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and 2. The primary tar- gets on these night sorties were trucks moving on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and roads


in Laos to South Vietnam. Secondary targets were truck park- ing areas and the anti-aircraft


gun emplacements along the route that defended trucks and their tempo- rary parking and supply storage areas. Although Zorro pilots would not inten- tionally duel with an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, well executed defensive tactics while dropping various combina- tions of bright illumination flares, M-47 Plasticized White Phosphorous (PWP) bombs, CBU 14 dispensed incendiary and anti¬personnel cluster bomblets, BLU-10A napalm bombs, and M35 fire bombs reduced both their numbers and their willingness to engage us in the immediate attack areas. Our tactics would improve and truck count would increase as the squadron’s night inter- diction effort became more focused from June through October 1967. By November, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Igloo White advanced technology sensors and supporting communications


Zorro Operations During my tour of duty at NKP


all 606th ACS day and night interdic- tion operations were classified. Even today, almost nothing has been written about Air Force AT-28D or 606th ACS operations during the 18-month period spanning from October 1966 through March 1968. Almost all references to T-28D operations in Laos tell of air operations performed by Royal Laotian Air Force (RLAF) T-28Ds. Officially, AT-28D aircraft were not used for com- bat by the Air Force in Vietnam air operations after 1964. Air commando operations from NKP using AT-28Ds supporting secret air operations in Laos were not officially recognized or dis- cussed in unclassified documents until much later. A Zorro’s night combat sortie dur-


Author completing forms after night interdiction mission on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


ing good weather and high truck activity periods lasted between 1½ to 2 hours. During the wet season and low truck activity flight time would normally be 2½ hours, and we would carry an exter- nal fuel tank for the extended flight time. My normal recovery time at NKP would be between 04:00 and 05:30 AM. After debriefing aircraft maintenance and intelligence personnel I would go to the Officers Club at about 07:00 AM to unwind with other early morning fly- ers and have breakfast before a second scheduled flight or going into crew rest. I would wake up late that afternoon and return to the Officers Club for a second breakfast, and then go to the intelligence section to review pictures or road team reports of the previous night’s strike results and be briefed on where the expected truck traffic action would be for the coming night’s mission. After my mission preparation I would return to the Officers Club for dinner. Every pilot had additional duties to


perform during the day, but flying night combat missions was our primary task


10 │ AIR COMMANDO JOURNAL │ Fall 2011


systems had started arriving at NKP. In March 1968, AT-28Ds would be replaced by A-1H aircraft, and the Zorro call sign and mission would be trans- ferred to the 22nd Special Operations Squadron (SOS). I flew my last night combat sortie from NKP on December 2, 1967.


and crew rest requirements were always the top priority. Even those days we were scheduled off we normally stayed within our sleep pattern. My additional duties included squadron flying safety officer and flying maintenance FCFs to assure airworthiness of aircraft systems after heavy engine, structural repairs or flight control maintenance was com- pleted. When the original group of pilots started leaving in July and August, I became heavily involved in getting the new arrivals checked out on NKP pro- cedures and flying with them on their initial night combat flights.


The AT-28D-500 Ground


Attack Aircraft The T-28s flown by the 606th ACS


were the most modified T-28A trainer aircraft flown during the Vietnam War. They had many structural, engine and armament improvements over earlier T-28D conversions and were therefore re-designated as AT-28Ds. They were equipped with an APR 25 homing capa- bility and a transponder beacon enabling Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) and radar guided ”Combat Skyspot” bomb- ing when weather conditions prevented visual night operations. Armament aim- ing was accomplished through a simple gyro stabilized, depressible gun/bomb sight and good accuracy was achieved due to the relatively short slant ranges and steep dive angles from which weap- ons were released. NKP aircraft were armed with two


.50 caliber machine guns permanently mounted in a pod flaring attached to the wing leading edge with ammunition being supplied through internal wing tracks. There were 3 external stations on each wing providing capabilities to carry various combinations of 750 pound class (2 inboard stations) and 500 pound class weapons (center and outboard stations), however maximum external stores weight was generally limited to combinations weighing no more than 3,500 pounds with a total aircraft gross weight not to exceed 10,500 pounds. The aircraft were certified to employ many types of munitions: M-117 (750 pound class bombs), MK-81 (250 pound class bombs), MK-82 (500 pound class


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