More Skyraider Combat Damage
Major Don "Major Major" Milner was flying as
a Sandy on a SAR mission in southern Laos in March of 1972 when his Skyraider
took a hit from a large caliber AAA weapon. Judging from the size of the
hole in the aircraft, it was more than likely a 57 mm. The SAR involved
the rescue of the two man crew of Nail 31, an OV-10 from NKP. The SAR took
place at the Catcher's Mitt, a notoriousy bad place near Saravane. Major
Milner was able to fly the stricken Skyraider back to NKP. These photos
tell the story of just how badly the aircraft was hit.
These first two images show the same hole in the right flap
made by the 57 mm round. Fortunately, the round did not explode on contact,
but exploded after passing through the flap peppering the aft fuselage with
This is a view of the right side of the aft fuselage of the
same A-1 (134-551). Notice the numerous shrapnel entry holes in the aircraft
This is another view of the right side of the aft fuselage
(Photo courtesy of Jerry Carrigan)
This photograph shows the left aft fuselage of 551. The numerous
bulges in the skin show that this aircraft surface was peppered from the
inside of the aircraft. The shrapnel had passed through the right side of
the fuselage and was unable to penetrate this surface.
The fact that this aircraft remained airworthy after sustaining
such a devastating hit gives ample proof to the durability and toughness
of the Super Spad. Had the round either exploded on impact, or impacted
on the underside of the fuselage, the story might have been different.
A-1H 134-551 was fully repaired and returned to the combat
flying schedule in April. Less than one month later, on 1 May 1972, the
aircraft sustained a hit from an SA-7 and was lost. Some things are just
not meant to be. The Skyraider was being flown by 1Lt Joe Seitz who extracted
safely and was rescued. The story of this mission
is reprinted here from the pages Stars and Stripes.