The BUFF in Vietnam



“The B-52 was designed for one purpose only and that was to carry nuclear weapons.”

As the longest serving combat aircraft in history the B-52 Stratofortress has had a long and somewhat controversial career. Like almost every military aircraft ever built the B-52 would be used in a role for which it was never designed.

In 1965 the war in Vietnam was just beginning. For the Americans the war they wanted to fight never materialized. American ground commanders, unable to defeat an illusive enemy, called for an increase in bombing. In response Operation Arch Light was implemented. For the first time the B-52, armed with iron bombs, would be used as a conventional bomber in a tactical role.

The first Arc Light mission began auspiciously. Flying from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, twenty-seven B-52s took off. During the mission two B-52 were lost in a mid-air collision and the results were disappointing. No Viet Cong casualties were reported or any significant damage sustained.

Many have described the use of the B-52 in Vietnam was like “swatting flies with a sledge hammer.” In many cases it was, but the B-52 would prove indispensible on both the battlefield and in the skies over Saigon. Arc Light mission would continue until the cessation of hostilities on August 15, 1973. Over that period an astounding 126,615 B-52 sorties would be flown over Southeast Asia. The USAF would lose 31 B-52s: 18 in combat and 13 from operation causes.

Join us for the true and controversial story of the BUFF in Vietnam.