On the night of 3 November 1970, a Canberra bomber A84-231 (radio call sign 'Magpie 91') from 9 Squadron RAAF failed to return from a night 'Combat Skyspot' mission in support of ARVN forces in I CTZ. Click here if you wish to read about the concept of Ground Directed Bombing.
The Last Known Position (LKP) of the aircraft was 10740E and 1545N, approximately 65 km southwest of Da Nang. Click here to see a schematic of the general area. These coordinates were reported from an "American Radar Station at Udorn." (Reported latitude and longitude equate to GR YC857430.) The RAAF Court of Inquiry that was assembled to investigate the incident came to the conclusion that the circumstances of the loss of Magpie 91 loss pointed to a catastrophic mid-air explosion, which caused the aircraft to disintegrate.
The question arises as to the accuracy of these coordinates as well as to why the aircraft so abruptly disappeared from the tracking radar at Udorn, if it was not because of an (extremely) catastrophic explosion. It had been suggested that perhaps the aircraft remained aloft beyond the LKP.
The aim of this document is to investigate the likelihood of the crash site of Canberra bomber A84-231 being in the vicinity of 10740E and 1545N.
The mission of A84-231 on 3 Nov 1970 was carried out within the framework of the 7th Air Force Tactical Air Control System (TACS). Click here if you wish to examine the TACS in Vietnam at the time.
The elements of the TACS that were involved with this mission were the I Corps Direct Air Support Center (I DASC) and the Control and Reporting Center (CRC), Call sign PANAMA at Da Nang, perhaps one or more Control and Reporting Posts (CRP) and the Phu Bai MSQ-77 radar site. See here for further discussion regarding units that operated the TCS in Vietnam in 1970,
The Ground Controller operating at the Phu Bai MSQ-77 radar site during this mission was Captain Bill Hanig, USAF.
Here are the outline details of the mission of A84-231 on 3 November 1970 as best we know them at this stage. If you wish, more detail on this case is available via the OPERATION AUSSIES HOME Home Page. (Look under "The Six Cases.")
The fundamental question is: "how accurate are the co-ordinates (10740E and 1545N) that have been recorded as the crash site of Canberra bomber A84-231."
To assist in developing an opinion of this matter, based on the input from people who have relevant experience, a series of questions have been posed.
Please consider the questions and click the send button to e-mail them to me. I DO NOT expect that any one person will be able to answer all questions; however, I will be most thankful for whatever you may be able to offer based on your area of expertise. You may access the questions here. Thank you.