Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
He also handed me a pound of lead which was the top of a 37mm shell, which he had found somewhere in the leading edge of the wing. I use it to this day for a paperweight on my desk. You can see how the detonating mechanism is mis-aligned. This has been a constant reminder of that day and how the good Lord had His hand upon me, even though I didn't have a clue.
Friday, November 20, 2009
How much fun is it to think about my dad and what he'd think of this world and the mess we're in? I get in these moods (and especially on his birthday) when I get a sniff of Canadian Club. Bizarre, I know. That smell and that of a freshly dry-cleaned suit, bring back memories of my youth, my family and the security I felt as I grew up.
Now dad was not a boozer. Don't think for a minute that I smelled the CC on him whenever I saw him. But there is something about the odor that takes me back to Seattle in the late forties and the pleasant routine of life for the Wilsons. Going for an apple pie on a Sunday evening. Listening to "Lum and Abner" "The Shadow" and "Amos and Andy" (http://www.oldradioworld.com/shows/Amos_n_Andy.php), innocent things that are missing in today's frenetic lifestyle in the glow of the TV.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
2. Types of USAF Systems.
2.1. MA-1A. The MA-1A emergency arresting system consists of a net barrier and
cable system designed to engage the main landing gear of an aircraft. Because it is a unidirectional system, it must always be installed in the overrun area.
Aircraft engaging this system above the speed and weight limits provided in Figure 2-
3 will result in a runout greater than 305 meters (1,000 feet), or cable failure. Most MA-1A systems employ ships' anchor chains as the energy absorber. These systems require a runout area of at least 259 meters (850 feet) plus the length of the aircraft. The chains lie on either side of the runway overrun, beginning at the barrier location and running in the direction of aircraft travel; however, some MA-1A systems use a BAK-9 instead of a ships' anchor chain
as the energy absorber. These systems require a runout area of at least 290 meters
(950 feet) plus the length of the aircraft. This configuration is an MA-1A/BAK-9 combination.
If you actually read all of that stuff above, you should note two important items:
First it says that this is a unidirectional system. It is designed to work one way.
Second, note which way the arrow is pointing. Right to left.
The thing is designed to catch a fighter that has aborted take off for whatever reason and it prevents the airplane from traveling out into the local boonies by arresting it with a net-like barrier or cable (like an aircraft carrier). It assumes a decelerating "catch" under about 180 knots (in typical use more like 80K). This is a departure end engagement.
In an approach end engagement, you engage the mechanism from left to right. Yup, wrong way on a one-way street. Oh and you don't want to catch the part of the barrier that is attached to the ship's anchor chains. Look at the diagram and you'll see that if used from right to left, you pick up the drag of one link, then two, then three and so forth. From left to right you grab the entire weight of the chain immediately and probably rip the ass off of your plane (or worse). You might want to note as well that there are about 35-50 feet between the chain catch and the cable catch.
I am starting to brag here.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
About Vietnam Protesters
( And The Harm They Still Do )
What did the Vietnam protesters want?
The self-serving anti Vietnam war movement damaged our country beyond measure.
In the process, they shamelessly denigrated all Americans who fought there.
This site attempts to keep these facts fresh in the minds of the American public. This is especially important today, as similar cowardly ignorance threatens the freedom we have won for the people of Iraq.
Before you read further, review your impressions about Americans who fought and suffered in The Vietnam War.
Now, ask yourself if your impressions are consistent with these facts:
• 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
◦ 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam (Actual Vietnam Veterans).
◦ The rest served their tours in Germany, Alaska, South America and the United States.
▪ Many protesters claiming to be Vietnam Veterans never served in Vietnam or any branch of the military.
• North Vietnam admittedly invaded democratic South Vietnam to further Marxist-Leninist ideology.
◦ With instruction and aid from the entire communist bloc.
• The American military did not lose a single significant battle in the Vietnam War.
◦ The US lost 60,157 KIA and MIA
▪ The Communists admit to 1,100,000 KIA and MIA.
◦ The Tet Offensive of 1968 was a military disaster for Hanoi.
▪ It resulted in the death of some 45,000 NVA troops and the destruction of most Viet Cong elements in South Vietnam.
◦ The fall of Saigon happened 30 April 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam.
▪ The peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973.
▪ It called for release of all U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides' forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to peaceful reunification.
▪ South Vietnam fell only because a pusillanimous congress failed to honor our pledges of support when the North violated the terms of the treaty.
• The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism.
◦ This can be argued a result of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam.
◦ This is one argument for the validity of the "Domino Theory"
• Two-thirds of those who served during Vietnam were volunteers rather than draftees.
• 77 percent of those who died were volunteers.
