Nha Trang Air Base

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Nha Trang Air Base
Emblem of the South Vietnamese Air Force.png Pacific Air Forces.png Vietnam People's Air Force insignia.png
Part of French Air Force
Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF)
Pacific Air Forces (USAF)
Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF)
Nha Trang Air Base is located in Vietnam
Nha Trang Air Base
Nha Trang Air Base
Coordinates12°13′39″N 109°11′33″E / 12.22750°N 109.19250°E / 12.22750; 109.19250 (Nha Trang AB)
TypeAir Force Base
Site information
Controlled byRoundel of France.svg French Air Force
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
ConditionSeized 1975 by PAVN, later used as a military airfield/civil airport. Now closed
Site history
In use1949–2009
Battles/warsVietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg
Vietnam War
Garrison information
Garrison14th Special Operations Wing (USAF)
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL6 m / 20 ft
Coordinates12°13′39″N 109°11′34″E / 12.22750°N 109.19278°E / 12.22750; 109.19278Coordinates: 12°13′39″N 109°11′34″E / 12.22750°N 109.19278°E / 12.22750; 109.19278
Direction Length Surface
m ft
12/30 1,951 6,401 Asphalt

Nha Trang Air Base (IATA: NHA, ICAO: VVNT) (also known as Camp McDermott Airfield and Long Van Airfield) was a French Air Force, Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF), United States Air Force (USAF) and Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) (Khong Quan Nhan Dan Viet Nam) military airfield used during the Vietnam War. It is located on the southern edge of Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa Province.[1][Note 1]

First Indochina War[edit]

The French Air Force opened an air training center for the fledgling RVNAF in 1951 and in March 1952 began training pilots, navigators and maintenance personnel at the base.[2]: 10 

On 4 January 1953 maintenance personnel from the USAF 24th Air Depot Wing at Clark Air Base were sent on temporary duty to Nha Trang to provide maintenance support for Douglas C-47 Skytrain's provided to the French Air Force, they would be replaced by French crews on 14 August 1953.[2]: 11 

In May 1953 USAF crews delivered 6 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars to Nha Trang, these were then flown by Civil Air Transport crews to Cat Bi Air Base.[2]: 15 

RVNAF use[edit]

RVNAF U-17 with flight instructor at Nha Trang Air Base
RVNAF A-1E Skyraiders forming South Vietnamese flag in the sky

On 7 July 1955 the RVNAF took over the Nha Trang Training Center and formed the 1st and 2nd Liaison Squadrons equipped with Cessna L-19s.[2]: 50  At this time Nha Trang had a 5,900 feet (1,800 m) asphalt runway that could be extended.[3]: 205–7 

In December 1961 the RVNAF 2nd Fighter Squadron equipped with North American T-28A/B Trojan's was formed at Nha Trang. In late 1961 4 USAF T-28 pilots from Operation Farm Gate were sent to Nha Trang to train RVNAF crews.[2]: 127  The 2nd Fighter Squadron became fully operation in mid-1962.[2]: 132  It was renamed the 516th Fighter Squadron in January 1963.[2]: 275 

In September 1962 the RVNAF 12th Air Base Squadron was formed at the base.[2]: 275 

In September 1963 the USAF opened a training center at the base equipped with L-19s. RVNAF flight crews would undergo 1 month of preflight training followed by 3 months of primary flight training with a total of 80 flying hours.[2]: 168 

In February 1964 the 516th Fighter Squadron moved to Da Nang Air Base.[2]: 275 

In June 1964 the 116th Liaison Squadron equipped with O-1s was activated at the base.[2]: 275 

In January 1965 the RVNAF 62nd Tactical Wing and 516th Fighter Squadron, equipped with Douglas A-1H Skyraiders deployed to Nha Trang from Pleiku Air Base while a new runway was built at Pleiku.[2]: 263 

In August 1965 the 524th Fighter Squadron equipped with A-1s was activated at the base.[4]: 95 

On 30 June 1969 all Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunships of D Flight, 3rd Special Operations Squadron were transferred to the RVNAF at the base.[5]: 70 

American use[edit]

8th Field Hospital and 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) (HU-1A Iroquois) both arrived during April 1962.[6]: 132 

498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) with UH-1Ds from September 1965.[6]: 139 

From 1967 the 571st Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) and the 254th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) both with UH-1Ds were deployed here.[6]: 139 

The USAF Detachment 12, Thirteenth Air Force had been supporting RVNAF operations at Nha Trang since February 1962 and in May 1962 they were designated the 6223rd Air Base Squadron and on 7 June it was assigned to the 2nd Advanced Echelon (2d ADVON).[2]: 101 : 274–5 

In September 1962 the 23rd Special Air Warfare Detachment equipped with 6 Grumman OV-1 Mohawk reconnaissance aircraft deployed to Nha Trang and began flying visual and photo-reconnaissance in support of RVNAF and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) units.[2]: 148 

In December 1963 Detachment 4, 8th Aerial Port Squadron was formed at the base.[2]: 275 

In July 1963 the 37th Air Base Squadron replaced the 6223rd Air Base Squadron.[2]: 275 

