RANCH HAND

THE

HERBICIDE PROGRAM
IN

SOUTH VIETNAM 

 

 







The first consideration of herbicide operations in the RVN came in July 1961 when CHMAAGV suggested they might be used to improve
visibility along communication routes, and to deny the enemy his source of food. As the result of this suggestion, the Combat Development Test
Center began research on the practicability of crop destruction and defoliation operations in the RVN with the first test conducted in August
1961, along Route 13 in Chon Thanh province.

On 6 December 1961, six C-123s and 69 personnel set up temporary operations at Clark AFB, Philippines. On 7 January 1962, three aircraft
were moved to Tan Son Nhut, RVN. The project was named RANCH HAND and was tasked with testing the soundness of the defoliation concept as
well as to determine optimum chemical concentrations and methods of delivery.

RANCH HAND aircraft flew their first experimental mission on 12 January 1962 on a target along Route 15, northwest of Saigon. In
addition to RANCH HAND aircraft, the VNAF used one C-47 aircraft and several H-34 helicopters to test the herbicide concept. Other tests were
conducted in the Ca Mau Peninsula region. -The initial test continued until 20 March 1962, when they were terminated to await evaluation of the
chemical effects on the foliage. An Army brigadier general arrived in Vietnam it' April 1962 with a team of herbicide experts from Army
Chemical Corps to "determine the feasibility of the use of chemicals applied as spray by aircraft or ground equipment against tropical vegetation
in selected target areas in South Vietnam. " The team was primprflconcerned with the ability of the spray "to improre roadside and jungle
visibility as an aid in aerial and giound surveillance of routes of enemy movemcnt and supply, to reduce ambush opportunities for the enemy, and
to aid in exposing enemy jungle areas. " The team evaluated 21 targets in 11 areas and concluded that, when evaluated from the air, herbicides
were 70% effective, and irom the ground, 60% effective in imnrovina horizontal and vertical visibility. Heavier concentrations of herbicides,
and spray equipment improvements were also recommended.

During the period January-March 1962, many training missions were also flown. It was on one such low-level mission, in February, 1962,
that a RANCH HAND aircraft crashed, destroying the aircraft and killing the three crew members. The cause of this crash has never been
determined. A replacement aircraft was immediately flown from Clark AFB to keep RANCH HAND's strength at three aircraft. 
In March 1962, the remaining two aircraft were flown from Clark to Vietnam.

During the evaluation period, three of the five RANCH HAND aircraft had the spray equipment removed and were used for logistics missions as part of Project MULE TRAIN, also operating out of Tan Son Nhut.
On one of these missions, the second RANCH HAND C-123 was totally destroyed while attempting a short field takeoff. The crew, however, was saved.



Information from declassified report "SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY GROUP WORKING PAPER NO. 10-68
A REVIEW OF THE HERBICIDE PROGRAM IN SOUTH VIETNAM (U)
William F. Warren - August 1968     http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/779797.pdf

 

Looking for information on this and other units that served or supported the Air War in SEA. 

If you have a story, scans of aircraft, bases, ships, unit personnel, insignia or operations that you would like to see posted on these pages please contact the webmaster at the mailbox below.

Thanks for serving. 

Looking forward to your input.

 

 


 



  AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com     Vote for this Site  


Questions or Comments?







AIRFORCE| ARMY| NAVY | MARINES | RAAF |ROK|AIRCRAFT|FWMAF| BASES|DUSTOFF| FACS | GUNSHIPS| SHIPS | MIG KILLS | WARSTORIES | UPDATES | WALL of HONOR |
|  WEBRINGS |
THE BOOK STORE | ASSOCIATIONS | REUNIONS PATCHES | SENDING MATERIAL | SITE AWARDS |LINKS | IPMS-ALASKA | HOME



© Copyright 2015 by Air War Vietnam.Com. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all text and pictures are the property of Air War Vietnam. Com or the original contributor and cannot be used without written permission.