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From: (Stephen M. Ryan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: B-52s ? (Linebacker II revisionism)
Date: 10 Mar 1996 20:32:43 GMT

WEI ( wrote:

:    Now back to the B-52s. Nixon publicly stated the reason for the air 
: offensive was to force Hanoi to release the POWs, 

Reference? The publicly stated reason was to bring the NV back to the 
negotiations they walked out on in Paris.

: but the campaign itself 
: led to the loss of at least 15 B-52s and 11 fighter bombers(Hanoi claimed 
: much higher American losses), increasing by 93 the number of POWs. The 
: losses, meanwhile, were more than the US air force could stand. As the 
: losses mounted, the generals wanted out. Coupled with the worldwide 
: opposition to the bombing, Nixon called off the B-52s, and agreed to sign a 
: cease fire agreement. Thus ending the most sordid act of this most sordid 
: of all American war. 12 days that will live in infamy.

More generalizations and attributions without any basis in fact.  It was 
the Vietnamese who suddenly returned to sign the agreement after walking 
out on it before.  Faced with devastation of their limited industrial 
capability and armament stockpiles, they decided to sign the agreement.  
You claim Nixon bombed himself into submission--ridiculous!

: Nixon claimed that the bombing had done the trick, but in reality it had 
: more than ever solidified the North Vietnameses' resolve. They could 
: clearly see what evil they were fighting against. Less then 3 years later, 
: they defeated the puppet government in the south. Linebacker II was a 
: tactical success, but a strategic failure. It's perhaps the best example 
: that terrorism would never succeed.

You can't have it both ways--tactical success or losses to great to
sustain?  Which is it?  And three years is a long time to defeat a puppet
government, which I assume is one that doesn't represent the will of the
people.  They could have rolled over for NV's puppet government anytime
after 1973 without so much as a finger of assistance from the US, which
had washed its political hands of Vietnam, with the assistance of
Congress.  Meanwhile, the NVA was contiuously supplied and assisted by the
USSR, while US military aid dropped off dramatically from 1973 onwards. 
Three years is a long time to hold off under such circumstances--must have
been some legitimacy to the government in there somewhere.  

If the B-52's had been targeting civilian population centers (as claimed
in the previous post), there would have been thousands upon thousands of
civilian dead--no evidence ever presented of that.  In fact, the Iraqis
made the same claim--never substantiated, either.  How do you hide so many
dead civilians? 

The US is too cognizant and careful of world opinion to ever give the
other side such a marvelous tool to destroy its image.  This is why
targets were carefully selected, and collateral damage minimal--strict
rules of engagement to avoid killing civilians to the extent possibile.
However, the NV and Iraqis both learned the lesson of "what goes up, must
come down" when their SAM and AAA fell back on their heads.  Shells and
SAM warheads can devastate a hospital or housing area as easily as a M82
bomb.  Not all the collateral damage, or even most of it, was due to 
bombs falling off target--it was due to their own considerable 
anti-aircraft defenses.

You should read some scholarly books instead of Mother Jones or General
Giap's account of the war--you might get a more tenable perspective (even
if it doesn't agree with mine :^}). 

Steve Ryan

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Linebacker II
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 1996 17:26:55 GMT (Matthew Hamer) wrote:

>Maybe it's old hat on this newsgroup, but has anyone ever considered how 
>things in SEA might have turned out if Rolling Thunder had been replaced by 
>Linebacker II?
>Meaning massive aerial interdiction of POL, utilities, harbours and 
>transportation in the north, circa 1968.

There was no significant difference in the Air Order of Battle, the
force basing, the tanker support, the target list, the ingress routes
or the tactics between Rolling Thunder (1965-68) and Linebacker
(April-Nov-72). The addition of B-52 strikes in Pack VI during
Linebacker II (18-30 Dec 72) was the only change.

>It seems clear to me that Linebacker II ended things over there, but one is 
>left wondering about the many possible outcomes, and those who are not 
>McNamara fans might wish to consider :
>1. What was threat of escalation to conflict outside the theatre, and in 
>particular, the glow in the dark kind?

Escalation was a consideration, but in retrospect, most consider it
was unlikely. The ROE provided a 20 mile buffer with China and
proscribed attacks on naval vessels in port (Russian, Swedish, etc.)
Despite this, there were attacks that damaged non-belligerent vessels
and I personally was involved in attacks within the buffer zone as
well as an incursion of nearly 100 miles into China, without an
repercussions or even diplomatic protests.

>2. Would this have ended NVA movement into the south?

Probably not.

>3. Could USAF forces in SEA have mounted a Linebacker II type mission in 1967 
>or 1968?

We did, every day.

>Could history have been rewritten 5 years earlier?

We all hoped that we could bring an end to the war, but the constraint
was political resolve not military capability. Clearly Linebacker II
demonstrated that we could compel negotiations within twelve short
days when the airpower was allowed to operate with minimal constraint.
We should have closed the airfields, we should have destroyed the SAM
sites in 1966 (it was prohibited by ROE to drop on a SAM site under
construction or even operational until fired upon.) We should have
mined the harbors and closed the ports. We should have destroyed the
hydro-electric capability. We could have, but we weren't allowed to.

 Ed Rasimus                 *** Peak Computing Magazine
    Fighter Pilot (ret)     ***    (
                            *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                            ***    (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: BAT*21 (The Movie)
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 14:47:35 GMT (Damien Burke) wrote:

>On Fri, 14 Feb 1997 19:27:20 GMT, (Corsair) wrote:
>>Weren't F-5s (or perhaps T-38s) used in Apocalypse Now as well? I'm referring
>>to the scene where aircraft Napalm an area just after the infamous helicopter
>>scene and just before the well known quote "I love the smell of Napalm in the
>>morning. I don't know, it smells like... freedom."
>                                          ^^^^^^^

Yep, napalm in the morning smells like...VICTORY.

