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

Jul 2016
9,327
USA
#31
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.
Let me work on this one, I'll try to get it for you by Sunday.

If you have the option, there is actually a good documentary on Amazon Prime Video channel, called Thud Pilots, its about F-105 bombers in Vietnam. Its pretty good, and even a few of them talk about ridiculous rules of engagement and target selection, plus warnings given to the enemy that made missions much more dangerous and less worthwhile.
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Jul 2016
9,327
USA
#32
Didn't Nixon bomb NV far more furiously than Johnson ever did? Especially 1972? I think?
Yes, Operation Linebacker and Linebacker II were probably the most decisive strategic bombing in history, outside a few situations in WW2. And all of those options were open earlier in the war, Johnson was just too scared of Chinese or Soviet intervention to do it. And because of that, we lost the war, because it was simply too little, too late by the time Nixon did it.
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Jul 2016
9,327
USA
#34
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.
Those were some of the targets. We also finally started mining Haiphong Harbor.

Over the course of the war, entire offices could be filled from floor to ceiling with target packages for exceptionally worthwhile targets to be hit. But they mostly weren't. Because policies during the LBJ administration were strict to the point of strategically suicidal. After that, when Nixon finally opened nearly unrestricted bombing of North Vietnam, all those target packets were essentially hit.

In WW2, the problem with strategic bombing was accuracy, they just didn't have it. Even daylight precision wasn't very precise with a heavy bomber. Medium or light bombers had much more accuracy (especially the latter), but didn't possess the bomb loads to do necessary damage to take the targets out. By Vietnam aircraft were much more powerful, which allowed aircraft like the A6 Intruder or the F105 Thud to carry bomb loads that were equal to a WW2 heavy bomber, but dropped with more accuracy than any aircraft in WW2 could do, using contemporary computerized bomb sights. By the end of the war, laser guided munitions were finally combat ready.

Slaying the Dragon

A good article to read to see how far bombing had come by 1972, where finally bombers had the accuracy to do with conventional munitions what Air Power bomber aficionados wrongly claimed they could during WW2.
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Jun 2013
485
Connecticut
#35
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
But we did bomb the rail lines once they were beyond the buffer zone. Correct?
It seems to me that Nixon was the one who acted decisively. He's the one who, in effect, blockaded the north. The bombing destroyed depots and logistics like bridges, rails, roads. The harbor was mined. Rail lines from China destroyed. I think these actions forced the north to come to the peace table. In my opinion this should have happened in 1968 not 1972. But hindsight is always great, isn't it?
 
May 2019
158
Salt Lake City, Utah
#36
We did not win the war because we could not impose our absolute will.

We did not want a war with China, even though now, in hind sight, we could have invaded NV to Haiphong and Hanoi without impediment from the Reds.

We could not adequately interdict the sanctuaries in Red China and IndoChina.

We were unable to break the will of the North and its people.

Several strong similarities exist to our own War of Independence.
 
Jun 2013
485
Connecticut
#37
As the Vietnam War starts to recede into history it's becoming more contentious and going through revisions. One thought is that the US never lost militarily. Second thought is studying how non-military events (protests, media, etc) contributed to defeat. Was the Vietnam War the textbook case of "opinion" defeating a "strong military"? Another thought is that the Vietnamese lost the war totally - it was their fault. It wasn't their military. It wasn't their leadership. It was their addiction to American culture without any restraints resulting in wholesale corruption. The war was good business. Then another thought was money. Money really determined the course of the war. Money really ended the war and brought the south to collapse.
 
Jul 2016
9,327
USA
#38
As the Vietnam War starts to recede into history it's becoming more contentious and going through revisions. One thought is that the US never lost militarily. Second thought is studying how non-military events (protests, media, etc) contributed to defeat. Was the Vietnam War the textbook case of "opinion" defeating a "strong military"? Another thought is that the Vietnamese lost the war totally - it was their fault. It wasn't their military. It wasn't their leadership. It was their addiction to American culture without any restraints resulting in wholesale corruption. The war was good business. Then another thought was money. Money really determined the course of the war. Money really ended the war and brought the south to collapse.
Its not like "The People" decided that Saigon should fall, by the 70s there was barely even a true Vietcong insurgency left, it was primarily led and organized by outsiders (North Vietnamese). At that point, the Republic of Vietnams greatest threat was conventional military invasion from North Vietnam, which they could never get a handle on because North Vietnam was giving everything they had to victory and was being supported with as much weapons and supplies as it was possible to give by the two strongest communist countries in the world. And who did the South Vietnam have? Up until 1973, they had the US. What about after 1973? They had nobody.

That is the only reason why North Vietnam won. Because in 1974, they had a giant mechanized army, with tank regiments, lots of artillery, supply lines, even an air force. Every possible logistical or monetary need was being supplied to them by the USSR or PRC. Who did the South Vietnam have? Nobody. They were on their own, and because of the oil embargo and inflation problems, they couldn't even afford gasoline to move their forces in a war of maneuver against the invading North Vietnamese in 1975.

The only question is, why did the US stop supporting South Vietnam? It had nothing to do with defeats, it had only to do with morale and ideology. Suffice to say, enough Americans, especially in Congress and the media, were vehemently opposed to any further assistance to the South Vietnamese. We didn't just stop supporting them with ground troops, we largely cut them off from supplies, and violated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords where we promised to supply them if the North Vietnamese broke the deal (which they did). But by then, Congress had washed their hands of it, hamstrung POTUS by passing the War Powers Resolution in '73, which would forbid any long term commitment without Congressional approval (which they wouldn't give), and then when Nixon Veto'd it, they overruled his veto. At that point, Vietnam was lost, it was only a matter of North Vietnam needing a few years to rebuild their forces after getting decimated in their 1972 Easter Offensive.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
33,770
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#39
Hypothetically, would napalming Hanoi and all population centers above 10000 from end to end force the North Vietnamese out of the war, or irradiation of the rice fields and rivers? Would inducing famine and mass starvation be enough for the NV to throw in the towel?
You mean, would killing all the North Vietnamese force them to stop fighting?