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Unusual Vietnam Hueys

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  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:58 PM

Oh man... to have been in the PAARNG when they flew UH-1Ms and OH-6s.... 

Guess I'll just have to put up with the AH-64A.

Cool [8D]

Jon 

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: phoenix
Posted by grandadjohn on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 9:59 PM
 Cobrahistorian wrote:

Oh man... to have been in the PAARNG when they flew UH-1Ms and OH-6s.... 

Guess I'll just have to put up with the AH-64A.

Cool [8D]

Jon 

Jon, now that you're rated, just make some friends with Marine pilots and get yourself a fam flight

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 5:40 AM
 grandadjohn wrote:
 Cobrahistorian wrote:

Oh man... to have been in the PAARNG when they flew UH-1Ms and OH-6s.... 

Guess I'll just have to put up with the AH-64A.

Cool [8D]

Jon 

Jon, now that you're rated, just make some friends with Marine pilots and get yourself a fam flight


Cobra front seat, here I come!  That'd be too cool.  I know a couple guys who have done that.

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Rowland Heights, California
Posted by Duke Maddog on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 11:51 AM
So do it and tell us all about it! Man that's a story I want to hear!
  • Member since
    July 2007
Posted by KrazyCat on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 5:58 AM

XM26 armed NUH-1Bs are certainly very interesting modelling subjects, so here are some cockpit  line drawings of the XM26 NUH-1B I found in 1969 Attack Helicopter Gunnery field manual (FM 1-40):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these will be of help to anyone building a NUH-1B TOW bird. Say Jon, did You take any photos of the TOW bird cockpit? And if so, could You post them when You find time?

 

Marko 

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: phoenix
Posted by grandadjohn on Friday, August 24, 2007 10:04 PM

 

While not unusual, these are photo's of the Huey's the flew the crew of the USS Pueblo to freedom in december, 1968. Photo's where taken early that morning.

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Friday, August 24, 2007 10:17 PM

Grandad,

  Holy crap that looks cold!  How did Hueys perform in the cold weather?  Did you guys have any unique equipment onboard to deal with freezing temperatures?  Thanks for the pics, by the way.

      Ray

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: phoenix
Posted by grandadjohn on Saturday, August 25, 2007 10:29 AM
Yes, it was cold, helo's had heaters. We also used movable heaters and tubing to warm them up before use(engines, transmission, etc)
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:39 PM

Jon and Chief Snake,

  I was just reading through the TOW chronology and noticed that 553 and 554 were in cuntry until January 28, 1973.  Is there any chance that some of the pictures we posted earlier of the multiple cammo patterns were of the 2nd CATT?  If not, have either of you seen pics from the 2nd CATT?

          Ray

Guess what I found.  Proof that 553 HAD FM antennas on the nose during it's TOW test days at least!  I was truly psyched by this one.  By the way, check the tail number closely, it looks like 21something553.  I guess that's where the tail number mix up started! :

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket" border="0" />

  • Member since
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  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:14 PM

Oy Vey!

62-12553.  That's a problem.  

The data plate and the aircraft both read 60-3553.  I'm gonna have to look further into this.  May have to go back down to Rucker to climb through the bird again.  Unless I misread the data plate, but I'm 99% positive it was 60-3553 just like on the tail and side.  

As for the 1st or 2nd CATT, I believe it is a misnomer.  The first team in-country was the 1st Airborne TOW Team.  They did the initial firings in May of 72 and conducted ops through July.  The original crews went back to Ft. Ord and the second batch of crews trained up and commenced ops in late August 72.  According to their CO, they changed the name to the 1st Combat Aerial TOW Team at that point.  To further complicate things, later in the year they split into two detachments.  One bird staying in MRII (554) and one going down to MRIII (553) to conduct ops there.  They did come back together at some point and did leave the country together at the end of January as Ray mentioned.   

What are the chances that both 60-3553 and 62-12553 were both used with the XM-26 system?  They are both valid UH-1B tail numbers, but my instinct says slim to none.   

Interestingly, 62-12553 is apparently registered in Chile as CC-CMK and 62-12554 is on display at Andrews AFB... right down the road from Chris and I here in Maryland.  

The plot thickens!


