The "Pogo" in Vietnam

Started by braincells37, April 01, 2009, 08:39:22 AM

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In 1966, as the U.S. Military was being drawn deeper into the Vietnam war, it was found that the Riverine forces, patrolling the Mekong and other rivers were being fired upon by enemy forces well concealed in the dense jungle next to the rivers. It was thought that close air support for the Riverine forces would be effective against the well hidden Viet Cong. Unfortunately, UH-1 Hueys were in short supply and generally unavailable to the Navy at that time of the conflict. A proposal was put forth to resurrect the Convair XFY-1 vertical takeoff aircraft until Hueys could be secured for the Navy. The “Pogo” was in storage, but without engines (they had been used on the Hiller X-18) and the aircraft was available.
Two Allison T-56 engines were procured and installed requiring only minimal modification to the airframe, since the T-56 was a derivative of the XFY-1’s T-40 engine. A new gearbox was constructed from T-40 spares provided by Allison, and with some modifications was made to fit the T-56 engines (the joined T-56’s did not receive a new engine designation). The aircraft was also fitted with an M61  Vulcan cannon in each wing pod. The original ground test tethered rig was also rebuilt and the Navy pilot chosen to fly the Pogo was Lt. I.B. Fulinya. The major concern (as it was with the original program), was getting the aircraft on the ground. It was exceedingly difficult to judge altitude and descent rate, all while trying to maintain control of the aircraft and look over your shoulder at the ground from a reclining position. After numerous tethered flights, Fulinya felt confident enough for free flight of which he made 10 flights before the aircraft was deployed to southeast Asia. The aircraft was sent to Tan Son Nhut airbase outside of Saigon where Fulinya made 10 more free flights. Fortunately, he had the vast expanse of the air base on which to land, and not the helicopter pad on the LST to which the aircraft was to be assigned. Pinpoint landings were still exceedingly difficult. On April 1st a Navy crew applied camouflage and the aircraft was prepared for its first mission. It’s base of operation was to be the LST USS Snohomish County (LST 1126). At 07:30 Fulinya lifted off for the Snohomish County and en route to the LST he received a call from a river patrol boat under fire 10 miles upstream from the LST. The Pogo was very fast in level flight and reached the river patrol boat in short order. He laid down suppressing fire with his 2 Vulcan cannons which allowed the river patrol boat to escape without any damage. After the attack, Fulinya headed for the LST to land and refuel. Unfortunately, the issue of landing on a small deck raised it’s ugly head and Fulinya could not get the Pogo on the landing pad of the LST. The fuel warning lights came on and Fulinya abandoned his attempt to land on the LST and headed for the largest piece of open ground he could find. As he touched down the engines shut down as the Pogo was completely out of fuel, the aircraft receiving minor damage in the process. It was a rather ignominious end to the first and only operational flight of the Pogo. Shortly thereafter, the Navy received their Hueys. As for the Pogo, due to the damage it incurred, it had to be lifted out with a heavy lift helicopter. The Pogo was stripped (again) of its engines, the camouflage paint was removed, and the Pogo was sent to the National Air & Space Museum, where it resides today in the Silver Hill storage facility.

The photo is the only known photo to exist of the Pogo in action, shown on it’s initial attack run. If anyone has any other images of the Convair Pogo in SE Asia, please let me know.

And now, back to reality. The Lindberg 48th scale kit. All I did was add a cockpit (from the Hobbycraft F-94) an extra intake for the new engines and exhausts, using brass tube. An image of the model was photoshopped into a picture I found somewhere

IPMS Seattle 'President For Life'

The Rat

"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives." Hedley Lamarr, Blazing Saddles
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Orne M


Nice job, alwys love the Pogo.

Great minds think alike!

For soemthing in a much smaller scale, had a similar idea @10 years back and came up with Pogo's on a LST.  I was thinking close air support for amphibious assaults where Pogo's with 20mm cannons and 2.75 inch rocket pods could help soften up a beachhead before and during an assault. 

The kit: 1/700 scale Skywave LST.  Scrath bulit Pogo's, with wings from 1/800? skyrays from a terrible old Forrestal kit.

1/72 Pogo in the background.  Both have not aged weel, perhaps time for a rebuild. 

Dave "Sandiego89"
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA


There's a great idea for the Pogo! I've done one myself as a USN interceptor for big gun ships and convoy escorts.

In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.

uk 75

Norman Friedman's book on US Navy carriers features at the end a large
nuclear carrier equipped to fight on its own with missiles, normal aircraft and
a swarm of VSTOLs.

Both the USN and the RN really had high hopes that the Pogo tail sitters and the contemporary UK flying bedstead and French Coleopter tail sitters could be translated
quickly into operational aircraft.

Impractical in reality but fun as models.  Some ideas:

RN carriers with Short SC1 derivatives and lend-lease Vertijets

French carriers with advanced Coloptere designs

US ASW ships or Iwo Jima LPHs with Vertijets

UK 75


Been there, done that, to an extent anyway.

My Convair/Hawker Osprey is an FAA 'in service' version of a Pogo, but quite a bit larger. Both the Osprey and the Pogo can be seen in the second piccie, showing the difference. The Osprey uses and F-102 wing as a basis.

The backstory is here BTW, 'First Vertical' in Alternative Histories.

Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)