Is This War Hero Dieter Dengler’s Skyraider Aircraft Engine?
Above photo: The mysterious engine in Ban Nakay, with me for scale, not aesthetics.
(Click to enlarge the photos)
I discovered an unusual relic from the Secret War in Laos when I was in the village of Ban Nakay recently.
Ban Nakay is well off the beaten tourist track in Khammouane Province, where many US planes were shot down as they headed to or from the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
In a far corner of the village’s administrative offices, I found the above engine, which I was told was a helicopter rotor engine. It looked pretty big, but I couldn’t immediately think what kind of helicopter it would have belonged to.
I was told it had been dug up by a team searching for UXO in the nearby jungle, but there was nothing on or near the item to say what it was, and there is nothing about it on the internet. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was the first ‘war tourist’ to have seen it.
I decided to take some photos and to ask someone who flew helicopters during the Vietnam War, what they thought it was, and his reply surprised me.
He said it didn’t look like it had come from any helicopter he knew of, and after doing some digging, he said he believed it was the engine from a Skyraider plane.
The photo he unearthed certainly showed similarities, and he thought it was “very possibly the engine of A1E Skyraider (AD-6 or AD-7 model) with the R-3350-26WB engine”
But I wonder if anyone else can confirm this tentative identification?
Unfortunately, whatever became of the rest of the plane, or the pilot, will probably never be known, as I doubt the JPAC teams who search Laos looking for the remains of US Servicemen were ever informed of this discovery, the location of which will almost certainly now be lost.
UPDATE: It is possible that this engine is from the aircraft war hero Dieter Dengler was shot down in, as a member of his family informed me he was shot down nearby and Dieter himself said HE had located the engine, and it was in the middle of a nearby town. Investigations are ongoing.
Dieter was the only US serviceman to escape from captivity in Laos during the Vietnam War.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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