: “Roger that!" ity eight, a “Red Crown, bandits are in the dark, estimating zero nine five, Bullseye tity two.” ‘Bandits now ‘neading zero tive zero, altitude estimated tow." "Tlee Crown, bandits zera nine one, Bullseye titty te, ‘The North Vieinamese had tuna perfect intercept. The MiGs had come out of Phuc Yen, made one high speed pase. over the center of Hanoi, "dove for the deck, and Feaded ‘east. Red Grown had done an admirable Job. of pieking out the MiGs from ground clutter as. the enemy Interesptors, had positioned themselves down low for thelr run on the Phantome. Platol Flight continued their weave, lnith the back seaters constantly checking six o'clock for the MiGs. ‘Suddeniy, Captain Forrest Penney. in the back seat of pistol Two, called; “Pistol one and two, we havo a MIG st Our six ovcidek! Broak leit NOW! ‘White: on the left of the lead, looked back over his right, shouldet and spotted a MIG-21 ‘boring in.on one and two. ‘he MIG ‘nas shout, 3600 foe! back Sand just" pulling hig nose into tiring position as the lead ‘clement broke hard Tait. White wont to. full afterburner, ‘called the MIG. to, Betting, and Keoping him in sight, climbed and rolled over the top, hoping to scissors the MIG. “ine Wale was by himeelt, Apparently his wingman had golten separated, ‘and was on nis own.- ne would later Be chased home by another flight of four Phantoms. ‘As White rolled over the top, he could ‘see the MIG start after the Toad element then, as he realized that they had too much angie off on him, ne made a feint for winite's element. But three and four were now planform ‘and above him. He had no. chance Bt them, unloaded “and ‘spit out between the two Platol slements, now convinced that his best bet Was a quick dash Tor home. White continued his roll, making a 270 degree barrel role change of heading. and coming out behind and below the MiG. He had gotten supersonic as he came out the bottom and, ag he pulled Into position behind the MIG, the "Phaniom’s -stablators. dug into the ale ‘causing 'a slight “Mach” Tuck” as they. came Back’ through the. sonic. barrier. (The Mach Tuck ig characteristic of the Phantom, occasioned by increased Gtfectiveness of the slabilators’ in the sub-sonic region: Ir ‘can'cause a two. "G” pull to become five or six Gist it'ls’ not caught quickly.) White called “Pistol Cead,. contirming the fact that he was on te MIG, ang falling ead to reverse ‘The MIG made a slight turn, spotted White, and with afterburner going, climbed straight up. White Svershot slightly, {0 thé ‘outside, then correciod an Stared up iter the Bandit. The’ MIG started. 4. barr foll to the left, in, an attempt to get the Phantom fo overshoot out in front of him. White counter-rolled, corning out atthe 'MIG’s. blind deep. six. Now the Nort" “vietnamese ‘pilot could not see him at all. The Mi rolled ut the top. still unsure of where the Phantom was. White rolled ‘out above and behind. the MiG, asthe enemy pilot, in evident contusion, started 2 slight right turn White, with ‘nis radar in boresight mode, pulled the nosé of the F-4 down on the MIG "and ‘went 10 Auto Acquisition to get a radar lock onthe MIG. White hit the “Auto “Acc” switch. The radar weni Out, strobed to the MIG, and they got a ‘ull system Tock ‘on. Bettine said; "You're locked onto him! . 2 delay...cleared io fifel” White pulled a little lead. just enough to. glve the missiles a better chance and ‘Squeezed the trigger twice. There is a time delay of approximately one second between ‘trigge: pull and firing, and in that time he. was able to check Sil the Switches twice, shake ihe airplane, and Start to bemoan the fact thal they weren't ‘going to fire, when suddenly two big AIM-7e-2. missiles dropped Out of thelr walls. and, trailing huge’ smoke plumes, ‘shot out in tront-of' the Phantom. They Both “began tracking the MIG, pulling perfect lead, just’ az though they. were going to "Join up on his. Wing. The Sparrow's rockst engine burns. out in Something like three seconds, ‘ut by that time it's Going ‘somewhere in excess of Mach’ 3, which gives Wa 'tnaximum range of thirteen miles. The first missile hit the MIG. in tho tail, causing a huge fireball. The MIG. emerged. from the. fireball, frailing white smoke and Tusly and another explo: Sion wacked the doomed enemy fighter.” It continued Straight anead, ‘losing speed, for another. three thousand ‘eot or go before the pilot ejected. The MiG went into a spiral, stil trailing smoke and flame, and eventually crasfied into MIG Ridge. White rolled inverted and watched his victim crash, while the pilot floated earthward. in his, parachute. Now’ out’ of Sparrows, White selected HEAT. thinkin about the possibility of ‘engaging. the oiner Mi and. tiring “his. Sidewingers. But the Stner_ MIG Was already in ‘trouble, being chased by a following flight of F-4’a. He was more fortunate than hig leader, managing to barely stay. ahead of the Phantoms,’ and eventually ducking into Gia Lam airport in anol White’ and “his wingman were at. bingo fuel, 0. thoy “turned east and. headed out. over thé Suit, "picked "up a tanker, topped off, and headed istol flight arrived back at Takhli with enough fuol to let the troops know that they had gotten a’ "Blue Bandit”. They ‘cid a. four ship diamond formation flyby “to “get. the attention of those on ihe ground then. as. they pitched out tor fanding, White sucked fis gear and flaps up on final."'dnd dove to 100. feet off the deck. With afterbumners. going, ne did. a. victory roll, and pulled “up ‘info "series. of vertical rolls, belare Goming “back around to land. After langing, he and 'fredBetline were nosed down ‘by a’ fire truck. which was conveniently on hand to add 2 Splash t0 the impromptu ceremony. Sammy White (right) and Frank Bettine after their kill (Sem white). age Sit RE U.S. AIR FORCE MIG KILLERS oe ee Satis igtiete.