Khong Quan Air Force / Republic of Viet Nam Air Force

   Credit:  Roundels of the world
Roundel

THE HISTORY OF THE NORTHROP F-5 USED IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH VIETNAM IS COMPLICATED DUE THE LOSS OF DOCUMENTS ON CAPITULATION.

ONLY KNOWN IMPORTANT DATAS ARE SHOWN HERE.

Beginning of Northrop F-5 era

The introduction of the Northrop jet-fighter, in its single- and double-seats configuration, was initially questioned at a Honolulu meeting (06-05-63) by the US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara and military US advisers. The Repunlic of Vietnam representative had originally requested the supply of McDonal F-4 Phantoms.

The Northrop F-5 saw combat in three major offensives: in 1968, 1972 and 1975. There were several changes of mind on US side regarding the structure of South Vietnamese jet aircrafts, listed below.

Local US Military Assistance Air Group (MAAG) planned the use of the Northrop light fighter starting in Fiscal Year 1964 when it was foreseen to establish during FY 1966 two Vietnamese Squadrons of Northrop N-156 (F-5A); the first replacing North American T-28s and the other Douglas A-1H attack aircrafts, this to be sometime between 1966 and 1968.

The US/Military AF Advisory Group changed his mind and decided on 06-07-66 that 6 Vietnamese Squadrons equipped with Douglas A-1 should be converted: 2 on Northrop F-5A and 4 on Cessna A-37 aircrafts. A dramatic change took place again already in November 1966 when the command approved only 1 Northrop F-5A unit with an establishment of 18 plus 3 Cessna A-37A and 2 Douglas A-1H Squadrons (all unit establishment of 18). The Squadrons were reduced in size from the original estabishment of 25.

Definitive authorisation was given by the Department of Defence to transfer former USAF " Skoshi Tiger" program Northrop F-5A/C and F-5B in order to equip one Squadron under the Military Assistance Program, planned in March 1967 but postponed for a short time.

The 522nd Squadron of the 23rd Wing based at Bien Hoa AFB stood down in September 1966 while the first batch of 32 Vietnamese pilots transiting from Doulas A-1 to Northrop F-5  (via Northrop T-38A) was sent to USA, Williams AFB  in 1966 till 1967 for training; grond crew was trained in Vietnam and sent to Clark AFB (Philippines). The initial 17 Northrop F-5A/C and 2 F-5B, originally belonging to the 3rd USAF Wing, were unofficially transferred to the Republic of Vietnam on 11 17-04-67 and officially on 01-06-67 at Tan Son Nhut AFB where 27 pilots arrived combat-ready and the ground crew obtained the help of a 75 men jet mechanics for the initial months. Air-to-air refuelling system was removed in order not to allow operations over North Vietnam (unofficially).

Planned utilisation was 35 hours per month, with a desired in service rate of 75 percent. These figures were only achieved next year. By December 1969 rate was 34 hours utilization per aircraft/month; 34 weather aborts had lowered this rate. In-commission rate was 85.2 %; the 522nd Sqn did well in combat and most close-support missions could be completed. Two losses were exclusively on ground attacks.

   Photo: manhainote
Northrop F-5A 13318 of the 522nd Figher Sqn with three companions at Da Nang AFB 1968.
Of note different camouflage on each aircraft.

Military Assistance Program povided by the end of 1967 fifteen Northrop F-5, by 1968 twenty aircrafts; these remained property of the USA not to be transferred to foreign countries without US approval.

During the "Tet offensive", started 30-01-68 and lasting till 25-02-68, Northrop F-5A losses were on only on ground; six aircrafts at Bien Hoa AFB were damaged by two rockets and mortar attacks. Seventeen were available at that moment at Bien Hoa AFB.

May 1968 saw the invation of Cambodia, support was given by Douglas A-1s and Northrop F-5s. By the end of FY 1968 18 Northrop F-5s were on strength.

Due to improviment of relationship Cambodia sent in 1970 one Mig-15 und one MiG-17 to Vietnam as an friendly visit; they were met by 8 Northrop F-5A and accompanied to Bien Hoa AFB.

