870 – A salute to the Douglas A-1 Skyraider in Vietnam

A-1 Skyraider,vietnam veteran news, mack payne

An A-1 Skyraider over Vietnam loaded for bear

Back in the olden days of 1970 and 1971, I had the distinct privilege of being allowed to fly an AH-1G Cobra gunship in the Vietnam Conflict. As a member of A Battery, 4th Battalion, 77th Field Artillery (Aerial Rocket Artillery) of the 101st Airborne Division I flew in many high intense situations where we were rockin’ and sockin’ members of the oppositional forces. We flew out of our home base at Phu Bai near the old imperial city of Hue that was surrounded and protected by its St. Augustine style fortress wall. I guess the ancient Cochin people believed in walls. We operated in areas like the A Shau Valley, Khe Sanh, Laos and both sides of the DMZ to name a few.

Many times our activities involving hostile action would include the participation of fast movers (jet aircraft) from other services including the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The aircraft included everyone’s favorite the F-4 Phantom Jet, The F-105 Thud (name picked up because of the sound they made when they frequently crashed into the ground) and the A-7 Corsair. One day in the midst of some intense action I noticed a strange looking propeller driven aircraft participating in the combat melee. It looked strangely like a World War II attack aircraft lost in a time warp.

That unusual looking plane turned out to be the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. It was a very tough and capable addition to the American combat weapon inventory during the Vietnam War. The Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career.

It was slow and deadly. It cruised at 200 knots, could hang around (loiter) for days (seemingly) and carried twice the bomb load of a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress. It also came fitted out with four forward firing fixed 20 mm cannons. That last feature enabled A-1 Skyraiders to shoot down several North Vietnamese jet fighters.

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider served well in the Vietnam War.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *