Linebacker Raids - effective or not

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parrothead

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Unread post12 Aug 2007, 03:59

No boredom, just respect.
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TC

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Unread post15 Aug 2007, 02:25

I believe Elp said it best. The Linebacker strikes got the North back to the table, and helped end the war faster than it would have otherwise. If Johnson had done what Nixon had done, about 7 years beforehand, there'd have been a lot less names on the wall.
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a1rao

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Unread post13 Sep 2007, 22:07

Linebacker 2 was concentrated(at first) mostly against MIG airfields. The raids were conducted by huge B-52s and supporting F-111s. During these raids, there were two engagements that were never accepted by both sides. On the first day, Dec.18th - a B-52 tail gunner was credited with shooting down a Mig-21 when attacking Mig bases of Hoa Lac, Kep and Phuc Yen. The second event, which was never accepted by the USAF, was by the NVAF pilot Pham Tuan who was credited with shooting down a B-52, although US sources say that it was a SAM.

Linebacker 2 was very effective in curtailing the operations of Migs. With their airfields in shambles, Mig-21s had to be airlifted to remote STOL fields and had to use SPRD-99 assisted-take off rockets to get into the air. The 12 days of bombing cost the US 31 bombers. Like many said before, the strikes brought about negotiations. Also have to agree with TC that the operations should have been launched much earlier.

Much respect to all the vets and current service members-
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Snake-1

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Unread post13 Sep 2007, 23:50

a1rao

I read your posting with interest and some hesitation ( but then maybe I'm not up to date). Let me explain:

In the USAF Publication "Aces and Aerial Victories" B-52 tail gunners are credited with two kills. One (a MIG 21) on 18 December 72 (SSgt Samual O Turner) and the other on 24 December (again a 21) by A1C Albert E. Moore.

And I have read in some open publication that a 52 was downed by a MIG.

Throughout the 11 days of Christmas there was very little MIG activity over Bulls-eye because the sky was full of SAMs and Triple and they couldn't fully coordinate the MIGs with the other defensive activities they had going on. Of the MIGS that did get airborne 5 MIG 21's were shot down (3 by F-4s and two by B-52 gunners). And if they did come up all the air to air F-4 assets we had would jump them and either shoot them down or drive them out of the fight. And I never heard of 21's using any kind of assisted take off rockets.

Finally, I'm not sure where you are getting your numbers of 31 bombers shot down during the operation. Everything I've read, and saw, was about 11 or 12. Please let me know where you are getting your numbers from.

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a1rao

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Unread post14 Sep 2007, 00:43

Snake-1

My information was sourced from Yefim Gordon's and Peter Davison's technical journal of the Mig-21

During Linebacker 2- the book states that the 12 day campaign cost the USAF 31 giant bombers including 18 that were shot down over Vietnam. Two were downed by Mig-21s, the second falling on Dec 28th (the mig pilot being killed in the attack). The migs were busiest during the day, where they would shadow bomber formations. They had 8 air combats in which, for the loss of three Mig-21s, they shot down 7 US ac including 4 F-4s and a North American RA-5C Vigilante.In each engagement, the NVAF technique was a stern attack followed by a hard break.

The NVAF pilot, who claimed a B-52 kill, is Pham Tuan who became a "hero" of the People's army. Later he went on to become the first Vietnamese cosmonaut.

The book did not refer to the second tail gun kill (although it is very well possible). The book mentions that on Dec 18th, a B-52D tail gunner was credited with shooting down a Mig-21- although NVAF reacords did not show any ac as lost on that evening. The SPRD-99 were assisted take off rockets. They allowed the Mig-21 to take off with a much shorter runway and also would allow the ac to climb to a certain altitude much faster. I also got this information from the same technical volume. Apparently, giant Mi-6 transport helos lifted the Migs to dispersed stol airfields as the main runways were cratered and damaged. This info may not be 100% accurate but the authors were known for doing their research.

Regards,

A1rao
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Snake-1

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Unread post14 Sep 2007, 02:08

a1rao

I would suggest that you go to Google at "Aircraft losses of the Vietnam War" that uses as sources 4 authors. That article claims 31 total losses of 52's for the whole war with only 17 of that 31 to combat operations. Another article in that same thread (B-52 Stratofortress) says that 7 were lost during the Linebacker II operations to SAMs but does not include any shoot down by MIG's. My memory from being there during both daytime and night time operations was as I said about 11.

MIG activity was strong during the first couple of days but down to one or two a day starting on day five or six. And their standard attack was as you say from the stern in a blow through attack but they wouldn't break (that would give us an advantage) but instead either roll inverted or unload and dive for the safety of their triple AAA cover should an air to air fighter chase them. And you have to remember that our intell from the ships in the Gulf and the Birds orbiting over the PDJ told us when any enemy fighter activity got airborne and from where. The only problems on our side was picking them up rapidly with all the airplanes we had over Hanoi on a continuous basis.

