Shadow and Stinger
Developing the AC-119G/K Gunships in the Vietnam War
Military History - Vietnam War
6 x 9, 352 pp.
19 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 02/26/2007
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $49.95 s

978-1-58544-577-6

Published by Texas A&M University Press
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2008 Frank Futrell Award for Excellence in Historical Publications, presented by the United States Air Force History and Museum Program
 
2007 Air Force Material Command Excellence in Historical Publications Award, presented by the Air Force

Shadow and Stinger

Developing the AC-119G/K Gunships in the Vietnam War

By William Head

Nicknamed “the truck killer,” the AC-119K gunship and its counterpart, the AC-119G, were developed in the late 1960s in response to the needs of the U.S. military in Vietnam. This important book examines the evolution of these aircraft and their role within Vietnam, military policy, and geopolitical realities.

Drawing on unpublished studies and a host of primary materials, William Head discusses the events that led to the birth of the AC-119, the planning and modification processes that followed, and its operational history. The G model, or “Shadow,” focused on air support and anti-personnel missions. “Stinger,” the K model, which could carry more cargo for longer distances, was suited for destruction of enemy vehicles.

Though the AC-119 was only an interim asset, its descendants—the AC-130E, H, and U—have played an active role in the recent conflict in Iraq.

A narrative of the crews and pilots who executed the missions and the engineers, designers, and the politicians responsible for the aircraft, Shadow and Stinger will be of interest to Vietnam veterans, historians, and scholars, as well as aviation enthusiasts.

WILLIAM HEAD is chief of the Air Logistics Center Office of History at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. He is the author of several books on air power. His Ph.D. is from Florida State University.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Is of interest to those interested in aviation history and the history of the Vietnam War. The development of the side-firing fixed wing gunship by the US Air force during the Vietnam War was a case of remarkable, and remarkably successful, innovation and is a fascinating story in itself. . . .does an excellent job of examining Shadow and Stinger from the perspective of the men who flew them and of describing their use in the Commando Hunt campaigns against truck traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”--John F. Guilmartin, Jr., Professor of history, Ohio State University

“Is of interest to those interested in aviation history and the history of the Vietnam War. The development of the side-firing fixed wing gunship by the US Air force during the Vietnam War was a case of remarkable, and remarkably successful, innovation and is a fascinating story in itself. . . .does an excellent job of examining Shadow and Stinger from the perspective of the men who flew them and of describing their use in the Commando Hunt campaigns against truck traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” --John F. Guilmartin, Jr., Professor of history, Ohio State University

Shadow and Stinger provides a critical look at how an innovative program can be marshaled quickly and efficiently to meet effectively a pressing combat requirement. Using his skills as a researcher and writer, air power historian William P. Head has scored a direct hit in this fast-paced account how industry and the military combined to turn the off-the-shelf and nearly obsolete Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar into an effective pontifex between first generation AC-47 Spooky gunships and the venerable four-engine turboprop AC-130 Specters still in use forty years later. A must read for anyone involved in military aviation.” --Earl H. Tilford Jr., Professor of History, Grove City College

“Dr. William P. Head’s Shadow and Stinger: The Development and Deployment of the AC-119 Gunship and Its Affects on the Vietnam War is a remarkable book that interweaves a gunship’s history from concept to combat—combining such essential elements is no easy task. This includes the engineers, contract specialists, logistics personnel, and trainers, just o name a few, that labor to field the best fighting system they can deliver. From presidential war policy to close air support and deadly anti-aircraft duels along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the author deftly presents the complex factors that make the combat possible.” --Dennis C. Mills, Twelfth Air Force Office of History, Davis Monthan Air Force

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