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Air War Over North Vietnam: The Vietnamese People's Air Force: 1949-1977 (Vietnam Studies Group Series 6075)
By Istvan Toperczer
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1998 67 Pages
PDF 50 MB
During the early years of resistance against French colonial forces, the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) was made up of poorly equipped and trained ground forces. The most important branches of the military — artillery, signal corps and pioneer units — had a simple structure and only rudimentary equipment. At the beginning of 1949 General Vo Nguyen Giap. Commander-in-Chief of the Ministry of Defense; Brigadier General Hoang Van Thai. Chief of Staff; and Phan Phac. Chief of Military Training, approached Ho Chi Minh concerning the establishment of a Vietnamese Air Force and Navy.
Based on a decree from Ho Chi Minh. the Ministry of Defense created an Air Force Research Committee (Ban Nghien Cuu Khong Quan) on 9 March 1949 and headed by Ha Dong. To conceal its true goal the committee was given the name Experimental Agricultural State Cooperative. The purpose of the committee was to create the foundation of a future Air Force and to study the French Air Force. The committee organized courses for those wishing to be part of the Air Force starting with the first group of 29 students made up of pilots, ground personnel, and a meteorologist. Later, a second group of 81 students was formed. The curriculum was 'collected* from French controlled territories and the teaching was conducted by Vietnamese tutors as well as German and Japanese prisoners of war. After a few hours of theoretical lessons, the teachers and classes moved to Chiem Hoa to build a 4(X) meter by 25 meter air strip. Flying lessons were conducted using two aircraft — a Tiger Moth and a Morane Saulnier MS 500 (a French-built Fieseler Fi 156 Storch). These aircraft had been given to the Bao Dai emperor in Hue by the French before the outbreak of the revolution in August of 1945.
The very first 'Vietnamese Air Force* aircraft, the Tiger Moth with a yellow star on a red flag insignia, took off on 15 August 1949 with a pilot of German origin by the name of Nguyen Due Viet at the controls. Due to a technical malfunction, the aircraft was damaged on its first (light and was out of commission until July of 1954.
The Air Force Research Committee was dissolved by the Ministry of Defense at the beginning of 1951.