Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base
- For the civil use of the facility after
July 1974, see Ubon Ratchathani Airport
is a Royal Thai Air Force
facility and is
the home of Wing 21 of the RTAF 2nd Air Division. It is located in
East-Central Thailand, near the city of Ubon Ratchathani, in the Ubon Ratchathani Province. It is approximately 305 miles (488
kilometers) North-East of Bangkok.
Laotian border is about 40 miles (60 kilometers) directly
The RTAF 211sq "Eagles" fly the Northrup F-5E/F "Tiger II"" fighter
aircraft from Ubon. The facility is also being used as a civil
Royal Australian Air Force use of Ubon
On 31 May 1962 the Royal
Australian Air Force
(RAAF) sent a detachment of eight CAC-27 Sabre fighters
to Ubon RTAFB. This
detachment was later expanded and designated as No. 79 Squadron
. The Australian
facilities were known as RAAF Ubon
The mission of No. 79 Squadron was to assist the Thai and Laotian
governments in actions against communist insurgents during the
early years of the Vietnam War
. With the
deployment of United States Air
fighters to Ubon, the unit also performed joint exercises
and provided air defense for the USAF attack aircraft and bombers
based at Ubon.
Squadron did not, however, fly any operations over nearby Cambodia, South Vietnam or Laos.
unit's strength during the entire period was about 150-200
Sir Edmund Hillary
base on 25 January 1967.
The Squadron lost Sabre A94-986 aircraft due to engine failure at
1043h on 3 January 1968. The aircraft crashed on approach into
farms outside the town (1.2 nautical miles from the runway at 249
degrees true). The pilot, Pilot Officer Mark McGrath was killed. A
three year old Thai girl named Prataisre Sangdang later died from
burns sustained in the accident. The homes of Mr Nuan, Mr Krasam,
Mr Thongkam and Mr Tue were totally destroyed. That of Mr Sok was
partly destroyed. Ten pigs belonging to Mr Sok were killed as were
15 belonging to Mr Oh. Outbuildings beloning to Mr Wiruch and to
Mrs Sim were also damaged.
Squadron re-deployed to Butterworth in Malaysia on 31 August
United States Air Force use of Ubon
From 1965 to 1974, the base was a front-line facility of the
United States Air Force
during the Vietnam War
. Ubon was the
location for TACAN
and was referenced by that identifier in voice
communications during air missions.
The APO for Ubon was APO San Francisco, 96304
8th Tactical Fighter Wing
8th Tactical Fighter
Wing arrived at Ubon on 8
December 1965 from George AFB, California as part of the US deployment of forces for Operation Rolling Thunder and
became the host unit.
At Ubon, the 8th TFW's mission included bombardment, ground
support, air defense, interdiction, and armed reconnaissance. The
operational squadrons of the 8th TFW were:
- Squadron deployed from 33d TFW Eglin AFB Florida. Transferred to 432d TFW at Udorn
RTAFB. Replaced by 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, also
from 33d TFW 25 May 1968 - 5 July 1974 (F-4D Tail Code: FA)
McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom Serial
Number 66-0234 of the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron with laser
guided bombs on a mission north.
This aircraft survived the war and eventually was sent to
AMARC for scrapping 29 September 1989
On 23 April 1966
8th TFW scored its first MiG kills of the Vietnam War
, shooting down two MiG-17
fighters. By the end of June 1966, after only
six months in the theater, the wing had flown more than 10,000
combat sorties, achieving a 99 per cent sortie rate for which they
received many commendations.
in May 1967, new F-4D aircraft from the 4th TFW at Eglin AFB were delivered to Ubon, re-equipping the 433d,
497th and the 555th TFSs.
This gave the wing the distinction
of being the first in Southeast Asia
to be operationally equipped with F-4Ds.
In May 1968, the wing was the first to use laser-guided bombs
in combat. During its
final years of combat, the 8th TFW used B-57s for night attacks,
AC-130 gunships for ground support and armed reconnaissance, and
F-4Ds for fast-forward air control, interdiction, escort, armed
reconnaissance, and other special missions.
