Members’ Military History Lecture – Vietnam: The Helicopter Comes of Age

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Ian Passingham will discuss the use of helicopters during the Vietnam War. He will draw upon a number of operations that demonstrated the battlefield helicopter’s potential and vulnerabilities, as well as the most salient lessons learned at that time. Finally, he will consider the legacy of the helicopter’s ‘coming of age’ in Vietnam for both current and future conflict.


Ian Passingham served for over seventeen years in the Army as a member of the Royal Hampshire Regiment and in staff appointments. This service included postings to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falkland Islands, Kenya, Germany (including Berlin) and the former East Germany.

He was educated at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School and the University of Keele, where he gained a degree (BA) in Modern History and Geography. Ian left the Army as a Major in 1995 to pursue a second career as a defence analyst and historian. As a defence analyst he has worked for the Ministry of Defence on a number of current and historical military issues, including counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, the use of battlefield helicopters and urban conflict in Chechnya, Bosnia and Vietnam.

Since November 2006, he has worked for both Headquarters Army Air Corps and the Joint Helicopter Command within the Concepts and Doctrine Branch. He has written three books: Pillars of Fire: The Battle of Messines Ridge, June 1917, (1998); All the Kaiser’s Men: The Life and Death of the German Army on the Western Front (2004) and The German Offensives of 1918: The Last Desperate Gamble (2008). He has also written and directed a 26 part TV series for the History Channel, entitled Clash of Warriors. Ian is an experienced historical tours guide and is a member of a number of associations, including the Royal United Services Institute, the Western Front Association, the British Commission for Military History and the German Historical Institute. He is also a Research Fellow at the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham. 



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