Going Downtown

Going Downtown

The US Air Force over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, 1961–75

General Military
  • Author: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 12 May 2022
  • Number of Pages: 352
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About this Product

This vivid narrative history tells the full story of the US Air Force's involvement in the wars in the air over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

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.

Biographical Note

Thomas McKelvey Cleaver has been a published writer for the past 40 years and this work is the product of 25 years of research. He has chronicled the US war in Korea in his best-selling The Frozen Chosen, Holding the Line and MiG Alley, and has turned to writing similar histories of Vietnam with The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club and now Going Downtown. Tom is a veteran of the war in Vietnam and served with the US Navy's Seventh Fleet.


List of Maps and Illustrations
1. "Zorro-16 - Nail-43. You are on Fire. What Are Your Intentions?”
2. Good Intentions and Ignorance
3. Planning for the Wrong War
4. Early Days - 1962-65
5. Going up North - 1965-66
6.Feather Duster
7. Bridges, Sams, and MiGs - the Widening War
8. Blackman and Robin
9. The MiGs Fight Back
10. Bloody May and June
11. The Hot Summer of 1967
12. Rolling Thunder's Zenith
13. The End of Rolling Thunder
14. Interregnum - 1968-72
15. The Easter Offensive
16. Operation Linebacker
17. The Christmas Bombing
18. The Final Wars in Southeast Asia