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Quick Sand

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These stories will be basically a mission my mission account of a heavily edited stock Operation QuickSand that I'm currently flying. I'll add the stories as and when I fly the missions. Hope you like them .................



493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron


Operation Quick Sand



December 28th, 1966

D3 Airfield, Dhimar.


We arrived early this evening from RAF Lakenheath in three waves on a long flight with all F-100s carrying both the inner and mid-wing ferry tanks attached. Plenty of KC-135s from the 98th Strategic Wing in Upper Heyford made sure we were topped up on a regular basis. My legs had turned to mush by the time I opened the canopy here in D3, wanting a good cup of coffee and a sandwich. But not before a long overdue visit to the nearest head – or whatever it is they call it here.

The heat here is unbelieveable when compared to the cold winter climate back in England. Our CO, Colonel Raspberry briefed us shortly after landing to inform us that no time would be wasted in getting stuck into frontline Parani positions and that active operations were to commence the next day. All pilots were to attend the morning briefing at 05:30 but until then a good nights sleep was the order of the day. I don't think anybody could've argued with him.


December 29th, 1966


Various CAP and Fighter Sweep assignments were allocated at this morning's briefing. However, 2Lt. Jacques Wiggins and I were chosen for a runway strike at P10 Airfield just outside Paran's capital city, Kurzah. Talk about being thrown into the belly of the beast! Flak suppression would be provided by the boys from 'Viper' flight of the 562TFS, flying F-105Ds from D1 Airfield, with a follow up strike on the airfield by Dhimari Canberra bombers (Chevy flight) around ten minutes after us. Our callsign for the mission was 'Anvil'.

Our aircraft were to be loaded with four M117 750 pounders apiece, and the approach was to be made low and fast. Dhimari intelligence on Parani air defences were also considered to be pretty reliable, so the low and fast approach was universally agreed on. After the briefing, Wiggins and I breakfasted on scrambled eggs, baked beans and coffee (no pork or bacon in this part of the world!) and talked about the mission. Neither of us had flown in a real combat environment before so I think it was only understandable that we were both a little excited and nervous, though Tech Sgt. Mills soon assuaged our anxieties when he told us that him and the team had 'worked over these babies all night', and that they were in better shape than when they left the production line. Pre-flight checks were completed and we both took of at 07:30

Mid air topping up of the tanks took place about twenty minutes after take off in the Dhimari Straits without any hitches. At waypoint three we dropped to fifteen hundred feet as per the plan in order to try and increase the element of surprise.


Jacques Wiggins keeps close en route to P1 Airfield (Dec.29th 1966)


We were now about ten minutes to the IP, which was nine miles north east of Kurzah docklands. By my calculations, Viper flight should be ten miles or so from P1 Airfield, and there were no SAM launch calls as yet. So far so good. As Wiggins and I approached the Parani coast at 400 knots or so, it was hard to imagine that there was a war being fought in this region. It was so so quiet – it was too quiet....

Viper flight were approaching P1's Flak batteries when suddenly all hell broke loose. The early morning sky around them filled with hundreds of flak bursts and tracer rounds of all calibres, which we could see from our position. Our IP was passed and we both increased speed to around 500 knots. I decided that we should both attack the runway simultaneously from different angles in order to divide the attention of the AAA operators, as well as increasing our own chances of a successful hit. Our drop tanks were jettisoned as I made a gentle climb approximately two miles from the runway, increasing the throttle in order to keep my speed up. I was just dropping the nose down as Wiggins called a definite target hit which I spotted. By now I myself was about half a mile from the centre of the airfield, so I made a brief course correction and pointed the pipper at an unscathed Flak battery next to the runway intersection.

Bombs pickled, afterburner engaged. The sound of heavy explosions and secondary explosions followed me from behind as I looked back and confirmed that my bombs had hit some AAA pits. I made my way toward waypoint six and called for a sit-rep from Wiggins.

"I'm about a mile north east of point zero, engaging MiGs on the tarmac about to take off!"

