Thanh Hóa Bridge

The Thanh Hóa Bridge (Vietnamese: Cầu Hàm Rồng, Hàm Rồng Bridge), spanning the Song Ma river, is situated 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Thanh Hóa (pronunciation), the capital of Thanh Hóa Province in Vietnam. The Vietnamese gave it the nickname Hàm Rồng (Dragon's Jaw). In 1965 during the Vietnam War, it was the objective of many attacks by US Air Force and US Navy aircraft which would fail to destroy the bridge until 1972, even after hundreds of attacks.[2] In their first air combat, a small force of seemingly mismatched MiG-17s inflicted significant losses on much larger and more advanced American F-105 Thunderchief at a cost of 3 of their own, with an F-100 Super Sabre claiming the first probable American kill of the conflict. The encounter led to significant changes in American tactics and training, and a return to dog-fighting in air combat doctrine. Eventually, in 1972, the bridge was destroyed by USAF F-4 Phantoms using laser-guided bombs and US Navy Vought A-7s with advanced and conventional bombs.

The bridge

Originally built by the French during the colonial era in Vietnam, the Thanh Hóa bridge was sabotaged by the Viet Minh in 1945. From 1957, the Vietnamese started rebuilding it.

It was a grey metallic construction, resting on a central concrete pier, and on concrete abutments at each extremity. Completed in 1964, and inaugurated by Ho Chi Minh himself, the final bridge was 540 feet (160 m) long, 56 feet (17 m) wide, and about 50 feet (15 m) above the river.

Allowing the passage of both road and rail traffic, it was a vital link between different regions of North Vietnam, and when the war started, became a strategic passage for supplies and reinforcements sent to the Viet Cong fighting in South Vietnam.

Operation Rolling Thunder

With the beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder (the bombing campaign against random targets in North Vietnam chosen by Lyndon B. Johnson.), The decision was made in March 1965 to interdict the North Vietnamese rail system, including the Thanh Hóa bridge. The Vietnamese, realizing the importance of the bridge, had set up an impressive air defense network, stationing five air defense regiments in the area.

F-105D 070928-F-2911S-036
F-105Ds en route to North Vietnam.

First raid, first dogfight

The first — and largest — strike package to be sent against the bridge was codenamed 9-Alpha. Led by Korean War ace Colonel Robinson Risner, it comprised 79 aircraft, including 46 F-105 Thunderchiefs as the main strike force. Other types were 21 F-100 Super Sabres as AAA suppressors to attack ground-based guns, fourteen F-100s acting as MiG CAP (combat air patrol) and two RF-101C Voodoos to do damage assessment, plus ten KC-135 tanker aircraft. The F-100s were based in South Vietnam, while the others were based across Thailand. Flights of four F-105s from Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB) Korat and RTAFB Takhli would be air refueled over the Mekong River, then cross Laos to just south of the bridge. The bombers would continue east until over the Gulf of Tonkin.

Launched on April 3, 1965, the attack saw all strike aircraft deliver their payload.[3] Sixteen of the F-105s carried a pair of Bullpup missiles, one under each outer wing pylon. This was an early combat use of early "smart" precision guided missiles that were guided by radio and joystick, requiring two passes to launch each of two missiles per plane. Capt. Bill Meyerholt observed as the missile streaked toward the bridge and made a good hit; when smoke cleared,there was no visible damage to the bridge. The 250 lb (110 kg) warheads merely charred the massive structure.

The other F-105s each carried three tons of explosives in the form of eight 750 lb (340 kg) bombs, more than B-17s had delivered over targets like Berlin. The first wave of bombs drifted due to a strong southwest wind. The last flight, led by Cpt. Carlyle S. "Smitty" Harris, scored hits on the roadway and superstructure. After 32 Bullpups and 1200 bombs had decorated the bridge with numerous hits, charring every part, the bridge did not fall, though traffic was stopped for a few hours. This was the only result of the raid, which had cost two aircraft — one F-100 (Lt. George C. Smith flying flak suppression) and one RF-101 — shot down.

Risner's Thunderchief was crippled by ground fire but, despite smoke in the cockpit, Risner continued to direct the strike before flying safely back to Da Nang.

