B-52Ds, B-52Fs, and B-52Gs flew combat missions in South East Asia. B-52Ds and B-52Gs flew the Linebacker II missions into Route Pack Five and Six, starting December 19, 1972.

This document was done to clear up some confusion as to the names of crewmembers of ten B52s which crashed in North Vietnam and sixteen B52s lost in other locations.  I have not had the opportunity to read other excellent source books, Linebacker II: A View From the Rock by McCarthy. The internet address to read this book on line is: 

Linebacker II: A View From the Rock by McCarthy.

 

Linebacker -The Untold Story of the Air Raids Over North Vietnam by Karl J. Eschmann.  11 Days of Christmas by Marshall L. Mitchel, III, published 2002, B-52s Over Hanoi by James McCarthy, and Boeing’s Cold War Warrior: B-52 Stratofortress by Robt. F. Dorr & Lindsay Peacock, published 1995.  Another great reference is Boeing B-52 by Walter Boyne, published in 1981, updated in 1994.  ArcLight I, by Don Harten. G. Alan Dugald’s book “When the Wolf Rises: Linebacker II, the 11 Day War.” Flying from the Black Hole: The B52 Navigator Bombardiers of Vietnam….by Robert O Harder

Additional Linebacker books are listed on Amazon.com.  This document should supplement these and future publications.  This document uses the “official” shoot down dates as recorded by the U.S. Defense Department.  For example, Cobalt 1 was shot down over Hanoi at 0003 local time on 12-28-72.  Boeing and other researchers fix the shoot down date as 12-27-72, the date the a/c took off from its home base.  (A flight could take eight hours just getting to the target).  I will use 12-28-72, the official Department of Defense date.  Ranks shown are the ranks at the time of shoot down.  Other valuable sources of information come from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base/Air Force Museum timeline of B-52 operations and Mr. Buck Rigg at 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base.  

The all-inclusive list of 103 B52s lost comes directly from the Boeing Company attrition files. Covering the period covered from 1956 through June of 1994.  19 B52s were lost in combat, all due to hits from SA-2 ground to air missiles.  86 B52s were non-combat losses.  Approximately 50 of the 86 were lost between 1965 and 1973 during the Vietnam War era.  Approximately seven B52s were lost while attempting to reach North Vietnam on combat missions.  They were lost due to various factors such as mid-air collisions enroute to targets.  These missions are described below.  Total B52s lost in the Vietnam War: 26.

LBII Operation Order Text

During discussions in the Oval Office, President Nixon told Kissinger:

“If we renew the bombing, it will have to be something new, and that means we will have to make the big decision to hit Hanoi and Haiphong with B-52s. Anything less will only make the enemy contemptuous.”

The President forwarded his decision to implement Linebacker II to the JCS. On 15 December the JCS sent advance warnings to CINCPAC and CINCSAC that they should prepare for a maximum effort strike against targets in NVN. Two days later, on 17 December, the JCS sent the following message to CINCPAC, CINCSAC, and 7th AF operational commanders:

YOU ARE DIRECTED TO COMMENCE AT APPROXIMATELY 1200Z, 18 DECEMBER 1972 A THREE-DAY MAXIMUM EFFORT, REPEAT MAXIMUM EFFORT OF B-52/TACAIR STRIKES IN THE HANOI/HAIPHONG AREAS AGAINST THE TARGETS CONTAINED IN [THE AUTHORIZED TARGET LIST]. OBJECT IS MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION OF SELECTED MILITARY TARGES IN THE VICINITY OF HANOI/HAIPHONG. BE PREPARED TO EXTEND OPERATIONS PAST THREE DAYS, IF DIRECTED. 

FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS APPLY:

  1. UTILIZE VISUAL AS WELL AS ALL-WEATHER CAPABILITES.
  2. UTILIZE ALL RESOURCES WHICH CAN BE SPARED WITHOUT CRITICAL DETRIMENT TO OPERATIONS IN RUN AND SUPPORT OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS IN LAOS AND CAMBODIA.
  3. UTILIZE RESTRIKES ON AUTHORIZED TARGETS, AS NECESSARY, NORTH VIETNAMESE AIR ORDER OF BATTLE, AIRFIELDS, AND ACTIVE SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILE SITES MAY BE STRUCK AS TACTICAL SITUATION DICTATES TO IMPROVE EFFECTIVENESS OF ATTACK FORCES AND MINIMIZE LOSSES.
  4. EXERCISE PRECAUTION TO MINIMIZE RISK OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES UTILIZING LGB [LASER-GUIDED BOMB) WEAPONS AGAINS DESIGNATED TARGETS. AVOID DAMAGE TO THIRD COUNTRY SHIPPING.

