Service of AD Skyraider with Republic of VietNam

Last revised January 30, 2002


Beginning in late 1960, substantial numbers of Navy surplus A-1Es, A-1Gs, and A-1Hs that were in storage at NAS Litchfield in Arizona were delivered to the government of South Vietnam for use in their war against the Viet Cong guerillas. Soon, the Skyraider became numerically the most important combat aircraft in the Vietnamese air force, at the peak as many as 8 squadrons of Skyraiders being in service. The VNAF continued to operate Skyraiders until the fall of Saigon in April of 1975.

In September of 1960, the first Skyraiders were delivered to Bien Hoa air base. They were single-seat Skyraiders, then known as AD-6. The 1st Fighter Squadron (redesignated the 514th Fighter Squadron in January of 1963) received the first 6 of a batch of 24 AD-6s. American advisors followed in 1962. Under the rules of combat in those earlier days, the Americans working with the Vietnamese could not participate in any combat.

A pilot training program for Vietnamese Skyraider pilots was established in the USA. Upon their arrival in the USA, the Vietnamese airmen went through language school at Lackland AFB, then underwent primary and basic flight training in Arizona. Those chosen for ADs were sent to the Navy at NAS Corpus Christi, where they trained with VT-30, the AD advanced training squadron. The Vietnamese crews stayed in the USA for over three years. In 1964, VT-30 trained a group of USAF instructors and from that point on the USAF took over Vietnamese Skyraider training at Hurlburt AFB.

One of the more flamboyant Skyraider pilots was Nguyen Cao Ky, who later became Premier of South Vietnam. He lead a Skyraider force north of the 17th Parallel on February 2, 1965 but attacked the wrong target.

Under President Nixon's Vietnamization strategy which began in 1969-1970, the US began to withdraw its forces in stages from Vietnam, turning over most of the responsibility for fighting the war to the Vietnamese themselves. As part of this strategy, substantial numbers of American combat aircraft were turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force. Among these were batches of two-seat A-1Es and A-1Gs. By late 1969, the VNAF was operating the 114th Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa, the 516th at Da Nang, 6the 518th at Bien Hoa, the 530th at Pleiku. The 520th at Binh Thuy operated Skyraiders briefly before converting to Cessna A-37s, while the Skyraider-equipped 522nd had converted to Northrop F-5s.

After the fall of Saigon, several VNAF Skyraiders fell into the hands of the North Vietnamese, but it is not believed that they ever made any attempt to put them into service.

Sources:


  1. Douglas A-1 Skyraider, Robert F. Dorr, Osprey, 1989

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Vol 1, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  3. The Douglas Skyraider, Harry Gann, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday, NY.

  4. E-mail from Bob Storck on Vietnames AD training in the USA.