Monday, June 7, 2010

Nimrod, Sandy, and Nate

Nimrod Means Hunter, and the Prey is Trucks

Friend and contributor Don Jay was with the 56th SOW during the Late Great Unpleasantness in Southeast Asia, and spent a fair amount of time with the A-26 (nee B-26) during that conflict. We've already looked at a couple of his photos but, in the spirit of Never Having Too Many Invaders, we're going to explore things a little further.

Here's more A-26As in one place than most people ever get to see. The location is Naked Fanny, Thailand (aka NKP), the year is 1968, and the aircraft belong to the 609th SOS/56th SOW.  The "Nimrod" A-26s were flying a classic interdiction mission at night, hunting trucks in and around the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By all accounts they were highly effective at the mission.  Don Jay

The "Invader" fought a tough war in SEA, and there were losses. Here's a partial listing of serial numbers and, unfortunately, and overview on losses, as presented by Don:
Here are the known (by me) serials of the A-26s assigned to NKP:

Observed in 66-69 timeframe: 64-17461/42/43/44/45/46/48; 64-17650/51/52/53/54;
64-17660/61/62/63/64/65/66/67/68/69; 64-17670/71/72/73/75/76/77/78

This represents 30 of 30 A-26s assigned to the various Sqs at NKP. The first A-26s arrived at NKP in June of 1966 as Det 1, 603 ACS, with an initial deployment of 6 A-26As., then in '67 to the 606ACS, and finally in Nov 67 the 609ACS/ 56th SOW.

Here are the combat losses:

64-17668 & 17669 in a mid air on 2/21/67-606ACS
64-17642-8/26/67- "
64-17648-4/30/68- "
64-17673-3/10/69- "
64-17667-3/22/69- "
64-17646-7/08/69- "

An enviable record when you think about it. 10 combat losses out of 30 airframes-1/3 of the force. Flying combat every night for over three years-66-69, they averaged 1 truck kill per sortie, something not surpassed until the AC-130s arrived. The squadrons at NKP were not the normal of USAF units-each had a mystique of its own. The Nimrods were best described in the off take of the song "Ghost Riders in the Sky";  Nimrods, Nimrods.....Truck Killers in the Night...
Once it became obvious to the USAF that the venerable A-26 would require extensive modification to remain viable in its new combat role, a contract was let to modify some 40 aircraft to B-26K Counter Invader configuration.  That contract was issued in 1964, and hardware was available by 1965. Here are a couple of photos of A-26Ks on display in '65 to show Congress what their money had bought.

Sure is shiney, huh? 17672 sits on the ramp in all its demonstration glory. The scheme wouldn't last, and this airframe would be at NKP by August of 1967. It was subsequently lost in combat.  via Don Jay

And its sister ship, 17643. This bird was photographed at Eglin AFB, presumably during armament trials. Note the glass nose; it wouldn't last long before being replaced with the far-more-useful gun nose. This aircraft was also lost in combat after deployment to SEA.  via Don Jay

If you're gonna be an Air Commando you gotta have a patch. Here's the 609th's; many thanks to Don for sharing this with us!  Don Jay

The air war in SEA wasn't exactly the High Point of Fun for most of the participants, but sometimes a little humor reared its head. There was a modest rivalry between the A-26 guys and the 56th's spAD drivers, as this photo attests:

Here's what a Counter Invader looks like when seen through the eyes of an A-1's gunsight. We'll have fun fun fun 'til daddy takes the T-Bird away...   via Don Jay

It couldn't all be fun, though. Here are a few business-as-usual photos depicting the "normal" daytime life of the A-26. Things were a little different after dark...

If you were to say that maintenance facilities were primitive in during the War you'd be right. Here, an A-26B undergoes engine maintenance in The Great Outdoors during 1969. Of particular interest are the wheels, which feature red hubs, and the extensive exhaust staining aft of the cowl flaps. The "Nimrod" birds were well-used.  Don Jay

Sometimes you could work on the airplanes in a hangar (more or less). That meant that you wouldn't get as wet when it rained, but the heat and bugs remained the same! Note the A-1 parked to the right of the A-26. Both aircraft were ideal for the Air Commando mission.  Don Jay

Takin' Care of Business. The original A-26 hard-nose contained 6 .50 caliber machine guns arranged across the nose in two rows of 3 guns each. That was quickly changed to the nose configuration we're familiar with; 8 .50s arrayed in vertically displaced pairs. These gun muzzles are covered with masking tape, although other methods (including the occasional use of condoms) were tried in an effort to keep moisture out of the gun muzzles. In many respects the A-26 was the original Bad News Bear.  Don Jay

Those Other Guys Flew Skyraiders Too

Every once in a while I run a shot that's Mystery Meat. This is one of those photos. The aircraft is a USAF A-1J, but I've got no idea which unit it's from. I strongly suspect it to be from the 602nd SOS at NKP but have no way of knowing; the pilot who gave it to me back in the late 60s has since passed away. Let's enjoy it for what it is; a window into a far-away time and place.  Paul Jahant

This bird's a little bit easier to figure out---the unit is the 602nd and the year 1967.  This happy snap was taken in poor weather as witnessed by the brilliance of the navigation lights. Wars rarely wait for decent weather.  Paul Jahant

Chooglin' On Down the Road With Nate

I've actually made some progress on my Ki-27 project, and here's the proof:

The 24th must've been the free spirits of the JAAF during the Philippines Campaign. Here's what the model looks like today; all the big stuff has been painted and I'm working up the courage to start masking all the red and white stripes on the aft fuselage and tail. The one surviving photograph (that I've seen, anyway) of this particular aircraft seems to show the anti-skid on the wing to have been painted over, so I'm going to lightly dust it with the appropriate upper surface color.  It's coming along, I think.

And here's what the front of it looks like. A lot of the camouflage is by-guess-and-by-golly, because there's just that one surviving photograph...  The figure is from FineMold's Ki-43-II and will compliment the model nicely. The hinomarus were masked and painted on; the stripes will be painted as well and  there won't be any decals on this one at all. Oh yeah,  I ended up using the stock pitot tube even though I said I was going to scratch it. Lazy, I am...

And that's what I know. Be good to your neighbor and we'll see you again real soon.


1 comment:

  1. I was at NKP from '67 to '70 as a hydraulic technician on the A-26Ks and other vintage aircraft.