WI: Earlier introduction of B-47, effects on Korean Air Campaign?

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What if the Boeing B-47 entered service one or even two years earlier and thus was available for The Korean War?

How effective would it be in the Allied air campaign against targets in North Korea compared to the B-29 in OTL?
How would it have fared against North Korean air defenses especially the MiG-15?
Would they have been able to attack North of the Yalu or even across to Yellow Sea to attack Beijing (Peking) and what would the effects of these attacks on Chinese cities be on the PRC leadership?

Much obliged!
 
No matter the Bomber version, going beyond the Yalu was in the RoE unless Truman wants to widen the War
Being faster, would suffer lower losses over DPRK targets
 
Probably nothing meaningful.

The B-29s pretty well wiped North Korea’s infrastructure before major intervention. Since the MiGs never rebased south of the Yalu, only a geographically small strip of territory close to the border became off-limits to the bombers, leaving more than 90% of the country wide open. With most of the key marshaling yards and industrial facilities further south than MiG alley, the US was free to continue a punishing interdiction campaign.

Yet despite that, the most remarkable part of the story is that Communist supply throughput constantly increased after mid-1951. Somehow the Chinese and North Koreans, undoubtedly with a degree of Soviet assistance, managed to rebuild and maintain the transport infrastructure in the face of total American air supremacy to ensure that the flow of supplies didn’t just stop, but expanded. Whatever methods they did to manage this (I suspect it involved duping American BDA a lot), the US targeting system never seemed to develop an adequate means of dealing with it. Given that, substituting a better plane isn’t going to do anything meaningful.
 
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Probably nothing meaningful.

The B-29s pretty well wiped North Korea’s infrastructure before major intervention. Since the MiGs never rebased south of the Yalu, only a geographically small strip of territory close to the border became off-limits to the bombers, leaving more than 90% of the country wide open. With most of the key marshaling yards and industrial facilities further south than MiG alley, the US was free to continue a punishing interdiction campaign.

Yet despite that, the most remarkable part of the story is that, Communist supply throughput constantly increased after mid-1951. Somehow the Chinese and North Koreans, undoubtedly with a degree of Soviet assistance, managed to rebuild and maintain the transport infrastructure in the face of total American air supremacy to ensure that the flow of supplies didn’t just stop, but expanded. Whatever methods they did to manage this (I suspect it involved duping American BDA a lot), the US targeting system never seemed to develop an adequate means of dealing with it. Given that, substituting a better plane isn’t going to do anything meaningful.
Your correct in your assessment, of the Korean Air War. The Germans were able to supply themselves in Italy in WWII. Saying that both the Chinese, and Germans suffered serious material, and human loses. Trying to conduct offensive operations, for more than a short time wasn't really possible.
 
What if the Boeing B-47 entered service one or even two years earlier and thus was available for The Korean War?

How effective would it be in the Allied air campaign against targets in North Korea compared to the B-29 in OTL?
How would it have fared against North Korean air defenses especially the MiG-15?
Would they have been able to attack North of the Yalu or even across to Yellow Sea to attack Beijing (Peking) and what would the effects of these attacks on Chinese cities be on the PRC leadership?

Much obliged!
The B-47 was beautiful, and it could've hit Beijing, with little trouble. It's very difficult to stop these kinds of attacks. In every exercise the attacker has the advantage. It's rare the defenders ever make any successful interceptions.
 
Your correct in your assessment, of the Korean Air War. The Germans were able to supply themselves in Italy in WWII. Saying that both the Chinese, and Germans suffered serious material, and human loses. Trying to conduct offensive operations, for more than a short time wasn't really possible.
The Chinese and Germans certainly suffered heavy human and material losses in those campaigns... to enemy ground forces. The air forces contributions to that damage were minimal. And the Chinese managed quite successful sustained offensive operations near the end of the war in the months just before the armistice, successfully capturing quite a number of positions that had been held by the Americans for the previous two years.
 
The B-47 would have had the destroyed much of the DPRK just like the B-29s. The question is if it would be vulnerable to the MiG-15.
 
The B-47 would have had the destroyed much of the DPRK just like the B-29s. The question is if it would be vulnerable to the MiG-15.
Undoubtedly not. The MiG-15 could intercept the B-47, but it was both more difficult and the bomber was clearly vastly more survivable against them than the B-29. The first deep penetration overflight by RB-47s in 1952 saw one of them come back with a rather large hole punched in it’s wing by a bracket of 23mm shells. But the damage was eminently repairable. It wasn’t until the MiG-19 showed up in 1954 that Soviet intercepts became as dangerous to the RB-29 as the MiG-15 was to the B-29.
 
