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Last updated on 4/7/24

Site established on 3/22/01

53rd Aviation Detachment

On September 1, 1966 the 53d Avn. Det. was attached to the 1st Cav. Division and on September 12th was further attached to the 228th Aviation Battalion (Assault Support) at An Khe
Image courtesy of Frank White

On April 19, 1966, the unit was redesignated the 53d Aviation Detachment, Field Evaluation (Provisional). Shortly there after the unit was deployed to Viet Nam to commence 180 days of combat testing under the Army Concept Team In Vietnam (ACTIV). On May 13, 1966 the unit arrived at Vung Tau, Republic of Viet Nam.
Scan by Jim Ketcham, patch by Wade Jackson - via Frank White

The Army test and evaluation board from Fort Rucker, AL operated the first aircraft (64-13145) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD for weapons capability testing until March of 1966. On January 18, 1966 the remaining three aircraft (64-13149; 64-13151 and 64-13154) were assigned to the Field Evaluation Detachment (Special CH-47) (PROV), attached to the 10th Aviation Group at Fort Benning, GA. The unit conducted training at Fort Benning, GA, Redstone Arsenal, AL and Eglin Air Force Base, FL. (The way they got the name, "Guns A Go-Go"; "We had finished our gun run 'testing' for the day, and was eating dinner at a club. We were watching the Go Go girls when the LTC. Tedesco said he would give $25 to any one that could come up with a name for the choppers. Some one in the crew said: "Call them go go girls." Tedesco thought for a minute or two and said, "We should call them "Guns A Go-Go".
Image courtesy of Frank White

The inception of the combat experiment and evaluation known as "Guns A Go-Go" had its beginnings as a battlefield requirement in February 1964. The main emphasis focused on the two major limiting factors affecting employment of the UH-1B gunship in use at the time; weapons payload and speed. The Huey was not designed for armed configuration, and as armament requirements grew, they soon exceeded the UH-1B maximum gross weight. v The airspeed was limited to 80 knots, which could not overtake nor keep up with the airmobile force they were escorting. Recognizing this deficiency, in June 1965, the Army authorized production of four armed CH-47A Chinooks in a prototype configuration. The first of these, serial number 64-13145, was accepted on 7 July 1965. The first flight of the ACH-47 series occurred on 10 November 1965.
Image courtesy of Frank White

The original ACH-47A (64-13145) that was retained in the United States was sent over to augment the remaining two aircraft. The rush to get #145 to Vietnam to replace #151 is evident in this picture, where the State-Side "Stars & Bars" is bleeding through the hurriedly applied OD paint!
Image courtesy of Frank White

Looking out the #2 Gun position of "Co$t of Living", at "Easy Money" flying along side, "We were setting up for a gun run when I took this picture.
Image courtesy of David Knight via Frank White

Looking through the front as the Go-Go ship begins blasting the treeline
Image courtesy of Jerry Richards via Frank White

Memorial Service for the crew of "Co$t of Living"
Image courtesy of Frank White

On May 5th 1967, while participating in action near Bong Son, one of the pip pins on a 20mm cannon vibrated loose. The recoil of fire allowed the weapon to shoot into the forward rotor system, causing "Co$t of Living" to tumble out of control to the ground. All souls were lost.
Image courtesy of Rob Hicks via Frank White

Seeing as how the Army would not allow single ship operations, and the fact that Lift helicopters were badly needed in the field, the program was cancelled and the unit deactivated. The sole surviving aircraft, "Easy Money" #149, was retired to Vung Tau, then to Phu Loi. This is the last in-country picture of #149, before being transported back to the States in late 1972 for display at Ft. Rucker.
Image courtesy of Frank White

By and by, Ft. Rucker didn't acquire #149, so she was transferred to New Cumberland Army Depot, then to Ft. Eustis, where she served as a training tool for their Sheet Metal Course. Discovered again in 1997, rusting and rotting away, PEO AVN at Redstone purchased the airframe and effected a long awaited restoration! #149 now sits, proudly displayed, in front of PEO AVN HQ at Redstone Arsenal.
Image courtesy of Frank White

The two remaining ACH-47A's continued operations through out 1967. On February 22, 1968, in the closing days of the Tet Offensive, "Easy Money" and "Birth Control" were involved in heavy combat at Hue. Birth Control was hit and forced down in the rice paddy's about 600 meters off the NW wall of the Citadel. The crew was rescued by "Easy Money", but before an aircraft recovery could be attempted, "Birth Control" was destroyed by mortar fire. NOTE: See the crators where Charlie walked the mortars in.
Image courtesy of Bill Scott via Frank White

I did "Birds of Prey" for the family of Lt. Paul J. Hicks, KIA 5 May 67, who commanded the ACH-47 Gunship; "Co$t of Living", #64-13145

Click here to see more artwork by Frank White

Image courtesy of Frank White

A close up of the Forward Crown "Go-Go Skull" patch that I painted for the restoration of #149.
Image courtesy of Frank White

Then and Now picture of the Combat Artwork
Image courtesy of Frank White

Gunsight down, target marked, and "Rolling Hot"
Image courtesy of Jim Frye via Frank White

#154 "Birth Control" fires her 2.75 inch rockets at a target
Image courtesy of David Knight via Frank White

Two Go-Go Birds prepping an LZ in the Bong Son AO
Image courtesy of Joe Semancheck via Frank White

#151 "Stump Jumper" after she accidently taxied into a parked Chinook on the ramp at Vung Tau. The drastic imbalance created by the seperating rotors, literally tore ole "Stump Jumper" apart! Miraculously, no one was killed in the melee
Image courtesy of Jim Whitner via Frank White

"Birth Control", #154, runs up on the PSP
Image courtesy of Dan Rivera via Frank White

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