Vietnamisation

Initial Vietnamisation planning (throgh the use of local personnell) began in 1968, starting in July 1969 with the begin of US troops withdrawal. It was called "Improvement and Modernization Plan". Plans for enlarging and modernizing the Republic of Vietnam were arranged to the maximum extent in order to have the burden of war gradually shifted to Vietnam. The USA proposed structure included two Squadrons of Northrop F-5 for air defence to be obtained in five years. By 1968 pilots for Northrop F-5s were still trained in the USA.

Depot level maintenance training started only in 1969; it was practically non-existant earlier. Major repair, overhaul and rebuild were routinely accomplished by the USAF maintenance programm. General Electric J-85 were maintained at the Bien Hoa AFB depot. By late 1969 the Air Force had learned to maintain the Freedom Fighter armament system. USAF supply  and maintenace specialists were still at hand.

By 01-01-70 authorised strength for the 522nd Fighter Squadron was 20 aircrafts, 17 possessed, 15 were combat ready with 26 crews.

The 3rd Air Division was activated on 01-05-70 with Headquarters at Bien Hoa AB including the 23rd Tacticl Wing / 522nd Fighter Squadron with 16 aircrafts (13 combat ready, 28 crew). Its resposability was to defend Saigon and its neighborghoud from Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops.

Fast jet reconnaissance capability was added in 1970 when the first of 6 Northrop RF-5A were delivered (each 2) in the fourth part of FY 1970, as well as in the 3rd and in 4th part of FY 1971 plus three attrition replacements programmed in FY 1972. Personnel completed training given by two Mobile Training Team on 15-10-70. It became operational on 01-11-70 (four months ahead of plans) after training and tactics development. This was limited to Visual Flight Rules missions because no infrared, photo flash or Side-Looking Radar (SLR) was available. Reconnaissance aircraft flew from/landed at Bien Hoa AF where the films were carried to Tan Son Nhut airfield and interpreted by the Photo Exploitation Center. A study considered landing of reconnaissance aircrafts at Tan Son Nhut directly; only ten percent of the reconnaissance needs were flown by the Republic of Vietnam AF.

A new North Vietnamese offensive started in February 1971, when a deliberate disengagement of US ground forces and the "Vietnamization" started.

The 23d Tactical Wing consisted by July 1971 of the 514th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying 24 Douglas A-1, the 528 TFS with 24 Douglas A-1, the 522nd TFS equiped with 20 Northrop F-5A/B and 6 RF-5A  the 112th Liason Squadron with 30 Cessna O-1 and 8 Cessna U-17. All these were based at Bien Hoa AFB.

Attack Squadrons were by January 01, 1972: one Northrop F-5A with 18 aircrafts (authorised/activated/operationnally ready), one composite reconnaissane Sqn with 28 aircrafts, of 19 were operational  C-47; two Northrop F-5A Squadrons (authorised only, included in operation "Enhance Plus") plus six authorised Northrop F-5A units in a future force structure not dated; one Reconnaissance composite unit with Douglas C-47, de Havilland U-6 and Northrop RF-5A. Air Defence units were authorised: 3 Northrop F-5E  with 54 aircrafts were (none active, activation foreseen in FY 1975), no additional foreseen in a future force structure. Definitive authorization to provide air defence suited Northrop F-5E was given in December 1972, to be procured in FY 1973.

Air Combat Maneuvers as well as Air Defence training with Northrop F-5As started in January, lasting till March 1972, following insistence of the US Advisory Group. This consisted in air-to-air firings against Dart systems and in AIM-9 Sidewider missile operation training, though the aircrafts were of limited deterrent to the opponent Mikoyan-Gurewich MiG-19 and MiG-21. No night Northrop F-5 flying was operated due to the air-defence missions. The only anti-aircraft availability were two anti-aircraft battalions and 6 Nothrop F-5A at Da Nang.

On 30-12-71 approval was given for the US procurement of 57 Northrop F-5E for the Vietnamese AF in FY 1973, only half of these originally planned for purchase until FY 1974.

