Wild Weasel commander Maj. Garry Willard at Korat, Thailand. He later returned to the U.S. to head the Wild Weasel school at Nellis AFB. Willard later retired from the USAF as a brigadier general. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The pioneers—Wild Weasel Detachment, 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat, Thailand. The first Wild Weasel aircrews are (front, l to r): Capt. Walt Lifsey, Capt. Sandy Sandelius, Capt. Ed White, Maj. Garry Willard, Capt. Jack Donovan, Capt. Allen Lamb, Capt. John Pitchford, Capt. Maury Fricke, unknown and Maj. Bob Swartz (not pictured are Capt. Les Lindenmuth, Capt. Donald Madden and Capt. Robert Trier). (U.S. Air Force photo)
The Air Force placed great hope on the success of the Wild Weasel concept. Project Wild Weasel used modified two-seat F-100Fs, with the pilot flying and firing weapons from the front seat, while an electronic warfare officer (EWO) tracked enemy radar systems in the back seat. These trailblazers created, tested and proved SAM suppression tactics in combat.
In November 1965 the first Wild Weasel crews deployed to Southeast Asia -- only four months after the first USAF SA-2 loss in Southeast Asia. Their four F-100Fs had been hastily modified under great secrecy with equipment that detected enemy radar sites. Reflecting the urgent need, these volunteers planned to finish their training in combat over North Vietnam, and they flew their first anti-SAM mission on Dec. 1. This first group was replaced in February 1966 by a second group that received three more modified F-100Fs.
Typically, one F-100F Wild Weasel crew hunted enemy SAM radars with electronic equipment. After pinpointing them visually, they attacked the radars with rockets. Accompanying F-105s then followed with bombs or rockets.
The pioneer Wild Weasels proved the concept and developed effective tactics, destroying nine SA-2 sites and suppressing enemy SAMs for strike forces. Even so, three of the seven F-100Fs were lost (two in combat). The more powerful F-105F Wild Weasel III replaced Wild Weasel I F-100Fs in the summer of 1966 (there was no production Wild Weasel II).