The Vietnam war was costly, and by 1965, resources were stretched thin. Planes would routinely fly with half-load of ordnance to keep up the sortie rates, which the pilots weren’t too pleased with. The crew of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) decided to develop a new type of warfare to make up for the shortage of bombs, and while they didn’t name their invention, “Germ warfare’ would be a fitting name for it.
Improvisation is the key
The improvised payload was a toilet removed from the Enterprise. Presumably, it was no longer functional and was to be thrown overboard. But the crew wouldn’t let it go to waste and decided to modify it instead so it could be fitted into the plane’s empty pylons.
And they were serious about these modifications. A nose section was added as well as tailfins on the back. Making the toiler as aerodynamic as possible. The “toilet bomb” would also be a gift to the Vietnamese to commemorate the six millionth pound of ordnance dropped during the war up to that point.
The toilet was attached to an A-1H Skyraider NE/572 “Paper Tiger II, ” from VA-25 “Fist of the Fleet,” piloted by Commander Clarence W. Stoddard.
What’s that on the wing?
The WW2-era aircraft was still going strong and proved itself useful in Vietnam. Its piston-powered engine, while obsolete, was still capable of carrying immense loads. As the plane was catapulted from the Enterprise’s deck, a message came through the ship’s intercom. “What the hell was on 572’s right wing?!”
The mission was to bomb an area in Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. After completion, Stoddard reeled off his list of ordnance, finishing with ‘and one code name Sani-flush.’
Aerodynamic it was not
Stoddard was accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Robin Bacon in Skyraider NE/577. He filmed the entire process with his wing camera, which was fitted on the aircraft during WW2. The Crew of the enterprise undeniably did their best to make the improvised “bomb” as aerodynamic as possible, but there’s only so much that can be done, and at the end of the day, it was still a toilet. After it was dropped, it ended up nearly hitting the Skyraider.
Sadly Stoddard was killed in action while flying 572. Three SAM missiles hit his aircraft while flying over Vietnam. This elaborate joke immortalizes him, and his story serves as an example of soldiers making the most of it and having fun during genuinely dark and difficult times.