The North Vietnamese armed forces had improved  their anti-aircraft artillery and was equipped with SA-2, SA-7 ground-to-air missiles at the beginning of March 1972 when the offensive started Northrop F-5As an Cessna A-37s had therefore to adopt tactics that limited their effectiveness, like releasing bombs at higher altitude, diminishing precision and placing new limits to the support they could provide. 
Anyhow the Air Force flew
by 31-02-72 with 90 Douglas A-1s and Northrop F-5As some 2'500 of which 2'200 were close support or interdiction mission, 300 flack suppression; operational sorties decreased in May 1972 to 185 missions showing the improved situation.

A first peace agreement was announced on 25-01-72 by US President R. Nixon.  North Vietnamese offensive was launched on 30-03-72 (Easter Offensive) though there had been a peace agreement. The offensive could be stopped.

Program Enhance
Heavy losses were suffered by South Vietnam during this offensive; the "Enhance" operation was therefore launched to bring South Vietnam's forces efficiency back to a level similar to pre-invasion.Additionally there was fear that a new cease-fire agreement conditions might curtail replacement equipment deliveries. These plans included delivery of 5 Northrop F-5A. According to US records five Northrop F-5A and two Northrop F-5E were supplied.
Training of local crews proved time consuming and project deadlines could not be kept.

American troops were hurridly retired starting 1972, amongst which many Air Force advisor.

A pair of Northrop F-5A chased on 09-10-72 two Iliushin IL-28 bombers returning from action in BamLuang (Laos), near the South Vietnamese border. They retired when MiG-21 approached. This was one of the few air-to-air action of the Freedom Fighter in Vietnam.

A USA study showed on 11-10-72 that the Air Force was unable to operate immediately new aircrafts (additional F-5s, or Douglas A-4, or Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 or McDonnell F-4 replacing Douglas A-1) due to personnell and maintenance problems. The most feasable plan was to enhance capabilities over the next five years replacimg the 12 Squadrons of the Douglas A-1 attack force with an additional Northrop F-5E and 8 Cessna A-37 units.

Program Enhance Plus
"Operation Enhance" was almost completed when the US governement informed
on 20-10-72 that they had directed delivery of additional equipment: project "Operation Enhance Plus". This project was to rush equipment before the deadline (initially to be 10-11-72, changed to 30-11-72 and finally to 01-02-73) of a second (final) peace agreement reached between USA and North Vietnam in Paris, signed on 27-01-73. This lead to retirement of US forces and official  legitimation of Northern Vietnam occupied teritories during the Eastern Offensive in 1972.

The plans foresaw the activation of two additional Northrop F-5As units (additional 118 Northrop F-5A and F-5B for a total strength of 153) and the early activation of three Northrop F-5E units, transferring experienced pilots to the new units.

During the same year 1972 the Air Force received already 18 Northrop F-5E Tigers, originally foreseen to be delivered to Iran. Additional Tigers were handed-over during the next years but were little used in combat as their avionics was too complicated for this Air Force.

Several additional aircrafts inoundated South Vietnam, amongst which 126 Northrop F-5As from South Korea (36 F-5A and 8 RF-5A), Iran (32 F-5A in two lots of 16 each), Taiwan (48 F-5A). These were hurriedly withdrawn from use of US allies and forwarded to Bien Hoa AFB aboard USAF Lockheed C-5 and Lockheed C-141 transport aircrafts, where they were re-assembled.

According to official US sources the Military Assistance program provided during the fourth quarter of: FY 1971 27 Northrop F-5A, FY 1972 11 Northrop F-5A, while FY 1973 saw the delivery of 116 Northrop F-5A.
The Freedom Fighters were followed during the 
fourth quarter of: FY 1971 by 6 Northrop RF-5A for reconnaissance and 3 RF-5A during FY 1972.
Training Northrop F-5B were also supplied: 4 during FY 1971; seven additional were planned by FY 1975.

