Aircraft used in Vietnam War

Most of the aircraft used by the United States in the Vietnam War were supersonic jet fighters, which were also used in the ground-attack role, such as the McDonnel F-101 Voodoo, the McDonnel Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the North Aviation F-100 Super Sabre, and the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Other extensively-used military aircraft in Vietnam was the AC-47 Spooky, AC-130 Spectre, and the B-52 Stratofortress.

Entering service with the USAF in 1957, the Voodoo was deployed in Vietnam in 1961; it was a twin-engined interceptor that could fly at the maximum speed of Mach 1.73 (1,134mph) and was armed with four air-to-air AIM-4 Falcon missiles and two Air-Genie nuclear rockets, but in Vietnam it only carried conventional bombs.

Although the F-4 was originally a US Navy carrier-based fighter-bomber, it was also adopted by the USAF; it was the most widely-used aircraft in Vietnam in the fighter, ground-attack, and reconnaissance roles; the Phantom II had a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and was armed with one 20mm cannon, four air-to-air AIM-7 Sparrow missiles; six air-to-ground AIM-65 Maverick tactical missiles, and could carry up to five Mark 84 bombs.

The F-100 was a single-engined supersonic fighter that had a maximum speed of Mach 1.13. Based on Don Muang airfield in Thailand, the Super Sabre first flew over Vietnam in April 1961, engaging Soviet-made, North Vietnamese MiG-17 fighters. The Super Sabre would be replaced by the F-105 Thunderchief, around 1965, in the ground-attack role.

Being able to carry up to 14,000 lb (6,400kg) of ordnance, the Republic F-105 was the main ground-attack fighter-bomber used in Vietnam, participating in Operation Rolling Thunder from March 1965; it was also single-engine but could fly at Mach 2.1.

Nevertheless, there were two other ground-attack aircraft used in this military conflict which were not jet fighters: the AC-47 Spooky and the AC-130 Spectre. They were military transport planes that had been converted into ground-attack, infantry support aircraft as they were armed with thirteen 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, four 20mm Gatling guns, two 40mm Bofors cannons, and one 105mm howitzer (in the AC-130H variant).

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress was the only conventional bomber used in the Vietnam War. It first flew in a combat mission in the skies of Vietnam in Operation Arc Light, on June 18, 1965. However, the peak of the B-52 participation in this armed conflict was in Operation Linebacker II, in December 1972. The B-52 is powered by 8 Pratt & Whitney TF-33-P-3/103 engines and can carry up to 70,000 lb (31,500kg) of bombs and/or missiles.

F-4 Phantom II was the most extensively jet fighter aircraft in Vietnam.


F-100 Super Sabre deployed in Vietnam until 1968.


F-15 Thunderchief had the greatest payload capacity among the jet fighter-bombers.

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