MiG-19S (Shenyang J-6) - Vietnam - 1972
The topic is the Vietnamese Shenyang J-6 (MiG-19S) number 6011 part of the 925th Fighter Regiment as seen in action in 1972 during the Vietnam War.
This type was an early version of the Chinese MiG-19S copy, therefore it lacks the parachute container under the vertical stabilizer. The only notable difference of this version when compared to the Soviet MiG-19S is the shape of the gun muzzels, which for the Chinese version are narrow up to the very end.
The MiG-19S was produced only until 1959 in the USSR but was still in production in China even after the mid-70s. Vietnam was supplied in 1968 with a first batch of 44 J-6 from China, while a second batch of 24 machines arrived in 1974. The Soviet MiG-19S had a massive cannon fire power with three 30mm guns and a strong acceleration. Nevertheless, the aircraft has shown high attrition due to constant mechanical problems and was unsuitable for humid or hot climates. I have written more about these issues for my Egyptian MiG-19S (MiG-19S - Egypt - 1967 | Album by Redicus (1:72)). I don't know for sure if the Chinese copy actually solved any of these issues, but it's certain that the VPAF had similarily high hardware attrition rate of the MiG-19/J-6 fleet caused by humid climate, poor maintenance and inadequate logistical support.
Months after the arrival of the first MiG-19s/J-6s, the 925th Fighter Regiment was to be formed in February 1969 at Yen Bai airfield and equipped with MiG-17F and the MiG-19/J-6 fighters. Within two months, the 925th had nine MiG-19 and four MiG-17 pilots sufficiently qualified for combat duty. VPAF MiG-19 crews met the enemy for the first time in early May 1972 and during this month they claimed seven US aircraft destroyed (all were identified as F-4 Phantom IIs). Only two of these victories can be corroborated by American records, however. USAF Phantom II crews claimed three MiG-19 kills during the same period, and two 'Farmers' were also credited to the US Navy's VF-161, flying F-4Bs from the USS Midway. During the following months, further intense clashes have reduced the VPAF MiG-19s/J-6 fleet to only a handful machines, therefore the VPAF 'Farmer' operations quietly fizzled out until reinforcements (second batch of aircraft) arrived in 1974.
Three pilots serving with the 925th Fighter Regiment became well known for their similar names: Nguyen Hong Son, Pham Hung Son and Nguyen Hung Son, who were quickly dubbed 'Son A', 'Son B' and 'Son C', respectively. All three were successful in downing enemy aircraft and they became the best-known MiG-19 airmen of the war. The number 6011 was flown Pham Hung Son, which downed one F-4E on the 10th of May 1972. Thirteen days later he claimed a second Phantom II over Yen Bai, which the communist regime propaganda stated was the 3600th enemy aircraft shot down over the North Vietnam. This second kill has not been confirmed by US sources.
By May 1975 it was clear that military action was coming to an end in the region, even along the frontline in South Vietnam. Flying activity was reduced accordingly and the MiG-19s were now equipped only with training weaponry. The handful of surviving 'Farmers' were further used as lead-in fighter trainers until the end of the 1970s.
The known serial numbers of the VPAF MiG-19/J-6s are ranging between 6010 and 6069, although this does not match the higher number of delivered aircraft. Almost all Vietnamese MiG19s/J-6s wore no camouflage painting and were left in their nautral metal finish. The number 6066 is apparently the only known Vietnamese MiG-19 to have carried any camouflage painting at all and initially was my first choice for my model. There were presumably large dark green stripes applied directly on the metallic finish, leaving large areas of the metallic finish visible. The color profile of the number 6066 originates from the "MiG-17 and MiG-19 units of the Vietnam War", Osprey Combat Aircraft, by Istvan Toperczer. I personally doubt that there was any camouflage painting at all neither on the number 6066 nor on any other VPAF MiG-19/J-6.
Istvan Toperczer, the author, traveled several times to Vietnam and developed a certain relationship with the authorities there. He was one of the very few foreigners to be given access to VPAF archives, including to unique historical photographs and has had several times the chance to interview the surviving VPAF pilots of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, there is no available photograph of the intriguing machine with serial number 6066 in any of his books related to the VPAF. Nevertheless, my impression is that all the aircraft color profiles from (at least) the above publication are based on actual photographs or descriptions from interviews and not being the product of imagination. Altogether, I found it odd that from all the additional photographs and videos newly available on the internet, not one VPAF MiG-19/J-6 shows any camouflage painting. My assumption is that there might have been a confusion during some interview and a similarly camouflaged MiG-17 might have been mixed with the intriguing MiG-19/J-6 number 6066, which in my amateur opinion, most likely was left in its natural metal finish like all other VPAF MiG-19s/J-6s.
Here I found a short but rare Vietnamese propaganda movie of the 921st Regiment operating MiG-19s during the Vietnam War: