Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Second Aerial Victory, 31 May 1972

By Steve Ritchie, 21 March 2011

Captain Ritchie’s flight of F-4 Phantoms, callsign Icebag, came under attack by two North Vietnamese MiG-21s just east of Kep airfield. Ritchie was nose-high at 250 KIAS, in order to jettison the centerline tank, when he first spotted them. The tank jettison maneuver served as an unintended “high-speed yo-yo,” and caused the MiGs to overshoot. Icebag 1 was then able to achieve a radar lock on the lead MiG. The first Sparrow detonated right after launch. At that point, Ritchie committed the last two Sparrows. The second missile detonated approximately half-way to the target. The third missile corkscrewed to the right as the MiG was in a hard descending left turn. The fourth missile computed lead and struck the MiG-21 at the juncture of the wing root and the fuselage. The entire front end of the airplane, including the cockpit, was missing as Icebag flew over the rest of the MiG while it spun to the ground, trailing smoke.
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