C-47 Aircraft

Quick Speak was the project name for the psychological operations (PSYOP) designated USAF 5th Air Commando Squadron during the Vietnam War. The squadron consisted of sixteen single engine U-10s and four C-47s (shown above), all equipped with 3000 watt loudspeaker systems and leaflet dispenser chutes.

The C-47's of the 5th Air Commando Squadron were equipped with giant speakers mounted in the cargo doorway to fly PSYOP missions. These aircraft would circle over the target area at about 3,500 feet while a PSYOP translator would broadcast the benefits of the South Vietnamese government. Along with the message of persuasion to surrender would be a warning to the Viet Cong not to fire at the speaker aircraft as great trouble would befall them.

Unknown to the enemy, an AC-47 gunship, which carried 24,000 rounds and three 7.62mm mini-guns with a fast (16,000 rounds per minute) or slow (3,000 rounds per minute) rate of fire, was flying escort below and behind the PSYOP aircraft. The AC-47's were allocated the call sign "Spooky", and also earned the nickname "Puff the Magic Dragon", from those who had witnessed its nighttime show of firepower. When the enemy began to fire at the loudspeaker aircraft, the roar of Spooky's miniguns would answer them. As the silence descended again, the PSYOP aircraft would retort "See, I told you so!" The reputation of the vengeful dragon spread quickly among the superstitious people. Captured Viet Cong documents told of orders not to attack the Dragon, as weapons were useless and would only infuriate the monster.

During the first six months of 1966 the squadron dropped more than 508 million leaflets. A major part of the "Chieu Hoi" (Open Arms) program, the leaflets urged the Viet Cong to surrender to Government forces, promising them good treatment and eventual repatriation to their families.

SSG Bill Hyder of the 24th PSYOP Detachment assigned to II Corps Operations (G3) in Nha Trang in 1965-1966 recalls such missions:

The 5th Air Commando Squadron had four U-10 Couriers and one C-4 Skytrain aircraft. We were all on flight status.  One mission was called “Fire Dragon.” It consisted of one spotter aircraft, two A1E's Skyraiders, "Puff the Magic Dragon" and our leaflet C-47. The spotter would find a Viet Cong camp late at night, the A1E's would light it up, "Puff" would fire thousands of rounds at it, and we would drop leaflets letting them know that the fire dragon was after them and where to go to surrender.

We also had a campaign where we dropped leaflets with pictures of different weapons along with the price we would pay if they gave up and brought in a weapon. When a Viet Cong gave up and turned in a weapon, he got paid a reward, stayed in a camp for two weeks getting fed, and would sent to educational classes.  At the end of the two weeks he was returned to the general population. It was a good program, but apparently no one was keeping records.  Once they began keeping records it was discovered that some people had surrendered three and four times.

The last mission I went on was in the C-47 flying 100 miles west of Hanoi. I don't remember the altitude, but it was damn cold. We dropped the leaflets and the winds took them to Hanoi.  We were in the air nine hours. A real stupid thing for a guy to do with only two weeks left in-country.

The biggest single operation of Project Quick Speak was its Tet program in January. More than 103 million leaflets were dropped and 380 hours of speaker broadcasts were flown in an effort to exploit the natural desire of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers to be with their families during Tet, the nation's most important holiday season.

The results of the Chieu Hoi program were outstanding. While the Army was busy with a sometimes questionable body count, the psychological warfare convinced 34,000 Viet Cong to give themselves up to our forces in 1967.