April 12, 1966 - As part of Operation Rolling Thunder, US Air Force B-52 (below, right) bombers strike North Vietnam for the first time. Each carrying up to 100 bombs, the mammoth B-52s attack industrial, infrastructure, and military targets from high altitude. Based at Guam and later Thailand, the B-52 first entered the war in June 1965, and flew both strategic bombing and close support missions for the duration of the Vietnam War.
In the course of the Vietnam War, 31 B-52s were lost of which 18 were either shot down or damaged beyond repair due to enemy action. The aircraft played a key role restarting peace talks in late 1972, when waves of B-52s hammered Hanoi and Haiphong in what became known as the "Christmas Bombings" (Operation Linebacker II).
Photograph Courtesy of the US Air Force