Finally, I'm not familiar with either of the authors you quota but I do draw hesitation with two of their offerings. First is the use of MI-6's to transport MIGS to dispersed stol airfields. In my two tours in the north I never once saw any Helicopter activity anywhere in North Vietnam or at any of the airfields. Next is their position that the MIGS would shadow bomber formations. MIGS were never launched unless they were under strict GCI control and since the B-52's were operating above a Chaff blanket the GCI controller's could not see the 52's on their radar screens so therefore they could not shadow them in that environment. And the chaff blanket covered a good twenty mile square section of sky. So if the NVAF GCI controllers launched MIGS in the general direction of the Chaff blanket they would have to go through several flights of air to air fighters there to protect the 52 force thereby risking their primary fighter to a fighter force that owned the sky. And if you go to the article (B-52 Stratofortress) you will see that 7 b-52's were downed by SAMs travailing at Mach 2 plus.

Then there is the question of STOL airfields. The maps we carried were pretty complete as far as the locations of airfields. While drafting this posting I went back to my map and couldn't find any other then the primary ones we watched very closely. Additionally, mission commanders (like myself) would come back from a mission and continually update our master maps so the next go would have the most current info on threats. THe NVAF did not have ancillary airfields as your authors elude to as they would have had to been built on very wet farm lands and would stand out like a sore thumb. Even if that aircraft was only a couple of thousand feet to permit landings. Then you also have to figure the weight of a 21 and the support necessary to recover and relaunch if desired.

Sorry, but something just doesn't sound right here.

Snake
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a1rao

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Unread post14 Sep 2007, 21:15

Snake

Sir, I am just a simple kid with a passion for anything to do with the military. Unlike yourself, my knowledge about the Linebacker operations(and the Vietnam war in general) is limited to reading and regurgitating various texts. Fortunately, there are forums like this, which facilitate the exchange of ideas and information. Moreover, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to converse with some one who was not only present, but who also had an integral part in the day to day line backer operations. Gordon and Davison's book relies heavily on Russian sources and documentation. As in any conflict, there will be varying reports from either respective side.

Acording to Globalsecurity.org-

"Overall Air Force losses included fifteen B-52s, two F-4s, two F-111s, and one HH-53 search and rescue helicopter. Navy losses included two A-7s, two A-6s, one RA-5, and one F-4. Seventeen of these losses were attributed to SA-2 missiles, three to daytime MiG attacks, three to antiaircraft artillery, and three to unknown causes."

This following link explains a little bit about the Mi-6 and also states that they were used to air lift 17s and 21s-

http://richard-seaman.com/Aircraft/Muse ... index.html

"If you still doubt the size of this machine, consider this - the Mi-6 can carry twice as much as the largest American helicopter, the CH-64 Tarhe "Sky Crane" - in fact, it's capable of lifting a Tarhe. The accompanying sign said that it had often lifted MiG-17s and MiG-21s; the Vietnamese would conceal their aircraft in servicing areas in the jungle and airlift them to a roughly prepared field for takeoff, then return them to the jungle afterwards. Most remarkable perhaps is the Hook's ability to transport up to 120 people when it's in its high-density seating configuration! When it's in forward flight, the 15 meter span wings provide about 20 per cent of the total lift; these wings are detachable and are normally not used when the helicopter is being used for fire-fighting."


I am sorry if any of my previous points seemed over-assertive. I am just merely going off the info available to me.


"but instead either roll inverted or unload and dive for the safety of their triple AAA cover should an air to air fighter chase them"

That is a very interesting point. Would the Migs ever attack and then run- to try to pull following US aircraft into SAM or AAA traps? Seems like a tactic that an out numbered and technologically inferior force would pull. Heard of similar tactics during the 1982 Lebanon airwar. Syrian migs would engage more advanced IAF aircraft and run, hoping to pull them into a SAM trap.


Regards,

A1rao
Last edited by a1rao on 14 Sep 2007, 22:21, edited 2 times in total.
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Snake-1

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Unread post14 Sep 2007, 22:04

A1rao

I applaud your quest for aviation knowledge it sounds like what I did starting at about 7 years old. And its good to ask questions to understand better.

And you are right on varying reports from both sides they are numerous and doubtful they will match one another so be careful citing exact numbers cause there ain't no such thing.

On the Helicopter thing (slinging MIGS and carrying them to remote fields for maintenance) we need to get Gums, Busch and any others into this thread cause I don't remember ever seeing any Helo's at any of the airfields, enroute to somewhere, or anything else. And I seriously doubt that a runway capable of supporting a MIG 21 would go un-noticed to the many, many U.S. flights transisting Route PAC six on a daily basis. I just don't think it happened and your authors brush over it to lightly for such a unique operation.

