11 October 2009

In Vietnam most Martin B-57 Canberra combat operations were carried out by two squadrons, the 13th and 8th Bomb Squadrons. With a rear echelon base at Clark AB in the Philippines, in 1965 B-57 operations set up shop at Da Nang AB in the northern part of South Vietnam. The two squadrons alternated 60-day deployments to Da Nang, with one squadron in combat while the other squadron rested and trained at Clark. The first missions out of Da Nang were flak suppression sorties to protect the Ranch Hand defoliant spraying flights of C-123 Providers. Going into 1966, missions expanded to include sorties over the Ho Chi Minh Trail as well as night missions over North Vietnam.

The missions over North Vietnam were the most dangerous for the B-57 crews and only the most experienced crews were assigned missions "up north". These missions became known as "Doom Pussy" missions- crews that flew them were entitled to wear a special patch on their flight suits of the "Doom Pussy"- a yellow and orange cat with an eye patch eating a B-57 with the Vietnamese phrase "Trong Mieng Cua Con Meo Cua Tham Phan" which translated as "I have flown into the jaws of the cat of death". Returning crews to Da Nang, after experiencing the abundant AAA fire up north would simply say "I have seen the Doom Pussy".

The cat got its name from the Da Nang Officers Open Mess ("DOOM"). In the bar was a wooden sculpture of a cat that was present before the B-57s arrived at Da Nang in 1965 and when there was a B-57 mission into North Vietnam that night, the cat sculpture was turned to face the wall until the crews returned safely from that night's Doom Pussy missions.

Source: Martin B-57 Canberra: The Complete Record by Robert Mikesh. Schiffer Publishing, 1995, p90-93.

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