One Day In The War – Wolf 20, Part One Page 7

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As the next flight member begins his dive, the FAC suddenly radios, “Wolf, pull off, jink…Strela!! The FAC is telling the F-4 pilot to randomly fly hard evasive maneuvers (jink). The FAC has seen a streak of smoke climb up towards the F-4. The enemy have fired a portable heat seeking missile at the fighter (Strela). The high speed and jinks of the F-4 cause the missile to miss.

The FAC describes the exact location of the missile launch to Wolf 20…it came from an adjoining tree line. “Copy that, Nail…clear me for rockets”. “You’re cleared hot, One…I’ll watch your six!” Lead selects the LAU-68 on his weapon select panel and changes his sight setting for the new weapon. (Each weapon has its own unique gunsight setting.) Lead then pushes the throttles into afterburner, rolls over and down towards the Strela location, and sets the new sight picture for rockets. As the release altitude comes up, he smoothly positions the pipper on his aim point and then relaxes his back pressure to one g. Aiming rockets is adversely affected when the pilot inadvertently has more than about one g on his jet. He has selected a ripple release (ripple – multiple weapons release) and when he depresses the release button, the 2.75″ rockets are fired sequentially. It only takes a moment and all the rockets are gone from one pod.

2.75" Rocket Attack
2.75″ Rocket Attack

The rockets rip into the heavy foliage along the tree line. As Lead pulls off, he momentarily leaves his throttles in idle as he makes a hard turn away from the target. He wants to rotate his hot tail section away from the threat. He then unloads, goes full military, and begins his climb back up to the ‘perch’. (perch – the wheel pattern).. “Good hits, One…Wolf, you’re cleared hot all along that area”. The other flight members now take their turn raking the entire area.

At one point, Nail sees a group of black-pajamed figures running across the paddy next to the tree line. “Gomers running across the paddy to the north!!”. Number Three has just begun his dive. He sees the fleeing enemy soldiers, and thinks to himself, “I should’ve bought a lottery ticket…”. He reaches down and pushes in the weapon select button for the gun and double checks the green light that indicates the gun is armed. He tells his backseater, “I’m going guns!!”. The GIB, whose job it is to read the weapons checklists, responds in an excited voice, “Roger that…cage the sight“. (At this point the gunsight is set up for rockets…the GIB is telling the pilot to return the gunsight to a strafe setting.) “Three tally…in hot for guns”. “In sight, cleared, Three”, Nail answers back.

Three now aims the pipper just behind the group of enemy. He measures his slant range carefully to his target. Now!! He pulls and hold the trigger as he walks the burst of 20mm through the soldiers. The Vulcan cannon growls and spits out 100 rounds a second. Mud and water are blasted skyward as the heavy projectiles slam into the group. It’s all over in a blink of an eye…there won’t be any more Strela launches from this group.

As Wolf Three climbs back up, Nail 12 radios, “Wolf, hold high and dry while I take a look”. Nail wants the flight to return to the orbit (hold high and dry) and wait for him to check the target over for results.

Nail cautiously overflys the target area. He draws no enemy fire and sees several wrecked vehicles. He is satisfied that the friendly ground troops can take over from here. “OK, Wolf, that will do it for me. Thanks for the help and standby for your BDA“. Nail is going to give the flight lead the attack’s effectiveness (BDA – Battle Damage Assessment).

Wolf responds, “Wolf ready to copy”. The FAC replies, “Roger, Wolf, let’s call it 75% on target with two secondaries. Good work. Nail out”. The FAC is stating that he considers 75% of the ordnance to have hit the enemy troop area. He observed two after-the-fact explosions indicating the F-4s hit some kind of weapons or fuel storage material. The actual body count will be left up to the friendly ground troops.

The flight leader then says, “Thanks, Nail, stop by the Owl’s Nest anytime. Wolf is RTB. Wolf push Button 4″, sending his flight back to Cricket. The flight lead has invited the FAC to join the pilots at their squadron bar and is telling the FAC that the flight is leaving the area (RTB – Return To Base).


In the next part of this story, we will rejoin Wolf flight as it departs the target area. See you then.

(Author’s note: My apologies to all of you that noticed the inconsistencies in F-4 model and weapons configuration in some of the illustrations…good Vietnam era F-4 pictures are hard to find!)

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