After North Vietnam
Republic of Vietnam
in Mar 1972,
the 8th TFW was augmented by additional F-4 units. To make room for
these forces, the B-57 squadron moved to the Philippines. The wing continued combat in Vietnam until mid-Jan 1973, in Laos until 22 Feb
1973, and in Cambodia until 15 Aug 1973.
scheduled F-4 training flight occurred on 16 Jul 1974, and on 16
Sep the wing moved without personnel or equipment to Kunsan AB, South
Korea, where it absorbed resources of the 3d
Blackman and Robin
On 30 September 1966, Colonel Robin Olds
took command of the 8th Tactical
Fighter Wing. A lack of aggressiveness and sense of purpose in the
wing had led to the change in command. The 44-year-old colonel also
set the tone for his command stint by immediately placing himself
on the flight schedule as a rookie pilot under officers junior to
himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he
would soon be leading them. In December Olds was re-united with
Col. Chappie James
, and they became an
effective command team (popularly nicknamed "Blackman and Robin").
James was named 8th TFW Vice Commander in June 1967.
F-104C Starfighers At Ubon
F-104Cs of the 476th TFS head into the
Vietnam war zone from Ubon RTAFB, 1966.
Note the M-117 750-pound bombs under their wings.
F-104Cs of the 476th TFS
In the early months of 1966, a MiG
USAF aircraft over North Vietnam
to emerge, with the supersonic MiG-21
beginning to appear.
response, a contingent of Lockheed
F-104C Starfighters from the 476th Tactical Fighter
Squadron, based at George AFB, California were deployed to Udorn, arriving on 6 June 1966,
and being assigned to the 8th TFW.
An additional 12 F-104Cs
joined the 8th TFW on July 22.
The F-104s were initially involved in escort missions in support of
Republic F-105D Thunderchief
strike aircraft hitting targets in North Vietnam. They were also
involved in escorts of EF-105F Wild
. One of the problems was that the F-104Cs were not
initially equipped with electronic countermeasures
and had to rely on F-105s for warnings of lock-ons from enemy radar
facilities. However, the mere presence of these F-104Cs managed to
keep enemy MiGs away from the strike packages.
On 1 August, two F-104Cs were lost to enemy Surface-to-air missiles
(SAMs) in a
single day, and it was concluded that it was too dangerous to
operate the F-104C in support of Wild Weasel missions, especially
when they were not equipped with ECM gear. It was decided to
withdraw the F-104C from support of strike missions over North
Vietnam, unless and until the MiG threat reappeared. By late August, these
F-104Cs were involved in air strikes against targets in both
Laos and South Vietnam,
exchanging its role of air superiority for that of ground
However, losses were heavy, with three F-104s being
downed by ground fire and SAMs in the next couple of months. The
F-104C was not very well suited for the ground attack role, being
incapable of carrying an adequately large offensive load. In
addition, it could not carry out operations in bad weather and
could not sustain a lot of battle damage.
By late 1966, all F-104s in Southeast Asia had received APR-25/26
ECM gear and once again began flying escort missions over North
Vietnam. The Starfighter took part in Operation
on 2 January 1967, which was a successful attempt to
lure North Vietnamese fighters into combat. However, the F-104s
were not used to actively entice and engage MiGs, but were used
instead to protect the egressing F-4
force. The F-4 Phantoms scored heavily during this
The Air Force decided to replace these F-104Cs by more efficient
McDonnell F-D Phantomss starting in July 1967. The 4th TFS from
AFB equipped with F-4Ds deployed to Ubon, and were
redesignated as the 435th TFS.
F-104Cs rotated back to the states and where sent to the Puerto
Rican Air National Guard
The 435th remained with the 8th TFW at Ubon until 8 August 1974.
It's F-4D tail code was "FO".
Special Operations Missions
Lockheed C/AC-130A-LM Hercules Serial
55-0029 of the 16th Special Operations Squadron, May 1974.
This aircraft survived the war and eventually was sent to
AMARC for scrapping 15 November 1994
With the arrival of the 16th Special Operations Squadron in October
1968 flying the AC-130
gun ships ("Spectre")
the wing's mission was greatly enhanced. When the bombing of North
Vietnam was halted in November 1968, the wing's mission turned to
interdiction missions against the flow of supplies down the
Ho Chi Minh Trail
The squadron also flew the AC/NC-123 beginning in December 1969.
