F-100F «MISTY» over North Vietnam
A diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen
In 1967, a group of combat-experienced fighter pilot
volunteers were brought together in South Viet Nam to form
a top secret squadron with the famous call sign — MISTY.
“Misty” was the radio call sign used by F-100F Fast Forward
Air Controllers (Fast FACs) during the Vietnam War.
They were the 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron, and their
mission was to fly the North American F-100F Super Sabre
fast and low over enemy territory, armed with only their
cannons and marking rockets… so low that they could see
the targets… SAMs, AAA sites, trucks, bridges, troops,
Their goal was straightforward: Disrupt the transfer of enemy
supplies and equipment down the Ho Chi Minh trail.
When a Misty located one or more targets, he attacked the target and then directed Air Force and Navy fighter strikes against them.
Misty’s flew the two-seat version of the F-100 Super Sabre
(nick named the “Hun”).
It was very dangerous to operate so low over North Vietnam.
Although they flew fast (350 to 550 mph), and they
continually changed direction to spoil the enemy’s aim,
still, 28% of the Misty pilots were shot down during the
three years they were active.Two Misty’s pilots were shot
down twice, seven were KIA and four was taken POWs.
The Misty Squadron operated from June 1967 – May 1970.
The first Misty pilots designed the basic tactics and
techniques used by follow-on Misty generations. Two pilots
flew on each mission. The front seat pilot flew the aircraft
while the backseater handled the radios and carried maps
and a hand-held 35mm camera with telephoto lens.
The Misty mission was to interdict men and materials
headed to South Vietnam and to prevent SAM deployment
in the area of responsibility.
A typical Misty aircraft configuration was 2 X 335 gallon fuel tanks; two pods of 2.75″ white phosphorous (Willie Pete) smoke rockets (14 total) and 220 rounds of ammunition loaded in two 20mm cannons.
The flight to North Vietnam from their base took approximately 30 minutes. Here they started looking for moving vehicles and targets of opportunity. When they were low on fuel, they used the air force tankers to fill up.
The Mistry’s also worked any
rescues for downed aircraft,
usually capping as on-scene
commander until A-1 “Sandys”
and HH-53 “Jolly Green”
The majority of North
Vietnamese AAA defences
faced by the Mistry’s included
small arms, 50 cal., 14.5mm,
23mm, 37mm, 57mm and
occasional 85mm and 100mm
In 1968 the North Vietnamese repeatedly attempted to deploy SA-2 SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) into the area, and later in 1969 the shoulder-fired infrared missile.
The greatest threat to Misty was the 37mm AAA gun.
As mentioned, the loss rates were high. 28% of the Misty planes were shot down (by small arms, cannons or SAM’s. Not one was downed by enemy fighters).
For this reason the tour length was adjusted to four months (50-60 missions), after which the pilots returned to complete their tours with a unit flying in South Vietnam.
The Misty program was terminated in May of 1970.
A real Misty - at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio
Making the Diorama
The diorama shows a Misty attacking a convoy of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) trucks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The plane passed low over the column after releasing white phosphorous rockets and strafing the convoy with cannon fire.
The Misty aircraft would only make one pass. A second low-level attack would be too dangerous because of the efficient North Vietnamese AA defence.
After the first attack, the Misty would stay in the area directing Air Force and Navy fighter bombers to finish the job – from a safe altitude.
F-100F Super Sabre
The F-100F was a 1/72 from Trumpeter.
The first I did was to fix a metal rod into the aircraft so it could be placed above the ground, somewhere in the diorama.
When the rod was in place, it was a straight forward process to build and paint the plane.
There was two different tail codes on the Misty aircraft (416th Squadron): the planes from Phu Cat Air Base was marked “HE” and the when they operated from Tuy Hoa Air Base they had tail code “SE”
I chose to use the HE code because that was the easiest to make (there was no decals with Misty tail codes)
The WP rocket pods on the outer pylons also had to be made because there was no such weapon in the kit.
The Misty’s carried no bombs, only the external fuel tanks; the rockets pod on the outer pylons and of course the 2x20mm machineguns below the air intake.
I used several different trucks, all in 1/72 and
of Soviet origin.
Looking at pictures from the war in Vietnam,
I added camouflage nets which were used on the trucks.
The trucks carried both supplies and soldiers.
One of the trucks was very near the explosion and was badly hurt by
I used 1/72 North Vietnamese soldiers
The Palm trees
Palm trees was mostly made from scratch using wooden sticks and leaves I found in my back yard.
The tall palm trees was intended for camouflaging the support strut for the attacking “Hun”.
