Texas Tech University
Skip to main content

1994 Calendar, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) - Widow Maker

Item Number: 20080201001
Number of Pages
Digital Object Type
Physical Location
Box 02, Folder 01
Copyright Statement
This document is copyrighted
Item is Copyrighted - It is not available outside the VNCA building


  • January 1994

General Note / OCR

Table of contents Front Cover Photo – An AH-1G Cobra from the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry. Late 1971. This photo belongs to VHCMA member Donivan Earhart. From 1970 to 1972, Donivan was at Phu Loi and during his spare time setup a camera in POL (the refuel point). The name “Bill” is on the helmet of the pilot in the backseat and we think CPT Billy Johnson is the front seater because of the distinctive helmet. The white stenciling near the rear canopy reads AC CPT P.E. LEE?? and CE SP4 ?HITCH???. The XM134 minigun, nearest the camera in the turret could fire 2,000 or 4,000 rounds per minute. Up to 4,000 rounds for this gun could be stored in the ammo compartment marked by the crossed sabers. The XM28 40mm grenade launcher or “chunker”, on the right in the turret, fired at 450 rounds per minute. Up to 300 rounds could be stored for this weapon. The M158 and M200 rocket launchers on the wing carried seven and 19 2.75” rockets. The exact date this picture was taken is not known. ACT/11th ACR was based at Phu Loi and pilots from that period believe “Widow Maker” stood down with the unit in early 1972.

January A Pink Team Taking A Day Off An AH-1G and an OH-6A from the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. During 1971. This photo belongs to VHCMA Member Donivan Earhart who was at Phu Loi from 1970 until 1972. From about 1968 on, Air Cavalry tactics were based on a team of one or more Scouts in OH-6As and one or more Guns in AH-1Gs. The Scouts were called ‘Red Birds’, ‘6s’, ‘LOHs’, ‘Little Birds’, and even ‘White Birds’ by various troops. The Guns were called ‘White Birds’, ‘Snakes’, ‘Cobras’, ‘High Birds’, ‘Bad Birds’, and even ‘Red Birds’. The term ‘Pink Team’ was very popular and meant some mix of Red and White Birds. A ‘Heavy Pink’ had at least one extra Cobra.

February Give Me A Huss! A UH-34D from HMM-163. Early 1964. This photo was donated by VHPA member Dan Ross who flew with HMM-361 during the SHUFLY Era. SHUFLY was the code name of the USMC helicopter support operations in Vietnam that began in April, 1962 when HMM-362 moved into Soc Trang. The exact date and location this picture was taken is not known and neither is the owner. This photo has been a favorite with Marine helicopter pilots for years and appeared on the cover of the 1991 VHPA Directory. The Sikorsky-built HUS was first delivered to the Marines in 1957 as a utility version of the Navy HSS developed for anti-submarine duties. In 1962 the Department of Defense changed the name to UH-34, but to Marines all over the world the slang word HUSS stood for reliability, simplicity, and capability of this legend. Before the last one was delivered in 1964 the Marine Corps had received over 540 of this type. In the height of the Vietnam War when its more sophisticated cousins were grounded periodically for technical problems or when a ground unit absolutely needed assistance, the radio would say: “Give me a HUSS!”

March Cheap Thrills An OH-6A from the 11th Armored Cavalry, during 1971. This photo belongs to VHCMA member Donivan Earhart who was at Phu Loi from 1970 until 1972. “The Blackhorse Regiment came to Vietnam in September, 1966 with 51 tanks, 296 armored personnel carrers, 18 self-propelled 155mm howitzers, 9 flamethrower, and 48 helicopters. There was an aviation platoon in the headquarters with ten aircraft and each of the three cavalry squadrons had four more (two OH-6As and two Hueys). With passenger seat installed in the aft compartment “Cheap Thrills” most likely belonged to one of these units versus the Air Cavalry Troop. The OH-6As were used for courier, C & C (command and control), and scout missions. The passenger is not wearing a flight helmet in this picture so this might be a courier mission. The passenger is not wearing a flight helmet in this picture so this might be a courier mission. The names stenciled in white read AC Cpt H…tt and CE Sp 5 Fa…. In all the US Army lost 954 OH-6As during the War.

