VNAF: South Vietnamese Air Force 1945-1975 (Vietnam Studies Group 6046)
By Jim Mesko, Don Greer
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1987 64 Pages
PDF 95 MB
The Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) existed for only twenty-four years, from the summer of 1951, when the French began training Vietnamese aircrews, until the spring of 1975 — when Saigon fell. When the end came most, if not all, official records were either destroyed or captured by the communists and it is unlikely that the complete story of the Vietnamese Air Force will ever be told, to the regret of anyone interested in the history of the war in Southeast Asia.
In VNAF 1945-1975 I have tried to trace the history of the Vietnamese Air Force from its inception under the French, through the final days of the South Vietnamese collapse. The account that follows is based on official U.S. government publications, interviews with Vietnamese pilots, interviews with American pilots who were closely associated with the VNAF, and personal observations and notes made while I was assigned to an American-Vietnamese advisory team based near Tan Son Nhut during 1971 and 1972.
The photographs have come from both official and private sources and were chosen to present as complete a coverage as possible of the great variety of aircraft used by the VNAF. Unfortunately there are gaps in this coverage, noteably in both the early period under the French, and during the final days when Vietnam finally succumbed to the communists. While there were supposedly a large number of official U.S. photos taken during the final days just before the communist takeover — and afterwards, when some of the former Vietnamese aircraft were returned to the United States, I have been able to locate few photographs dealing with these time frames, even with the help of Defense Department researchers. Perhaps some day these photos will surface and add additional information to the history of the Vietnamese Air Force, but until such time as this occurs the last few months of the VNAF will remain obscure.
On a number of occasions during preparation of this book I was forced to pass judgment on conflicting pieces of information. When such situations arose I consulted a number of knowledgeable people before making a final determination of either the accuracy or authenticity of the information. And, while these people proved extremely helpful, the final decision was mine and I must take full responsibility for any errors which may have occurred. I encourage anyone who has additional information or photographs on the VNAF to contact me, so that eventually the fullest and most complete record of the South Vietnamese Air Force can be told.