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Portfolio: In-Memoriam of SEA Air Warriors PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by ACIG Team   
May 12, 2009 at 05:10 PM
With increasing frequence the ACIG.org team is getting photographs from veterans of the air wars in SEA, or their descendants. In our data-base we attempt to break-down all the wars fought in this part of the world during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s - and frequently also ever since - describing them separately. At the time, however, these wars were a conglomerate, almost a single giant air war, involving thousands of participants and aircraft, each of which has his own story to tell. We therefore feel priviledged by the opportunity to share this unique gallery of photographs from different private collections: photographs that are true historic documents about participants and fates of people who loved flying above all - and of their fascinating machinery.

Nimrods at NKP
"Nimrods" was the nick-name of the 609th Special Operations Squadron, U.S. Air Force. The unit was based at Nakhon Phantom, in north-eastern Thailand (but almost directly on the border to central Laos), in 1969, and operated against the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao, inside Laos.

The following photographs were supplied to us by Mr. Jim Sizemore, son of Major James E. Sizemore, pilot with 609th SOS "Nimrods", killed in a crash on 8 July 1969, together with his co-pilot, Major Howard Andre. Their A-26A came down near Xieng Khouang, on the Plain of Jars, by night. The wreckage of the aircraft was found by the Joint Task Force for MIA/KIA, in 1991, but no human remains were found inside the cockpit, and the final fate of the crew was never established.

Group-photo of the 609th SOS Nimrods, at "NKP" (Nakhon-Phanom), in Thailand, taken prior to 8 July 1969. USAF Maj. Nolan Schmidt is straddling the nose section, and Maj. James E. Sizemore is seen standing on the PSP in the middle foreground. The 609th SOS was operating against the North Vietnamese and the Pathet Lao positions in the Barrel Roll and the Steel Tiger areas. The unit was withdrawn from NKP in October 1969. (Photo: Jim Sizemore collection)


USAF Maj. James E. Sizemore with an A-26A, a seen sometimes between May and July 1969. Maj. Sizemore, along with co-pilot Maj. Howard Andre, was lost on the night of 8 July 1969, in the Plain of Jars area, in Laos. Their A-26A crashed near Xieng Khouang. The wingman noted that pilot error, fatigue, limited communication and the aircraft's modified aerodynamics were probable causes of the crash. Maj. Sizemore's only son requested the Joint Task Force for MIA/KIA to confirm the KIA/BNR status of his dad in 1991: the Joint Task Force investigated the crash site and provided information that no human remains were found at the crash site location. Howard and James were classmates at Georgia Tech. in 1963. (Photo: Jim Sizemore collection)


This was the A-26A "TA-646" flown by Maj. James Sizemore (pilot) and Maj. Howard Andre when they were killed, on 8 July 1969. (Photo: Jim Sizemore collection)


Survivors from the 609th SOS as seen at their re-union, in 1992, at Hulbert Field, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The men are standing in front of the A-26A "666", that was in service with the squadron at NKP, during the Air Commando operations from Thailand. Tom Wickstrom, seen in the photo as well, was one of the pilots who flew the A-26As home from NKP, in October 1969: his last mount is now on display at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, residing in the Presidential Experimental hangar. (Photo: Jim Sizemore collection)


We wish to thank Mr. Sizemore for sharing these photographs with us.




Yankees Checking MiGs
The following series of photographs came into existence in 1968, when a team from what was then known as "Foreign Technology Division" of the USAF (an authority responsible for obtaining and testing pieces of foreign weapons, electronic systems and similar items, today directly responsible to the US DoD) paid a visit to the Cambodian Air Force (AVNK). Of course, the US operatives - most of them highly experienced USAF tactical-fighter pilots (including several with tours of duty in SEA) - were especially interested in Cambodian MiG-17Fs, aircraft their colleagues were confronting in fierce air battles over North Vietnam at the time. Aside from being interesting as "adversaries", the AVNK MiG-17Fs have had a unique modification: the Cambodians made them capable of carrying US-made Mk.81 bombs, calibre 175kg!

It is known that at least one of the AVNK MiG-17s was flown out to South Vietnam, where it was tested against a USAF F-4Ds - before being returned to Cambodia. All Cambodian MiGs were destroyed on the ground during a North Vietnamese sapper attack against Wattay, in 1971.

To be seen at Wattay on that day was also this AVNK An-2 (note the old Cambodian markigns) and a US-supplied U-6A Beaver. (Tom Cooper collection)


At the time several of the French-supplied Fouga Above and bellow: CM.170 Magisters were still in working condition, and they were used in conjunction with MiG-17s for close-air-support and pilot-training duties. (Tom Cooper collection)




Row of AVNK MiG-17s - all armed with US-made Mk.81 bombs - on alert duty, as seen on tarmac in Vientianne. (Tom Cooper collection)


FTD-operative posing in front of MiG-17F "8022", which was armed with two Mk.81 bombs, calibre 175kg. (Tom Cooper collection)


The other side of the same aircraft, showing the details of the new national insignia (applied over crudely-overpainted old version), and the installation for carriage of US-made Mk.81 bombs. (Tom Cooper collection)





The Other Reds
In 1982 a delegation of the Hungarian Air Force visited Wattay AB, near Vientianne, and had an opportunity to met pilots and MiG-21s of the LPLAAF's sole fighter Regiment.

Originally, most of the following photographs were posted in the Part 3 of the article about the war in Laos. When we have got additional highly interesting stills, we were forced to decrease their number. As result, several requests arrived for these photos to be either re-posted or sent per e-mail. We therefore post these rare documents of past times into this portfolio.

Above and bellow: these photographs were all taken during a visit by a Hungarian Air Force delegation in Vientianne, in the early 1980s. They are not only interesting for revealing additional details about LPLAAF MiG-21bis SAUs, or showing almost all the Lao MiG-21-pilots at once, but also for showing several MiG-21PFMs - like one serialled "15" - still wearing the "Air Superiority Grey" camouflage pattern. (All seven photos: archive Dr. Istvan Toperczer)






















With special thanks to Dr. Istvan Toperczer - and a special request for respect of his copyrights!
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