To meet the raid, the VPAF had sent out two flights of four MiG-17PFs from Noi Bai airbase at 09:47. The original plan was for the first flight to act as a decoy. The second flight never reached the strike force, as flight leader Pham Ngoc Lan spotted F-8E Crusaders from the USS Hancock covering the operation. The metal-finished MiG-17PF, was an all-weather interceptor version of the MiG-17 first flown in 1951. Armed with three 23mm cannons but no missiles, it was a faster upgraded MiG-15 fitted with an afterburning engine, and a radar-ranging gunsight reverse-engineered from the F-86A (as well as a new, more sharply swept wing to increase its critical Mach number, therefore top speed).[4][5] By comparison, the American Crusader was a daylight gunfighter capable of speeds of nearly twice the speed of sound, armed with both cannon and Sidewinder missiles. Lan dived to attack at about 1,000 feet, and fired at a range of 700 feet. His gun camera showed a blazing F-8 which he reported had crashed. At 10:15 wingman Lieutenant Phan Van Tuc fired on another F-8, claiming a second victory. Pilots Ho Van Quy and Tran Minh Phuong also opened fire on two F-8s, but were out of gun range. In the VPAF's evaluation, their success was due to proper preparation, using surprise and engaging only in close dogfights. While the US Navy records that all of the Crusaders returned, a plane flown by Lt. Cdr. Spence Thomas was so damaged it diverted to Da Nang and was written off as destroyed upon landing. That could make Lan's attack the first air-to-air kill not only by the VPAF's MiG-17s, but the first air victory of the conflict.[3] The Navy recorded that an A-4 Skyhawk of Lt. Cdr. R. A. Vohden was lost to AAA; Vohden spent the rest of the war as a POW. After his victory, Lan found himself short on fuel. He elected to save his plane by making a hard landing by a riverbed in the Ke Tam valley (Nghệ An Province). He was besieged by locals who expected to find an American pilot until he showed his VPAF badge.

The VPAF had nevertheless demonstrated the ability to engage modern US fighters, and afterwards recognized April 3 as Air Force Day. On the American side, the failure to drop any spans led to a new attack scheduled for the next day; it was expected by VPAF commanders. This time, eighty planes were engaged, including 48 F-105s, carrying only 750 lb (340 kg) bombs, as the inadequacy of the Bullpup had been fully demonstrated.

MiG-17 over Vietnam c1972
A North Vietnamese MiG-17 in 1972.

MiG-17s jump USAF F-105s

During 4 April 1965 engagement, a tiny force of eight MiG-17s (half flying as decoys) from the 921st "Sao Do" (Red Star) Fighter Regiment (FR) was again given the daunting task of confronting a massive armada of modern American supersonic fighter-bombers.[6] The 46 F-105 Thunderchiefs tasked as fast attack bombers were escorted by a flight of 21 F-100 Super Sabres daylight fighters from the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron (416th TFS), four Sidewinder-armed for MiGCAP, and seventeen armed with 2.75-inch HVAR to suppress AAA batteries. Each flight was given a call sign. These included "Steel", "Iron", "Copper", "Moon", "Carbon", "Zinc", "Argon", "Graphite", "Esso", "Mobil", "Shell", and "Petrol". "Cadillac" flight conducted Bomb Damage Assessment, while the search and rescue included A-1 Skyraiders, call sign "Sandy", and HH-3 Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopters, call sign "Jolly Green."

The VPAF made ground-based AAA sites the first line of defence, with fighters attacking after ground gunners ceased fire. After taking off at about 10:20, the MiGs would break into decoy and attack flights. The leader was second-in-command Nguyen Van Tien, while Dao Ngo Ngu handled the ground control command.

The Americans started with recon flights over Thanh Hóa. Then the attacking jets flew in flights of four. One flight would attack at a time while others circled awaiting their turn. Although, on paper, the F-105 was capable of Mach 2+, when loaded with ordnance under its small wings, it was subsonic and unready to tangle with any fighters that might get past the escorts. Covering the north, in the direction of Hanoi's airfields, escorting F-100s sixty miles north of the Song Chu estuary where the river meets the sea, were to warn of enemy aircraft and if possible to intercept, while four others orbited south of the estuary. The MiG attack came instead from the south, with part angling off toward the west, perhaps to draw away escorts as a decoy. As the MIGCAP F-100s flew south, they spotted MiG-17s flying in from the sea toward the F-105s, and urgently radioed the warning: "Break off!" But their warnings weren't heeded due to garbled transmission. The strike aircraft flew on like sitting ducks, unaware of the incoming threat. While North Vietnam had full radar coverage and ground control of their pilots, the short-range, forward-scanning radars in the F-100s didn't spot the MiGs in a part of the sky where they were not expected. The USAF would later use EC-121s to provide full 360 degree radar coverage for strike packages.