This put an extreme strain to the operation and maintenance of the Air Force. Pilots of Cessna A-37 were re-trained on the Northrop F-5; others were also re-trained on superior performance aircrafts.
A shortage of 800 pilots/co-pilots
, particulary for transports and helicopters, was assessed two weeks after the 27-01-73 signature of the Paris cease fire agreement, was in effect; by February 1973 American civil contractors personnel repaired electronic devices and engines General Electric J-85 that powered the Northrop F-5s and Cessna A-37s.

Rocket attacks against air bases resulted in casualties: on 06-11-73 three (four according some sources) Northrop F-5A were destroyed at Bien Hoa AFB. 

Later critized was the substitution of Douglas A-1s with early Northrop F-5s; the last type was very sturdy but had neither the endurance nor the bombing capacity of the earlier fighter-bombers, though higher speed could partially help. Pilots mentioned that the cockpit was humid and too high having to use seat cushions and attach wooden blocks to the pedals.

On the positive side it was recognised that the aircraft performed dependably. Technicians of the Air Logistics Command could conduct a successful corrosion control program after cracks were found in a panel on upper surface of the wing of an Northrop F-5A.

Northrop RF-5A and Douglas RC-47D provided insufficent reconnaissane on the vast areas of South Vietnam, the first (although fast enough) cameras provided too narrow a swath to be of value in finding targets, while the second one was too slow to penetrate defended areas. Four reconnaissance jets were lost to anti-aircraft fire before the 1975 offensive started.

Republic of Vietnam sources mentioned in addition that they were trained by Americans on technical and supply matters, but nothing regarding tacties and stratergies. They had to learn all on the battle-front. Limited maintenance capabilities, pilots and supply shortages of fuel and ammunitions reduced by 1974 consistentely the Air Forces capabilities after the withdrawal on US forces. US Congress curtailing money and equipment; strict conservation of supplies, ammunition had to be practiced; the Vietnam AF necessitated a reduction of 51% in flying time. Northrop F-5B were also used as fighter-bomber.

The 1973 US/North Vietnam Paris agreement was interpreted by the USA allowing the replacement of aircrafts (in this case Northrop F-5A) returned to the country of origin (South Korea, Taiwan) with new aircrafts. On 29-03-73 the last US fighting personnell left Vietnam.

By May 1974 one full Squadron of 18 Northrop F-5E had been formed by the end of May 19774 to replace Freedom Fighters; the aircraft was quite more complex to fly and maintain. A total of 150 Tigers were planned by March 1975 but only 49 had reached South Vietnam before its collapse end of April.
Between July and October 1993 320 personnel went to the USA in order to support the introduction of the Tiger, particularely into the weapons system inventory
; eight were trained as pilot-instructors. They returned to Vietnam in December 1973 to start the new programm.  Twenty-two additional were training in USA and eight were to start their training in March 1994. A total of 38 qualified Freedom Fighter instructor-pilots were foreseen to update to the Northrop F-5E in USA and return to Vienam to conduct transition training while the US trained maintenance crew was in charge of local personnel at Bien Hoa AB.

            Photo: collectiopn The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
        Northrop F-5E 00887 and (probably 00886) tested in USA before delivery.

USA Department's of Defence Military Assistance Program request included in FY 1974 refund payment of 69,3 millions for 116 F-5A already transferred to the Vietnamese AF from foreign MAP countries. New procurement included 71 Northrop F-5E.

Planned Department of Defence Northrop F-5E  mentioned during a hearing in the US Congress in March 1974 was 25 aircrafts (value USD 53.7 millions), in FY 1974 and 43, value USD 92.3 millions, during FY 1975, subjet to poduction and to dollar value. Slightly different is the numer of the advanced version Northrop F-5E Tiger supplied/planned as follows: 28 by 1974/fourth quarter and 50 by 1975/fourth quarter. 

One of the most experienced South Vietnamese pilot, Captain Nguyen Thahn Trung from 534th Squadron departing from Bien Hoa AB simulated a problem in taking-off. He attacked with four 600 lbs bombs the president's palace in Saigon on 08-04-75, causing only damage. Before that he had three times trained to land on a short runway (3'000 feet/915 meters) similar to that of Phuc Long where he landed after the attack damaging the three aircraft's landing gears. On 28-04-75 he attacked Tan Son Nhut AFB with captured Cessna A-37, together with two other pilots. Northrop F-5 tried without luck to intercept them.

