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The B-52's Psychological impact
Tuesday, November 6, 2001 | self

Posted on 11/06/2001 8:54:14 AM PST by BobP

In Dec '72 I was at Utapao Royal Thai AFB for Linebacker II, where we had 54 B-52D's. Andersen AB on Guam had 99 B-52G's and 53 B-52D's, for a grand total of 206 "Buffs".

Wrenches cranked overtime here as we built the bombs that B-52s flying Linebacker II missions dropped on Hanoi. Building bombs was our business, and in those days, business was good.

We ammo airmen say the most satisfying feeling comes when we see a Buff that departs fully loaded, then returns with nothing aboard but a smiling pilot.

Here's some stuff I have researched and saved on disk:

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The B-52's Psychological impact
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The most dramatic illustration of generalized interdiction is provided by the use of B-52 strategic bombers for this mission.

The B-52 is in a class by itself. Originally designed to deliver nuclear weapons, it was adapted for conventional munitions early during the Indochina war and has since been in very extensive use there, including some activity in each of the 5 theaters. Its enormous cargo capacity suggested a new concept in the conduct of the Indochina air war. Outfitted with racks to carry conventional bombs, a B-52D can carry eighty-four 500-pound bombs internally and twenty-four 750-pound bombs under its wings and will release them rapidly to lay down a saturation pattern of explosives on the ground.

The B-52s flew in formation of three aircraft referred to as a cell. Each cell was identified by an assigned call sign, usually a color; that is, Red One, Two, and Three. The aircraft flew in a two-mile trail with one mile between each plane, with the formation stacked up to provide a 500-foot-altitude separation from the preceding aircraft.

A typical mission will saturate an area of more than a square mile with bombs. Everything within this area is demolished. To witness such a raid is to witness a disaster of major proportions.

If a target required greater firepower than three B-52s could deliver, then a "wave" or "compression" was formed by adding cells to get the desired number of bombs on target.

More than half of the tonnage of aerial munitions dropped on RVN was delivered by B-52s.

The first B-52 strike was carried out by 27 bombers in June 1965.

When ground troops afterwards penetrated the target area they did not find evidence of any NLF casualties, nor significant damage to facilities. However, these raids continued and were intensified. The NLF probably had advance warning in many cases through security leaks; but the purpose of the bombing was not so much its direct military effectiveness as its psychological and strategic impact:

The B-52's mission would be to harass the enemy, disrupt his normal activities, permit aim to respite from act even in his jungle redoubts, and wear him down psychologically.

It seems reasonable to suggest that the main contribution of B-52s has been the constricting effect the bombings have had on the enemy's freedom of movement and range of action. Emphasis then focuses on the psychological effect on the enemy of being bombed--or what is perhaps almost as disturbing, the threat of being bombed--and its debilitating effect on enemy plans for major operations.

More than 10 million craters have now been created in RVN alone, mostly by 500-lb. and 750-lb bombs dropped by B-52 bombers. This is equivalent to some 2.5 billion cubic yards of soil.

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A guerrilla's life under the B-52 bombers
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In the jungle, life's conspicuous features were the same for everyone. We lived like hunted animals, an existence that demanded constant physical and mental alertness.

Of all the privations and hardships, nothing the guerrillas had to endure compared with the stark terror of the B-52 bombardments. Bombs of all sizes and types were disgorged by these high-altitude predators, which were invisible to us on the ground. The statistics convey some sense of the concentrated firepower that was unleashed on both North and South--more than three times the tonnage dropped by the U.S. in World War II. From our perspective, these figures translated into an experience of undiluted psychological terror day after day over years.

From half a mile away, the roar of the explosions tore eardrums, leaving many of the jungle dwellers permanently deaf. The shock waves knocked their victims senseless. Any hit within a quarter of a mile would collapse the walls of an unreinforced bunker, burying alive the people cowering inside.

The bomb craters were gigantic, 30 feet across and nearly as deep.

It was something of a miracle that from 1968 through 1970 the attacks, though they caused significant casualties generally, did not kill a single military or civilian leader in the headquarters complexes. This luck, though, had a lot to do, too, with accurate advance warning of the raids, which allowed us to move out of the way, or to take refuge in our bunkers, before the bombs began to rain down.

