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Laos Pt.3: LNAF Super Mystere B.2-J52

Started by comrade harps, November 18, 2022, 06:55:34 PM

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comrade harps



Dassault Canada Super Mystere B.2-J52
a/c 579, 1st Fighter Squadron, Laos National Air Force (LNAF), Wattay Airfield, Vientiane, Laos
8 July, 1972
Pilot: Colonel Kaharn Phetsivilay



The Lao Issara (Free Laos) government of Laos struggled throughout its tenure to control the country. Formed in 1945 in opposition to both Japanese and French domination, the nationalist group was republican and capitalist in its outlook. This brought favourable responses from both Nationalist China and the US; both used their wartime incursions into Laos to support Lao Issara's October 1945 declaration of independence and their establishment of a provisional government. Challenged by the returning French colonial authorities, the Lao Issara joined a coalition government within the French-backed Kingdom of Laos.





This uneasy situation was maintained until 1950-51, when French power was fractured by the European Red Revolutions of 1950. With the Laotian King Sisavang Vong weakened by the rapid decline of French colonial power, the Lao Issara successfully mounted a coup in November 1951 and again asserted the nation's independence and neutrality. As a result of regional peace agreements, Laos left the UN in 1952 and established a strong diplomatic and military relationship with India, which had also left the UN to assert its neutrality. Despite early American support, by the early 1960s the fierce independence of the Lao Issara had brought it into conflict with the US and the UN. As the UN launched a secret bombing campaign of Laos in 1962, the Lao Issara resisted attempts to hand over command of its defence to the US embassy in Vientiane. The result was a compromised, conflicted and confused series of campaigns and strategies that undermined Laotian sovereignty and the overall anti-Communist effort. Deconfliction was usually the best outcome achieved, with Laotian and UN actions poorly coordinated and often directly at odds. While the Lao Issara focused on combating the domestic Patho Lao, the UN was focused on interdicting the Mao Tse Tung Trail in the country's north-west and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the country's east. The Lao Issara protested the bombing campaigns, the use of CBUs and the continual violations of Laos' neutral airspace to transit strike packages to and from North Vietnam. The contradictions of this relationship would play out during disastrously during Operation Half Back Flanker in 1972.





The Laotian National Air Force (LNAF)  was established in 1952, with India and the US providing training and aircraft. In 1954 HT-2 trainers were supplied by India, joining C-47s and L-19A Bird Dogs from the US and Beavers from Canada. Against a backdrop of increasing Patho Lao and Viet Minh activity, AT-6G Texans and AC-47Bs were delivered for COIN duties in 1955, followed by Indian supplied, HAL-built Vampire jets in 1956. 42 Vampire FB.52s were delivered through to 1966, plus 7 recce-modified R.52s, 14 T.55s and 8 NF.56s. The Vampire NF.56 was a night fighter version of the unarmed T.56, a HAL-modified T.55 equipped as a radar trainer with the APG-37 of the F-86K (60 of which were operated by the Indian Air Force). Serving alongside Summit Aviation T-28D Nomads from 1962, the Vampires shared the LNAF's combat burden until late 1969, when the first of an eventual 32 Dassault Super Mystere B.2-J52s entered service.



Built by Dassault Canada, 72 Super Mystere B.2s joined the Indian Air Force in 1959. Purchased as a stop-gap due to the failure of HAL's Swift program to produce a frontline fighter and by delays in delivering the Swift's successor, the HAL Marut, the Super Mystere B.2s were successful in Indian service but rapidly withdrawn with the introduction of the A-4H Skyhawk. Upgraded in 1969-70 with the Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet in an elongated rear fuselage (to better protect from IR-guided missiles), the converted airframes were named Super Mystere B.2-J52. As they used American engines and ejection seats, US approval for the sale was required and this was granted on condition that they not be delivered with AAM capability. This was accepted, the integration of the Dragonfly 2 taking place in early 1972 after all the airframes had been delivered. These fighters-bombers would experience a brief but hectic career in Laotian service until the LNAF was shut down in 1972.