• Of those who died, 86 percent were Caucasian, 12.5 percent were African-American, and 1.2 percent were from other races.
• Fully 91 percent of those who served in Vietnam combat stated that they were glad they had served their country.
• 74 percent said they had enjoyed their time in the military.
• 71 percent of those who expressed an opinion indicated that they would go to Vietnam again
◦ Even knowing the end result.
• Betrayed at home by the university elite, the media, and the privileged, in the final analysis they had fought for each other.
Most Americans who served in Vietnam were ordinary citizens, grateful to live in a Democracy, trusting our elected government to call upon them to bear arms only when necessary for the defense of our country and our freedoms. This has to be the assumption of anyone claiming citizenship in any country.
• The Vietnam War was regarded by those who fought it as a struggle to help preserve freedom and democracy for the people of South Vietnam against communist invasion.
• Post-war Communist documents show that was exactly the true situation.
• As those Communist documents also show, these "protesters" actually helped cause unmeasurable tragedy, tragedy which better Americans sacrificed their own lives trying to prevent.
• In our Democracy, any government position faces judgment at the next national election, but the duty to respond when called is 24/7 for any responsible citizen.
• The main imbalance in the war, (as in the Korean War), was simply that the privileged avoided their obligations, and have persisted since that time in demeaning the war and the patriotism of those who did serve their country, in order to protect themselves from the judgment of history.
• Hopefully, this brief account will help remind us all of the truths behind the war, and those who fought it as Americans.
• In a very elementary way, America's actions in Vietnam define Patriotism.
• They do so again today, in Iraq.
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.
And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?
A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.
It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY
© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt
Document: Vietnam Protesters
Last Update: Sun, 30 Mar 2008 15:31:20 GMT
Monday, November 2, 2009
I probably wound up saying nothing except that which shouldn’t be posted here. It was pretty obvious what had happened. Like I said before, every now and then one of them pesky AA shells takes a life of its own and seeks a higher effective range than it’s suppose to. We were in its airspace.
First thing, fly the airplane. OK, so I did that and it seemed to respond to the controls. There was something distinctly different though. The best word that I can think of to describe the way the phantom was flying is wallowing - that is, it was rolling from side to side albeit in a controlled fashion. The F4C has hydraulically driven flight controls. It flies smoothly and reacts to pilot input quickly. This bird wasn’t flying that way. I found out later that left wing damage had pretty well cancelled out the effectiveness of the flight controls on that side. The ailerons and spoilers were not working properly, if at all. There was some new induced drag on that side of course since the sheet metal was all screwed up. The plane flew kind of like what I remembered the T-33 felt like. Big stick input. Wait! There! She’s beginning to move. Wallowing.
We were still heading up with a lot of power, so as I rolled back more or less level, I pulled back on the throttles and got that part of it under control. Level flight, heading to Ubon, reasonable speed. They say pilots react instinctively. That’s true. I can’t really remember doing anything as a result of analyzing the immediate situation. It was all reaction. Anyway, as soon as we could, Bill and I ran the checklist for lighted Christmas tree in the cockpit (the lights are in the lower right in the cockpit picture). One thing I do remember though, is how relieved I felt that we were still inside the airplane and not hanging on a parachute outside in the wind. That was a very good feeling.
My flight lead called and asked if everything was under control. He informed me that I was headed in the right direction and that he was joining up on me from seven o’clock low. Once there, he gave me a look over, but I have forgotten what he said. I’m sure that he mentioned that there were no more bombs attached (that’s good), I think he may have said something about all of hydraulic fluid stains under the wing. He was mainly interested in how we were doing and what our intentions were. First of all, my intention was to get the hell out of there and go “home”. We were already on the correct heading and our speed would get us there in about twenty minutes or so. That gave us time to think about what we were going to do to get the airplane on the ground. As Willy looked us over he had his own situation develop. He got one of those pesky low oil pressure lights and he had to RTB (return to base) ASAP. So long Willy. There were still a couple of guys nearby to watch us fly home. Meanwhile Bill and I assessed what we were dealing with.
I could control the aircraft fairly well. As it turns out I had flight controls on the right side only, that’s why it flew so sloppily. Some turning require almost a full stick deflection. There was a failure in the A system (PC 1) and Utility Hydraulics. Engines were both operating OK. The lack of hydraulics meant no brakes, no flaps, no nose wheel steering. Manual rudder control with attendant high pedal pressures. No gear retraction once they were down pneumatically. The “hook” would work and I would have to make an approach end barrier engagement. A no flap final airspeed with unknown battle damage could be around 200 knots. There would be no leading edge flaps and so no boundary layer control to help reduce the approach speed. I could deploy the “RAT” (ram air turbine) to see if that helped. It was unlikely. The drag chute would work, but wasn’t necessary in an approach end trap.