Coming from clouds above, the MiG-17s tore past the escorts and dove onto the bomb laden Thunderchiefs, Vietnamese flight leader Trần Hanh spotted four F-105Ds at 10:30 starting to drop their bombs, ordering his wingman, Pham Giay, to cover his attack.[7] He fired at 400 meters, observing one F-105, piloted by Major Frank E. Bennett (355th TFW, KIA) fall in flames into the Gulf of Tonkin. The flight leader attempted to recover at Da Nang but had his controls freeze up within sight of the base. Ejecting, he was killed when his parachute failed to open before he struck the water.[8] As the F-105s turned to attack the MiGs, the MiGs split into two groups on the north and south sides of the bridge. Supported by Tran Nguyen Nam, Le Minh Huan downed another F-105D, callsign Zinc 2 piloted by Capt. J. A. Magnusson. He radioed that he was heading for the Gulf if he could maintain control of his aircraft. Magnusson finally bailed out twenty miles away over the Gulf of Tonkin near the island of Hon Me, and was eventually listed as missing and then killed after a 48-hour search.[9] The USAF confirmed the two F-105 losses during that engagement.

The remaining F-105 found himself in the sights of another MiG-17 who he could not shake. In desperation, he tried a snap roll which slowed his plane so that the MiG-17 over-shot him, as his captain had recommended. Finding himself on the MiG's tail, he was too surprised to attempt to shoot down the MiG with his gun. The fortunate pilot was briefed the day before about this maneuver by Captain John Boyd from Nellis Air Force Base, who would later become a significant voice in the design of America's fighter aircraft.[10]

F-100Ds 416TFS DaNang 1965
416th TFS F-100Ds at Da Nang, 1965.

After the quick success of downing two American fighters, the outnumbered North Vietnamese defenders faced the remaining F-100s and F-105s now fully alerted to their presence and turning their attention to the MiGs. Tranh Hanh ordered his flight to split into two groups. He and wingman Pham Giay stayed south of the bridge, while Le Minh Huan and Tran Nguyen Nam flew to the north. Three F-100s from the MiGCAP, piloted by LTC Emmett L. Hays, CPT Keith B. Connolly,[11] and CPT Donald W. Kilgus, all from the 416th TFS,[12] engaged the MiG-17s. As the F-100s closed in, they hesitated to fire missiles which might hit their F-105s. The lead F-100 got a locking tone as he fired an IR guided Sidewinder air-to-air missile once he had a clear shot, but it passed above its target, while Connolly and Kilgus engaged with 20mm cannon.

Kilgus recognized what was Pham Giay's MiG just after it appeared out of the haze.[13] He dropped his wing tanks and turned into the target that had just made a ninety degree turn to face him. He shook off Tranh Hanh's second MiG which appeared as Giay overshot and missed him. Closing in from behind Giay, Kilgus closed in and pulled up his nose so that the four M39 20mm guns would bear on the target. Lighting his afterburner and using his height advantage, he accelerated and dived after the MiG at 450 knots. Kilgus recognized the Vietnamese pilot was pulling him into a game of chicken as both jets hurtled down toward the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and the lighter MiG should have been able pull out of a dangerous dive more quickly. Now headed nearly straight down, Kilgus armed his guns and took aim at the spot projected on the glass of his A4 radar-ranging gunsight.[14] While worrying about the rapidly falling altitude, he opened fire at 7,100 feet, observing puffs and sparks coming off Giay's vertical tail fin before losing visual contact as he pulled up, just barely clearing the water.

Historian Don McCarthy later concluded he was certain Kilgus brought down the MiG-17. Aviation writer Larry Davis also records that Kilgus' wing man also reported a kill, but it was denied by higher headquarters at 7th Air Force. Although not immediately reported that day, only Kilgus claimed and was credited with a probable kill. Based upon the report, the F-100s had obtained the first US aerial combat victories during the Vietnam War. If confirmed, Kilgus would have made the only air-to-air MiG kill by an F-100 during the conflict.,[15] while it was assumed the other MiGs escaped.

