December 18,1972 - December 29,1972


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LINEBACKER II map of B-52's from Andersen AFB, Guam
and Utapao RTAFB, Thailand

USAF Aircraft Losses Dec. 18-29, 1972

Date Type Call Sign Target (Mission) Cause
Dec. 18 F-111A Snug 40 Hanoi Radio unk.
Dec. 18 B-52G Charcoal 01 Yen Vien complex SA-2
Dec. 18 B-52G Peach 02 Yen Vien complex SA-2
Dec. 18 B-52D Rose 01 Hanoi Radio SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52D Quilt 03 Yen Vien complex SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52G Brass 02 Yen Vien complex SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52G Orange 03 Yen Vien complex SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52D Straw 02 Gia Lam rail yard SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52G Olive 01 Kinh No complex SA-2
Dec. 20 B-52G Tan 03 Kinh No complex SA-2
Dec. 21 B-52D Scarlet 03 Bac Mai airfield SA-2
Dec. 21 B-52D Blue 01 Bac Mai airfield SA-2
Dec. 22 F-111A Jackle 33 Kinh No complex unk.
Dec. 23 EB-66C Hunt 02 (non combat) engine out
Dec. 26 B-52D Ebony 02 Giap Nhi rail yard SA-2
Dec. 26 B-52D Ash 01 Kinh No complex SA-2
Dec. 27 F-4E DeSoto 03 (strike escort) MiG-21
Dec. 27 F-4E Vega 02 (MiGCAP) MiG-21
Dec. 27 HH-53 Jolly Green (rescue) small arms
Dec. 27 B-52D Ash 02 SAM site SA-2
Dec. 27 B-52D Cobalt 02 Truan Quan rail yard SA-2
Source: Pacific Air Forces

Excerpt from Airforce Magazine

On the final day of the campaign, Day 11 on Dec. 29, USAF crews--both bomber and support--were at the peak of their form while the enemy was in obvious distress, able to fire only a total of 23 SAMs. Where once they had salvoed six SAMs at a time, they now were reduced to individual snap shots. They were almost out of SAMs, their MiGs were shut down, and their radar and communication links were disrupted. In short, they were at the mercy of the United States.

The US had proved decisively that B-52s, supported by tactical air assets, were an effective force, able to meet and defeat the enemy. In the miserable prisons in which they were held, American prisoners of war experienced an unimaginable elation at seeing their brutal captors frightened and suddenly polite.

The result of Linebacker II was exactly what had been predicted by those who had advocated full application of airpower against North Vietnam: a military victory. The badly shaken North Vietnamese accepted that the war was at a stalemate, returned to the negotiating table in Paris, and signed the Paris Peace Accords on Jan. 27, 1973. Within 60 days of the signing, 591 American POWs were released and back in the United States.

In Linebacker II, SAC's B-52s had flown 729 sorties out of a total of 741 planned sorties and dropped 15,000 tons of bombs. North Vietnamese forces had fired about 1,240 SAMs. The Air Force lost 15 B-52 bombers, which amounted to a loss rate of less than two percent. Of 92 B-52 crew members involved in the losses, 26 were recovered, 25 came up missing in action, 33 became prisoners of war, and eight were either killed in action or later died of wounds. In addition, the US lost two F-111As, three F-4s, two A-7s, two A-6s, one EB-66, one HH-53, and one RA-5C.

As soon as Hanoi signaled it wished to resume peace negotiations, Linebacker II raids immediately ceased. Some in the Air Force argued that this was a mistake; if the United States continued the attacks, they maintained, North Vietnam would have to accept a military defeat. Instead, they secured at the peace table a political victory that they would in due course translate into a full-scale military conquest of South Vietnam.

Not long after the end of Linebacker II and the formal return of the US prisoners of war, United States forces at last formally disengaged from the war in Southeast Asia. There then followed what Henry Kissinger described as a "decent interval" of about two years, after which Hanoi, knowing that it no longer faced any realistic threat of another Linebacker II, invaded South Vietnam across a broad front. The Communist forces entered Saigon on April 30, 1975, and unified the two Vietnams under Hanoi's totalitarian control. .....

end of excerpt

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