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The Hard Life of Snake 298

Bell Helicopter delivered our Bell AH-1G Cobra to the Army on October 1967. Its serial number is 66-15298, indicating that it was ordered in 1966. In February 1966, the 298 arrived in Vietnam. Instead of being assigned to a division, it was assigned to a nondivisional company unit, the 235th Aviation Weapons Company, known as the “Delta Devils.” This was the first gunship company in Vietnam to be completely converted to AH-1G Cobras, which quickly became known as “snakes.” There were many similar nondivisional company units. They were attached temporarily to battalions or divisions as needed. For administrative purposes, these companies were “homed” in Aviation Groups. The 235th was homed in the 166th Aviation Group.

Our snake’s time with the 235th was stressful. During her first month in Vietnam, the 298’s base came under mortar fire. As its crew’s rushed to get into the air from a revetment, one of her pilots over-revved the engine. This caused the tail to swing around into...

Revenge of the Pearl Harbor Battleships

October 25, 1944, 0200 hours. It is the final major day of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Six America battleships slowly steam back and forth across the mouth of the Surigao Strait. Five are survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack—West Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. Two forces of Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers are steaming north in the strait. The American battleships will “cross their T,” pouring full broadsides into each arriving Japanese ship. The Pearl Harbor battleships are about to have their revenge.

At Pearl Harbor, the “newest” battleship was the West Virginia (BB-48). Built in 1921, she had the advantages of lessons learned in World War II. In addition, she was heavily updated before World War II. After she was built, a moratorium was placed on battleship construction a result of the Washington Naval conference. The U.S. would not begin to build more battleships until the eve of World War II.

West Virginia, 1926. National...

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Aviator's Tour