Lasts

I have been very remiss in not noting until now the posting of Military History Carnival #30 at Cliopatria. It's a good one, as usual. The post I found most interesting this time is at Bring the Heat, Bring the Stupid (as it was last time, actually) on the US Linebacker II bombing offensive against North Vietnam in December 1972. It strikes me that this was really the last Second World War-style strategic bombing campaign fought by a major power, at least in terms of having to fight through determined air defences. These included fighters and anti-aircraft (in the form of missiles rather than guns), though with the latter much the most dangerous -- to the USAF's surprise and loss. The US lost 16 of the 207 B-52s it deployed in the eleven-day campaign -- 8 out of 99 on one night alone -- which was an unsustainable casualty rate, especially when you consider that the factories back home weren't churning out plentiful replacements as they had done in the Second World War. Still, the USAF successfully adapted to the threat (or North Vietnam started running out of SAMs, take your pick): by the last few days it was running out of targets but no longer out of aircraft. Compare with Desert Storm less than two decades later, when (despite some scary moments) the Coalition as a whole lost only 42 aircraft to enemy action in over 100,000 sorties.

And speaking of Cliopatria, I must note with regret its passing. I was a member at the end of its 8.5 years, an opportunity of which I definitely did not make best use. My thanks go to Ralph Luker for affording me that wasted opportunity, but much more for making Cliopatria one of the few history blogs to even try to link the disparate elements of the historioblogosphere together. I hope he enjoys the copious amounts of free time his blogging retirement will doubtless free up!

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3 thoughts on “Lasts

  1. Errolwi

    The US lost 16 of the 207 B-52s it deployed in the eleven-day campaign — 8 out of 99 on one night alone — which was an unsustainable casualty rate,

    I recently listened to a podcast discussing this. From memory, the SAC B-52s got badly mauled on that day because of faults in their tactics that the TAC pointed out. When SAC listened to TAC, loss rates became reasonable. Of course, the podcast isn’t where I thought it was, I will have a further hunt around later.

  2. Post author

    silbey:

    It was the least that I could do, especially after forgetting to nominate anything (oops). Where are you going to host the MHC in future? American West seems the obvious place…

    Errolwi:

    I was about to say, yes, that’s explained in the article I linked to, but then I realised that I forgot to actually link to it :) Fixed, and here it is again.

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