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The Final Flights by the South Vietnamese Airforce

Updated on June 28, 2011

As the NVA forces now moved closer to Saigon once Xuan Loc collapsed, their men and artillery threatened the meager defenses of ARVN soldiers at Tan Son Nhut AFB, the last one still operating. On April 29th, the last AC-119K of the 821st Attack Squadron finally had to land in order to refuel and re-arm. It had been flying most of the night attacking enemy forces closing in. The pilot of the aircraft was ordered not to take off once refueling had been completed. The order was refused and it was soon back in the air attacking NVA troops but this time it was joined by two A1H Skyraiders belonging to the 518th Fighter Squadron. It was the last defiant act of valiant SVN airforce pilots.

These three aircraft continuously strafed the advancing NVA troops but at 0700, the AC-119K was hit by an SA-7 Strella shoulder-fired missile while at about 3000 feet. The direct hit caused the aircraft to burst into flames.

On April 30,at 0930, a A-37B fighter from Binh Thuy air base flew on its last mission to destroy the enemy's T-54 tanks that were on the way. The A-37,armed with bombs and rockets, truly would be South Vietnam’s last combat action. After causing carnage and escaping AA fire , it landed at Binh Thuy AFB. The pilots were stunned to hear that Saigon had fallen. Despondent, there was nothing left to do but to take-off again on a near empty tank, this time for escape to freedom. Neither the aircraft nor its pilots were seen again.


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    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Nice Historical Article.