U.S. Navy pilots fly 34 missions as they again strike the Chien Chiang and Lang Son bridges near the Chinese border, another bridge 39 miles northeast of Hanoi, a railroad yard near Mo Trang, and two anti-aircraft sites south of Dong Hoi.
Other jets attacked the Nam Dinh power plant that lay 45 miles southwest of Haiphong; a railway and highway bridge 24 miles southeast of Hanoi; and eight buildings in the Yen Bac military storage area. These raids were all part of Operation Rolling Thunder, which had been initiated in March 1965 and became the longest bombing campaign ever conducted by the United States Air Force. It was designed to destroy North Vietnam’s industrial base and war-making capability.
During the protracted campaign, more than 643,000 tons of bombs fell on North Vietnam, destroying 65 percent of North Vietnam’s petroleum storage capacity and an estimated 60 percent of its power-generating capability. Despite these results, Rolling Thunder has generally been assessed as a failure. For a number of reasons, conventional airpower used on North Vietnam did not have the desired impact on the unconventional war being fought in South Vietnam. First, North Vietnam was primarily a pre-industrial, agricultural society without major industrial targets. Second, the overall effectiveness of the bombing campaign was hampered by political constraints that limited targeting and other operational planning factors. Third, and perhaps most important, the North Vietnamese were a determined people who were prepared to continue fighting as long as it took to achieve their war aims. In essence, the United States was fighting a limited war, but the North Vietnamese were fighting a total war to the finish.