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Unread post15 Sep 2007, 06:51

Salute!

Gotta support Snake on this thread.

The 15 number for Buff losses during the 12 Days of Christmas seems about right.

First night was severe - seems like 3, 4 or more on the board when I walked into Ft Apache that next morning ( about 0500 local) to get the intell brief before setting up on Sandy alert. What got our attention was the number of aircrew - like 5 or 6 per plane. Also, some of the planes had same call signs, indicating they were in a formation - e.g., Straw 01, Straw 03 etc. Then we noted the coordinates. Coords were very near Bullseye. Hmmmmmm.

Our wing then proceeded to launch 16-ship attack formations, and later 32-shippers. 354th TFW, flying A-7D's.

****************

First two days were airfields, so part of a1's idea seems believeable.

Third day we went Downtown and I was Green 16 (356th TFS Green Demons). We hit a railyard smak dab in the middle of town. Weather was clear, so we rolled in visual from about 20k and dropped 2,000 pounders. Real good BDA from the F-4's flying with us for LORAN backup, and later from photo recce - AvWeek had same pics, BTW.

I returned two more times, hitting storage sites and such Downtown.

***************

I seriously doubt many Mig-21 sorties involved rocket-assisted takeoffs from remote airfields. Maybe a few, but not enough to be of any concern.

On one mission we had a Mig-21 RTB to Gia Lam, the international airport. He had just smoked an F-4 MigCap - DeSoto xx. I got the tape of the two crew talking to us and each other as they floated down to be captured.

We and some Buffs and 'vaarks did hit the Mig fields the first few days. But we then switched to Downtown and surrounding area, as they had been virgin for 4 years. Even with the bombing, the primary Mig fields could still be used to some extent.

**************

One thing that the Buffs did was to force the Vee to use beacoup SAM's. By the time we got there later in the day the SAM's were few and far between.

By day 8 or 9, most of the SAM's were cartwheeling after launch as they had not been properly checked out. By day 10, SAM's were not a serious threat and Buff losses went to zero, which must have terrifiesd the Vee, as we could now drop massive ordnance around the clock with few, if any, losses.

***************

As far as history goes, I highly recommend asking those of us who were actually there, even if we are not "respected" authors.

Texas Tech has an ongoing program involving "oral histories", so consider going there for neat stuff. Also attend some of the reunions we old farts have. One just occured last week, another three months ago, and another on 4 October at Ft Walton Beach. There, you can talk to folks who actually were at the battles, and not just read crapola from some dudes who never got their skinny butts shot at.

gotta log,

P.S. Joe Ettinger ussualy shows at the Air Commando Reunion, the one on 4 Oct. in Ft Wlton Beach, FL. Quite a legendary figure, I assure you.
Last edited by Gums on 15 Sep 2007, 16:21, edited 1 time in total.
Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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parrothead

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Unread post15 Sep 2007, 10:21

Great stuff, GUMS :thumb: ! Thanks :D !

About those reunions - I'm going to the Roadrunners Internationale reunion in October 8) . Hearing the stories about the development and deployment of the black jets from Lockheed and the building of a base I've only been about 11.5 miles from is something special.
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
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Unread post15 Sep 2007, 19:01

Gums -- THanks for coming up on Freq!!!!

A1rao

Last night I went back to the link that you suggeted and viewed the helo under discussion. My conclusion here is that there is no way something that large would not have been seen either on the ground or in the air. Additionally, in the air the rotors would be highly visible from above and it would be easy meat on the table. If operated at night our intell sources would pick up any exchange between the pilots and GCI controllers. Or if radio silent our radars would track it and being slow moving would iD it as a chopper.

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Unread post15 Sep 2007, 20:25

Salute! Horrido!

Yeah, easier to move "Blue Bandits" ( he can look it up, or just ask, heh heh) on a flatbed or a big pick-up.

Hey Snake, will be in touch. Also, request you piush to the F4 thread on "other aircraft". Kid needs to get in touch with some reality.

Few of us on these BB's have two or more combat tours, and in different jets, at that.

out,
Gums
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Unread post15 Sep 2007, 20:37

Gums

Copy!!!

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Unread post16 Sep 2007, 22:33

Gums,

Heard that at some point the NVA actually ran out of SAMs. Don't mean to be over assertive, please take my points with a pinch of salt-

Snake,

If you vets say that it was not possible to mount helo operations, there is not much I can argue and I will have to agree.

Regards,

A1rao
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Unread post16 Sep 2007, 22:33

repeat
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