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.
A F-100D Super Saber with the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron. (USAF photo)
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.
F-105 Thunderchiefs taking off on an air raid against North Vietnam. (USAF photo)
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.