Friday, December 25, 2009

Vietnam Propeller Planes


Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star

The Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star was a United States Navy/United States Air Force airborne early warning radar surveillance aircraft. A military version of the Lockheed Constellation, it was designed to serve as an airborne early warning system to supplement the Distant Early Warning Line, using two large radomes, a vertical dome above and a horizontal one below the fuselage. EC-121's were also used for intelligence gathering. EC-121s were used extensively in Southeast Asia between 16 April 1965, and 1 June 1974, particularly in support of Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker/Linebacker II to provide radar early warning and limited airborne control of USAF fighter forces engaging MiG interceptors. Flying orbits over the Gulf of Tonkin and later over Laos, they were the forerunners of Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.

Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained U.S. 2nd Air Division (later Seventh Air Force), U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 2 March 1965 until 1 November 1968, during the Vietnam War. The four objectives of the operation, (which evolved over time) were: To bolster the sagging morale of the Saigon regime in the Republic of Vietnam; To persuade North Vietnam to cease its support for the communist insurgency in South Vietnam; To destroy North Vietnam's transportation system, industrial base, and air defenses; and to interdict the flow of men and material into South Vietnam. Attainment of these objectives was made difficult by both the restraints imposed upon the U.S and its allies by Cold War exigencies and by the military aid and assistance received by North Vietnam from its communist allies, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China (PRC). The operation became the most intense air/ground battle waged during the Cold War period, indeed, it was the most difficult such campaign fought by the U.S. Air Force since the aerial bombardment of Nazi Germany during World War II. Thanks to the efforts of its allies, North Vietnam fielded a potent mixture of sophisticated air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons that created one of the most effective air defense environments ever faced by American military aviators. After one of the longest aerial campaigns ever conducted by any nation, Rolling Thunder was terminated as a strategic failure in late 1968 having achieved none of its objectives.

Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The operation was conducted from 18–29 December 1972 (hence its unofficial nickname–the "Christmas Bombings") and saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. Linebacker II was a resumption of the Operation Linebacker bombings conducted from May to October, with the emphasis of the new campaign shifted to attacks by B-52 Stratofortress bombers rather than tactical fighter aircraft. Over 1,600 civilians died in Hanoi and Haiphong. Linebackers 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 bombing halt instituted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in November 1968.

The Case-Church Amendment, passed by the U.S. Congress in response to the anti-war movement, prohibited direct U.S. military involvement after August 15, 1973. U.S. military and economic aid continued until 1975. The capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese army in April 1975 marked the end of Vietnam War. North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers. The Vietnam War called into question the U.S. Army doctrine. Marine Corps General Victor Krulak heavily criticised Westmoreland's attrition strategy, calling it "wasteful of American lives... with small likelihood of a successful outcome." Between 1965 and 1975, the United States spent $111 billion on the war ($686 billion in FY2008 dollars). This resulted in a large federal budget deficit. The war demonstrated that no power, not even a superpower, has unlimited strength and resources. But perhaps most significantly, the Vietnam War illustrated that political will, as much as material might, is a decisive factor in the outcome of conflicts. More than 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. By war's end, 58,193 soldiers were killed, more than 150,000 were wounded, and at least 21,000 were permanently disabled. Approximately 830,000 Vietnam veterans suffered symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. An estimated 125,000 Americans fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft, and approximately 50,000 American servicemen deserted.


Fairchild C-123K Provider

The Provider was a short-range assault transport used for airlifting troops and cargo to and from small, unprepared airstrips. The rugged C-123 became an essential part of U.S. Air Force airlift during the Southeast Asia War, where it flew primarily as an in-theater airlifter and a Ranch Hand sprayer. Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during part of the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It involved spraying an estimated 12 million + US gallons of defoliants over rural areas of South Vietnam in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of vegetation cover and food. The defoliant used in the largest quantity was Agent Orange, a mixture of herbicides now known to have been contaminated with dioxin. According to the post-war Vietnamese government, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects. A prime area of Ranch Hand operations was in the Mekong Delta, where the U.S. Navy patrol boats were vulnerable to attack from the undergrowth at the water's edge.

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