Jon

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:43 PM

Jon,

  Here's the link to the Redstone TOW chronology:

http://www.redstone.army.mil/history/tow/tow_chronology.html

Check June 1972. This is when the site claims that the 2nd CATT went operational, not August.  I don't know if their right, but I was hoping that Redstone knew the skinny on their own systems!  The link to the March 1972 Army Aviation Digest article featuring 553 with antennas is also in the chronology.  You will see that the article is about the first real tests of the XM-26 system which occurred in Germany.  There is no caption for the 553 pic so I don't know if it is stateside or in Germany. The article does mention that 5 systems were created.  I can only go by photos and text that I have access to, but things don't look as cut and dry as we might like to believe.  Where did you get the 4500 page document with the TOW pic you posted earlier?  Also, You and Chief seemed so positive about the FM antenna being removed from 553 in the states.  What is your source for that info?  I just want to get to the truth as best as it can be known here.  I thought we had it all worked out, but now I ain't so sure!

  Another question: according to my reading, the first Strella misssiles were used in June '72 to down 4 AH-1G's.  The anti-strella package wasn't installed till afterwards on the AH-1.  Does that mean that the entire first campaign by the the 1st ABN TOW team could have occured without the toilet bowl installed?  Since the photo of the group afterward is dated May 27, it seems reasonable that the anti-strella kits hadn't been installed yet.  Do you know for certain when the anti-strella mods were made? 

    Ray
 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:08 AM

Ray,

The second team arrived in-country in June, but weren't declared operational until August.  The document I got the TOW history from is the official VHPA history written by Mike Sloniker.  I'll be seeing Mike in November and I'll talk to him about it a bit then.  The FM antenna issue wasn't necessarily that they were removed in the states, just that they were removed before it got to Vietnam. 

Judging from the photos we do have, I would say that they both arrived in country with the Strela kits on them.  I'm certain that the kill marks were painted on the birds when they were with the first team.  We have pics from the end of May that confirm it (group shot with chalkboard kills and both helicopters) and other photos from that period (with fewer kill marks) where the toilet bowl is clearly visible. 

I'll tell ya bud, you turned my whole project on its ear last night with the posting of that pic of 62-12553. I just don't see how the bird in the museum could be anything BUT that helicopter! Would the Army have let go one of its two TOW birds?  It makes sense that that bird is in the museum and the fact that it still has the TOW system fitted to it would seem to be proof enough!

Ugh... gonna be a long day.

Jon 

EDIT:  I just looked over the TOW Article by Hughie McInnish.  We've got pics of him in Vietnam in May 72 and he was the "team leader" with the 1st Airborne Team.  Glad to see more info from him.  I'm going to start trying to contact former team members so we can get to the bottom of this! 

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:34 AM

Don't you know a censored and doctored photo when you see one? Both 553 and 554 came from aircraft on the line at Ft Lewis. Also remember we have seen setup and test firings WITHOUT the Strela in Vietnam. That photo is the civil 261 with a doctored serial and accounts for the artists images you found in the National Guard Magazine dated 1966.  Come on guys, lets not invent history. NOTHING took place in Germany. EVERYTHING took place in California. SECURITY precludes any of the shennanigans alluded to in the "magazine".

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:53 AM

I will say, after reading the McInnish article, I'm REALLY skeptical.  We have a brand new weapons system that we've never test fired from a helicopter before and we're gonna let the Germans (who don't even fly B model Hueys at this point) shoot our first missiles? 

I'm calling Shennaningans on this one.

Jon 

 

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:13 AM

Jon and Chief,

  So your telling me I can't believe an article printed in the Army's own aviation journal.  If that's the case, I can't really believe ANYTHING anyone says about this now can I?  How do I know that the info you guys have isn't also forged or made up?  Maybe the TOW never flew in Vietnam at all and the photo of the 1st CATT is a clever forgery!   Perhaps this was a clever PR campaign to promote the TOW/Cobra  Attack Helo  Project. After all, the kill percentages sure were amazing (50-60%) compared to the SS-11  (~15% I think).  Jon,. good luck with your book, you better find all the guys alive who actually participated in this thing and pick their brains fast!  If I seem frustrated by all the shennanigans, it's because I'm frstrated with all the Shinnanigans.  Not you guys, just the data I've got to work with.  By the way, why, after all these years wouldn't Redstone mention that the Germany test was bogus?  Seems kinda silly to keep spreading propaganda like that for so long.  And to even provide a link to the PDF file seem a bit much!