The aircraft did not carry side-firing weapons, but rather had a
very long, nose fairing that housed a forward-looking radar and two
internal, aluminum weapons dispensers for CBU bomblets. Only two of
these aircraft were converted from the basic C-123
Provider. This weapon system proved less
effective than its counterpart, the AC-130, and operations with it
were discontinued in June 1970
During 1970 the squadron recorded destroying nearly 15,000 trucks,
earning them a new title of "top truck killers". On 22 July 1974,
the 16th SOS was transferred to Korat RTAFB. In December 1975, the
16 SOS began its move to Hurlburt Field, Florida, with the first
gunship arriving on 12 December 1975. By the end of January 1976,
all the men and women of the 16 SOS had left Thailand.
Tactical Bombardment Missions
- 13th Bombardment 1 October 1970 - 24 December 1972 (B-57G Tail
13th Bomb Squadron Martin B-57G from
Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base
The 13th Bomb Squadron was assigned from October 1970 until
December 1972, flying the B-57G
13th flew mostly night interdiction missions against North
Vietnamese truck traffic on the Ho Chi
. using AC-130 gunships for ground support and armed
reconnaissance, and F-4Ds for fast-forward air control,
interdiction, escort, armed reconnaissance, and other special
After North Vietnam
Republic of Vietnam
1972, the 8th Wing was augmented by additional F–4 units from the
United States. To make room for these forces, the B–57
squadron moved to the Philippines.
1972 Operation Linebacker
On 10 May 1972
, as part
of the first day of strikes during Operation Linebacker
, the wing
destroyed the Paul Doumer Bridge near Hanoi. Using laser-guided bombs
, the wing was able to
put the bridge out of commission. On 13 May
the wing using laser-guided bombs,
attacked the Thanh Hoa Bridge, destroying this vital supply line of
the North Vietnamese.
squadrons temporarily deployed from CONUS to Ubon during the
Constant Guard buildups also participated in the
Linebacker raids, flying primarily as chaff
bombers and strike escorts, in Operation Linebacker II in December
1972, and in support of the Lon Nol government in Cambodia:
- 4th Tactical Fighter
Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina
- 334th Tactical Fighter 11 April 1972 - 8 July 1972 (Tail Code:
SA); 25 September 1972 - 12 March 1973 (Tail Code: SJ)
- 336th Tactical Fighter 12 April 1972 - 15 September 1972 (Tail
Code: SJ); 9 March 1973 - 7 September 1973
- 335th Tactical Fighter 8 August 1972 - 31 December 1972 (Tail
8th TFW Decorations At Ubon
Tenant units at Ubon included the 23rd Tactical Air Support
flying the OV-10
23rd's "Rustic FAC's" flew missions in support of ground forces,
interdiction missions and armed convoy support.
1982 Comm Sq (AFSC) providing Air Traffic Control services for the
Ubon terminal approach area.
Det 17, 10th Weather Squadron (MAC)
Another tenant, the 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery
performed a vital support role in crash rescue,
aircrew recovery and evacuation missions.
From March to October 1967 EC-121
aircraft of the College Eye Task Force were based
The 222nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Royal Thai Air Force,
performed their mission with T-28, C-47 and HH-34
With the Paris Peace Accord
1973 ending the war in Vietnam, the need for large numbers of USAF
aircraft in Thailand was reduced. The wing continued combat in Laos until
22 February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August
F–4 augmentation forces were released in September
In mid-1974 the wing began to lose personnel, aircraft, and units.
scheduled F–4 training flight occurred on 16
July 1974, and on 16 September the
wing and most of its components moved without personnel or
equipment to Kunsan Air
Korea, where the wing absorbed resources of the 3d TFW
that had moved without personnel or equipment to the
On 16 September 1974
the USAF forces at Ubon were deactivated and the
facility turned over to the Thai government.
Major USAF Aircraft based at Ubon
Ubon USAF Unit Emblem Gallery
Image:8th Fighter Wing.png|8th Tactical Fighter Wing
Image:476tfs-patch.jpg|476th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Image:Pacific Air Forces.png|USAF Pacific Air Forces
Image:13th Air Force.png|13th Air Force
Image:7-13-airforce-patch.jpg|7/13 Air Force
Image:7th Air Force.png|7th Air Force
- Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October
1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1
October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History.
- Glasser, Jeffrey D. (1998). The Secret Vietnam War: The United
States Air Force in Thailand, 1961-1975. McFarland & Company.
- Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF
Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation
History. ISBN 0887405134.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage
and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air
Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial
Numbers--1908 to present
- The Royal
Thai Air Force (English Pages)
Thai Air Force - Overview