D Troop’s aircraft complement originally consisted of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, known more readily by its fabled moniker "Huey", and the Hiller OH-23G. There were multiple variants of the UH-1 in service at any given time, including the UH-1B, UH-lC, and UH-1D. Later in the tour of The Original D Troop, some surviving D's were updated and redesignated UH-1H's.) OH-23 “Scouts” carried a crew of two, a pilot and the aircraft crewchief, who also doubled as an observer/gunner. Designated “Leprechauns” in the Irish Shamrock scheme, crews preferred their own nickname “Tree Top Airlines”. Scouts flew low and slow over terrain in hopes of spotting the enemy who frequently responded with ground fire. The little OH-23's inspired fierce loyalty among their crews. Perhaps no aircraft is more identifiable with a conflict than the UH-1 "Huey" is identified with the Vietnam War. Their familiar “Wop Wop” sound was known to every GI who ever served in Vietnam. Tough and versatile, they were the workhorse of the war, flying everything from intense LZ attacks, to convoy escort, to carrying troops and supplies, to “medevac” missions. B and C model Hueys were used as heavily armed “gunships”, while the larger fuselage D and H models were used to ferry D Troop’s Aero Rifle Platoon and a wide range of cargo, official and unofficial. Though Central Highlands altitude and the aircraft’s heavy loads sometimes made for adventurous take offs, Hueys earned all the respect given to them by their crews and those on the ground who depended on them for support and protection. In late 1968, D Troop’s B and C Model gunships were replaced by AH-1C, a UH-1 based aircraft designed specifically as a weapons platform, with a two-man crew (pilot and co-pilot/gunnery officer) and a slim profile that provided a smaller target for ground based fire. Fast and maneuverable, a fully armed (rockets, grenades, and machine guns) Cobra was a formidable weapon in the hands of a skilled crew. OH-23's were replaced with the turbine powered Hughes/MD OH-6A "Cayuse", which was faster and able to carry heavier armament. Scout crews loved the highly maneuverable and agile aircraft that became known as the "Loach", a derivation of its LOH (Light Observation Helicopter) acronym. The final addition to D Troop's arsenal was the OH-58A "Kiowa" replacing the OH-6A's as Scouts. Based on a Bell civilian design, the OH-58A had a top speed of well over 100mph and could be adapted to perform troop carrying, light lifting, and cargo hauling duties, as well. First placed in service in Vietnam in 1969, OH-58A's were in D Troop's inventory through the remainder of the units deployment in Vietnam. Service records show that 7,013 Hueys served in the Vietnam War. Almost all were Army. 3,305 were destroyed with the loss of 1.074 pilots and 1,103 enlisted crew members. Army UH-1's totaled 7,532,955 flight hours in the Vietnam War between October 1966 (when D Troop 1/10th Cav went into combat) and the end of 1975. The Huey Cobra (AH-1G) had 1,038,969 flight hours in Vietnam. Combined, Hueys have more combat flight time than any other aircraft in the history of warfare. (Statistics compiled by Gary Roush, http://www.vhfcn.org/stat.htm.) MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions in Vietnam. Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half were American). The average time lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a result, less than one percent of all Americans wounded who survived the first 24 hours died.
Sign on the Scout platoon enlisted crew hootch. “Snoopy” flies the tree tops filled with crewmember names, and proudly proclaims “If You Have Balls, Fly With Us.” (P. M. Maldonado
Mike Baker and OH-23 at Dragon Mountain (p. J. Bergquist)
UH-1B, loaded and ready, on a mission. (p. M. Maldonado)
“Snake” – AH-1C at Lane AAF, Qui Nhon, ‘70, (p. Dan Riefsteck)
OH-6 “Loach” with D/10 Cav markings, at An Khe.
Newly arrived OH-58, c. 1970. (p. B. Melvin). Variants remain in Army service.
OH-6A after “sapper” attack at Ahn-Khe (P. B. Melvin)
Checking out the New Guy (P. B. Melvin)
The Maintenance Platoon kept ‘em running (p. B. Melvin)