B52 aircraft which crashed inside North Vietnam

Personnel data is from Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office Reference Document “U.S. Personnel Missing, Southeast Asia (and Selected Foreign Nationals) (U) dated August 2009.  Crew positions were  determined from direct testimony from the returned POWs. 

Ranks for the Gunners are:

E3=Airman 1/c

E4=Senior Airman

E5=SSgt

E6=TSgt

E7=MSgt.  Air

Cdr=Airborne Commander.

Status codes: 

KR…Died in Captivity, negotiated remains returned, 3-13-74.

XX…Presumptive finding of death.  Remains still unaccounted for.

NR…Negotiated remains returned.  Dates of return in our records.  

RR…Returnee (POWs).  Dates of return in our records.

A total of 10 B-52s went down inside the borders of North Vietnam.  61 total crewmembers.   32 survivors became POWs and were released at the end of the war.  Keggan died in captivity.  28 of the downed 61 warriors perished.  (Information is listed above)

B52’s that went down outside of Vietnam

Sixteen other B52s went down outside of North Vietnam.  Nine were due to SAM missile hits over Hanoi.  Seven were “operational losses,” which occurred while B52s were enroute to combat areas in Vietnam.  (Information listed below).

Nine B52s made it to “feet wet” but subsequently crashed or were scrapped.:

B52’s that made it “feet wet” but subsequently crashed

Olive 2 

B52D 11-22-72 Andersen SA2 damage at Vinh.  Crashed near NKP.  Lost 4 engines on one side. 6 crewmen bailed out/recovered. No. 55-0110.

P- N.J. Ostozny; C/P- Tony Foley; RN- Bud Rech; N- Bob Estes; EWO- Larry Stephens; G- Ronald W. Sellers. (1st combat loss of a B52 due to enemy action). 43 SW.

Peach 2 

B52G 12-18-72 Andersen Crew bailed out/rescued over Thailand.  Hit near Kinh No just as they completed their bomb run.  No. 58-0246.  Crew: LtCol Hendsley Connor was AMC in the jumpseat; AC Maj. Cliff Ashley; R/Nav Maj Archie Myers; c/p Capt Gary Vickers; Nav 1stLt Forrest Stegelin; EW Capt. Jim Tramel; Gunner MSgt Ken Conner. (Combat loss, 2). 72 SW.

Brass 2 

B52G 12-20-72 Andersen Crew bailed out/rescued over Thailand.  Hit near Yen Vien.  No. 57-6481.  72 SW. (Combat loss, 3).

Straw 2 

B52D 12-21-72 Andersen     Hit near Hanoi.  No. 56-0669.  Crew bailed out over Laos. AC, Capt. Deverl  Johnson,  C/P,  1st Lt  Jim Farmer; R/N Maj Frank Alton Gould, not recovered,  status XX.  Nav, Capt Vince Russo, EW, Capt Paul Fairbanks, Gunner, Tsgt Walt Barclift. 43 SW. (Combat loss, 4).  

Straw 02 was scheduled to hit a rail yard on the third night using the exact mission profile that we few on the first night; same target, same TOT, same heading, same altitude, same spacing, then executing a post target turn into a 100 knot headwind. What could go wrong?!?!….The first night we were briefed that this would be a three day effort. I figured that if I knew that, so did the enemy. Also, we were the second aircraft in the second cell. It seemed that they liked to track the first A/C then attack the second. This was not good.

We were within a couple of seconds from bomb release when three SA 2’s lit off. The EW called “uplink “, meaning we were the target. Two were traveling in a straight line indicating that they were fired ballistically, the third was making course changes. That one was being guided from the ground. As that missile’s exhaust got larger in the windscreen I told that crew that this one was going to get us. The explosion occurred about one second after we released our last bomb. That meant that the missile and bombs passed each other in the air. 

In the B52, the hydraulics and alternators are powered by an air bleed system from the engines. Once that system is compromised (as in a SAM detonation) one loses all electrical and hydraulic power instantly. Also, the Aircraft commander and Navigator were hit and the RN was in worse shape. Fortunately we were flying a D model.