All LNAF Super Mystere B.2-J52 were delivered in the camouflage seen here: slate green, black green and wood brown over neutral grey. This was a variation of the LNAF diurnal camouflage scheme adopted after the October 1965 coup attempt. Until then, most LNAF aircraft were painted light grey overall, which minimised visibility when seen from the ground. When UN aircraft began their incursions in Laotian airspace, this was retained as a "neutrality scheme." In the immediate aftermath of the failed coup, the 2 Vampire pilots that had together shot down 2 similarly painted Air America Caribou and a Hmong-flown T-28D noted that their opponents were clearly visible when seen from above. Fearing future dogfights against UN fighters, LNAF commanders were quick to order their diurnal aviation assets to be camouflaged. Nocturnally flown AC-47Ds and T-28Ds had been painted all-over black since 1963.



Super Mystere B.2-J52 579 is modelled as it appeared at Wattay on the morning 8 July, 1972, before an eventful sortie. The UN's Operation Half Back Flanker was ongoing and the LNAF was partially operating under UN command. As UN troops invaded Cambodia, pushed into Laos with reluctant Lao Issara consent and lurched into North Vietnam, the LNAF was issued with an ultimatum: operate under UN command or be grounded (forcibly if necessary). Taking the former option, the LNAF found itself in the highly compromised position of responding to UN daily air taskings whilst simultaneously attempting to meet conflicting demands for Laotian National Army air support. Poorly integrated into the UN's command, control, communications, IFF and deconfliction systems, the LNAF quickly succumbed to a combination of losses from combat, friendly fire courtesy of the UN and exhaustion leading to accidents. On 10 May 1972, the LNAF had 27 Super Mystere B.2-J52s available, but by 1 July, only 7 were still airworthy. 12 had been lost to enemy action (5 in the air, 7 on the ground, the latter due to a Patho Lao attack on Wattay), 5 to friendly fire from UN forces and 3 to non-combat related causes. By the time the LNAF was forced to cease operations on 8 July, only 3 of the Dassault fighters-bombers were airworthy. The T-28D force was down to just 6 airworthy airframes.



By July 1972 practically all of Laos was occupied by troops from North Vietnam, China, the UN and rebel Lao guerillas; the Lao Issara had lost control over its own territory. In the months ahead of the UN invasion, the anti-communist Patriotic Neutralists and the Royalists had joined forces with the Patho Lao to form the Lao United Front. CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer Jerry Daniels, who worked with the Hmong guerillas from 1963 to 1972, put the defections down to "too many conflicting orders from Washington, too many casualties and too much bombing... the Reds convinced them that by changing sides they could help bring the war to an end and return to civilian life." For the Lao Issara in mid-1972, it was the heavy handed application of power by the UN invaders that turned their allegiances. Forced into a subordinate position in its own heartland, the Lao government could only watch on as the UN loosened its rules of engagement and committed a series of friendly fire incidents and actions resulting in civilian casualties and the destruction of temples. Sidelined and concerned that its inaction was being perceived as approval, the Lao Issara was in an untenable position. Although never collaborating with the Reds, the Lao Issara ultimately asserted its sovereignty by leading a popular and armed resistance to UN occupation. Civilian protests, IEDs and ambushes blocked key UN logistical routes and brought chaos to Vientiane and other towns. By the time Chinese Red Army troops made significant contact with UN troops on the approaches to the Plaine des Jarres, the UN frontline had been fatally weakened by the need to protect its rear.



Super Mystere B.2-J52 579 was flown by Colonel Kaharn Phetsivilay on 8 July 1972 as nearby Vientiane descended into street fighting. Tasked by the UN to perform a morning armed reconnaissance south of Luang Prabang, LNAF air traffic controllers informed the Disco controllers aboard an orbiting USAF EC-122T AEW that the flight of 3 Super Mystere B.2-J52s would be transiting to Udon instead. The reason given was the deteriorating security situation at Wattay. This was accepted and Phetsivilay and his 2 wingmen were cleared for the short hop, making a sedate formation flight with their UN-supplied IFF units active. Using the cover of having been prepared for their intended mission, each plane was armed with two Indian produced Mk15 HEI 1,000 lb bombs, a pair of Draiganaphlaee 2 (or, to use their easier to spell and pronounce export name, Dragonfly 2) AAMs and their internal pair of Orenda Yellow Flower 30mm DEFA cannon. Joining the Udon circuit, Col Phetsivilay found himself behind a USAF A-7D. Lining up from behind, he fired a Dragonfly 2 and the AAM flew up the Corsair II's jet pipe before exploding, the pilot ejecting. This was his 2nd air-to-air kill. Then, diving to gain speed, Phetsivilay spotted his target and dropped his bombs on Udon's munitions storage area, setting off a series of secondary explosions.  Lt. Phoutthasay Khochalern followed the Colonel, splitting off to bomb the base's fuel storage tanks, which erupted in balls of fire. Captain Mitsada Saitaifah's aimpoint was a complex of warehouses adjacent to the airfield. Slightly delaying the separation of each bomb, he maximised the extent of the damage across the buildings.  Each pilot then made a fast and low strafing run across the busy airfield, destroying 2 USAF C-130Hs, a US Army C-10B, a Thai Caribou and a USAF F-4E; several more UN aircraft were damaged. 37 UN personnel were killed and more injured in the 2 minute attack. The fires burnt for days.