Actually delivered to South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon (30-04-75) were some 153 Northrop F-5A, RF-5A, F-5B but combat losses, lack of sufficent spare parts, sometimes also shortage of qualified maintenance personnel dastically reduced the combat readiness of these fighters.

Capitutaltion

After having infiltrated the South during the last two years t
he North Vietnamese government began a new offensive in the Northern part of the South Vietnamese Republic on 10-03-75; this provoked a loss of bases and a mass exodus towards the South of civilians and militaries, fleeing in panic. By April 29th some 130 different airplanes were flown out of Da Nang AFB but 176 were left on the base, including 1 Northrop F-5E, 5 Northrop F-5A. Total operational F-5s were at the time ninety-three.

The Southern part of the Republic was also occupied in April 1975, again among general panic; the remaining Air Force had flown several missions against the advancing Northern troops, some Northrop F-5A were prepared to attack the (by now) North Vietnamese Phan Rang AFB on 28-04-75, from where Cessna A-37s (in North Vietnamese hands) had attacked Tan Son Nuht AFB. They flew missions even under fire of enemy ground artillery when the base was attacked. Some of the recently delivered Northrop F-5A were by April 1975 in storage.

By the end of the last ditch effort to save Saigon (battle for Xuan Loc, 22-04-75) the fighter force still included 109 Northrop F-5s of which 93 were operational, but the locality was lost and
Bien Hoa AFB finally capitulated on 23-04-75 when it became indefendible; the based aircrafts evacuated to Tan Son Nhut AB.  The base came also under attack; on 29-04-75 based aircrafts began evacuation to Tailand after the base came its under attack and on 30-04-75 North Vietnamese troop entered Saigon.

Losses/Abandoned/Transferred aircrafts on capitulation
It is reported that 3 Northrop F-5s were lost at Tan Son Nhut (Saigon) due to bombing on 28-04-75, while 3 Northrop F-5A, 1 RF-5A, 1 F-5B and 27 F-5E were abandoned at Bien Hoa AFB by the end of April 1975.

By this April 29th twenty-six Northrop F-5s had been flown to U-Tapao AFB (Thailand), including 2 Northrop F-5As, 1 Northrop F-5B (later transferred to Thailand), 1 RF-5A (to South Korea) and 22 21 Northrop F-5E (sent back mainly to USA) together with a variety of other aircrafts both formerly belonging to the Repulic of Vietnam and to Cambodia. One of the single-seaters landed on 29-04-75 had even a second person on board.

   Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E in South Vietnamese markings at U-Tapao AFB (Thailand) with serial
scrabbled out. In the background additional F-5x and one Air Vietnam DC-3.


One 
Northrop F-5B from 542 Squadron, operating from Tan Son Nhut AFB under attack, tried to escape to Thailand (amongst several helicopters and aircrafts) but had to make an emergeny landing on highway 3; the brakes were inoperable and cashed, killing all four (!) persons on board.

The magazine "The Air Force and the Vietnam war" of the (US) Air Force Association states
losses of the Vietnamese AF from 01-01-64 till 30-09-73 : 18 Northrop F-5A, RF-5A

The US Air Force History Office mentions following:

by 30-09-69 Northrop F-5A: 23 delivered, losses 5, ratio 21.7; F-5B: 2, no losses

The Journal of Military Assistance:
31-03-72
Northrop F-5As received: 29, losses 9, ratio 31.0; F-5B: 2, no losses; RF-5A: 6, losses 1, ratio 16.7

The MACV Official History
23-10-72 till 12-12-72: Three Squadrons of Northrop F-5E

The Defence Attaché Office Saigon presumably only Enhance and Enhance Plus aircraft
30-09-74
Northrop F-5A/RF-5A/F-5B/F-5E: received 151, possessed 131, written off 20/other losses 6

The Defence Attaché Office Saigon
-01-73 till -06-74 lost to Anti-Aircraft Artillery: Northrop F-5 (no subtype given)
7, to SA-7 Strela missile: 1.
One Northrop RF-5C was lost in 1974 at Da Nang.

