It’s been almost two years since we wrote about Operation Linebacker II, the Christmas bombing campaign that was the swan song of US aerial attacks on North Vietnam.
“Spill” just alerted me to this piece on the campaign- a review of the campaign by the senior Soviet advisor to North Vietnam for air defense.
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A couple of points:
- The lunacy of following SACs faulty mission planning made the North Vietnamese air defense problem much easier.
- Air defense guns, while deadly to lower flying tactical aircraft, were virtually a non-starter against the B-52s.
- The NV fighter regiments, while fairly capable during daylight, were ill trained to conduct night combat. Note that SAC planners had actually considered them the greater threat, in spite of the deployed aircrews argument that S-75 missiles (SA-2 SAMs) were the primary threat.
- The fighter you don’t see is the one that kills you.
- Electronic Warfare worked. Chaff worked too, and was cheaper. But a combination of chaff and jamming was better.
- But jamming had to be well thought out. It could hurt almost as much as help.
- The EA-6Bs weren’t allowed overland because of their highly sensitive jammers. The EB-66s weren’t allowed up north because they were vulnerable.
- Even under the best of circumstances, it took a lot of SAMs to kill a plane.