Cam Ranh Air Base

Cam Ranh Air Base

Infobox Airport
name = Cam Ranh Air Base
nativename =

image-width = 300
caption = 2008 image of Cam Ranh Air Base
ICAO =None

type =
owner =
operator =
city-served =
location =
elevation-f = 39
elevation-m = 12
website =
r1-number = 02L/20R
r1-length-f = 10,000
r1-length-m = 3,048
r1-surface = Paved
r2-number = 02R/20L
r2-length-f = 10,000
r2-length-m = 3,048
r2-surface = Paved
footnotes =
: "For the civil use of the facility during after 1975, see Cam Ranh Airport"Cam Ranh Air Base is located on Cam Ranh Bay in the province of Khanh Hoa,Vietnam. It was one of several South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) air bases built and used by the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Vietnam War. After 1979, the facility was used by the Soviet/Russian Air Force.

On 19 May 2004, after major reconstruction, Cam Ranh Airport received its first commercial flight. As Vietnam considers the facility to be important to its defense, a small garrison of troops are stationed there.

US military use of Cam Ranh AB

The airfield at Cam Ranh Bay was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers along with civilian contractors in 1965. It was turned over to the USAF on 1 November.

Cam Ranh Air Base served as a United States Air Force tactical fighter base, as well as a strategic and tactical airlift facility. Cargo and personnel would arrive from the United States into Cam Ranh, and then be transferred to tactical airlift for movement within South Vietnam. Outgoing cargo and personnel would also be processed though the aerial port facility.

The United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps used the airfield at Cam Ranh Air Base extensively.

12th Tactical Fighter Wing

The first USAF unit to be stationed at Cam Ranh AB was the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, which was assigned there on from 8 November 1965 from MacDill Air Force Base Florida.

From Cam Ranh AB the wing carried out close air support, interdiction, and combat air patrol activities over both Vietnams and Laos. Following the capture of the USS Pueblo, the 558th TFS was sent TDY to augment the 475th TFW in South Korea. When that later became a permanent assignment, the 558th and 391st traded designations.

On 30 March 1970, as part of the Vietnamization process and phase out of the F-4C, fighter operations at Cam Ranh Bay AB were halted and the 12th TFW was deactivated. The 557th, 558th and 559th TFS were deactivated in place and the F-4C's transferred to the Air National Guard.

On 31 March 1970 the 37th TFW at Phu Cat Air Base was re-designated the 12th TFW in a name-only transfer.

Operational Squadrons

The initial operational squadrons of the 12th TFW were:

* 43d Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 - 4 January 1966 (F-4C):Deployed from 15th TFW, MacDill AFB Florida)
* 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 January 1966 - 31 March 1970 (F-4C Tail Code: XN):Absorbed aircraft left behind by departing 43d TFS

* 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron 1 December 1965 - 31 March 1970 (F-4C Tail Code: XC)

* 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron 26 January 1966 - 22 July 1968 (F-4C Tail Code: XD/XT):Deployed from 366th TFW, Phan Rang Air Base. Aircraft transferred to 12th TFW 558th TFS July 1968 (F-4C Tail Code: XD/XT). Former 391st TFW aircraft reassigned to 475th TFW, Taegu AB, South Korea, July 1968 as Det 1., 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron)

* 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 November 1965 - 31 March 1970 (F-4C Tail Code: XT

483rd Tactical Airlift/Composite Wing

The 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing was activated on 15 October 1966. The wing was established to receive ex-Army CV-2B "Caribou" light transports. Upon transfer to the USAF, the aircraft was redesignated as a C-7B. The 483d TAW mission was to provide cargo and logistical support to U.S. Army and allied ground forces throughout South Vietnam.

The unique capabilities of the C-7 for short landing and takeoff made Caribou transports absolutely vital to the war effort. On many occasions the C-7s flew emergency airlift missions to airstrips and combat areas that no other aircraft could reach. Most notable were those in support of special forces camps in the central highlands.

* In June 1968 the wing flew a record 2,420 combat troops in three days between Dak Pek, Ben Het and Dak To.

* In August 1968 pinpoint night airdrops were accomplished at Duc Lap, Ha Thanh and Tonle Cham Special Forces camps. Ammunition and medical supplies were parachuted into 75-foot-square drop zones while the camps were under attack.

* In June 1969 during the siege of Ben Het more than 200 tons of ammunition, POL, rations, water and medical supplies were airdropped into a 100 x 200-foot zone with every load on target and 100 per cent recovered.

* In April 1970, the 483rd helped break the siege of Dak Seang. The wing flew 100 air-drop sorties under heavy hostile fire in ten days delivering some 400,000 pounds of vital supplies.

During their five years' flying for the 483rd, the C-7 Caribous carried more than 4.7 million passengers, averaging more than one million a year during 1967, 68 and 69. At the same time the wing averaged more than 100,000 tons of cargo each year.

With the deactivation of the 12th Tactical Fighter wing, the 483d became the host wing at Cam Ranh Bay on 31 March 1970.