Turning off their IFF transponders and flying low, the Laotian pilots turned north and made their way to Luang Prabang. Running low on fuel and seeing that the runway there was badly damaged, they pointed their planes towards the surrounding jungle and ejected. All 3 were taken prisoner by Royalist troops, but once their actions and intentions were confirmed, they were released. All would go on to serve in the post war Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force (LPLAAF), with Phetsivilay rising to the rank of a General. By the end of the day, the UN had seized the LNAF's assets and shut it down (but not without a fight).





Phetsivilay was something of an iconic figure within the LNAF, and later the LPLAAF. A member of the first batch of Laotian pilots trained in India, he flew AT-6G Texans on COIN missions against the Patho Lao and the Viet Minh before transitioning to the Vampire FB.52. Phetsivilay came to public prominence in October 1965, first by being shot down and then, whilst grounded as a consequence, leading the defence of Wattay Airfield against an assault by CIA-backed troops as they mounted a failed coup attempt. A week before the coup attempt, and after several strongly worded objections to "UN chemical warfare" had been ignored, the LNAF was ordered to "interrupt or intercept" the USAF C-123s performing Ranch Hand defoliation missions in eastern Laos. On 6 October, Royal Thai Air Force F-100Ds conducting Ranch Hand escort engaged 3 LNAF Vampires as they entered restricted Operation Steel Tiger airspace, downing 2 with cannon and AIM-9Bs, including Phetsivilay. He bailed out, receiving injuries that would keep him grounded for the next month, while the pilot of the other downed Vampire died. Phetsivilay exacted his revenge against the UN on 15 June 1972. Engaged by USAF F-4E crew over the Plaine des Jarres, the Americns thought they were fighting a Red Chinese J-6 Fluffy. 2 AIM-7E-2 Sparrows were fired, but both failed to guide. A subsequent  AIM-9E Sidewinder launch damaged the extended rear fuselage of Phetsivilay's jet, but that didn't stop him from shooting down the Phantom II with cannon fire. The UN demanded that Phetsivilay be sacked, but the Lao Issara used the event as a propaganda victory and awarded him his 2nd Lao Independence Medal.

Whatever.

DogfighterZen

What a beautiful thing! Great work, comrade! :thumbsup:
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"

Wardukw-NZ

Totally agree with me mate Doggy dude..awesome stuff Harpy  :thumbsup:  ;D
If it aint broke ,,fix it until it is .
Over kill is often very understated .
I know the voices in my head ain't real but they do come up with some great ideas.
Theres few of lifes problems that can't be solved with the proper application of a high explosive projectile .

comrade harps

Quote from: DogfighterZen on November 18, 2022, 10:33:07 PMWhat a beautiful thing! Great work, comrade! :thumbsup:

Thank you.

My camouflages often aim for beauty. Flowing curves and all. The backstory is grimy and gritty, though. I like the contrast, which is often matched by real world military aviation examples.
Whatever.

Dizzyfugu

Very nice paint scheme :thumbsup: . Similar to the French SEA variation with local colors that some SMBBs carried, but the pattern makes the difference.
The SMB2 is widely underwhiffed and -represented.!

SPINNERS

Nice one! The SMB2 is a handsome aircraft but, then again, most Dassault aircraft are.

zenrat

Fred

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

NARSES2

Quote from: Dizzyfugu on November 19, 2022, 01:23:48 AMThe SMB2 is widely underwhiffed and -represented.!

Quote from: SPINNERS on November 19, 2022, 02:55:14 AMNice one! The SMB2 is a handsome aircraft but, then again, most Dassault aircraft are.

Totally agree with both of you. That is a very nice looking aircraft  :thumbsup:  :thumbsup:
Decals my @r$e!

Glenn Gilbertson

An interesting story and a beautiful model! :thumbsup:

Old Wombat

The Super Mystère looks good in that scheme! :thumbsup:
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est