This article discusses how airpower, specifically the U.S. Air Force and Navy, played a critical role in saving South Vietnam during the Easter Offensive of 1972.


Key Points:
  • The Easter Offensive of 1972 was a major assault by North Vietnamese forces on South Vietnam.
  • The South Vietnamese army (ARVN) had to fight without U.S. ground troops and faced a superior enemy.
  • Airpower became the only politically feasible means for the United States to aid South Vietnam.
  • The American air fleet in Southeast Asia included hundreds of combat aircraft and over 200 B-52s.
  • Bad weather initially limited air support, but American pilots soon made a significant impact.
  • The use of AH-1 Cobra gunships, along with Air Force, Navy, and Marine aircraft, provided constant air support.
  • Operation Linebacker I involved striking targets in North Vietnam and mining Haiphong Harbor.
  • Laser-guided smart bombs and improved air combat tactics gave the U.S. an advantage against North Vietnamese forces.
  • The North Vietnamese switch from guerrilla warfare to conventional offensives made them vulnerable to air power.
  • American airpower helped the ARVN repel assaults, but South Vietnam ultimately fell in 1975 due to other factors.


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