The MiG-19s were lining up at the top of runway two preparing to take off. In my judgement there was a time and a place for engaging them and this was NOT one of those times. Also, SA-2s from various sites were being thrown up at an unhealthy rate and besides, the Dhimari Air Force were approaching fast for their bombing run.

"Negative, Anvil Two. Withdraw and re-group immediately. Chevy flight inbound in approximately three-zero seconds."

"Affirmative, Anvil lead. Heading to waypoint six now". There was disappointment in that voice, and it was obvious. But there would be other days and other missions. No doubt about that.

We regrouped about four miles South West from P1 Airfield just in time to witness 20 one thousand pound bombs impact the surface of the airfield as the Canberras dropped their loads from high altitude. Although it was an enemy airfield the sight of that carnage made me shiver inside, as I knew that at some stage during our deployment here, it could just as easily happen to D3.

Once over the coast it was easier for everybody to get a chance at taking stock of things. Wiggins and I gave each others aircraft a quick once over to check for triple-a damage. Not a scratch. Maybe the Tsgt was right about our birds after all?!! Viper and Chevy flight also escaped without loss or damage, which was even more of a surpise to me. I was to learn later that the only loss in our area at that time was an RAF Hunter Mk.9, which was one of four performing a fighter sweep over Suran when it was hit by an SA-2.

Two Dhimari Mirage IIIs rendezvoused with us at waypoint seven to escort us back to D3. We eventually landed at about 10:40 and as soon as we met on the tarmac, Wiggins started to chew me up, protesting that he could've taken out at least one of those MiGs on the runway with a high speed strafing pass. He was visibly still high on adrenaline from the strike, so I knew there was no point in trying to argue with him on the matter.

De-briefing was carried out within a half hour over coffee and doughnuts with our Intel officer. Captain Hill seconding my judgement on withdrawing from strafing the MiGs. "There'll be other days, son. You got 99 more missions to go. There's bounda be one or two ragheads out there waiting to be popped."

Post-strike recon photos wouldn't be available for at least another three hours as the 45th TRS's RF-101Cs were based approximately forty miles away in D4 Airfield. Chances were we'd be able to analyse them properly at the evening briefing.

Other members of the squadron also had luck today, with1Lt. Eldon Begley bagging a Parani IL-28 with two Sidewinders while on CAP over Al' Samir. His wingman, 2Lt. Dave Gilmore had a lucky escape however, when he tried to get near enough for a cannon burst and was hit by 23mm fire from the Beagle's rear gunner.

On the whole it wasn't a bad first day of combat for the squadron, although a Dhimari armoured attempt to push back into Mosak was repelled. Paran were also taught a valuable lesson today that although they're on the offensive – they're far from untouchable. Whether they learn that lesson from today's P1 Airfield strike is up to them.

Barton Wells and I fancied a beer and walked around the base looking for the bar, only to find out the hard way that pork and bacon products weren't the only illegal commodities in Dhimar.


Something tells me that this is gonna be a long assignment ............

Edited by Piecemeal

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Pretty nice story, wish you could have strafed those MiGs on the runway

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December 30th, 1966

D3 Airfield, Dhimar


Settling in to the airfield has been proving slow and difficult for everybody, but these difficulties have been further compounded by the arrival of the RDAF's No.2 Squadron. They evacuated their A-4B Skyhawks from D8 Airfield last night under cover of darkness as Parani forces were now within artillery range of the base. So I awoke at four thirty this morning to a much noisier and congested flightline with men and support equipment everywhere trying to find available space for 2 Squadron's eleven remaining jets.

I was relegated to being the spare for this morning's strike. Two of our F-100s flown by Matt Logan and Jacques Wiggins were to attack a supply dump next to Flak Battery No.2 situated in the town of Izmat, a coastal town about 35 miles east of the border. Hitting this dump was vital, as it was currently one of the main forward supply areas en route to the front line.