«. & Pec Home of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School Is hangar two at NAS Miramar. MIG kills of Top TOP GUN i < Gun graduates are chalked up on hangar wall (Author). 30 From tho Navy's point of view, the air-to-air war over North Vietnam was’ conveniently” broken downto {No jhases. They are referred to as; "Before Top Gun, and After fop Gun”, | say conveniently because the Top Gun program vwas initiaied shortly after the bombing halt of 1966, and by the ume the air-to-air war was resumed in 1972 the program hag nad a chance to graduate several classos and filter ihe accumulated AEM kriowledge into the fest The U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, popularly known as “TOP GUN", was conceived asa result of the Ault Report, In 1988, the Naval Air Systems Command, under the ‘aegis. of Captain Frank. W. Ault, did. an_ extensive analysis of aerial combat in Souiheast Asia. The resultant feport tecognized the need for Improvements. in several areas. Recommended were: Improved missile, reliability, ‘more comprehensive. training in ACM for all fleet fighter Units, andthe development of a hard core of specialists in this area. The report urged the formation of a graduate level School {o train fleet fighter crews In AGM and weapons deployment. TOP GUN began life as “The U.S. Navy Post Graduate Course in Fighter Weapons Tactics and Doctrine”. It was '300n nicknamed Top Gun, a name which has stuck despite the fact that It trains Fe4 crews, who do not employ guns. It'wae originally’ Gepariment of VF-A21, the: Pacifte Fleet replacement training squadron for F-4 aircrews. The first clase. commenced. in March, 1909. The original syllabus Callod for one week of air-to-ground woapans deployment, find thrse weeks of al-to-air wore. 1 soon Became apparent ‘hat the ait-to-air portion of the course was far too complex to\eover adequately In tree weeks, and ing arto-ground portion’ was "subsequently “dropped. The four. wosks of {raining Include 78 élassroom fours of Instruction and 25 training flights per crew. The academics include: aerial Combat maneuvering procedures, ai to air gunnery, intelli (gence riots. on enemy aireraft and woapons, F-4 weapons Systems, air’ to alr missile. operation and procedures, electronics warfare, and fighter performance studies. (Ths Course was eventually extended to five weeks.) Concurrent with the establishment of Top Gun, the Navy began to intensity ACM training in fleet fighter squadrons. ‘and as a result, began to have more accidents. To theif Sverlasting credit, Navy top brass withstood the preseures fa‘ciscontinue the program because of the increased acc dont rate, steadfastly maintaining that the program would pay big dividends. (At the same time, the Alr Forse was Seemphasizing ACM) “the remendoualy Increased effectiveness of Navy fighter in tho 1872 air-to-air war fe the most rewarding tostimonal that proponents. of Top Gun could havo asked for “the reasons for Top Gun's success. are many, but one of the most imporiant fe the Support given ine progiem Dy figet fighter squagron com. Manders, They are asked To fend their best people to Top Gin, Mand have. “generally Tesponceo with the ream. of thelr fighter alcrews. Top Gun became autonomous In 1972 Under the. command of COM FAIR aivamar During my interview, wt commander Ronald. “Mugs” Mekeown, the current. com. manding officer of Top. Gun | ‘5ked he now Top Gun won “We take. eight crews. per claaa: and when they report fo Us. they" bing their own a Blanes and maintenance people Stong. They” fy with ue, eat with gi everything, fore month We Gon’ teach booies Stall We expect, ane. demand, that they havea woraing Know edge of lighter tactics. when thay artive. They are. the boat people tn their squadrons and Fopetutly, we will make then better. ‘When they leave here, thoy will return Yo their squadrons Bethe. resident experts on AeM, and pass on what they {eamad here tothe cost ofthe ‘Squacron. We don't try to turn Sita Sphing "a guy who fea a fit bit more’ so he can"goback and eat up on the “nuggets”. That's not the idea of the program: We ty {o attack ine problem as professionally as possible. We ty to {ake tne "who" out of ACM, replacing It with the "wy {and the "how" of winning and losing an engagement. We {ind that, early in the program, the students will come baok {rom an éngagement saying’ 'Man!|aidnt want you to ge the kil We fel them: “Ferget the kill. 'm not here told Wover yu Because I bea you | Go this three tes 3 day “cyou don't The. important thing Is to. learn from yout mistakes. ..why the kill occurred. 4 ie ty io expand and feline the course as we go along from class to class. I's a dynamic course, in-a constant Bae af on, bacaae te wold Is in eonalnt tae of lux: We don't want to got stagnant. We fight dogma who frer we can, We try to avold-being dogmatic, snd we te Sreryone. who. comes through; “if you ink youve got a Setter may to skin the cat, THIS is the place to ry tt” There eno such thing. ae THE ‘school eclotion. We have te Controlled eaniizes conditions here, and by attacking problem with @ total air of professienalism, we find ‘hat & {err the'ego fs taken out of he equation, and a guy Is ess apt to prose the airplane to “eal extromos. Now, that ie nol {S'say that he dows not fy eto the limit and sometimes beyond’ wnat ‘is normaly “consigered. ihe performance Think to be successtarin the Ft envelope of the alrpat you have to fly it oulside the envelope, just as we did I Sur MIG engagement. You have to be able to depart it, and Fecover it. i's not uncommon at all to see 800 Knots and Zero knots several times inva fight. Youve not always doing that, but you have to be able to go up. do it. and come *petore Top Gun, the overall kill ratio for the Navy was LT WILLIE DRISCOLL KKKKK o 28 as an aggressor creat to simulate the performance T-28 flown by Top Gun Instructor Lt. Willie Driscoll ie MIG-21 (Author). carries his MIG kills (J.G. Handelman). Top Gun sim McKeown (J. Mugs. McKeown’ is “Bullet’. The A-4 shown is painted in Israeli style tamoutlage (6. Handoiman) 31 CDR Lou Page and LCDR J.C. Smith got the first Navy kill of the war on 17 June, 1965 (USN). Four A-1 pilots who combined to shoot down a MIG-17 on 20 June, 1968. From left they are; Charles Hartman, Ed Greathouse, Clint Johnson, and Jim Lynne (USN). 