Help support TMP

"How B-52 Bombers shot down enemy fighter jets in Vietnam" Topic

19 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please do not post offers to buy and sell on the main forum.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Modern Naval Discussion (1946 to 2011) Message Board

Back to the Vietnam War Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Recent Link

Featured Showcase Article

2 Ladies, 1 Guy

Can you identify these figures or who painted them?

Featured Workbench Article

Featured Profile Article

First Look: Barrage's 28mm Streets & Sidewalks

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian looks at some new terrain products, which use space age technology!

Current Poll

1,561 hits since 12 Nov 2020
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2020 8:41 p.m. PST

"The air war over Vietnam saw some incredible dog fights, but it still may surprise you to learn that the mighty B-52 heavy bomber successfully shot down not one but two Vietnamese Mig 21 fighter jets near the tail end of the conflict.

The venerable Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been flying since 1952, and thanks to a series of upgrades, will continue to for decades to come. The massive jet bomber may have been designed in the 1940s (in fact, it was designed almost entirely in a single weekend), but its massive airframe and eight jet engine-design have proven so capable over the years that the B-52 is now expected to outlast newer bombers that were developed to replace it. As the B-21 Raider inches toward production, both America's B-2 Spirit (stealth bomber) and B-1B Lancer (supersonic bomber) are expected to be put out to pasture, while the legendary B-52 keeps right on flying…."
Main page


Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Nov 2020 12:21 p.m. PST

I had no idea!

That MIG pilot must have been mightily surprised in what were likely the last moments of his life.


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2020 4:46 p.m. PST

Yes that is what those tail guns are there for.

JMcCarroll13 Nov 2020 4:50 p.m. PST

20 mm

Thresher0113 Nov 2020 5:57 p.m. PST

Or, quad .50s early on, IIRC, for some Buff models.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

Yes IIRC it was 4 x.50s then 20mm.

Nearly all of the B-52 variants featured a radar-assisted tail position with four M3 machine guns, each firing at a rate of 1,200 rounds per minute. The ultimate version, the B-52H, came with a single 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon, able to spit out up to 100 shells every second, in their place.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 12:25 p.m. PST



Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 2:59 p.m. PST

100 cannon shells a second…..

I suspect many a Lancaster tail ender would have taken that.

As I recall not one single B52 went down to a fighter attack. Bit different to WWII then. Am I right that they went in with no close fighter escort? I guess that my first sentence shows that the "little brothers" were not needed, again unlike WWII.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 4:53 p.m. PST

100 cannon shells a second…..
Well it is a mini-gun …

Am I right that they went in with no close fighter escort?
IIRC … Generally and there some ECM aircraft too at times.

Skarper15 Nov 2020 12:38 a.m. PST


They claim one air-to-air kill by Mig-21.

It's impossible to verify independently, however.

The B-52s flew higher and faster than WW2 bombers and getting an interceptor within range was a challenge. Missiles were most effective. AAA could not reach the altitudes to effectively engage.

As for close escort it was established late in WW2 that engaging enemy fighters on the ground or before they could intercept was much more effective. Hanging around the airfields to catch them landing was also more lucrative.

The B-52s lost their tail guns in 1991.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2020 10:34 a.m. PST

B-52s and even F-111s had to be more concerned about SAMs, generally.

And as I said, B-52s had no Fighter escort, as mentioned, they really didn't need it. And as we know many Fighter/Bombers were use for CAS. E.g. F4s, A4s, etc. But many dogfights did occur. When the CAP engaged the NVAF when the Strike Group was heading for the target(s). Leading the Strike Package were "Wild Weasels", i.e. Fighters carrying radar homing missiles. To take out SAMs and AAA before the Strike Package got there.

Yes, I believe it was '91 that the B-52s lost there tail guns. Based on much of the fact the Cold War was over. And the former USSR were our "friends" now … right …

Skarper15 Nov 2020 10:49 a.m. PST

Removing the tail guns probably had more to do with them being useless against Air-to-air missiles. The 1-2 kills claimed by a Mig21 [unconfirmed] were with missiles.

Of course, the VPAF do not admit to losing any Migs due to B-52 rear guns.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2020 11:41 a.m. PST

Takes real cold courage to fly relatively slow (however high level) huge bombers against targeted anti aircraft rocketry and relying on ECM for your only defence. OK, B17s or B24s over Europe it was a random chance if AAA got you. I think this is different and colder.

I am sure the folk on the ground had a different view, but I recall my admiration for these crews in the early 70s (and I had hair almost to my costal margin back then and my views were not exactly popular locally)

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2020 4:49 p.m. PST

Removing the tail guns probably had more to do with them being useless against Air-to-air missiles.
I'm sure that was a factor too. But one of our biggest adversaries were our friends … now … They were one of the few that had the ability to go after our B-52 with other aircraft.

But as we see SAMs really became the primary AAA system for many …

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2021 10:15 p.m. PST

B-52 Busters – Vietnam War Communist Commando Raids

YouTube link


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2021 9:31 a.m. PST

And some considerably upgraded "BUFFs" are still flying …

Skarper21 Jun 2021 4:27 p.m. PST

They're projected to have a service life of 100 years…which if true must be some kind of record.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2021 4:31 p.m. PST

I hope so ! 100 years !!! GO BUFFs !!!!

Pyrate Captain22 Dec 2022 2:41 p.m. PST

From the two accounts I read, once radar locked on, all the gunner had to do was wait for range and squeeze the rigger. It's the reason the BUFF was named the Stratofortress.

Alas, all gunners were unceremoniously fired in 1991. The Air force claimed it was because A2A missiles made the gunner obsolete, but it did follow a gunner incident bringing down a friendly, and Chief of Staff McPeak was determined to destroy SAC (and the Air Force), and he succeeded.

Perhaps the moral of this story is never let a former FAC make strategic decisions.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.