April Extracting the Apache Blues Hueys from A Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry landing in a Pickup Zone near Tay Ninh. April 1970. This photo was taken by Art Dockter from the fourth ship in the Aero Rifle Platoon and was donated by Kregg P.J. Jorgenson, author of Acceptable Loss published by Ivy Books. Each of the 28 Air Cavalry Troops that served in Vietnam was a miniature self-contained, combined arms team. Besides a maintenance platoon and the headquarters section, each troop had ten Scout and nine Gunship plus five Lift helicopters for the 22 men in the Rifle platoon. Most Air Cav Troops called their Rifle platoon “The Blues” because that is the color of the Infantry Branch. Kregg served with the Blues and Art was a doorgunner in A/1/9th CAV which called themselves the Apaches. Inserting and extracting Infantry units was job for many helicopter crews in Vietnam but there are surprisingly few good pictures of these operations.

May One Red Dog An OH-58 from the 11th Combat Aviation Battalion. During 1971. This photo belongs to VHCMA member Donivan Earhart. From 1970 to 1972, he was at Phu Loi and during his spare time setup a camera at the refuel point. The aviation detachments within the Signal, Engineer, and Field Artillery units were the first to receive the 58 during 1970. It replaced their OH-6As which were needed by Air Cavalry units. Because the 58 required only a one man crew and comfortably carried four passengers, it soon became the aerial equivalent to the jeep. The 58 also replaced the Huey in the aviation sections of aviation battalions. This picture clearly shows the 1st Aviation Brigade shoulder patch on the pilot wearing a flight helmet and a passenger is not wearing a helmet. The 11th CAB came to Vietnam in 1965 and supported the 1st Infantry Division plus other II FFV units. ‘Red Dog’ was their radio callsign. Obviously someone within the 11th CAB had a sense of humor and could paint cartoon characters!

June This Is DMZ Dustoff A UH-1H from the 237th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance). About June 1969. This photo was donated by VHPA member Phil Marshall who was flying in this very aircraft, #66-17626, for the 237th Med the night he was wounded. The photo appeared in the 1993 VHPA Directory. The exact date and location this picture was taken is known and the name of the professional photographer who took it is not unknown. MAJ Don Hull, the CO of the 237th, was the Aircraft Commander and the Crewchief was John D. Tyler. The copilot and medic are not known. The 237th used the radio callsign “DMZ Dustoff” because they were the northern most Army medevac unit. Note the bomb just exploding on the left in the tree line and the blur of the “fast mover” (jet aircraft) climbing out of the valley. Note the medic has left the ship and is helping the grunts with their wounded friends. Note the Huey does not have even one skid on the ground – just hanging there rock solid for minute after tense minute. Not long after the picture was taken a machine gun opened up from the tree line but was silenced by some gunships. On 27 April 1970 this aircraft crashed into the sea near Da Nang and only the co-pilot survived. This photo is “classic DUSTOFF”.

July Comin’ Hot! The Weapons System Sight Reticle as seen by the pilot in the back seat of an AH-1G. Late 1968. This photo belongs to VHPA member Jack Dale Jordan and was taken in 1968 near Happy Valley in northeastern II Corps. Jack flew with the 361st Aviation (Escort) Company from Pleiku. This gun sight was used to fire the weapon systems mounted on the stubby wings on each side of the Cobra. After pulling the trigger on the cyclic, the next thing you heard was FROSH as the rockets left the tubes or GRRRRR from the mini-guns. Almost instantaneously you saw the white exhaust trails from the rocket motors or what seemed like a red-golden rod formed by the tracers streaking towards the target. The hundreds of guys who flew and fought from the back seat of a Snake should remember this picture all too well!! Generally “Comin’ Hot!” was a nice way to tell others on the radio that you were firing.

August A New Black Cat Super Hook A CH-47 “Super C” Chinook from the 213th Aviation (Assault Support Helicopter) Company. About 1971. This photo belongs to VHCMA member Donivan Earhart. From 1970 to 1972, Donivan was a Crewchief for the Black Cats at Phu Loi and was asked by the company leadership to take this picture of a nearly new “Super C” they had just received. SGT Gerido, of the maintenance section, is clearly visible wearing a head set at the front window. All C models had the distinctive square shape to the aft part of the rear pylon plus bigger and longer blades than the earlier models. The “Super C” had more powerful engnies than the “Small C”. Naturally, the pilots preferred the more powerful model because they could really get the work done but had to be careful not to overstress the drive train with these engines. For awhile the #2 engine had a harmonic problem that caused the turbine blades to come apart which severed hydraulics lines and caused a fire. There must have been a great peace of mind for these crews – knowing that not only were the bad guys against you but you could actually catch fire and die all by yourself!! Still, most everyone enjoyed flying the “Super C” because they were low time machines.

