In one of the most hair-raising photos of the Vietnam War, an automated camera mounted on the nose of Maj. Don Harten’s F-105 captured the image of a Soviet-made SA-2 surface-to-air missile skimming at a speed of about 2,600 mph only a few feet beneath the belly of Maj. Harten’s jet, which was flying over Hanoi on Feb. 22, 1968, on its way to bomb the nearby Hoa Lac Air Field. A split second later, the missile detonated just ahead of the F-105’s nose. In a mission report, military aviation experts stated that the plane was well within the missile’s “kill zone” and were puzzled at how the jet and its pilot escaped unscathed. This is almost certainly the closest photo ever taken…

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Craig K. Collins

Author of Midair (Lyons Press, 2016) and Thunder in the Mountains (Lyons Press, 2014). At work on a novel, as well as a book of historical non-fiction.