    Ray
 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:42 AM

Ray,

I don't know about the tail number. I know what I've seen.  I know what hard data I've accumulated.  After reading that article in-depth, it makes sense.  I missed McInnish's reference to US trials.  Had I not seen that, I'd still be skeptical.  But he does refer to the US testing of the system.  Also our guys had not fired LIVE missiles by that time.  They did fire missiles with live motors and dummy warheads, just like the Germans fired.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for them) the Germans actually DID fire a live missile as their demonstration test firing. 

I am, however, still not sure about the tail number.  That doesn't make sense.  Could it have been doctored?  Sure.  Changed on the aircraft?  Sure (although it is a valid UH-1B tail number).  The answer is out there and I'm gonna find it.

I'm finding that the more I know about these aircraft and their mission, the more I realize just how much I don't know.  But I will figure it out, and soon.

Jon

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:16 AM

Anything you read in an unsecure publication about a security protected system is bound to be full of half truths or disinformation. Temper the information with the time of release and the global situation. In hindsight, the now unclassified documents and the un-doctored photographic evidence tells the truth. Sometimes photo doctoring/censoring is easily picked out, sometimes not. Also, having experience within the military enviroment makes it easier to understand the realities of something as opposed to the unclassified dissemination of noteworthy developments. Simply considering how and what words are used can make a huge difference. Does team leader mean unit commander? Maybe, maybe not. But the unclassified documentation consistantly points to, by name, Bentley Hill as the TOW Team Commander. He led one team or detachment also. The other mentioned name led a team also, the other detachment? In history, people will vie for recognition in very covert ways but if you corner them on it they can point to the words they use and twist them away from be called a liar.

Why would Redstone correct an article if the point of the article was to illustrate the technology available to the audience existing at the time. The nit-picking details you are getting confused over are inconsequential because they protect the security of the system at the time and place that the information is being released. And by the time the system became declassified the information in the article was well known worldwide anyway. Why correct something that for the time wasn't incorrect? Factually, the real information is available and has been garnered and reviewed. The fact that it doesn't agree with unclassified public release information is perfectly acceptable as required for the times.

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:51 PM
Check out the TOW video on thisRedstone site:
 
About 8 mins. into the video is the description of the TOW use in Vietnam along with photos of at least one missile that was fired there as well as one of the TOW birds firing what has to be a test shot.  Images are grainy, but it's the first real firing footage of a NUH-1B TOW bird I have seen.  From the descriptions it sounds like the guys who worked on the project might be a little fuzzy on some of the details.
         Ray
 
  • Member since
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  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:10 PM

Wow, Redstone and the guys being fuzzy? Imagine that!

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:03 PM

I figured that was how you would read that, Chief!

  How about this document:

[img]http://Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

  Somehow the title and CONFIDENTIAL notices make me think this wasn't a propaganda piece!

H ere is a paragraph from this document:

[img]http://Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat do you think about that?

   Ray
 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:43 PM
nuts... and I've got that document too.
"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:08 PM

Jon,

  Nuts because you didn't see the paragraph or nuts because it now seems clear the Army DID test the TOW in Germany?

          Ray
 

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Friday, August 31, 2007 7:12 AM

You know, I saw that when skimming the document and didn't catch the XM-26 designation. It doesn't say the helicopter itself was used in the test firings though. I had the impression they were fired from the ground rather than the air. It doesn't make sense that they would ship a highly secure project aircraft overseas to test fire it UNLESS they were trying to demonstrate something to NATO allies to get them in on the project. Is that addressed in there? So, if the system was indeed being shopped around then it falls into place that the aircraft known as 553 and 554 could have been made available for the system tests/demonstrations which gives rise to the "possible" use of phony serial numbers in the interest of security. I think the aircraft identified as 60-3553 and 60-3554 are the two legit combat aircraft, period. But I think the serial number boondoggle is a security measure. Jon says there is no such thing as coincidence and the 553 and 554 pop up much earlier (in art work and an article) than a quick read of the report led me to believe. That leaves me to think that both aircraft could have been involved or attached to the TOW development much earlier than the deployment to Vietnam. The wording of the report is vague about the location of the aircraft but does pretty much suggest that a system was removed from an aircraft in California and another stored system was shipped along with it to Ft Lewis to make up the deployment package. There must be some elements of the development/sales story that have been skimmed over or deemed irrelevant for the report content. I hadn't considered that possibility but it sure is sensible when you see just who DID wind up using the system, even though on different airframes.

