I just reviewed the new pictures on the A/101 web site. Great one of the Thunderbird with the Mini Gun pods. I actually crewed the ship one day. I took over for the Crew Chief who was on R&R at the time. All I remember is at the end of the day I was happy to get home. Three days later when my hearing returned I could finally tell someone about it and hear what they were saying back to me. As I recall, correct me if I'm wrong and maybe Mike Wells can confirm this, we got the pods from the Air Force up in Saigon. One of our Warrants, Mr. Flippen, had a father who was in the Air Force and in-charge of weapons procurement in Saigon. I also recall a few days after my stint on that ship we were flying with a heavy fire team. The Mini Gun Ship was in the tail position. The lead ship spotted a line of about ten water buffalo with riders on each one. My ship flew by and I spotted guns strapped under their bellies. I took out the last Two buffaloes and riders in the line as we past. The Mini Gun Ship, with a three-second bust, took out all the rest. As I stated above, these were Air Force Mini Guns, off of an F-4 Phantom. Their Cyclic Rate of Fire was 6,600 rounds per minute, not the 4,400 rounds/minute like the Army eventually came out with. I never got a picture of that set up. Glad to see someone else had taken a shot of it. To load this gun the Armorers had to take linked ammo and put it into a De-linker. It looked like a coffee grinder that hooked up to the Mini Guns hopper. This tool, when hand cranked separated each bullet and ejected the links. The Ammo just laid in this hopper affair and when fired the ammo funneled down a chute to the chamber area.
CO A 101 Avn Btln, 101st Airborne
Soc Trang RVN Sept 65 to Sept 66
CE Warrior 25 and Thunderbird #1
After reading about the mini-gun experiment (which I remember), I also remembered an experiment I conducted. Jack should also remember that we also got some 32 rocket pods from the Air Force. We thought we could mount them on the Hog in place of the 24 rocket pods. The 32's were round and we didn't know how they would fire with
our fire control box. So Cpt. Robert Knight, the platoon leader, asked for a volunteer to fly the Hog. I, like an idiot, said sure! What's the worst that could happen? If they salvo, so what! Well, my first clue to trouble should have been when they put sandbags in the left seat! Just me and the sand bags!!! We loaded up the pods and went out to range Alpha (a free fire zone east of Soc Trang). A heavy fire team (three ships) was providing cover and later I found out that Dust Off was on alert! I set the fire control box to fire one pair. When I pulled the chinese hat, they all salvoed! It was quite a ride but I didn't think anything was wrong until I looked at my air speed and it was at zero! Everyone came on the radio at once and asked if I was all right. Seems that the air speed not only went to zero with the rocket back blast, but they said I actually backed up! Since these were disposable rocket pods, we disposed of them and never tried them again.
T-Bird 2, Feb. to June 1966
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