Here’s WATM’s tribute to our troops celebrating Thanksgiving overseas.
When people think of airborne operations during the Vietnam War, they think of a lot of helicopters flying around delivering troops while the Air Force and Navy flew against North Vietnam. While those were big parts of the war, the air campaign was much, much more than just that.
Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps planes often provided close-air support for American troops on the ground in South Vietnam. Meanwhile, they also were hitting the Ho Chi Minh Trail or blasting other targets on a constant basis. Across the many pieces of this complex air campaign, two planes, in particular, did a lot of the work.
One was the North American F-100 Super Sabre. As its name implies, this aircraft was intended to succeed the F-86 Sabre, which dominated the skies over Korea, as an air-superiority fighter. The A-model of the F-100 had its share of teething problems and, as a result, it never quite became a fighter. Where the F-100 did succeed, though, was as a fighter-bomber. The F-100C emerged as a fighter-bomber capable of carrying 5,000 pounds of bombs. The F-100D was an improved version that could also fire the AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking missile. The F-100F was intended as a trainer, but it would eventually become the first Wild Weasel.
Another plane that gets a lot of attention for successes in Vietnam is the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. This was the primary fighter-bomber used during the earlier portions of the Vietnam War. MilitaryFactory.com credits it with a top speed of 1,390 miles per hour, a maximum range of 920 miles, and the ability carry up to six tons of weapons. It also had an M61 Gatling gun with over 1,000 rounds of ammo, which blew away more than one over-confident punk in a MiG.
Take a look at the video below to get a glimpse into the aerial fighting of the Vietnam War. In the video, you’ll get a look at other planes that didn’t make big headlines, like the F-4 Phantom, the A-1 Skyraider, and the A-37 Dragonfly.
(Jeff Quitney | YouTube)
On Aug. 2, 1969, David Larson was serving as a gunner’s mate on a patrol boat as it steered up the Saigon River, transporting a seven-man ambush team.
The team was a part of the Army’s LRRP — or Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. After cruising up river for a time, they set up an ambush position during the day near the riverbank.
As night fell, they silently settled into their discrete position. Little did they know, all hell was about to break loose.
Later that night, the spec ops team engaged four enemy troops who, unknown to them, happened to be a part of a massive force. Almost immediately after engaging, the unit began taking accurate rocket and small arms fire, which, sadly, killed half of the team outright.
One of the LRRP members called to the boat for support. This caught Larson’s attention, getting him fully engaged in the firefight.
The motivated gunner’s mate leaped out of the patrol boat with his M60 in hand and blasted the weapon system on full auto — holding off a force of nearly 50 enemy combatants.Nothing used to clear the way like an M60. (Image via Giphy)Standing in the direct line of fire, Larson provided enough covering fire for the wounded to clear from the area. When asked, “what goes through your mind during something like that?” David Larson stoically offered a hero’s response:
“At the time, it just comes to you that you need to do it to get the job done.”
For his brave actions, Larson received the coveted Navy Cross.
Check out the Smithsonian Channel’s video below to hear this heroic tale straight from Vietnam veteran David Larson himself.(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island off the coast of Brazil that is more commonly known as “Snake Island.” The British navy forbids visitors due to the extremely venomous snakes that live there. With 1-5 snakes per square meter, the island has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the world.
The golden lancehead is a pitviper species that lives only on the island. Its venom is up to five times more potent than normal pitvipers living in mainland Brazil.
The snakes are described as moving landmines, but they actually spend most of their time in trees, hunting the migratory birds that are their primary food source. Researchers believe that the island was once connected to the mainland, but rising seas cut it off. The snakes then evolved their organ-liquefying venom so that their strikes would kill the birds before the birds flew away.
A lighthouse on the island used to be manned, but was automated in the 1920s. Local legend says the change was made after a family that tended the lighthouse in 1909 awoke to a snake crawling in through the window. The family attempted to flee but was attacked by snakes in tree branches and didn’t make it.
For the few people who are allowed onto the island, the navy orders that a doctor be present in case an anti-venom needs to be administered. A researcher interviewed by Vice said it’s still highly probable that the victim will die.
Despite the navy’s attempts to keep people away, smugglers visit the island and steal the snakes which then make their way to buyers around the world. Other bio-pirates (actual term) bribe researchers and navy sailors to get snakes for them. The going rate for the snakes in 2014 was thought to be between $10,000 and $30,000 each.
Researchers are allowed to remove the snakes legally in order to investigate potential applications for the venom. Certain compounds in it have shown promise as drugs for heart disease, blood clots, and cancer.
The CH-47 “Chinook”, H-60 “Black Hawk”, V-22 “Osprey”, and the C-130 “Hercules” – what do these four aircraft all have in common? They’re all support aircraft that happen to have some pretty heavily armed combat variants. Check out this video that highlights the more kickass sides of their personalities:
The Marine Corps has just dropped the greatest pumpkin carving video of this year. Three Marines “carve” three pumpkins in the 20-second clip, and they do it from about 15 meters away.
Check out their explosive techniques in the video below:
(You’ll need to be logged in to Facebook to see the video.)
They say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Well, some landings can stretch the meaning of good. Take the photo below of a F9F crash. You have probably seen the video version in the 1990 film “Hunt for Red October” as a damaged F-14 or as the crash landing of a battle-damaged SBD that killed Matt Garth (played by Charlton Heston) in the 1976 film “Midway.”