On 23 September 1963 three Viet Cong (VC) sappers penetrated the base and destroyed two C-47s with satchel charges.[2]: 181 

From February 1964 three Fairchild C-123B Providers and three air commando C-47s were kept at Nha Trang to support operations of the 5th Special Forces Group which had its headquarters at Nha Trang. These aircraft supported remote Special Forces bases, delivering 1,500 tons of supplies per month. In December 1964 half of the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron equipped with seven C-123s were sent to Nha Trang to replace the C-47s. In addition three U.S. Army and one Royal Australian Air Force de Havilland Canada CV-2 Caribous were also sent to support the Special Forces.[2]: 246–7 

In late November 1965 the 5th Air Commando Squadron equipped with four C-47s and 17 Helio U-10 Super Couriers was formed at the base and then dispersed to forward operating bases throughout central South Vietnam.[4]: 92–3 

In January 1966 the A-1 equipped 602nd Air Commando Squadron moved to Nha Trang from Bien Hoa Air Base.[4]: 113 

The RVNAF 2nd Air Division took over the base from the USAF in mid-1970.[7]

14th Air Commando Wing/14th Special Operations Wing[edit]

AC-47 Spooky gunship Serial 44-76625 of the 4th Air Commando Squadron, March 1969
AC-119G Shadow gunship Serial 53-3178 17th Special Operations Squadron at Nha Trang

The 14th Air Commando Wing was activated at Nha Trang on 8 March 1966 and it would be the host unit at the base until 15 October 1969 when it moved to Phan Rang Air Base.[8][9] The airfield was managed by the 14th Combat Support Group.[1]

On its establishment the 14th Wing assumed control of all USAF squadrons at Nha Trang and the 1st Air Commando Squadron (before it moved to Pleiku Air Base) and it later assumed control of the 20th Helicopter Squadron.[4]: 129 

In April 1966 the 361st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron equipped with EC-47s was formed at the base.[4]: 128–9 

From July–December USAF RED HORSE units carried out 22 major construction/reconstruction projects of maintenance and storages areas, parking ramps, accommodation, roads and drainage took place at the base to accommodate the expanded activity there.[4]: 173  Housing on the base was in short supply and the USAF billets were adjacent to an ARVN ammunition dump which was later relocated north to Nha Trang, many of the new arrivals were forced to live in tents until proper accommodation could be built.[4]: 175 

In January 1967 Flight C from the 4th Air Commando Squadron equipped with AC-47 Spooky gunships began operating from the base.[5]: 51 

On 21 September 1967 the first Lockheed AC-130A Project Gunship II prototype arrived at Nha Trang for combat evaluation, the evaluation program concluded on 8 December 1967.[5]: 86 

On 25 October 1967 the 14th Air Commando Squadron was activated at Nha Trang, with three AC-47s of A Flight-based there.[5]: 56 

In late December 1968 the 71st Special Operations Squadron equipped with AC-119G Shadow gunships arrived from Lockbourne Air Force Base and began operations from the base.[5]: 192–3  On 1 June 1969 the 17th Special Operations Squadron equipped with AC-119G gunships was activated at Nha Trang and it replaced the 71st Special Operations Squadron which returned to Bakalar Air Force Base for inactivation.[5]: 203 [10]

In mid-1969, as part of the process of Vietnamization, USAF units at Nha Trang began to relocate or inactivate and by October 1969 all USAF units had left the base and only 800 USAF personnel remained there to support operations until the handover of the base to the RVNAF in 1970.[7]: 169–70 [5]: 203 

VPAF use[edit]

The VPAF used the base until 2009 when it moved its operations to Cam Ranh Air Base.[11]

Closure and redevelopment[edit]

In January 2016 it was announced that the base would be sold for redevelopment with an indicative value of US$540m.[11]


  1. ^ The Kelley reference is divided into several sections with each section starting its page numbering with page 1, therefore citations for this reference follows the same pattern.


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

  1. ^ a b Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 5–360. ISBN 978-1555716257.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Futrell, Robert (1981). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The Advisory Years to 1965 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. ISBN 9789998843523.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Williams, Kenneth (2019). The US Air Force in Southeast Asia and the Vietnam War A Narrative Chronology Volume I: The Early Years through 1959 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g 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. ISBN 9780912799513.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ 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. ISBN 9781428993648.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ a b c Dunstan, S (1988). Vietnam Choppers. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-85045-572-3.
  7. ^ 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. 215. ISBN 9781478118640.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Office of Air Force History. pp. 29-30. ISBN 0912799129.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Robertson, Patsy (23 August 2011). "Factsheet 14 Flying Training Wing (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 11 May 2018.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "17th Special Operations Squadron History". 353rd Special Operations Group. 16 March 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2018.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ a b "Former US airbase in Nha Trang to be sold for $540 million". Thanh Nien News. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2018.


  • Mesco, Jim (1987) VNAF Republic of Vietnam Air Force 1945–1975 Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-193-8
  • Mikesh, Robert C. (2005) Flying Dragons: The Republic of Vietnam Air Force. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-2158-7

External links[edit]