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Join date : 2010-09-15

 French colonial-era Empty
PostSubject: French colonial-era    French colonial-era EmptyWed Dec 15, 2010 4:41 am

Quoc and Cu, who were trained in France and the United States, respectively, were given orders to fly from Saigon to the Mekong Delta in an early morning mission against the Vietcong.[1] The communists had been involved in attacks on Army of the Republic of Vietnam units 60 km (37 mi) of the capital and had inflicted heavy damage.[6] Instead of proceeding south as ordered, they changed course to attack the Independence Palace, the official presidential residence.[3] This meant that two companies of communist guerrillas were able to retreat after their attack without counter-attack.[6]
At around 07:00, the deer on the expansive lawns of the French colonial-era palace were frightened off as Quoc and Cu—flying American-built A-1 Skyraiders (A1H/AD-6 variant) single-seater ground attack planes—flew low over their target to inspect the ruling family’s residence.[8] On their second run, they attacked with bombs and napalm before strafing the presidential compound with rocket and machine-gun fire. The duo continued their runs for 30 minutes before units loyal to the president arrived and launched a counterattack.[3][4] Taking advantage of poor weather and low cloud cover, the two pilots circled the palace at altitudes of around 150 m (490 ft), periodically diving out of the clouds to re-attack before darting back into them. The airstrike caught the Saigon garrison off guard and, in the confusion, they were unable to determine whether the aircraft were acting alone or with ground forces. Loyalist tanks and armoured personnel carriers rushed to their battle stations and anti-aircraft batteries opened fire, nearly hitting the loyalist aircraft from Bien Hoa Air Base in pursuit of the two rebel planes.[4] Two tanks and a number of jeeps armed with 50-calibre machine guns patrolled the smoke-filled streets as a precaution.[9]

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