MiG-17 flight leader and sole survivor Tran Hanh was credited with his confirmed F-105. His own plane narrowly escaped through hard maneuvering, but he lost contact with ground control. Low on fuel, he opted to land at the nearby Ke Tam valley, but was detained by the locals until he produced his VPAF badge. Hanh says that he saw his wingman, Le Minh Huan and Tran Nguyen Nam also shot down by F-105s.[16] Hanh probably confused the escorting F-100s for F-105s. As only one American pilot even claimed a probable kill, his other comrades may have instead collided or been hit by their own AA fire.[17] Nevertheless, in exchange for their significant sacrifice, the North Vietnamese MiG-17s had scored their first confirmed aerial victories in jet-to-jet combat against supersonic fighters.

North Vietnamese AAA gunners on the ground were credited with downing a "Sandy" A-1H Skyraider, killing Capt. Walter Draeger, and also initially credited with the F-105 of Capt. Carlyle "Smitty" Harris, who survived and became one of the earliest American prisoners of war. Later on 15 April 1965, a communist publication interviewed a MiG pilot who had actually shot down Capt. Harris' F-105 rather than ground fire. Harris was classified MIA, but had been actually captured and was imprisoned in Hanoi until 1973.

In North Vietnam, MiG-17 flight leader Tran Hanh became a national hero. What in retrospect might seem to be tactical draw after losing all of their defending fighters and three pilots, the action was celebrated as a "glorious victory over US aircraft to ensure the flow of war supplies to the south". For their part, anti-aircraft gunners received the Victory Order and the Military Exploit Order. On the 45th anniversary of the battle in 2010, Vietnam celebrated the downing of 47 US aircraft[18] of the 454 sorties over two days that dropped 350 bombs on and around the bridge, calling it "the symbol of the Vietnamese people's will to defend their country...the Great Spring Victory to liberate the South and reunify the country." [19]

American lessons

The raid had been carried out with great precision, but despite having been hit by more than 300 bombs, the Thanh Hóa bridge still stood. As minor damage caused the circulation to be interrupted for a few days, it was seen as a modest success that had cost the US Air Force three F-105s. But U.S. Air Force chief of staff General John P. McConnell, was "hopping mad" to hear that two of America's most advanced F-105 Thunderchiefs had been shot down by slow, elderly left-over MIGs of the tiny 36-jet North Vietnamese air force.[20] The subsonic MiG-17s had been in service for over twelve years since 1953, and were barely improved over the original MiG-15s that sparred with F-86 Sabres in dogfights during the Korean War. By contrast, the F-105, which was on the drawing boards as the MiG entered service, was two generations ahead (and the escorting F-100s one generation ahead). The F-105 was the USAF's most advanced Mach 2 class fighter bomber, with sophisticated navigation and radar systems which could be armed with Sidewinder missiles and a bombload comparable to World War II bombers. But at slower speeds, the older MiG could outmaneuver any of its adversaries, and at a time when air-to-air missiles were highly unlikely to actually destroy their targets, the cannons of the MiG were much more reliable, and deadly against F-105s, which at the time were vulnerable to hits on systems such as hydraulics.[3]

The losses to MiGs resulted in the subsequent replacement of the F-100 Super Sabre escorts with F-4 Phantoms. The incident would start a series of events that would lead to a reassessment of fighters better suited to close-in dogfighting. While the F-105 would finish off its service with a slightly better than even kill-to-loss ratio over MiGs, the large plane had been designed primarily to deliver bombs at low level rather than shoot down other fighters. Its replacement was the even larger Phantom, which had been designed without any guns to fire missiles at stand-off ranges rather than tangle in turning dogfights. This experience would re-introduce the requirement that future fighters would need to be able to mix with MiGs on more equal terms and not just shoot missiles from a distance. This would lead to training programs such as Top Gun. The expensive swing-wing F-111B, which could not dogfight, was dropped in favor of the VFAX, which evolved into the F-14 Tomcat.[3] The USAF would develop its own purpose-built FX supersonic air superiority fighter as the F-15 Eagle along with smaller Teen Series fighters. The new fighters that came on line during the 1970s would dominate American airpower for the remainder of the 20th century and inspire similar Soviet designs.

US Navy attacks

Thanh Hoa bridge Vietnam 1972
The Thanh Hóa bridge in 1972.

