After 11 days of round-the-clock bombing (with the exception of a 36-hour break for Christmas), North Vietnamese officials agree to return to the peace negotiations in Paris.
The Linebacker II bombing was initiated on December 18 by President Richard Nixon when the North Vietnamese, who walked out of the peace negotiations in Paris, refused his ultimatum to return to the talks. During the course of the bombing, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong.
During the ensuing battle, the North Vietnamese launched their entire stock of more than 1,200 surface-to-air missiles against the U.S. planes. Fifteen B-52s and 11 other U.S. aircraft were lost, along with 93 flyers downed, killed, missing or captured. Hanoi claimed heavy damage and destruction of densely populated civilian areas in Hanoi, Haiphong, and their suburbs. The bombing resulted in the deaths of 1,318 in Hanoi. While some news reporters alleged that the U.S. was guilty of “carpet bombing” the area (deliberately targetting civilian areas with intensive bombing to “carpet” a city with bombs), the bombing was intended to focus on specific military targets.
The Linebacker II bombing was effective in bringing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. When they returned to Paris, the peace talks moved along quickly. On January 23, 1973, the United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later.