Phan Rang Air Base
Phan Rang Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield in Vietnam. It is located 5.2 miles north-northwest of Phan Rang – Tháp Chàm in Ninh Thuận Province. Built by the Imperial Japanese Army about 1942, the airfield was used by the French Air Force during the First Indochina War abandoned in 1954; the United States rebuilt the airfield in 1965 and it was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the II Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam. It was seized by the People's Army of Vietnam in April 1975 and has been in use by the VPAF since; the airfield at Phan Rang was used by the Japanese during World War II. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the French Air Force used the same 3,500-foot runway, abandoned the facility when French control over Indochina ended in 1954. In April 1965 CINCPAC instructed an engineering survey for a new airfield at Phan Rang. In July 1965 it was planned that 3 fighter squadrons would be deployed to Phan Rang Air Base once it was completed in October.
In late-August 1965 the newly arrived US Army 62nd Engineer Battalion was ordered to build a jet-capable airfield at Phan Rang. Commencing construction in September the Army Engineers built a 10,000-foot AM-2 aluminum matting runway and open aircraft revetments. Bad weather and shortages of concrete and aluminum matting delayed the base construction, with the completion date progressively delayed to December 1965 and April 1966. With the movement of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division to Phan Rang to provide security for base construction the 62nd Engineer Battalion was required to construct a base for the 1st Brigade. While the 62nd Engineers constructed the temporary runway, American construction consortium RMK-BRJ was working on a permanent 10,000-foot concrete runway and parking areas. In January 1966 the USAF 554th RED HORSE Squadron arrived at the base to assist with construction; the temporary aluminum runway became operational on 20 February and by mid-March all the interim facilities were operational.
Heavy rain in May 1966 and rushed construction led to damage to the aluminum runway and taxiways and in June the 62nd Engineers rebuilt the taxiways while the 554th RED HORSE and RMK-BRJ rebuilt the runway, reducing its available length to 6,000-foot. The 62nd Engineers built a 46,000-barrel fuel storage area, a six-inch pipeline to the beach and two 8-inch submarine pipelines from the beach to an offshore floating mooring and discharge facility. On 12 October 1966 RMK-BMJ completed 4 connecting taxiways. By the end of the year the base was completed with powerplant and sewage system, operations and other structures; the USAF forces stationed there were under the command of the United States Pacific Air Forces Seventh Air Force. In addition, the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps had aviation and other support units stationed at Phan Rang. Due to the delays in completion of the base, the F-4C Phantom II equipped 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron was diverted from Phan Rang to Cam Ranh Air Base and the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron went to Da Nang Air Base.
On 14 March 1966 the F-4C equipped 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived at the base becoming the first USAF squadron to deploy there. On 20 March 1966 the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing was the first permanent USAF organization to be stationed at Phan Rang Air Base; the rain damage to the base in May 1966 delayed the deployment of the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron from Cam Ranh AB and the 480th TFS from Da Nang AB. The squadrons assigned to the 366th TFW during this period were: 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 August 1966 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron Detachment 1, 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 May 1966 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 18 September 1966 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 16 July 1966The US population at the base increased from 118 in March 1966 to over 4,500 in September 1966; this increase led to pressure on accommodation and maintenance facilities which were still under construction. On 10 October 1966, the 366th TFW and the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron moved to Da Nang AB and the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang AB moved to Phan Rang.
On 10 October 1966 the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing took over as the host unit at Phan Rang. Units assigned to the 35th TFW were: 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 30 April 1968 – 18 April 1969 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 8 January 1967 and 14 April 1969 – 15 March 1971 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 Missions included air support of ground forces, interdiction and armed reconnaissance, strike assessment photography, escort and direct air support, rapid reaction alert, it struck enemy bases and supply caches in the Parrot's Beak just inside the Cambodian border, April–May 1970 and provided close air support and interdiction in support of South Vietnamese operations in Laos and Cambodia, January–June 1971. The B-57 Canberra equipped 8th and 13th Bombardment Squadrons relocated to Phan Rang with the 35th TFW. B-57 units assigned to the 35th TFWA at Phan Rang w
The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, were relied on to retake captured regions. During Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands. Rangers were regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, were trained for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region.
