Wild Weasel mission transcript part 3

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Audio recording and transcript of a Vietnam War F-105 Wild Weasel combat mission.

This is an audio recording and transcript of an F-105 Thunderchief Wild Weasel combat mission flown over Hanoi during the Vietnam War. The audio, running 18 minutes, is courtesy of Plumalley, who was an Electronic Warfare Officer (Bear) who flew such missions from the 2nd seat of Wild Weasel aircraft.

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Each flight of four aircraft was randomly assigned a common name, such Harpoon or Buick. Sometimes flight leaders whose voices are easily recognized would be called by their nicknames.

The recording documents interphone coordination between the pilot and Bear (Electronic Warfare Officer), as well as transmissions from the pilot to the strike force (as advisories, since he is not the mission commander), transmissions on mission primary frequency, transmissions on the international distress frequency GUARD, electronic threat signal intercepts detected by the multiple aircraft systems, and a constant calibration whistle used for later laboratory analysis of these signals. All these signals are simultaneous and combined. Note that time correllation is lost through in-process editing. See Wild Weasel mission transcript for explanation of some of the terminology.

This recording contains two separate combat events labeled LOCUS and HURRICANE.


00:00 Take about four more to the right, you'll be lined up for the launch, I've got a Firecan at 12 o'clock

Bear is advising his pilot to turn 4 degrees right, aligning the aircraft for an Shrike missile launch at a SAM signal, and warning that he is also receiving the gun directing radar signal of 85 mm (3.3 in) anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) in that same location.

00:12 Locus flight: Lead is going to xxxx one off here

Locus #1 is advising 2, 3, and 4 that he is about to "loft" an AGM-45 Shrike radar homing missile at a SAM signal. To achieve the necessary range the missile is fired some 30 degrees above the horizon and requires about 50 seconds to travel the 15 miles (25 km) to the target.

00:26 You got the time on it? I'm timing.

00:34 OK, Lead is going to try another one.

00:38 You get an impact on it? It (the signal) still there? Roger.

01:00 OK #2 moving in here

The other three aircraft of the flight armed with additional Shrikes will, as directed, fire down the same bearing as Lead has directed.

01:14 You got a Firecan at 12 o'clock, Bob

Throughout this combat sequence Bob will be advised of Fire Can radars, and he will generally ignore the warning. That is a judgement call. The Fire Can\85 mm gun system has little chance of hitting a maneuvering, "G"-generating aircraft. The big, ugly, black explosions of flak are a reminder of WWII. However, where there are big guns there are smaller ones.

01:49 He just went off at 55 seconds

We assume that the Fan Song radar was disabled

02:28 High PRF

Pulse Recurrence Frequency indicating that we, the SAM's target, are within his priority firing range of 15 miles (25 km).

02:40 Rico flight departing the area

The F-4 Air Superiority Fighter patrol MiG CAP is going home. The F-4 is not designed for range and endurance at low altitude.

03:38 You got a Head-Up

Of the many threat signals being received the Bear has chosen one to be displayed on the pilot's scope for attack.

04:12 I've got a Launch Light, Bob

He meand a Valid Launch, requiring the telemetry guidance signal, high PRF short range scan signal, and in the center of the scanning beam as indicated by the SEE SAMs analyser. It is essential to find the on-coming missile VISUALLY or hide behind a ridge.

04:30 Yes, she just impacted

Into the side of a ridge.

05:02 Another one coming

SA-2 Guideline explodes a 195 kg (430 lb) fragmentation warhead, lethal out to 65 m (215 ft).

05:12 Lead is going up

Lead is abruptly/sharply climbing indicating that he has a clear visual sighting on the incoming missile. Lacking visual, the only defense is 'break down – a dive to obtain terrain masking.

05:36 I've got the site (visually), does everybody have it?

Typically, the only way to find a SAM site with sufficient precision to dive bomb it is to observe the booster smoke from a departed missile.

05:48 Going to roll in and strafe it

SAM sites are typically defended by 37 mm (1.5 in) and 57 mm (2.2 in) automatic cannons. Going gun to gun against them with the US standard 20 mm rotary cannon is an exercise in optimism. SAM sites are positioned to provide overlapping. The possibility is real of being targeted by another site while attacking this one.

06:52 I saw one missile explode on the site

Typical site has six missile launchers and six reloads on trucks, possibly revetted with earthworks, and perhaps 200 soldiers.

07:36 I saw my rockets impact right on the radar in the middle (of the site.)

2.75 in (70 mm) fin-folding aerial rockets



07:45 Ok, John, strong contact

Bear is receiving the Fan Song search signal from a SAM site probably probably 30 miles (50 km) distant. It is essential that anti-SAM combat take place under visual conditions. Today we have low clouds.

08:35 Mombo, you turned on at the present time?

Concerned if the jamming transmitters carried by strike aircraft but not by Weasels are turned on because such jamming interferes with SAM search efforts.

08:55 9 o'clock, that the two in Hanoi

The known locations of SAM sites are studied before flight and entered into the doppler/inertial navigation system. Reception of signals is correlated with this plan. However, Soviet equipment is on wheels and moves frequently.

09:40 Hurricane, set um up, push um up

Transmissions from Hurricane #1 (Lead) to his flight are regrettably near inaudible on this recording. Hurricane is to begin an attack, setting up release switches and increasing throttle settings for added speed.

10:39 We're getting Flak, 85

"85" is the Soviet 85 mm version of the famous German 88 mm gun used to defend high-priority targets during World War II.

11:05 It's all coming out of that resevoir down there

Bear is not happy about casually, repeatedly, remaining within the 4 mile (6.5 km) effective range of the 85 mm gun batteries (six guns each).

11:40 Vegas Lead is rolling in

Telling us that the object of the strike flights is nearby.

11:45 Hurricane the site we are hunting should be at 9 oclock, set um up for rockets

2.75 in fin-folding aerial rockets

12:02 TWS high

Track-while-scan, the characteristic of the FanSong SAM radar in high PRF

12:20 I have the site in sight

Found the earthworks of the SAM site visually

12:30 Hurricane is in on the site

Lead is diving upon the SAM site

12:42 35 35 7000

Bear is probably calling out altitudes, 3,500 feet (1,065 m) for the pull out being dangeously low, subject to even machine guns.

13:05 Sector and PRF are off the air

SAM signal down. Pilot, after hesitation, decided to abort a BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) of the site.


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