Flak Battery No.1 in the town was to be the job of 562TFS with four Thuds assigned to their task (callsign Gunslinger), while battery number two was to be taken care of by two of VMA-121's A-4E Skyhawks (Kingfish flight). The RDAF would be simultaneously attacking the harbour area in the town, which had significant fuel stockpiles being delivered. No.5 Squadron would be having four of their Mirage IIICs loaded with 540lb bombs (Python flight). Our flight's callsign for the task was 'Lion'

The plan was simple enough. VMA-121's A-4s were to attack battery 2 six minutes before our arrival with napalm and rockets, with the 562nd TFS attacking battery 1 about a minute later. By the time Lion and Python flights' arrival the air defences would hopefully be softened up enough for us to do our task. SAM activity in that area was said to be unlikely, although P3 Airfield was only about twelve miles away, so MiGs were likely to appear at any time before, during or after the strike.

Sitting in the cockpit on the ramp, I was more at ease this time round. Not just because I was the designated spare, but because I'd already been in the fray yesterday and had a better understanding of what to expect. I was immediately broken from my chain of thoughts when Matt Logan announced on the radio that his hydraulic pressure gauge was playing up. There was a pause of about four seconds before the tower told him to stay put as there wasn't time to get it checked out and I was called up in his place. I then taxied behind Wiggins to the head of the runway and we took off at 06:49.



One of the tower personnel took this picture of me taking off for Izmat on the morning of the 30th. Note the 'refugee' RDAF A-4Bs from 2 Sqn reposing in the foreground


In-flight refuelling wasn't necessary this time round, and the journey inward was quiet enough. As we passed waypoint three Kingfish flight were crossing the Parani coastline just west of Montazah. Within forty seconds they were reporting heavy flak. Kingfish 1 reported hits to the fuselage and was leaking fuel. He announced he was heading for home and ordered Kingfish 2 to continue to the target area. Two minutes later the unmistakeable sound of an emergency beacon filled our headsets. Kingfish 1 had ejected three miles off the coast near Mazadran. Not a good start. Red Crown immediately dispatched a rescue chopper, and also sent two Dhimari Skyraiders from No.12 Sqn to the vicinity of the crash area to provide air support against Parani patrolboats that would attempt to capture the Marine pilot.

We were now turning at Zaid Island for our attack run when Gunslinger and Kingfish flights got to work. As Wiggins and I flew over the the outskirts of Izmat,we could see Kingfish 2 leaving the vicinity of Flak Battery 2, which was emitting heavy smoke from burning vehicles and AAA batteries. Looked to me like he'd more than made up for the loss of his wingman.

Wiggins was about one hundred and fifty yards ahead of me as we both dropped all our M117s simultaneously over the supply area, then made a wide left climbing turn taking us gradually back over the coast. My Super Sabre shook with the force of eight 750 pounders causing havoc on the ground and my rear view mirror filled with flame and debris. A quick check on the instrument panel. Good – no warning lights.

As we made the turn, Python flight were starting to drop their bombs over Izmat Harbour. I was always the nostalgic type so as we flew over the burning harbour at about two thousand feet I unstrapped my Leica camera and took a quick snapshot for ny scrapbook. Maybe it was a little premature for celebrations because about three seconds later one of Python flight's Mirages took hits in the left wing which ripped off the left inner pylon and its port drop tank, leaving three gaping holes from 23mm shells. Suddenly Red Crown called out bogie actvity in the P3 Airfield vicinity, with at least six heading in our direction. Time to high tail it home.



I just couldn't resist this badly taken photo of Izmat's burning harbour as we made our exit. One of the few remaining AAA cannons can be seen in the process of firing in the photo just below the flaming fuel tanks


When we returned to D3 Airfield later, the damaged 5 Sqn Mirage had to make an emergency landing there as its engine was starting to overheat. After we landed we checked out the Mirage and discovered that the holes were so large you could fit your closed fist through it to the exit hole on the top. There was still no news on the downed leatherneck. The rescue chopper found no sign of him and the Dhimari Skyraiders only saw patrolboats far ahead going in the direction of Suran. Whether the pilot in question was on board, is anyone's guess.

On a brighter note, Dhimari ground forces recaptured Mosak, with heavy air, armour and artillery support. We also heard through the grapevine during the afternoon that the Sixth fleet's USS Forrestal is as we speak heading towards Dhimari waters. Arrival is expected to be January 4th or 5th.


