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B-57 Canberra Units of the Vietnam War by T. E. Bell

By T. E. Bell

Osprey's exam of B-57 Canberra devices through the Veitnam struggle interval (1955-1975). whereas now not receiving as a lot exposure because the F-105 and F-4 fighter-bombers, which took the struggle into the center of North Vietnam, the B-57 Canberra was once however the 1st jet-powered American assault airplane dedicated to the clash. It used to be concerned about daily interdiction missions opposed to site visitors coming down the Ho Chi Minh path, popping up vans and bombing and strafing sampans within the Mekong Delta. And, no longer least, the airplane flew labeled 'black' missions over the border into Laos and Cambodia.

The B-57B medium bomber started hitting pursuits in North and South Vietnam at the start of 1965. even if B-57B crews had already made a reputation for themselves through the hair-raising evening missions in the course of Op Rolling Thunder, past due within the struggle many airplane have been upgraded to the then-state-of-the-art B-57G evening Intruder, which grew to become the most worthwhile guns within the USAF stock.

The B-57E, in its digital eavesdropping and countermeasures roles, starred within the so-called Patricia Lynn missions, elements of that are nonetheless categorised this present day. additionally working along the USAF B-57 devices, have been the Canberra B 20s of the Royal Australian Air Force,attached to the USAF's thirty fifth Bomb Wing - the exploits of the Australian Canberras should be absolutely documented during this publication. The unit flew interdiction missions in aid of troops within the box from 1967 to 1971. on the time the Canberra was once known as to motion, the USAF, which thought of the airplane too sluggish, constrained in its challenge and never 'sexy' adequate, used to be trying to section it out of the stock. within the occasion, the B-57 persevered to serve for one more twenty years, echoing the tale of the A-10 Warthog.

The writer has acquired ratings of formerly unpublished pictures from the 1st deployment of the B-57s to Bien Hoa, the entire approach as much as very infrequent pictures of the B-57G being armed and readied for evening strive against missions. the tale of the B-57 in Vietnam hasn't ever been informed intimately, and because the aeroplane served in nearly each position for the period the USA involvement in Vietnam, the tale of the B-57 is, in impression, the tale of that warfare.

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53-3908's nickname could, therefore, be taken t w o ways! Shown here in a revetment at Da Nang in January 1966, the aircraft was brought down by small arms fire just ten miles from its new base at Phan Rang, with the loss of both pilot Capt Elwin H Busch and his navigator, 1Lt Peter Whitcomb Morrison, on 8 June 1967 (Robert Zelski) It was a night interdiction mission over the trail from North Vietnam toward the south. We were looking for truck convoys carrying ammunition to the VC. The "Blind Bat" C-130 "flare ship" had located a group of trucks that had paused in a horseshoe bend in a river.

Our FAC, "Hound Dog 54", called us to come north a few miles from the village we had hit, where he had a disabled truck on the road', said Mason. When he began his strafing run, 'we would have been about one mile northwest of "Hound Dog 54" and about 1500 ft above the terrain in a river valley, with ridges on either side'. What the FACs and bomber crews did not know was that this last target was a decoy truck - part of a flak trap. It was not a new trick, but even when vision was good it was not often easy to tell decoys from real trucks.

Often, especially at night, a crew would be there one moment and gone the next, and no amount of clever kit could help them. For example, on the night of 10 February 1966 Capt Russell Palmer Hunter and his navigator Ernest Philip Kiefel, flying out of Da Nang in B-57B 52-1575, were working over targets in the Steel Tiger area of the Trail in southern Laos. The crew was operaring with a C-130 flare aircraft and had just attacked a target near Ban Vangthon. After making a second bombing pass on the target, Hunter radioed that there were problems with his jet and that he and Kiefel were ejecting.

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