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Friday, August 31, 2007 8:12 AM

Chief,

  I was very happy when I found that paragraph.  It's nice to know I didn't "invent history."  I was very annoyed at myself for possibly having been taken in by a hoax.  There is NO doubt that 553 and 554 were in the test program prior to VN based on my readings of the available formerly classified TOW documents.  In fact, it seems more likely that the photo I posted is 553 with a doctored serial than 261 with a doctored serial.  It's just the FM antenna that might make you think otherwise.   What I want to know is why doctor the serial numbers at all?  What possibly sercurity reason could they have had for changing the serial to ANOTHER UH-1B serial number?  i could understand if they wanted the serial to match a different model of Huey, but why change it to a number that is also valid.  You guys lost me on that one.  It seems to me that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and you have older drawings showing it was a duck, it might just be a duck!  I'll keep digging on my end and you guys do the same. We'll figure this thing out eventually.  By the way, here's another interesting paragraph:

[img]http://Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket[

Maybe 14105 was converted to an M after all.  However, this could also be the elusive 5th TOW bird since the picture I first posted of 14105 are from a 1971 article.  Anyway, i thought you might be interested.

    Ray
 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Friday, August 31, 2007 9:44 AM

Ray,

Nuts because I've got all of the documents, but I haven't had access to them and I've been posting strictly from memory.  The tail number issue is rather frustrating, but I am sure that 60-3553 is the correct bird and since it is in the same collection with 60-3554 I'm tending to think that that is correct as well.  I don't know what the deal is with 62-12553.  I do know that a historic aircraft like that wouldn't have been sold to Chile and its XM-26 system fitted to another aircraft with the same last 3 digits.  Considering the museum has a second XM-26 system (from what i've been told. I haven't seen it), I think there was a screw up with tail numbers somewhere along the line.  I do plan on getting down to Andrews AFB to check on 62-12554 that is supposedly there once I get back from Arizona. 

In fact, if you look at the tail number on 212553 there, is it just me, or does that second 2 look like it overpaints a 3?

Jon

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Friday, August 31, 2007 7:21 PM

We've been looking too hard. That number is a replacement for whatever reason. It's art on 60-3553.

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Aaaaah.... Alpha Apaches... A beautiful thing!
Posted by Cobrahistorian on Friday, August 31, 2007 8:01 PM

Also, I've been focusing on the combat application of the TOW system in Vietnam.  I have the information for the test phase but I have PURPOSELY not looked at it.  It isn't relevant except for basic information.  I have a tentative publishing deal on this book already and will be starting my research in earnest once I get back from the AH-64A course. 

Jon

"1-6 is in hot"
  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Friday, August 31, 2007 8:38 PM

Chief,

   "We've been looking too hard. That number is a replacement for whatever reason. It's art on 60-3553."

I agree, Chief that's what i said a couple of posts ago.  What is interesting to me is that if we accept that it is 60-3553, the photo clearly shows the XM-26 installed AND the nose antenna.  Exactly when were the antennas removed?  You both said in the states, but I have no documentation to indicate that.  What source do you have that clearly shows 60-3553 without nose antennae BEFORE it went to Vietnam?

    Ray
 

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Maryland
Posted by Chief Snake on Saturday, September 1, 2007 10:18 AM

