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      03-17-2023, 06:50 AM   #1035
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The key to effectiveness of the gunship is the pylon turn; let me try to explain:
-- Imagine a powered model airplane on a string; you hold the string and the airplane describes a perfect circle around you while the string remains taut.
-- Now imagine a several thousand-foot string similarly attached to an AC-47 or AC-130 gunship that is turning perfect circles around you. While shooting. As the aircraft fires its guns, the rounds are impacting you from 360 degrees. There is no relief, just continuous hell from above.

Here is a night photo showing tracers from an AC-47D gunship near Saigon in 1968
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      03-17-2023, 11:55 AM   #1036
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I recall a memorable night while based at a river PBR camp near Tra Cu, Vietnam. We (our GSR team) detected movement about 1/2 mile north of our camp and we started receiving mortar fire. Parachute flares started popping all around our narrow base as we hit the berm lines and sandbag walls. As luck would have it, an AC-47 was close by and was called in for support. I'll never forget the wonderful sound of those radial engines orbiting overhead. The AC-47 dropped some large parachute flares over the movement area, illuminating the enemy. On the next pass, all hell broke loose when they lit off those side-firing Gatling guns. The red tracers appeared, followed moments later by a sound that resembled a huge fart. End of problem.
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      03-17-2023, 03:26 PM   #1037
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      03-18-2023, 05:22 AM   #1038
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Originally Posted by 3.0L View Post
I recall a memorable night while based at a river PBR camp near Tra Cu, Vietnam. We (our GSR team) detected movement about 1/2 mile north of our camp and we started receiving mortar fire. Parachute flares started popping all around our narrow base as we hit the berm lines and sandbag walls. As luck would have it, an AC-47 was close by and was called in for support. I'll never forget the wonderful sound of those radial engines orbiting overhead. The AC-47 dropped some large parachute flares over the movement area, illuminating the enemy. On the next pass, all hell broke loose when they lit off those side-firing Gatling guns. The red tracers appeared, followed moments later by a sound that resembled a huge fart. End of problem.
Despite 3.0L's experience, the AC-47s were considered too slow and too vulnerable. A few of the early AC-130s were active, but the C-130 was too valuable as a transport to divert large numbers to gunship duty. The answer was the Fairchild C-119 'Flying Boxcar' which was available in numbers. The AC-119G had four, instead of three, of the 7.62mm miniguns and added two 20mm Vulcans. Given the arduous performance requirements, two auxiliary J85 jets were added to later models. The AC-119s were turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force when the U.S. pulled out.
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      03-18-2023, 05:33 AM   #1039
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And there was one more (mini) gunship developed during the Vietnam war based on the Pilatus Porter: The Fairchild AU-23A 'Peacemaker' was not quite the classic pylon-turning/side-firing gunship, though it did have some capabilities along that line. The USAF evaluated it as too slow and too vulnerable to ground fire and ended up turning all examples over to the Royal Thai Air Force.
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      03-18-2023, 07:53 PM   #1040
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      03-19-2023, 05:44 AM   #1041
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U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing tail codes have not changed in many years. All the aircraft on a carrier have the same tail code; Atlantic fleet wings (CVWs) start with an "A" and Pacific fleet wings start with an "N."

Here they are...

Atlantic:
CVW-1 AB on the carrier Truman
CVW-3 AC on the carrier Eisenhower
CVW-7 AG on the carrier Bush
CVW-8 AJ on the carrier Ford
Pacific:
CVW-2 NE on the carrier Vinson
CVW-5 NF on the carrier Reagan
CVW-9 NG on the carrier Lincoln
CVW-11 NH on the carrier Roosevelt
CVW-17 NA on the carrier Nimitz

Patrol squadrons each have their own tail code, as do specialty squadrons. Marine Corps squadrons each have their own tail code, unless they are part of a Carrier Air Wing, in which case they use the CVW code.
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      03-19-2023, 06:21 AM   #1042
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How about Air Force tail codes? Pretty easy to figure out, as the tail code most often refers to the base.

