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Binh Thuy Air Base: Map

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For the civil use of the facility during after 1975, see Trà Nóc Airportmarker
Binh Thuy Air Base is a former South Vietnamese Air Force and United States Air Force base located near the city of Can Thomarker in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnammarker. It is approximately seventy (70) miles/(120) Kilometers southwest of Ho Chi Minh City/Saigonmarker.

Today it is being redeveloped as Trà Nóc Airportmarker (IATA: VCAICAOmarker: VVCT). The airport is expected to open by 2008.

Overview

Binh Thuy Air Base was the most southern airbase used by the VNAF and USAF in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. In 1965 US Air Force units moved a few miles, from the US Army's Can Tho Airfield, to Binh Thuy which was constructed by Red Horse civil engineering units on an old French airfield. Val - 4 was built by U.S. Navy Seabees.

VNAF Use of Binh Thuy Air Base

The VNAF began operations from the base as early as 1966 establishing the 74th Tactical Wing headquarters there. In 1974, Binh Thuy Air Base became the headquarters of the 4th Air Division, commanding both the 74th and 84th Tactical Wings.

Known VNAF perational units assigned to Binh Thuy were:

  • 520th Fighter Squadron, A-37A
  • 116th Observation Squadron, O-1, U-17
  • 122th Observation Squadron, O-1, U-17
  • 225th Helicopter Squadron, UH-1D
  • 227th Helicopter Squadron, UH-1D


Known VNAF Units At Binh Thuy (June 1974 Table Of Organization)

74th Tactical Wing
  • 116th/122d Liaison Squadron Cessna O-1A, U-17As and U-17B
  • 520th/526th/546th Fighter Squadron A-37A/B


84th Tactical Wing
  • 211th/225th/227th Helicopter Squadron UH-1D
  • Det G 259th Helicopter Squadron Bell UH-1H Hueys (Medevac)


Also abour 4 VNAF AC-47s were assigned to the base.

VNAF Aircraft Assigned to Binh Thuy Air Base

Image:A-37b-svnaf-binh-tuhy-74tw.jpg|Cessna A-37B Dragonflys of the VNAF 74th Tactical Wing (Front A/C Serial 68-14814)Image:A-1H-VNAF-520FS-BinhThuy.jpg|Douglas A-1H Skyraider of the VNAF 520th Fighter Squadron, Binh Thuy Air BaseImage:A-37A-VNAF-546FS-BinhThuy.jpg|Cessna A-37A Dragonfly 69-6446 of the VNAF 546th Fighter Squadron, Binh Thuy Air Base, January 1973Image:A-37A-VNAF-526FS-BT-Jan1973.jpg|Cessna A-37A Dragonfly 67-14810 of the VNAF 526th Fighter Squadron, Binh Thuy Air Base


USAF Use During The Vietnam War

USAF Cessna O-1 (L-19) "Bird Dog"
An O-2 Skymaster dropping leaflets over Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, Binh Thuy was a major United States Air Force base. The USAF forces stationed there were under the operatonal command of the United States Pacific Air Forces Seventh Air Force (PACAF). The 632d Combat Support Group performed the non-operatonal base hosting mission at Binh Thuy.

Air Force resources included gunships, transport aircraft, and other close air support aircraft, while the United States Navy operated a Naval Support Activity and a Naval Air base with a combat helicopter squadron(HAL-3)a few miles south of the base. The "Black Ponies, VAL-4 Naval aviation squadron of OV-10s operated from Binh Thuy.

22d Tactical Air Support Squadron

The 22d Tactical Air Support Squadron (Light) organized at Binh Thuy Airport, South Vietnam, on 8 May 1965, where it became the main operational unit at the base. Organizationally, the 22d TASS was assigned to the 505th Tactical Control Group, then on 8 Dec 1966 to the 504th Tactical Air Support Group. These came under the command of the 22d Air Division headquartered at Tan Son Nhut Air Basemarker near Saigonmarker.

The squadron operated the Cessna 0-1 Birddog aircraft, 1965-1971 and the Cessna O-2A & Bs Super Skymasters aircraft, 1967-1971. Also some YOV-10D Broncos (2 EA) U.S. Marines 1st MAW detachment, OV-10As VAL-4 "Black Ponies" and some Y0-3As (1 or 2) "Quiet Star" 220th Surv Aircraft Company, 16th Aviation Group, U.S. Army.

The squadron provided aircrews in Vietnam to direct air strikes for tactical aircraft operating within the Tactical Air Control System (TACS). It also performed visual reconnaissance, convoy escort, and other missions as directed by the Tactical Air Commander.

Aircraft and maintenance were provided in support of these operations within IV Corps, Republic of Vietnam, as directed by Seventh Air Force. The squadron provided aircraft and personnel in support of the Theater Indoctrination School, and field and transient maintenance support of USAF aircraft at Binh Thuy Air Base.

Personnel and other resources of the 22d were absorbed by the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Basemarker on 15 January 1970. It was transferred without personnel or equipment to Wheeler AFB, Hawaii on 15 May 1971.

Other USAF Units at Binh Thuy Air Base

  • 9th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (MATS/MAC)
  • 211th Operations Squadron (7th Air Force)
  • 619th TCS Paddy Control, Eyes and Ears of the Mekong
  • 1880th Communications Squadron (AFCS)
  • 6255th Air Base Squadron
  • OL-26 1CEVG (SAC) Combat Skyspot


Binh Thuy Emblem Gallery

Image:Pacific Air Forces.png|Pacific Air Forces (1965-1970)Image:2d Air Division crest.jpg|2d Air Division (1965-1966)Image:7th Air Force.png|7th Air Force (1966-1970)File:632dcsg-emblem.jpg|632d Combat Support Group (1965-1970)Image:22ndtass.gif|22d Tactical Air Support Squadron (1965-1970)


Capture of Binh Thuy Air Base

With the loss of two northern corps area - literally half of South Vietnam by mid-April 1975 surviving South Vietnamese Air Force aircraft landed at Binh Thuy, Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhut Air Base‎s. Sorties flown during the final days were to support defensive actions at Phan Rang, Phan Thiet and Xuan Loc, however no effort was made to fly against advancing North Vietnamese columns moving south. This was due in part to the Soviet-made SA-7 shoulder held surface-to-air missiles which the SVNAF had no defense against along with a lack of reconnaissance aircraft. The South Vietnamese government literally had no idea of what was happening inside of the territory lost to North Vietnamese forces.

The last ditch effort in defense of Saigon was the Battle of Xuan Locmarker, a provincial capitol 38 miles northwest of Saigonmarker. South Vietnamese Army units held at Xuan Loc for over two weeks but by April 21 Xuan Loc was in ruins and had to be abandoned. North Vietnamese forces quickly overran Bien Hoa Air Basemarker and moved along Highway One towards Saigon.

By April 29 the fighting had reached the suburbs with North Vietnamese troops overruning Tan Son Nhut Air Basemarker‎. On April 30, 1975 the South Vietnamese government surrendered unconditionally and South Vietnam ceased to exist.

Some South Vietnamese Air Force planes and personnel managed to escape to Thailandmarker from still-unoccupied Binh Thuy Air Base briefly after the surrender, however within a few days the North Vietnamese reached the base as well as other parts of the Mekong Delta.

See also



References



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