Ranger Units had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974. A total of 11 U. S Presidential Unit Citation were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam; the French established a commando school in Nha Trang in 1951.
After the American Military Assistance Advisory Group took over the military advisory role, the school was converted to a Ranger school in 1956. In 1960, when the Vietnam War began in earnest, the Vietnamese Rangers were formed. Rangers organized into separate companies with U. S. Army Rangers were assigned as advisers as members of the Mobile Training Teams, at Ranger Training Centers, at the unit level as members of the Military Advisory Command Vietnam. A small number of Vietnamese Ranger officers were selected to attend the U. S. Army Ranger School at Ft. Benning. In 1962, BDQ companies were formed into counter-insurgency Special Battalions but by 1963 Ranger units were organized into battalions and their mission evolved from counter-insurgency to light infantry operations. During 1966, the battalions were formed into task forces, five Ranger Group headquarters were created at corps level to provide command and control for tactical operations; the Ranger Group structure was maintained until 1970 as U.
S. force reduction commenced. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group situated along the Laotian and Cambodian borders under control of 5th U. S. Special Forces Group, was integrated into the Ranger command. Thus, the Rangers assumed an expanded role of border defense; the conversion of CIDG camps to 37 combat battalions with 14,534 men, more than doubled the Ranger force size. Within the early 1970s before the fall of Saigon, the rangers lost its appeal. Although many wanted to join the ranks of the Rangers, the popularity of the Airborne and Marine divisions grew at a faster rate. Many Rangers Battalions were decimated during Operation Lam Son 719. Part of the reason for this was orders by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to halt advances into Laos, just as these units inserted by helicopter had captured the objective, allowing for the newly-armoured 308th Division to move in and surround the outposts. Several Ranger Groups would face well-camouflaged armoured and artillery attacks during the Battle of Kontum and Battle of An Lộc as well as other engagements in the Easter Offensive.
Ordered to defend every inch by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, the Ranger Group and regular units were deployed across the 1300 km border. This had left the region vulnerable to well-coordinated piercing attacks from Trần Văn Trà and the B2 Front. A series of contradictory orders from Thieu, a strategy known as "Light at the Top, Heavy at the Bottom" in which President Thieu neither consulted with his staff nor advisers had sealed the end of the Rangers; the Central Highlands were to be abandoned held orders to recapture major cities, followed by another order to retreat had created disarray which the armored, heavy artillery and mobile infantry of the PAVN seized upon. In the closing days of the war in 1975 most Ranger units were destroyed. Many fought back independently. In Saigon, Rangers fought until the morning of 30 April when they were ordered to lay down their arms, as their nation-The Republic of Vietnam capitulated to the communist force. Most of the Ranger officers were considered too dangerous by the communist government and sentenced to long periods of incarceration in the "re-education" camps.
There were Ranger liaison platoons of 45 to 52 men assigned to each ARVN Corps/CTZ headquarters. They were supposed to insure the "proper use" of the Rangers. At their height in 1975 there
Republic of Vietnam Military Forces
The Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, were the official armed defense forces of South Vietnam, a state that existed from 1955 to 1975 in the southern half of what is now Vietnam. The RVNMF was responsible for the defense of South Vietnam since the state's independence from France in October 1955 to its demise in April 1975; the QLVNCH was formally established on December 30, 1955 by the strongman and republican first South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, which he declared on October 26 that year after winning a rigged referendum for either making South Vietnam a constitutional monarchy, or a presidential republic. Created out from ex-French Union Army colonial Indochinese auxiliary units, gathered earlier on July 1951 into the French-led Vietnamese National Army – VNA, Armée Nationale Vietnamiènne in French, the armed forces of the new state consisted in the mid-1950s of ground and naval branches of service, respectively: Army of the Republic of Vietnam Republic of Vietnam Air Force Republic of Vietnam Navy Republic of Vietnam Marine Division Their roles were defined as follows: to protect the sovereignty of the free Vietnamese nation and that of the Republic.