The book F-5Tigers over Vietnam states capitulation losses of 87 Northrop F-5A/F-5B and 27 F-5E.

The book Air War Vietnam Plans and Operations 1969-1975 mentions an aircraft inventory on 
23-04-75 of
56 Northrop F-5A/F-5B, 3 RF-5A and 49 F-5E.
Flown to U-Tapao (Thailand) by 01-03-75 were 4 Northrop F-5A/B, 1 RF-5A, 22 F-5E. Lost in Vietnam: 73 F-5s.

The Stockholm Peace Institute/Arms  Trade Register reports :
delivery in 1967 from USA of 17 Northrop F-5A, 2 F-5B (possibly only original Skoshi Tigers),
additional 20 F-5 from USA, 30 from Iran, 70 from Korea and Taiwan all in in 1972

Losses to the North Vietnamese on the ground included 73 Northrop F-5 60 F-5A, 27 F-5E whose government applied for the return of former South Vietnamese aircrafts and helicopters escaped to U-tapao AB (Thailand) on capitulation; initially was thought that the Thai governement would agree to return them impounding them, although they were still in US Government possession (MAP supplied). This imposed a fast action to remove the aircrafts from Thai territory.

On 04-05-75 the aircraft carrier USS Midway entered the port of Sattahip xxx in order to load as many as possible fugitive aircrafts. Helicopters of the VHM-xx transferred the most valuable ones from the airport to the carrier for transfer to Guam, 101 aircrafts inclusive 21 23 Northrop F-5E. Of the Northrop F-5E one was unfortunately lost falling from the helicopter sling on the dock and another into the water. The others were truck-loaded reaching the port and USS Midway without further losses. Sailing was done on 05-05-75.

   Photo: unknown

Former Vietnamese Northrop F-5s at Guam ater disembarkment, awaing their fate.

Some of those remaining in US possession were transferred to the Republic of China AF, others to the Republic of Korea AF while (possibly) a part of the former North Vietnamese ones might have been put on sale. At least five Northrop F-5A have been reported as transferred to the the Thai AF, but not confirmed by sighting reports.

Wing/Squadrons

23rd Tactical Wing
Was activated in June 1964 at Bien Hoa AFB with two fighter- and two observation Suadrons. 
It was recognised by its large yellow and black checkerboard fuselage band.

By June 1974 Bien Hoa AFB was the main center of the Freedom Fighter equpped units that were mainly under the command of the 3rd Air Division, 63rd Tactical Wing consisting of following units:
522nd FS
 522nd Fighter Squadron

 Originally activated at Tan Son Nhut AFB (Saigon) on 01-04-65 equipped withDouglas A-1H Skyraiders; it was re-estblidhed on 01-06-67 and moved to Bien Hoa AFB in January 1968  re-equipping with Northrop F-5A left over by the USAF
and F-5B by 1971; this was an elite unit remaining for about five years the only Squadron boasting jet fighters. It in the first month flew 388  missions with 20 Northrop F-5, in July 1967 were 436 and  in December 1967 were 527.

716th Reconnaissance Squadron
Activated in July 1966 at Tan Son Nhut AFB with North American RT-28a, EC-47D, U-6A Beavers; its pilots were provided by the 
522 Fighter Squadron on delivery of Northrop RF-5A aircrafts, as well as maintenance was maintenance crew. After the mission they flew to Bien Hoa AFB and aircrafts from the 112 Squadron (O-1A or U-17A) delivered them to Tan Son Nhut AFB for development.
Nine Northrop RF-5A serials are known.

  536th Fighter Squadron
  The second fighter-bomber unit at Bien Hoa AFB
flying Northrop F-5A was activated in December 1972, joyned on June 10th 1974 by Northrop F-5E.

