The Red Baron Reports What They Really Said (Vietnam War)
Air Power History, 2005, Fall, 52, 3
Air Power History
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Route Pack II vicinity of Vinh, Democratic Republic of Vietnam, May 7, 1968. The two U S. Navy F-4B Phantom IIs of Silver Kite section were providing MiGCAP in very hazy weather for a strike on Vinh when they encountered interceptors from the Vietnamese People's Air Force (VPAF). In the confusion that followed, the Navy Phantoms lost sight of each other, finding themselves suddenly very alone in the hostile skies of North Vietnam. As Lt. Cmdr. E. S. Christensen turned Silver Kite 210 toward the sea and home, he rolled out wings level at 8,000 feet and searched for his wingman, hoping to join up and regain the vital mutual support they had lost. Indeed, at that very moment, Christensen was being tracked--but not by his wingman. Nguyen Van Coc, the first--and to that point, only--ace of the Vietnam War was moving into attack position astern of Christensen's Phantom. Nguyen succinctly described his sixth and final kill of the war: "I went after him and launched two missiles from 1,500 meters. The Phantom crashed in flames into the sea." Fortunately, Commander Christensen and his Radar Intercept Officer successfully ejected from their stricken fighter five miles out into the Gulf of Tonkin, and were quickly recovered by Navy rescue units. (1) Route Pack VIA vicinity of Hanoi, DRV, May 10, 1972. Four U. S. Air Force F-4Ds of Oyster flight were tracking four VPAF MiG-21s, preparing for a head-on engagement. (2) The MiGs had no weapons able to engage the Americans from a frontal aspect, but the Phantoms were carrying AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided missiles that could be fired in a nose-to-nose engagement, and the USAF fighter pilots pressed their advantage to the maximum. As the two flights passed, two of the MiGs exploded, leaving the F-4s with a 2 to 1 advantage in the fight. Oyster Lead (Maj. Robert Lodge, pilot; Capt. Roger Locher, Weapons System Officer), a crew with two previous MiG kills to their credit, immediately turned with Oyster 02 on their wing to pursue one of the survivors, while Oyster 03 and 04 ran down and destroyed the last MiG. As Oyster 01 took aim on his target, a flight of VPAF MiG-19s swept through the furball, initially overshooting the Phantoms. The new arrivals were not particularly well flown, but Oyster 01 was apparently so intent on bagging- his prey that he failed to heed the desperate warnings from his wingman that one of the MiG-19s was about to fire on them. Seconds later, Oyster 01 was hit by 30mm cannon shells and began to come apart. Captain Locher successfully ejected, but Major Lodge was killed in the crash. In his debrief of the fight, Oyster 03's pilot referred to the crew of Oyster 01 as the best and most experienced in the theater. (3)
- Category: Engineering
- Published: Sep 22, 2005
- Publisher: Air Force Historical Foundation
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 27 Pages
- Language: English