US Air Strikes on bridges during the Vietnam War.

US Air Strikes on bridges during the Vietnam War.

The shadow of a US plane as it flies over a bombed bridge during the Vietnam War.

I’ve featured articles on a couple of ruined bridges in Laos, bombed by US planes during the Vietnam War, and recently I came across a few wartime photos that bring home the devastation and fury of similar air strikes on bridges in North Vietnam.

BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

Often B-52s were used for bridge bombings during the early part of the Vietnam War

B-52s were often used for early bridge bombings, but they flew very high and they lacked the precision bombing required for taking out small targets like bridges, unless they got lucky.

B-52 bomb craters Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

B-52 bomb craters full of water.

The Air Force had some luck using adapted Daisy Cutter bombs, which, in this case, were 750lb bombs dropped by F-4 jets flying as low as 100 feet over their targets. These bombs had the power to bring down large spans.

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A 750lb bomb.

They were more effective than B-52 strikes because faster fighter planes like the F-4 Phantom could get closer and drop munitions in a more accurate way.

Two USS Coral Sea F-4B Phantom II fighters Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

Two USS Coral Sea F-4B Phantom II fighters of fighter squadron VF-111 Sundowners (foreground) and VF-51 Screaming Eagles drop four Mk 82 500 lb bombs over Vietnam. (US Navy)

The next photograph shows the bombing of the Hai Duong bridge, in North Vietnam in May 1972.

A-7E bombing the Hai Duong bridge BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

An A-7E bombing the Hai Duong road and railway bridge in North Vietnam in 1972. Note the bombed remains of a second bridge further upriver.

The plane shown in the above photo, the A-7E Corsair, proved itself to be a reliable light attack aircraft during the war.

A Corsair Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

A Corsair on the deck of USS Constellation, loaded with bombs.

As the war progressed and a new generation of smarter bombs was developed, US planes were able to precision-bomb some of the toughest bridge targets in Vietnam, which they had been unable to destroy previously.

Paul Doumer Bridge hanoi BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war long bien bridge bombing

Paul Doumer Bridge in Hanoi was the victim of the first use of laser-guided bombs in Vietnam.

The mile-long Paul Doumer Bridge (now called Long Bien Bridge) spanned the Red River in Hanoi. It was French-built, and carried a road and a railway. It was heavily defended and extremely well built, and the US had not been able to significantly put it out of action in spite of many ‘dumb bomb’ sorties flown against it, and a number of direct hits.

Paul Doumer Bridge long bien bridge hanoi Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

Paul Doumer Bridge shortly after completion.

That all changed in May 1972 when the bridge was put out of action for a year when it was hit with laser guided bombs carried by four F-4 Phantom aircraft. The bridge defenders didn’t think four planes could possibly comprise the main attack force for the bridge, but the planes dived low, dropped their eight bombs, all of which scored direct hits and the bridge was put out of action for a year.

Paul Doumer Bridge long bien bridge bombed hanoi BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

Aerial shot of the Paul Doumer Bridge after it had been destroyed by laser-guided bombs.

The bridge at Thanh Hoa, which crossed the Song Ma river, was called the ‘Dragon’s Jaw’, and linked Hanoi to China. It had also proved impossible to destroy using ‘dumb’ bombs.

Over a thousand sorties had been flown against it, nearly 100 US planes had been lost to anti-aircraft fire and SAM-2 missiles protecting the bridge, yet it still stood. The US had even tried floating massive bombs on the Song Ma river, timed to go off when sensors worked out when the bombs were under the bridge, but this had also proved unsuccessful.

A Vietnam War-era laser-guided bomb BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

A Vietnam War-era laser-guided bomb.

Eventually, in April and May 1972 smart bombs were dropped on the bridge by F-4 Phantoms flying out of Ubon Ratchathani Air Base in Thailand, armed with laser guided weapons and new infra-red aiming devices.

F-4 laser-guided bomb in Vietnam Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

An F-4 drops a laser-guided bomb in Vietnam

Air strike on the Dragon's Jaw bridge in Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

Air strike on the Dragon’s Jaw bridge in Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam.

No aircraft were lost in the attacks.

Years later, certainly in Laos, this is usually all that remains of (much smaller) bridges after air strikes took them down:

A bombed bridge in Nhommarath, Laos BACK vietnam war modern backpackers in asia crossover novel disappearances in laos jungles POWs mystery MIA missing Vietnam war mysteries and jungle secrets Vietnam war bombs US air strikes on Vietnamese bridges laos B-52 strikes F-4 smart bombs Vietnam war bridge bombing

A bombed bridge in Nhommarath, Laos.

Sepon Bridge, Laos, destroyed by B-52 strikes Vietnam war secret war in laos POWs MIAs wartime mysteries and jungle war secrets Vietnam and laos POWs MIAs left behind in the jungle secret north Vietnamese Vietnam war unexploded ordnance jungle dangers backpackers US air strikes on Vietnam bridges B-52 air strikes F-4 smart bombs bombing bridges Vietnam war

Sepon Bridge, Laos, destroyed by B-52 strikes during the Secret War in Laos.

See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

And for POWs left behind in Laos:

 

© Peter Alan Lloyd

BACK Parts 1 and 2:

Reviews: Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews 

UK: Amazon.co.uk: BACK Parts 1 and 2 

US: Amazon: Back Parts 1 and 2

Smashwords: Back Parts 1 and 2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.lloyd.94064?fref=ts

Website: www.peteralanlloyd.com

Twitter: @PeterAlanLloyd

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

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1 Comment

  1. Matt

    Your top photo was taken by an RF-101 Voodoo. Not an RF-4C; the Voodoo’s shadow is way different than a Phantom’s.

    Reply

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