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  • The "Big Belly" Bomber

    Dense foliage in South Vietnam made locating targets almost impossible, forcing the U.S. Air Force to use area, or "carpet," bombing. To support this tactic, the "Big Belly" program modified the bomb bays of many B-52Ds to carry more conventional bombs. Unmodified B-52Ds could carry only 27 even

  • The Threat

    Defending air bases in Southeast Asia involved numerous, complicated problems. The bases had large open spaces, long perimeters and vulnerable bomb and fuel dumps. Some air bases were located in urban areas, allowing the enemy to hide among the nearby population. Heavy jungle growth along base

  • There Is A Way

    With F-105 losses mounting, 469th TFS Thud pilot Capt. Tony Gangol started saying after each mission, "There ain't no way" (meaning there was no way to complete a tour). The use of the phrase spread among F-105 pilots. At the prompting of the 469th TFS commander, the Air Force sent cameramen to

  • The Thunderbuzzards

    From 1971-1972, the 469th TFS and 34th TFS at Korat RTAFB escorted end of tour aircraft with the humorous 5-man team called the "Thunderbuzzards." Mimicking the famous Air Force Thunderbirds, they had special suits and rode motorscooters in various formations as they led returning aircraft to the

  • The Patch

    This widely-respected symbol began with F-105 aircrews. Capts. Bruce Holmes and Will Koenitzer, two pilots in the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, designed the original 100-mission patch while on leave in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1965. Holmes completed his 100-mission tour

  • The First F-105 100-Mission Tours

    On Jan. 11, 1966, Capt. Donald Totten and Capt. Benjamin Bowthorpe, 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 355th TFW, became the first F-105 pilots to achieve 100 missions "out-country." The next day, Capt. Michael Cooper, 334th TFS, reached his 100. On Jan. 15, 1966, four F-105 pilots from the 388th TFW

  • Trumping the SAMs: The F-105G and the Standard AGM-78 Missile

    In 1967 the USAF began developing the more capable F-105G with improved and standardized radar homing and warning equipment. Equally important was the introduction of the Standard AGM-78 anti-radar missile, which was a vast improvement over the Shrike missile. The AGM-78 was first employed by F-105

  • The First Loss

    Captains John Pritchford and Robert TrierThe first Wild Weasel loss occurred on Dec. 20, 1965. While on an Iron Hand mission over North Vietnam, anti-aircraft fire hit the F-100F crewed by Capts. John Pitchford and Robert Trier. Both ejected, but Capt. Trier was killed while exchanging fire with

  • The Pioneers: Wild Weasel and the F-100F

    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

  • Tankers at War: Air Refueling in Southeast Asia

    Refueling in flight made long-distance flying operations possible in Southeast Asia. Heavily-laden aircraft like the F-105 Thunderchief, F-4 Phantom and B-52 Stratofortress needed fuel on the way to and from their targets. Getting gas from tankers allowed them to carry maximum bomb loads, and search