Vietnam Air Force

Vietnam Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Vietnam Air Force
"Khong Quan Viet Nam"

caption=VNAF insignia
dates= 1955 - 1975
country= South Vietnam
size= 63,000 personnel (at height)
2075 aircraft (at height)
motto=Tổ Quốc - Không Gian (Fatherland - Space)
battles= Vietnam War
anniversaries= July 1 - VNAF Day
notable_commanders=Nguyễn Xuân Vinh, Nguyễn Cao Kỳ
identification_symbol_label= Roundel
identification_symbol_2_label= Fin Flash
aircraft_attack= MD 315 Flamant, T-28, A-1, A-37, AC-47, AC-119G/K
aircraft_bomber= B-57 Canberra
aircraft_electronic= EC-47
aircraft_fighter= F8F Bearcat, F-5A/B/C/E
aircraft_recon= RF-5A, MS 500 Criquet, O-1 Bird Dog, O-2 Skymaster, U-6, U-17
aircraft_patrol= Republic RC-3 Seabee
aircraft_trainer= Pazmany PL-2, T-6, T-28, T-41, T-37, H-13
aircraft_transport= Dassault MD 315 Flamant, C-45, Aero Commander, C-47, DC-6, C-7 Caribou, C-119, C-123, C-130, Alouette II, Alouette III, H-19, UH-1, H-34, CH-47


The VNAF (abbreviation for Viet Nam Air Force, Vietnamese is "Không Quân Việt Nam") started off as a few hand picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era. It eventually grew into the world's 6th largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974. It is an often neglected chapter of the history of the Vietnam war as they operated in the shadow of the world's largest air war machine. Many members now live in the United States.


In contrast with the North Vietnamese Air Force, most allied air operations in the Vietnam War were conducted by the US armed forces. The South Vietnamese forces operated at a fairly basic level compared to the US forces, which carried the bombing campaigns in the north.

The 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron was organized on 17 June 1963The United States in May 1956 had started to train and advise the South Vietnamese Air Force. VNAF was supplied with H-19 helicopters, and later H-34's. Initially they employed simple T-28 Trojan [1962 Aviation Week] prop powered trainers which could carry a small bombload. The first jets were B-57 Canberra bombers arriving in 1965. In October of the same year the VNAF received its first modern UH-1 Huey turbine powered helicopters. Later, the US released more powerful light attack A-1 Skyraiders and jet light attack A-37 Dragonfly, and the lightweight F-5 Freedom Fighter which was developed by Northrop as an affordable export fighter for foreign air forces. By the end of 1972, the VNAF operated 18 squadrons with 500 new helicopters, one of the largest helicopter fleets in the world. [ VNAF Dust Off ] In 1972, President Thieu asked for, but did not receive, the F-4 Phantom with its massive bombload and speed that was widely used for all roles by US air services. [ [ NBC Evening News for Friday, Nov 10, 1972] ]

When the NVA started to install anti-aircraft missiles near Khe Sanh, the VNAF lacked the radar jamming gear, and the navigational aids required to attack the missile sites. [ [] ] The VNAF primarily flew close support as communist forces did not fly aircraft over US-held territory, so they never had the opportunity to fight MiGs or "go downtown" in heavy fighter bombers. Consequently, the ARVN was at a significant disadvantage once the US air force left Vietnam due to the lack of the bombings and air support provided by the US. Many think that this is reason why the Communist offensive succeeded so rapidly when compared to other offensives, such as the ones in 1968 and 1972.


During the final 1975 offensive, it was not simply a case of a massive collapse. The ARVN forces in Long Khanh were fighting to the death. A cooperative effort between the ARVN and the VNAF enabled ARVN troops there to hold on. CH-47 helicopters brought in 193 tons of artillery ammunition over two days. A-1 Skyraiders flew in and a C-130 Hercules transports dropped massive 15,000-pound daisy cutter bombs on enemy positions. Flying against intense antiaircraft fire, they took a heavy toll on the NVA divisions around Xuan Loc. Last combat was held by an AC-119 gunship to protect Tan Son Nhut airbase two days before the surrender of South Vietnam government on April 30, 1975. After two hours, the aircraft was shot down by an SA-7 portable missile, used for the first time during the Vietnam conflict. [ [ Last Act in the South] ]


Attack Aircraft
* Douglas A-1 Skyraider
* Cessna A-37 Dragonfly
* Douglas AC-47 Spooky
* Fairchild AC-119G Shadow
* Fairchild AC-119K Stinger

Bomber Aircraft
*Douglas B-26 Invader - Provided during "Farm Gate"
*Martin B-57 Canberra - On loan from USAF for training only - never deployed in combat by VNAF

Fighter Aircraft
*Grumman F8F Bearcat
*Northrop F-5A/B/C Freedom Fighter
*Northrop F-5E Tiger II

Reconnaissance and Observation Aircraft
* Douglas RC-47 Dakota
* Northrop RF-5A Freedom Fighter
* Cessna L-19/O-1A Bird Dog
* Cessna O-2A Skymaster
* Morane-Saulnier MS 500 Criquet

Rotary Aircraft
* Aérospatiale AS-318 Alouette II
* Aérospatiale AS-319 Alouette II
* Bell UH-1 Iroquois/Huey
* Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw
* Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw
* Boeing CH-47 Chinook

Training Aircraft
* Pazmany PL-2
*North American T-6 Texan
*North American T-28 Trojan - Provided during "Farm Gate"
*Cessna T-37 Tweet
*Cessna T-41 Mescalero

Transport and Utility Aircraft
*L-26 Aero Commander
*de Havilland Canada C-7 Caribou
*Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor
*Douglas C-47 Dakota
*Douglas DC-6/C-118 Liftmaster
*Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
*Fairchild C-123 Provider
*Lockheed C-130 Hercules
*Dassault MD 315 Flamant
*de Havilland Canada U-6 Beaver
*Cessna U-17A/B Skywagon
*Republic RC-3 Seabee

VNAF Units ["VNAF: South Vietnamese Air Force 1945-1975" by Jim Mesko]


ee also

* Nguyen Xuan Vinh - Commander of the South Vietnamese Air Force from 1958 until 1962
* Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky
* Ly Tong
* Nguyen Quy An was a Major in the Republic of Vietnam Air Force who risked his life to rescue four Americans in a downed chopper while he was on a different mission. For his actions he was awarded the United States Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Nguyen Van Cu, Pham Phu Quoc- pilots in the VNAF, bombed the South Vietnamese Presidential Palace in 1962

External links

* [ The South Vietnamese Air Force 1951-1975] Pictures, stories

* [ CanhThep website] Pictures, stories, Forum

* [ Vietnam Air Force]

* [ The Vietnamese Air Force, 1951-1975. An Analysis of Its Role in Combat and Fourteen Hours at Koh Tang. Volume 3, Monographs 4 and 5]

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