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Did any RAF or RN aircrew on exchange with USAF, USN fly over Vietnam?

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Did any RAF or RN aircrew on exchange with USAF, USN fly over Vietnam?

Old 29th Sep 2012, 10:18
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When on 46 Sqn (Andover), around 1970, a couple of the ex 52? Sqn boys told me they had done strip work in South Vietnam.

Last edited by dalek; 29th Sep 2012 at 10:18.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 11:00
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I had the good fortune to fly the C-141A on exchange from September 1970 to December 1972, when the war was pretty much at its peak, and when the Wing's main task was support of ops in 'The Combat Zone.' For most of my tour, in accordance with established practice affecting all RAF aircrew in Military Airlift Command, I could not enter the Zone. (As I understood matters, this was because it was not 'our war' as already pointed out - and some years later, I found that the same applied to USAF officers with the RAF as regards trips to Northern Ireland and Belize.)

However, in late 1971, new instructions were issued from London - I have no idea why. These permitted those of us flying the 141 to fly in and back out of the Zone; had I been on a C-130 unit flying in-country missions, that would not have been permitted. The practicalities involved convincing the ACP at Clark AB, the normal gateway to Vietnam and Thailand, that I could now go, after years of RAF aircrew not being allowed. And then discovering that elements of the briefing were classified "NOFORN," and so I couldn't be told about SAM locations and the like. The latter was dealt with pragmatically by crews with whom I was flying - they'd come out and tell me. I was the Nav, after all.

And so I racked up a few missions, earned a proportion of an Air Medal, and it meant I could do one of the weekly global Embassy Missions that went through Tan Son Nhut. Not too many, however, for somebody at MAC HQ then found some small print in the USAF Foreign Clearance Guide that I believe had been there for years, and this meant that all manner of visa restrictions applied to flights outside of the CONUS, US Possessions, and NATO countries. This became a much more severe limitation, at least it did with my Wing; others on the West Coast seemed to get less worked up about it. (I believe that the Australian MOD found it very odd to be suddenly asked by the US Embassy whether a RAF exchange officer could fly into Australia!) However, I was kept busy flying airdrop sorties, and by operating overwater as an Instructor/Examiner, and the problem was minimised.

So, yes, those of us on the 141 both flew over, and into, Vietnam ... eventually.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 13:04
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Must have been very risky flying up there in the mid-20's to lower 30's.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 14:16
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Cue the hilarious yarn of the 4xF4 in the 30s dropping a mix of ordnance just as soon as they could with the assistance of a FAC where they were keener to keep their little pink backsides intact and out of enemy hands.

Must have been on PPRuNe about 4-5 years ago.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 14:43
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Dalek

I was on 48 Hercs at Changi 67-9 and squadron aircraft went to Tan Son Nhut 2 or 3 times a week with Red Cross supplies,beer for the embassy etc. I do recall knowing that on at least one occasion an Andover of 52 had done strip landings 'up-country'.
We had a young captain on 48 (now ACM Sir JC retired) who told me he had put 'exchange tour with the USAF on operational duties in SE Asia' as his first choice in the posting column on his 1369.It was common knowledge that at that time RAF transport aircrew on exchange with MAC were not permitted into South Vietnam.
I recall meeting the pilot of the Air Attache's Devon ( Sqn Ldr Hampson or something similar) and his Dutch (IIRC) wife, when they came out to meet our aircraft.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 17:03
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A rather rare photo of an operational RAF aircraft and pilot in Vietnam during The American War:

Tan Son Nhut 1970

and another photo of another one at Hue the same year:


Both photos taken from the RAFinfo website.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 18:13
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I recall JC as my first SUO at Cranwell on A Sqn. I also seem to recall that his Dad was one of the AFB whose names and post-nominals we had to learn - Air Marshal Sir Walter G C............. cannot remember the decorations though.....now what did I have for breakfast?

Last edited by Wander00; 29th Sep 2012 at 22:21.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 20:32
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Something for you to chew on, Wander00:

W G Cheshire_P

In order to avoid accusations of thread-drift, if the title of the thread had included the USMC, at least one RN pilot comes to mind. ISTR that the first MOD(N) new about was when some interesting medals arrived in the post with a request that they be forwarded. The were, plus denial of permission to wear .....

Jack
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 22:04
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Plt Off (P): 28 Jul 1926, Plt Off: 28 Jul 1927, Fg Off: 28 Jan 1928, Flt Lt: 9 Sep 1931, Sqn Ldr: 1 Apr 1937, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1940, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jun 1942, Wg Cdr: 20 Nov 1942 [1 Jul 1942], Act A/Cdre: 20 Jul 1944, Gp Capt (WS): 20 Jan 1945, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1947 [1 Oct 1946], A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1950, Act A 23 Apr 1953, AVM: 1 Jan 1954, AM: 1 Jul 1959, ACM: 19 Nov 1962.

