Rolling Thunder

The sound of bombs landing in a small area delivered by B-52s

VIETNAM WAR BOMB CRATERS As our choppers headed toward Saigon, I looked down and could see many craters in the terrain caused by bombs dropped over the course of the war. Quite often the Blues were inserted to assess the damage and detonate unexploded bombs inflicted by B-52 strikes. Our mission in Saigon was for Charlie Troop 1/9th to recon the outskirts of the city in preparation for an upcoming visit by V.P. Agnew scheduled for August 27th, 1970. b52-runway

The 52s had three nick names: *Whispering Death. So called by the NVA because the altitude from which the B52s released their bombs meant you got no warning of their presence. When the bombs arrived was the first sign. Luckily for them bombs do little damage in a jungle. *Rolling Thunder. From the sound of 318 bombs landing in a small area in a carpet bombing mode with only 3 planes. Rarely did the Yanks use only 3 planes. In 3 years they dropped 860,000 TONS of bombs. 52,000 North Vietnamese died as a result. *BUFFS. The troops called them this from “Big Ugly Fat Fuckers” or in the presence of the Vicar or ladies, “Big Ugly Fat Fellows” Their normal bomb load was 84 bombs internally and 24 bombs under the wings. Each bomb weighed 500 pounds. Sometimes they carried 750 lb bombs.


This photo was taken by Bert Schreibstein at Fire Support Base Buttons in January, 1970. A B-52 air strike (Arc Light) can be seen miles away.


B-52 bomb craters full of water


B-52 Stratofortress cutaway


Filed under Vietnam War

5 responses to “Rolling Thunder

  1. Tom Criser

    Don’t Forget The BA For The Blues Includer Detonating Unexploded Bombs From The Arclite…

  2. Walker Jones

    I have an unbelievable story, and never mentioned it to anyone until I received a confirmation fairly recently. Normally, every aircraft in Vietnam received a radio notice “On Guard’ about an upcoming Arc Light mission, giving the coordinates (in code) and a warning of how far to keep away.. It was a big deal. One day early in 1971 during the Second Cambodia Incursion, I was flying my Cobra at high altitude on my way back to Tay Ninh when I was shocked to see the ground just down ahead exploding in 2 rows of bomb bursts heading directly at me. There was no time to evade; I passed DIRECTLY through the middle of the falling bombs. Talk about instant shock/fear and anal pucker! It took … well, I have never got over it (or a lot of other things there). How the rotating blades were not hit by a falling bomb, I’ll never know. It lasted just seconds, I’m SO glad that someone told me that things were so messed up at that point in the war, that I shouldn’t be surprised. Bullshit.

  3. While Ya All was raining down hell from obscene altitudes, Us on the ground Recon referred to to this hell rain as walking on Mars.
    Above all else ‘The Smell’ A barbecue of sorts that is forever etched in both nostrils.
    As far as ‘Gettin Over’ ones experiences ‘Over There’. Trust me. A lifetime is not even long enough.
    Then again, wouldn’t have it any other way.
    God Bless Air Cav
    Ryan Donovan.
    1st Div. Marines/1st Force Recon./3069/ 4th Bat.Echo

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