The Chinese and Germans certainly suffered heavy human and material losses in those campaigns... to enemy ground forces. The air forces contributions to that damage were minimal. And the Chinese managed quite successful sustained offensive operations near the end of the war in the months just before the armistice, successfully capturing quite a number of positions that had been held by the Americans for the previous two years.
I'm sorry to disagree, but air forces killed very large numbers of Chinese, and North Korean troops. The NKPA had many truck convoys blasted off the roads. Air support had a decisive effect at the Pusan Perimeter. The U.S. 2nd ID would have been destroyed during its retreat though the gauntlet, if not for the air support they received. The 1'st Marine Division, and the rest of X Corps wouldn't have survived without the heavy air support they had. The communist forces were largely limited to night movement because of UN Air Power. Every account of the war, on both sides testifies to the devastating effects of air attacks, practically regarding napalm.

Even in 1953 the Chinese attacks lasted for short periods of time, and the hill battles at the end of the war were battles on a smaller scale then the massive battles earlier in the war. They involved regiments, not Corps. The Chinese had to mass to launch them, and suffered punishing losses, much of it inflicted by air power.
 
I'm sorry to disagree, but air forces killed very large numbers of Chinese, and North Korean troops. The NKPA had many truck convoys blasted off the roads. Air support had a decisive effect at the Pusan Perimeter. The U.S. 2nd ID would have been destroyed during its retreat though the gauntlet, if not for the air support they received. The 1'st Marine Division, and the rest of X Corps wouldn't have survived without the heavy air support they had. The communist forces were largely limited to night movement because of UN Air Power. Every account of the war, on both sides testifies to the devastating effects of air attacks, practically regarding napalm.

Even in 1953 the Chinese attacks lasted for short periods of time, and the hill battles at the end of the war were battles on a smaller scale then the massive battles earlier in the war. They involved regiments, not Corps. The Chinese had to mass to launch them, and suffered punishing losses, much of it inflicted by air power.


IMHO.

Perhaps North Korea and China just accepted what ever losses they incurred due to US and Allied air power as a cost of continuing the war while taking what ever steps they could to confound the US targeting efforts.

I doubt that adding B47's to the mix (assuming the US were even prepared to use them for conventional attacks over Korea vs keeping them in reserve for potential nuclear strikes later on) would have changed the outcome much.
 
IMHO.

Perhaps North Korea and China just accepted what ever losses they incurred due to US and Allied air power as a cost of continuing the war while taking what ever steps they could to confound the US targeting efforts.

I doubt that adding B47's to the mix (assuming the US were even prepared to use them for conventional attacks over Korea vs keeping them in reserve for potential nuclear strikes later on) would have changed the outcome much.
I think your right, the B-47 wouldn't have changed the outcome of the war. What I was addressing was the question raised by ObsesedNuker that UN air power didn't inflict heavy casualties on communist forces in Korea. I believe the evidence suggests they did. I don't know how effective counter measures were, because the B-29's destroyed every strategic target on their list. Logistical targets, like vital bridges were left to tactical air, like it was in the Vietnam War, or in WWII.

Yes, your right that was the price for continuing the war. Till this day the North Koreans don't want to start another war, because they don't want to see their country devastated by U.S. Air Power again. The Chinese didn't want another direct confrontation with the U.S. because of the massive losses they suffered in Korea. By the Summer of 51 the Communists wanted to end the war, and accepted the invitation to talks. They agreed to accept the UN line, rather than the 38th Parallel. It was the POW exchange issue that hung the talks up, for almost 2 years. The UN wouldn't force POWs to go home, if they didn't want to. That was too much of a humiliation for the Communists to face. In the end they agreed to UN terms, and accepted only voluntary repatriation.
 