Cambodian Civil War First Indochina War Khmer National Armed Forces Laotian Civil War Royal Lao Armed Forces Republic of Vietnam Air Force Republic of Vietnam Navy Republic of Vietnam National Police Republic of Vietnam Marine Division South Vietnamese military ranks and insignia Vietnam People's Army Vietnamese National Army Vietnam War Weapons of the Vietnam War Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, US Army Special Forces 1952-84, Elite series 4, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 9780850456103 Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, Vietnam Airborne, Elite Series 29, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 0-85045-941-9 Gordon L. Rottman and Ramiro Bujeiro, Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75, Men-at-arms series 458, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2010. ISBN 978-1-84908-182-5 Kenneth Conboy and Simon McCouaig, South-East Asian Special Forces, Elite series 33, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1991. ISBN 9781855321069 Lee E. Russell and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 2, Men-at-arms series 143, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1983.
ISBN 0-85045-514-6. Leroy Thompson, Michael Chappell, Malcolm McGregor and Ken MacSwan, Uniforms of the Indo-China and Vietnam Wars, Blandford Press, London 1984. ASIN: B001VO7QSI Martin Windrow and Mike Chappell, The French Indochina War 1946-54, Men-at-arms series 322, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 1998. ISBN 978-1-85532-789-4 Phillip Katcher and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-1975, Men-at-arms series 104, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1980. ISBN 978-0-85045-360-7 Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, South Wind Changing, Graywolf Press, Minnesota 1994. ASIN: B01FIW8BJG Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U. K. 2009. ISBN 978-0521757638, 0521757630 Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, The Regents of the University of California press and Los Angeles, California 1995. ASIN: B00749ZBRC Nguyen Cao Ky, How we lost the Vietnam War, Stein & Day Pub 1979. ISBN 978-0812860160, 0812860160 Tran Van Don, Our Endless War: Inside Vietnam, Presidio Press, California 1978.
ISBN 978-0891410195, 0891410198
Republic of Vietnam Marine Division
The Republic of Vietnam Marine Division was part of the armed forces of South Vietnam. It was established by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 when he was Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, which became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955; the longest-serving commander was Lieutenant General Le Nguyen Khang. In 1969, the VNMC had a strength of 9,300, 15,000 by 1973. and 20,000 by 1975. The Marine Division trace their origins to French-trained Commandos Marine divisions recruited and placed under the command of the French Navy but incorporated in 1960. From 1970 onwards, the South Vietnamese marines and Airborne Division grew supplanting the independent, Central Highlands based Vietnamese Rangers as the most popular elite units for volunteers. Along with the Airborne the Marine Division formed the General Reserve with the strategic transformation under Vietnamization, with elite and highly-mobile units meant to be deployed in People's Army of Vietnam attacking points and incursions. By the level of training had improved and U.
S. General Creighton Abrams who oversaw Vietnamization stated that South Vietnam's Airborne and Marines had no comparable units to match it in the PAVN; this division had earned a total of 9 U. S. presidential citations, with the 2nd Battalion "Crazy Buffaloes" earning two. The Vietnamese Marine Corps had its origins during French rule of Indochina; the 1949 Franco-Vietnamese Agreement stated that the Vietnamese Armed Forces were to include naval forces whose organization and training would be provided by the French Navy. In March 1952, the Navy of Vietnam was established. In 1953, the French and Vietnamese governments agreed to increase the size of Vietnamese National Army, so an increase in the size of the Vietnamese Navy was deemed necessary; as they debated whether the Army or Navy would control the river flotillas, French Vice Admiral Philippe Auboyneau proposed for the first time the organisation of a Vietnamese Marine Corps. When the French withdrew from Vietnam in 1954, the Vietnamese Marine Corps was a component of the Vietnamese Navy.
The Marine Corps consisted of a headquarters, four river companies, one battalion landing force. On October 13, 1954, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem signed a government decree formally creating within the naval establishment a section of infantry of brigade strength to be designated as the Marine Corps. One of the most notable battles during the early phase of the war was the Battle of Binh Gia, which witnessed for the first time several helicopter transports downed by AA and ground-fire with the 4th Marine Battalion suffering 60% casualties. A few months with the onset of U. S intervention, the 1st and 3rd Battalion participated against a now Soviet and Chinese supplied 9th Viet Cong Division, were tasked with the Battle of Ba Gia. Upon capturing the hamlet the 9th Division sprung an ambush, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Following the departure of U. S. Marine forces, the South Vietnamese marines were assigned responsibility in defending the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone; the most significant urban-battle in the war was experienced by the South Vietnamese marines during the Easter Offensive.
