Just as the A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 “Paper Tiger II” was being shot off a 1MC message came from the bridge, ‘What the hell was on 572’s right wing?’
According to Squadron Historian Holt Livesay, on 4 November on the last mission of the 1965 cruise, CDR Clarence W. Stoddard, Jr., VA-25 “Fist of the Fleet” Executive Officer (XO) flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 “Paper Tiger II” from Carrier Air Wing Two embarked aboard USS Midway (CV-41) aircraft carrier carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese.
As reported by eugeneleeslover.com, the special weapon was aimed to commemorate the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type… it was a toilet!
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Navy flattops 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 Rear Echelon Mother M****r F****r’s (REMF) in Washington DC would not send out blistering messages about failure to support the war effort, etc.
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 U.S. Naval Aviators, and their squadron-mates, prevailed in some rather perverse ways.
Yes, this really happened. Once again history is stranger then fiction, and a lot funnier.
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 ordnance 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.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy and Bayou Renaissance Man