The C-130 Hercules in Southeast Asia (Apr 1965)
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is undoubtedly one of the most successful transport aircraft designs of all time. First flown in 1954 the aircraft has been developed into numerous versions and is still in production in 2019 having been delivered to 74 air arms throughout the world. The Hercules was used in Southeast Asia by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in a variety of roles in addition to its original role of tactical transport. The USAF detached aircraft and crews from their home bases to various airfields in South Vietnam; 22 squadrons from PACAF contributed the main tactical transport force supplemented by aircraft from five Stateside Wings. The C-130’s ability to fly into fairly basic airfields was vital to some of the more remote outposts which relied on resupply from the air. The USAF also used the Hercules for special operations, flare dropping, drone direction, electronic warfare, airborne command post, search and rescue control and tanker, and gunship. The USAF lost a total of 59 C-130s and six AC-130s in Southeast Asia; 13 of these were destroyed in air base attacks.
The Marine Corps’ VMGR-152 squadron maintained a detachment of KC-130F tanker/transports at Da Nang from 1965 to 1971. Four aircraft were lost, including one which was shot down at Khe Sanh while on a resupply flight during the siege. Another KC-130F was lost during a tragic collision while refuelling two Phantoms on 18 May 1969.
The US Navy used a small number of Hercules in its transport squadrons for logistics flights to Southeast Asia. The only Navy C-130 lost during the war was an aircraft from VR-7 which exploded soon after taking off from Cam Ranh Bay, possibly as a result of sabotage.