Bomb Wings:
2nd Barksdale AFB, LA B-52H BD
5th Minot AFB, ND B-52H MT
7th Dyess AFB, TX B-1B DY
28th Ellsworth AFB B-1B EL (future B-21 unit)
509th Whiteman AFB, MO B-2A WM

The fighter wings, which are much more numerous, go about the same way with a couple of exceptions. For instance, the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, VA, uses FF. The 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, Korea, known as The Wolfpack, uses WP. The 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa AB, Japan, which has a Wild Weasel air defense suppression mission, uses WW. And so on.

The Air National Guard follows about the same pattern, with two letters denoting the city or state where the unit is located.

Transports and tankers generally do not use tail codes; there are some exceptions.

The three photos below depict:
(1) An F-16C of the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem AB, Germany
(2) A B-1B of the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas
(3) An F-35A of the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, UK
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      03-19-2023, 09:31 AM   #1043
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Tail flash MJ 35 FS Misawa 13 and 14th FS till ? Now they are WW wild weasel after their old F4 Moniker



Triple Nickle 555FS Aviano AB Italy AV

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      03-19-2023, 02:49 PM   #1044
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The 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB in Missouri faced a unique situation, since the B-2A has no tail; where to put the tail code? How about the landing gear door?
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      03-19-2023, 03:09 PM   #1045
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llarry View Post
Despite 3.0L's experience, the AC-47s were considered too slow and too vulnerable. A few of the early AC-130s were active, but the C-130 was too valuable as a transport to divert large numbers to gunship duty. The answer was the Fairchild C-119 'Flying Boxcar' which was available in numbers. The AC-119G had four, instead of three, of the 7.62mm miniguns and added two 20mm Vulcans. Given the arduous performance requirements, two auxiliary J85 jets were added to later models. The AC-119s were turned over to the Vietnamese Air Force when the U.S. pulled out.
As I recall, the AC-47 only supported us once during my 12 month tour. We did have AH-1 and UH-1 support from time to time. One night in particular, we called in an AH-1 to hit a fast (relatively fast) ground target that we had detected with our GSR. The target was moving too fast for our usual artillery response, so the AH-1 illuminated it on the first pass, then took it out with a salvo of 2.75" rockets on the second pass. The secondary explosions were impressive, which we detected with our GSR. The pilot reported the target as a 3-wheel Lambretta, obviously humping ammo for the bad guys.
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      03-20-2023, 04:16 AM   #1046
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An update to the gunship info: The gunship force is now all AC-130Js, but I have been unable to get much info on the armament. There apparently is a new 105mm cannon and two 30mm guns. I don't think the 30s are rotating barrel types and one article says the Air Force is having problems with the 30s. The AC-130J also carriers small bombs and, importantly, the Air Force is working on a laser weapon for these gunships. So -- death ray from above!
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      03-20-2023, 04:53 AM   #1047
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There are only two overseas-based C-130 airlift squadrons in the U.S. Air Force and, for some reason, both use tail codes; the C-130Js based at Ramstein AB, Germany, and the C-130Js based at Yokota AB, Japan.

Another interesting "overseas" unit is the F-22A squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard, based at Hickam AFB.
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      03-21-2023, 03:41 AM   #1048
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Given all the discussion about competition between the USA and China, it is interesting to note that the U.S. Air Force plans to (or is in the process of) withdraw the two F-15C squadrons based at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. That will leave Kadena, at the "crossroads of the Pacific" without combat aircraft.

There will still be fighter wings in Korea and Misawa, N. Japan. And, of course, the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force have good capabilities in the area. Recent press reports suggest that Japan is going to very substantially increase their defense budget.
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      03-21-2023, 05:09 AM   #1049
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MCAS Iwakuni has F35's on station as well in mid Japan
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      03-21-2023, 05:42 AM   #1050
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MCAS Iwakuni has F35's on station as well in mid Japan
True, but they're up north in the mainland of Japan, as opposed to down south closer to Taiwan and the disputed islands.
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      03-21-2023, 06:32 AM   #1051
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It turns out that I may have spoken a little too soon when I explained the mission differences between U.S. Air Force fighters. The traditional split was that F-15Cs were used for air-to-air missions and F-15Es (nicknamed "Mud Hens") were used for attack or strike missions.

