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Researching Air America Helicopters and Aircraft used in Vietnam .

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  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Researching Air America Helicopters and Aircraft used in Vietnam .
Posted by Helo H-34 on Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:22 PM

 I've decided to start my own topic in Air America Helicopters and Aircraft that operated in Vietnam and Laos , rather than hijacking someone else's post .

In the pic below , there is an UH-1B Air America Huey , with some type of dome under the fuselage . I was wondering if anyone knew what this used for .

I also have been going through my kit stash to organize a collection of covert/Air America helo's and aircraft .

 

I have a Caribou and a AU-23 peacemaker [Pilatus Porter] on order and a book from amazon.com 'Wings of Air America' . It may be quite a few weeks before the book arrives in the mail , so for the time being I thought I would start doing a little research

I may have already got myself a little confused ; I'm not sure if helicopters and aircraft that operated covertly in vietnam and Laos were crewed by Air America pilots or U.S military personal ??? , were they two seperate organizations or jointly run operations .

It will be a couple of months before I start any builds , I just thought I would get as much information I could find together first . But I'm excited about this possible project and it's given me the motivation to finish off a whole bunch of Huey builds I currently have going .

I appreciate any assistance anyone can give me regarding my future project or at least point me in the right direction .

                             Kind regards John

 

  • Member since
    September 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Sunday, September 27, 2009 11:35 PM

I'm not very familiar with Air America, I'm actually waiting to see what you think of the book you posted the other night. 

Looking through the H-34 book I mentioned, Air America operated more than 100 H-34s. Depending on how complete a collection you want you could use that Italeri UH-34J with Cobra Companies S-58T conversion to make XW-PHA, one of several turbine conversions they operated (and the only one with a photo in the book).

The majority listed are UH-34Ds from the USMC which has the bent leg style landing gear. If you can't track down an Italeri UH-34D, the Hobby Boss kit has the right style. Not as nice as the Italeri kit but not bad.

If you don't plan on multiple versions of AA H-34s, the UH-34J you have would work for one of the ex-USN Seabats they had.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Monday, September 28, 2009 12:00 AM

Hi again Aaronw ,

Thank's for the additional info , I'm more than happy to build multiple versions of helicopters used by Air America ; I do have another Hobby Boss UH-34D in my stash and I'll send away to Cobra Co. for that S-58T nose conversion .

Actually the only pic I found so far on the net was a UH-34J at this site,

http://www.utdallas.edu/news/imgs/photos/air-america-rescue-image-2009-04.jpg&imgrefurl=http:

I wasn't able upload the pic

I've wanted to build one of those H-34's with the turbine nose conversion for a while now , so I'm greatful for all the help .

I'll keep researching , this topic is really interesting to me

                                  John

That link I posted didn't seem to work , I'll try again ...

http://www.utdallas.edu/news/imgs/photos/air-america-rescue-image-2009-04.jpg

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: phoenix
Posted by grandadjohn on Monday, September 28, 2009 12:44 AM

Air America pilots in SEA were civilians contracted by Air American which was a front for the CIA, no active duty military pilots were used although some were recruited from the ranks and "scrubbed" and I am sure many were ex-military also used. There was no direct connection between the two, although in Loas, Air America would help in SAR missions for downed American military pilots if they were in the area.

Some "black ops" missions were flown into Loas and Cambodia by the military for military reasons such as intel under the direction of SOG

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Monday, September 28, 2009 11:05 AM

John,

  Just as a note, Air America did not fly UH-1B's but instead 204B's.  The main differences being the tailboom and rotor system.  The 204B had the lengthened tail boom like the UH-1F and uses the 48ft diameter 205 rotor system unlike the 44 ft 204 system used on the UH-1B.  All you need to build one is a Italeri UH-1F with the cowling from the UH-1B kit. Viola, a 204B.  However, the italeri rotors are woefully short and I'd either use the rotor from an esci UH-1D or legthen the provided rotors by 8 scale feet.  Also, I see twin nose pitots.  So far as I am aware, that means that Air America bird had an autopilot.  At least that's what two pitots are used for in the UH-1N.  Good luck with your build.

     Ray

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Monday, September 28, 2009 2:13 PM

Hi ray ,

I'm very greatful for you pointing me in the right direction on the 204B Huey .