December 30th, 1966

D3 Airfield, Dhimar


2Lt. Milan Battista and I took off for a fighter sweep over the Dhimari border town of Glym, which was still under the control of Parani forces. Situated about 15 miles west of P1 Airfield, the town was currently the focal point of the final Dhimari operations of the day. But it was proving very difficult as Parani forces were still pushing towards the neighbouring town of Najahafi, using the final two hours of daylight to gain as much ground as possible. The Dhimari High Command suspected that they were attempting to push up through Najahafi and then sweep right in order to cut off Mosak, which was only retaken by Dhimar that afternoon. The Parani Air Force were likely to make at least one CAS mission in our patrol area before the day was out, so encountering IL-28s was a high probability. These lumbering attack bombers did seem like easy targets, but they did have a nasty sting in their tail, as Dave Gilmore discovered yesterday.

We cruised at 18,000 ft, heading south-eastwards along the landscape and admiring the spectacular view on both sides, even from this altitude. Though I'm sure it'd be just as unforgiving to anybody unlucky enough to bail out unprepared.

We were at the IP now, and making a left turn towards the direction of P1 Airfield when I noticed a plume of dust on the surface with a trail of smoke heading towards the sky in our direction. s**t!! 'SAM Launch!! SAM Launch!!', I called out on the radio, not realising how high my voice was pitched. We both rolled inverted and made a sudden dive towards the ground, turning 180 degrees towards the airfield midway through. Jeeezuz!! Nobody told me there was a SAM Site at P1! I took a brief look around outside the cockpit and spotted the SAM trail heading upward in the direction we'd come from. After that dive we'd now dropped to 6,000ft and were both looking round earnestly for possible further launches, while flakbursts of various calibres started popping off all around us.

Suddenly, from the north-east, I spotted a glint of silver near the surface about four miles away, as a small group of aircraft caught the reflected light of the sun.

'Bogies at ten o'clock low, angels two, heading 250; you got 'em, two?' The pitch of my voice was rising again.

'Roger, one. I see two bogies. I'm about 600 yards behind you to starboard.'

'Let's go get 'em then. I'll go for the left guy, you go for the right.'

'I'm on him, one.'

Drop tanks were pickled, afterburner was engaged, heart rates were rising......

As we got a little closer the bogies scattered like flies. It was now that the unmistakeable shape of two MiG-17s could be made out. I armed my 20mm cannon and made myself busy by following the MiG, which was currently taking a wide left hand turn in order to try and position himself behind me. Within seconds both the MiG pilot and I were both in a cartwheel formation, trying to place ourselves in a good firing position with each other. I was losing speed fast so I disengaged and dove for the ground to gain airspeed. Then I lit my afterburner as I climbed again, while frantically scanning the sky around me for the MiG. There he was! The guy must have lost me after I suddenly went for the ground and was now 900ft above me at my two o' clock high performing gentle weaving manoeuvres searching for me. God; this guy must be a real greenhorn! I re-engaged my burners and climbed towards him, placing my pipper directly on the MiG. A quick check in my cockpit mirror told me my six was clean. As soon as I judged myself to be close enough I closed my thumb on the firing button and released a two second burst. My heart was going like a piston engine as 20mm HE rounds impacted the mid and rear lower fuselage, eventually taking the entire tail section clean off. The doomed MiG-17 and its runaway tail started cartwheeling to the ground as I levelled off at 5,000ft.

'I GOT HIM!! I GOT HIM!!!' now the pitch of my voice was off the scale.



My first Air-to-Air kill recorded on the F-100's gun camera


Suddenly I became aware of everything else again. S**t......Battista!!

'Two, what's your sitrep?!'

'Get down here ASAP, One. That MiG's hot on my ass! I'm, uhhhh, seven miles north-east of Waypoint 5!!'

As I turned towards Battista's location I increased the throttle. From two miles I spotted tracer fire and then could see both aircraft violently manoeuvring about 1,500ft below me. The MiG was spraying fire in his direction, hoping to get a hit.

'Dodge lead, Red Crown. Multiple bogies, nine o'clock, ten miles. Heading three-two-zero, angels ten. Speed 500 knots.'