A massive armored pushed across the DMZ and nearly destroyed this unit alongside I Corps in the city of Quảng Trị. Two months this South Vietnamese marines spearheaded the re-taking of Quảng Trị, with 3,658 KIA in the process; this would be the single longest, bloody battle in the entire war. Prior to the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the Marine Division attempted to retake the Cửa Việt Base abandoned by U. S. Marines in 1969 in the Battle of Cửa Việt; the PAVN units deployed the experimental 9M14 Malyutka man-portable guided anti-tanks, with the division losing 26 M48 Pattons in the counter-attack. Learning from the Easter Offensive failure, PAVN tanks rolled across not only across the DMZ, but well-disguised series of armoured attacks across the Central Highlands were launched during the Hue–Da Nang Campaign encircling and destroying most of the I Corps that many Marine Division battalions was assigned to. Remnants of the division, drastically short on supplies, held out and made a final stand near Saigon during the Battle of Xuân Lộc before succumbing to defeat.
Divisional Units Headquarters Battalion Amphibious Support Battalion Signal Battalion Engineer Battalion Medical Battalion Anti-tank Company Military Police Company Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Company147th Marine Brigade 1st Marine Battalion - "Wild Birds" 4th Marine Battalion - "Killer Sharks" 7th Marine Battalion - "Grey Tigers" 1st Marine Artillery Battalion - "Lightning Fire258th Marine Brigade 2nd Marine Battalion - "Crazy Buffaloes" 5th Marine Battalion - "Black Dragons" 8th Marine Battalion - "Sea Eagles" 2nd Marine Artillery Battalion - "Divine Arrows"369th Marine Brigade 3rd Marine Battalion - "Sea Wolves" 6th Marine Battalion - "Divine Hawks" 9th Marine Battalion - "Ferocious Tigers" 3rd Marine Artillery Battalion - "Divine Crossbows"A 4th brigade, the 468th, was added to the VNMC in December, 1974. 14th Marine Battalion 16th Marine Battalion 18th Marine Battalion 4th Marine Artillery Battalion - "Tan Lap" Major Lê Quang Mỹ Lt. Colonel Lê Quang Trọng Major Phạm Văn Liễu Vice Captain Bùi Phó Chí Major Lê Như Hùng Major Le Nguyen Khang Lt. Colonel Nguyễn Bá Liên Colonel Le Nguyen Khang Colonel Bùi Thế Lân Generally, the VNMC weapons and personal equipments were (if not
Viet Cong and PAVN strategy, organization and structure
During the Second Indochina War, better known as the Vietnam War, a distinctive land warfare strategy and organization was used by the National Liberation Front and the People's Army of Vietnam or NVA to defeat their American and South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam opponents. These methods involved integrated political and military strategy – what was called dau tranh; the National Liberation Front, was an umbrella of front groups and allies set up by the rulers of North Vietnam to conduct the insurgency in South Vietnam. The NLF included armed formations- regional and local guerrillas, the People's Liberation Armed Forces; the PLAF was the "Main Force" -- full-time soldiers of the NLF's military wing. Many histories lump both the NLF and the armed formations under the term "Viet Cong" or "VC" in common usage. Both were interwoven and were in turn controlled by the North. Others consider the Viet Cong or "VC" to refer to the armed elements; the term PAVN, identifies regular troops of the North Vietnamese Army or NVA as they were known by their Western opponents.
Collectively, both forces- the southern armed wing and the regulars from the north were part of PAVN. Terms such as "NLF" and "VC" or "NVA" and PAVN" are used interchangeably due to their widespread popular usage by both South Vietnamese and American military personnel and civilians, common usage in standard histories of the Vietnam War; the formation of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army lies in the communist dominated resistance to the French – the Viet Minh. The expulsion of the French had still left a clandestine organization behind in the South, reinforced by thousands of Southerners that had gone North after the communist victory; this clandestine organization focused on political organization and propaganda, came under heavy pressure by the Diem regime. Diem was an implacable enemy of the Communists and his nationalist credentials were comparatively clean, but he had inherited a fragile situation. From the beginning he faced the threat of military coups, thrusting criminal gangs, a weak bureaucracy and army, fierce factional fighting within South Vietnam between not only political factions, but religious groups as well.
