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From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The night before the first mission
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 17:45:27 GMT (Gun One) wrote:

>  We routinely flew a hundred
>if not several hundred missions in Viet Nam with fewer losses.  I was there
>in the hot summer of '67, the doldrums of '68-'69, and thru the end in '72-
>'73, and I never saw anything like the flak those B-17s had to get thru.
>For my money, as far as Nam is concerned, the ground-pounders and helo
>drivers are the ones who earned their medals.

You might take a moment to discuss relative threat environments with
some River Rats. No one considered a hundred missions into North
Vietnam routine and typically 60% of those who started a 100 mission
tour didn't finish it.

I can also recall a number of places in which, although I can't
compare it to what B-17s encountered, I can testify that it was
intense enough that it was possible to lose sight of the other element
of a formation spread 6-9000 feet because of the "popcorn" erupting
between you.

I can also describe exactly what a 85MM projectile looks like in
flight when viewed head-on.

Everyone fought their own war. As Art points out, it is polite and
courteous to acknowledge that there is always someone who had it a bit

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Subject: Re: Vietnam Aircraft Losses
Date: 30 Apr 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military (Byron Hukee) wrote:

>I am looking for a source for American aircraft lost in Vietnam by type. I
>have just finished looking at some data on the A-1 Skyraider which
>revealed that there were approximately 274 Skyraiders lost (all causes)
>between 8 Mar 64 and 28 Sep 72. There were 210 USAF and 64 USN Skyraiders

Here's losses of aircraft in combat over NORTH Vietnam:



This is NVN combat losses not totals in-theater. Source is Red River
Valley Fighter Pilot's Ass'n 30th Anniversary Memorial Progam.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Subject: Re: Vietnam Aircraft Losses
Date: 30 Apr 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"F. X. Kranick, Jr." <> wrote:

>   Holy mackerel!  I know we were over there for a long time but to see
>the numbers all at once as Ed posted...  and to consider the pilots and
>crews in those numbers....  It's a sobering post to say the least.

Factor in that for large periods of time the war over the North was
suspended and the losses compress into a shorter war.

Losses were fairly low during Linebacker, particularly considering the
level of the effort. The majority of the losses occured in the Rolling
Thunder phase.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: 0.25 Missions: The Statistics
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 14:29:45 GMT (Dr N.C. Eastmond) wrote:

>Okay, I read the thread about the 0.25 of a mission. In it one poster
>stated that the RAF had to fly 4 times as many missions over occupied
>France than their American counterparts and that this meant that they
>had a four times higher chance of being killed.
>Now ignore all the historical facts and consider the laws of probability
>for me. Let's say that there is a 1:2 chance (50/50) of being killed
>on a mission. That is, half of the lads going out don't come back. We
>can equate this to the toss of a coin: the chances of getting tails is
>50/50 or 1:2. Suppose I toss the coin a second time. What are the chances
>of getting tails? Easy, it's 50/50. And what about a third time? Again,
>the chances of scoring tails is always 50/50 every time you toss the coin.
>So on this premise, the chances of being killed are always 50/50 in the
>model outlined aboove.

There are enough variables in air combat to make your statistical
analysis invalid (fortunately!)

First, the probability of getting killed on any mission is
considerably lower than 50/50. But, even if it were for arguments
sake, the conditions of the "coin toss" are considerably different
than two absolute outcomes. Variables might include the weather for
the mission, the condition of the aircraft, the training level of the
aircrew, the defensive reaction, the training level of the defender,
the target "degree of difficulty", the experience level of the
players, and even factors as mundane as whether you had a good night

During Rolling Thunder, we were on a 100 mission tour. The only
missions that counted were missions over North Vietnam. Anything else
was still a combat sortie, but it didn't count against the tour. In
this situation there was considerable difference on the counters, with
missions into the panhandle of NVN being relative "milk runs" and
missions into Route Pack VI being somewhat more stimulating. Even in
RP VI, there were still degrees of difficulty between places near Kep
and downtown compared to areas along the north coast or Thai Nguyen.

Pressure still builds. Statistics indicated that a pilot was most
likely to be shot down during his first ten or so missions and risk
again went up during his last ten. Beginners lacked skills and made
mistakes that could be tragic, while guys at the end of the tour might
be trying to win the war single-handedly with a feeling of

During four months of 1966, I briefed each day for missions into NVN
with a group that typically consisted of four or five flights of four
aircraft--a total of around 25 pilots at a time. On average over the
period we lost one of those guys daily. Next morning, start with 25,
that night you have 24. Go in the following day with 25, finish the
day with 24. Over six months that it took to fly my 100 missions my
roommate kept a diary that listed each time we lost someone. During
the tour we lost 110% of the aircraft assigned and 60% of the pilots
who started the 100 mission tour didn't finish.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Vietnam air war....
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 16:17:11 GMT

"Yju Jimbo" <> wrote:

>Im a student from sweden, im going to write a VERY large final exame work on
>this subject. So i know there are men out here who was there and i would
>like stories, how the flights was and how the men did on the base how
>different missions was done and so on. Mission planning and sych. DOnt be
>afraid to use details becasue this work is getting over 100 pages. Write
>about the feelings on the base and in the air and how it was to be there,
>tell me about your training and if it was the truth that in the beginning
>the pilots didnt get dogfight practise. And there maybe are alot of vietnam
>homepages out there can anyone give me the URLs? I will write your names in
>the essay of course.

