Nha Trang Air Base
|Nha Trang Air Base|
|Part of French Air Force|
Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF)
Pacific Air Forces (USAF)
Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF)
|Type||Air Force Base|
|Controlled by|| French Air Force|
Vietnam People's Air Force
United States Air Force
|Condition||Seized 1975 by PAVN, later used as a military airfield/civil airport. Now closed|
|Garrison||14th Special Operations Wing (USAF)|
|Elevation AMSL||6 m / 20 ft|
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.[Note 1]
First Indochina War
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.: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.:11
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.:50 At this time Nha Trang had a 5,900 feet (1,800 m) asphalt runway that could be extended.: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.:127 The 2nd Fighter Squadron became fully operation in mid-1962.:132 It was renamed the 516th Fighter Squadron in January 1963.:275
In September 1962 the RVNAF 12th Air Base Squadron was formed at the base.: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.:168
In June 1964 the 116th Liaison Squadron equipped with O-1s was activated at the base.: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.:263
In August 1965 the 524th Fighter Squadron equipped with A-1s was activated at the base.:95
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).: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.:148
In December 1963 Detachment 4, 8th Aerial Port Squadron was formed at the base.:275
In July 1963 the 37th Air Base Squadron replaced the 6223rd Air Base Squadron.:275
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.: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.:92–3
The RVNAF 2nd Air Division took over the base from the USAF in mid-1970.
14th Air Commando Wing/14th Special Operations Wing
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. The airfield was managed by the 14th Combat Support Group.
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.:129
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.: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.:175
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.: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.:203
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.:169–70:203
Closure and redevelopment
In January 2016 it was announced that the base would be sold for redevelopment with an indicative value of US$540m.
- 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.
- Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–360. ISBN 978-1555716257.
- Futrell, Robert (1981). The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia: The Advisory Years to 1965 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. ISBN 9789998843523. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- 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. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- 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. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- 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. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Dunstan, S (1988). Vietnam Choppers. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-85045-572-3.
- 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. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Office of Air Force History. pp. 29-30. ISBN 0912799129. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Robertson, Patsy (23 August 2011). "Factsheet 14 Flying Training Wing (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 11 May 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "17th Special Operations Squadron History". 353rd Special Operations Group. 16 March 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nha Trang Air Base.|
- VNAF – The Republic of Vietnam Air Force 1951–1975
- Steve Lentz's Cam Ranh and Nha Trang Pictures 1968/1969
- 71st Special Operations Squadron
- 71st SOS Life at Nha Trang; Spring 1969
- "A" Flight – Nha Trang Air Base Memorabilia
- 361st Reconnaissance Squadron
- Nha Trang – 2002
- Airport information for VVNT at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
- Nhatrang Airport Transfer Service