By István Toperczer
The erstwhile enemy of the USAF and US army in the course of the 9 years of yankee involvement within the Vietnam struggle (1955-1975), the Vietnamese Peoples' Air strength (VPAF) speedy grew from an ill-organised rabble of poorly expert pilots flying antiquated communist plane right into a powerful scuffling with strength that greater than held its personal over the skies of North Vietnam. Flying Soviet combatants just like the MiG-17, and -19, the VPAF produced over a dozen aces, while the americans controlled simply pilots and 3 navigators within the similar interval
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Extra info for MiG 17 and MiG 19 Units of the Vietnam War
At the beginning of November 1968, President Johnson announced a unilateral cessation of bombing. Between 3 March 1965 and 31 October 1968, the VPAF had flown 1602 missions and claimed 218 US aircraft (of 19 different types) shot down. The Americans admitted to the loss of 50 aircraft to MiGs, and in turn claimed to have downed no fewer than 87 MiG-17s and 34 MiG-21 s (plus two An-2s). American pilots were better trained and numerically superior to their counterparts in the VPAF, although the latter had steadily improved their tactics and airmanship to the point where they could mount a satisfactory response to attacks, and provide Hanoi with effective protection.
In the wake of these losses, Gen Van Tien Dung told the VPAF to conserve its resources, and for a time the fighters avoided action, except for a few cases, and even then only against defenceless EB-66 electronic warfare aircraft. From the middle of June, meetings were held to discuss why the VPAF had taken such a beating in the previous weeks. It was discovered that the enemy had developed new air combat tactics, and switched to two-level formations, leaving the Vietnamese to continue its employment of now dated intercept procedures and manoeuvres.
Initially, the MiG-17 pilots flew tight formations, with just 50-100 m separation between lead and wingman, and 100-200 m between the two pairs. This may have been good for formation display flying but not for combat, as it required the pilots to concentrate too much on each other in order to maintain position, rather than keeping a look-out of the enemy. Other tactical disadvantages stemmed from the lack of opportunity to show individual initiative. Learning from these early losses, the VPAF spread the formations to 600-800 m between aircraft and 800-1200 m between the pairs.