Fascinating rank progress during the war...

Wing Co to Group Capt to Wing Co to Act A/Cdr to Group Capt...
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 22:11
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The Odd Angry Shot..great film wit Bryan Brown

"One fully operational w....ing device, padre for the use of"
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 22:14
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An RN pilot serving as an instructor with VF-121 flew an F-4 to Da Nang on a delivery flight, then, I'm told, unfurled a Union flag as he taxied to the pan. And an RAF helicopter pilot sent to Da Nang from Hong Kong as an observer flew a combat sortie or two with a US Army Huey squadron. I'm sure there's more of this sort of thing. But it's bits and pieces. Nothing of the sort of significance people are hoping to discover ...
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 22:38
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Tan Son Nhut....The USAF Air base in Saigon that forbid the wearing/carrying of weapons....and had an air conditioned Pizza Parlor and bowling alley? I remember it well....and the problems with the Air Police when we showed up complete with guns. It is now the Ho Chi Mind City International Airport.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 22:45
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Originally Posted by NutLoose
Fascinating rank progress during the war...

Wing Co to Group Capt to Wing Co to Act A/Cdr to Group Capt...
Actually, "(T) Wing Cdr to (T) Group Capt to Wing Cdr to Act A/Cdr to Group Capt (WS) to Group Capt to A/Cdr".

So the first two are temporary ranks* (likely due to the lack of a permanent person filling the position during the rapid expansion of the RAF in 1940-42), and then he gets a perm posting matching his earlier temp posting.

This is followed by another temp (acting) position, then a "WS" (whatever that is), then two more perm-posts... both of which he has had before in temp/acting status.



* Or does the "T" stand for "training"... as in being trained for the position?
Or perhaps he commanded a training wing & group, not an operational one?

Last edited by GreenKnight121; 29th Sep 2012 at 22:48.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 02:25
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T = Temporary. WS = Wartime Substantive

As you suspect, he holds the rank for the post that he's in at a particular time; chances are, though, that he'll not have reverted to lower rank at any point and to outsiders will appear to have been promoted steadily from Sqn Ldr at the start of hostilites to Air Cdre by 1944.

He's a substantive Sqn Ldr in 1942. He's then promoted to Temporary Wg Cdr (presumably to fill an SO1's slot in Bomber Command HQ). He continues to be paid as a Sqn Ldr.

Then, presumably on appointment as the Air Attache in Moscow, he becomes a Grp Capt (the usual rank of the Air Attache) - but continues to 'enjoy' the pay and allowances of a Sqn Ldr (his actual substantive rank). This is partly rectified with a back-dated promotion to substabtive Wg Cdr in November 1942 (note not back-dated to his appointment as Air Attache, but at a guess to the date he arrived in Moscow to assume his new post).

Then, on 20 Jul 44, he becomes Chief of A2 at SEAC. This is a 1* post, so he becomes a temporary Air Cdre - but in receipt of a Wg Cdr's pay and allowances.

Finally, in Jan 45, he's given promotion to the substantive rank of Grp Capt and receives the pay and allowances associated with that rank - but as this is a wartime substantive rank, once the war is at an end (remember that bureaucracy will have not felt any need to take into account the surrenders of Germany and Japan when determining when wartime ends...), he reverts to being a substantive Wing Commander and his pay goes down again.

I'm guessing that there was a point in 1945/46 when he was doing a 1* job and getting a Wg Cdr's pay.

Somewhere in the Treasury, a beancounter chances upon this thread and has a bright idea...
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 03:35
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For the reasons Pontius Navigator pointed out in post Number 3 there was no RAF involvement in Vietnam combat after 1964. There was however RAF involvement prior to December 1964.

The existence of the South Vietnam clasp to the 1962 GSM is also a bright red and very whiffy herring.

Archimedes is correct in post 17 when he points out that all the clasps were awarded to early members (or defacto members) of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. Some of whom originated from the UK and some of whom had previous service with British Armed Forces.

From an aviation perspective a few of the SVN Clap recipientsare significant in a couple of pioneering respects with regard to helicopter operations. Captain Noel Delahunty was awarded the Military Cross for conducting the first 'Commonwealth' hot extraction Warrant Officer George Chinn was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the same year for taking charge of the first hot insertion.