40 August, 1967, mig-21 Flag, Sve-142, CVW-14, CVA-64 A/C No. NK.202 BuNo Ssz2i7 30 August, 1967, Fab, VE-1a2, CVW-14, CVA-64 Freeborn and his leader, Sob Davis, launched trom tne USS Constellation at 1148, climbed t@ rendezvous with a waiting KA-38 tanker, and topped off their tanks. Their mission was to fly cover for two strike groups, one from the Constellation, and one trom USS Intvepid, wien were tovstrike the Phu Ly transshipment point. As they dropped bit the tanker, the two VF-142 Phantoms banked to. tho Rorthwest, and headed for North Vietnam. They reached their assigned patrol area, over the foothills. west, of Nam Dinh.-and in foose combat “spread formation, began a fandém left hand pattern orbit at 16,000 fost. Tharo was an overcast a1 22,000 Test, and ‘since the GCI directed MiGs Ware expected to attack from above, the Phantom pilots had opted for a lower paral altitude, hoping’ to spot the MiGs as they descended through the cloug deck. Even though the MiGs woule hava the altitude advantage, tney would be in the transition trom instruments to visual, and Would mementarily be disoriented. In modern aerial ‘combat, a few segonds of indecision can be fatal, and that fe what the Phantom pilots were eounting on The Constellation strike group hit Phu Ly at 1230. Davis, ang Freeborn were able to observe some of the activ and ac the strike group pulled off their targets, the Ml appeared. The Phantom patrol heard several MIG calls, Dut despite continued and vigorous neck craning, they could not spot the enemy interceptors. The Constellation stiko Group was leaving the area, so they switched to. the {hirepic’ frequency, and Began calling” the. sirike leader. Soveral calls went unanswered. (They would later learn that the Intrepid strike had been Weather aborted.) ‘as they completed a southerly leg and began @ port turn ack to north, they began te get MIG. calls. for thelr immediate area, The MiGs were above. the overcast as expected, and the Phantom AlOs plotted a course to place the fight in-a position to intercept them. For Freeborn's RIO, Bob Elliot, thls was only the ninth combat mission. and Guy kept reminding im to check thelr fear for MIGS, At that moment the radio came alive with the call) "BANDITS SOUTH SO!" ‘This. placed” the MiGs about 15 miles directly aster of the two Phantoms. In perfect position to bounce them. Davis broke hard left, with Freeborn following and crossing under to maintain Position. Just as he slid under Davis’ Phantom, Freeborn frougat he spotted something high overnead. He id a Souble-take and. there was the unmistakable plantorm of fone, then two MiG-2ts! The MiGs had descended out of the ‘loud layer at 22,000 and were headed north. at about 4200 knots. They were silver and had No apparent markings. fang were carrying wing tanks. As they had hoped, the MIG pilots apparently had not spotted them. Now the two Fut lyere in perfect position Tor a clagsie six o'clock firing pass Freeborn called “MiGs, one o'clock high!" Davis rogered that he had them, as bath Phantoms continued ‘helt hard left tuin te pull Thto position behind the MiGs. They both ‘went to afterburner and, with all tiring switches set, rolled Out irectly behind the MiGs” The MiGs ware flying the Same approximate formation as the F-a's, with Ihe wingman about 100 yards left astern of the leader. Davis called: “Vil take the one on the right" His AIO got good Tock on, and he squeezed ‘off a Sparrow missile. Nothing! Nothing happened! Every “second in nis situation was precious, and Davis quickly selected HEAT. Meanie Preebor, with a new AIO had decided to attack with Sidewinder missiles. (The Sidewinder. 2 heai-seeking missile, can ‘be aimed and tired by the’ pllat alone. The fadar guided Sparrow must be fired with the aid of the RIO for maximum elfect) As Davis was’ attempting to fire Nis Sparrew, Ereaborn got a good annuciator tone, and fired 2 Sleewinder ied off the ral shot out ahead. of the fantom, and like a predator sniffing its. prey, quided te the MIG. 1 exploded in a brilliant flash of flame’ just leit of the MIG, which Immediately Degan to stream either smoke for fuel. At about the same time. Davis, with @ good Tone fired a Sidewinder. it was practically a carbon copy of Fresborn's attack, as It 100 failed to explode close encugh to.the MIG {o kill it Davie, again with a good tone, fired 2 Segond Sidewinder, which did not guide and went ballistic, ‘The MiGs, now aware that they were under attack, instead of breaking ‘hard and reversing, began a siow weave. This Inctoased ihe closure fate drastically and suddenly the two Phantoms were in danger of overshooting. Davis, closest! the MiGs, “ealized this and immediately executed a high Yoryo tei. As he came back down on the MiGs, he ined Ue Teeborn’s target. (The MIGS had changed relative pos tions in the weave.) Freeborn, farther back, continued to bore in'on his target, waiting until ne was in aure Kill ranga. Bavie, now at 14,000 fet, gota good tone.on the MIG. who was at 12,000 and in a 48\ degree left