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 SAMs radar, the MiG pilots would break off their pursuit. Video: airspacemag.com (7:41)

Latest Videos

Preview thumbnail for video'5 Kitchen Objects Inspired By NASA
5 Kitchen Objects Inspired By NASA (2:24)
Preview thumbnail for video'A Moon Sample Reveals A Surprising Link To Earth
A Moon Sample Reveals A Surprising Link To Earth (2:04)
Preview thumbnail for video'Apollo 13's Intense Comms Blackout
Apollo 13's Intense Comms Blackout (3:47)
Preview thumbnail for video'The Design Of The Lunar Rover Was Mostly Guesswork
The Design Of The Lunar Rover Was Mostly Guesswork (2:37)
Preview thumbnail for video'How Neil Armstrong Saved The Gemini 8 Spacecraft
How Neil Armstrong Saved The Gemini 8 Spacecraft (3:20)
Preview thumbnail for video'This Legless Pilot Was A World War II Flying Ace
This Legless Pilot Was A World War II Flying Ace (3:40)
Preview thumbnail for video'These British Fighter Planes Ruled The Skies Of Dunkirk
These British Fighter Planes Ruled The Skies Of Dunkirk (4:00)
Preview thumbnail for video'How Angled Flight Decks Revolutionized Aircraft Carrier Flight Decks
How Angled Flight Decks Revolutionized Aircraft Carrier Flight Decks (2:53)
Preview thumbnail for video'This Apollo 8 astronaut took the famous
This Apollo 8 astronaut took the famous "Earthrise" photograph (2:43)