B-52's from Okinawa and Guam would be picked up by Soviet intelligence trawlers in the South China Sea.

Often the warnings would give us time to grab some rice and escape on foot or bike down an emergency route. Hours later we would return to find, as happened on several occasions, that there was nothing left.

It was as if an enormous scythe had swept the jungle, felling giant trees like grass, shredding them into billions of scattered splinters. On these occasions the complex would be utterly destroyed: food, clothes, supplies, documents, everything.

It was not just that things were destroyed; in some awesome way they had ceased to exist. You would come back to where your lean-to and bunker had been, your home, and there would simply be nothing there, just an unrecognizable landscape gouged by immense craters.

Equally as often, though, we were not so fortunate, and had time only to take cover as best we could. The first few times I experienced a B-52 attack it seemed, as I strained to press myself into the bunker floor, that I had been caught in the Apocalypse. The terror was complete. One lost control of bodily functions as the mind screamed futile orders to get out.

On one occasion a Soviet delegation was visiting our ministry when an attack began with especially short notice. No one was hurt, but the entire delegation sustained considerable damage to its amour--uncontrollable trembling and wet pants the all-too-obvious outward signs of inner convulsions.

The visitors could have spared themselves their embarrassment; each of their hosts was a veteran of the same symptoms.

Eventually, though, the shock of the bombardments wore off, giving way to a sense of abject fatalism. The veterans would no longer scrabble at the bunker floors convulsed with fear. Instead, people just resigned themselves— fully prepared to "go and sit in the ancestors' corner."

The B-52's somehow put life in order. Many of those who survived the attacks found that afterward they were capable of viewing life from a more serene and philosophical perspective. It was a lesson that remained with me, as it did with many others, and helped me compose myself for death on more than one future occasion.

Linebacker II began for the B-52s at Andersen AFB, Guam, at 1451 hours local time, December 18, 1972. The first bomber began its takeoff run down the two-mile runway, black smoke plumes streaming from it nacelles. It gained speed, lifted free and headed for Hanoi. Behind it, bomber after bomber moved to the runway, ran up to full power and began its cumbersome acceleration to gain flying speed.

The "Buff" force was a mixed group of B-52D and G models; the former had been modified in the "Big Belly" program to carry 108 x 500-lb bombs. The G models generally were armed with 27 x 750-lb bombs.

Linebacker II was the last mighty strike of a terrible war.



TOPICS: Miscellaneous; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 11/06/2001 8:54:14 AM PST by BobP
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To: BobP

4/01 -- Paired B52s hit Deshitiquala

11/2/-1 bombing B52s in Tutakhan (25 mi from Kabul)

10/30/01


2 posted on 11/06/2001 9:02:05 AM PST by Diogenesis
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To: BobP
The war in Vietnam ended when we got serious about the war (i.e., Linebacker II).

The North Vietnamese ran back to the peace table to sign the armistice, when we began to pound North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II.

We should have done that in 1965, and saved over 58,000 American lives, and hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese lives plus the lives of our allies (i.e., South Korea, Australia, etc.)

I remember, and find it hard to forgive.

3 posted on 11/06/2001 9:05:08 AM PST by Tuco-bad
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To: BobP; blam
Thank you for your service!
4 posted on 11/06/2001 9:05:53 AM PST by 4CJ
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To: BobP
Thanks for the great info.

Just watch out, there's some guy that hits every B-52 story and insists that it's BUF with one F.

Maybe he's given up now that he's been shown the error of his ways, but probably not.

My father's Godson guarded them at Offut in the seventies. He first told me the acronym and it's meaning. He told me it was BUFF with two Fs.

Being twelve or thirteen at the time, I was mighty impressed with that "cool" nickname.

5 posted on 11/06/2001 9:12:07 AM PST by Yankee
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To: Tuco-bad
An article in Viet Nam magazine said the N. Vietnamese were ready to surrender and were advised to surrender (by the Chinese and Russians) during LBII. The Cubans said they should not. So we won and then left as if we had lost. It was shameful.