turn. As the annuncia- tor tose {0.4 steady growl, he fired his third Sidewinder. I flashed out ahead ofthe big fighter and homed straight to the MiG's tailpipe. Without waiting to observe the results Df his third missile, Davis tirea a fourih. He needn't nave Bothered. is thitd Sidewinder Rad done the job, and the fourth expioded in the resultant fireball Freobor, intont on his target, was surprised to see it explode belote he had a change io fire. "The bastard shot iy MIG!" he exclaimed te his AIO. But the other MIG was ‘well within range, and Freeborn immediately turned ‘is attention Yo it The MIG. was ahead of him ‘and. about a thousand feet iower. The MIG pilot, now aware that he was in deep rouble, was trying to reveise before the Phantoms Could ‘tite again. Fresborn spotted him as the MIG. pilot ‘wae cranking his nimble fighter around ina hard, nose up lett furn. The F-4's nose Want down as Freeborn cut the MIG'S circle. Then, with a perfect tone, he squeezed the Iiigger. Nothing happened!” Misfire! “This. just Isnt my doy!" wont through Freeborn's noad as he squeezed Gein. His third. Sidewinder fired off the launeh tall ig, after @ tentative wiggle, guided straight to the Mig. ‘t'seemed fo disappear momentarily, then the WG exploded in a firoball- The front hal ot the MIG merged tfom the, fireball and, as decelerated gun crazily toward the ground The setion had occurred ina matter of seconds and the Phantom crews ware abla to ooeerve both igs Impact on the enemy homeland. Neither MIG Pilot ejected ‘ster the.setion, the victorious aviators continued rorthward. They spotted another aireraf, which they fontatvely identiiea as a MIG, but It was five miles aay and pulling away from the Phantoms. A quick heck of their Tuel state Indicated that it was time to fead home anyway, "They banked away 0 the east and. with Freeborn constantly reminding his rookie RIO to; “Check our Sh, were aot home yel!™ they coasted out. Once gin thy"made hel rondenvous ‘wilt 2 waiting {inker and, "assured of “enough fuel t> ‘get. -bac aboard, headed for the Connie, Their twin. killing wes cflebrated. with special enthusiasm. for these tere the fret MIG-21's downed by the Navy inthe Vietnam War Bob Davis (left) and Guy Freeborn rehash about thelr MiG Kill (USN). MIG. Killers congratulate and | Vampatella successes (left). MIG Killers Speer and Shea upon return from the missic which each got a MIG, PLANES THE ACE’S FLEW 158 consTEUATON 5 FFG) ey ks F-4J of Lt. Randy Cunningham ané LuG) Willie Driscoll. Though this airplane carried their names on = the canopy rails, it was not flown by them on any of their kills USS CONSTELLATION 7B va Fe4J flown by Cunningham and Driscoll on thelr first and second kills F-4E used by Ritchie to score his 3rd and th kills. It was assigned to the 88th TFS, but was TOY with the a a 432nd TAW in the summer of 1972. F-4D used by Steve Ritchie in gaining his tst and sth kills. itis shown as it appeared immediately after the mission on which he became the Air Force's tirst ACE. Splitter plate was repainted with white outlines to stars later that same day, in order to assure that the markings showed up clearly in black and white photos. . F-4J of VF-96, flown by Randy Cunningham on the i —~ mmission of 10’ May, 1972 ee ne SBOG ECAH VF-96 LNAVY__| tit -e ‘Cunningham and Driscoll, the Navy's only aces. (USN) North Vietnamese MIG-21 drive mmission. (Koku-Fan) being briefed for inte MIG-17 of the North Vietnamese Air Force, believed to be the alplane flown. by Colonel Tomb, top scoring ace of the NVAF, In his fateful engagement of 10 May, 1972 with Randy Cunningham Dick Bellinger recounts how he got the first F-8 MIG-21 kill North Vieinamese MIG-17 photographed during @ dogfight sw, with U.S. Jets (USAF). F-4J flown by COR Sam Flynn is also the subject of color profile on page 43 (Lionel Paul vie Jim Sullivan. Known in the squadron as “Old Nick”, #201 was flown by Garry Weigand on his MIG kil Sullivan). March, 1972 Mig-17 F.4B, VE-111, CVW-15, CVA-e3 A/C No. NL1201 BuNo 183019 Lt. Garry Weigand LNG. Bill Freckleton My light leader and myselt were assigned what we called "FORCECAP”. It was for a photo reconnaissance mmission of Quang Lang airfield. Previous photo missions had indicated that they were stocking the airfield pretty heavily with MIGS, and we wanted to keep track of their activities. The photo plane was to fly up into Laos and enter North Vietnam through the “back door”. He had an escort of fighters that were to remain in Laos while he made the run over the airfield Ine ran into trouble, they would be there to assist him. (Author's Note: ‘This was before the North Vieinamese offensive against the South, ang the rules of engagement at that time prevented armed aircraft from entering North Vietnam unless the North Vietnamose attacked a reconnaissance aircraft or its escort.) Our mission was to set up @ CAP station out over the Gulf of Tonkin, due east of Guang Lang, and to orbit there, just in case we were needed. We suspected we might be since the MIGs had increased their tying significantly in recent days. ‘We didn't nave a tanker available, so my flight leader and | decided to launch about 20 minutes after the photo force, in order to conserve fuel and give them a chance to fly over South Vietnam and begin their run up through Laos. While we waited on deck, we “hot refueled”. (Kept the fuel hoses: connected and pumping, with engines running.) When it came time to launch, we disconnected the hoses, and taxied to the cats. At that time, my flight lead had a utility, hydraulic failure, and had to abort. We had planned for such a contingency though, and had a spare standing by, who had briefed with us, and was able to assume the lead sim Stilinger