Battlefront is featuring a new mini for Tour of Duty with a look at the A-1 Skyraider.
From the article:
In the early days of the US involvement in the Vietnam conflict, the Geneva Convention forbid the US military to use jet aircraft in a military role. Enter the Skyraider! The powerful aircraft served the Air Force and Navy well for those first few months until the restriction was lifted and the more powerful bombers were brought online. However, that was not the end of the Spad’s career in Vietnam. It had a lot more still to offer.
As the years wore on, the Skyraider became a ubiquitous weapon in the US military’s arsenal. Its 15 hard points under its wings could carry and deliver an assortment of torpedoes, mine dispensers, minigun pods, white phosphorous bombs, high explosive rockets, 500lb bombs, cluster bombs, and napalm. The aircraft’s own 20mm cannon could unload a further 800 rounds.
Each aircraft was an army unto itself. Its slow speed was an asset because it allowed the aircraft to deliver its weapons on target with excellent accuracy. Jet attack planes were sometimes too fast to deliver accurate strikes, making the Skyraider better suited for close air support.
Skyraider ground attack missions included preparing landing zones for helicopters, supporting friendly infantry, covering rescue operations, disrupting known North Vietnamese supply lines, and whatever else asked of it. If a pilot completed his mission and still had ordnance left, he would radio the local friendly forces and get a target to spend the last of his payload. Never did a Skyraider return to base or the aircraft carrier with ordnance still remaining! They became a major and vital part of the Vietnam War.
Towards the late 1960s, the Skyraider was slowly (and reluctantly, according to many Spad pilots) replaced by the new A4 Skyhawks and A6 Intruder jet attack aircraft. However, there were always missions that the Skyraider could do best.
The aircraft soldiered on in US service until the last one was removed from active duty in 1972. However, a good number of Skyraiders were given to the South Vietnamese air force, which made use of them until the conclusion of the war.