As everyone knows the B 52 is a pig to fly. One reason is that the spoilers are the primary flight controls about the longitudinal axis. If you want to turn right, the spoilers come up on the right wing, the lift on that wing is disturbed, the wing falls and the aircraft initiates right turn. The D model had inboard ailerons about the size of a garage door which were activated by direct mechanical linkage to trim tabs about the size of two shoe box tops. So there we were, our wings were intact, we were not on fire, flying (at night) on a whiskey compass, airspeed indicator and a standby ADI all controlled by direct control to a trim tab to an otherwise marginal control surface into a 100kt head wind. We had been briefed that best range airspeed was 215 indicated. We picked that up initially with a 500ft/min sink rate hoping to make to across the Mekong to Thailand. What engines were running were on gravity feed for fuel. As we lost engines our rate of decent picked up to maintain airspeed. About 1/2 hour in, with a decent rate of 1,500ft/min at 16,000 feet (still at night) the AC gave the order to bailout. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were on the border of N Vietnam and Laos, Southwest of Hanoi. 

Later that day an HC 130, four A7 Sandy’s and two Jolly Greens located and rescued five of the crew. RN Frank Gould was never found…..

Ash 1          

B52D 12-26-72 U-Tapao  Hit at Kinh No.  Crashed at U-Tapao.  Attempted go-around with 4 engines out on same side.  4 KIA.  CP, 1st Lt Bob Hymel & Gunner, TSgt  Spencer Grippen were rescued.  No. 56-0584. 307 SW. The A/C made a determination that they should bailout before the crash, but since the gunner was wounded and they felt he might not be able to physically execute the bailout, they decided as a crew to try and bring the plane in.  Ironically, the only survivors of the crash were the C/P and the wounded gunner.  In addition, the C/P would not have survived had he not been rescued by a crewmember from another BUF who watched the crash, and rushed into the wreck to pull the C/P out before the plane burned up.  Lord, that we could have more men like these.  September 11, 2001, Lt Col Hymel, Retired, was sitting at his desk as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst in the Pentagon. He was one of the thousands of Americans killed that day.  (Combat loss, 5).

Ash 2 

B52D 12-27-72 U-Tapao No. 56-0599.  Bailed out over Laos/Thailand.  Crew was from 28th BW, Ellsworth AFB, SD. 307 SW.  P- Capt John Mize; CP-Terrence Gruters; RN- Capt Bill North; NAV- Bill Robinson; EWO- Capt Dennis Andersen; G- TSgt Peter Whalen.  Target was SAM site VN-243, near Hanoi.  After bomb release, hit by SA-2.  Lost all 4 engines on left wing.  All crew members were picked up by rescue helicopters. (Combat loss, 6).

Ruby 2 

B52D B52D 1-4-73, Andersen AFB, No. 55-0056. SA2 hit over Vinh. Went feet wet, crew bailed out 20 miles off Danang in South China Sea. Crew rescued as follows: 

P- LtCol Gerald Wickline; Co-P Capt Bill Milcarek by HH-43 Helo out of Danang R/Nav Maj Robt . A Klingbeil; EWO Capt. Wm. E. Fergason by USS Inchon NAV Capt Myles McTernan and Tail gunner T/Sgt Carlos S. Killgore by USS Saratoga helos McTernan lost in 10 to 15 ft waves for 4 hours before being found by a marine Corps helicopter and taken to hospital ship 

(Combat loss, 7).

(Unknown) 

B-52D     July 8, 1967 no. 56-0601 was hit over Vinh and suffered a complete hydraulic failure.  The pilot elected to go into Danang rather than bail the crew out.  After touchdown, the A/C was unable to stop or negotiate a go-around.  They ran off the end of the runway into a mine field.  All forward crewmembers perished.  The Gunner, Albert Whatley survived with the help of a Marine fire truck crew.  Crew was from Columbus AFB, MS.  Whatley cannot remember the call sign.  (Combat loss, 8).

(Unknown) 

B52D     1-13-73  (Unknown), no. 55-0116. Shot down over North Vietnam.  Went feet wet.  Landed at Da Nang, South Vietnam, with extensive battle damage.  Repaired, flown to Thailand (perhaps Utapao) where it was scrapped. Crew chief might have been Steve Squier. 