What got me thinking about this was the excellent photo of the first F-15EX off the production line. I noticed that it was configured with the conformal fuel tanks and bomb racks of an F-15E. The 'ET' tail code and the '40 FTS' (40th Flight Test Squadron) below that indicate a test aircraft, as befits the first of its type.

But the F-15EX is supposed to replace the air defense F-15Cs, isn't it? In fact, of course, the F-15EX can do both missions: Both ground attack and air-to-air missions. Perhaps the plan is to broaden the mission of those Air National Guard units.

Here's a photo of an older F-15E with conformal fuel tanks and bombs; this is the classic air-to-ground configuration. I'll also attach a photo of the conformal fuel tank itself. Then I saw an article (sorry, forgot to save a citation) saying that F-15E units were starting to de-install their (heavy) conformal fuel tanks and practice air-to-air maneuvers once in a while. OK, so maybe the F-15EX can do it all...

By the way, the Air Force and ANG have a couple of hundred F-15Cs in service and they are tired; I get the sense that the USAF would like to send them to the boneyard; they've been ridden hard and put away wet for many years. The F-15Es are a bit newer and were beefed up to carry those heavier loads of fuel and weapons, but their time will come as well.
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      03-21-2023, 06:01 PM   #1052
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llarry View Post
An update to the gunship info: The gunship force is now all AC-130Js, but I have been unable to get much info on the armament. There apparently is a new 105mm cannon and two 30mm guns. I don't think the 30s are rotating barrel types and one article says the Air Force is having problems with the 30s. The AC-130J also carriers small bombs and, importantly, the Air Force is working on a laser weapon for these gunships. So -- death ray from above!
I read somewhere that gunships with 105's mounted required some major reinforcements for the gun mount. I mean, what big kick!
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      03-23-2023, 02:28 AM   #1053
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Originally Posted by 3.0L View Post
I read somewhere that gunships with 105's mounted required some major reinforcements for the gun mount. I mean, what big kick!
Oddly, the Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, helped develop the mounting/recoil mechanism for the AC-130J 105.
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      03-23-2023, 02:50 AM   #1054
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A few weeks ago, I posted about the makeup of a U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing, so why don't I look at a U.S. Air Force Fighter Wing?

The classic USAF Fighter Wing is made up of three squadrons, each of which has 24 aircraft, for a wing total of 72 aircraft, all of the same type. Looking at the present USAF, I can only find a single wing that looks like that -- the 20th FW at Shaw AFB. (EDIT: Hold on, the 388th FW at Hill AFB, Utah, also has three squadrons of F-35As.) Many wings have only two squadrons and one, the 52nd FW in Germany has only one squadron of F-16s. Several wings have more than one type of aircraft: the 51st FW at Osan AB, Korea, has one squadron of F-16s and one of A-10 attack aircraft. The 48th FW at RAF Lakenheath has four squadrons: Two F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons and two squadrons with new F-35As. That probably qualifies the 48th as the FW with the most combat power of any wing.

There are also several wings that have both operational combat-coded and deployable squadrons and training units. For example, the 4th FW at Seymour-Johnson AFB has two deployable F-15E squadrons and two F-15E squadrons that train all F-15E pilots and weapons systems officers for all F-15E wings.

During the latter part of the Cold War, the biggest fighter wing in the Air Force had six squadrons of A-10 Warthogs, although the squadrons were slightly smaller at 18 each. That's a total of 108 tank-killing attack aircraft; although the wing was based in the UK, a significant portion of the aircraft were rotated forward on a continuous basis to bases in Germany to be ready in case the balloon went up
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      03-23-2023, 03:39 AM   #1055
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I posted a photo of a QF-4 Phantom target drone some time ago. Now the U.S. Air Force is using early F-16s for target drones. Here's a QF-16 flying without a pilot on board.
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      03-23-2023, 04:33 AM   #1056
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A couple of posts ago, I posted a photo of a 20th Fighter Wing F-16C. The 20th also is or was home to the F-16 demonstration team that went to various airshows etc. to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16C and for the demo team, they came up with a special paint scheme for the F-16 Viper. The formal nickname for the F-16 is Fighting Falcon, but nobody uses that... it's the Viper!

Anyway, here's the Viper paint scheme.
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