Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gunship Type of Targets

There are two types of gunship's targets:
  1. Training Targets.
  2. Operational Targets.
Training Targets: West Malaysia's enhancement training targets located at Song-Song  island catered for the live firing practices by the RMAF fighter aircrafts and the AlouetteIII gunships.

Operational Targets: 
  1. Sighted Target - are visible and confirmed targets, such as from an open ground. 
  2. Non-Sighted Target - are non visible targets, such as thick jungle canopy where ground surfaces are covered by shrubs and trees.
The operational gunship's mission along the Thai / Malaysian borders are mostly of a "Non-Sighted Target". This was due to the thick tropical jungle conopy bestowed. The firing power for this type of target required clear-cut informations from the troops on the ground regarding of their own friendly troop's position and the enemy whereabout. This was done during the pre-take off  "brief"  for the gunship's pilots/gunners and the Nuri pilots by the Commanding Officer(CO) or BASO(Brigade Air Support Officer) and the intelligence officer(IO) involved. Immediately after the "brief" or briefing the gunship airborned for the intended firing of the enemy location. After the gunship's firing and securing the areas, then only will make ways for the Nuri helicopters to move in for safer logistic resupplying(Resup), troop's move or change over.

Troop Move  Sibu, Sarawak 1983.

The recurring sorties of the Nuri helicopters flown to the same intended location the more likely for the enemy to retaliate. Therefore the AlouetteIII gunships has to keep "watch" from the air and counter firing may be necessarily carried out on orders from the ground control commanders. In hot areas, as much as several Nuris and two gunships escort helicopters be employed for one given tasking, and definitely would be an hectic and life-gambled day to accomplish the mission.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Alouette III Gunship

              RMAF AlouetteIII gunship equipped with 20mm Cannon MG151/20mm.

Alouette III first entered service of the RMAF in 1963 and  built by Sud Aviation Aerospatiale, France.This was the most powerful Alouette III gunship helicopter in the RMAF's inventory of the 70s. Powered by 870shp Turbomeca Artouste turboshaft, the SA316B cruises at 115 mph (185km/hr), while the SA319B cruises at about 120 mph (190km/hr). Its capability in changing to multi-roles that made it popular in many countries. The gunship role fitted with a single 20mm Cannon MG151 and supported by two ammo bins of 200 rounds of 20mm bullet in either ball(AP) or standard high explosive(HE) for each bin. HE is a bullet that will explode again on impact and has a killing radius of 10 feet. The ammo are link directly from the ammo bin to the cannon. The gunship has two crews, one a gunship pilot and the other, a qualified air-gunner.

Alouette III MG151/20mm Cannon - Photo found at

Data on the 20mm MG151(MG151/20).
Developed in 1941 used by the German's fighter bombers during the World War II, had a high muzzle velocity which makes for stable trajectory and high impact speed / longer range.

  • Manufacturer : Waffenfabrik Mauser AG, Germany.
  • Caliber          : 20mm (20 x 82 cartridge).
  • Weight          : 42 kg.
  • Barrel length  : 43 1/2 inches.
  • Barrel weight : 22 lbs 14 ounces.
  • Muzzle velocity : 800 m/s.
  • Rate of fire : 800 round/min.
  • Round types : Ball or armour piercing(AP), standard HE, and HE(M) "mine shot". 
  • Round weight: 117g(AP), 115g(HE), 92g HE(M).
  • Two version: Normal with percussion firing, and E-model with electrical priming.

      MG151/20 20mm Bullet (left of the golf ball).

      This escort gunship helicopter were used during the communist emergency between 1975-1980s and most were deployed in northern part of Malaysia including the Thailand/Malaysian borders. It has participated in many operation theatres such as "Operation Daoyai Musnah", "Operation Selamat Sawadee", "Operation Cahaya Bena", "Operation Gonzales" Ipoh, Perak, "Operation Jala Emas" Sungai Siput, Perak, "Operation Ukur" or "Ops Ukur", "Ops Kota Echo",and "Ops Sri Aman", Sarawak. After The Malayan Communist Party(MCP) founded 1930 finally laid down its arms in 1989, the  Alouette III helicopters were ceased down from its gunship operations and its now in the state of dormancy.

      The "Operations" had logged me the total of 1300 flying hours and of which 650 hours (50%) allocated for the gunship missions flown from 1977 - 1980 with the total firing of 3,528 rounds of balls and HEs recorded. It was a tough and rough for those era years of gunship flying compared to this present day, and somehow I've contributed to the fullest of my ability for the sake of religion, country and the future generation. I am hoping that the public will treasured, and understood for all the hardships that the RMAF and Malaysian Armed Forces personnels had sacrificed during the past emergency.