B52 Operational losses: 7 (Vietnam War, South East Asia): 

(Unknown)

B52D 5-8-69  Andersen,  no. 56-0593 was lost on takeoff from Guam.  It started a right turn after t/o and crashed in the sea killing all six aboard. Pilot- Capt Larry Broadhead; CP-.Maurice Lundy; RN- Capt Russell Platt; NAV- Maj James Sipes; EWO- Lt Thomas McCormick; G- MSgt Harry Deal.   One B52 crewmember of the 393 Bomb Squadron, 509th Bombardment Wing remembers the incident, saying: “The May 69 crash shortly after takeoff was debriefed to us as likely being the pilot following an erroneous artificial horizon display that was gradually causing him to bank the airplane while thinking he was in level flight caused by the inadvertent deactivation of the gyroscope during preflight and the incorrect display as the gyro wound down.  The accident was late at night, over water, right after takeoff and at low altitude and the explanation was logical though pure speculation.  I believe there was some corrective action taken to cover-guard the power switch for the instrument following that crash.”  (Operational loss no. 1).

(Unknown)

B52D  7-28-69  Andersen, no. 56-0630 was lost on takeoff from Guam.  It crashed into the sea killing all eight aboard. A B52 crewmember from the same outfit, the 393 Bomb Squadron, 509th Bombardment Wing knew the lost crewmembers.  He reports, “Their airplane crashed because the right wing came off the plane at about unstick during the takeoff roll.  Eye witness accounts reported that the plane continued momentarily in level flight after loss of the wing and then made a violent bank below sight of the cliff at the end of the runway and crashed into the ocean.  The body of the Aircraft Commander (Ed Wyatt) was recovered.  We were told it appeared as though he had attempted to eject, as his chute was either fully or partially deployed.  I do not believe any other remains were found.”   (Op Loss no. 2).

Cobalt 2

B52G 7-8-72  Andersen, no. 59-2600 was over the Philippine Sea.  For unknown reasons its radome separated from the airplane.  The pilot/copilot reacted incorrectly and subsequently lost all airspeed.  All six crewmen successfully bailed out, but Lt. Col Vaughan got a streamer, died on impact with the water.  The other five crewmen were rescued. Pilot: Capt. Leroy Johnson, Copilot Lt. William Neely III, Navigator Lt. Kent Dodson, Radar Navigator Lt. Col J.L. Vaughan, Gunner Airman Daniel Johansen, EWO Major Ronald Dvorak.  (Op Loss no. 3).

Edward Fuller (Edward.Fuller@PeoAvn.Redstone.Army.Mil) adds the following sobering assessment on the loss:  22 December 2011.   Combat Losses/Operational Losses in Vietnam)” at http://www.nampows.org/B-52.html

 

I was a D-model Bomb Nav Tech stationed at Andersen at the time of the crash.  As a matter of fact, I was on the flightline in the D-model avionics launch truck when the aircraft took off. 

 

Normally the two Bomb Nav shops didn’t mix (the D and the G used totally different systems).  However, the chin radomes on the aircraft were identical.  We knew from the pre-launch radio traffic that they were having a problem getting theirs closed and drove over to see if we could assist (as a group, the D-model community had much more experience with them because we had been in theater longer).  The aircraft’s crew chief and one of our senior NCOs who had come over from our shop (a man with years of experience, not a chair jockey) could not get it to snug down properly. They both told the DCM NOT to fly the aircraft.  For whatever reason, he overrode their recommendations and ordered the radome secured as tightly as possible and the aircraft to continue on its mission.

 

This was a night mission and the weather at the time was horrible.  It was raining hard, even for Guam.  We were getting the effects of Typhoon Rita that was between us and the Philippines.   The aircraft had to fly into, or at least skirt it in order to reach its target.  At some point the chin radome detached and led to the aircraft crashing.

 

I found a description of the overall background and rescue operation in the December 1977 issue of Popular Mechanics at http://www.northofseveycorners.com/history/rescue.htm and http://books.google.com/books?id=5eIDAAAAMBAJNote that the northofseveycorners.com site references the issue as January 1977 in error.   Of course the article makes no mention of the issues on the flightline before takeoff.  As far as the crew goes, they were probably told the problem was “fixed” and weren’t aware of the danger they were in.

 

Although it is stated on your site that the P/CP “reacted incorrectly and subsequently lost all airspeed” I’m not sure this is necessarily true. According to the article the first problem the pilot and copilot realized was the total loss of airspeed readings.  This could have occurred from the separating radome (roughly a 8′ long x 7′ wide x 3′ deep shell) hooking one of the pitot tubes or the sudden influx of water into the avionics and wiring under the cabin floor at a couple hundred miles an hour.  Electrical shorting in connectors and displacement of wires is consistent with the autopilot disengagement and subsequent pitch-down.  Loss of the radome also explains the loss of speed due to higher drag and aircraft shaking due to aerodynamic instability.

