Puff The Magic Dragon (Not the song)
My last post was on the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” which lead my thoughts to another Puff the Magic Dragon which has nothing to do with music. Does anyone know what I am referring to? During the Vietnam War there was a need for a close in support aircraft that could give a concentrated volume of fire on a small area. So the Air Force developed the Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship or “Puff the Magic Dragon.” For you aircraft buffs this is nothing more than the famous DC-3 passenger plane converted for use by our Air Force.
This Puff was not a charming dragon who played with Jackie Paper. The “Puff” as seen above was armed to the teeth with three 7.62 mm gatling guns each capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute (that is exactly 100 rounds a second.) It could orbit the target for hours providing suppressing fire for our guys on the ground. The firing coverage of the Spooky gunship was an area approximately 52 yards in diameter, or placing a round every 2.4 yards during a 3-second burst. I’m sure this did wonders for the morale of our troops on the ground when Vietnamese forces were closing in on them. On the other hand The Spooky made for a very bad day for the bad guys caught out in the open. The aircraft also carried flares, which it could drop to illuminate the battleground so they could provide fire support at night.
The “Puff” is still around today but now it is an AC-130 gunship based on the C-130 Hercules.