Combining vivid personal narrative with historical and operational analyses, this book takes a candid look at U.S. naval airpower in the Vietnam War. Coauthors John Nichols, a fighter pilot in the war, and Barrett Tillman, an award-winning aviation historian, make full use of their extensive knowledge of the subject to detail the ways in which airpower was employed in the years prior to the fall of Saigon. Confronting the conventional belief that airpower failed in Vietnam, they show that when applied correctly, airpower was effective, but because it was often misunderstood and misapplied, the end results were catastrophic. Their book offers a compelling view of what it was like to fly from Yankee Station between 1964 and 1973 and important lessons for future conflicts. At the same time, it adds important facts to the permanent war record.
Following an analysis of the state of carrier aviation in 1964 and a definition of the rules of engagement, it describes the tactics used in strike warfare, the airborne and surface threats, electronic countermeasures, and search and rescue. It also examines the influence of political decisions on the conduct of the war and the changing nature of the Communist opposition. Appendixes provide useful statistical data on carrier deployments, combat sorties, and aircraft losses.