 

For the record, the DCM was shipped out the following day; I don’t know what happened to him.  I do know he wouldn’t have survived if he’d stayed as there were a great many troops who were beyond angry and were willing to dispense their own form of justice.  Hate to think there was a whitewash, but it wouldn’t be the first time. (Op Loss no. 3)

(Unknown)

B52F 6-18-65  Andersen, no. 57-0047 collided with no. 57-0179 over the South Pacific while circling awaiting KC-135As for pre-strike air refueling.  4 survivors, 8 fatalities among the 12 crewmen.  Seaman Jerry Bass was aboard the USS Point Defiance LSD 31 that was dispatched to rescue the 4 survivors and recover one body. He has extensive photographs and documentation of the recovery of four of the B-52 crew, as well as the crew of an SA-16 that was also dispatched in the effort (the SA-16 seaplane was damaged and sunk in the rescue effort). 

(Unknown)

B52F 6-18-65 Andersen, no. 57-0179 collided with no. 57-0047. (Op Loss no. 5).  Don Harten was one of the Co-Pilots.  Eleven other crewmember names are unknown.

Red 1

B52D 7-6-67  no. 56-0627 had a mid-air collision with no. 56-0595 over South China Sea near Saigon while “changing formation lead.”  See below, next entry.  There were seven survivors, six fatalities (#) among the 13 crewmembers.  Crew: E-06, 22nd BW, March AFB, CA.  P- Capt John Suther; CP- Wilcox Creeden; RN- Maj Paul Avolese(#); Nav- Lt William Gabel; EWO- Capt David Bitten(#);G-SSgt Lynn Chase.; Airborne Commander- Maj Gen William Crumm, 3rd  (#), Air Division Commander.  A B52 crewman who had personal knowledge of this incident wrote the following to me: “The crash in July 1967 (which was the midair involving General Crum) I have personal knowledge concerning as I was flying in the second cell.  (Op Loss no. 6).

The airplanes were in VFC formation (a prohibited maneuver according to the B-52 Dash -1) that was regularly used for bombing in those times.  The change of aircraft positions was initiated while in the VFC formation and during a major alteration of heading in a turn from the Pre-IP to IP when the MSQ beacon on the #1 airplane was declared inoperative.  

This attempted change of aircraft position within the formation was a foolish move, occurring at precisely the wrong time of the flight, and was initiated by request of the MSQ controller.  Later, during the post-accident corrective action phase, lectures were given on communications from MSQ being informative not “directive” in nature.  In essence, the rule being refreshed was that the pilot was in charge of flying the airplane not the ground controller, no matter what might be heard on the radio.   

After this crash the VFC formation abolished after Headquarters SAC suddenly became aware of the BOLD PRINT in the Dash One that said that flying the airplanes in close proximity to one another was prohibited.  (I am aware of such formation flying in the Linebacker campaigns for mutual ECM support which makes sense for survival in those circumstances, but at the time of the 1967 crash the only thing the VFC formation contributed to was sexy photographs of big airplanes in tight formation dropping huge bomb loads simultaneously.”  (Op loss no. 6).

Red 2

B52D 7-6-67 no. 56-0595 collided with no. 56-0627.  See entry above. Crew: E-10, 454th BW.  P- Capt George Westbrook; CP- Capt Dean Thompson; RN- 1st Lt George Jones; EWO- Toki R. Endo G- Msgt Olen McLaughlin (#).  NAV- Capt Chuck Blankenship. Partial remains of Jones & Blankenship identified and returned years later. Toki, as of May 2013 can be contacted at Boeing, endotr@yahoo.com (Op loss no. 7).

11 Other Operational losses:  Collisions with B52s or with tankers…other locations around world:

(Unknown) B52D 9-9-1958, no. 56-0681, crashed three miles north-east of Fairchild AFB, Wash. Mid-air collision with B52D 56-0681; 92nd Bomb Wing. (Op. Loss no. 1).

(Unknown) B52D 9-9-1958, no. 56-0681, crashed three miles north-east of Fairchild AFB, Wash. Mid-air collision with B52D 56-0661; 92nd Bomb Wing. (Op Loss no. 2).