                       "Operation Selamat Sawadee" at Kroh Detachment Airfield 1978

      Lt(U) Yahaya,Lt(U)Johan,Kapt(U)Musa,Kapt(U)Raja Mohd,Col(U)Fauzi(CO RMAF B'woth),Kapt(U) Chong K.L,Mej(U)Stephen Ngiau(OC No3 Sqn.),SAR Crews.
      (Front row from left to right)
      Sjn(U)Mohd Ismail(self), Sjn(U) Mohd Baki, Kapt(U)Ismail.
      (Standing middle row from left to right wearing flying suits)
      No3 Sqn ground crews and SAR crews.
      (Standing last row)

      Tuesday, October 19, 2010

      Bagan Ajam, Butterworth Revisited.

      Bandar Sungai Petani,Kedah (Photo 2010).

      On the October 18, 2010 at time 1100 hours, I was driving from Sungai Petani to Bagan Ajam, Butterworth. As  I was passing by the RMAF Base main gate and proceeding straight for Bagan Ajam, I found out theres a lot of changes on both sides of the main road compared to fourty years ago. Theres new buildings erected and  roads built and some still under constructions and while road driving may add you with a little confusion.

      Approaching RMAF Base Butterworth's main gate (Photo 2010).

      Entrance to Bagan Ajam Residential (Photo 2010).

      Bagan Ajam Residential (Photo 2010).

      Bagan Ajam residential areas which at one time rented by the British and Australian personnels way back  in the 1960s to 1980s. Mr.Ramli my uncle, lived in these area too and bought his semi-detached house for around RM26,000 in 1966 and his neighbour was a British and they became good friends. I used to keep my uncle accompanied during the school holidays prior joining the RMAF in February, 1970. My uncle passed away somewhere in 1980s and several years later my aunt sold the house. It was a sad thing to experience and by the way I still remember and thanking them for bringing me up within the European environment.

      Gerai Makcik at Bagan Ajam (Photo 2010).

      Side view of Gerai Makcik (Photo 2010).

      On returning home, I stopped over at the "Makcik Stall". Today "Gerai Makcik" is still doing business for more than three decades despite Pakcik and Makcik has passed away and may God bless their souls. Now their sons and daughters continue running the business. Their nature of business is selling "Nasi ala Kampong" and of course hot and cold drinks available on request. Its airmen's favorite spot since 1970s and that included some Australian personnels too. I used to drop in for lunch with friends quite often here during my aircrewman days dated back in 1970s and the food were delicious.Well! I still visits the "Makcik Stall" for a drink whenever I am in Butterworth.

      PERNAMA Butterworth (Photo 2010).

      Not forgetting Butterworth's PERNAMA. As an ex-servicemen I used to shop for my household need at PERNAMA (Perwira Niaga Malaysia) formerly known as NAAFI (Navy,Army,AirForce Institute) whenever I am in Butterworth. I missed NAAFI  and somehow or rather it was not the product that matters but friendly environment that counts. Most of the NAAFI salepersons whom I knew years ago, must have already retired or left the services by now, except Mr Krishnan still known to be around. He was a young NAAFI saleperson when I knew him around 1977. Buying and window shopping at the NAAFI was a great thing to do. The good old NAAFI days.

      Taman Wira formerly known as Taman Tan Sai Gin (Photo 2010).

       Taman Robina formerly known as Robina Park (Photo 2010).

      Former Sheriff Stores closed (Photo 2010).

      Taman Robina October, 2010.

      Taman Robina October, 2010.

      Robina Park 1969 (Now Taman Robina).

      Passing by the Taman Wira(Taman Tan Sai Gin) and Taman Robina(Robina Park) once became the common residential areas for the British and Australian personnels in the 1960s until late1980s. Their children used to be seen cycling, strolling and happily playing within their house compounds and today they are all gone. The Aussies are not aliens to the Sheriff Stores as they knew him well, the main supplier of their household goods, newspapers, magazines, books and publications etc. While living at The Sergeant Mess in 1978, I used to cycle to his stores at Robina Park  in order to get hold of my latest copies of  foreign  magazines ordered such as  modern photography and Gun and Ammo. It was in 1980s where the Australians began leaving for homeward bound, Sheriff Stores businesses had to close down and later learnt that he had moved to Penang island. As a customer I missed the Sheriff Stores and coincidently with the Australian withdrawals signified the slowdown of other businesses around the Robina Park. It was a melancholic felt as I was about to leave Butterworth for Kuching, Sarawak in 1989, and those were the days and the memoir lingers on. 

      Friday, October 15, 2010

      Air Gunner's Weapon Inventories

      My shoulder holstered sidearm - Browning 9mm automatic pistol carried. 

      On every operational gunship mission, weapons are my best friends of which I am authorised. They were provided for my protection against the enemy and super-extended to safeguard the friendly troops below me with the superiority of cannon MG151 on-board the Alouette111 gunship. I use to carry three authorised weapons as an air gunner. Namely they are as follows: 

      Browning Automatic Pistol c/w 9mm bullets.

