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(Pre-Order) USAF A-37B Dragonfly in VietNam war 1/72

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The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, or Super Tweet, is a United States light attack aircraft developed from the T-37 Tweet basic trainer in the 1960s and 1970s. The A-37 was introduced during the Vietnam War and remained in peacetime service afterward.

Vietnam War

As the Vietnam War dragged into the late 60’s, anti-war sentiment began to grow, and there was political pressure to end US involvement. The Vietnamization program was implemented to let South Vietnam take on a larger fighting role. The first step was to upgrade their military capability. One of the areas needed to modernize was the VNAF. Though they had high potentials, it was small and lacked resources to take on the war. Up until 1967, they had only six fighter squadrons, five of which operated the Skyraiders, by then was over 30 years old and rapidly depleted. It was therefore decided that additional fighter squadrons would be added.

A-37 Dragonfly in Bien Hoa airbase, VietNam

Effort was made to revive the Skyraider production did not materialized, considering the service values it provided and low cost compared to anything available at the time. However, jets were decided as the mainstream, and the final choice was the T-37 trainer converted to the A-37A. The Air Commando Squadron under the code name “Combat Dragon” tested the new fighter in combat for 12 months in 1967. Upon completion, final bugs needed to be fixed as the A-37A had many shortfalls. When upgraded to the A-37B, it was a potent attacker, with upgraded J85-17 GE engine, the same engine used in the F-5A, stiffer wings with eight hard points, and a 7.62mm mini-gun. It filled the jungle fighting criteria by flying slow and low, operated on short runways, and easy to maintain by the VNAF crew. In early 1969, four VNAF squadrons converted to the A-37B.

A-37 Dragonfly attacking the target
By 1972, the Dragonfly was the predominant fighter of the VNAF. For a brief period, it was a successful attacker. Small and agile, it was very difficult to hit because of the low profile – until the introduction of the Soviet SA-7 Strella. Without ECM capability, it was very difficult, if not impossible to out fly the heat seeking missile. As the result, many A-37 pilots met their death by the SA-7.

One feature of the VNAF A-37B, as all of their fighters were, was the lack of air refueling probe. Adding this capability made Washington nervous for fearing the South would take the war straight to north of the DMZ, which they often did before 1965, and turned into an undesirable political situation. This decision proved fatal later on. Without long range aircraft to support troops, it would force them to fight the American’s defensive war style. After 1972, left alone, this was the kind of war the South could not afford in the long run, and would not win. With the NVA preparing the a massive invasion in 1974, request for supply reinforcement from combat losses from the US never came because of political turmoil here in the US as well as in Saigon, and the end was nearby.

VNAF A-37 in DaNang, South VietNam


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