(Unknown) B52F 10-15-1959, no.57-0036, Hardinsberg, KY. Mid-air collision with KC-135A during airborne alert duty; 4228th Strategic Wing. (Op loss no. 3).

(Unknown) B52D 12-15-1960, no. 55-0098, Crashed at Larson AFB, Wash. Aircraft had earlier collided with tanker during air-to-air refueling. Starboard wing failed and aircraft caught fire during landing roll; 4170th Strategic Wing. (Op loss no. 4).

(Unknown) B52F 6-18-1965, no. 57-0047, Pacific Ocean. Mid-air collision with B52F 57-0179; 320th Bomb Wing. (Op loss no. 5).

(Unknown) B52F 6-18-1965, no. 57-0179, Pacific Ocean. Mid-air collision with B52F 57-0047; 7th Bomb Wing. (Op loss no. 6).

(Unknown) B52G 1-17-1966, no. 58-0256, Lost near Palomares, Spain. Collided with KC-135A during air-to-air refueling. Four nuclear weapons fell from wreckage; 68th bomb Wing. (Op loss no. 7). See additional info at end of this paper.

(Unknown) B52D 7-7-1967, no. 56-0595, Pacific Ocean. Mid-air collision with B52D 56-0627, 22nd Bomb Wing, but with 4133rd Bomb Wing (Provisional). (Op loss no. 8).

(Unknown) B52D 7-7-1967, no. 56-0627, Pacific Ocean. Mid-air collision with B52D 56-0595, 454th Bomb Wing, but with 4133rd Bomb Wing (Provisional).(Op loss no. 9).

(unknown) B52G Approx 1991, 59-2593 lost over Indian Ocean during Operation Desert Storm, but not due to action with the enemy; the cause of the crash was determined to be an electrical/mechanical failure. (Op loss no. 10).

(Unknown) B52(?) 1994, (unknown), while practicing aerial maneuvers (airshow practice) at Fairchild AFB, Wash., attempted a steep banking turn at only a few hundred feet altitude, stalled, crashed and fireballed. All four officers aboard perished. (Op loss no. 11).

Out of 498 BUFF sorties over Hanoi/Haiphong the loss rate was 1.7% (.017).  The conservative number of SAMs fired was 884, with 24 BUFFs hit.  Source: Linebacker II: A View From the Rock published by the Air War College in 1979.  (Note: 2001 Boeing records list 32 B52 aircraft hit by SAMs.  Other sources state that there were a total of 724 B-52 sorties flown during LB II).  Boeing records show a total of 103 losses. 

A plaque below B52D, serial no. 55-083, now on display at the north gate to the United States Air Force Academy says, “from June 1965 to August 1973, B52s operating from Kadina Air Base, Okinawa; Andersen AFB, Guam; and Utapao Royal Thai Navy Air Field, Thailand flew over 126,000 combat missions in Southeast Asia.”  

Bailout

B-52 D

The B-52D has upward ejection seats for the Pilot, Copilot, and Electronic Warfare Officer and downward ejection seats for the Navigator and Radar Navigator. In the B-52D the Gunner is in the tail of the aircraft. For bailout, the gunner jettisons the gun turret and “dives out” of the hole created when the gun turret was jettisoned.  Bailout order was Nav, EW Officer, CP, Extra Crewmembers, RN, and P.  If any topside seats failed or any extra crewmembers were on board (up to 10 crewmembers can be carried) the crewmember came down to bail out through the hole the Nav left.  The RN was there to assist.  The Pilot always went last. The Gunner bailed out as soon as the bailout command was given. In an uncontrolled bail out, it was every man for himself…as quickly as possible.

B-52 G

The B-52G has upward ejection seats for the Pilot, Copilot, Electronic Warfare Officer and Gunner, and downward ejection seats for the Navigator and Radar Navigator. In the B-52G the Gunner sits in an ejection seat next to the EW Officer. Bailout order was Nav, Gunner, EW Officer, CP, Extra Crewmembers, RN, P.  If any topside seats failed or any extra crewmembers were on board (up to 10 crewmembers can be carried), the crewmember(s) came down to bail out through the hole the Nav left.  The RN was there to assist.  The Pilot always went last.  In an uncontrolled bail out, it was every man for himself…as quickly as possible.

Pilot ejecting from aircraft

Ninety-four  B-52s are still actively flying with the USAF.