I didn't realize it was a UH-1F airframe , so your advice is most welcome.

I do have a spare 1B [Bravo] engine cowling and I recently picked up four revell UH-1D Huey's to use the main rotors on some UH-1F builds and I needed a set of cabin doors to replace a pair of Fireball resin Flat Iron Huey doors that I damaged when cutting them from the pour block Banged Head [banghead] .

I guess I'm taking a leaf out of your book and researching the topic and aircraft first , to make sure I don't start building wrong versions of helicopters .

Thank's again for the help and advice .... very much appreciated Thumbs Up [tup]

                                                John.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 11:29 PM

 My book , Wings of Air America arrived today ; Along with a couple more 1/72 kits .

The book is chock full of photo's on each page with reference to aircraft serial numbers .

I have a number of kits in my stash , which are mentioned in the book .

All the the photo's of the UH-34D's are helicopters with the 'V' style landing gear .

Aaronw I was wondering if you had any pic's of the H-34 used by Air America with the bent style gear leg .

The book also mentions Air America using CH-47C's , I'm not sure if there is much difference between the C version and the CH-47D I have in my stash ?

There is also some photo's of DH-6 Twin Otter's and Beech Volpar's , so I'll have to search around to see if those birds are available in 1/72 scale .

Hopfully my Pilatus Porter will arrive soon in the mail .

                                                     John .

 

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 12:53 AM
I just finished reading some stuff about the war in Laos involving aircraft of both the US Military and Air America. The answer to your question about pilots and air crew is they were flown by both CIA and military personnel . Operations we conducted both seperately and jointly between military and CIA air assets. After reading what I did, it was not the best way (i.e. working together agaist a common foe toward a common goal) There were operations supporting Royal Laotion government forces against the Pathet Lao, and operations against NVA forces that were along the Ho Chi Minh trail enroute to South Vietnam. Almost all were covert, and the ones involving the Pathet Lao had many political hoops to jump thru regarding approval by DOD and State Department both in Laos and Washington DC.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 4:29 AM

 Your book sounds quite interesting stikpusher ;

I've often wondered if military battles and wars could have better results if there was less politic's / politician's involved to screw things up .

Anyway I have just started reading my book and learning about the unique language used...

i.e. CIA , known as "the customer'' , ammunition called "hard rice" , personal droped in enemy territory [indian country] were called "infils" and "exfils" when they were brought out .

I came across a couple of Bell 204B Huey's

I also like the blue and white scheme , so I'll be building one of each .

                                                     John .

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: TAMPA,FL
Posted by CHRH53D on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 4:53 PM

John

not to take money away from anyone..but to save you any conversion hassels-- if there's a model show in your area look for the Matchbox Westland Wessex, model PK-133(H-34 in 1/72). This kit gives you the option of the radial or turbine engine nose.

Brian

  • Member since
    September 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 6:52 PM
 CHRH53D wrote:

John

not to take money away from anyone..but to save you any conversion hassels-- if there's a model show in your area look for the Matchbox Westland Wessex, model PK-133(H-34 in 1/72). This kit gives you the option of the radial or turbine engine nose.

Brian

 

That kit offers two versions of the turbine powered Wessex, not a radial powered H-34. Being a turbine powered S-58, the Wessex is similar to the S-58T but has a very different nose.

The S-58T's nose somewhat resembles a pig snout while the Wessex either has a pointy bird beak looking nose or a blunter nose with a large intake on top. 

  • Member since
    September 2015
  • From: The Redwood Empire
Posted by Aaronw on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 7:05 PM

John here is a UH-34D with the bent leg landing gear

 

and if you don't have one, a photo of a blue & silver S-58T

 

Sorry they are rather blurry, its not easy taking a photo of a book. If you need a better copy I can probably scan them. The markings are very basic, just H-22 on the UH-34D and on the S-58T Air America on the tail and XW-PHA on the nose.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 7:07 PM

The post Vietnam system of regional CINCs controlling all assets in their theater of operations, I believe is a direct result of the fiascoes of the South East Asia wars. All forces are integrated under a single game plan, not each service doing what they think is best or will get them the most PR. The senior officers in the 91 Gulf War were the junior officers of SEA. They were on the short end of the stick and rebuilt accordingly.