None. But does it matter? There are as of yet no pictures of it in Vietnam with the antennas. But there are pictures of two distinct aircraft in Vietnam, one with them on and one with them off. Logic says that in the course of 553's probable use in the demo role they got removed, but that's not proof of anything. Sometimes there are questions that are raised that really have not got a clear answer unless you can find the individual/people that were directly involved. And I'd like to ask what the impact is of determining when they came off? Of course looking through the historical log would probably give the answer to most every single question one may have involving an airframes' history. My only guess about the import of so miniscule a fact would be if I was building a model of an airplane/aircraft as it appeared on a GIVEN day in time. THEN it might make a difference depending the degree of correctness required in the construction. The photo of 60-3553 in high vis paints with a bogus tail number leans strongly at being a taken in Germany (attributed?) during a demo for NATO allies. The topography leans to Germany, not the California ranges used by Hughes. Jon has discovered a Feb 1967 issue of National Guard Magazine that has artists renderings of two TOW gunships with the goofy 212553 and 212554 serials. From that I am led to believe that 60-3553 and 60-3554 were allocated to the TOW program (probably as demo airframes) prior to Feb 1967. The artist had to make his renderings from something, the picture of 60-3553 with an altered serial makes a perfect  candidate. The artists rendering and the photo show 60-3553 with the FM nose posts in place. The serial sequence of 212553 is not in accordance with US Army marking specifications which call for the serial to be 5 numbers. The exception for six numbers is the addition of a leading 0- in specified cases. So for reasons not exactly established it appears that the artists altered the TOW pod configuration and copied the altered (incorrect/bogus) serial number from the existing photo of 60-3553 during a demo firing. The date of photo is not established but it could have been from late 1966 (likely) or as late as early 1971. Taking the possibility (low) that the photo is 1971 then 60-3553 could have had it's nose posts that late. They don't show up in Vietnam photos early 1972. Somewhere between late 1966 and early 1972, they got removed. As for a photo proving they were removed prior to getting to Vietnam, I don't know of one nor do I know of one showing them in place IN Vietnam. The importance of the removal date escapes me at this time. 60-3553 did have them, no question. Pictures and evidence of removal attest to that. Logic, and only assumed logic, is that at some point during the demo phase (high use rate) they would be removed because they got in the way.

There clearly now is evidence of four NUH helicopters. There are pictures of 1 civil airframe designated with an army serial (64-18261) and fitted with a sighting system (Oct 1965) and has written attribution as being NUH-1B 64-18261 ( US Army Aircraft since 1947 Stephen Harding). There are photos of two NUH-1B designated helicopters with US Army serials 60-3553 and 60-3554 fitted with XM-26 pods and the needed sighting systems. Written evidence points to the existence of two completed sighting systems and 5 completed XM-26 pod systems. Written evidence defines the existence of an UH-1M used in the Cheyenne development, written evidence claims the existence of a single NUH-1M 63-8684, it is only assumed that the airframe was equiped with both pods and sighting system associated with NUH designated helicopters and was the UH-1M used in Cheyenne testing.. That accounts for all four NUH helicopters. The airframe UH-1C 64-14105 shows up equipped with XM-26 pods but the needed sighting system is unseen. The serial 64-14105 has no written or physical evidence of being attributed the NUH designation. So five airframes associated with the TOW exist, but only four NUH designations exist.

Now what?

 

Chief Snake 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Auburn, Alabama
Posted by rotorwash on Saturday, September 1, 2007 11:04 AM

Chief,

  Here's the point about the nose antenna. You stated earlier:

"The one constant in identifying one airframe from the other is the nose FM posts. Regardless of the other variations of paint, VHF blades, toilet bowls and kill tallies 553 had the nose posts removed, 554 still has them to this day."

  We now know that is not the case.  For instance, I posted this photo earlier:

[img]http://Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket[

The only reason I can see for assuming this is 554 is the nose mounted antenna and possibly the dark VHF blade antenna.  Both you and Jon indicated that 554 wasn't known to have kill marks. Since this bird lacks the anti-strella package, it stands to reason it is a very early photo.  Why couldn't it be 553 BEFORE the antennas were removed.  As I clearly demostrated earlier, there are at least three distinctly different cammo patterns on birds with nose mounted FM antennas.  I guess the ultimate reason it's importnat to me is that I try to back up any conclusions I make with phtographic evidence or written documentation.  I definitely don't have all the answers and I certainly don't have the experience you guys do, but I woudl like for our efforts to ultimately make the picture clearer not add more layers of uncertainty.  I'm sorry if I seem nitpicky, but that's just the nature of being an anatomist I guess.  Ultimately, NONE of these nitpicky details are going to change history or the impact of the XM-26 on the Vietnam War.  It's just a matter of personal pride.

   Ray
 

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