was now my lead, and we launched on ‘schedule. fer launch, we formed up and headed for Brandon Bay, where we were to orbit over Red Crown, the USS Chicago. We had no sooner arrived when we heard the photo bird ‘who was by now making his first run, call out that a MIG-21 lust flew by him and there were several MIG-17's in the area, The escorting fighters Immediately left thelr holding Station in Laos and went in to engage the MIG, We Continued to listen as they engaged, and a big free-for-all fight started. We heard cals that the MIGS were firing their {guns and some Atoll AMS, and the Phantoms were firing Sidewinders. Neither side suffered any losses, ‘Then Red Crown vectored us into North Vietnam. They ing mission (Peter Mancus via Jim wanted us to set up a CAP station to the north of the fight, hoping that we would get a chance to cut the MIGs off, if they retuned to the airfield we figured they had come from. Our station was about £0 miles north of Quang Lang, and we had just sot up a port orbit when Red Crown came up with a "bogey" call, about 25 miles south of us, They cautioned that this was not a vector, and that they would keep us advised of its progress. We continued to orbit Then Red Crown came up with a confirmed "Bandit bearing 230 at 15 miles. We could hear the urgency in the voice of the controller as he instructed us to reverse hats {o starboard to intercept the MIG. As we turned we kept getting continuous calls on the bandit...240 at 10...250 at B...270 at 6...295 at 4...and finally, 230 at 2 miles, ‘and we still couldn't see himi Wo called'"No Joy” as we passed through a heading of 260. The controller came back with: "Look low!” We rolled up into a left bank, looked down, and there was the MIG! It looked as though he had just pulled his nose up to come after us. The flight lead Called “Tallyho"....and a couple of saconds later, | called: ‘Roger, Tallyho on one MIG-17!" He called: “Tm engaging. g0 to cover!” He came over the top and rolled down into the MIG, and they met just about on even ground, with the MIG turning hard into him, forcing Jim to overshoot. Stilinger then wont into @ high yo-yo. The MIG pulled ‘around, and reversed into him as he came down and ‘overshot again. Once more he went into a high yo-yo and {as he came down, the MIG reversed into him again. This Continued, with the majority of the turning being to the fight. The eventual heading came out about due south. | hhad gone to cover position, over the fight. When | frst rolled out to get some separation, then rolled back, | lost sight of the MIG momentarily. When | reacquired him, | kept my eyes padlockod on him, while Bill Freckleton kept an eye on our six, to make sure no other MiGs were behind Us. | kept tolling Stillinger where | was, and that | had both of them in sight, and that ! was positioning myself to enter the fight when Jim was ready for me to take over. The fight ‘continued in the same manner and finally, on about the fourth pass, as Stillinger pulled down into the MIG he tired 4 Sidewinder. When the MIG driver saw the missile come off the Phantom, he pulled extremely hard...probably in excess of six G's..and the missile did not guide. ‘Although he was maintaining a position somewhat to the ‘ear of the MIG, Jim realized that he was not going to be able to get a good shot on him. | could see this situation developing, and just about the time | figured it was about time for me to get into the fight, Jim called; “I can't stay behind him. 'm going to unload and run, Do you have me a ll ‘The F-AC flown by Pascoe and Wells on their first kill. It is seen here dropping 500 Ib. bombs on a “Sky Spot” mission. (Via Norm Welt) Fa tlown by Pasco Norm Well). 3nd Wells on thelr second MIG kill mission. Refueling enroute to MIGCAP mission over North Viet Nam. (Via In sight?” 1 rogeres that | hag him, and that | was rolling in fon the MIG. | rolled up over the top of the MIG, then ‘continued around in a leit hand roll, eoming out below and behind the MIG. | figured that he was preoccupied with dim, and had not seen me. He pulled hard into Jim, who ‘was now running straight out. Then, just as | put my nose ‘on him, he straightened up. ..and pulled hard into me! | figured he had now seen me and was going to come ‘around and start fighting with me. But | pushed down, trying to get at his blind six, and then he reversed back ‘onto the flight lead, who was now directly in front of him. ‘So he hadn't seen me after all! When | had first rolled in Con him, | had a lot of excess airspeed, and had started 10 foversndat. To correct this, | went to idle ang put the speed brakes out. As the MIG reversed onto the lead, he lit his afterourner and got his speed up pretty good. | got the ‘speed brakos in and went to military. The MIG was fairly Close to Jim, but his reverse had cost him some position, {and Jim had’ picked up a lot of energy when he unloaded. We were down to 500 feet and Jim was pushing 600 knots. sim was opening on him pretty fast. The MIG must have thought he had a chance at a gunshot though, and that's, lit his burner, and continued to jockey for position led my nose onto the MIG just as he lit the burner sim came up with; “Do you have the MIG?" | rogered that i hhad him. He said; "Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!” | was at 480 feet, looking down about fifty feet to the MIG as I squeezed the trigger. After what seemed like hours, the missile came off, and did a couple of zig-zags, and’ lew Fight up his tailpipe. | figured we wore about % mile behind nim a doad six Tho instant that | squeazod the trigger, everything wont into slow motion. | gaw the missile disappear inte the tailpipe of the camouflaged MIG, but nothing seemed to happen right