Headed straight for us. Great. That's all we needed now.

I was in a gentle curving dive attempting to place my pipper ahead of the MiG-17. This guy was so intent on getting his kill with Battista that he didn't seem to notice me at his four o'clock high as I fired a two second burst ahead of him. By the time he realised what was happening he panicked, and made a climbing right turn – walking straight into a hail of lead from my cannon. His aircraft immediately caught fire and within about a second was diving to the ground, spewing a trail of black smoke and fire in its wake. There was no parachute observed as the dead fighter exploded on the surface of the desert.

'Red Crown, Dodge lead. Request update on inbound bogi..........'

I immediately got my reply from another source as two silver flashes sped past my cockpit. Battista was about a quarter of a mile at my eleven o'clock, and wasted no time taking a hard right turn in pursuit of them. I banked around and followed him.

'Dodge lead, Red Crown. Multiple bogies, six o'clock, one mile. Heading............'

'Yeah, thanks for the scoop numbnuts. I'll take it from here', I thought to myself.

'One, this is Two. Looks like we've got two MiG-21s at my eleven o'clock, starting to turn in opposite directions. I'm going for the port baby.'

'Two, One. Roger.'

I started searching hard on the horizon for the other MiG-21 and almost missed it. It was now about a mile away at my two o' clock heading for the ground as I banked right and lit my burners to catch up with it.

Battista in the meantime had his MiG directly on his 12 o' clock, with the MiG in full afterburner trying to outclimb him. Battista knew that he could never catch up, so while he still had good airspeed selected his Sidewinders and fired a volley of two. The second 'winder went straight for the tailpipe and exploded on contact, sending the MiG into hundreds of burning fragments.

'AY, CARAMBA!!!!! Splash one MiG!!', shouted Battista; sounding just as high pitched as I did.

The final MiG was now in front of me and was successfully out-turning me in a hard left turn. I was moving way too fast so to prevent overtaking him I started performing a couple of high yo-yos in order to try and stay behind him and get into a good firing position. After the third attempt my pipper was in front of him so I fired my guns. He immediately turned hard right to avoid the fire and went into full burner, so within a couple of more seconds I was out of effective gun range. Now he was heading straight for a low level dash at 2,000ft with a well lit up exhaust. What more could my Sidewinders ask for?

As soon as I had a clear tone I fired one, which went straight for the ground. I fired one more and was preparing to fire my third when the second struck the MiG-21 sending a sheet of burning jet fuel and aircraft parts across the landscape.

'Two, this is One, just popped number three!!'

Battista had rejoined me and was about a mile behind when the MiG went up in flames.

'Nice job, One; real nice. Requesting you check joker; I'm currently below bingo. Time to head home pronto.'

Oh crap. I only had just over three thousand pounds of fuel. Battista informed me that he only had eighteen hundred.

As soon as I caught my breath I suddenly realised that my flight suit was drenched in sweat. Red Crown informed us of some Beagle bombers dropping bombs on friendly positions and requested an intercept, but as soon as I informed them of our fuel state they vectored some Dhimari Mirage IIIs from D10 Airfield.

We returned back to base at high altitude in order to conserve fuel. Battista landed first as his fuel state was becoming critical. As I landed in the dusky light I could see crowds of personnel on the flightline. It became clearer as I taxied to the ramp what the story was, as they all cheered and clapped, obviously hearing about my triple kills.



The tower crew capture my triumphant return to D3 Airfield after my triple MiG-kill sweep on December 30th


Ground crew soon informed Battista how lucky his return to base was, when they drained his fuel tanks and recovered 180 pounds!

That evening Colonel Raspberry called me to his office and poured me a strictly hush-hush glass of whiskey which he'd stored in his footlocker.

'You've made a little history today, son. That's why I'm recommending you for the DFC. Keep this up and you'll have Stars and Stripes knocking on your hooch'.As I saluted and turned to walk out of the office; Raspberry grimly added; 'Don't let this streak of luck let you feel complacent, though. If you're not careful it'll jump right up and bite you in the ass when you least expect it!'

Edited by Piecemeal

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