Just as the A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 “Paper Tiger II” was being shot off the deck of the USS MIDWAY, a 1MC message came from the bridge, ‘What the hell was on 572’s right wing?’
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction………..
According to Squadron Historian Holt Livesay, on 4 November on the last mission of the 1965 cruise, CDR Clarence W. Stoddard, Jr. of VA-25 “Fist of the Fleet” Executive Officer (XO) flying a A1-H Skyraider, NE/572 “Paper Tiger II” from Carrier Air Wing Two embarked aboard USS Midway (CV-41) carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese.
The special weapon was chosen to commemorate the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped over Vietnam.
This bomb was unique because of the type… it was a toilet!
During Vietnam War the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers were so short of ordnance that missions were often launched with only a half load just to keep the sortie rate up so that the REMF’s in Washington DC would not send out blistering messages about failure to support the war effort.
Since the loss rate approached, and sometime exceeded, one aircraft a day, all will understand that there was a degree of reticence to launch with less than a full load. Nevertheless, the indomitable spirit of the US Navy aviators and their squadron-mates, prevailed in some rather perverse ways.
Yes, this really happened!
The following is an account of this event, courtesy of USNR Ret. Captain Clint Johnson who was one of the two VA-25 A-1H Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on Jun. 20, 1965.
“I was a pilot in VA-25 on the 1965 Vietnam cruise. 572 was flown by CDR C. W. ‘Bill’ Stoddard. His wingman in 577 was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII)
The flight was a Dixie Station strike (off South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnace list to the FAC, he ended with ‘and one code name Sani-flush’.
The FAC couldn’t believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane.
It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down. The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard.
One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tail fins and nose fuse for it. The squadron flight deck checkers maintained a position to block the view of the Captain and Air Boss while the aircraft was taxiing onto the catapult. Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, ‘What the hell was on 572’s right wing?’
There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film.“
CDR Stoddard was later killed while flying 572 in Oct 1966. He was hit by three SAMs over Vinh.”
The following video showing Paper Tiger II carrying the toilet bomb was taken by Russell Falb, via Ken Young, the son of James E. Young, who was the Plane Captain of NE 572.
PAPER TIGER II – That Skyraider we all want to build, but never quite get around to….
I had wanted to build 572 for a long time- When Tamiya’s 1/48 A-1H Skyraider landed on my bench with an Aftermarket set from Brengun with toilet bomb and decals for Paper Tiger II, I was immediately compelled to clear my bench and indulge in a real model building treat!
If you are a fan of US Navy aircraft chances are you have come across this kit before. Tamiya give you a quality kit that builds into a decent replica of the A-1H straight from the box-It’s a “Shake ‘n Bake” kit!
The assembly process was straightforward and once the airframe was complete I quickly moved onto painting.
I gave the model a primer coat of matte black acrylic paint then marble coated the airframe to preshade the high wear areas. The camouflage colours of Light Gull Gray over Insignia White were sprayed on in short order and the paint was protected with an acrylic clear gloss in preparation for decals and weathering.
A combination of enamel washes and oil paints blended into the models surfaces lifted the monotone paint scheme to resemble the heavily worn finish of a wartime Navy attack aircraft.
To enhance the kit, I modified the pilot figure and added fuse wire to the bombs hanging off the Skyraider’s substantially large wing. I also replaced the kits gun barrels with resin ones from Quickboost.
The toilet bomb was a combination of resin and photo etched parts and was easy to install. The squadron badge decals for it were a nice touch too!
Here’s how the model looked after its initial completion:
And here is the finished display piece on a plinth created by my good friend Paul Thompson.
I hope have enjoyed my take on this legendary aircraft and operation Sani-flow! This was a very enjoyable and easy to complete model that I would recomend to anyone with an interest in US Navy or Vietnam War subjects. With the addition of the Paper Tiger II conversion from Brengun and a few tweeks, Tamiya’s Skyraider can become and great dispaly piece and a fun story to tell.
Until next time, take care and Happy Modelling!