Good thing we had trained for this emergency. Too bad most of the training had taken place at happy hour.
Friday, October 30, 2009
In the business of daylight bombing, there is a distinct advantage over night time bombing under the light of flares. It lies mostly in the fact that you can see outside and generally tell what’s going on. Sometimes, however, you still can’t really know about what’s going on because there’s simply too much going on at the same time! Does that make sense? I’ve tried to let you experience some of what went on in the preparation and roll in to deliver weapons. A lot of stuff.
I forgot to mention that you still have to fly the airplane all the time too. If you forget to fly the airplane, bad things happen. Sometimes when you do the prep, get into the delivery mode and fly the airplane, bad things happen anyway. That was the case for me and my back seater Bill, that early afternoon day in November of ’65.
To digress a bit and set the scene some, there was a lot more going on than just a quick call for some air support or tactical bombing. It seems that intel had received word that a very large shipment of materiel was making its way down the trail to Tchepone (see the entry for September 7th, two blogs back). The area had been under almost constant attack since dawn. This is not good when you are the guys coming for the tenth or twelfth raid on the same target. First, there is no element of surprise left. Second, they are waiting for more folks to come along and bomb them and most importantly, they are really pissed. So there goes Dave and Bill, two first lieutenants, number two in a flight of four, down the slot. We were probably the twentieth group of yankee air pirates to visit that day. They were ready.
The 37mm Anti Aircraft guns and their crews were ready too. The range of that weapon is about 4 kilometers, or about 13,123 feet. In theory, if you stay fifteen thousand feet above the target area, you won’t get hit. Sometimes that doesn’t work, for every now and then, one shell will make it further. The golden BB. The one that got us. (You can click on the pictures to enlarge)
When you get hit by one of these things, an explosive charge goes off and thousands of pieces of lead and steel are propelled in a spherical shaped cloud. The idea behind it is, of course, to rip the airplane apart or in the very least so damage it that it won’t fly. Best of all, for those on the ground, the airplane might disintegrate in a cloud of smoke! Thankfully, the shell that hit us was a partial dud and only the bottom half of the charge went off ("How does he know this?" Sez you, the loyal reader. That's a part of the rest of the story). Even so the noise was very loud (like a cherry bomb at your feet) and the phantom shuddered like nothing I had ever experienced before. We had taken the hit a couple of feet from the leading edge and not far enough back to screw up the left main landing gear. There was a big hole in the left wing. The plane rolled over to the right about 200 degrees and flopped around like it was on the verge of forgetting how to fly. Most of the amber warning lights in the cockpit came on together as if someone had thrown a switch controlling a Christmas decoration you didn’t want to see.
The first thing that came to my mind was to tell Bill, “Don’t Eject!” In a microsecond I also thought, “What if he only hears ‘Eject!’”?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The forward air controller talked with flight lead and described the target that he needed us to take care of. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember what it was. It could have been that almost “invisible” bridge or something else that the FAC could see pretty easily, but we couldn’t, considering our altitude and speed as we circled above. Whatever it might have been, the FAC marked it with a phosphorous smoke rocket and the area of interest became very visible. “Lay the bombs down a hundred yards east of the smoke”, or something like that he’d say. “Your target is under the tree canopy, on a line southeast to northwest beginning east of the smoke and continuing for about a quarter of a mile”.
We followed Willy as he positioned himself on a perch, about fifteen thousand feet up (I really don't remember). It had to be close enough in (that is, off set) and high enough up (distance away, along the off set), to allow the pilot to maneuver into a fairly steep (some thirty to forty degrees) path which paralleled the target’s axis. If you were too far out, the glide path would be too shallow and the bombs would drop short, too close in and the opposite would happen. It took some maneuvering around, but it wasn’t as difficult as it may sound. The “pipper” a depressible, illuminated reticle, (ooops, does everyone know what that is? )
a series of fine lines or fibers in the eyepiece of an optical device, such as a telescope or microscope, or on the screen of an oscilloscope, used as a measuring scale or an aid in locating objects.
would have been preset to give the correct representation along the path over the ground as to the alignment of the Phantom along the desired run in. So you have these factors to confirm as you fly around positioning yourself on the lead and the other two planes in the flight - altitude to roll in, angle off to get the correct dive angle, pipper setting, arming the appropriate weapon stations, keeping your eye on the target, watching the smoke, airspeed within a few knots of correct release velocity, and listening for lead to be cleared in. Lead rolls in, I follow just enough behind him to give myself good spacing and allow me to recover without worrying too much about where he was going to be.
