Category: aviation

North American T-28 Trojan of the Royal Lao Air Force at Udorn…

North American T-28 Trojan of the Royal Lao Air Force at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, circa 1972. Submitted by a veteran.

MCDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II of US Navy Strike Fighter…

MCDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II of US Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VF) 161 off the USS Midway, circa 1972.

Alpha Company, 2/8th Cavalry, circa 1965

Alpha Company, 2/8th Cavalry, circa 1965

Bell UH-1 Huey at work, 1970

Bell UH-1 Huey at work, 1970

“The minigun ships, on the other hand, carried fourteen rockets, and two, 7.62mm, six-barrel minigun,…”

“The minigun ships, on the other hand, carried fourteen rockets, and two, 7.62mm, six-barrel minigun, machine guns. These are truly awesome weapons. The machine guns were electrically operated from a sighting system in the copilot seat. The aircraft commander (AC) could, however, take control of these guns if he deemed fit. An electronic, piper or bullseye was in the sights and the copilot moved this piper to line up on his target. The sights came down on a mechanical arm from their stowed position when the copilot released them. As he moved the piper, the guns followed. We generally set these guns to fire at a rate of 2,400 rounds per minute. That meant the ship could put out 80 rounds per second. These guns had a maximum capability of firing 6,000 rounds per minute but that rate was reserved for the faster fixed wing fighter jets. At our fire rate of 2,400 rounds per minute at the speed of 120 knots, a good operator could put a bullet in every square foot on the ground. You don’t need any more coverage than that. More would waste ammunition and decrease your available time at a combat station. Try to imagine what it would sound like if you were to make the single blast of a 308 high powered rifle a continuous sound. Let me tell you, it is a deafening roar when the miniguns kick in. They get hot quickly, so they are set up to fire no more than three second bursts, and then automatically kick off for three seconds, to keep the barrels from melting down.”

Guts ‘N Gunships: What it was Really Like to Fly Combat Helicopters in Vietnam by Mark Garrison, page 114

USAF Fairchild C-123 Providers

USAF Fairchild C-123 Providers

“Sniffer missions were comprised of having a machine in the cargo compartment behind the pilots that…”

“Sniffer missions were comprised of having a machine in the cargo compartment behind the pilots that would measure ammonia levels in the air. There were generally two guys on board, who operated the ammonia sensing equipment, besides the four man crew. Since congregations of humans gave off a lot of ammonia as a result of their metabolism, the army figured this would be a good way to find groups of enemy troops. The only drawback was that congregations of monkeys also gave off a lot of ammonia. It was Standard Operating Procedure for a Sniffer flight to be flown at fifty feet, just above the tops of the trees, at fifty knots airspeed. In other words, it was dangerous as hell. During the flight, the ammonia machine operators would say “mark!” into the intercom radio and the crew chief or door gunner would throw out a smoke grenade, marking the area. Immediately a gunship fire team would roll in on the smoke-marked area and blow the absolute crap out of it. I always suspected a lot of monkeys were needlessly massacred.”

Guts ‘N Gunships: What it was Really Like to Fly Combat Helicopters in Vietnam by Mark Garrison, page 104

“So many things can go wrong with a helicopter we made our own definition of a helicopter in Vietnam….”

“So many things can go wrong with a helicopter we made our own definition of a helicopter in Vietnam. It went like this: hel•i•cop•ter [hel-i-kop-ter,] noun 1. a collection of one hundred thousand complicated parts, flying in loose formation, built by the lowest bidder.”

Guts ‘N Gunships: What it was Really Like to Fly Combat Helicopters in Vietnam by Mark Garrison, page 91

“The slick aircraft in our company was the UH1H model that was powered by a Lycoming, turbofan jet…”

“The slick aircraft in our company was the UH1H model that was powered by a Lycoming, turbofan jet engine that generated 1,500 horsepower called a T-13. Its rotor blades had a chord (width) of 21 inches and were rather long. They were attached to a hub that fit over the main mast as part of a semi-rigid rotor head system. This meant that they were adequately capable of handling positive G loads, but not negative G loads. This is a way of saying that you didn’t dare get the aircraft on its back, or you would probably blade chop the tail boom off, lose your center of gravity(CG) and fall out of the sky like a homesick brickbat. That’s generally something you didn’t want to do. The payload of the aircraft (how much weight it could carry) was about 4,000 pounds, which translates into ten to twelve troops including the crew, and a full load of JP 4 jet fuel that weighed 1,600 lbs. The aircraft had a loaded cruise speed of eighty knots, but unloaded it would usually cruise at over 100 knots and still maintain its altitude. The gunship pilots however flew a UH1C model, commonly known as a Charlie model that was equipped with a Lycoming turbofan jet engine that produced 1100 horsepower called a T-11. It had what is known as a 540 rotor system with a 27-inch chord of the blades, built more for speed and maneuverability. These aircraft took a lot of precision flying just to safely get them off the ground when they were loaded with rockets, ammunition, and a full 1,600 lbs of JP 4 jet fuel, because they were often underpowered. The gun pilots often complained about their lack of power. I might add, I would find out in a couple of months just why they were complaining. The slick pilots had their hands full also. Getting in and out of tight landing zones with a full load, and a bunch of people shooting at you, took incredible concentration, nerves of steel, and awesome flying ability.”

Guts ‘N Gunships: What it was Really Like to Fly Combat Helicopters in Vietnam by Mark Garrison, page 71

“When the captain announced that we were now over South Vietnam, I looked intently from my window…”

“When the captain announced that we were now over South Vietnam, I looked intently from my window seat at the landscape below us. I half expected to see RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) coming toward the aircraft. The landing proved uneventful. On our long final approach the captain said that the hydraulics had apparently at last, been properly repaired. He then wished us all luck and told us to keep our heads down and cover each other’s back. Great advice from someone going right back to American soil. Thanks for the kind words. The aircraft landed and rolled to a stop. We had arrived at the place where history was being written, debated, cursed and praised. We were now going to war.”

Guts ‘N Gunships: What it was Really Like to Fly Combat Helicopters in Vietnam by Mark Garrison, page 64