You are right. We could have done it in the beginning. LBJ let himself be manipulated by the Left. Like Clinton, he was a dictator and a terror to everyone who knew him, but weak and spineless as a leader of America.

6 posted on 11/06/2001 9:17:08 AM PST by Chemnitz
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To: Yankee
I always read that it was "big ugly fat fu##er" = BUFF
7 posted on 11/06/2001 9:17:47 AM PST by PokeyJoe
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To: Yankee
Ok, you gotta help us civvies out - what does "BUF" stand for? (I'm thinking of a very obvious one, but want to make sure).
8 posted on 11/06/2001 9:23:18 AM PST by egarvue
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To: PokeyJoe
That's just what "cousin" Danny told me all those years ago.

Like I said, mighty impressive to an adolescent boy!

9 posted on 11/06/2001 9:25:34 AM PST by Yankee
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To: Diogenesis
Well, this time there is no advance warning. I have to admit, if I had 10 minute's warning, I would run like hell. These bombings have got to be taking a toll on the opposition. The problem in Vietnam was the advance warning. I can't see where the Taliban has such warning.
10 posted on 11/06/2001 9:27:21 AM PST by TKEman
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To: egarvue
"Big Ugly Fat Fellow" in mixed company.

Use your imagination on the last word, if you're just around the boys.

11 posted on 11/06/2001 9:28:07 AM PST by Yankee
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To: BobP
What a hear-warming story!
12 posted on 11/06/2001 9:30:25 AM PST by MaxwellWolf
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To: BobP
Wow, 10 million 500lb bombs, 2.5 megatons but a lot more damage than any single 2.5 megaton nuke could ever do.
13 posted on 11/06/2001 9:37:30 AM PST by biblewonk
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To: Chemnitz
LBJ let himself be manipulated by the Left.

Manipulated by the Left? LBJ was the Left.

14 posted on 11/06/2001 9:38:41 AM PST by LTCJ
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To: LTCJ
I think LBJ had no position at all. The Caro study of LBJ's life showed a man who was utterly ruthless in pursuing power, eager to betray his best friends and those who helped him the most. (Reminds me of Joe Kennedy, another pathological adulterer.) His policies benefited the Left. He surrounded himself with the Left. It is a tribute to Reagan that he was able to undo so much damagage from LBJ, Nixon, and Carter.

Did Caro ever pursue his biography up to the point of the JFK murder? I don't think so. It would have been interesting and dangerous for such a good researcher.

15 posted on 11/06/2001 9:43:57 AM PST by Chemnitz
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To: BobP
WHAM it.
16 posted on 11/06/2001 9:45:32 AM PST by veracious
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To: BobP
"...if the pilot's good, see, I mean, if he's really..sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low (he spreads his arms like wings and laughs), you oughtta see it sometime, it's a sight. A big plane like a '52. VRROOM! There's jet exhaust, fryin' chickens in the barnyard. President: Yeah, but has he got a chance? Turgidson: Has he got a chance? Hell, Ye...ye... (He covers his mouth dumbstruck, suddenly and solemnly grasping the implications of his words.)"
17 posted on 11/06/2001 9:45:43 AM PST by Junior
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To: Tuco-bad
I remember, and find it hard to forgive.

That war was controlled by the politicians and not the military. Those congressmen should have had their b*lls cut off. They were responsible for all the deaths, and they were responsible for the ugly anti-American protesting. I hate the memory of those days and despise anything that smacks of hippyism.

18 posted on 11/06/2001 9:48:53 AM PST by ThomasMore
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To: Diogenesis
Gees, with contrails like these, they can be easily spoted. Air defense must be down.
19 posted on 11/06/2001 9:49:29 AM PST by lavaroise
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To: Chemnitz
You have a point. LBJ was out to advance LBJ.

My statement was based on the observation that LBJ walked like the Left, quacked like the Left, etc., making him indistingushable from the Left.

Ugly is as ugly does.