As Archimedes has previously pointed out some of the 'Australians' were British. Warrant Officer Brian Quee born in London in 1930 after serving a tour as an instructor with AATTV from 1962 to 1963 he returned on his second tour as Squadron Sergeant Major of 161 Reece Flight. 161 Recce Flight operated Cessna 180's and Sioux Helicopters in support of the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat from 1967 to 1968.

All the 68 awardees of the SVN clasp are known and documented. The number of awards is sometimes misrepresented as 60 or sometimes 70 (as has already occurred on this thread) This is more readily attributed to a rounding error rather than any 'secret' RAF service in Vietnam.

There are some sound reasons why some RAF , RN and Army working in the embassy in the period 1965 to 1966 may have erroneously believed that they had been awarded the SVN clasp.

To answer the question proposed by the OP - Yes. Prior to 1964 at least one RAF helicopter was killed (and still missing in action) while seconded to the DARPA helicopter gunship trials.



Regards

Mick
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 03:40
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From a journal article authored by myself and Mario Mariachi posted at the BMF Forum:



There was at least one other British Serviceman who qualified for the Campaign Medal under the terms set out by the Royal Warrant. That is, his service in Vietnam occurred “between the 24th December 1962 and the 28th May 1964” and that he made at least “one operational sortie.” “The usual concession is made regarding termination of service from death wounds or an award of a gallantry decoration” In this case, his service was terminated, when he was tragically killed.

In an intriguing footnote in 'Street without Joy’ the usually reliable Bernard Fall states that: ‘There also existed in Viet-Nam since 1962 a British Military Advisory Mission under T. K. G. Thompson, particularly concerned with the Strategic Hamlets. A British colonel was killed flying in a U.S. helicopter in 1964.” (90) No members of BRIAM or Noone’s British Training Team are known to be casualties. Fall’s ‘British Colonel’ was most likely to have been Royal Air force Wing Commander Alan Lee MVO.

In the 1949 New Years honours Alan Lee was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order in the fifth Division.(91) This possibly indicates that he may have been working in some capacity in the Royal household. An appointment as a MVO was usual on completion of this task.

In May 1950 Lee was promoted to Flying Officer and trained as one of the RAF’s first helicopter pilots. He was posted to Far East Force Casualty Evacuation flight in Malaya flying Westland ‘Dragonfly’ Helicopters in May 1950.(92) Lee’s pioneering work with primitive helicopters on operational service in the ‘Emergency’ did not go unnoticed. He was Mentioned in Despatches in recognition of his distinguished service in Malaya in August 1952. Promoted to Squadron Leader in July 1956, Lee was by this time one of the UK’s most experienced and able helicopter pilots.(93)

The original, under powered and unreliable machines that Lee had first used in Malaya were giving way to better, more useful aircraft and the helicopter would soon start to deliver on its enormous potential. The problem of underpowered machines looked to be solved with the advent of new lighter, vastly more powerful gas turbine engines. The machine showing the most promise for future development in the early 1960’s was the Bell UH-1 Iroquois or ‘Huey’.(94)

The responsibility for weapons trials was the responsibility of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency(ARPA). The Huey gunship weapons trials project was being run on behalf of ARPA by the RAND Corporation. The RAND Corporation had been split from the Douglas Aircraft Company shortly after WW2. Most of their investigative and consultancy work was done on behalf of the USAF.(95) The British defence establishment had a natural interest in cooperating with their NATO ally in technological developments. In January 1964 Wing Commander Allen Lee was working with RAND on the XH-1A Huey Gunship program. The XH-1A was used for grenade launcher, rocket and machine gun tests, in combat field trials and based on the UH-1B airframe. In the early 1960’s ARPA were working on several research projects and trialling them under combat conditions in South Vietnam. One of these projects resulted in the M-16 Rifle and another eventually resulted in the Huey Gunship. Wing Commander Allen Lee was part of the ARPA team that developed the Huey into a ‘weapon’. While Lee was learning all he could about gunship operations, the British were also attempting to stimulate ARPA’s interest in the hovercraft that British firm, Saunders Roe, were developing for military use.(96)

Lee’s Huey UH-1B tail number 62-01880 suffered a tail rotor failure after a strafing run on Viet Cong positions on the South China Sea coastline in Kien Hoa Province. It is not known whether the cause of the tail rotor failure was due to enemy ground fire in reply, or merely a mechanical mishap. In any event, 62-01880 crashed into the South China Sea

Although three of the crew were rescued, conditions were extremely difficult. Wing Commander Allen Lee, the US pilot Bryford Metoyer and the Crew Chief PFC John L. Straley perished. An attempt to rescue the trio in the water was made but Metoyer disappeared and Lee slipped from the grasp of the rescue helicopter crew and, he too disappeared. It is assumed that they were taken by sharks.(97)


We argue that, under the terms of the Royal Warrant establishing the award of the 1962 General Service Medal with South Vietnam Clasp, that Wing Commander Lee undoubtedly qualified for it."


