Air Enthusiast 1996-11
A.Grandolini - French 'Packets'
Fairchild C-119C-23-FA 51-2571, formerly belonging to the 65th TCS ‘Packet Rats’ of the 403rd TCC.
C-119C 12545 of ‘Detachement C-119’ seen at Cat Bi at the beginning of the Dien Bien Phu battle. A green quadrant nose indicated that this aircraft formerly belonged to the 61st TCS ‘Green Hornets’ of the 314th TCG based at Ashiya in Japan. Note the discarded clamshell door.
An American mercenary pilot inspecting the blades of the left engine before a sortie. The red roundel on the nose, indicated that the aircraft formerly belonged to the 63rd TCS ‘Flying Jennies’ of the 403rd TCG.
A flight of ‘Aeronavale’ Grumman F6F-5s breaking off over the Cat Bi air base. The Hellcats were specially engaged on anti-flak missions and close escort of the C-119s.
This aircraft was forced to land at Dien Bien Phu on December 11, 1953, by Lt Oustric after one of its engines shut off. Once repaired, he flew back to Haiphong the next day, with ‘Capitaine’ Soulat at the controls, after a hair raising take-off on the short runway.
‘Rose Marie’, a former C-119C belonging to the 63rd TCS/403rd TCG, retained the beautiful pin-up painted on its fuselage.
Конечно, вместительные C-119 были эффективнее старых "Дакот", но их было не так много, чтобы вытеснить этих заслуженных ветеранов с боевой линии.
The loading of supplies aboard a C-119C-13-FA. During the final stage of the Dien Bien Phu battle, only 220 lb bundles were dropped in order to make it easier for them to be collected.
A bulldozer is loaded - it was used to re-open the Dien Bien Phu runway on December 25, 1953. Note besides the French military are some American ‘Flying Tigers’ wearing civilian clothes.
The only mass personnel drops carried out by the ‘Packets’ in Indochina were between March 14 and 16, when the 6th Colonial Parachute battalion and the 5th Vietnamese Parachute battalion were sent as reinforcements to Dien Bien Phu. Vietnamese paratroopers boarding a C-119.
Head-on view of a C-119, beside it, one of the ‘Flying Tigers’ was trying to tame a Vespa motorcycle, then very popular with the American mercenaries. They bought several dozen more, loaded them on board a C-119 and headed to Taiwan. On route, one of the engines shut off and the crew was obliged to dump the entire load into the China Sea to lighten the aircraft!
A C-119C on the parking area at Cat Hi air base - the French officer posing beside it provides scale. The red quadrant painted on the nose, indicated that the aircraft formerly belonged to the 50th TCS ‘Red Devils ’ of the 314th TCG.
During the final stage of the Dien Bien Phu battle, the USAF instituted an air bridge to deliver ammunition and spare parts to Indochina, leaving the French ‘Packets’ to fly only internal missions. This view - from the top hatch of an Invader - shows a C-54 and C-119 of the 315th Air Division of Misawa operating from Cat Bi. At centre is an ‘Aeronavale’ PB4Y Privateer of 28F and in front of the C-54 Dragon Rapide F-BAHY.
Line-up of ‘Packets ’ on the parking ramp at Cat Bi, near Haiphong. Nearly all the aircraft flew with the cargo doors removed.
A group of C-119s, headed by C-119C-13-FA 49-137 taxiing out in the rain to drop supplies to the Dien Bien Phu garrison.
One of the first C-119Cs (51-2563) arriving at Cat Bi in May 1953, as part of Operation ‘Swivel Chair'. It still wears its former USAF markings which were promptly replaced by more orthodox ‘Armee de I’Air’ markings.
From mid-march 1954, the C-119s were sent to drop napalm tanks over communist positions around Dien Bien Phu. This poor quality picture shows a formation of 'Packets’ during one of these bombing missions.
A rear view from the cargo compartment of a ‘Packet’ which just had dropped its load of barbed wire, destined for the defenders of Dien Bien Phu. The C-119s usually flew without cargo doors for the supply missions.
On April 23,1954, this aircraft flown by CAT pilot Paul Holden was hit by Vietminh anti-aircraft fire. The 37mm shell exploded just inside the cockpit compartment, badly injuring the pilot.
Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar.