Code Name Sani-Flush

Back in October 1965, members of Navy Attack Squadron VA-25, based on USS Midway, found an ingenious means of marking the 6 millionth pound of ordnance dropped on North Viet­namese targets. At the time, carriers were reportedly so short of ordnance that some missions were launched with half a load, just to keep the sortie rate at prescribed levels—a strategy that was understandably unpopular with aircrews. VA-25’s response was to develop and drop its own extremely unconventional weapon: a toilet bomb.

(HistoryNet Archives)
(HistoryNet Archives)

It all started when one of the plane captains rescued a damaged toilet that was just about to be heaved overboard. After the ordnance crew improvised a rack, tailfins and nose fuze for the john, it was “armed up” along with more conventional bombs on A-1H Skyraider NE/572, Paper Tiger II, flown by the squadron’s executive officer, Commander Clarence J. Stoddard. As Stoddard taxied onto the catapult, the flight deck checkers maneuvered to block the view of his specialized ordnance by the captain and air boss. But just as the Skyraider left the deck an irate transmission came from the bridge: “What the hell was on 572’s right wing?” By that time Paper Tiger II was on its way to a target somewhere on the Mekong Delta.

Stoddard’s wingman, Lt. Cmdr. Robin Bacon, was flying 577, which was equipped with a wing-mounted movie camera. When they arrived on target and Stoddard read the ordnance list to the forward air controller, he ended by saying, “…and one code-name Sani-Flush.” The FAC couldn’t resist getting close enough for a good look. Stoddard dropped the toilet during a dive, with Bacon flying in a tight wing position to film the drop. As it turned out, the toilet nearly struck Bacon’s Skyraider as it tumbled in the air—then whistled all the way down.

All hands agreed it made for a great ready room movie.

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