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Dien Bien Phu 1954

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  • Dien Bien Phu 1954

    Does anybody have information about the French squadron of B-24's that provided air support to French troops? I'm specifically interested in how they were utilized. Did they bomb from high altitude or were they low altitude close air support? Any pictures of the planes in French markings?
    Proud to be an American Veteran

  • #2
    Originally posted by ElefantPanzer View Post
    Does anybody have information about the French squadron of B-24's that provided air support to French troops? I'm specifically interested in how they were utilized. Did they bomb from high altitude or were they low altitude close air support? Any pictures of the planes in French markings?
    Not that i am anything of an expert on DBP, but I have never heard of B-24s providing air support. Can you give a link or point me to reading on that subject?
    There are no stupid questions,but there are alot of inquisitive idiots. -Hankwill

    "A special breed of man will sacrifice everything for the security and freedom of so many unthankful others"
    - Ron Piper

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    • #3
      Isn't the Irish Colonel our expert on the French portion of the war?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ElefantPanzer View Post
        Does anybody have information about the French squadron of B-24's that provided air support to French troops? I'm specifically interested in how they were utilized. Did they bomb from high altitude or were they low altitude close air support? Any pictures of the planes in French markings?
        Perhaps this may lead to some clues.

        http://books.google.com/books?id=BNA...%20phu&f=false
        Youthful Exuberance Is No Match For Old Age And Treachery.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by don744 View Post
          Not that i am anything of an expert on DBP, but I have never heard of B-24s providing air support. Can you give a link or point me to reading on that subject?
          It was an interview on You Tube of a French Legionnaire. He talked about getting air support from B-24's. I thought I saved the video to my playlist but it's not there.

          Thanks for the link HMS. I'll check it out.
          Proud to be an American Veteran

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          • #6
            Try these YouTube hits to see if you can find the one you had. All have FFF/DBP as keywords.

            https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...be.25IkU08Fbxs
            Youthful Exuberance Is No Match For Old Age And Treachery.

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            • #7
              Bingo. Here you go. The minor difficulty in finding what you wanted will be apparent in short order...was looking for B when A was aircraft designation.

              Go here for video:

              http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65...pped_explosion


              Youthful Exuberance Is No Match For Old Age And Treachery.

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              • #8
                28th Bomber Squadron(28F), PB4Y Privateer, Hai Phong (Cat Bi)

                http://www.frenchwings.net/indochina...s.php?album=20

                http://www.netmarine.net/aero/unites...oire/ant28.htm

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                • #9
                  The distinguished American gentleman of Irish (and French) descent is busy plowing his way through "Indochina - An Ambiguous Colonization 1858-1954" by Pierre Brocheux and Deniel Hemery. He is absolutely fascinated with the parallels between the French colonial rule of Vietnam and that of the present government. The citizens appear to have had about the same amount of say in colonial government affairs as they do under the present regime, and both the French colonial model and current model are those of state directed economies. That is his first impression, and he is presently mired in the intricacies of the colonial banking system. All here will be happy to learn that HSBC was a partner of the Bank of Indochina.

                  But, regarding the mundane matter of Dien Bien Phu. The French Navy had Privateers, which were a modified B-24 aircraft. I believe someone had mis-identified them. All his searches for B-24 Indochina bring up the myriad raids by American B-24s up and down Indochina during WWII. Not a mention of the post war period.

                  But, being a member of the muddy boot fraternity, his judgments on Air matters may be seriously flawed. (Case in point: his distinguished Polish-Viet colleague has beaten him to the punch. Aaargh!)

                  ps, Altus, note the difference in the B-26 photo posted and the Privateers in the links you posted. One has two engines, the other four.
                  Last edited by lirelou; 27 Apr 13, 17:29.
                  dit: Lirelou

                  Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HMS, Jr. View Post
                    Bingo. Here you go. The minor difficulty in finding what you wanted will be apparent in short order...was looking for B when A was aircraft designation.

                    Go here for video:

                    http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65...pped_explosion


                    OK, that makes sense. Thank you.
                    Proud to be an American Veteran

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                    • #11
                      Thread moved to Indochina forum.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lirelou View Post
                        Altus, note the difference in the B-26 photo posted and the Privateers in the links you posted. One has two engines, the other four.
                        The Viet Minh AAA unit who shot them down were credited with downing B-24 Liberators all the same. ;-)

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                        • #13
                          Altus, those crafty VM gunners brought down a B-24 (modified as a Privateer) on 8 May according to Jean Carpentier, a member of the crew. His account is contained in "Les Soldats Perdus: Prisonniers en Indochine 1945 - 1954, published in France by Indo Editions.

