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Dreadful Lady over the Mekong Delta

RAAF Canberras in the Vietnam War

(1 customer review)
Authors: Bob Howe
RAAF, History
155mm x 230mm

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No.7 in the Australian Air Campaign Series

Dreadful Lady over the Mekong Delta looks at the men of No 2 Squadron and the operations they flew in the Vietnam War in their Canberra bombers. From April 1967, the squadron spent four years attacking enemy targets, many of them in the Mekong Delta region, and contending with the politics, weather, and ‘fog’ of war. The riverine operations supported by No 2 Squadron were but a small part of an allied effort to disrupt the enemy’s movement of troops and supplies to locations in South Vietnam. It was, according to one commentator, ‘a kind of guerrilla warfare conducted in a navy environment’.

Bob Howe arrived in Vietnam in 1969 as a youthful Canberra navigator/bomb-aimer, but much of his time was spent as a specialist in bombing operations. His time there provided him with the first-hand experience and detailed information to write this book.

This book in its original format was first published in 2016 by the RAAF’s Air Power Development Centre, filling a gap in the recording of the RAAF’s operations in Vietnam. It also describes how crews overcame the difficulties of operating in an intense Asian war in an aircraft that was designed for a completely different environment.

This new edition is intended to bring the experiences and exploits of Bob Howe, No 2 Squadron and its Canberra bomber aircraft to life for a new generation of reader.

Bob Howe

Bob Howe

Bob Howe has a long association with the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence. Growing up in Canberra in the 1950s, Bob heard stories from his uncle Max who was a RAAF pilot during the Second World War. After several years as a cadet in the Air Training Corps, Bob joined the RAAF and trained […]

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1 review for Dreadful Lady over the Mekong Delta

  1. From 1967 to 1971 No 2 Squadron RAAF served in South Vietnam, based at Phan Rang Air Base and flying the Canberra Mk 20 jet bomber. The author served in the squadron in 1969- 70 as a navigator/bomb aimer, becoming the squadron’s Deputy Navigation Leader and Bombing Leader, and being Mentioned in Despatches for his work.
    Dreadful Lady over the Mekong Delta is based on his own records and memories of his 260-mission tour of duty, plus other data. It aims at filling a gap Howe perceives in general histories of the war and of the RAAF regarding the No 2 Squadron’s service, and more particularly in documenting its involvement in supporting the riverine warfare in the Mekong Delta. The book first appeared in 2016 produced by the Air Power Development Centre, and has been re-published in the Australian Air Campaign Series, with the usual wealth of illustrations, maps and other material typical of both the Air and Army series. The slightly macabre title is derived from a poem written by one of the author’s fellow airmen, who calls the Canberra the ‘Dreadful Lady’.

    Howe manages to pack a great deal of information – both technical and anecdotal – into a relatively compact book. To his further credit, he makes some
    honest and soul-searching reflections on the part played by No 2 Squadron in a conflict marked by the cynicism and politicking of those running it. On a number
    of levels, this is a work worthy of close attention.

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