The B-57B Canberra Bomber Kept Getting Destroyed on the Ground in Vietnam

On Nov. 1, 1964, a Viet Cong mortar assault on Bien Hoa Air Base close to Saigon destroyed 5 B-57B Canberra bombers and two helicopters, whereas damaging 13 further B-57B plane. That assault largely mirrored Canberra losses throughout the warfare—most occurred on or near the bottom. For instance, 4 of the bombers that arrived on Aug. 5, 1964, the primary deployment of U.S. fight jets to South Vietnam, had been misplaced in poor climate.

Initially meant as a nuclear-strike platform, the B-57’s excellent ordnance load and skill to loiter over targets made it the perfect aircraft for floor assist and interdiction efforts throughout the warfare’s early years.

The U.S. Air Drive determined in 1951 so as to add the British-made English Electrical Canberra B.2 to its bomber fleet and chosen Glenn Martin Co. to fabricate it below license. Martin’s model, the B-57A Canberra, decreased the crew from three to 2 whereas including wingtip gas tanks and a low-drag revolving bomb bay door that enabled the plane to hold quite a lot of ordnance. The primary planes left the manufacturing unit in 1953. Solely eight B-57As had been produced.

The B-model had a redesigned tandem cockpit for the 2 crewmen, a gun sight, wing ordnance onerous factors, wing-mounted weapons and hydraulic air brakes. The B-57B might carry as much as 16 bombs of 100 or 250 kilos in its bomb bay and three,300 kilos of ordnance—bombs or rocket pods—on the wings.

The Canberra was the primary American plane to bomb the Viet Cong and strike the Ho Chi Minh Path. The aircraft’s practically 60-minute loiter time and gun armament made it a very fashionable choice not just for the path but additionally for bigger targets in southern Laos.

The Air Drive misplaced 51 Canberras to fight in Vietnam—15 destroyed on the bottom and 26 downed by groundfire, largely over South Vietnam. By 1969, solely 9 B-57Bs had been nonetheless operational. They had been withdrawn that 12 months, changed by closely modified and rebuilt B-57Gs, optimized for low-level, all-weather missions. The Air Drive retired the final B-57 in 1983.