United States Air Force Skyraiders in Southeast Asia are often remembered for their support of search and rescue (SAR) missions. Operating under the call sign Sandy, the A-1's extended loiter time and massive firepower offered pilots the ability to protect downed Airmen for extended periods. Whereas jet aircraft often had to leave the battle area for refueling, the A-1s provided nearly continuous suppressing fire until helicopters extracted downed Airmen.
The aircraft on display represents Captain Ronald Smith’s A-1H The Proud American (Serial Number 52-139738) as it appeared during his SAR mission in June 1972 as part of the 1st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Captain Smith was awarded the Air Force Cross for the rescue of a downed F-4 Phantom crewman near a North Vietnamese airfield.
The Proud American had a long and storied record in Southeast Asia. Although many pilots flew the plane, it is renowned for three separate episodes: Lt Col William Jones’ Medal of Honor mission in 1968, Capt Ronald Smith’s Air Force Cross mission in June 1972, and for being the last US Air Force A-1 lost in combat in Southeast Asia in September 1972.
This aircraft (US Navy BuNo 134600) was modified and painted by the Museum’s Restoration Division to represent Capt Smith’s Air Force Cross aircraft and placed on display in 2022. It was part of OPERATION FARM GATE and flown by the South Vietnamese Air Force from 1965 to 1975. The Air Force Museum Foundation partnered with the A-1 Skyraider Association to fund the A-1H restoration.
Armament: Four 20 mm cannons and up to 10,000 lbs. of assorted bombs,
rockets, cluster munitions, gun pods, and flares
Engine: Wright R-3350-26WD Duplex-Cyclone of 2,700 hp
Cruising speed: 200 mph
Combat radius: 300 miles
Restoration Video of the A-1H
Return to the Southeast Asia War Gallery