Ok, everything’s done. Rolling in hot. Good angle off. Acceptable dive angle (can adjust release to compensate). Pull throttles back a bit to maintain speed in the dive (seems like we used about 350-400 knots, but I forget). Watch altimeter. Adjust alignment for a better run in heading. Trim the airplane. Be aware of “G’s”. You want the plane to fly down the chosen path, all trimmed up and smooth as possible. Pipper moving along nicely towards smokey target area (a bunch of tree tops!). Willy’s bombs hit right on the target, my pipper crosses aiming point, I release. There’s only one spot in space that is the correct release point above any particular target. Airspeed, altitude, angle, pipper position all must be correct and perfect. This rarely happens. Most of the time you simply compensate one way or another for what you know to be the anomaly in your “perfect bomb run”.
When all of those bombs leave the plane there is a pretty big mechanical sounding jerky vibration. Over in a half second. You know the bombs are gone (hopefully, all of them).
The fun has just begun. If you’re smart, you’ll begin the 4 G (or whatever you can get) pull up with a hard turn, one way or another. Firewall the power. Follow this with another turn immediately in the other direction. Reverse. Reverse. Reverse again. Go up. Climb. Get the hell out of there! It’s called jinking, basically not setting up a straight line or climb angle for a gunner to get a sight on you. You can look in the rear view mirror to see if you hit anything, but don’t worry about that too much.
We had been briefed that there was no significant anti-aircraft weaponry in the area. They were wrong.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It's 135 miles from Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base to Tchepone Laos, as the crow flies. You can see from the map at the right, the Ho Chi Minh trail came out of North Viet Nam, into Laos and paralleled the South Viet Nam border all the way down to Cambodia and beyond."It linked North and South Vietnam via the Laotian panhandle, and it was an indispensable source of supplies for communist forces operating below the 17thparallel in the 1960s and early 1970s. Air interdiction and special operations forces slowed but never stopped the flow of matériel. President Lyndon Johnson, primarily for political considerations, would not approve air strikes around Hanoi and Haiphong, which might have been more successful in the overall effort to disrupt enemy activities. Initially opened to support Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh Trail was nothing more than a skein of rustic traces through the wilderness in the late 1950s. Dedicated men, women, boys, and girls trudged down its paths bent bandy-legged beneath heavy loads, all but ignored by senior officials in Washington and Saigon because the invoices were unimpressive: a little rice, pitted handguns captured from the French, homemade weapons pieced together like so many Rube Goldberg inventions. The tempo, however, gradually picked up and the consignments increasingly included items such as radios, pharmaceuticals, plastic explosives, recoilless rifles, and repair parts. Ammunition requirements multiplied exponentially after U.S. combat forces hit North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars head on in 1965." (from Autumn/Winter 1997–98 / JFQ)
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I was priviledged to have as mentor, drinking instructor and flight C.O. a man who had flown in the Korean war. He taught us how to use a black grease pencil to mark on the inside of the canopy to use as a sight and other neat tricks. I think of him most every day and thank him for teaching me so much and being a friend and great leader (in his own cantankerous way).
I can see the guys sitting around, playing cribbage or something, waiting for someone to come in the room and announce that our skills in close air support were needed. Everybody was more or less similar in appearance, having partially prepared ourselves for the fastest exit and take-off possible.
So, you put your G-suit on first, then your survival vest, which had little pockets all over it containing stuff for use if the worst thing happened. There was a first aid kit and I also chose to have one hundred rounds of 357 ammo and some tracer bullets. A shoulder holster with its contents more or less duct taped in was in the next layer. I had purchased a Smith and Wesson 357 magnum with a six inch barrel (my personal weapon). They issued us a puny little thirty eight snub nosed thing of a revolver, but it seemed to me that I could fight my way out better with the magnum. This of course, was just a pipe dream and simply used to bolster my own confidence! Then there was the harness. It was a bunch of straps which went all around your chest, up through your crotch on either side and was all sewn on to a garment that could be said to resemble a vest, of sorts. We would typically get ready to fly by putting on a harness which connected to the rocket ejection seat in the plane. This was good, because everything remained in the plane and you didn’t have to lug it around like you did with the older fighters. This all hooked up to the ejection seat, as I mentioned. It wasn’t really as complicated or weighty as it may sound. It was comfortable, more or less and once you got everything fitted OK, which took some time initially, it was a good outfit and I felt that everything could be used for survival, if you were unlucky enough to be shot down and escape immediate capture.
The aircraft were assigned (in either flights of four or two) and they were all parked on the ramp that was just outside the squadron ops building. We either would walk or get a lift to the plane. Typically all of the planes would be fairly close together or even next to each other, so you could use hand signals for things if you needed to.
A guy from intelligence came in about two that afternoon.