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North Vietnam: Rolling Thunder

F-105s take off on a mission to bomb North Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-105s take off on a mission to bomb North Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-105 crews played a key role in ROLLING THUNDER. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-105 crews played a key role in ROLLING THUNDER. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Specialized RB-66s helped F-105s bomb in North Vietnam’s frequently poor weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Specialized RB-66s helped F-105s bomb in North Vietnam’s frequently poor weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-105s attack a bridge in southern North Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-105s attack a bridge in southern North Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Air Force photo)

USAF attack on the Thai Nguyen steel plant north of Hanoi, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo)

USAF attack on the Thai Nguyen steel plant north of Hanoi, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Memorial plaque containing the names of those members of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, located at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, who were killed in action, missing in action or captured in 1966-1970. This plaque is on display in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Memorial plaque containing the names of those members of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, located at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, who were killed in action, missing in action or captured in 1966-1970. This plaque is on display in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)


GOING NORTH

Although the U.S. Air Force began sending advisory personnel to South Vietnam in 1961, and carried out combat missions in South Vietnam shortly thereafter, US forces did not initially strike North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese Navy attack in the Tonkin Gulf in August 1964, however, led to retaliatory raids by U.S. Navy aircraft. The USAF made its first strike against North Vietnam on Feb. 8, 1965, in response to a Viet Cong attack against Pleiku Air Base, South Vietnam. 

OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER: 1965-1968

On March 2, 1965, the USAF began a systematic bombing campaign against North Vietnam named ROLLING THUNDER. Planners hoped to provide a morale boost to South Vietnamese forces, interdict the flow of supplies going south, and discourage North Vietnamese aggression.

Flying from bases in South Vietnam and Thailand, the USAF started hitting targets near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. By advancing the target areas northward across North Vietnam, planners intended to apply gradual pressure and use bombing halts as incentives to negotiate.

Click on the following links to learn more about the Southeast Asia War.

Sanctuaries and Bombing Halts
Reconnaissance and Retaliatory Strikes
Countering MiGs: Air-to-Air Combat Over North Vietnam
Combat Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia
Tankers at War: Air Refueling in Southeast Asia
Blinding the Enemy: EB-66 Electronic Warfare over North Vietnam
Eyes and Ears in the Sky: USAF Reconnaissance in Southeast Asia
First In, Last Out: Wild Weasels vs. SAMs
Badge of Honor: 100 Missions Up North
Sawadee! The Party Suit Tradition in Southeast Asia

Click here to return to the Southeast Asia War Gallery.

 

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Lectures
Col. (Ret.) Bob Krone: "Vietnam's F-105 Rolling Thunder" (01:16:13)
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