The book I just finished is "Rain of Fire", and is pretty  much encompasses all the air war in SEA post Rolling Thunder. Laos took on additional significance after Rolling Thunder as all the air assets no longer could go into NVN and it was a case of use 'em or lose 'em. Between that book and several others in the series, a better picture of the war in Laos has emerged for me.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 8:02 PM

Thank's for posting the pic's Aaronw ;

I do like the color scheme of the S-58T in the second pic , all the photo's in my book have the H-34D's and the S-58T's in the standard Marine Green color scheme . So I'll use the HobbyBoss H-34D and have the overall green finish and the Italeri H-34J will have the "CC" resin nose and blue and silver finish .

I also found on the net a web site for Air America Decals ;

www.decals@mikegrantdesign.com  , There listed under the 1/48 scale but are suitable for all different types of aircraft as they are in different sizes on the single sheet .

So everything is progressing along nicely , I also found out that the British Chinook HC-1 is the  CH-47C version , I might think about getting that one and saving my Revell CH-47D to use with my RAAF decals I have in my stash . I'll keep looking for a DHC-6 Twin Otter .

                                                 John .

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 9:56 PM

 Brian

Years ago I did build one of those Matchbox Wessex helicopters but sadly she is long gone now to model heaven . I did save the nose section and found it in the spares box .

However as Aaronw mentioned earlier there is a big difference between what Matchbox offered and Cobra Company's resin nose .

Matchbox Wessex nose section .

A pic from wings of Air America book of an S-58T

                                          HTH . John

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 10:23 PM

I did find the box art from my original Westland Wessex amoungst my files , I now remember the kit was boxed as an HU-5 for the Royal Navy or the HAS-31 for the Royal Australian Navy .

So it would be easy to mix up the HU-5 nose and the S-58T nose section .

                                              John

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Thursday, October 8, 2009 12:14 AM

I apoligize for that link I posted for the Air America decals , I got it wrong .

This one should work ;

 http://www.mikegrantdecals.com/Page1.html

                                     John

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Orlando, Florida
Posted by ikar01 on Thursday, October 8, 2009 11:08 PM

Let me give you another subject to cover:

This aircraft made an emergency landing because he lost an engine.  We had to post a guard with orders to shoot anyone trying to get aboard who wan't a member of the crew.  It took some time but they eventually found a replacement engine.

  • Member since
    October 2009
Posted by CH47FE on Thursday, October 8, 2009 11:14 PM

Hi John,

During the time I served in Viet Nam (1967-68) my US Army Aviation unit provided CH-47A aircraft and flight crews "TDY" to Air America in Laos.  You don't need to worry about decals for these aircraft - we removed or covered every piece of external identification before they left Viet Nam. 

The missions to Laos lasted anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  Air America had limited "heavy lift" helicopter capabilities during that time, so we got the call to go and help out.

Wilson   

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Friday, October 9, 2009 12:49 AM

Hi Ikar01

Thank's for those great pic's of the C-46 Commando .

There are two small B&W pic's in the Air America book of the C-46 aircraft 'XW-PHM' 30252 with that some color scheme , it say's it was the standard Continental Airlines markings of that time ; but I'm not sure what the actual colors are ???

Thank's again for the pic's and info Thumbs Up [tup]

                                                 John

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Friday, October 9, 2009 12:58 AM

Hi Wilson

It is always an honour to meet US Army Veterans .

Thank's also for the info on the CH-47 Chinook . There is only a small pic of a chinook in my reference book , she's lifting a crashed Beech 18 . It's a head on photo of the CH-47 so there wasn't a great deal of information included with the photo .

I'm very grateful for your assistance with my project .

                                          Kind regards John

  • Member since
    October 2003
  • From: Canada
Posted by sharkbait on Saturday, October 10, 2009 2:16 AM

I hope these help

AA SHOP

AA Complex Udorn 1973

AA 204

AA 204

AA Wings

AA Pendant

You have never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Sunday, October 11, 2009 11:42 PM

 Thank's for those great pic's sharkbait ;

The Mike Grant "Air America" decals arrived today .

I've made a start on a Bell 204B and UH-1D Huey's and I'll continue with a Hobbyboss UH-34D I started a while back .