Rather than depend on brief, anecdotal notes in this newsgroup
(although some can be quite accurate and relevant) why don't you head
to your library and read some of the excellent first-person accounts
of the war?

Try Ken Bell's "100 Missions North" and Jeff Ethell's "One Day in a
Long War". Don't forget Jack Broughton's "Thud Ridge" and take a look
at "Over the Beach" with details about F-8s on the Oriskany.

Then enter some keywords in your browser such as "fighter, war,
Vietnam,".... You should get pointers to the River Rats home page as
well as a lot of other professional and historical information.

If you then come back with specific questions you might be able to get
some additional details out of this NG.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Ho Chin Minhs Trail Campaign - Vietnam War, why so hard?
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 16:04:04 GMT

Gooney Bird <> wrote:

>Does anyone have a opinion on the USAF TACair effectiveness in
>interdiction of Ho's trail? It was bombed from 1965?-73-4??

It is important to note that "Ho Chi Minh Trail" is a generic term and
doesn't identify a specific road or trail. It refers to the supply
link or system. Think of it as a network or web rather than a single
>The USAF and other air forces flew alot of missions with a hugh vareity
>of a/c and weapons, but did these sorties really acheive anyhting

Absolutely. If you divert manpower to keeping supply lines open they
aren't occupied shooting at you. If you interdict a small portion of
material the remaining material is more expensive (think of cocaine
and free market economics.)

Although not part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, we regularly interdicted
the two main rail links between Hanoi and China. The Northwest
railline through Yen Bai was reported by intel to require nearly one
million Chinese coolies working nightly to keep it open. That's a lot
of expense when one is trying to wage a war.
>Was the M-118 3,000lb ever used on the Trail ?


>Can anyone list the CBUs or special wepaons used on trail, as im trying
>to gather info on theses.

CBUs are anti-personnel weapons and aren't good for road cuts or
bridge dropping. Some delayed action CBU were used for denial of
routes. Also the MLU-10B land mine which was seismic sensitive to
detect truck movement.

Special weapons is the proper term for nuclear weapons. None used.

>Ive seen numerous parking lots screwed up badly and whats a trail is a
>whole lot of craters..but somehow the NVN managed to evade this..

The NVN were extremely adept at rerouting around obstacles. Photos of
major choke points taken over time reveal the development of multiple
alternative routes around the problem. Armed recce sorties could
usually find targets near these choke points such as backed up
vehicles waiting to cross at night or barges stored under river bank
foliage to service a crossing point.
>So why did the interdiction campaign fail? Was it political or military

The generally accepted cause of campaign failure was political
indecision. Bombing halts coincident with US presidential elections
tell the whole story.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: f-104 in vietnam - comments
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 14:11:34 GMT wrote:

>In article <>,
> (Ed Rasimus) wrote:
>> wrote:

>> The radar could hardly be blamed for the failure, however.
>I thought that was on another mission.	My recollection was that you'd said
>the canopy was too hot to touch and the radar overheated and burned out, as
>you were doing something like 780CAS at the time.  My mistake.

I never experienced canopy heating. I will confess that in the story
related above, my airspeed did "creep up a bit" -- probably in the
neighborhood of 680-700 KCAS. At those speed we used to get the
"tunnel effect" where the normal shock wave started moving forward
along the canopy creating a condensation cloud. As you got close to
the Mach the cloud would be all over the canopy so that your only
clear view was straight ahead. Of course, at that speed, that's the
only direction that counts.

> Momyer, in "Air Power in Three Wars,"
>describes the great emphasis placed on staying out of the buffer zone and not
>crossing the border, and says that a combination of GCI, nav. systems in the
>fighters, and a lot of command emphasis kept the violations to a minimum
>(with a few exceptions, inadvertent or otherwise, right Ed? :-) ).

We always knew where we were, but occasionally did ignore it. I think
I've previously recounted the trip with my squadron commander, Fred
Tracy (first F-105 MiG kill) in which we headed north of Dien Bien Phu
to about 75 miles into China. His reason? "I'll never get a second MiG
if we don't go where they are."

Or the killing of a pair of trains along the NE railroad that we
encountered during ingress to a target using the buffer zone for
maneuver. The choice was court-martial or no crews for sorties the
next day. Intel "re-plotted" the train location and I wound up with
DFC #2.

>> Maintenance effectiveness tends to by cyclical, but while I was in
>> SEA, it was always remarkably high.

>For that matter, you may have always got an airplane, but they weren't always
>ready to fly.  Piowaty describes (in the Squadron Signal book "Thud") a
>mission he was supposed to lead, in which his assigned a/c was sick.  He then
>ran to a spare, strapped in in a hurry, started it and did a high-speed taxi
>to the runway.	He couldn't get the required epr for the day, but decided to
>go anyway. He ran it up to full power on the brakes, lifted his feet and went
>into burner, hit the water injection switch, and the instrument panel fell
>into his lap.  Oh well, people were tired and overworked:-)

Sometimes things happen. I wound up with a bird that had no gun sight
to sit spare on a strike package to the Phuc Yen airfield POL storage
area. Naturally someone crumped and I chose to go anyway. Without the
sight, I had to get a "little bit close to my work" to get the bombs
on target--which led to my being filmed by a camera carrying bird in
another flight getting the hit. Two aircraft out of 12 fragged were
lost on the mission, and my "Colin Kelly" act got a Silver Star.
(August 1966)

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

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