Binh Thuy Air Base

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Binh Thuy Air Base
Emblem of the South Vietnamese Air Force.png Pacific Air Forces.png Vietnam People's Air Force insignia.png
Part of Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF)
Pacific Air Forces (USAF)
Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF)
BinhThuyAB 1967.jpg
Binh Thuy in 1967
Coordinates 10°05′07″N 105°42′43″E / 10.0852°N 105.712°E / 10.0852; 105.712 (Binh Thuy AB)
Type Air Force Base
Site information
Controlled by Roundel of Vietnam.svg Vietnam People's Air Force
Vietnam Air Force (south) roundel.svg Republic of Vietnam Air Force
Roundel of the USAF.svg  United States Air Force
Condition Captured 1975 by PAVN, later used as a military airfield/civil airport
Site history
Built 1965
In use 1965–present
Battles/wars Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg
Vietnam War
Garrison information
Occupants 4th Air Division (RVNAF)
22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron (USAF)
Airfield information
Summary
Elevation AMSL 3 m / 10 ft
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24 2,404 7,887 Concrete

Binh Thuy Air Base (also known as Can Tho Air Base and Trà Nóc Air Base) was a United States Air Force (USAF), United States Navy, Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) and Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) (Khong Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam) military airfield used during the Vietnam War. It is located 7km northwest of Cần Thơ in the Mekong Delta.[1]

Construction[edit]

Since June 1962 USAF units had supported RVNAF operations at Cần Thơ Airfield.[2]

In mid-1963 Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) proposed the construction of a 6,000-foot (1,800 m) runway at Cần Thơ to replace the existing 3,000-foot (910 m) runway at Sóc Trăng Airfield which was unsuitable for night and wet weather operations with a projected US$ 4.5 million construction cost and a 2-year construction period.[2]:177

In January 1964 given the need for heavier aircraft to be available for quick reaction air support in the Mekong Delta, CINCPAC approved the construction of a new airfield at Cần Thơ for a cost of US$2.5 million to be ready within one year.[2]:184

Construction of the new airfield began in February 1964.[3] The selected site was low-lying swampland adjacent to the Bassac River and the Seabees operated a dredge on the Bassac 22 hours a day to produce landfill for the site.[3]:64-5 However the quality of the fill produced was poor and when the project passed to construction contractor RMK-BRJ they resorted to bringing in sand from elsewhere, eventually moving over 680,000 cubic yards of fill to create the 6,000ft asphalt runway, taxi ramps and headquarters building.[3]:151

USAF use[edit]

On 8 May 1965 the 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron equipped with 30 O-1 Bird Dogs was established at Binh Thuy.[4][5]

In June 1965 the base became a forward operating location for AC-47 Spooky gunships of E Flight of the 4th Air Commando Squadron.[6]

On 15 September 1965 Detachment 10, 38th Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron equipped with 2 HH-43F helicopters deployed to the base to support flight operations.[7]

On 20 February 1966 a VC mortar attack on the base was stopped by fire from one of the base's AC-47s as was another mortar attack on 8 July.[6]:41-2

On 14 October 1967 following the activation of the 14th Air Commando Squadron at Nha Trang Air Base the AC-47s of E Flight, 4th Air Commando Squadron were replaced by 5 AC-47s of D Flight 14th Air Commando Squadron.[6]:56

During the Tet Offensive, Viet Cong (VC) forces attacked the base with mortar and rocket fire and on 13 February launched a ground attack on base which was repulsed by USAD Security Police for no US or South Vietnamese losses.[8]

On 26 June 1969, all AC-47s of D Flight, 3rd Special Operations Squadron which had absorbed the assets of 14th Air Commando Squadron, were flown to Nha Trang Air Base for transfer to the RVNAF.[6]:70

On 20 December 1969 Detachment 10, 38th Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron was disbanded.[7]:113

On 15 January 1970 the 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron left Binh Thuy and moved to Bien Hoa Air Base.[5]

In February 1970 as part of the process of Vietnamization the USAF began handing over control of Binh Thuy to the RVNAF 4th Air Division and this was completed by the end of the year.[8]

US Navy use[edit]

On 19 April 1969 Light Attack Squadron 4 (VAL-4) began combat operations, flying air support for the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. The missions included patrol, overhead air cover, scramble alert and gunfire/artillery spotting.[9] On 31 March 1972 VAL-4 conducted its last combat mission prior to its disestablishment on 10 April 1972.[10]

RVNAF use[edit]

In October 1964 the RVNAF 520th Fighter Squadron equipped with A-1Hs was formed at Bien Hoa AB, however due to delays in construction of the base it was only in December that they were able to start deploying a 5 aircraft detachment daily from Bien Hoa AB to Binh Thuy.[2]:237-9

On 7 May 1967 an attack on the base destroyed 4 A-1Hs and 2 UH-34s.[6]:54

By 1969 with the transfer of AC-47s to the RVNAF, 6 AC-47s of the 817th Combat Squadron were maintained on ground alert at the base.[6]:252-3

Fall of South Vietnam[edit]

As the southernmost RVNAF base, Binh Thuy remained operational until the end of the Vietnam War. On the morning of 30 April 1975 Binh Thuy based jets carried out the last known air strike of the war destroying 2 T-54 tanks of the People's Army of Vietnam 10th Division as they attempted to attack Tan Son Nhut Air Base.[11]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • In early 1967 an AC-47 of the 4th Air Commando Squadron crashed on landing and was destroyed.[6]:58

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. ^ Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 5–57. ISBN 978-1555716257. 
  2. ^ a b c d Futrell, Robert (1981). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The Advisory Years to 1965 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. p. 167. ISBN 9789998843523. 
  3. ^ a b c Tregaskis, Richard (1975). Southeast Asia:Building the Bases, The History of Construction in Southeast Asia (PDF). U.S. Navy Seabee Museum. p. 47. ISBN 9781461097235. 
  4. ^ Schlight, John (1999). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The War in South Vietnam The Years of the Offensive 1965–1968 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. p. 75. ISBN 9780912799513. 
  5. ^ a b Bailey, Carl E. (24 June 2016). "Factsheet 22 Attack Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 17 May 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Ballard, Jack (1982). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: Development and Employment of Fixed-Wing Gunships 1962–1972 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. p. 35. ISBN 9781428993648. 
  7. ^ a b Tilford, Earl (1980). Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia 1961–1975 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. p. 70. ISBN 9781410222640. 
  8. ^ a b Nalty, Bernard (2000). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The War in South Vietnam Air War over South Vietnam 1968–1975 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program. p. 13. ISBN 9781478118640. 
  9. ^ Marolda, Edward (2015). Combat at close quarters: Warfare on the rivers and canals of Vietnam. Naval History and Heritage Command. p. 56. ISBN 9780945274742. 
  10. ^ Grossnick, Roy A. (1995). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons Volume 1 The History of VA, VAH, VAK, VAL, VAP and VFA Squadrons. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. p. 308. 
  11. ^ Veith, George (2012). Black April The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-75. Encounter Books. p. 489. ISBN 9781594035722.