      Colt M16A1(retractable butt) c/w 2 magazines x 20 rounds of 5.56mm bullets.

      Cannon 20mm MG151 for Alouette III. Photo found on

      Additional gadgets bodily attached to me:
      1. 1x Dog-Tag or Name-Tag.
      2. 1x Identification Card (BAT.C 10).
      3. 1x Survival Knife.
      4. 1x Multi-purpose Pocket Knife.
      5. 1x Wrist-watch.
      6. 1x Binocular.
      7. 1x Pocket Compass.
      8. 1x Cigarette Gas Lighter.
      9. Edible Snacks.
      10. 1x Pocket-bottled 330ml filled with drinking water.
      11. 1x Flying Jacket.
      12. 1x Bullet-proof or Fragmentation Vest.
      13. 1x Mae West (Survival Jacket).
      A non-bodily attached Kits:
      1. 1x Night-stop Kit.
      2. 1x Survival Kit.
      3. 1x Pyro-technique Kit.
      Question: Besides handling the cannon MG151, do you have the opportunity to practice shooting with 9mm sidearm and the M16 rifle?
      Answer: Absolutely yes! and normally organised by the RMAF Base from time to time or it being requested by the Aircrew Wing independently.
      Question: Is there any shooting range at RMAF Butterworth?
      Answer: Yes! only a small shooting range which is suitable for small-arms like 9mm pistols. A larger shooting range are the Howard Camp Rifle Range, Sungai Petani which quite popular among NZAF, and the RAAF.Last but not least the Baghdad Rifle Range at 6 Bge.Camp Jalan Lapangan Terbang,Sungai Petani, Kedah.

      Self (left), Lt.M(U) Hamid (right) on shooting practices for M16 rifles and 9mm pistols.
      Baghdad Rifle Range at 6 Bge. Camp, Jalan Lapangan Terbang, Sungai Petani, Kedah (1978).

      Saturday, October 2, 2010

      The Gunship - Airborne Barrel Change

      Question: What is 'Airborne Barrel Change'?
      Answer :  It is the process of changing the canon's barrel in the air, during gunship flying.
      Question: Why airborne barrel change is necessary?
      Answer:   Its an option criterion when the barrel is hot or found defective in operation.
      Question: How heavy is the barrel?
      Answer:   Weight: 22lbs 14ounces, Length: 43 1/2ins.
      Question: Why don't change it on ground?
      Answer:   When time does not permits due to operational requirement.
      Question: Who is responsible for the barrel change?
      Answer:   The Air Gunner.
      Question: Is it difficult to change the barrel while flying?
      Answer:   It is not difficult but quite challenging and proofs easier with some technical know-how applied.
      Question: What are the technical know-how applications?
      Answer: See below:
       Canon MG151/20
      Air Gunner's recommendation for barrel change.
      Pilot's Command: "Commence barrel change" bringing gunship speed to 30 knots.
      Air Gunner: "Roger".

      Air Gunner's Technical Know-how:
      1. Canon MG151/20set to safety first.
      2. Bullet chute removed.
      3. Swing the canon to the left, pointing the barrel to aft of the gunship.
      4. Air Gunner wearing glove and 'monkey harness' will stood over the canon with his right hand holding cargo door handle.
      5. The barrel is then clamped to safety as to avoid barrel dropping to the ground.
      6. The barrel catch unlocked and with gunner's left hand twist anti-clockwise, the barrel is detached from the canon. At this point, holding the barrel with the left hand, the stand alone barrel must be positioned horizontally to the gunship flight path as to allow a balanced of air flow into the barrel.
      7. Slide slowly the barrel into the gunship and removed the barrel clamp after securing the  barrel.
      8. Same reversed procedures repeated for the inserting of a new barrel to the canon.
      9. When completed placed canon to its normal resting position with bullet chute fixed and check for canon safety.
      10. Informed pilot when barrel change is completed.
      Changing the barrel in the air is common among the air gunners. A must during  the gunship training and an option in operation areas and you need a courage to do this. Its is an heroic accomplishment.

      My gunship's 'Airborne barrel change' sorties:

      Aug 9,1978.  
      FM1315-Kapt(U) Ripin / Sgt Ismail(Self)-Scorpion1, BW-Song-Song-BW.(Fired 96 rds Ball)-1:30min.
      Aug 11,1978.
      FM1315-Kapt(U)Ripin / Sgt Ismail(Self)-Scorpion1, BW-Song-Song-BW.(Fired 195 rds Ball)-1:45min.
      Aug 23,1978.
      FM1304-Kapt(U)Ripin / Sgt Ismail(Self)-Scorpion1, Kroh-Mkr.'V'-Kroh(Kroh Detachment).(Fired 310 rds Ball and HE)-(Including hot barrel experienced)-1:20min.

      Above are only few to name.