away. | was just about to fire anoth missile when a Big piece of debris flew up into the airstream behind the MIG. Then suddenly his whole tail came off, tumbling end over end, and a tremendous gout ff black Smoke erupted from him. He started into a glide for the ground. | figured | had better check my six, since it had been a long time. | pulled hard right, reversed left, and by that time the MIG had hit the ground. Jim watched him 90 all the way in, exploding on a hillside. The MIG driver didnot eject, probably because he was incapacitated. By this time, the North Vietnamese Air Defense Controller had vectored four MIG-21's onto us, they were only about 15 miles away and closing fast, We were fow on fuel and couldn't afford another engagement, so we lit the ‘burner and exited North Vietnam, supersonic at 1200 feat outdistancing the MIG-21"s. Once in the relative safety of four own naval force 1d from airborne tankers ‘and returned to the USS Coral Sea. Garry Weigand (foreground) and Bill kill (USN). amen TREK CHR ACA Ysa Markings carried on aircraft flown by “Devil” Houston when he got his kill are the same as above. However, Houston's reralt wae BuNo 160456 (Harry Walker 6 May, 1972, mig.17 8, VF-S1, CVW-15, CVA.43 LODR Jerry “Devil” Houston LT. Kevin |. Moore On the night of May 5th, we received intelligence reports that indicated that there might be as many as 14 MIGs at Bai Thuong airfield, which is about 25 miles west of Thanh, Hoa. The next day we scheduled an Alpha Strike on the aifield, and supporting anti-aicraft sites. | was flying as a patt of the TARCAP, which included two F-4’s trom VF-81, and two F-l's trom VF-111. My wingman was Chuck Schroeder, and his RIO was Rick Webb. Red Crown, the sea-based fighter controller, had pre-riefed us On the procedures he intended to follow. He had told us that as soon as he determined that the MIGS at Bai Thuong had gone to strip alert, that ig, when they had started their engines and were taxiing out for take-off, he ‘would call; “Screaming Eagles, heads up ‘The weather was quile bad, about twelve hundred broken, with build-ups, and because of this we had problems in finding our tankers. In my own mind, | felt pretty certain that the weather would prevent us from going In at all...but we went. The problems we had In getting together with the tankers really kept us pretty busy in the Cockpit, anc the crew cockpit concept helped out here, a8 Kevin kept reminding mo of switches that had to be turned fn and checked. Just prior to our “coasting in, four of our AB's split off and headed directly for Bai Thuong at low level. They were loaded with sixteen rockeyes each, and were going to make one low-level pass across the airtisld, dropping everything, in hopes of tearing up the field itself, and taking out a5 much of the anti-aircraft as possible. We coasted in south of Thanh Hoa, going straight west. We were going to fly, ‘west to Cat Dan, then tum north and fly up the valley to Bai Thuong, using the karst ae cover. Shortly alter we crossed the coast, the A-6's arrived at Bal Thuong, and immediately began calling MiGs airborne, MIGS everywhere, MIGS, MIGS, MiSs! That sounded good to us... was what Wwe were looking for, but we wore a long way away, about fifteen miles south. We felt we had ta stay with the F-4 bombers and A-7's that we were to cover. Finally the F-'s accelerated away from us, timing their arival about 30 seconds prior to the A7's. arrival They started to call bandits airborne, MIGs everywhere! We wore still nino miles south, We couldn't stand it anymore, so we pushed up the power and started descending to pick up more speed. We heard the F-4 Dombers call the A.6's, tal ing them that they had MiGs, at their six o'clock. We were now pretty low, and pretty fast, and just then Kevin spotted the A-6's. He said "There's your A-6's...one...1Wo...three...and there's your MIGs!" | looked out 10 my two o'clock and spotted the MIG. He was painted black, grey and white in a normal terrain type camouflage. It was a MIG-17, and was very ‘easy to recognize, though | wasn't close enough to spot ‘any national markings. They went under our nose, and | Immediately started a hard 180 degree starboard turn, in afterourner, punching off the centerline tank at the same lime. Before | even completed my turn the MIG was shooting his 37mm cannon at the A-6's, This surprised me, because I thought that he was about two miles behind them when | started my turn. We called for the A-8's to break and two of them did. But the third one just sort of steadied up in front of the MIG. They were going about 465 to 500, knots, and we were past 600 knots, at about 100 feet above the giound. At that particula’ speed, the MIG 17 has a problem. He doasn't have the control authority to do very ‘much, since he lacks the power assist on his controls. In fact, the controle got so stiff that it ie cetually possible to bend the stick without getting control response! | was, calling for the A-6 to break, but he kep: right on going in front of that MIG, while the North Vietnamese pilot blazed ‘away with his cannon. What | didn't know at the time was that the A6 pilot was our CAG, who had earlier spotted the MIG on his other two airplanes, and had purposely slid in between them to draw ine MIG off of them. He was well aware of the MIG's control problem at high speed, and felt that he could avoid his cannon tie long enough to drag the MIG out in front of us. He had decided that he \would keep the MIG going until he saw our missile come off, then break. He knew the MIG would not be able to break with him at those speeds. | had a good sidewinder tone, but | didn't want to fire, since the MIG was square between us and the A-6, and | wasn't sure which