Some of Diem's authoritarian methods and nepotism alienated a variety of groups in South Vietnamese society. Diem's "Denounce Communism" campaign for example, indiscriminately persecuted and alienated numerous civilians who may or may not have had strong links or sympathies with Communism. Diem's coldness towards Buddhist sensibilities in some areas aggravated an shaky situation. Diem's efforts caused substantial damage to the communist apparatus, as attested to by complaints of setbacks in the documents of his Communist opponents; some historians argue that Diem was no more corrupt or incompetent than other Third World leaders facing the difficult task of governing a new nation born of conflict, that he was dealt a harsh opening hand- including a ruthless communist foe that attacked every initiative he started, opposition from the French and numerous internal enemies, a number of assassination attempts- both by the communists and his own military. Diem's bravery and calm demeanor during these attempts to kill him won the esteem of American supporters.
In addition, some Buddhist opponents of Diem it is held, were not the innocent religious leaders portrayed in the press but sometimes collaborated with or were manipulated by that opposition. Vigorous communist efforts to destroy his reforms did not only target him for murder but singled out government personnel such as hamlet chiefs and school teachers for death. While his administration was not immune from problems, Diem appeared to have some success in social development during his tenure, his land reform measures for example, while not going to the extent urged by American advisers, in the words of one historian, "did succeed in breaking up the vast estates in the delta, it changed the landless peasants in the South from the large majority to a minority. The Communists would lament that this redistribution of land "seriously interfered" with their subsequent efforts to win over the peasantry through land reform." Diem's American backers failed to provide him with adequate funding to help buy land for redistribution to small peasants.
Diem's other reforms emphasized agriculture rather than the forced-draft industrial development of the north, the general restoration of order under his regime saw rising indicators of prosperity. Rice production for example which had fallen below pre-World War II production levels in 1954, surpassed the previous level by 1959. Production of rubber rose from 54,917 tons in 1954 to 75,374 in 1950, cattle and pigs registered a threefold jump over the same period. Diem placed limits on foreign capitalists and the amount of control they could exercise in various sectors. Per one study: The agricultural boom, combined with the opening of hundreds of new primary and secondary schools and new hospitals staffed by American-trained nurses and physicians, raised South Vietnamese living standards at a pace that would have been impressive in any underdeveloped country, not to mention a country, bracing for a massive attack on its homeland. Diem experienced several failures during his tenure. Harsh methods to suppress dissent, abrasive personalities in his administration aliena
Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam about 25 km from Saigon, across the Dong Nai river in the northern ward of Tân Phong, within the city of Biên Hòa within Đồng Nai Province. The boomburb city is densely populated and rings the base, despite the astronomical level of agent orange toxins left there for decades; the base is scheduled to begin cleanup by 2019. During the Vietnam War the base was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force; the United States used it as a major base from 1961 through 1973, stationing Army, Air Force and Marine units there. Bien Hoa is located on flat grounds in a rural area 25 km northeast of Saigon; the French Air Force established an air base, the Base aérienne tactique 192, active during the First Indochina War. On 1 June 1955, Bien Hoa Air Base became the RVNAF's logistics support base when the French evacuated their main depot at Hanoi. At this time the base had a single 5,700-foot by 150-foot PSP runway.
In December 1960, the U. S. Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam requested the U. S. Navy, as the designated contract construction agent for the Department of Defense in Southeast Asia, to plan and construct several jet-capable airfields in South Vietnam, including at Bien Hoa. In December 1961, the American construction company RMK-BRJ was directed by the Navy's Officer in Charge of Construction RVN to begin construction of a new concrete runway, the first of many projects built by RMK-BRJ at the Bien Hoa Air Base over the following ten years. With the influx of USAF tactical air units in the early 1960s, Bien Hoa became a joint operating base for both the RVNAF and USAF; the USAF forces stationed. Bien Hoa was the location for TACAN station Channel 73 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions, its military mail address was APO San Francisco, 96227. On 11 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed, in NSAM 104, that the Defense Secretary "introduce the Air Force'Jungle Jim' Squadron into Vietnam for the initial purpose of training Vietnamese forces."