All are B-52Hs built in 1960-62. The Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran B-52s (B-52D and B-52G) have all been retired.  The B-52Hs have taken their place and took part in post Desert Storm missions over Iraq (Note: one B52G, 59-2593 crashed returning from a Desert Storm Mission).   184 Combat missions were flown during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo.  Currently, all B-52Hs are based at two U.S. Bases. The 2nd Bomb Wing and 917th Wing (Air Force Reserve Command) are both at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the 5th Bomb Wing is at Minot AFB, North Dakota. The 917th Wing, 93rd BS flew a number of OEF and OEI missions (Iraq), being the only B-52 unit using the Litening Laser Pod to “self designate” LGB targets.  The B-52Hs are scheduled to retire in 2040.  (See amplifying note at end of this document).

During the period April 9, 1972 thru January 14, 1973, 16 other B-52s (one G-model and 15 D-models) received major battle damage (caused by SAMs), over North Vietnam. Following is a list of these sixteen B52s (aircraft recovered, no deaths or injuries reported):

Serial NoD 56-0665 

Date of Damage4-9-72

Remarks:   Landed at Danang and flown to U-Tapao, Thailand.  156 damaged areas.  Repaired and placed back in service, according to Boeing maintenance records.  Contradicting this information, the plane is “unaccounted for” according to authors Dorr & Peacock.  Contradicting Dorr’s information, there is a B52D now on display at Wright-Patterson with the number 56-0665 painted on the side.  If you’re confused, read the next two paragraphs.  

Serial NoD 56-0589

Date of Damage4-23-72

Remarks:   Landed at Danang and later flown to U-Tapao.  Approximately 400 outer surface holes.  20,000 manhours.  Placed back in commission 1-9-73.  Currently located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, according to Boeing.  Contradicting this information, authors Dorr & Peacock, in an appendix, state that 56-0589 was “ultimately disposed to ground instruction at Sheppard, Texas.”  

To complicate the issue of the two notes above, Dorr & Peacock state that the aircraft now on display at Wright-Patterson is B-52B no. 53-0394.  However, to the casual observer of B-52 models, the plane on display is certainly not 53-0394 (as stated by Dorr), because it has the large wingtip fuel tanks common to the B-52 “D” model, not the small ones characteristic of a B-52 “B” model.  Now that you’re really confused, the sign located at the B-52 at Wright-Patterson states words to the effect, “…suffered battle damage over Vietnam, exhibiting over 400 holes…”  This description matches the Boeing Maintenance records for 56-0589…yet the number 53-0665 is currently painted on the side.  I’m confused…are you?  We need a volunteer B-52 history buff to visit the cockpit, look at the air worthiness certificate on the back of the door, and find out the real number.

Note from Bob Davis, 1-27-16:  I was the copilot on the B-52D that was hit by a SAM on April23, 1972. The crew was from Robins AFB, GA on our 5th mission out of U-Tapao. Scheduled as spare #3 of an 18 ship formation with a target of Than Hoa, but moved up to spare #1 after preflight. As such, we were positioned in the hammerhead with engines running when the launch began. The second aircraft aborted takeoff and we filled in as #2 in the first 3-ship. We were hit over the target with the bomb doors open about 30 seconds before release. The SAM must have exploded just below us causing severe damage, 435 holes as I recall. Initial damage indications were loss radar and tail gunner pressurization. The bombing system continued to work and the RN stated the crosshairs were on the offset, the 108 bombs were dropped. By the time we got to Danang we had lost engines 1, 2, 7, and 8. The fire light on engine 8 did not come on until we were in range of Danang and we left it running. We also lost all four wing hydraulic pumps, but the two electric stand pumps appeared to be working at a reduced rate. All fuel gauges were unusable, most were spinning but some main tanks indicated empty even though we were feeding fuel to the engines from them. Other tanks that we knew were empty, indicated full. We based approach speed on planned gross weight, but after the fact determined we had lost over 35,000# of fuel. Approach speed was therefore too fast and the drag chute failed after touchdown (linkage severed by the SAM) and we went around. Second landing was successful, there was fuel still streaming from everywhere when we got off the aircraft. A KC-135 came in the next afternoon, dropped off maintenance personnel and took our crew back to U-Tapao. A March AFB stan/eval crew later ferried the aircraft back to U-Tapao, air refueling much of the way back. The aircraft was still in pieces when Linebacker II started and was removed from the hanger to repair other aircraft. I think it flew a one-time flight to Andersen AFB, Guam while I was on my second six-month tour, and was told it was eventually put on static display there.  Aircraft commander – Capt John Alward, Coplilot – 1/Lt Bob Davis, Radar Nav – Capt Dave Meunier, Nav – Capt Scott Verplough, EW – Capt Roger ?, Gunner – A1C Steve Dring.