of the two my sidewinder was locking at. The seconds seemed to slfetch into eternity as we approached rrinimum range. We couldn't get the A:6 to break...nere was the opportunity we had waited all our lives for and it was going to worms bocause that A-6 wouldn't break! Whie all of thie was ‘going on, our wingman was coming up on our five o'clock. Kevin looked back and spotted a MIG behind Chuck ‘Schroeder. Kevin called the MIG, but in our particular airplane, which was old and had a history of radio problems, the sidewinder tone was also transmitted, effectively blocking the rest of the transmission. | couldn't hear it either, and in any case, I had the blinders on...concentrating on our NIG, and the AS that wouldn't break. Chuck didn't know about the MIG behind him until the ted balls begen to go by his canopy. He broke left, dragging the MIG behind us, and off our tail. 1 was still unaware of all of this, Since all | could hear was the insistent grow! of that sidewinder tone. Finally | reached minimum range...shoot...or no shoot. | shot. | squeezed. the igger_and nothing happened. | checked all tne switches, told Kevin: “The SOB Isn't going to work!" land prepared to fire again. All this in the normal delay time from trigger squooze until launch, which is about W's of a second, but which seems like minutes. The missile finally came off, and wen straight down! Then straight up! And, as we flew through the hump-backed smoke trail of the sidewinder, it straightened and headed for the MIG. CAG saw the missile come off and broke. The MIS couldn't break, and the sidewinder flew up his tall pipe, blowing his tail off. We were so low that the explosion of the missile was followod immodiatoly....just bam! bam!. ..by the explosion the MIG made ae he impacted a ridge line, pulled off right and asked Kevin where Chuck was. He told me about the MIG that Chuck had dragged off to the left. | came back left, and there wae Chuck, He had dragged the MIG’ into the karst, and had reversed right. The MIG couldn't keep up with his speed or his maneuvers, and had broke left and headed home. We joined up and made couple fof more sweeps of the aroa to make sure that the strike group had gotten out O.K., then headed for the Coral Sea, | don't think the MIG | got ever saw me, and the MIG in back of Chuck didn't tell his friend he was in trouble. But then, they have a very thick windscreen in front of them, and they can’t soe much of anything past three miles. They were both aggressive, but their inferior equipment did them in. The whole action couldn't have lasted more than 2 minute, if that. We were never aole to determine exactly how many MIGS were up, but none of the strike force was hit, and everyone returned to the ship O.K. a Oy Ast Skyraider flown by Clint Johnson on MIG killing mission of 20 June, 1985. Four Act's were jumped by two MIG-17’s, who attempted to manuever with the Spads. One MIG got slow in front of the. Spad's 20mm cannon, F-4) of VF-142, flown by LX(JG) Scott Davis on MIG killing mission ‘of 28 December, 1972. MIG killing F-8 of VF.24. VF-28 scoreboard of MIG Kills was carried on ventral fins of the squadron's airplanes, F-48 of VF-111, flown by Garry Weigand on his MIG kulling mission ‘of 6 March, 1972. AN marking MIG killa ie shown also. F-48 of VF-161, flown by Pat Arwood and Taco Bell tn their MIG Killing mission of 18, May, 1972. = Supersonic Eagle as displayed on the F-4 of Jerry felerred 10/28 “Supersonic can-opener”.) 4B of VF-51, was flown by Winston Copeland and Don Bouchouk on thelr MIG killing mission of 11 June, 1972. lronically, this elreraft was assigned to Ken Gannon, (note his name on canopy rail and call ‘sign "Ragin” Cajun” on fin tip) who got a kill in the Ft assigned to Copeland. Kills were recorded on their aircraft that got them, with the call sign of the plat adjacent to the kill matking F-4J of VF-31, assigned to Gir. Sam Flynn, who got his MIG on 21 June, 1972 MeGabe on their MIG killing mission of 6 May, 1972 F-4) of VF-114, flown by Pete Pottigrew and Mike NH oI F-4J flown by Pete 6 May, 1972 Mig-21 Fed, VF-114, CVW-11, CVA-63 A/C No. 202 BuNo 157246an Lt Bob Hughes LG Joe Cruz 6 May, 1972 Mic-21 F.4d, 'VE-114, CVW-11, CVA-63 A/C No. 201 BuNo 1s724san LCDR Pete Pettigrew LUG Mike McCabe After the engagement in which “Devil” Houston got his MIG, and the presence of MiGs in the Bal Thuong area was dofinitely ostablished, “it was decided to put ina late afternoon Alpha Strike on the Bai Thuong afield. Four aircraft from VF-114 were assigned covering assignments for the strike. There was to be a western MIGCAP station, Just north of Bai Thuong, and an eastern station, or BARCAP, just feet wet off the coast of Thanh Hoa. VF-213, would provide tho TAROAP. (The principle differences botwoon TARCAP and MIGCAP involve assignment. ‘The TARCAP fightors must stay with the strike group, engaging MiGs only if they get into, and threaten, the bombers. The MIGCAP “fighters have ‘their own radio. trequency and controller. Their job is to get MiGs wherever they appear. land they have the freadom to do just that.) Pete Pettigrew was originally assigned to the BARCAP and, as a result, his airplane was. loaded with four Sidewinder and two Sparrow missiles. Bob Hughes was assigned the MIGCAP and had a full comploment of four Sidewinders and. four Sparrows. The four Phantoms from VF-114, led by the squadron Executive Officer, COR John Pitson, launched from the Kitty Hawk at 1630. They were about 80 miles off the coast ‘of North Vietnam, at Thanh Hoa. They knew that it would (get dark about 1830, so it was hoped that the strike would {90 on schedule. As the two sections rendezyoused over the USS Chicago, which was acting as Red Crown, the fighter