The involvement of the US Air Force in the Southeast Asian Wars began in 1962 with crews sent to train Vietnamese pilots, and with conflict in Laos, and finally ended in 1972 with the B-52 bombing of Hanoi, though there were Air Force pilots unofficially flying combat in Laos up to the end in 1975. The missions flown by USAF aircrews during those years in Southeast Asia differed widely, from attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail at night with modified T-28 trainers, to missions "Downtown," the name aircrew gave Hanoi, the central target of the war.
This aerial war was dominated by the major air operations against the north: Rolling Thunder from 1965 to 1968, and then Linebacker I and II in 1972, with the latter seeing the deployment of America's fearsome B-52 bombers against the North Vietnamese capital Hanoi. These operations were carried out in the face of a formidable Soviet-inspired air defence system bristling with anti-aircraft guns and SAM missile sites. Beyond this, the US Air Force was intimately involved in secret air wars against Laos and Cambodia - one cannot speak of a war only in Vietnam regarding US Air Force operations. The war the Air Force fought was a war in Southeast Asia.
Following on from the same author's The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club, which told the story of the US Navy's involvement in the Vietnam War, Downtown completes the picture. Featuring a wide range of personal accounts and previously untold stories, this fascinating history brings together the full story of the US Air Force's struggle in the skies over Southeast Asia.