Getting Them Anyway You Can

Mark Conley

Active member
Here's a story that my Father's F-4 outfit used to pass around the Officers club on rainy days. It actually may have happened, but I haven’t found a piece of paperwork to back it up. But the plane existed....

Getting towards the End of the Viet Nam Conflict, the North Vietnamese Air Force wisely kept most of their aircraft up north and rarely strayed into South Vietnamese airspace. This kinda hacked off most Air Force pilots flying out of Da Nang, as the only way to get a Mig was to head north and run the gauntlet of missiles, automatic antiaircraft guns and every villager with a rifle for the chance to even get one.

Needless to say, those with the mission in the south were regulated to provide close air support with bombs and napalm. In order to carry more bombs and such, the aircraft were usually stripped of their air to air armament such as missiles and shells that could bring down an aircraft. This frustrated many a pilot, as most in their hearts really wanted to paint a red Mig star on their intake for proof of a kill.

One day, an F-4 with a full load of 500 pound general purpose bombs was orbiting an area, just in case a close air support mission was called. Not being called to deliver any ordnance, the pilot was told to call it a day and use his bombs only if he saw a target of opportunity should it arise. Turning back to Da Nang with a bomb load was tricky enough: landing a F-4 with a full bomb load was trickier still, with most pilots electing to dump the bombs in the sea before landing.

Going along with his mind in neutral, the pilot was suddenly shaken out of his revelry by the Guy in Back (GIB) weapon operator. The GIB reported that he could see a Mig directly below the aircraft, skirting the jungle canopy below. Now the Mig probably never saw the F-4: those haze white bottoms sort of just blend into the sky, and the Mig pilot was probably concentrating on not hitting the trees he was skimming.

The Guy In Front (GIF) was outraged. Armed for close air support, He had no suitable ammo for the gun, no missiles, and no hope at all at getting the Mig...until GIB suggested flying a course parallel and just to the front of the Mig. Using the estimated distance to the target, time of drop and estimation of the target speed...the GIF salvoed off every 500-pound bomb he had on the Mig. It was hoped that the Mig would either hit one, or the resulting ground blast would damage the Mig enough to knock it from the sky.

One bad thing about bombing an aircraft by the way. The act of going forward and salvoing off the weapons prevented any direct observation of the result. The explosions were noted, the F-4 was turned...but no visible or electronic detection of the Mig was noted. What was known was that there was over a quarter of a mile of stripped jungle...but no plane wreckage. Its quite possible that being hit by a pair of 500 pound weapons may have literately disintegrated the aircraft. But no physical evidence ever surfaced. At least nothing that resembled a Mig.

No wreckage, No red star. But for the GIF at least the frustration level was a little more evened out...and his crew chiefs awarded him a painted palm tree and a monkey on his intake. Now I know that part of the story is true... because as a 12 year old kid I saw this aircraft on the flight line and just had to ask my father why it had a red palm tree and a monkey painted on the intake when the rest had red stars.

By the way Sherman..that particular aircraft was given to the Israeli Air Force as a replacement aircraft during the Yom Kipper war...I hope she served your country for many years... :D
Nice one. :D

I think I actually have heard about this "air-to-air bombing" before, but I can't remember where..
it is funny, I played Combat Flight sim 3 and had 11 axis planes down, when the magical number 12 flew right into me