I'm sorry to disagree, but air forces killed very large numbers of Chinese, and North Korean troops. The NKPA had many truck convoys blasted off the roads. Air support had a decisive effect at the Pusan Perimeter. The U.S. 2nd ID would have been destroyed during its retreat though the gauntlet, if not for the air support they received. The 1'st Marine Division, and the rest of X Corps wouldn't have survived without the heavy air support they had. The communist forces were largely limited to night movement because of UN Air Power. Every account of the war, on both sides testifies to the devastating effects of air attacks, practically regarding napalm.
Oh sure, air power claimed to do plenty of damage, but there's no evidence those claims have any attachment to reality. Certainly, continuous, unchallenged tactical air support can have a great suppressive effect on ground formations out of all proportions to the physical damage inflicted, which can often be of great aid to ground forces, but that's still more a psychological effect then a physical one. Chinese and North Korean records either don't break down cause of losses to that degree or are unavailable (respectively), but looking at the actual historical effect of air power on ground-based targets in other conflicts where such studies are eventually done that do break down losses tells us the damage inflicted must have been vastly more limited than claimed.

At the Pusan Perimeter, the decisive effect was American numerical superiority, not air power. By then the US outnumbered the North Koreans by 1.44:1 in manpower and 10:1 in operational armor (500 AFVs vs just 50). North Korean logistics during its lunge south were borked from the beginning (they had attempted to imitate the Soviet logistical model despite lacking both the organization and material overhead to do that), exacerbating the numerical difference. And of course the Americans had vast firepower superiority in artillery, the main killer throughout the war.

What we do know is that in 1950-51, Communist logistical difficulties stem more from material-organizational factors then the presence of American airpower, with the North Koreans and Chinese simply having too few assets, especially long-distance transports like trucks and trains, and these were poorly organized. The 2nd Infantry's division escape from the pocket was mainly attributed to it expending all of its artillery munitions on it's own part and the failure of the Chinese to concentrate the pocket defenses along the road (they attempted to maintain a 360 perimeter, resulting in lines that were spread just a bit too thin) and even then it was effectively destroyed by the military definition of the term.

Air power is more attributable to the survival of the 1st Marine Division, with a critical air dropped pontoon bridge being allowing the Marines to replace a critical bridge vital to escape, but even there the Chinese repeated the aforementioned mistake "360 defense mistake, didn't concentrate along the roads" (something the Marines themselves acknowledged) and we know that all US claims from that battle about the casualties they inflicted on the Chinese are hideously exaggerated: the figures presented there (25,000 killed and 12,000 wounded, mostly by airpower) are flat out impossible for a number of reasons: airpower has never done so well against light infantry in rough mountainous terrain, particularly given the care the Chinese took to hide from air attack. Airpower also has never inflicted so grossly disproportionate a killed to wounded figure. And above all because the figure would have meant most of the Chinese troops chasing the Marines were wiped out, which could not have happened since all but one of the pursuing divisions were involved in the later fighting around Seoul (where they again successfully threw back the Americans) almost immediately.

Basically, during the Korean War Marine and Air Force pilots just "estimated" how much they killed and how much damage they inflicted, which is to say they really had no idea how many they killed and how much damage they were doing. The same thing happened earlier in WW2 and later in Vietnam.
 
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FEAF wanted both the B-47 and the RB-47 in theater because the MiGs had made the daylight B-29 business very hazardous. LeMay (CINC-SAC) refused to send them, feeling that their main mission (strategic deterrence and if that failed, nuclear warfighting) was more important than a "police action".

The B-47 could carry conventional bombs, but by late 1957 only three SAC B-47 wings retained a conventional mission.
 
I think your right, the B-47 wouldn't have changed the outcome of the war. What I was addressing was the question raised by ObsesedNuker that UN air power didn't inflict heavy casualties on communist forces in Korea. I believe the evidence suggests they did. I don't know how effective counter measures were, because the B-29's destroyed every strategic target on their list. Logistical targets, like vital bridges were left to tactical air, like it was in the Vietnam War, or in WWII.

Yes, your right that was the price for continuing the war. Till this day the North Koreans don't want to start another war, because they don't want to see their country devastated by U.S. Air Power again. The Chinese didn't want another direct confrontation with the U.S. because of the massive losses they suffered in Korea. By the Summer of 51 the Communists wanted to end the war, and accepted the invitation to talks. They agreed to accept the UN line, rather than the 38th Parallel. It was the POW exchange issue that hung the talks up, for almost 2 years. The UN wouldn't force POWs to go home, if they didn't want to. That was too much of a humiliation for the Communists to face. In the end they agreed to UN terms, and accepted only voluntary repatriation.
Thanks. Yes that makes sense.
 
