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"Must read books about the air war in Viet Nam?" Topic

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591 hits since 23 Mar 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Andrew Walters23 Mar 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

My reading has been a little random. Is there a classic, a go-to, a must read book or two?

Personally, I highly Recommend Clashes and Eleven Days of Christmas by Marshall Michel

Fatman Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 8:23 a.m. PST

If you have read clashes you have read the must read one.


mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 8:24 a.m. PST

Going Downtown and Thunder Ridge by Jack Broughton;

When Thunder Rolled by Ed Rasimus;

100 Missions North by Ken Bell.

Andrew Walters23 Mar 2017 8:28 a.m. PST


I read Thud Ridge, excellent book, though I won't re-read it. But that's a personal account and I am looking for overviews, I should have specified.

Cheating Death by George Marett is a great one about CSAR.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 8:35 a.m. PST

This isn't a technical/operational overview, but I've always liked Air War: Vietnam by Frank Harvey. It's a series of essays/stories by a journalist who had access to field operations and samples almost every area of the air war.


Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

Agree re Clashes.

Onomarchos Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 9:00 a.m. PST

Clashes is what you are looking for.


Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

One Day in a Long War goes over the opening day of Operation Linebacker which saw over 300 missions in a 24 hour period against North Vietnam. Pretty much everyone who you've read about in Vietnam air to air combat was there that day.

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 11:30 a.m. PST

I just finished reading this and it is very good.
"SETUP What the Air Force did in Vietnam and Why", by Earnest H Tilford Jr (Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama 36112-5532) 1991

PDF link

also recently discussed in this thread:

TMP link

It is a policy and high level analysis of the USAF that looks at the institution, it's history and the context of that in it's role in Vietnam. Not a rah rah heroes book, but a sound critique. Highly recommend it.

BattlerBritain23 Mar 2017 1:26 p.m. PST

One book you might be able to get is a Squadron+Signal publication '..And Kill Migs' by Lou Drendel.

It covers the whole Vietnam Air War with photos throughout and accounts of flights by pilots.

It's my go-to book for Vietnam Air War as it gives a great feeling of what it was like at that time.

'One Day in a Long War' is also pretty good.

Mako11 Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

Clashes, for sure.

Some of the others mentioned as well, too.

CAG 1924 Mar 2017 5:25 a.m. PST

The ones I have which contribute to my gaming efforts

Operations over Vietnam

Dorr, Robert F. Air War Hanoi (Chichester: Guild Publishing, 1988).
Michel III, Marshall L. Clashes: Air Combat over North Vietnam 1965 1972 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
Hobson, Chris. Vietnam Air Losses: United States Airforce, Navy and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in SEA 1961-1973 (Hinckley: Midland Publishing, 2001).
Nicols, John B. and Tillman, Barrett. On Yankee Station: Naval Air War Over Vietnam (Airlife Publishing Ltd, 1997).
Ethell, Jeffrey. and Price, Alfred. One Day in A Long War May 10, 1972 Air War, North Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1989).

Specific Aircraft Histories over Vietnam

Elward, B and Davies P. US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1965-70 (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001).
Elward, B and Davies P. US Navy F-4 Phantom II MiG Killers 1972-73 (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002).
Powell, Robert R. RA-5C Vigilante Units in Combat (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2004).
Burgess, Richard R. and Rausa, Rosario M. US Navy A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009).
Toperczer, Istvan. MiG-17 and MiG-19 Units of the Vietnam War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001).
Mersky, Peter. F-8 Crusader Units of the Vietnam War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1998).
Birzer, Norman and Mersky, Peter. US Navy A-7 Corsair II Units of the Vietnam War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2004).
Mersky, Peter. US Navy and Marine Corps A-4 Skyhawk Units of the Vietnam War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2007).

Ferd4523124 Mar 2017 6:43 a.m. PST

I know that George Nafziger just published two USAF studies (recently declassified) on Rolling Thunder and Linebacker. Those books give a great deal of technical data and analysis. Nafziger collection.

Ghecko Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

If your looking for a good read, a novel – Taxi Dancer by Joe T Heywood.

Mako11 Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 6:43 p.m. PST

Make sure to check the TMP message archives on this, if that's not the link to it above, since there are lots of great books on the Vietnam Air War.

Last of the Gunfighters, if you're interested in the F-8 Crusader.

miscmini Fezian27 Mar 2017 5:00 p.m. PST

My favorites – mostly personal accounts, not strictly Vietnam but within a country or two.
Cheating Death: Combat Air Rescues in Vietnam and Laos
Meeting Steve Canyon: …and Flying with the CIA in Laos
A Lonely Kind of War
Palace Cobra: A Fighter Pilot in the Vietnam Air War
When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot Over North Vietnam
The Ravens
Air America
Thud Ridge
Going Downtown: The War Against Hanoi and Washington
Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Beyond the Call of Duty: The Story of an American Hero

Windward Inactive Member31 Mar 2017 10:01 a.m. PST

I've been working on my Tonkin Gulf book for CY6:JA scenarios for the past few years, here are some of my suggestions:

Grant, Zalin Over the Beach The Air War in Vietnam New York: Pocket Books, 1988
Interesting to read in combination with this paper:
Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library link Effects of leadership on Carrier Air Wing Sixteen's loss rate during Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968. Fay, Peter 2006

Gray, Stephen Rampant Raider an A-4 Skyhawk Pilot in Vietnam Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007
Nichols, John and Tillman, Barrett On Yankee Station The Naval Air War over Vietnam Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987

This is hands down the best history of the Navy's air combat:
O'Connor, Michael MiG Killers of Yankee Station Friendship: New Past Press, 2003

A good history for why Navy F-4s were unsuccessful in Rolling Thunder, yet dominated in Linebacker the formation of Top Gun:
Wilcox, Robert K Scream of Eagles New York: Pocket Books, 1990

For pure fun and interest, these are great. Fipp's is the best by far, seeming written from a diary, its life in the wardroom of a carrier. Petty BS, dislikes, friendships, just a great read.
Fipp, Bernard Triple Sticks Tales of a Few Young Men in the 1960s Parker, CO: Outskirts Press, 2010

Life in an A-6
Bryans, Brian K. Flying Low Raleigh, NC: Lulu Publishing 2013

Viper guy Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2017 7:03 p.m. PST

To Hanoi and Back by Wayne Thompson. A must for an overview of the air war from the strategic to tactical. Very well done.

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