                          Though DBP officially fell at 17:00 hours on 7 May, Isabelle was still reported holding out as late as 03:00 on 8 May, so a flight of "four engined Privateers" was sent out to assist. Carpentier's aircraft was call sign "Cesar Six". Having had to switch out parachutes that were wet from the previous night's mission, he ended up being the tail gunner on 8 May. Arriving over Dien Bien Phu they dropped a load of bombs to cut a road, but one bomb failed to drop so they had to leave the bay open and look for a place to manually shake it loose. While one crewman was doing that, someone spotted some trucks. The Pilot, Naval Lieutenant Monguillon, ordered the rest of the crew to their guns. AAA fire started coming up. Carpentier made his way to the tail gun. As he opened fire on the AAA positions passing below him the tone of crew intercom exchanges changed dramatically and he felt the aircraft shake. He got out of his turret temporarily to assist a gunner in one of the side turrets, but that gunner was out already, so he returned to the tail gun turret and noticed sparks and then flames from the side. Since this was his first time on the tail gun, he wondered if that were normal. One of his .50 calibers jammed. He kept firing with the other. He tried to raise the pilot on his intercom, but it was out. The aircrfaft gave several severe bumps. Carpentier opened his hatch door and dense smoke filled the turret. He crawled out. choking in the smoke, made his way to the parachute rack, one was burning. He grabbed a parachute, made his way to the hatch used for aerial photos. It was open, he paused to consider looking for his mates but the smoke was blinding and the aircraft obviously going down, so he jumped through the hatch without hooking up his parachute static line. He caught a look at his aircraft, whose whole right side was in flames. Seconds later, the aircraft came apart, with one two-motored side spinning down into a crash and fiery explosion. Behind him, he spotted two other parachutes some distance away. The road to Na San was below. He saw ten to fifteen Bo Dois running to where he would fall, and then he felt the burns on his face and hands for the first time. He landed in a tree and a young woman passing with a balancing pole on her shoulder spotted him. He climbed down and took off, managing to evade search parties that day despite some close calls.

                          By nightfall he was beginning to hope he'd run into a French post, or at the very least some friendly Vietnamese, but he ended up being captured and was held until sometime after 18 August 1954. Needless to say, he was in bad shape, and spent months in recuperation, first in Haiphong, then Dalat, then Saigon, but the medical treatment was haphazard. Suffering from pains in a testicle, he sought medical treatment and was ignored by the staff, so a Vietnamese girl he'd met took him to a Vietnamese doctor who treated him for a variety of ailments.

                          What is interesting about Carpentier's account is that he did not speak Vietnamese, had never had any official contacts with them prior to his capture, yet he did not view them as some alien race. He expected that a certain number among the population sympathized with the French, and he even expected some Bo Dois to be favorably disposed to the French, and he was not disappointed.

                          His treatment by his fellow French upon returning home matches the experiences of some forum members here.
                          dit: Lirelou

                          Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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                          • #14
                            Thank you, Colonel, for conveying this rare account to the forum.

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                            • #15
                              According to Bernard Fall, in his 1966 book about Dien Bien Phu, Hell in a Very Small Place, appendix C, there were F8F Bearcats, SB-2C Helldivers, F6F Hellcats and F4U Corsairs for ground support. B-26 and PB-4Y2 Privateers, which were basically Navy B-24s. They also had C-47 Dakotas (DC-3) and C-119 Flying Boxcars. Most were from the US, but pilots, not aircraft were in short supply. After the first day drop which used French officer pilots and required even the commanding general to fly in order to secure enough pilots for the 66 transports used civilian pilots flew most of the missions to Dien Bien Phu. A few other transports were available too, C-46s, 307B Stratoliners, DC4 Skymasters and Bristol 170s. together with liaison and miscellaneous light aircraft like Bird Dogs, Beavers, Crickets, Martinets and Moranes and even a few helicopters.

                              One of the many problems with Dien Bien Phu was a bombing attack or supply mission had to pass through predictable airspace, allowing concentrated fire from light weapons and then light AA in the surrounding mountains to reduce and finally eliminate air resupply.
                              "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

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