20 posted on 11/06/2001 9:57:20 AM PST by LTCJ
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To: Tuco-bad
We should have done that in 1965, and saved over 58,000 American lives, and hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese lives plus the lives of our allies (i.e., South Korea, Australia, etc.) I remember, and find it hard to forgive.

I agree with you totally, but am surprised to hear that sentiment coming from a liberal. (or have I micharacterized your politics?)

21 posted on 11/06/2001 10:01:37 AM PST by Ditto
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To: ThomasMore
Wasn't Rumsfeld in Congress in the mid-late 60s? Is he included in your analysis?
22 posted on 11/06/2001 10:02:44 AM PST by DeaconBenjamin
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To: Diogenesis
Are you about 12 years old?
23 posted on 11/06/2001 10:05:32 AM PST by Zviadist
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To: BobP
I spent a few years at a SAC base. One thing I will always remember is the strange way the 52's take off. I've never seen any other aircraft do this. Normally, aircraft get up to speed on the runway, then pull their nose up and climb to altitude. If anyone has a side view of a 52 leaving the runway, please post it.

52's leave the runway with the nose substantially lower than the tail and just seem to use raw power to push into the air. The best description I heard was that a 52 doesn't so much take off as it just scares the ground away.

24 posted on 11/06/2001 10:09:28 AM PST by E.Allen
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To: lavaroise
I'm not sure the Tal ever had a weapon that could knock a B-52 down at altitude.
25 posted on 11/06/2001 10:16:11 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Ditto
I agree with you totally, but am surprised to hear that sentiment coming from a liberal. (or have I micharacterized your politics?)

As I posted a number of times on the Free Republic: "I am probably the most conservative person on the Free Republic."

Willing to criticize anyone (including Lazio) for wrong doing, whether a Republican, Conservative, Democrat or Liberal.

26 posted on 11/06/2001 10:36:11 AM PST by Tuco-bad
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To: BobP
What? No mention of Arc Light yet? Thanks for the input from your end. First I've seen.

I was one coming up with the grid coordinates and calling them in on a presumably secure radio. Also went with the LLRPs on BDAs after a strike. Some enemy didn't get the word and some often remained to give the LLRPs a hard time. Was amazed at the accuracy of "dumb" bombs at such high altitudes.

Lesson learned? Awesome firepower as in ten million plus bomb craters doesn't necessarily win wars. Beware of politics. But it does make the Wall Street Willies very rich.

27 posted on 11/06/2001 10:48:56 AM PST by Boondocks of Bama
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To: Boondocks of Bama
ArcLight..........counter-insurgency from 30,000 feet
28 posted on 11/06/2001 10:54:15 AM PST by GoredInMich
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To: Diogenesis
</From half a mile away, the roar of the explosions tore eardrums, leaving many of the jungle dwellers permanently deaf. The shock waves knocked their victims senseless. Any hit within a quarter of a mile would collapse the walls of an unreinforced bunker, burying alive the people cowering inside.>

Wasn't there something posted here the other day, pro-Taliban propaganda, that stated that some Talibum was talking on his radio, while 100 yards away, the 52's were laying down a stick?

What a crock of crap. THis is more accurate, I believe.

29 posted on 11/06/2001 10:58:56 AM PST by GoredInMich
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To: BobP

B-52s
Brr-r-r-r-rr! That is scary!

Dan

30 posted on 11/06/2001 10:59:04 AM PST by BibChr
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To: E.Allen
a 52 doesn't so much take off as it just scares the ground away

Good. Very good.

Yep. Those massive flaps give a substantial nose-down angle of zero-lift.

I had the honor of being an up-close witness to one of history's last minimum-interval scrambles of a 52 bomb wing back in '90. Stood on the grass between the taxiway and runway as the entire wing, tankers and all, went out seconds appart. The only thing more impressive than the sight was the sound. The earth shook for the better part of forever.

A MITO is quite impressive from the rear, too. As the planes lift off they alternate slipping their climbout to each side of the runway so that a disabled aircraft won't go down and keep the rest of the wing trapped on the ground to await an incoming strike.

A true vision of Freedom's Fury. It really impressed this Mud Man.

