Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics
Osprey Elite Series Book 154
By Gordon L. Rottman, illustrated by Adam Hook
Paperback, 64 pages, heavily illustrated
Published by Osprey Publishing, March 2007
Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.2 x 9.9 inches
The development of the helicopter gave military tacticians the potential to move troops around the battlefield in unpresented ways. Natural obstacles or enemy defenses could be avoided by flying over or around to more suitable positions, opposing forces could be cut off by “vertical envelopment”. Early helicopters were underpowered and therefore lacked the range and payload capacity to make them militarily useful for transporting large formations of troops or heavy equipment, but by the late 1950s new designs were emerging which made combat applications more practical. The U.S. Army began organizing Airmobile formations, with helicopters effectively being used as flying trucks to move soldiers around the battlefield; the USMC saw the helicopter as another way to move Marines ashore during amphibious assaults.
These new formations saw their first widespread tactical application during the Vietnam war, where ultimately more than 12,000 helicopters were deployed. In addition to troop transport types such as the UH-1 Huey, specialized gunships, observation, and heavy-lift helicopters were developed and incorporated into operations. While they gave unprecedented mobility on the battlefield, helicopters were vulnerable to enemy fire, particularly when inserting troops into a landing zone. A total of 2,066 helicopters would be lost during the Vietnam War.
Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics describes the transformation of the helicopter from a novel aviation vehicle into a vital tactical asset. This is a standard Osprey Elite Series book, well-illustrated and an excellent primer in operations and tactics of Airmobile warfare. It provides useful insight into what all those helicopters in Vietnam War movies are doing, or at least supposed to be doing. Recommended.