But why the problem with the F-5 line abreast napalm delivery in
Apocalypse Now? There were both USAF and VNAF F-5s in-theater flying
close air support missions in the South. The F-5As were fully capable
of carrying BLU-1/2 napalm cans, as many as four per aircraft, and it
wouldn't have been tactically unsound to do a line-abreast delivery.

I've got to confess, that every time I see AN I'm forced to think back
on the war. The pervasive "whap, whap whap..." of the Huey's, the
compounds festooned with hundreds of lights to hold back the darkness,
and the costuming of the military with Air Cav hats, patent leather
Sam Browne belts, tiger stripe camo and brightly colored scarves.

Yep, the movie captures the tone and the madness exactly.

 Ed Rasimus                 *** Peak Computing Magazine
    Fighter Pilot (ret)     ***    (
                            *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                            ***    (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: 'Curtis LeMay Was Right About Vietnam"
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 1997 14:38:53 GMT wrote:

>: "One of "Hap" Arnold's successors as USAF Chief of Staff , Gen. Curtis
>: LeMay, lives on in notoriety for hhis suggestion that the US 'bomb
>: Vietnam back into the Stone Age.' ... Boyne suggests that if the
>: Pentagon had adopted LeMay's approach, The V'War would have been much
>: briefer and ended much differently."... writes Pinkerton.
>	Yes, quite likely with mushroom clouds blossoming over every
>major city on earth!  And, of course, one could argue that most of the
>Vietnamese populations agrarian lifestyle was *already* pretty much stone
>age -- Threatening to destory a nations "industrial base" with strategic
>bombing isn't much of a threat when they haven't got much of an
>industrial base to start with.

Actually, leaving aside the hyperbole of the "back to the Stone Age"
remark, the total application of airpower (ala Douet) would have
resulted in a drastically shortened conflict. The theory that 1) power
should be applied incrementally allowing the opponent an opportunity
to capitulate with minimum damage, 2) that the political situation in
the US could be manipulated by adjustments to SEA involvement, and 3)
that long range manipulations of tactical objectives could be
effective were all proven wrong.

In a rare historical occurence the result of application of the
unfettered force theory is proven in the Vietnam conflict. The
incrementalism of the Rolling Thunder campaign with its high losses
and relative ineffectiveness can be directly contrasted with the
twelve day campaign of Linebacker II which resulted in a treaty in
less than a month after implementation and return of our POWs in less
than 60 days.

>	LeMay, hmmmmm, I don't recall HIM going to Vietnam to run the air
>war? What was that complaint about far off "Pentagon Brass" that didn't
>understand the war trying to shoehorn in their pet theories? Just what
>the theatre commanders wanted, yet another distant 4(?) star with a
>"surefire" way to end the war in a hurry.  :-)

General LeMay was in the out-processing line at personnel when the
Vietnam conflict started in 1964. He was never a "chief" either of SAC
or the JCS during the majority of the policy making on the use of
airpower in Vietnam. His comments were solicited as an authoritative
source based on his reputation and experience not as a member of the
decision making bodies.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: B-52 mutiny in Vietnam...anyone know details?
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 14:17:22 GMT (Rick Simon) wrote:

>In article <>, wrote:
>>John Kunkel wrote:
>>> As I remember it the BUFF crews were ordered to take the shortest route
>>> to the sea after bombing Hanoi to lessen the possibility of AC going
>>> down over land and the secret gear on board being recovered by the
>>> enemy.

There wasn't much "secret gear" in the B-52s at the time. The much
vaunted ECM suite that was supposed to protect perfectly against the
SA-2 really didn't do the job very well at all. The issue of getting
"feet wet" was purely one of survival. On the ground in Pack 6, you
get captured, in the Gulf you get picked up.

>>>After a few raids the NV figured it out and set up a "gauntlet"
>>> of AA to await the outbound BUFFs.

BUFF cells operated at altitudes well above the reach of any AAA. The
only weapons that reached them were SA-2s and the occasional MiG-21.

> IIRC - it wasn't only the egress routing. For the first 5 days or so of
>Linebacker II, the main ingress routes were also the same. Crews at debriefing
>were talking of well over 100 SAMs fired per "cell". There was also a lot of
>grumbling over flying the same route, at the same altitude, at the same time
>of day, day after day. The first day or two resulted in only a few losses, but
>then the loss rate started to climb very fast as more and more SAMs were lined
>up down these "corridors".

Losses during LB-II were three on the first night, three on the second
night, and six on the third night. From that point on losses were
negligible. The pace of operations with BUFFs at night and TacAir
forces during the day meant that SAM expenditures were well above
resupply rates and by day six of the campaign SAMs were no longer much
of a factor.

> By the eigth day or so it didn't much matter any more since the North
>Vietnamese had pretty well run out of SAMs anyway. The last few days of the
>campaign were flown with practically no opposition.
>>Sorry, but all flights originated from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.
>>They flew their mission and then went on to Utapao Air base in Bangkok,
>>Thailand. Rest up and return to Guam. we had 3 sorties every 15 minutes
>>for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, constantly!!!
>> I was there!

You might have been there, but you never flew a daylight sortie over
RP-VI. In fact you never flew a daylight sortie over North Vietnam.
B-52 day operations were only conducted as Arc Light missions in South
Vietnam where there were no appreciable threats and no BUFFs were ever

During LB-II, there were 150 B-52 sorties on night one, the 18th of
December and then 90 sorties a night thereafter until the conclusion
eleven nights later.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

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