Aircraft design education in Europe by E. Torenbeek

By E. Torenbeek

Plane layout three (2000) 205 - 206

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Four Zunis could be loaded in a LAU-10 treated-paper, aluminium-skinned launcher, and F-4Bs could carry up to ten pods – four, plus bombs or napalm was a more usual load, however. 4. A twin-tube LAU-33A/A launcher was also available, often fitted to the inboard LAU-17 wing pylon. The weapon was used against AAA by several squadrons including VMFA-314, for whom it was a standard fit for air-to-ground missions. ‘It was a great weapon to get the gunners’ attention in North Vietnam or Laos’, Maj Gen ‘Lancer’ Sullivan explained.

MAG-11 comprised the ‘Gray Ghosts’’ replacement, VMFA-513, from June until October 1965, as well as VMFA-542 for the first of its two deployments to Da Nang from July 1965. In October 1965 VMFA-115 made the first of six deployments to bases in the area, and VMFA-323 arrived in December, followed by VMFA-314 in January 1966. Marine Corps expansion beyond two F-4 units in theatre – even with the addition of a second parallel runway at Da Nang – was clearly unfeasible, as monthly aircraft movements at the base approached 50,000.

The chances of aerial combat were slight on the F-4 squadrons’ in-country missions, although a token missile load was often carried. In general, as Col Kiely observed, ‘Restrictive rules of engagement reduced the air combat potential of the F-4 by limiting AIM-7 Sparrow use to visual identification range. Carrying four AIM-7s and four AIM-9s [the standard configuration for air-to-air], along with bombs and external tanks, weighed the F-4 down with a large drag index. For that reason Marine F-4s often carried no air-to-air weapons or, at most, two AIM-9 Sidewinders’.

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