A wing of F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers, the workhorses of United States air power in South Vietnam for years, will shortly be withdrawn as part of the American rundown.
A wing of F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers, the workhorses of United States air power in South Vietnam for years, will shortly be withdrawn as part of the American rundown. The 70 F-100s of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing comprise about a quarter of the remaining American aircraft in South Vietnam.
On Friday (June 25), a few days before the withdrawal of the wing, National Broadcasting Company reporter Arthur Lord flew on one of their final bombing missions -- a strike by four Super Sabres against suspected Viet Cong storage depots. Lord's commentary, overlaying natural sound of the bombing strike, is transcribed overleaf.
SYNOPSIS: For six years, the 35th Tactical Fighter wing has been flying combat missions in South-east Asia, all that time using the F-100 fighter plane. Not exactly modern, the F-100 first flew back in 1954. There are seventy of these aircraft in the wing, comprising about one-fourth of all the U.S. tactical air power now stationed in Vietnam -- and, within a matter of days, the planes will be going back to the States. So will the men who fly with the 35th. This would be a typical mission, the intelligence officer said. A strike with four F-100s against suspected enemy storage areas in I Corps -- about 190 miles south of the DMZ.
Take-off time was 8-10. The mission plan: fly north about 200 miles and rendezvous with a forward air controller in a light plane. The controller would lead the F-100s to the target.
The suspected storage area was in rugged hill country. The forward air controller is down there in a small white plane. He'll be telling us shortly where the target is. He'll be marking it with a smoke-bomb. There he goes. He's going in now for the strike. There he goes. He's released the bomb and pulling out....All the bombs landed near the target. But there were no secondary explosions. If there was ammunition stored in the hill, they must have missed it.
At one time, there were six American combat wings stationed in South Vietnam. When the 35th pulls out, only two will remain, a total of about 150 planes. Some missions can still be flown from U.S. bases in Thailand, or by carrier-based U.S. Navy jets. But most of the responsibility for tactical air missions in this area will be borne by the Vietnamese Air Force. The Vietnamese will be flying with smaller planes and lighter bomb loads. But most American pilots say the Vietnamese can handle this type of mission.
Within a matter of days the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing will be leaving Vietnam. While they were here, the pilots of the 35th flew over 2,000 combat missions every month.