The metal rod which is holding the Super Sabre has to be camouflages as much as possible and I made it look like one of the tall palm trees.
The Hut and the Peasants
I made a peasant hut to give more life to the diorama.
The hut was made by cardboard, wooden spatulas and withered straws (which I collected outside my house).
The figures are mostly from Zvezda.
Among the peasants were some carrying supplies and tending a horse.
When the Super Sabre roared overhead the horse reared.
The base was a wooden plate size 90 x 55cm (35 x 22 inch)
The first I did was to draw the layout on the base; river, road and hill
Then I glued some Styrofoam to the base for easier to sculpt the terrain.
Then I used paper Mache to form the terrain.
The hillsides in Vietnam were heavy forested and I had to find a way to make trees and bushes instead of buying expensive artificial threes,
I went out and picked what I found in the nature.
In my experience this will in most cases be more “natural” than what you can buy.
Of course the stuff I picked will turn brown in time, but a little paint will take care of that.
Another trick is to soak the leafs in Glycerine - and they will keep the green colour.
An example: The reeds along the river are spikes from Barley (which are cultivated not far from my house)
The paper Mache took days to dry, and I used the time to put many of the trees in the still soft stuff, thinking I could paint the ground when it was dry.
If you ever make something like this, do not be a smart guy like me: Wait until the paper Mache have dried, paint the ground and THEN place the trees or whatever you use at vegetation.
It was a heck of a job painting the ground when the “trees” already was in place.
I use a little artificial grass around the hut.
Altogether, I think I used 90% natural and 10% artificial vegetation.
The river was made wet by using a thin layer of Realistic Water (Woodland) on the painted river.
Around the blast zone, I made choppy water with Water Effects, also from Woodland
The background was painted on a cardboard, hopefully giving an impression of the Vietnamese forested mountains.
I started with drilling a hole in the base for the electrical wires.
I decided to use 12V halogen lamps.
I have to see how many I would need when the lights are put on in the end.
My guess is I would probably need
3 or 4 lamps to get enough light in the explosion
Then it was the Chicken Wire cage, the size adjusted to the diorama and the trail where the explosion occurred.
This time I would not have a ball-kind type of explosion.
I have seen many explosions and my guess is that because of the White Phosphorous in the rockets, this will be an explosion with lot of hot gasses shooting off in all directions.
I therefore put some wires on the cage radiating out from the centre.
After testing the lamps and putting some colour cellophane in the cage it was time for the cotton – as little as possible.
After everything was in place, I sprayed the cotton with hairspray to make it stiffen and the used the air brush to colour the smoke (cotton)
I used as little colours as possible, the white explosion should dominate, not black painted cotton.
At the base of the explosion I used earth colour because of all the dust the explosion would produce,
And now comes the best part: Putting everything together to make the diorama.
And here it is:
The F-100F «MISTY» over North Vietnam
How realistic is the diorama?
This diorama is made to honour the incredible brave crews who flew the Misty’s
There are many reasons why a diorama like this never can be an accurate time-capture of what happened in Vietnam in 1969.
To the Misty community, I apologize for all the faults in this work.
That said, it would have made a lousy diorama with a Super Sabre 2000-3000 feet above ground firing a
couple of WP rockets to mark the enemy position.
I needed more drama to make this interesting.
First of all, the Misty needs to be at treetop level – which I know is far too low.
If I should made it more realistic, the Hun would have been at least 10 feet above the diorama (!)
Secondly, the Misty’s did not use bombs, but I "believe" that the rockets from the Misty
might have hit a fuel or ammo truck which exploded (that’s possible isn’t?)
I placed the Hun as far away from the explosion as possible (the diorama is only 35 inch long), but whatever I do,
it will be unrealistic close. I should probably have made the diorama 6 feet long to get it a little more correct.
To shorten a long story: A diorama like this will never be realistic –
but I hope it will be believable and fun to look at – and most of all a tribute to the brave men in the Misty’s
After posting this diorama on my website, I got this interesting comment from the
first Misty intelligence officer (Misty Intel 01) describing an early Misty mission.
“In early morning light the Misty crew spotted diesel exhaust, markedly visible
(a pale greyish-blue) in contrast to the pretty much green foliage.
They saw the smoke disappearing into a tree line.
Suspecting a truck park, they marked the spot with a
white phosphorus rocket, with astounding results:
The rocket set off 28 secondary explosions, sending up a smoke column
so high that incoming fighters did not need further marking and simply bombed
the target all day long.
So ironically, your diorama is extremely accurate”
Misty Intel 01
A “Misty” at the gas station above Vietnam
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