Royal Thai
Air Force

All text and photographic
on this site is
© Peter Lewis
1999, 2001
unless otherwise acknowledged





 "Enjoyed looking at the photographs.  They brought back fond memories of my childhood.  My father was Director of the Repair Shop for the RTAF during the second WW.  The main repair facility was in Korat (Nakorn Rajchasima).  I was about 11 years old and frequently accompanied him to the air field.  Being the Colonels' son, I had the run of the hangar and was able to climb in and out of the aircrafts in various stages of repair or scavenging.

I recall standing on the wing of a Curtis Hawk biplane with retractable gear looking into the cockpit while it was being started and run up.  My father's assistant (later a Cabinet Minister) had taken me out to see how planes were started.  I remember the mechanic cranking up the flywheel and the pilot calling out "Contact" in Thai.  I thought I was going to be blown off the wing.  Fortunately I had been warned and knew what to expect.

Every day around noon, there would be very high-flying A/C that I cound hear but never see.  My father told me that it was a recon. plane.  One day he had the roof of all the hangars taken off ostensibly to repaint the support structures but it was done so the the allies could determine what A/C's were in the hangars.  (The Japanese were using the same air field and runway but were on the otherside of the runway.)

During the day, the Thai had their watercooled machine guns pointing skyward as antiaircraft units but at night the machine guns along the runway were lowered and aimed across the runway towards the Japanese side. The Japanese probably did the same.

By the way, one of the unknown aircraft in the museum that you thought was a DH Chipmunk conversion has the name Chantra in Thai lettering on the vertical stabilizer.  I think they had a few Chipmunks after the war as trainer.  They also had a few Bearcats.  Do not recall seeing any photographs of a Bearcat.

That reminds me of another story.  My fathers left the RTAF after WWII and joined Standard Oil.  He was in charge of the aviation section and kept in touch with his old buddies by having lunch at the Officer's Club at Don Muang.  The US sold the Bearcats and sent instructors to train the Thai pilots (JUSMAG - Joint US Military Assistance Group).  He was having lunch with one of the American instructor.  This fellow asked my father why the average Thai pilots that were being instructed had a much shorter attention span his American counterpart.  He said the Thai pilots would wear out after about 45 minutes of instruction whereas an American would last about an hour or more.  My father told him to look around the dining room and see what the average Thai diet was like.  That there was very little protein compared to the hamburger that the instructor was eating."

Santi Vibul