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Vietnam War, Operation Carolina Moon

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Vietnam War, Operation Carolina Moon

Old 4th Jun 2021, 23:02
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Vietnam War, Operation Carolina Moon

While reading a book about the US bombing campaign to down the Thanh Hoa Bridge during the Vietnam War yielded a very good account of Operation Carolina Moon....using C-130E Transports to drop five River Mines with an explosive charge each yielding the equivalent of One Kiloton explosive force 20-30 feet above the device as it floated down the Song Ma River.

The mining was done at night, hand flying at 100 feet AGL and 150 knots until about a mile and half from the bridge then "popping up to between 400-700 feet to drop the five Mines by parachute.

As if that was not bold enough....one must recall the Thanh Hoa Bridge known as the Dragon's Jaw by the Vietnamese was one of the most heavily defended targets in all of North Vietnam with small arms, AAA, Missiles, and at times....Mig Fighters.

The first attack went as planned except there was no damage to the bridge.

The bright sparks in command ordered a repeat attack the very next night....resulting in the loss of the attacking C-130 with all of its Crew.....and the bridge was undamaged.

The book entitled "The Dragon's Jaw" by Stephen Coonts and Barrett Tillman, recounts the US Air Force and Navy's bombing campaigns in North Vietnam with the writer keeping a focus on the one bridge.

I don't know about you....but I tip my hat to those C-130 Crews....the thought of trundling down a river at night....at a 100 feet...and a mere 150 KIAS in a C-130.....alone is a rather impressive feat but to do it at the Thanh Hoa Bridge during the War......no thank you!

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Old 4th Jun 2021, 23:17
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Indeed chap - I was quite astonished when I read that book. Brave crews.....
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 07:32
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How where the mines supposed to go off in the right place?
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 07:34
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Very brave indeed. And how typical of the staff to send then out the next night with the enemy now fully awake. During the Falklands War the RAF had a minelaying role for our C130K a/c which no doubt would have involved a low slow run up to the target. Thankfully never put to the test.
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 10:23
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
How where the mines supposed to go off in the right place?
I seem to remember they were a magnetic mine so go off under steel bridge.
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 11:37
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They had two fuses each....one being Infared Thermal and the other a radar fuse adapted from the BOMARC Missile.

Project 1559, also known as Carolina Moon, AFATL's Technology Branch designed mine with a 6-foot diameter and an approximate weight of 4,000 pounds, of which half was explosive in a focused warhead. The waepon would be dropped from either a C-123 or C-130 aircraft and would feature 2 64-foot parachutes to retard its fall. The mine would have two fuzes. One of these was modified from that used on the CIM-10 BOMARC surface to air missile. The other was an infrared optical fuze. The radar fuze had a cone of 70 degrees, while the optical fuze had a cone of 3 degrees.
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Old 6th Jun 2021, 07:32
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Thanks SAS - I'd have thought a magnetic fuse would have been better - and did they test these mines before use?
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Old 6th Jun 2021, 10:37
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Torpedos might have been better....
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Old 6th Jun 2021, 12:02
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The fuses were tested and found to work as advertised but I am thinking they did not set one of those devices off for a full test....but if the fuses worked....the rest of it would be quite dependable.

The devices all failed to damage the bridge and no reliable source of information exists to confirm what happened to them.

Various articles talked about shallow water, variable current flow, mud bars.....etc for reasons they did not. go off under the bridge as planned.....and at such an awful cost in lives due to the second mission.

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Old 7th Jun 2021, 05:26
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The Device:

https://www.globalsecurity.org/jhtml...rop%20Sequence


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Old 7th Jun 2021, 08:38
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Looks quite a Churchillian device (and eight foot across!) - I'm sure there were better ways to smash bridges
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Old 7th Jun 2021, 08:53
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Torpedos might have been better...
.... or a bouncing bomb?
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Old 7th Jun 2021, 10:33
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You have to take into account the technology that existed at that time.

Using Tactical Bombing in a very strongly defended target area and getting direct hits on structure that either destroys the bridge is a tough chore until precision bombing using guidable bombs came along....which it did in 1972

The US Navy dropped the Thanh Hoa bridge using then the latest tech guided bomb available.

With today's bombing capabilities.....dropping a bridge is no problem.

Dodging SAM's and AAA remains an issue for sue but with the standoff distances possible now that risk has been lessened.

But....getting back to flying the Herc at night without Terrain Following Radar or NVG's down the river was a very courageous act bordering on the insane.

They succeeded the first night then should have given it up for good....going two nights in a row was needless sacrificing a crew of very brave Men.

Of course we can say that of the entire bombing campaign called Rolling Thunder with all of its ROE Rules that prevented the Air Force and Navy from doing their jobs effectively and only resulted in Pilots and Crew being killed or captured for long periods of imprisonment, torture, and far too many deaths.

That was until Nixon turned the Air Force loose and sent the B-52's to Hanoi and mined the harbors.

That following on the heels of the tactical disaster of the Tea '68 attacks....which failed. miserably militarily but was a strategic victory by winning. over the anti-war sentiment in the United States is what finally brought the War to an end after Congress ended support for Vietnam and Cambodia Operations.

We can lay the defeat at the feet of LBJ, McNamara, Westmoreland, the Joint Chiefs, and some others who fabricated a War, who never intended to "win" it in the nature of WWII, and made decisions based upon domestic considerations rather than on genuine military considerations,
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Old 7th Jun 2021, 17:40
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"made decisions based upon domestic considerations rather than on genuine military considerations,"

All wars fought by democracies are fought on that basis
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Old 7th Jun 2021, 19:52
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Salute!

Somehow, I do not think Winston was thinking about getting elected again while the madman was building up Operation Sea Lion and Coventry was burning.

Gums sends..


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Old 8th Jun 2021, 07:31
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yeah but by the time we wiped out Dresden he was.....................
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 09:24
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Vietnam

Vietnam was a conflict.America never declared war on vietnam.
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 10:24
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Vietnam was a conflict.America never declared war on vietnam.
reminds me of what Anthony Eden (allegedly) said about Suez:

"This is not a state of war; merely armed conflict" !!
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 20:27
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Borneo was another `Undeclared War` as well.....but several still MIA....
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Old 8th Jun 2021, 23:24
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Vietnam was a conflict.America never declared war on vietnam.
I am very glad that was so....I don't think I would have cared much for the real McCoy.

But then to be fair....we did not wage War on the Vietnamese either.
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