controller, CDR Pitson’s radar went “sown” He called Pettigrew and asked him to assume the lead on the ester MIGCAP station. Because the strike had: been ald ‘on hastily, and because there was a sense of urgency ‘about accomplishing it betore sunset, the fighters had not been able to refuel trom an aerial tanker. Pettigrew and Hughes coasted in, at the “hourglass” rivare (northeast of ‘Thanh Hoa) just’ as their centerline tanks finished transterring. They were now on internal fuel only, Shortly alter coasting in, they started to get a strobe on their ECM gear, indicating an airborne threat. They cross- turned, went back. cross turned again, and realized that the threat was on the ground. Then Red Crown came up with the information that he had some weak returns In the Bal Thuong area that he wanted them to check out. They hheadied south and within a few minutes, ran into the sinks group. Realizing that the returns Red Crown had been Getting was their own strike group, they turned north again. ‘And again Red Grown called, this. time with Bogeys, bearing 330 at 40 miles. This sounded like a good vector, It wwas inland, and in the normal corridor for MIGs. coming ttigrew and Mike McCabe on their mission (USN). out of Phuc Yen. Within seconds Joe Cruz got a pulse ‘doppler contact on the bogeys. ..bearing 30 at 35. Since hhe had them on radar, Hughes assumed the lead, with responsibility for the Visual Identitication Pass. Pettigrew now had problems with his missiles. Neither of. his Sparrows had tuned, which made them unusable. Two of his four Sidewinders were no good. They drove on into the MIGs, getting continuous position Uupdates from Red Crown. Al fifteen miles they went {0 afterburner to pick up additional speed. At four miles the Controller called; “check left at 10 o'clock!" ‘Everyone immediately had a tallyho on four MIG-21"s. The MiGs wore at about 4,000 feet and the Phantoms were at 6,000. The setting sun was behind the MIGS, but because they wore low, and there was a haze layer, they were easy to spot ‘They, were in trail, with the wingmen flying a "welded wing” formation. (Close to their respective leaders.) The MiGs were silver and looked as if they were going very fast. They had not seen the Phantoms yet. Pettigrew called for his RIO to watch the lead section, while ne concentrated on the trail section. Then ne called for the attack. Since Hughes was in a better position to engage, he toid Hughes; “You're shooter, I'm cover. let's ‘engage!” Thay closed to within a mile of the MiGs before the North Vieinamese spotted them. As soon as the MiGs spotted them, they immediately started to turn into. the Phantoms. The lead section of MIGS was far out in front, {and were obviously not going to gel back into the fight in time to cover their buddies. As the MiGs slarted their turn, Hughes fired @ Sidewinder. He knew that he was. at the edge of the envelope, and both he and Peltigrew had doubts about its guiding. But the Sidewinder turned sharply and guided to the tralling MIG, exploding close by the MIG. It blew sections of the wings and tail off, and put big ‘hole in the fuselage. ‘The sleek. silver bandit, immediately started trailing smoke and dropped out of the formation. ‘Pettigrew called; "Good Shot! ‘Good Shot!", and started to follow the MIG down into the karst. {9 Contirm the victory. It soon became apparent that the MIG ‘was going all tho way in, go he pulled hard to gat back into, the fight. In the meantime, Hughes was turning hard, trying fo line up the lead MIG. Encouraged by his frst success, he fired) two more Sidewinders. neither ‘one guided tough, and ended up going ballistic, Throughout the engagement, Mike McCabe had kept an aye on the other section of MIG-21'e, telling Pettigrew thet they were "90 off, 90 off, nose away.” They were no threat When Peitigrew ‘pulled back into the fight, he rolled up ‘over the top, and to the inside of the tum, He put his nose fon the MIG, got @ good tone, armed his missiles, and just as he squeezed the trigger, he saw Hughes’ last missile ome off the Phantom. Hughes’ last Sidewinder exploded close to the MIG and jess than a second later Pettigrow’'s missile flew up the MIG's tailpipe, exploding it in a huge, fireball. Pettigrew pitched off right, came Back Telt, and looked up just in time to see the cockpit section of the 2t all that was left of it.-.come out of the fireball. The canopy came ott, and the MIG Gver ejected. His parachute opened as Pettigrew blasted by, lees than 200 feet away, st 430 nots. Had Pettigrew not pulled off fo the side wnen he did, ne probably would nave flown fight through the debris of the eaplosion and quite. likely ould have lost his own aire Blane doing it The other two MIGs. were stl not a great threat, But left with only one good Sidewinder, and questionable Sparrows. They decided to leave the area. ‘They did @ hard, nose down, luin into the MiGs, lit the burners and smoked out the weeds. Tho MIGe overshot and by the time they could get tuined around, the two. Phan- toms were five miles away. The controller from Red Crown was ow vectoring the eastern NIGCAP. Phantome onto. the two remaining MIGs, and as they came in sight of the North Vietnamese pilots, the NIG drivers decided that’ they had had enough tor one day, ‘and headed north ata high fate of knots, Pettigrew and Hughes went "eet wet", tanked, and recov ved aboard the Kitty Hawk The entire engagement had oniy tasted a minute anda MIG Killers Hughes, Cruz, MeCabe, and Pettigrew (USN) Personal F-AJ of McCabe and “Viper” Pettigrew as sees from tightly formating wingman’s cockpit (USN) r RS py \VE-14 F-4J's patrolling over North Vietnam (Bob Hughes). zs “Aardvark” tail markings (leo 800 page 42) (Bob Hughes) ie = 45