Will a WW2 style strategic bombing campaign force North Vietnam out of the war?

Jul 2016
8,990
USA
#21
China "imposed" a buffer zone in North Vietnam, 25 miles from the Chinese border the US could not bomb

1/3rd of the Vietnamese imports entered by railway from China, freely (!!)

This means there was a vast area where goods and weapons could be safely organized before entering zones subjected to intensive American bombing

With this kind of limitating conditions, any strategy implemented by the US was destined to fail, as long as the Vietnamese wanted to fight
There were going to be other depots needed to be set up on the border of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the DMZ. Plus, a whole lot of supplies were coming by ship to, through Haiphong harbor.
 
Apr 2018
511
India
#22
China "imposed" a buffer zone in North Vietnam, 25 miles from the Chinese border the US could not bomb

1/3rd of the Vietnamese imports entered by railway from China, freely (!!)

This means there was a vast area where goods and weapons could be safely organized before entering zones subjected to intensive American bombing

With this kind of limitating conditions, any strategy implemented by the US was destined to fail, as long as the Vietnamese wanted to fight
That leaves me wondering, what could China do even if such off limits areas were included in Rolling Thunder and Linebecker target lists. China didn't have much of an Air Force back then. PLAN was mostly a coastal force with a couple of Anshan class destroyers. The only thing they could provide were cannon fodder in which case, such massive USAF and Navy bombing raids would have produced some satisfactory results. Their nuclear weapons were still pretty much in developmental stage.

So why such caution on part of Johnson?
 
Jul 2016
8,990
USA
#23
That leaves me wondering, what could China do even if such off limits areas were included in Rolling Thunder and Linebecker target lists. China didn't have much of an Air Force back then. PLAN was mostly a coastal force with a couple of Anshan class destroyers. The only thing they could provide were cannon fodder in which case, such massive USAF and Navy bombing raids would have produced some satisfactory results. Their nuclear weapons were still pretty much in developmental stage.

So why such caution on part of Johnson?
They could add in about 300 infantry and armor divisions to the war effort, expanding it into a conflict Johnson didn't want to fight, and also pulling in the Soviet Union, who was a much more formidable enemy. Which is why Johnson micromanaged the bombing campaign. But he did so far outside a buffer zones, he made policies that drastically undermined effectiveness of any bombing campaign, to the point that is was pointless to even do it.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,570
Eastern PA
#24
That leaves me wondering, what could China do even if such off limits areas were included in Rolling Thunder and Linebecker target lists. China didn't have much of an Air Force back then. PLAN was mostly a coastal force with a couple of Anshan class destroyers. The only thing they could provide were cannon fodder in which case, such massive USAF and Navy bombing raids would have produced some satisfactory results. Their nuclear weapons were still pretty much in developmental stage.

So why such caution on part of Johnson?
The PRC could play the same card that they played in Korea 15 years earlier; send a million soldiers over the border. Not a single American leader wanted to initiate that.

The US was demonstrating support for its ally, S. Vietnam and upholding the "Domino Theory" to deter the spread of communism. The US, and the American population, were not interested in starting a world war. The US also knew that the S. Vietnamese government was corrupt, ineffective and almost certainly destined to fall.

Those issues, and undoubtedly others, imposed restrictions on available choices.
 
Likes: xander.XVII

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,002
Canary Islands-Spain
#25
That leaves me wondering, what could China do even if such off limits areas were included in Rolling Thunder and Linebecker target lists. China didn't have much of an Air Force back then. PLAN was mostly a coastal force with a couple of Anshan class destroyers. The only thing they could provide were cannon fodder in which case, such massive USAF and Navy bombing raids would have produced some satisfactory results. Their nuclear weapons were still pretty much in developmental stage.

So why such caution on part of Johnson?
To be sincere, I remember todo have known about this due to some talks between China and the US. Big right know I can't find a single evidence of this: the limit was, officially, self imposed. The justification was to avoid a further scalation with China, and a Soviet response in Berlin

P.740 The U. S. Government and the Vietnam War: Executive and Legislative Roles and Relationships

Self imposed restrictions were lighted in 1972 (to what degree?)

I really, really doubt this self restrictions came like that, from thin air. Big I have nothing to prove it
 
Last edited:
Mar 2014
6,557
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#26
I echo the above. Most of the WW2 strategic bombing campaign was a waste of resources. One of the few things the bombing community did right in WW2 was to destroy Germany's oil industry...
Just a minor diversion to point out one often-overlooked benefit to the allied strategic bombing campaign: Early on, when Germany believed victory a certainty, the promise was made to compensate citizens who had been bombed for loss of property. By 1943, several billions had already been paid out, and there were outstanding claims for many times that amount more. Nazi Germany was effectively going (even more) bankrupt trying to meet its commitments to its populace.

The bombing campaign may arguably have been a poor use of resources, but it was never, ever a "waste".
 
Jun 2013
473
Connecticut
#27
Possibly. But it might also pull in the People's Republic of China or the Soviet Union into the war, which was why they didn't do such things. Especially President Johnson, who while authorizing strategic bombing, micromanaged the hell out of it for fear of upsetting communist allies of North Vietnam, to the point that targets for bombing missions were transmitted beforehand to the North Vietnamese so they could remove civilians from the area. Now remember, in the 1960s, the world's most state of the art air defense network was found in North Vietnam. And they were straight up being told beforehand the exact target destinations for most large scale strikes...
I'm fascinated by what you stated. I'd like to know more, especially the part about warnings before bombings. Could you give me a source? Thanks.
 
Jun 2013
473
Connecticut
#29
All the supplies coming in from USSR and PRC were stockpiled in massive depots. Sometimes they were targeted, often they were not because they were in "off limits" areas.

Even without conducting unlimited morale bombing against urban housing in the bigger cities, or going after the dikes, or using defoliants against the rice fields, or mining Haiphong harbor early on, there were still more effective ways to bomb North Vietnam that that done until the late 60s when a major change in strategy and especially targeting was made.
Wasn't the heavy bombing of depots the reason the communists came back to the bargaining table? The supplies were being destroyed so much that they couldn't be replaced fast enough.
 
May 2019
121
Salt Lake City, Utah
#30
In retrospect, the NV bombing campaign, far better managed than those of WWII, certainly significantly impacted the outcome of the war in so many ways.

More munitions were dropped on NV by the US than in all of WWII.