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Spectre623

Commando Vault and the BLU-82

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Saw this on u tube today. It is a museum in Viet Nam. It is an unused BLU-82 (duhh,really?). For all you guys involved with that program...including the maint. and munitions guys, I thought this might bring back some memories. Included are a few pics and one of my M-121,10,000 lb bomb fuse well plug, from a bomb that was dropped from my C-130B outta Clark. 10,000 lb bombs were dropped from the C-130B till they were used up and replaced with the 15,000 lb bomb, the BLU-82. These were used to create helo landing zones and were sometime actually dropped on old Charlie's head. If any of you on this board were involved with this mission, chime in. I know Sam McGowan dropped several and has written some good accounts of the procedure. Bill

Edited by Spectre623

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I was assigned straight out of C-123's in Vietnam to the 4419th Test Sqdn., USAF Tactical Airlift Center at Pope, arriving in March of 1968. We had one aircraft, 63-7768, which only we could fly and best of all, the Wing did the maintenance of which we had the highest priority.

Now, I had never set foot on a C-130 before, except once back in 1961 as a passenger. This didn't seem to faze any of the powers that be in the Sqdn, so they sent me off with a couple of experienced LMs to do the final two test drops of the 10,000 lb bomb drop, known in those days as "Combat Trap". These were tests of the rigging and platform cutaway and used a "shape" that conformed to the size and mass balance properties of the 10K bomb.

The program was designed to use 10,000 lbs that had been produced for the B-36. These were never used, and were stored in caves somewhere in the southwest. New Mexico is what I recall.

At any rate, the drops went fine and the system was cleared for use. One of our crews was going over to Vietnam to demonstrate it using a real bomb. The next problem was that when they went looking for the bombs, they couldn't find them. Took a couple months of searching before they came to light. And of course the rest is history. The system worked so well that they used up all the 10K bombs in no time and went on the produce the BLU-82.

Once they started making instant LZs they quickly discovered that there was no resistance once you cleared some jungle with a big bomb and it didn't take a genius to figure out you could have lots fun dropping it on concentrations of enemy troops.

Down the road the operational program name was changed to "Commando Vault".

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I was reading up on Operation Frequent Wind and came across a word or two from the Crew of the C-130E that had been taken out at Tan Son Nhut prior to the evacuation. They had just dropped off a BLU-82 there at the ammo dump before the mortars took their plane out. I wonder how many BLU-82's the NVA ended up with at the end captured?

Also of note during the USS Mayaguez ordeal shortly after the Fall of Saigon the AF (on request from the on scene Marine Commander) dropped two BLU-82's on the Cambodia division on the Island. This was after President Ford had ordered him to stand down and cease hostilities since the crew had be released from the Mayaguez. The Marine Colonel claimed he never got the word...

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I was reading up on Operation Frequent Wind and came across a word or two from the Crew of the C-130E that had been taken out at Tan Son Nhut prior to the evacuation. They had just dropped off a BLU-82 there at the ammo dump before the mortars took their plane out. I wonder how many BLU-82's the NVA ended up with at the end captured?

Also of note during the USS Mayaguez ordeal shortly after the Fall of Saigon the AF (on request from the on scene Marine Commander) dropped two BLU-82's on the Cambodia division on the Island. This was after President Ford had ordered him to stand down and cease hostilities since the crew had be released from the Mayaguez. The Marine Colonel claimed he never got the word...

Pussy presidents. Good opportunity to demonstrate them to everyone who might get similar ideas. Carter pissed me off when he didn't demonstrate just what would happen to Tehran if hostages weren't released.

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Good link you posted Sam and a mighty fine story you wrote in this months AF Association mag (April 2016) about the Commando Vault mission. Bill

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Great article in AFA this month Sam. While at CRB I had the work order to connect the wiring for the cameras on a "B" that was about to drop a BLU-82 back in 69. Picture was taken and put in Air War over Southeast Asia circa 68-72. Don't like to bragg cause my rt hand is holding my tools and my left is in my pocket. I would have certainly been cited if it were todays AF!

 

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On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2014 at 5:03 PM, jflimbach said:

I was assigned straight out of C-123's in Vietnam to the 4419th Test Sqdn., USAF Tactical Airlift Center at Pope, arriving in March of 1968. We had one aircraft, 63-7768, which only we could fly and best of all, the Wing did the maintenance of which we had the highest priority.

 

Now, I had never set foot on a C-130 before, except once back in 1961 as a passenger. This didn't seem to faze any of the powers that be in the Sqdn, so they sent me off with a couple of experienced LMs to do the final two test drops of the 10,000 lb bomb drop, known in those days as "Combat Trap". These were tests of the rigging and platform cutaway and used a "shape" that conformed to the size and mass balance properties of the 10K bomb.

 

The program was designed to use 10,000 lbs that had been produced for the B-36. These were never used, and were stored in caves somewhere in the southwest. New Mexico is what I recall.

 

At any rate, the drops went fine and the system was cleared for use. One of our crews was going over to Vietnam to demonstrate it using a real bomb. The next problem was that when they went looking for the bombs, they couldn't find them. Took a couple months of searching before they came to light. And of course the rest is history. The system worked so well that they used up all the 10K bombs in no time and went on the produce the BLU-82.

 

Once they started making instant LZs they quickly discovered that there was no resistance once you cleared some jungle with a big bomb and it didn't take a genius to figure out you could have lots fun dropping it on concentrations of enemy troops.

 

Down the road the operational program name was changed to "Commando Vault".

To the best of my knowledge, the first M-121 dropped in SEA was dropped by Major Bob Archer's crew from the 29th TAS. Archer was project officer. The test program was COMBAT TRAP and the operational mission was COMMANDO VAULT. COMMANDO VAULT commenced in early 1969. There were at least a dozen bombs dropped under COMBAT TRAP. Below is the first bomb crew - Bob Archer, Jon O'Donnell, Davy Dawson, Chick Anderson, Mike Huzinko. (Names are in reverse order.) There was no doubt a second loadmaster with them who is not pictured. I believe this photo was taken prior to the first bomb drop. Howie Seaboldt gave it to me just before he died. Archer gave it to him. Archer is still alive and well in Florida.

FYI, I only know of one mission when we dropped on an enemy base camp and it was the first mission I flew. I was in country with a 774th crew with MacArthur Rutherford checking me out. The FAC gave us a BDA of 100 KIA. That's the only time I heard a BDA, maybe because the pilots didn't ask for one. 

 

FirstBombCrew.jpg

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