Surface to Air missile downs RAAF aircraft

14 May 1971

At about 2.45 pm, Canberra bomber A84-228 belonging to the RAAF’s No 2 Squadron was preparing to bomb a target 80 kilometres west of Hue, South Vietnam, when it was struck by two surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Although the aircraft, crewed by Wing Commander John Downing (the unit’s Commanding Officer) and Flight Lieutenant Alan Pinches, was at 14 000 feet, it was also more than 600 kilometres from its home base at Phan Rang. Realising that the bomber had suffered critical damage and was at risk of breaking up, the two men were forced to eject. Both landed by parachute on a steep mountain ridge, from where they were rescued by an American helicopter late the next day. While both required hospitalisation for injuries sustained in the ejection or parachute landing, they had survived the only time that a RAAF aircraft has been confirmed as shot down by a SAM.

Related aircraft

  • Canberra