The 483d Composite Wing was inactivated on 15 May 1972. For its service in Vietnam, the 483rd was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

Operational Squadrons

* C-7B Squadrons
** 457 Tactical Airlift (Cam Ranh) (Tail Code: KA)
** 458 Tactical Airlift (Cam Ranh) (Tail Code: KC)
** 459 Tactical Airlift (Phu Cat) (Tail Code: KE)
** 537 Tactical Airlift (Phu Cat) (Tail Code: KN)
** 535 Tactical Airlift (Vung Tau) (Tail Code: KH)
** 536 Tactical Airlift (Vung Tau) (Tail Code: KL)
** Royal Australian Air Force, Transport Flight Vietnam / 35 Tactical Airlift (Vung Tau)

* C-130B Squadrons (TDY from the 463d Tactical Airlift Wing Clark AB Philippines)
** 29th Tactical Airlift (Tail Code: QB)
** 772d Tactical Airlift (Tail Code: QF)
** 773d Tactical Airlift (Tail Code: QG)
** 774th Tactical Airlift (Tail Code: QW)C-130E Squadrons (TDY from CCK Taiwan)C-130A Squadrons (TDY from Naha Okinawa)

"Note: The C-130 squadrons rotated frequently from Clark AB were operated as Detachment 1. 463d Tactical Airlift Wing"'.

In 1971 several squadrons from other deactivating units were assigned to Cam Ranh. The 483d was renamed as the 483d Composite Wing.

* 90th Special Operations 1 January 1971 (A-37B Tail Code: CG)
* 360th Tactical Electronic Warfare 31 August 1971 (EC-47N/P/Q Tail Code: AJ)
* 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare 31 August 1971 (EC-47N/P/Q Tail Code: AL)
* 362d Tactical Electronic Warfare 31 August 1971 (EC-47N/P/Q C-47H Tail Code: AN)

The 90th SOS inactivated in place 31 May 1972; the 360th TEWS was reassigned to 377th Air Base Wing at Ton Son Nhut Air Base 1 February 1972; the 361st was deactivated in place 1 December 1971 and the 362d was assigned to the 366th TFW at Da Nang Air Base on 1 February 1972.

Military Airlift Command

The Military Airlift Command (MAC) 14th Aerial Port Squadron and 608th Military Airlift Support Squadrons of the 483d Wing operated the MAC terminal facilities at Cam Ranh, moving personnel and cargo in and out of South Vietnam. C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy aircraft were the main transport aircraft used. Once passengers and cargo were unloaded the C-130 Hercules and C-7 Caribou squadrons provided transportation in-country. In April 1971 the aerial port at Cam Ranh Air Base moved 80,522 passengers and 10,425 tons of cargo. Also handled were 712 tons of mail and 10,939 Vietnamese travelers.

South Vietnamese Use of Cam Ranh Air Base

After the American withdrawal from South Vietnam in 1973, the South Vietnamese Air Force used the airfield at Cam Ranh Bay as a storage facility for many of their propeller-driven aircraft (A-1E, T-28). The aircraft were kept in flyable storage while the large amount of jet F-5s and A-37s were used in operations against the North Vietnamese army.

On 3 April 1975 North Vietnamese forces captured Cam Ranh Bay and all of its military facilities.

oviet Use of Cam Ranh Air Base

In 1979, the Soviet Union started leasing the base rent-free from Vietnam under a 25-year leasing treaty. As part of this agreement, the Soviet Air Force stationed Tupolev Tu-95 long range reconnaissance aircraft and Tupolev Tu-16 bombers at Cam Ranh Air Base.

The Russian government continued the earlier Soviet arrangement in a 1993 agreement that allowed for the continued use of the base for signal intelligence, primarily on Chinese communications in the South China Sea. By this time, Russian aircraft had been been withdrawn, with only support personnel for the listening station remaining.

In 2001, the Russian government informed Vietnam that it would be withdrawing from Cam Ranh Bay completely. Russian personnel left the facility entirely in 2002.

ee also

* Republic of Vietnam Air Force
* United States Air Force In South Vietnam
* United States Pacific Air Forces
* Military Airlift Command
* Seventh Air Force
* Soviet Air Force
* Russian Air Force


* Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
* Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
* Mesco, Jim (1987) VNAF South Vietnamese Air Force 1945-1975 Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-193-8
* Mikesh, Robert C. (2005) Flying Dragons: The South Vietnamese Air Force. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0764321587
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* [ VNAF - The South Vietnamese Air Force 1951-1975]
* [ USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]
* [,9171,962881-2,00.html Time Magazine:Soviet Union Pacific Overtures, Monday, Nov. 17, 1986 By JILL SMOLOWE]
* [ Russia to complete Cam Ranh Bay naval base pullout by July. Asian Political News, April 1, 2002]
* [ US, Vietnam scratch each other's back. Asia Times Online, July 12, 2006]

External links

* [ 12th Tactical Fighter Wing Association]
* [ C-7A 63-09760 At the Air Mobility Command Museum]
* [ Cam Ranh Bay, Scenes From 1966-1968 (Video)]
* [ Cam Ranh Bay: What the Captain Means (Video)]
* [ Cam Ranh Bay Beach Party (Video)]
* [ Cam Ranh Bay Ghost Town 1972 (Video)]
* [ Cam Ranh Bay American Withdrawal 1972 (Video)]

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