South East Asia
20 TRS RF-101C 55-053 at Udorn, RTAFB.
RF-101C 55-053 at Udorn, RTAFB.
Image courtesy of Joseph W. Brown Jr.
20 TRS RF-101C 56-058
Image courtesy of Joseph W. Brown Jr.
History of the RF-101C Voodoo in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
RF-101 is a twin-engine supersonic aircraft.
Built by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, the RF-101 has a crew of one and is capable of providing day and night high and low altitude - visual and photographic reconnaissance in support of air and ground forces.
The aircraft has an inflight refueling capability.
Its nickname is Voodoo.
GREEN PYTHON Program
The reconnaissance of Laos and North Vietnam, under projects YANKEE TEAM and BLUE TREE, generated a need for more recon aircraft. In South Vietnam, air bases were overcrowded and vulnerable. In addition, the
difficulty in reaching targets in Northern Laos and Vietnam from these bases led to considerable discussion of establishing a recon base in Thailand.
In April 1965, six RF-1O1's were deployed from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, to establish project GREEN PYTHON. These aircraft had initially deployed from TAC in August 1965. GREEN PYTHON mission was to provide day photo-graphic and visual reconnaissance in Laos and North Vietnam, as directed by 2AD. Concurrently, eight additional TAC RF-10 1s were sent to Kadena to maintain the force level. However, (in) the next month (s) six more of these Voodoo' s were flown to Udorn giving the GREEN PYTHON force a total of twelve. These TAC planes were a mixture of standard camera system (KA-2) and low-level 1181 configuration developed from TOY TIGER (KA-45). PACAF RF-1O1's were undergoing modification to the 1181 configuration (KS-72, KA-57 Panoramic) with completion scheduled for August 1965.
Thereafter, Udorn and Tan Son Nhut became the two major reconnaissance bases in Southeast Asia. For the day-visual and photographic recon the RF-101's took the load. There was a natural division; ABLE MABLE (Det 1 at Tan Son Nhut) took the in-country missions (some nearby out-country) and GREEN PYTHON (then the TAC aircraft at Udorn) took the out-country missions.
In November 1965, the 15th RTF from Kadena took over GREEN PYTHON responsibility. At the same time, the 20th TRS acquired the twelve RF-lO1's of Det 1 at Tan Son Nhut. This led to difficulty since targets in the heartland of North
Vietnam were heavily defended and the Udorn operation, consequently, suffered heavy losses. Additionally, there was the problem of rotation attrition in that Udorn crews were quickly amassing 100 NVN mission credits.
In April 1966, the 20th TRS moved from Tan Son Nhut
to Udorn, and the 45th RTF moved to Tan Son Nhut.
In May of 1966, an additional four RF-101's were sent to augment the 20th at Udorn. In July, the 45th at Tan Son Nhut was due to receive an additional four aircraft and become a TRS instead of an RTF. This would mean that, as of December 1966, there would be 32 RF-lO1's in SEA (sixteen with the 45th TRS at TSN and sixteen with the 20th TRS at Udorn).
Above information from declassified report "USAF Reconnaissance in Southeast Asia (1961-66) 25 October 1966 - www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a486464.pdf
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