The battlefield above Vietnam in the mid-to-late 60s -- the missile age has arrived. Electronic warfare is coming of age. The days of conventional dogfighting are thought to be long over. But the limitations of the latest combat technology force many pilots to settle their scores the old-fashioned way...close in, with guns. On June 20, 1965, A-1H Skyraider pilot Clinton Johnson and wingman Charles Hartmann pit their prop-driven workhorses against a lethal jet-powered MiG-17. The dogfight results in the first gun kill of the Vietnam War. But air combat over Vietnam is truly the story of the F-4 Phantom. The aircraft was originally designed as a missiles-only platform. But as F-4 pilots were increasing drawn into close-in turning fights with agile MiG fighters, their missiles proved ineffective. Mission success demanded a gun. On May 22, 1967, LtCol Robert Titus and Capt. Milan Zimer take on two MiG-21s in a wild, high-speed dogfight. As the fight descends toward earth, Titus closes within minimum missile range. But he now has a fall-back option. His F-4 has been retrofitted with an external gun pod containing a 20mm rotary cannon. And on November 6, 1967, Capt. `Dee' Simmonds and Capt. George McKinney further exemplify the need for a gun in modern air combat, as they get too close for comfort with a pair of agile MiG-17s.
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