Serial NoD 56-0604

Date of Damage: 11-5-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  333 external damage areas. Using horizontal stabilizer from 55-097.  Estimated time in commission (ETIC) 2-1-73. 

Serial NoD 55-0552

Date of Damage: 11-22-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  Approx 20 holes.  Repairable by T.O. 1B-52B-3.  In commission 1-9-73.

Serial NoD 56-0678

Date of Damage12-18-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  No inspar damage.  ETIC 7-30-73.  Est. 60,000 manhours.  350 external holes; 24 areas require kits. Lilac 03.

Serial NoD 56-0583 

Date of Damage12-18-72

Remarks:    Landed at U-Tapao.  Returned to service 12-20-72 minus three repairs 53 manhours.  10 external holes plus several dents and gouges.

Serial NoD 56-0592 

Date of Damage12-18-72

Remarks:    Landed at NamPhong, Thailand; one time flight to U-Tapao 12-23-72.  ETIC 3-15-73.  External holes estimated 2,000 manhours.

Serial NoG 58-0254  

Date of Damage: 12-18-72

Remarks:   Landed at Andersen AFB, Guam.  Sheet metal damage top of fuselage 30 to 50 holes.  Minus three repairs.

Serial NoD 55-0067  

Date of Damage: 12-22-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  Minus three repairs.  In commission 1-9-73.  70 manhours.  Nineteen external holes.  Call sign “Brick 2”. 

Serial NoD 55-0051  

Date of Damage12-24-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  In commission 1-9-73.  226 manhours.  Eleven external holes

Serial NoD 55-0062 

Date of Damage12-26-72 

Remarks:   Landed at Andersen AFB, Guam.  “Dash 3” repairs.  Returned to service 12-27-72.  Cream 1.

Serial NoD 55-0090 

Date of Damage12-26-72 

Remarks:   Landed at Andersen AFB, Guam.  “Dash 3” repairs.  Returned to service 12-28-72.  Cream 2

Serial NoD 56-0629   

Date of Damage12-26-72

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao.  Black 03  B-52D.  TOT 1609Z  Duc Noi  37,000 MSL.  Returned to service 12-31-72.  63 manhours to repair fourteen external holes plus three dents.  

Serial NoD 55-0052 

Date of Damage1-8-73 

Remarks:   Second incident.  Landed at U-Tapao.  Approx. 45 holes.

Serial NoD 55-0116 

Date of Damage1-14-73 

Remarks:   Landed at Danang.  Over 200 holes.  Left wing section 21 needs replacing.  Left drop tank numerous holes.  Removed both; being salvaged 4-1-73.  (According to one source there was not enough time before the cease-fire to salvage the aircraft so it was scraped).

Serial NoD 55-0058 

Date of Damage1-14-73 

Remarks:   Landed at U-Tapao. Took hits from 2 of 6 SA-2s fired just prior to drop.  More hits from 1 of 3 more SAMs on exit.  Over 120 holes.  Geoff Engels, a/c commander, Gunner, Jack Attebury, C/P Ernie Perrow, NAV Mike Gjede, EW “Torch” Torsiello, RN (Unknown).

Note:  Source of aircraft data…Boeing maintenance records.  Note that Boeing records show 19 aircraft were lost in combat…but that has to be in error.  Nos. G 58-0216 (19 Dec 72) and G 57-6472 (20 Dec 72), shown as downed in combat, later flew in the 1980s.  The correct total number of B52s lost in combat must be 17.  However, eight additional B-52s were operational losses while enroute to a combat area.  Total Vietnam B52 loses: 25 (this is my best estimate).

Tail Gunner Note:  B52-D serial no. 55-083, “Diamond Lil,” is now on display at the USAFA.   The plaque at the aircraft states that that aircraft was one of two B52s to shoot down an enemy MIG during the Vietnam conflict.  The date of the confirmed MiG 21 kill is recorded as December 24, 1972.  Tailgunner Moore of the 307SW.  A second B-52D got a confirmed kill:  56-676 got a MiG 21 kill 18 Dec 72.  Tailgunner Turner of the 307SW.  Present location of 56-676 unknown.  

B52 CRASH WRECKAGE AT HUU TIEP LAKE