With the establishment of the Route Package system, the Thanh Hóa area was allocated to the US Navy. Between 1965 and 1968, until US President Lyndon B. Johnson temporarily called off air raids against North Vietnam, the bridge was a regular objective for navy Alpha strikes. Different types of aircraft were engaged including A-3 Skywarriors, A-4 Skyhawks, A-6 Intruders, F-4 Phantoms and F-8 Crusaders. Several types of weapons were launched at the bridge including AGM-62 Walleye missiles, but none had the precision and power to destroy it permanently. Several times, traffic over the bridge was interrupted, but every time, the North Vietnamese dutifully repaired the damage.

Operation Carolina Moon

In May 1966, an innovative attack, Operation Carolina Moon, was planned by the US Air Force. A new weapon was to be used: a large magnetic mine, that implemented a new energy mass-focusing concept. The plan was to float the mines down the river, till they reached the bridge, where the magnetic sensors would set off the charges, hopefully wrecking it permanently. The only aircraft with a large enough hold to carry these weapons was the slow-flying C-130 Hercules transport, so the operation was due to take place at night, to reduce its vulnerability.

On the night of May 30, a first Hercules dropped five mines. A North Vietnamese prisoner later revealed that 4 of the 5 mines had in fact exploded under the bridge, but not caused any significant damage. However at the time the Americans did not know this, as after-mission reconnaissance had showed the bridge still standing, and a second raid was planned, with a different crew, for the following night. This second attempt turned to disaster: the Hercules was hit during its low-level run and crashed, killing the entire crew. An F-4 engaged in a diversionary attack nearby was also brought down and its crew lost.

The final blow

F-4D 497th TFS with BOLT-117s 1971
F-4D carrying laser-guided bombs.
A-7C of VA-82 over Vietnam 1972-73
A-7C of VA-82 operating in SE Asia.

Between 1968 and 1972, bombing of North Vietnam was discontinued, enabling the North Vietnamese to repair their infrastructures, including the Thanh Hóa bridge. With the communist invasion of South Vietnam in 1972, a new bombing campaign was instituted: Operation Linebacker.

On 27 April, twelve Phantoms of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Ubon, Thailand attacked the Thanh Hóa Bridge. Eight of their number carried laser-guided bombs. The raid was carried out without a hitch, and when the dust of the explosions had cleared it became apparent that the bridge had been dislodged from its western abutment, dropping one half into the river. To complete its destruction, a second attack was scheduled for the thirteenth of May when fourteen Phantoms were engaged, with LGBs of up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) aimed at the central pillar supporting the bridge. Once again, the attack was successful, and the "Dragon's jaw" was rendered completely unusable. The US command, however, was not satisfied, and ordered a final attack on the sixth of October.

This time, four U.S. Navy A-7s from VA-82, aboard USS America, successfully delivered 8,000 lbs of high explosives with two planes carrying two 2,000 lb (910 kg) Walleyes, while two other carried a further 2,000 lbs in Mk 84 GP bombs. In a simultaneous attack, the center piling on the bridge's west side was hit and broke the span in half. After this, the Thanh Hóa Bridge was considered permanently destroyed and removed from the target list.

Aftermath and losses

The North Vietnamese made various claims as to how many planes they shot down, but the US only recognizes the loss of eleven aircraft during attacks against the bridge. However, the concentration of air defense assets also took its toll on passing aircraft and in total an estimated 104 American pilots were shot down over a 75-square-mile (190 km2) area around the bridge during the war.

The bridge was restored in 1973. As of 2016, the bridge still stands.[21]

873 air sorties were expended against the bridge and it was hit by hundreds of bombs and missiles before finally being destroyed. It became something of a symbol of resistance for the North Vietnamese, and various legends of invincibility were attached to it. For the US planners it became an obsession, and many raids were planned against it despite their unpopularity with the pilots. A cynical rewording of the song the "Red River Valley" was sung by fighter pilots, referring to this dangerous target.[22] In his 1976 essay collection, Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter and Vine, Tom Wolfe recounted a rueful story that circulated among Navy pilots who flew sorties against the Thanh Hóa Bridge. In their telling, the Earth consisted of two hemispheres, spring-loaded and held together opposite the hinge by the bridge. When it was destroyed, the story went, the two hemispheres would fly apart, flinging humanity into space.

While the first employment of the Bullpup in 1965 proved a disappointment, the ultimate destruction of the bridge finally proved the promise and effectiveness of precision-guided munitions, opening the way to a new era of aerial warfare. The 1965 strikes were the first employment of modern strike packages which were combined and launched against that specific target, leading up to an evolution of air warfare to 1972 with laser-guided munitions, which would later be employed very effectively with minimal losses in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The shock of losing modern fighters in dogfights in 1965 was a landmark which led to a major shift in fighter design, away from interceptors firing missiles to agile designs capable in short-range air combat.

