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The Helicopter War Vietnam. Lesson Objectives Describe the tactical and geographic considerations that supported the introduction of airmobile operations.

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Presentation on theme: "The Helicopter War Vietnam. Lesson Objectives Describe the tactical and geographic considerations that supported the introduction of airmobile operations."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Helicopter War Vietnam

2 Lesson Objectives Describe the tactical and geographic considerations that supported the introduction of airmobile operations in Vietnam. Understand the technical and logistic advantages and limitations of the helicopter in war. Describe and analyze the role of helicopters in the American execution of the Vietnam War.

3 Major Issues The Helicopter War Why was the helicopter particularly valuable in Southeast Asia? What is the “air mobility concept” of the US Army? What were some of the operational and logistic concerns of the use of helicopters in Southeast Asia? Generally describe the use of helicopters in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley (November 1965) Why was it originally developed? In what ways were helicopters used?

4 The Helicopter War "What would we do [in Vietnam] without helicopters? We would be fighting a different war, for a smaller area, at a greater cost, with less effectiveness. We might as well-have asked: 'What would General Patton have done without his tanks?'" General William Westmoreland Quoted by Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, USA Airmobility , Chapter 13

5 The Helicopter War... the growth of the airmobile concept did not take place in the framework of guerrilla warfare. It was conceived out of the necessity to disperse on the modern battlefield under the threat of nuclear weapons and still retain the ability to mass quickly for decisive actions, then disperse again. The actualities of Vietnam have since obscured these origins and have led many people to the assumption that airmobility was designed for and limited to counter-guerrilla contingencies. The very nature of the terrain in Vietnam with its jungles and mountains has led many to connect helicopter operations to this type of terrain. Indeed, the opposite is true. Airmobility worked in Vietnam in spite of the tremendous problems of working in the jungles and the mountains of an undeveloped country. The helicopter overcame the obstacles of limited landing zones, primitive road nets, restricted observation, and high density altitudes as no other vehicle could. But, in the open countryside of Europe or a desert in the Middle East, the airmobile force has far greater flexibility and many more options than even the armored forces of Rommel in North Africa. Vietnam represented only a fraction of the possibilities for airmobile tactics. "Conclusions" Airmobility , Chapter 13 Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, USA Vietnam Studies series, CMH Pub 90-4 Washington: Department of the Army, 1989

6 The Helicopter War The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.

7 The Helicopter War The problem in Vietnam is terrain — jungles, mountains, rivers. Maneuver's a nightmare. That's why we came up with a plan to use helicopters. Leap in and out of battle. Dialogue from the movie “We Were Soldiers” (2002) Source

8 Helicopters in Vietnam Early H-34 Choctaw H-21 Shawnee

9 Helicopters in Vietnam Medium Helicopters CH-46 Sea Knight CH-3

10 Helicopters in Vietnam Heavy Helicopters CH-47 Chinook CH-53 Sea Stallion

11 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Troop Transport

12 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Medical Evacuation (MedEvac)

13 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Long Range Patrol (LRP) Extraction

14 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Aircraft Recovery

15 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Rescue

16 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Cargo Hauler

17 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Bomber

18 Helicopters in Vietnam Uses Mine Sweeping

19 The Helicopter War "What would we do [in Vietnam] without helicopters? We would be fighting a different war, for a smaller area, at a greater cost, with less effectiveness. We might as well-have asked: 'What would General Patton have done without his tanks?'" General William Westmoreland Quoted by Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, USA Airmobility , Chapter 13

20 The Helicopter War Why did the U.S. Army adopt the Airmobile* doctrine? * using helicopters to move forces around the battlefield Concept not specifically developed for Vietnam Conceived to move forces around an atomic battlefield Ideally suited for Southeast Asia

21 The Helicopter War The problem in Vietnam is terrain — jungles, mountains, rivers. Maneuver's a nightmare. That's why we came up with a plan to use helicopters. Leap in and out of battle. Dialogue from the movie “We Were Soldiers” (2002) Source

22 Helicopters in Vietnam Where do you land them?

23 Super Bombs REQUIREMENT: Large explosive to quickly clear Landing Zones (LZs) SOLUTION: Post-WWII large conventional bombs from storage B-36 Peacemaker M121 15K lb. Bomb M121 Warhead

24 CH-54 Helicopter with 15K Bomb

25 BLU-82 Bombs Super Bombs What do you do when you run out of M121’s? Innovate!

26 BLU-82 Bombs

27 Instant Landing Zone! BLU-82 Bomb Employment

28 BLU-82 Bomb UGA Students?

29 Popular Culture “Daisy Cutter Bomb” Reality BLU-82 Bomb w/ Daisy Cutter Fuse

30 The Helicopter War Ia Drang Valley - 27:36 Battlefield Mobility

31 Battle of Ia Drang Valley Video (27:36)

32 End


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