YANKEE AIR PIRATE - AAR
Our hero, still an Ensign, is about to launch for the second flight of the day, what a day it has been so far….
640805 Hong Gai Raid (VF-144)
Weather: - Broken Clouds 4500 VIS 30Nm
TOT: - 0800
Aircraft: - (4) A-4C
Flight Time: - 45 Minutes.
After Action Report:
With a short turn-around time since the Quang Khe Ferry raid, we launch, me and my wingman again, this time to accompany a strike package further north. We are to hit the PT Boats at the Hong Gai Docks. Off the cat, gear up, a gentle turn to 355. flaps up, level off at 2500’ and settle in for ingress. As part of the strike package into a heavily defended area, I do not want to arrive early by myself!
So I spend the 20 minutes on the way in at 300Kts checking weapons (2xMk117s) and lighting up the radar setting range to 20Nm and thinking about the mission.
To bomb the tiny targets (PT Boats), I am going to want 250Kts level flight at 4000’. We have no ECM or decoys aboard the little Scooters so its ‘one pass – haul ass’.
I have to sink another boat. A boat that will be shooting back, ably supported by others and shore-based AAA. Last time out over Quang Khe Ferry, I reckon it must have been the last PT Boat that tore off a chunk of wing and small arm fire took half my tail. This time we will do what we have to and bug out, no heroics!
All too soon the horizon turns green, the targets are lit nicely on radar and the formation breaks up as the Scooters go to work. I have a PT Boat targeted, just enough presence of mind to punch off my drop tank and order my wingman to engage the target.
Suddenly, as the strike aircraft begin to report hits, the sky opens up with the most tremendous barrage. Closer to the coast my precise approach becomes a headlong jinking dive. As my Scooter screams downward toward the PT Boats, one of them explodes, thank you wingman, another stops firing at me and rapidly sinks, thank you Flight Two. At the third target I pickle everything and send a burst from my cannons before pulling up.
Boom! Hell, there’s wreckage everywhere! Bits of the boats and their unfortunate crews floating on the oily sea flash under my Scooters belly, then we are climbing. Red Crown is sending ‘Mission Accomplished’, I’m jinking and climbing, turning south and calling for my wingman to rejoin.
Frankly, I’m amazed to still have a wingman after all that! I took it way too low and should be swimming home! I know I am in for a dressing down after that performance. Heart thumping, I have no interest in pushing the odds as the flak seems to explode everywhere and you could still catch a piece of it. I made it in; got a boat, job done, get out.
Twenty minutes later the returning package drops out of the clouds right over the Ticonderoga. The weather is pretty good and with no damage recovery is by the numbers.
As she snags the wire and slams to a stop I punch the air again. I always punch the air. Landing a fast jet on a postage stamp at sea makes you do that, and I can still hear that flak….
So far, he has not been good, he has been lucky. Let's hope that experience will temper the flying of our young Ensign....
Next up: 640805 Pierce Arrow BDA