References

  1. ^ surviving MiG-17 leader acknowledged 3 losses of 4 planes, plus one damaged in hard landing, US F-100s only claimed 1 probable
  2. ^ McFarland, Stephen Lee. "A Concise History of the U.S. Air Force/Flexible Response and Vietnam, page 67". Wikisource. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Ace Pilot MiG-17
  4. ^ Peter Davies (2009). USN F-4 Phantom II Vs VPAF MiG-17: Vietnam 1965-72. Bloomsbury USA. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-84603-475-6.
  5. ^ MiG-17PF
  6. ^ Anderton p. 71"
  7. ^ Istvan Toperczer (2001). MiG-17 and MiG-19 Units of the Vietnam War. Bloomsbury USA. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-84176-162-6.
  8. ^ How It Happened Time Friday, Apr. 16, 1965
  9. ^ bridge attack
  10. ^ Tribute To John R. Boyd By Harry Hillaker Archived 2007-09-17 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Anderton 1987, p. 71.
  12. ^ Davies pp. 87, 88.
  13. ^ Zampini, Diego. "Víboras Mortales" (Deadly Snakes) (in Spanish). Defensa. Nº 345, January 2007, pp. 58–59.
  14. ^ Thomas E. Gardner. F-100 Super Sabre at War. Zenith Imprint. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-61673-258-5.
  15. ^ Army Times April 16, 2003; Fierce dogfight with MiG-17 ended in victory, controversy; By Robert F. Dorr
  16. ^ Toperczer 2001, p. 31.
  17. ^ Lethal Snakes
  18. ^ Perhaps a reference to the 48 attacking F-105s, of which three were shot down?
  19. ^ April, 05 2010 Nation celebrates Ham Rong victory
  20. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,841817,00.html#ixzz0r9PxRuDR Time
  21. ^ "Visiting Ham Rong Historical Cultural Relic". http://www.vietnamtourism.com. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2018. After many raids, Ham Rong Bridge still stands proudly, and becomes the symbol for the resilience, indomitableness and patriotism of Thanh Hoa’s army and people. External link in |website= (help)
  22. ^ The Tiger Band Unhymnal, Clemson University, South Carolina, 1967.
Bibliography

External links

AGM-65 Maverick

The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground missile (AGM) designed for close air support. It is the most widely produced precision-guided missile in the Western world, and is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities.

Development began in 1966 at Hughes as the first missile to use an electronic contrast seeker. It entered service with the United States Air Force in August 1972. Since then, it has been exported to more than 30 countries and is certified on 25 aircraft. The Maverick served during the Vietnam, Yom Kippur, Iran–Iraq, and Persian Gulf Wars, along with other smaller conflicts, destroying enemy forces and installations with varying degrees of success.

Since its introduction into service, numerous Maverick versions had been designed and produced using electro-optical, laser, and imaging infrared guidance systems. The AGM-65 has two types of warhead: one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating. The missile is currently produced by Raytheon Missile Systems.

The Maverick shares the same configuration as Hughes's AIM-4 Falcon and AIM-54 Phoenix, and measures more than 2.4 m (8 ft) in length and 30 cm (12 in) in diameter.

Da Nang Air Base

Da Nang Air Base (Vietnamese: Căn cứ không quân Đà Nẵng) (1930s–1975) (also known as Da Nang Airfield, Tourane Airfield or Tourane Air Base) was a French Air Force and later Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) facility located in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. During the Vietnam War (1959–1975), it was a major base with United States Army, United States Air Force (USAF), and United States Marine Corps (USMC) units stationed there. Air Vietnam also used the facility from 1951 to 1975 for civilian domestic and international flights within Southeast Asia.

Flying ace

A flying ace, fighter ace or air ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an ace has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more.

The concept of the "ace" emerged in 1915 during World War I, at the same time as aerial dogfighting. It was a propaganda term intended to provide the home front with a cult of the hero in what was otherwise a war of attrition. The individual actions of aces were widely reported and the image was disseminated of the ace as a chivalrous knight reminiscent of a bygone era. For a brief early period when air-to-air combat was just being invented, the exceptionally skilled pilot could shape the battle in the skies. For most of the war, however, the image of the ace had little to do with the reality of air warfare, in which fighters fought in formation and air superiority depended heavily on the relative availability of resources.

