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This segment of “Air Force Now” features the A-1 Skyraider in action inVietnam with the First Special Operations Squadron also known as the “Hobos”. In this instance the Skyraider is seen flying cover for “Jolly Green Giant” rescue helicopters performing search and rescue operations.

As American involvement in the Vietnam War began, the A-1 Skyraider was still the medium attack aircraft in many carrier air wings, although it was planned to be replaced by the A-6A Intruder as part of the general switch to jet aircraft. Skyraiders from Constellation and Ticonderoga participated in the first U.S. Navy strikes against North Vietnam on 5 August 1964 as part of Operation Pierce Arrow in response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, striking against fuel depots at Vinh, with one Skyraider from Ticonderoga damaged by anti-aircraft fire, and a second from Constellation shot down, killing its pilot.

As they were released from U.S. Navy service, Skyraiders were introduced into the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). They were also used by the USAF to perform one of the Skyraider’s most famous roles: the “Sandy” helicopter escort on combat rescues. USAF Major Bernard F. Fisher piloted an A-1E on 10 March 1966 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing Major “Jump” Myers at A Shau Special Forces Camp. USAF Colonel William A. Jones, III piloted an A-1H on 1 September 1968 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In that mission, despite damage to his aircraft and suffering serious burns, he returned to his base and reported the position of a downed U.S. airman.

After November 1972, all A-1s in U.S. service in Southeast Asia were transferred to the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) and their roles taken over by the subsonic LTV A-7 Corsair II. The Skyraider in Vietnam pioneered the concept of tough, survivable aircraft with long loiter times and large ordnance loads. The USAF lost 201 Skyraiders to all causes in Southeast Asia, while the Navy lost 65 to all causes. Of the 266 lost A-1s, five were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and three were shot down in air-to-air combat; two by North Vietnamese MiG-17s.

In contrast to the Korean War, fought a decade earlier, the U.S. Air Force used the naval A-1 Skyraider for the first time in Vietnam. As the Vietnam War progressed, USAF A-1s were painted in camouflage, while USN A-1 Skyraiders were gray/white in color; again, in contrast to the Korean War, when A-1s were painted dark blue.

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  1. Now I see why the warthog was called the A-1 plus 0  Cant wait to see what the A-100 is going to look like in the future ;/

  2. What i love about The A1 Sky Raider was..not just the beauty of the aircraft itself but the ability n capability it represents. A1 was really was a flying tank! Fully Armed to the teeth n gum!! it has very strong n sturdy airframe build that enables it withstands such punishment from natures element n operations anywhere from rough,small n short runway airfield..even on dirt road or hi way if it had too..hours n hours of loitering time ability which are very essential n important not just for S.A.R mission,also for Recon,S.A.D n COINS missions too!the most best part was it can be upgraded with latest techs..it was not accident prone, (widow maker) very forgiving, safe n easy aircraft to fly(saves lots off cost n training hours for new pilots)fuel efficient,good flying or operation hours,easy to repair n low cost maintenance which were very important for a small country to have in their airforce like for example the south vietnam airforce to operate at that time. i would love to hv a bunch of fully armed to the teeth n gum A1 in my base as my personal low flight ops fighter-bomber Hahaha..

  3. Awesome, I was a 19yr old Navy going to ADR school in Memphis & towards the end of schooling we were to start up these monsters ! I was Seated in the cockpit (next to an instructor) & I was starting that monster while the instructor was yelling at me for calling out the Wrong hydraulic pressures ! All this over the smoke & noises from start up. Something ya never forget ! Loved it all

  4. "We are killing! We are bombing! But we are losing!" – "We are winning all battles! But we are losing the war!" – "Our footprints are millions of bomb craters there. But I want to leave schools, hospitals…" LBJ "on the Path of War"

  5. Spads are one of my favorite prop jobs .Dad flew steermans to starfighters but always wanted to fly one …

  6. He is a bad matha… shut your mouth!….but I'm talking about the skyraider…and we can dig it…

  7. Barely missed WWII. Can you imagine these things flying missions alongside P47s and Typhoons over the Falaise Gap?

  8. Amazing pilots, I have fontunant to work on Lyle Sheltons f-8 bear cat. "Rare bear" won several world championships at Reno. He was a sandy pilot. Rip Lyle!

  9. While not a "nice" subject…it is, indeed, impressive AND nice, to see an actual "non-Hollywooded" view of such.

    I was told the Spad could…and, would…fly and provide cover in conditions that were impossible for the then-modern jet craft, that because of it's relatively spartan design for the period, it was reliable in most any climatic extreme shown it, as in, less electronics to go haywire. Nowadays? I'd say, no way of course. But, we were still in kind of a "transition period", with good, accurate suppressing fire, I guess one could say?

  10. Unacceptable. Faster response time. Get that beast to where it needs to be, in the fight. Why so high? Airforce? Don't want to get dirty? Then get the hell out and I'll show you how a grunt needs those machine guns. 10 feet off the deck, not at 5000 ft. If I'd have been at LZ X-Ray I would have had grass is my landing gear coming in so low I could sweep from side to side. In Korea the Marines talked about how Jarhead jets would fly so low it made them duck even though they weren't THAT low. Airforce? They could tell it was them because they could barely see the plane. Thanks a lot for shit. Same as WW11. Same, same.

  11. My all time favorite sound. My all time favorite plane. My all time favorite pilots. They were all maniacs. I was a grunt in Vietnam in '68.

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