Believe it or not, the pilot of that crash survived, and one big reason was the specially trained firefighters who handle such crashes. You can’t just throw any firefighter into this situation. Planes tend to be a special case, especially with the jet fuel on board.
The job falls to Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Specialists. In the Marine Corps, this is known as MOS 7051. To become one, candidates must be at least 64 inches tall, they have to have vision no worse than 20/50 (correctable to 20/20), and can’t have any impairment in their color vision. Then they have to meet certain medical standards and pass the Fire Protection Apprentice (Marines) Course, while hitting certain marks on the ASVAB.
After all that, their days are often spent training, going over the lessons learned from a given training mission, inspecting their gear, and doing all the things necessary to be ready when that moments comes. A 2015 release from the Marine Corps described how some of these Marines trained with Thai counterparts.
One of their exercises involved torching an airframe that had been slated for the scrapyard. That plane, a former Thai Airways C-47, ended up giving the Marines and their Thai Navy counterparts some real-life training.
You can see a video of some of these well-trained – and gutsy – Marines below. These aircraft rescue firefighters are stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan. These Marines stand ready to act if a plane crashes – or just catches fire – an event they hope never happens for real. (U.S. Marine Corps video by Sgt. Kate Busto)
Before the 24/7 news cycle and instant access courtesy of the Internet, the American public got a lot of its information from newsreels shown in cinemas across the country. Here is the story behind five of Hollywood’s most iconic film directors who made those productions happen.
For more, check out the article here.
Fighter pilots have a reputation for playing very hard — and there’s a bit of a reason for that. They risk their lives every time they’re airborne, as the recent, tragic crash of an F/A-18F Super Hornet off Key West shows.
In the event of an emergency, the crew usually tries to eject but, sometimes, that simply isn’t possible. The only option is to try and bring back a damaged plane. The problem is, when a plane is damaged, it may be leaking extremely flammable liquids. The military has specially trained firefighters on hand ready to react to these crashes, to put out fires, and to recover the most important things in the plane: the crew. The good news for those brave personnel who race into action, risking their lives to extract crews from crashed planes is that combat airframes are typically built with some type of escape mechanism.
For instance, if you get a close look at the exterior of an A-10 cockpit, aside from information about the pilot and crew chief, you’ll notice a few other labels. One is prominently marked, “Rescue.” This is a mechanism designed to help raise the canopy should the pilot be unable to due to damage or injury.
Even still, you can’t just rush in to immediately extract the crew. There are many dangers that need to be addressed. A warfighting jet has extremely flammable fuel coursing through its veins and is typically loaded up with devastating ordnance — any spark could lead to a disaster. Even ejection seats are a potential hazard to consider when extracting crew (the pilot is literally sitting on a rocket when he flies a modern fighter).
The techniques for getting crews out of different types of planes can vary — what works to extricate an F-15 pilot might not be a good idea for a B-1B crew. Watch the video below to see how ground personnel are trained to rescue the crew of an F-4 Phantom.
What will the future hold? Cyber operations, state-of-the-art drone systems, and crazy advancements in infantry equipment.
When some renegade Navy SEALs discover the whereabouts of a treasure buried under 150 feet of water at the bottom of the Bosnian lake, they set out on a secret unauthorized mission to retrieve more than 300 million dollars of Nazi-stolen gold bars.
This action-adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (300: Rise of an Empire), J.K. Simmons (Patriots Day), and plenty of hand-to-hand — and air-to-ground — combat. With the essence of 3 Kings, Renegades is a treasure hunt that takes you deep behind enemy lines.
Check out the trailer below with plenty of tank-on-tank contact — and watch out for headhunters.
Renegades dives into theaters Sept. 1, 2017.
The B-29 Superfortress was arguably the most advanced bomber to fly in World War II. While two of them, the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car, are the only planes to ever use an atomic bomb in anger, much of a B-29 pilot’s work was not glamorous at all.
It was downright tedious in some ways. So tedious in fact, the pilot had a tape measure and a tire-pressure gauge to check the spacing on various components and to make sure the plane’s tires were pumped up.
Yeah, the aircraft commander had to do that grunt work!
The B-29 was a complex aircraft — an inevitable consequence of its advanced technology. In fact, a training film for B-29 pilots focuses less on the airborne part of the flying and more on the ground checks needed and the pre-flight checklist.
Aviation historian Joe Baugher noted that the B-29A that was the mainstay of the World War II bombing campaign against Japan featured four remote-controlled turrets, each with two .50-caliber machine guns. The tail turret had the two .50-caliber machine guns, but also a 20mm cannon.
As raunchy comic Andrew Dice Clay would put it, “There’s a Sunday surprise!”
The B-29 could also carry up to 20,000 pounds of bombs, and it had a top speed of 357 miles per hour. The famed Mitsubishi A6M Zero, by comparison, had a top speed of 322 miles per hour. A total of 3,970 B-29s were produced, and each had an 11-man crew.
The training film below about flying the B-29 shows all the work that went into preparing to take off.
WATM hosted groups of veterans to answer several questions about their time in the military. The vets kept it real when responding to topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.
Editor’s note: If you have ideas for questions that you’d like to see a group of veterans answer, please leave a comment below.
Music courtesy of Jingle Punks:
Gotta Get To Work-JP – imilly
Anyone Else-JP – The Beards