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B-57 Canberra Units of the Vietnam War
Osprey's examination of B-57 Canberra Units during the Veitnam War period (1955-1975). While not receiving as much publicity as the F-105 and F-4 fighter-bombers, which took the fight into the heart of North Vietnam, the B-57 Canberra was nevertheless the first jet-powered American attack aircraft committed to the conflict. It was involved in day-to-day interdiction missions against traffic coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, shooting up trucks and bombing and strafing sampans in the Mekong Delta. And, not least, the aircraft flew classified 'black' missions over the border into Laos and Cambodia. The B-57B medium bomber began hitting targets in North and South Vietnam at the beginning of 1965. Although B-57B crews had already made a name for themselves during the hair-raising night missions during Op Rolling Thunder, late in the war many aircraft were upgraded to the then-state-of-the-art B-57G Night Intruder, which became one of the most valuable weapons in the USAF inventory. The B-57E, in its electronic eavesdropping and countermeasures roles, starred in the so-called Patricia Lynn missions, parts of which are still classified today. Also operating alongside the USAF B-57 units, were the Canberra B 20s of the Royal Australian Air Force,attached to the USAF's 35th Bomb Wing - the exploits of the Australian Canberras will be fully documented in this book. The unit flew interdiction missions in support of troops in the field from 1967 to 1971. At the time the Canberra was called to action, the USAF, which considered the aircraft too slow, limited in its mission and not 'sexy' enough, was attempting to phase it out of the inventory. In the event, the B-57 continued to serve for another 20 years, echoing the story of the A-10 Warthog. The author has obtained scores of previously unpublished photographs from the first deployment of the B-57s to Bien Hoa, all the way up to very rare photos of the B-57G being armed and readied for night combat missions. The story of the B-57 in Vietnam has never been told in detail, and since the aeroplane served in virtually every role for the duration the US involvement in Vietnam, the story of the B-57 is, in effect, the story of that war.
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February 19, 2013
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