31 posted on 11/06/2001 11:12:03 AM PST by LTCJ
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To: Tuco-bad
Roger your post #3 - would've saved a lot of enemy lives, too, and Hanoi Jane, et.al., wouldn't have had a chance to spread THEIR poison, 'cuz it would've been all over in short order. This is what happens when the military isn't simply allowed to go do it's job. Hopefully we will be allowed to prosecute this current enemy with all appropriate vigor, unfettered except by the reasonable concerns of civilized men - no politics or politicians allowed!!

Oh, well, I can dream, anyway.....

32 posted on 11/06/2001 11:12:48 AM PST by mil-vet
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To: BibChr
Now THAT is what I call BUFF's.
33 posted on 11/06/2001 11:15:11 AM PST by WilliamWallace1999
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To: BibChr
The B-52 bombers were named after the flying cane roaches of Hawaii...they don't seem to have a very good guidance system---they crash land into walls but they are huge---probably the connection!
34 posted on 11/06/2001 11:23:30 AM PST by f.Christian
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To: LTCJ
Everyone talked about how much LBJ made the government grow, how poorly he ran the war. Then America elected Nixon. Government spending skyrocketed. Nixon began a deliberate draw-down of forces in spite of his campaign. So LBJ was bad but he was fairly typical as a Demon-rat. Nixon betrayed the conservatives who elected him.

I like Ben Stein but I can't get over his fondness for Nixon.

35 posted on 11/06/2001 11:26:24 AM PST by Chemnitz
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To: GoredInMich
</From half a mile away, the roar of the explosions tore eardrums, leaving many of the jungle dwellers permanently deaf. The shock waves knocked their victims senseless. Any hit within a quarter of a mile would collapse the walls of an unreinforced bunker, burying alive the people cowering inside.>

I was in an NVA base camp that had had a near miss by a B52 strike... and a good thing too. It was easier to collect weapons & bodies without having a bunch of craters messing things up. 100 yards? That was NO B52 strike. He wouldn't be alive just from the concussion. ;0)

36 posted on 11/06/2001 11:30:50 AM PST by cibco
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To: Tuco-bad
I guess I misread you last year. I though you were pro-Hildabeast. Sorry.
37 posted on 11/06/2001 11:34:20 AM PST by Ditto
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To: BibChr

38 posted on 11/06/2001 11:35:58 AM PST by fishtank
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To: E.Allen
I live near Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. What always impresses me with the 52's taking off is how LOUD they are. You can forget holding a conversation with anyone until they have gone on past you. In the woods on a deer stand, if one comes over low, I can't tell which direction it's coming from, only that it's close. They roar.
39 posted on 11/06/2001 11:52:08 AM PST by DETAILER
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To: Ditto
I guess I misread you last year. I though you were pro-Hildabeast.

No just anti-Lazio (because Lazio voted on matters in which he had a financial interest - stock options).

40 posted on 11/06/2001 11:54:10 AM PST by Tuco-bad
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To: cibco
yeah, it figgers........usual leftist tripe and drivel/propaganda. i saw a "D" model do a flyby at an airshow few years back........stunning sight
41 posted on 11/06/2001 3:24:46 PM PST by GoredInMich
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To: BobP
General Giap was quoted in the book "Gai Phong, the Fall and Liberation of Saigon", as his only fear in taking Saigon was that our B-52 Bombers would return. During Linebacker II, many NVA unit were completly wiped out by B-52 airstrikes and Giap didn't want that to happen again.

Russian trawlers used to sit offshore at the end of the runway on Guam, spying on us, er I mean fishing. This went on for the entire cold war. One day a B-52 decided to have some fun with one of these boats. The pilot turned his plane in the direction of the trawler, went low and slow. Just before the plane flew over the trawler, the pliot opened his bomb bay doors. The entire B-52 crew said all they saw were a$$holes and elbows of sailors jumping off of the ship. It must have been most of the ship's company. The plane then continued on it's mission. I think the Russians put in a complaint to the State Department.

42 posted on 11/06/2001 3:58:39 PM PST by Hillarys Gate Cult
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