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description and included at least one SUU-25 flare dispenser and an exter- nal fuel tank on the center wing stations during the wet season. The extra exter- nal fuel was used to safely extend the mission when highly lucrative targets were available, or either bad weather or search and rescue efforts required increased time in the target area. The night-time environment during


most of 1967 permitted flexible tactics because our adversary employed only manually operated anti-aircraft guns and the operators had difficulty visually detecting and tracking targets because of the lack of depth perception and sense of direction when looking into the night sky. When defending in a flare illumi- nated sky the air defense gun operator was generally blind to the space on the other side of the flare. This made drop- ping a flare over or between you and the air defense position a good tactic as long as you kept the flare between you and gun sight. Until the North Vietnamese started using radar directed anti-aircraft guns the AT-28D could survive and be effective in its truck killing role. This would change during November when the NVA started deploying more capable air defense systems protect to the sup- plies being convoyed down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Once the target was identified we


would normally establish our attack pat- tern so as to approach the target from a position opposite the moon during clear weather or moonlit overcast skies, and adjust our dive angle and minimum altitude to match existing weather con- ditions and visible terrain features. On dark, moonless nights we would nor- mally align our attack pattern to be parallel to the road to help maintain orientation, as well as to get the most effectiveness out of our CBU 14 ord- nance. We also considered the height of the flare illumination because air defense gunners could see our aircraft once we flew between the flare and the defend- ing gun site(s). Generally we avoided working under the flares because they back lighted our position and could be blinding and disorienting during our dive recovery. In hotly defended areas we would have the flare ship adjust flare settings to illuminate below our planned


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minimum altitude or we would drop our own flares. To assure illumination over the target to be attacked we would nor- mally release two flares at a time so that the possibility of a dud did not negate the attack. On some clear nights with full


moon illumination it was possible to attack an observed target without flares to preserve the element of surprise. However, such an attack would only be attempted when optimum conditions prevailed: clear skies, a good naturally back-lighted horizon, visible target(s) and recognizable terrain features. In every case, existing natural light had to be sufficient to fully illuminate the tar- get and surrounding terrain features, and the pilot had to be absolutely sure of his position and target location. Normally,


weapons would be delivered using shal- low dive angles to preclude high rates of descent and steep climbs during recov- ery. Flares would be used at any time where safety demanded. One of the most successful methods


of executing night air interdiction opera- tions during my tour at NKP was using hunter-killer teams which employed one O-1F FAC aircraft with a starlight scope as the hunter, and one AT-28D as the killer. Each hunter-killer team was assigned a specific route segment by the Steel Tiger Task Force command center. Continuous surveillance was tasked for route segments showing the most recent signs of traffic or greatest numbers of vehicles observed and reported during


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A night-time truck kill. This picture was taken at night using flares for illumination. Note: Truck burning and aircraft shadow. Flares were very bright providing excellent illumina- tion of targets.


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