Jack Lynch was a ‘Bushranger’ pilot in Vietnam for the Royal Australian Air Force. These were Iroquois UH-1H helicopters fitted out as aerial gunships which provided close air support to Australian troops.
A pair of low flying Sabre jets over Jack Lynch’s childhood property was the seed for a 50+ year career in and around aviation.
After graduating from RAAF pilots course and being posted to helicopters, Jack found himself in Vietnam as one of the early pilots in the Australian version of an armed UH-1H gunship.
The configuration consisted of 2 x twin M-60 machine guns for the door gunners, 14 M158 rockets and 2 XM-21 fixed forward firing mini guns capable of 4000 rounds a minute. Armoured seats were scrounged and procured to provide some level of protection for the pilots.
Aiming of the rockets and mini-guns was conducted through an aiming reticle that could be swiveled down in front of either pilot. It was then up to the pilot to fly the helicopter to place the aiming point on the target. ‘Danger Close’ is the term used when aircraft are firing close to the line of friendly troops. Experienced crews would be able to lay down fire to within 25 metres and sometimes closer to ground troops in contact requiring incredibly precise flying skills.
The concept of operations was for 2 helicopters to conduct a racetrack pattern such that one helicopter was always on its target run. As the first aircraft broke away the door gunners would open up to suppress the target and at the same time the second aircraft would start its run. The first aircraft would then race at speed back to the start of the pattern ready to start its run as soon as the second aircraft commenced it’s break.
9 SQN RAAF conducted 237,424 missions with 16 Hueys (4 were converted to the Bushranger configuration).
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The 9 SQN Iroquois were eventually transferred to the Australian Army which maintained the Bushranger capability almost unchanged right up until 2004.
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