New Air Sorties and Naval Gunfire Support data

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Air Sorties:

The website now has over 2,249,000 air sorties plotted on the battle map. To see the air sorties, select ‘Battle Map’, then go to the ‘stacked map’ symbol in the top right of the screen and click the ‘Air sorties’ button. The air sorties displayed include USAF, USMC, USN, Vietnamese, Australian and other air sorties against targets throughout South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and eastern Thailand. Many of the missions shown are electronic warfare, reconnaissance, air refuelling and other non-combat missions. The data can be filtered (by clicking the ‘funnel’ symbol) according to ‘mission function’, ‘service supported’, ‘launch base’, ‘aircraft type’, ‘target objective’ and other functions.

Try selecting AC-130 as the aircraft type, then click ‘Apply Filter’, you’ll see 15,658 AC-130 strikes, mainly on PAVN trucks using the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Naval Gunfire Missions:

To see over 104,000 Naval Gunfire Support missions, go to the ‘stacked maps’ symbol and click ‘Naval gunfire missions’. The naval gunfire missions are those fired by USN, Vietnamese and Australian warships along the coast of South Vietnam and North Vietnam. The naval gunfire missions can be filtered by ‘ship type’, ‘ship name’, ‘operation type’, ‘target type’ and other functions. By selecting the RAN ships (Vendetta, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart) and then clicking ‘Apply Filter’, you will see most of the RAN naval gunfire missions against North Vietnam.

Some problems with the data:

There are some errors in the data. A number of air sorties are show as providing close air support to targets apparently located in the South China Sea. Some naval gunfire missions in support of ground operations are also shown hitting targets well out to sea, or too far inland to be correctly plotted. However, we can only work with the data as it exists in the archived records. But on the whole, it appears that most air sorties and naval gunfire missions are plotted accurately.

There are also some other problems with the data. For example, the air sorties data does not allow us to extract the Canberra bomber (B-57) missions flown by 2 Squadron RAAF. The data shows all B-57 missions flown out of Phan Rang, but because there was a US squadron flying B-57s also based at Phan Rang, we are unable to distinguish between the Australian and US missions. Those interested in this issue should note that Australian B-57 missions were restricted to South Vietnam so any mission flown in North Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia is likely to be a US B-57 mission.

Similarly, there are some problems with the Australian naval gunfire support (NGS) mission data. For some reason, the data for Australian NGS missions fired into the coast of Vietnam north of Quy Nhon includes the target grid reference and are therefore plotted on the battle map. But those fired into South Vietnam don’t include the target grid reference and therefore can’t be plotted on the battle map. We’re going to attempt to fix this problem by capturing the missing target grid references from RAN Records of Proceedings, but that is going to take some time.

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