The 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron was to proceed as a training mission and not for combat. The unit would be titled Detachment 2 of the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron, code named Farm Gate; the unit would operationally belong to the Air Force section of MAAG Vietnam. Detachment 2A would be the B-26 Invader unit. In late October an advance party from the 6009th Tactical Support Group arrived at Bien Hoa to prepare the base for Farm Gate operations and on 15 November they were joined by Detachment 9, 6010th Tactical Support Group responsible for aircraft maintenance. In late December 4 B-26s began operations. Farm Gate would grow to 4 SC-47s, 4 B-26s and 8 T-28s. In June 1962 2 Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldiers guarding the base perimeter were killed by Viet Cong and as a result CINCPAC Admiral Harry D. Felt recommended the defoliation of the jungle area north of the base and this was carried out by RVNAF H-34 helicopters in July. In May 1962 2 RB-26C night photo-reconnaissance aircraft joined the Farm Gate planes at the base.
One of the aircraft was destroyed in a ground accident on 20 October. In July 1963 the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron was activated at the base, becoming operational on 15 September. Equipped with 4 O-1 Bird Dogs and 20 crews it was tasked with training RVNAF pilots and observers in forward air control and visual reconnaissance. By the end of 1963 it had flown 3862 sorties. By June 1963, the USAF presence in South Vietnam had grown to 5,000 airmen; as the buildup continued, USAF directed the activation of a more permanent organizational structure to properly administer the forces being deployed. On 8 July 1963 the Farm Gate squadrons at Bien Hoa were redesignated the 1st Air Commando Squadron comprising two strike sections, one of 10 B-26s and 2 RB-26s and the other of 13 T-28s, in addition support squadrons operated 6 C-47s and 4 psychological warfare U-10s. On 8 July the 34th Tactical Group was established at the base, taking control of the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron and the 34th Air Base Squadron.
In December 1963 U-2 reconnaissance aircraft operating from the base conducted surveillance missions over Laos and North Vietnam. In early 1964 the USAF and RVNAF were only able to provide half of all requested air support. On 11 February a B-26 operating from Eglin Air Force Base lost a wing in flight and this led to the grounding of all B-26s in South Vietnam. With the loss of the B-26s CINCPAC and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam proposed that they be replaced by B-57B Canberra tactical bombers operating under Farm Gate procedures with RVNAF markings and joint USAF/RVNAF crews. At the end of March 48 B-57s flew from Yokota Air Base in Japan to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. On 8 April the remaining B-26s at Bien Hoa flew to Clark Air Base for scrapping. On 24 March a T-28 lost a wing during a bombing run near Sóc Trăng Airfield killing both crewmen and on 9 April another T-28 lost a wing during a strafing run and crashed. Two officials from North American Aviation, the manufacturers of the T-28, visited Bien Hoa and reviewed these losses and advised that the T-28 wasn't designed for the stresses it was being subjected to as a close air support aircraft.
As a result, 5 older T-28s were retired and 9 newer aircraft were borrowed by the RVNAF and operational restrictions imposed. Despite this augmentation and aircraft transfers meant th
Cam Ranh Base
Cam Ranh Air Base is located on Cam Ranh Bay in Khánh Hòa Province, Vietnam. It was one of several air bases built and used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Cam Ranh Air Base was part of the large Cam Ranh Bay logistics facility built by the United States, it was the major military seaport used by the United States for the offloading of supplies, military equipment and as a major Naval base. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force units all had compounds and units assigned to the Cam Ranh Bay facility from its opening in 1965 until its closure in 1972 as part of the drawdown of United States military forces in South Vietnam. Between 1979 and 2002, the facility was used by the Soviet Navy and Russian Navy. At the end of 2013, Russia resumed the use of the base in 2014 by its Air Force. On 19 May 2004, after major reconstruction, Cam Ranh Airport received its first commercial flight; as Vietnam considers the facility to be important to its defense, a small garrison of troops are stationed there.
In April 1965 CINCPAC instructed an engineering survey for a new airfield at Cam Ranh Bay. In mid-1965, the American construction consortium RMK-BRJ was directed by the Navy Officer in Charge of Construction RVN to construct a new airfield at Cam Ranh Bay, starting with a temporary 10,000-foot runway consisting of 2.2 million square feet of AM-2 aluminum matting to accommodate jet fighter-bombers. By September, RMK-BRJ had employed 1,800 Vietnamese workers for the work, over half of whom were women; the runway was completed in 50 days, with Admiral U. S. G. Sharp, CINCPAC, laying the last AM-2 plank on 16 October 1965; the airfield was opened for U. S. Air Force operations on 1 November 1965. A 1.3 million square feet cargo apron using pierced steel planking, airport facilities and utilities, mess halls, 25,000 square feet of living quarters were prepared for use by the USAF. By the end of 1966, RMK-BRJ and OICC RVN completed construction of an additional 10,000-foot concrete runway and taxiway at the air base.
Once the concrete runway was built, the original AM-2 runway was to be removed and replaced with a new concrete runway. In addition between June and September US Army engineers built fuel storage areas and 30 miles of roads and lengthened the pier before handing over the work to RMK-BMJ. In July 1965 it was planned that 3 fighter squadrons would be deployed to Cam Ranh Air Base once it was completed in October. On 28 October 1965 an advance party of the 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived at the base, the squadron equipped with F-4C Phantom II fighter-bombers arrived on 1 November and began flying missions over South Vietnam the following day. On 8 November 1965 the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to the base, being deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; the 12th TFW was the first permanently assigned F-4 Phantom II wing assigned to Southeast Asia. Operational squadrons of the wing at Cam Ranh were: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 December 1965 – 31 March 1970 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 – 31 March 1970 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 – 4 January 1966: Replaced by: 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 January 1966 – 31 March 1970 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron 26 January 1966 – 22 July 1968 diverted from the still incomplete Phan Rang Air BaseFrom Cam Ranh AB the wing carried out close air support and combat air patrol activities over South Vietnam, North Vietnam and Laos.
On 26 October 1966 and on 23 December 1967, US President Lyndon B. Johnson landed at the base on his only Presidential visit to South Vietnam, meeting US military personnel. On 31 March 1970, as part of the Vietnamization process the 12th TFW was reassigned to Phù Cát Air Base. Heavy rainfall and strong onshore winds from December 1965 to March 1966 undermined the sand base of the original aluminum mat runway and taxiways at the base, necessitating constant maintenance to smooth out bumps and replace damaged matting. By December 1966 Cam Ranh AB reached over 27,000 aircraft movements a month. Living conditions at the base remained spartan with cramped quarters and shortages of water and electricity; the air base was used as a strategic and tactical airlift facility. Cargo and personnel would arrive from the United States into the logistics facilities at Cam Ranh Bay by ship and by large Military Air Transport Service/Military Airlift Command airlifters, be transferred to tactical airlift for movement within South Vietnam.
Outgoing cargo and personnel would be processed though the large aerial port facility. In November 1965 315th Air Division C-130E squadrons based in Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines began "shuttle" missions out of the airfield. C-130s from Tan Son Nhut Air Base and Nha Trang Air Base made pickups at Cam Ranh. In May 1966 C-130As used for flareship operations at Da Nang Air Base began operations from Cam Ranh and by November 1966 13 C-130As were based there. On 1 December 1965 the 14th Aerial Port Squadron was activated at the base to manage the airfield. In 1966 a new ramp was constructed on the west side of the airfield to handle airlift operations. Cam Ranh remained as the Air Force's primary airlift base in South Vietnam. MAC aircraft operated into Cam Ranh; the 6485th Operations Squadron based at Tachikawa Airfield stationed 4 C-118 Liftmasters on rotation at the base for casualty evacuation. On 8 July 1966 the 903d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was established at Tan Son Nhut AB and it maintained a detachment at Cam Ranh.
In November 1966 the first MAC C-141 Starli