Use of the term ace to describe these pilots began in World War I, when French newspapers described Adolphe Pégoud, as l'As (the ace) after he became the first pilot to down five German aircraft. The British initially used the term "star-turns" (a show business term), while the Germans described their elite fighter pilots as Überkanonen (which roughly translates to "top guns").

The successes of such German ace pilots as Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke were much publicized, for the benefit of civilian morale, and the Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest award for gallantry, became part of the uniform of a leading German ace. In the Luftstreitkräfte, the Pour le Mérite was nicknamed Der blaue Max/The Blue Max, after Max Immelmann, who was the first pilot to receive this award. Initially, German aviators had to destroy eight Allied aircraft to receive this medal. As the war progressed, the qualifications for Pour le Mérite were raised, but successful German fighter pilots continued to be hailed as national heroes for the remainder of the war.

The few aces among combat aviators have historically accounted for the majority of air-to-air victories in military history.

List of United States servicemembers and civilians missing in action during the Vietnam War (1961–65)

This article is a list of US MIAs of the Vietnam War in the period 1961–1965. In 1973, the United States listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the entire Vietnam War. By August 2017, 1604 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 1026 were classified as further pursuit, 488 as no further pursuit and 90 as deferred.

List of bridges

The list of bridges is a link page for any bridges that are notable enough to have an article, or that are likely to have an article in the future, sorted alphabetically by country.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-17; NATO reporting name: Fresco) is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. It is an advanced development of the very similar looking MiG-15 of the Korean War. The MiG-17 was license-built in China as the Shenyang J-5 and Poland as the PZL-Mielec Lim-6.

MiG-17s first saw combat in 1958 in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis and later proved to be an effective threat against more modern supersonic fighters of the United States in the Vietnam War. It was also briefly known as the Type 38 by U.S. Air Force designation prior to the development of NATO codes.

North–South railway (Vietnam)

The North–South railway (Vietnamese: Đường sắt Bắc–Nam, French: Chemin de fer Nord-Sud) is the principal railway line serving the country of Vietnam. It is a single-track metre gauge line connecting the capital Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, for a total length of 1,726 km (1,072 mi). Trains travelling this line are sometimes referred to as the Reunification Express (referring to the Reunification of Vietnam), although no particular train carries this name officially. The line was established during French colonial rule, and was completed over a period of nearly forty years, from 1899 to 1936. As of 2005, there were 278 stations on the Vietnamese railway network, of which 191 were located along the North–South line.From World War II through to the Vietnam War, the entire North–South railway sustained major damage from bombings and sabotage. Owing to this damage, and to a subsequent lack of capital investment and maintenance, much of the infrastructure along the North–South railway remains outdated or in poor condition; in turn, lack of infrastructure development has been found to be a root cause for railway accidents along the line, including collisions at level crossings and derailments. Recent rehabilitation projects, supported by official development assistance, have improved the safety and efficiency of the line. As of 2007, 85% of the network's passenger volume and 60% of its cargo volume was transported along the line. The national railway company Vietnam Railways owns and operates the line.

Operation Linebacker

Operation Linebacker was the codename of a U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 air interdiction campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 9 May to 23 October 1972, during the Vietnam War.

Its purpose was to halt or slow the transportation of supplies and materials for the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive), an invasion of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) by forces of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) that had been launched on 30 March. Linebacker was the first continuous bombing effort conducted against North Vietnam since the end of Operation Rolling Thunder in November 1968.

Phạm Ngọc Lan

Phạm Ngọc Lan (born December 12, 1934) is a general of the People's Army of Vietnam. He is most noted for being North Vietnam's first pilot to shoot down American planes in aerial combat, on April 3, 1965.

Precision-guided munition

"Smart Weapon" redirects here. For the weapon systems customized to a single person, see personalized gun.

A precision-guided munition (PGM, smart weapon, smart munition, smart bomb) is a guided munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, to minimize collateral damage and increase lethality against intended targets.Because the damage effects of explosive weapons decrease with distance due to an inverse cube law, even modest improvements in accuracy (hence reduction in miss distance) enable a target to be attacked with fewer or smaller bombs. Thus, even if some guided bombs miss, fewer air crews are put at risk and the harm to civilians and the amount of collateral damage may be reduced.