September Refueling A Taipan ‘Hog’ A UH-1C from the 135th Aviation (Assault Helicopter) Company. About September 1970. This photo belongs to VHCMA member Donivan Earhart. From 1970 to 1972, Donivan was at Phu Lai and during his spare time setup a camera at the refuel point. Traditionally 3d platoon contained armed helicopters in an AHC and used a different radio callsign from the transport helicopters in the 1st and 2d platoons. The 135th‘s guns were Taipans and their slicks were Emus. The Charlie Model was an extremely popular gunship because of its power, speed, and its doorgunners. The distinctive features of the UH-1C are the cambered shape of the tail rotor pylon and the “540” rotor head with a wider blade. Taipan 31 is armed with the XM200 launcher full of 2.75” rockets with 17 lb. high explosive warheads. To put this warhead in perspective, it had more destructive capability than a 105mm howitzer round! The rocket pod was big and heavy; hence the name ‘Hog’. The helicopter once had a “thumper” (a M-5 40mm grenade launcher) mounted in the nose. The small rectangular covers on the battery compartment door mark where that weapon system was. The names on the pilot doors read AC Smith and CE Jackson. It might be possible to date this picture because the 135th lived at Bear Cat (not far from Phu Loi) until about October, 1970 when they moved to Dong Tam. The 135th was unique among all Army AHCs because about one third of its personnel were Australian. The Australian’s hard-working fun-loving attitude was always appreciated by the Americans.

October One Purple Fox A CH-46D Sea Knight from HMM-364 at Duc Pho. November, 1970. This photo is owned by VHPA member Fred Thompson who took a lot of good pictures while flying for the Army in I Corps. This picture was taken at the refuel point at Duc Pho. The Marine Corps acquired the Boeing Vertol-built CH-46 as the turbine powered replacement for the venerable UH-34. The A modal was first delivered to operational squadrons in June 1964. HMM-164 brought 27 CH-46As to Marble Mountain, Vietnam on 8 March 1966. On 28 October 1967, HMM-364 arrived as the first CH-46D squadron in Vietnam. The Marines generously supply nicknames to everyone and everything. HMM-364, officially known as the PURPLE FOXes, was denoted by the white circle around the fox’s head on the rear pylon. This aircraft has the same emblem painted on the front pylon immediately over the windshields. The PURPLE FOXes stayed in Vietnam until March 1971.

November Another Seawolf Lift Off A Navy UH-1B Seawolf from Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three. November 1967. This is official U.S. Navy photo number 1129035 and was donated by Philip Chinnery, a British aviation author and friend of the VHPA. This photo appeared in his book Vietnam: The Helicopter War published by the Naval Institute Press and in the 1993 VHPA Directory. HA(L)-3 was born during the summer of 1966 to provide armed helicopter support for the River Patrol Boats. The UH-1B Hueys came from the Army which also provided some initial crew training and logistical support. Ultimately nine detachments based on ships and air fields covered III and IV Corps. On a nice day without much ammo and fuel, flying off a ship in a B Model would be easy. Think about doing it at night or in some rotten weather when you are armed to the teeth to go help someone in real trouble?

December CHALK 2’s View Going to Work! A UH-1H from B Troop 7th Squadron 17th Cavalry. About December 1969. This photo belongs to VHPA member Doug Stenberg and was taken from the second ship during a morning flight from Ban Me Thuot to Bu Prang. In southwesters II Corps. The traditional names for the positions within a formation flight troop transportation helicopters were “lead” for the first ship, “Chalk 2” for the second, “Chalk 3” for the third, and so on. Even though the war and sometimes the weather was ugly, you did not have to fly in Vietnam very long to see something beautiful. Listening to Armed Forces Vietnam on the AM radio, joking with the guys in your crew, flying with some great friends, sipping a little warm coffee, seeing the sun just coming up, looking at some pretty white clouds, marveling at the endless shades of green below, watching the seemingly peaceful country side go by – remember the good times? Luckily Doug has a picture of one of his!

Two Purple Foxes Two CH-46D Sea Knights from HMM-364 at LZ 401 Recon Pad. 1971. This photo is owned by VHPA member Doug Orahood who flew for HMM-364. LZ 401 was the recon pad at Da Nang. Those who flew from Da Nang will certainly remember the hills in the immediate area, especially on bad weather days. The Sea Knights had 50 cal doorguns and the crewchiefs spent a lot of their time leaning out of the window. HMM-364 had three tours in Vietnam: with UH-34s from 1 Feb until 30 Jun 64 and from Sep 65 until Dec 66 for 578 days and with CH-46s from 28 Oct 67 until Mar 71 for 1221 days.

Pub Credit Line
20080201001, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University

Added: 20 Apr 2018 [Updated: 20 Apr 2018]