        

  538th Fighter Squadron
  This unit was an exception being responsible for the area of the 1st Air Division; it was activated at Danang AB (the most Northerly base) operating Northrop F-5A as strike-fighter. In June 1974
  was under   the command of the 61st Tactical Wing together with three Squadrons of Cessna A-37B. Air Defence and additional strike-fighters were provided by the USAF.


 540th Fighter Squadron
  Was also activated at Bien Hoa AFB using Northrop F-5A, later supplanted By Northrop F-5E Tigers.


 542nd Fighter Squadron

 Activation of the unit was also atBien Hoa AFB Sqn, equipped with Northrop F-5A. Operated from Tan Son Nhut AFB at least 1 Northrop F-5B on the last days before capitulation.


 544th Fighter Squadron

 Final Squadron to be equipped with Northrop F-5A it was also based at Bien Hoa.


Assigned units of the 3d AD included the 23d Tactical Wing (TW) the 43d TW, the Bien Hoa Air Base Wing (ABW), and the 3d Maintenance
and Supply (M & S) Wing.  (See Figure 2.)  The units and aircraft of the 23d TW included the 514th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) with 23 A-1s, the 518th TFS with 18 A-1s, the 522d TFS with 20 F-5s and 6 RF-5s, and the 112th Liaison Squadron (LS) with 30 O-is and 10 U-17s.On 1 May 1970, the 3d AD became the second VNAF air division to be activated.  Upon activation, the 3d AD took command of the existing 23d  TW, which at that time included the 514th TFS with its 24 A-Is, the  518th TFS with its 18 A-is, the 422d TFS with its 18 F-5s and 2 RF-5s,

and the 112th LS with its 20 O-is and 10 U-17s.  Newly-activated subordinate units included the 23d Combat Group (which was composed of the
fighter and liaison squadrons) and the 23d Technical Group.

23d Tactical Wing 
514th TFS  24 A-Is, 518th TFS,  24 A-is 522d TFS  20 F-5s 6 RF-5s, 112th LS  30 O-Is 8 U-17s

Although the 23d TW was allotted only 85 percent of its total flying  hours to operational missions, extremely heavy strike commitments in
Cambodia gave first priority to operational sorties, which averaged 103 per day.
23d TW FLYING HOURS A-l        F-5       0-1     U-17
Total Hours Programmed  23,400  7,805  18,270  5,200 
Operational Sortie Hours Flown  20,319  6,705  19,944  4,581
Percentage                                      87%   86%     109%  88%


DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS FOR 1974
for the Military Assistance program, the request provides reimbursement ,of $69.3million for116 F-5As transferred to the VietnameseAirForce and procurement of aeventy-one F-SEs
Aircraft procurement FY 72 F-5A/B/E  (21)69.5 FY 73 (64)102.3 FY 74 (71)181.3  FY72 Includes reinburseioent of $69.3 million to the MilitaryAssistance program for 116F-5A3 transferre d to the VNAF.
Delivery - Th& movement Included F-5s,A-37g,CH-53 helicopters,runeswecpingoquipitiont,andcranesalldeliveredvirtuallyintact .

Aderholt first gave five F-5As to the air chief marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force to get the Thai military on his side. He had no authority to do so; the U.S. Embassy, in negotiation with the Thais and the North Vietnamese, was responsible for the final disposition of the aircraft. But, Aderholt knew, it would be difficult for the state department to take back the gift.

No aircraft were sent back to Vietnam by the Thais. The Midway delivered its load of 101 VNAF aircraft to Guam, making it possible for 21 F-5Es to come back to the States through McClellan Air Force Base in California. Each had logged only 64 to 115 hours flying time. Most of them found their way to Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, where they were used to train foreign pilots. Of those, five were moved from Williams to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in 1977. For the next 12 years, the F-5Es were used in the 57th Wing Aggressor Squadrons to demonstrate Soviet Bloc tactics to U.S. pilots (see Grounded: The Aggressor Squadrons," Feb./Mar. 1994).