                                                  John .

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Friday, October 16, 2009 11:13 PM

 The High Planes ; Air America 1/72 AU-23A Peacemaker kit arrived late yesterday , so I thought I would share two inbox pic's of what you get .

The plastic parts , resin and metal parts were all bagged seperatly , so nothing was floating around loose in the box .

The kit will be a bit of a challenge , for me anyway but probably not as difficult as some vacuform kits I've built in the past .

I found a kit review on http://modelingmadness.com/reviews/mod/alcottpc6.htm about a High planes 1/72 pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter ; mine's obvisiously the same kit but with the resin nose added .

Reading through my Air America book , the CIA operated AU-23's didn't have cockpit doors on their aircraft , so this will probably save me some time cutting out the windows/front doors ;

I'll just need to work on the two double doors on each side of the cabin .

I've read through the modeling madness review a couple of times along with the written instructions provided with the kit and I'll read through it a few more times before I start anything ; I'm fairly confident I can make a reasonable go of it .

                                              John .

 

 

  • Member since
    October 2003
  • From: Canada
Posted by sharkbait on Saturday, October 17, 2009 6:35 AM

I've got some photos of a Malaysian police Porter with drop tanks - I can post them if you think they will help.

It flys through every week or so and I can get close ups of control surfaces, doors perhaps even the interior ect if you wish.

You have never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Saturday, October 17, 2009 9:55 PM

 Hi Sharkbait ,

Some pic's of the interior of the Porter would be awesome ;

The AU-23 kit doesn't have a steering column or steering wheel , so without any reference pic's , I'm not sure how to go about scratch-building one .

None of the photo's in the Air America book show the AU-23 carrying drop tanks , although there are four resin underwing support brackets provided ; I sure would be interested in a pic of a Porter with additional tanks .

Last night I cut all the pieces from the sprue and cleaned up each part with sanding sticks and sandpaper .

The propeller blades are a little uneven , so I thought I might replace them with some spare props from a spitfire kit . I also found a couple of round windows but their a little over size so I'll need to file them down a bit .

I couldn't find any spare seats for the rear , so I might have to leave the cabin/cargo area empty but I still wanted to have one of the cargo doors in the open position .

I'll cut the vacuform cargo doors out next before I hack into the fuselage sides ;

Everything seems to be progressing along nicely .

                                             John .

 

  • Member since
    October 2009
  • From: South La
Posted by Ti4019 on Sunday, October 18, 2009 12:48 AM
Ray not to jack a thread but how are those rotors holding up that I fixed?

If you aren't having fun, you're doing it wrong! Build to please yourself and they will flame you every time!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Sunday, October 18, 2009 12:56 AM

I also noticed Sharkbait in the pic you posted of the Bell 204 Huey , that there was a small red kangaroo on the tailboom . I was quite curious about this and after reading through the Air America book I found a similar pic with the caption explaining that the Huey probably visited Vung Tau , South Vietnam , where the majority of Australians were stationed . They were apparently "imfamous" for zapping all visiting aircraft . I'll look more closely at the photo's in the book to see if I can find any other helicopters and aircraft wearing the small red kangaroo . I have some spare kangaroo decals in my stash .

                                            John .

  • Member since
    October 2003
  • From: Canada
Posted by sharkbait on Sunday, October 18, 2009 2:19 AM

 Here are the Porter pictures - the fairing on the Port ( Left ) wingtip is a weather radar antenna - this would not, I believe, have appeared on AA aircraft.

 The steps under the passenger doors are for Parajumpers.

  The next time the Porter is here I will ask to take some interior shots and will post them.

You have never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Australia
Posted by Helo H-34 on Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:51 AM

Thank's for posting those great pic's Sharkbait ; Thumbs Up [tup]

I can see quite clearly how the propeller blades are positioned ,that is , the angle of pitch [I think that's what it's called] . I also noticed that the end plates on the horizontal stabiliser are much bigger in your pic's than what is in the kit review from modeling madness .

I do like the look of the drop tanks fitted to the aircraft , I have a few different size tanks in my spare's box , it would great if I could find a pic of an AA bird with them fitted on .

I really appreciate you sharing those great pic's ;

                     Thank's again...

                                               John

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