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Date: 1 May 1972
Aircraft type: O-2A Skymaster
Serial Number: unknown
Military Unit: 20 TASS, 366 TFW
Service: USAF
Home Base: Da Nang
1Lt W L Jankowski (Survived)

On 1 May the city of Quang Tri fell to the North Vietnamese invaders. Four HH-53s made a daring emergency evacuation of 132 American and South Vietnamese troops under intense close quarter fire. Throughout the day FAC aircraft brought in air strike after air strike on the enemy forces surrounding the city. The only fixed-wing aircraft lost during the evacuation was an O-2 FAC (call sign Bilk) that was shot down near Quang Tri on 1 May. 1Lt Jankowski bailed out safely from his aircraft and was later recovered. This was the first confirmed US fixed-wing aircraft lost to the new SA-7 Strela man-portable missile. The 57 inch-long missile guided to the heat produced by the aircraft’s engines and was a particular threat to slow-moving aircraft and helicopters, especially at altitudes below about 6,000 feet. While the missile’s 1.15-kg warhead was large enough to cause fatal damage to an aircraft’s structure, a hit by an SA-7 did not always result in total destruction. Between 1972 and 1975 the North Vietnamese fired 589 SA-7s resulting in 204 hits, although not every hit resulted in a shoot down.

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