The advent of precision-guided munitions resulted in the renaming of older bombs "unguided bombs", "dumb bombs", or "iron bombs".

Rail transport in Vietnam

The railway system in Vietnam is owned and operated by the state-owned Vietnam Railways (Vietnamese: Đường sắt Việt Nam). The principal route, the single track North-South Railway running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, accounts for 1,726 kilometres (1,072 mi) of the network's total length of 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi). The national railway network uses mainly metre gauge, although there are several standard gauge and mixed gauge lines in the North of the country.The first railways in Vietnam were established in the 1880s, with construction beginning in 1888; these included a tram running between the ports of Saigon and Cholon, and a regional rail line connecting Saigon with Mỹ Tho. Railway construction flourished soon afterwards, during the administration of Paul Doumer as Governor-General of French Indochina from 1897 to 1902. It was during this time that construction of the Yunnan–Vietnam and North–South railways began. Construction of the North-South line took over thirty years, finally ending in 1936, during which time other branch lines were also completed. Beginning in World War II, the entire rail network became a target of bombing attacks by a number of groups, including both North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese troops during the Vietnam War. Although the main lines—particularly the North–South line—were quickly restored and returned to service once conflict ended, many branch lines were abandoned and dismantled at their expense, their infrastructure used to replace damaged sections of the main lines, or sold as scrap.With increased economic growth brought on by the Doi Moi reforms of the late 1980s, the railway system has entered a renewed phase of development. A number of major projects supported by official development assistance have been proposed or are currently underway, including a series of projects to improve bridge and railway safety on the North-South Railway line, connections to Cambodia and Laos, and the restoration of a number of defunct lines, including the Đà Lạt–Tháp Chàm railway first established in the 1930s. A high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has also been proposed, which would reduce journey length from 30 hours to around 6 hours. Laos has held a ceremony but construction remains stalled (2019) on a rail line to Lao Bao from Savannakhet, across from the Thai rail head to Bangkok.

Thanh Hoa (disambiguation)

Thanh Hóa is the capital of Vietnam's Thanh Hóa Province.

Thanh Hoa may also refer to:

Thanh Hóa Province, of which Thanh Hóa is capital

Thanh Hóa, Quảng Bình, a village In Tuyên Hóa District, Quảng Bình Province

Thạnh Hóa District in Long An Province

Thanh Hóa

Thanh Hóa (Vietnamese: [tʰajŋ̟ hwǎː] (listen)) is the capital of Thanh Hóa Province. The city is situated in the east of the province on the Ma River (Sông Mã), about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Hanoi and 1560 kilometers (969 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City. Thanh Hoa became one of the most populous cities in North Central Coast after expanding in 2012, with a population of approximately 400,000. Thanh Hoa township was upgraded to Thanh Hoa City in 1994 and has been center of politics, economy, culture, education and entertainment of Thanh Hóa Province for a long time.

Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base

Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base is a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) facility located near the city of Ubon Ratchathani, in Ubon Ratchathani Province. It is approximately 488 km (303 miles) northeast of Bangkok. The Laos border is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) directly east. The facility is also used as a civil airport.

Ubon RTAFB is the home of Wing 21 of the RTAF 2nd Air Division. The RTAF 211 Squadron Eagles fly the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter aircraft from Ubon.

VFP-63

VFP-63 was a Light Photographic Squadron of the U.S. Navy. Originally established as Composite Squadron Sixty-One (VC-61) on 20 January 1949, it was redesignated as Fighter Photographic Squadron (VFP-61) on 2 July 1956. Redesignated as Composite Photographic Squadron Sixty-Three (VCP-63) on 1 July 1959 and finally redesignated as Light Photographic Squadron Sixty-Three (VFP-63) on 1 July 1961. The squadron provided a detachment of reconnaissance planes for each of the Carrier Air Wings of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The squadron was disestablished on 30 June 1982.

Vietnam People's Air Force

The Vietnam People's Air Force (Vietnamese: Không quân Nhân dân Việt Nam) is the air force of Vietnam. It is the successor of the former North Vietnamese Air Force and absorbed the Republic of Vietnam Air Force following the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975. The Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) is one of three main branches in the Vietnam People's Army which is a part of the Ministry of Defence. The main mission of the VPAF is the defence of Vietnamese airspace and the provision of air cover for operations of the People's Army of Vietnam.

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