Oh sure, air power claimed to do plenty of damage, but there's no evidence those claims have any attachment to reality. Certainly, continuous, unchallenged tactical air support can have a great suppressive effect on ground formations out of all proportions to the physical damage inflicted, which can often be of great aid to ground forces, but that's still more a psychological effect then a physical one. Chinese and North Korean records either don't break down cause of losses to that degree or are unavailable (respectively), but looking at the actual historical effect of air power on ground-based targets in other conflicts where such studies are eventually done that do break down losses tells us the damage inflicted must have been vastly more limited than claimed.

At the Pusan Perimeter, the decisive effect was American numerical superiority, not air power. By then the US outnumbered the North Koreans by 1.44:1 in manpower and 10:1 in operational armor (500 AFVs vs just 50). North Korean logistics during its lunge south were borked from the beginning (they had attempted to imitate the Soviet logistical model despite lacking both the organization and material overhead to do that), exacerbating the numerical difference. And of course the Americans had vast firepower superiority in artillery, the main killer throughout the war.

What we do know is that in 1950-51, Communist logistical difficulties stem more from material-organizational factors then the presence of American airpower, with the North Koreans and Chinese simply having too few assets, especially long-distance transports like trucks and trains, and these were poorly organized. The 2nd Infantry's division escape from the pocket was mainly attributed to it expending all of its artillery munitions on it's own part and the failure of the Chinese to concentrate the pocket defenses along the road (they attempted to maintain a 360 perimeter, resulting in lines that were spread just a bit too thin) and even then it was effectively destroyed by the military definition of the term.

Air power is more attributable to the survival of the 1st Marine Division, with a critical air dropped pontoon bridge being allowing the Marines to replace a critical bridge vital to escape, but even there the Chinese repeated the aforementioned mistake "360 defense mistake, didn't concentrate along the roads" (something the Marines themselves acknowledged) and we know that all US claims from that battle about the casualties they inflicted on the Chinese are hideously exaggerated: the figures presented there (25,000 killed and 12,000 wounded, mostly by airpower) are flat out impossible for a number of reasons: airpower has never done so well against light infantry in rough mountainous terrain, particularly given the care the Chinese took to hide from air attack. Airpower also has never inflicted so grossly disproportionate a killed to wounded figure. And above all because the figure would have meant most of the Chinese troops chasing the Marines were wiped out, which could not have happened since all but one of the pursuing divisions were involved in the later fighting around Seoul (where they again successfully threw back the Americans) almost immediately.

Basically, during the Korean War Marine and Air Force pilots just "estimated" how much they killed and how much damage they inflicted, which is to say they really had no idea how many they killed and how much damage they were doing. The same thing happened earlier in WW2 and later in Vietnam.
The claims of airmen are always suspect, which is why I didn't use any specific loss figures. In 1950 the Chinese left their artillery behind for several reasons, one being that they'd have a tough time moving them unobserved from the air. You can't claim that air power was ineffective, and at the same time stating that the Chinese could only move at night, for fear of the UN Air Force. Yes, the 2nd division's artillery dump in the Gauntlet caught the Chinese by surprise, and gave them a bloody nose, but two things can be true at the same time. Without the air cover the Chinese could've moved freely though the hills along the road, and brought more firepower to bare against it. The ground troops could only target what they could see from the road, by definition aircraft get a bird's eye view.

In X Corps case the Chinese made mistakes in their deployment, but why do you think they couldn't just move to block the line of retreat? True they probably took more casualties from the cold then UN Air Power, but the pounding they took held them back, and allowed the UN Troops to escape. The Chinese Divisions in the battle may have been deployed in the Spring battles, but not before they were rebuilt. The U.S. 2nd ID was mauled, but also fought in the Spring battles. The Chinese were so weakened they didn't even make an effort to attack X corps while it was vulnerable during it's evacuation. What battle of Seoul did the Chinese immediately throw back 8th Army? Do you mean Ridgway's first probe towards the city?

The Germans, Japanese, Chinese, North Koreans, and North Vietnamese could tell the world air power inflicted massive losses on their forces. Launching large scale attacks in the face of an enemy with air superiority will almost always result in very heavy losses. Hiding underground, or dispersing forces is fine, if your not attacking, or being attacked on the ground. UN forces were able to capture Heartbreak, and bloody ridges, while inflicting disproportional losses on the Communists in no small part because of their air power.
 
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