Dodging Missiles

Thunderchief pilots faced three formidable enemies over North Vietnam: antiaircraft guns, SA-2 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and MiG-17s and -21s. On a recent visit to the National Air and Space Museum retired Air Force Generals Spence “Sam” Armstrong and Michael Nelson recalled what it was like to face those enemies. During the Wild Weasel missions that Nelson describes, the F-105s deliberately tried to smoke out one of these threats. Once they were targeted by enemy radar used to guide SAMs to their airplanes, the F-105 pilots would fire missiles that homed on the enemy signals and destroyed the SAM site. Armstrong also describes one technique he used to escape MiGs: leading them to the “SAM ring.” Knowing the dangers of flying within reach of the SAM’s radar, the MiG pilots would break off their pursuit. Video: airspacemag.com (7:41)

Latest Videos

Preview thumbnail for video'From Aerial America: How did a grizzly bear get on California’s flag?
From Aerial America: How did a grizzly bear get on California’s flag? (3:22)
Preview thumbnail for video'Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road
Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road (3:14)
Preview thumbnail for video'Aerial America: Amazing Destinations
Aerial America: Amazing Destinations (2:25)
Preview thumbnail for video'A Pearl Harbor veteran tells his harrowing story of survival
A Pearl Harbor veteran tells his harrowing story of survival (2:32)
Preview thumbnail for video'Death in the Arctic
Death in the Arctic (3:46)
Preview thumbnail for video'Ospreys Over Afghanistan
Ospreys Over Afghanistan (3:52)
Preview thumbnail for video'Two women who lost families in the same plane crash meet
Two women who lost families in the same plane crash meet (3:22)
Preview thumbnail for video'The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen
The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen (1:31)
Preview thumbnail for video'Witness to disaster
Witness to disaster (2:05)