If any of the resident experts here can correct or add anything to this account Mario and I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Best regards


Mick.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 04:07
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‘The Odd Angry Shot’ starred (comedian) Grahame Kennedy, not Brian Brown, and, although not a bad film, was pretty unrepresentative of the way the Oz SAS did their business in SVN. (The ‘required’ big battle towards the end, with lots of unit casualties for a bit of pathos, wasn’t what the SAS did. In all their years in country, where they did so many really, really amazing things, they suffered only on KIA, the unfortunate Gunner Fisher, who, wounded, fell from the rope during a helicopter extraction. His body was located only a few years ago.)

If anyone is interested in reading a far more accurate recounting of the Oz SASR in SE Asia, try ‘Sleeping with Your Ears Open: On Patrol with the Australian SAS’, by Gary Mackay – a very good read, mostly first hand, first person accounts. In North Borneo during Confrontation, the SASR suffered one dead on ops who was gored to death by a rogue elephant.


--------
Re ChrisJ800’s post # 18: Lofty Lance was indeed killed while serving with the RAAF’s 9 Sqn in SVN. Lofty was one of the ex-RAF pilots who were taken on by the RAAF in the mid to late 60s to put a few experienced heads among the boggies on squadrons with the major expansion required by the Vietnam commitment. Some had been long out of the RAF and were already living in Australia, having emigrated there.


Re the original question: did anyone from the RAF serve in Vietnam? (Remember, this is a RUMOUR network, and this next bit as about as much a 'way out there' rumour as rumours get.) In the late sixties, as the Brits began to withdraw everything that was East of Suez to West of Suez (and therefore, quite a few people saw the [what was] very good life they’d enjoyed for a very long time coming to an end), bar talk at Tengah had it that ‘someone’ was looking for experienced fast jet drivers to fly high performance, delta winged aircraft in Asia for 5,000 USD a month.

Now $5,000 a month was very big money back then, and (other than the USAF – who definitely weren’t paying foreigners $5000 a month to fly any of their aeroplanes), there was only one outfit flying ‘high performance, delta wing aircraft’ in Asia at the time.

That same bar talk said that a small number of RAF fast jet types had taken up the offer and made a lot of money flying those high performance, delta wing jets – but of course, it was bar talk, and no one could ever name a name. So, in answer to the original question, maybe so, (if unlikely), but not in quite the way the questioner might have imagined.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 05:58
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Cool

In the late sixties, as the Brits began to withdraw everything that was East of Suez to West of Suez (and therefore, quite a few people saw the [what was] very good life they’d enjoyed for a very long time coming to an end), bar talk at Tengah had it that ‘someone’ was looking for experienced fast jet drivers to fly high performance, delta winged aircraft in Asia for 5,000 USD a month.
AFAIK, the RAN was looking for some experienced fast jet pilots to assist in manning the new delta wing A4 Skyhawks. They in fact managed to recruit five or six RNers who became RAN A4 pilots in relatively senior positions. IIRC there were at least two Senior Pilots and a CO, and AWI training gained from this move.

As far as the money, I don't think so, but the RAN pay for the time, was far better than the RN.

3W
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 06:14
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"‘The Odd Angry Shot’ starred (comedian) Grahame Kennedy, not Brian Brown, and, although not a bad film, was pretty unrepresentative of the way the Oz SAS did their business in SVN. (The ‘required’ big battle towards the end, with lots of unit casualties for a bit of pathos, wasn’t what the SAS did. In all their years in country, where they did so many really, really amazing things, they suffered only on KIA, the unfortunate Gunner Fisher, who, wounded, fell from the rope during a helicopter extraction. His body was located only a few years ago.)

And the lessons learn't from his falling off the rope were still being taught in the 80's and are probably still today when any roping or rappelling is done, especially with Helicopters.

A message was picked up at one point on the VC net to saty away from a certain area. That area was where the SAS operated as they were extremely good as would be expected.


Another book worth reading is Behind Enemy Lines by Terry O'Farrell
who did two tours and went from Private to Major including RSM and Acting CO of the Regiment at one stage.
.

Last edited by 500N; 30th Sep 2012 at 06:18.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 06:47
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If you were a British immigrant to Australia at the time of the Vietnam War you were liable for National Service even if you were not an Australian citizen.If your name was drawn you could well find yourself in Vietnam even if it were not"our war".
A look at the official casualty lists for those K.I.A. in Vietnam reveals quite a few young British lads who gave their lives.
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