On 9 October 1972 the Laotian outpost of Bam Luang near the South Vietnamese border was bombed by two Il-28s from the VPAF 929th Bomber Squadron in the sole documented offensive operation of the North Vietnamese Beagles. The strike was carried out in support of a ground offensive to push back the Laotian from the Boloven Plateau and was escorted by a flight of MiG-21s. Each bomber carried eight cluster bombs that were dropped accurately on the target. The returning Il-28s were pursued by a pair of VNAF F-5As that turned away when they were confronted by the MiG-21s. The crew of one of the bomber is seen here after the mission. (Photo credit: Albert Grandolini Collection)

No aircraft were sent back to Vietnam by the Thais. The Midway delivered its load of 101 VNAF aircraft to Guam, making it possible for 21 F-5Es to come back to the States through McClellan Air Force Base in California. Each had logged only 64 to 115 hours flying time. Most of them found their way to Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, where they were used to train foreign pilots. Of those, five were moved from Williams to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in 1977. For the next 12 years, the F-5Es were used in the 57th Wing Aggressor Squadrons to demonstrate Soviet Bloc tactics to U.S. pilots (see Grounded: The Aggressor Squadrons," Feb./Mar. 1994).

At least 1 F-5B was transferred to the Midway - photo

On 04-05-75 11 F-5E and some A-37 were still at U-tapao, two were F-5E were lost due to inadequate slings, transfer suspended. Midway sailed on the evening of the 5th with 101 airafts. 1 F-5B transferred to Thailand

Enhance Plus provided additional aircraft to VNAF as follows: UH-1 (286); CH-47 (23); AC-119K (22); A-1 (28); C-130A (32, resulted in turn-in of all C-123, C-47, and C-119K); A-37 (90, brought total strength up to 249); C-7 (4); F-5A and B (118 brought total strength to 153); EC-47 (23 added to 10 already in service); T-37 (24); O-2 (35, 1 for 1 exchange with O-1's.) This equipment was delivered via military sealift to several South Vietnamese ports, then sent primarily to Ton Son Nuht, Bien Hoa, Phu Cat and Da Nang Air bases as directed by the South Vietnamese Air Force in their table of organization developed as part of the program.

61st Tactical Wing Da nang

Known VNAF Units At Bien Hoa in 1974

With the withdrawal of American Forces from South Vietnam in February 1973 the VNAF used Bien Hoa as a major operating base. Bien Hoa Air Base was the headquarters of the VNAF 3d Air Division.

June 1974 Table Of Organization:

23d Tactical Wing

* 112th/124th Liaison squadron Cessna O-1A, U-17A
* 514th/518th Fighter Squadron A-1H

43d Tactical Wing

* 221st/223d/231st/245th/251st Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H
* 237th Helicopter Squadron CH-47A
* Det E 259th Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H (Medevac)

63d Tactical Wing

* 522nd/536th/540th/544th Fighter Squadron Northrup F-5A/B/C RF-5A

cember

Between april 1967 and December 1969, the VNAF flew more than 14'800 sorties, lisng jest 2 aircrafts

23d Tactical Wing

* 112th/124th Liaison squadron Cessna O-1A, U-17A
* 514th/518th Fighter Squadron A-1H

43d Tactical Wing

* 221st/223d/231st/245th/251st Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H
* 237th Helicopter Squadron CH-47A
* Det E 259th Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H (Medevac)

63d Tactical Wing

* 522nd/536th/540th/544th Fighter Squadron Northrup F-5A/B/C RF-5A

cember

Between april 1967 and December 1969, the VNAF flew more than 14'800 sorties, lisng jest 2 aircrafts

23d Tactical Wing

* 112th/124th Liaison squadron Cessna O-1A, U-17A
* 514th/518th Fighter Squadron A-1H

43d Tactical Wing

* 221st/223d/231st/245th/251st Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H
* 237th Helicopter Squadron CH-47A
* Det E 259th Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H (Medevac)

63d Tactical Wing

* 522nd/536th/540th/544th Fighter Squadron Northrup F-5A/B/C RF-5A

cember

Between april 1967 and December 1969, the VNAF flew more than 14'800 sorties, lisng jest 2 aircrafts