Otis McCain and George Geisler joined TAC ECM in 1951 or 1952 and were among the first five ECM types and were stationed at Langley with two TB-25J jammers for Korea deployment I think to jam radar controlled searchlight, acquisition, and early warning radars. Those tail numbers were 44-28844 and 44-28833.
Correction/Addition by Otis McCain: The two B-25's were not stationed at Langley as stated above but were assigned to the 5th Radar Calibration Flight; 729th AC&W Sq.; 507th Tactical Control Group and were stationed at Pope AFB, Fort Bragg, NC when I joined the unit in July 1952. (It is possible that they were at Langley at an earlier date prior to deployment to Pope AFB but I have no knowledge of that.) The initial three ECM officers assigned to this unit were John D. Haldane, Jr., Joseph J. Mahaffey and myself (Otis E. McCain). Haldane was the senior ECM officer (in rank) having served in WWII as a navigator or bombardier (or both) aircrew member. The two B-25 pilots were Richard 'Dick' Wilson and Forrest Strange. The aircraft and ECM equipment at that time were used to train AC&W ground radar operators to recognize the effects of electronic and chaff jamming so that they could develop ECCM tactics. To my knowledge, there were no plans to deploy the two aircraft to the Korean theatre of operations.
George Geisler, another WWII retread (along with many others) was assigned to the group in early 1953 following the relocation and transfer of the aircraft and crews to the 363rd TRW at Shaw AFB, SC in Oct. of 1952. The exact date of his assignment is not known to me but records in my possession indicate that he was there on 6 April 1953.
With my education and background in airborne radio and radar electronic systems during WWII and in electrical engineering prior to my recall in 1951, I took over the job of ECM equipment maintenance with the assistance of two airmen technicians. Spare parts were almost nonexistent at the unit and at one time I hand carried a defective magnatron to Raytheon for replacement. The chaff we used was from stock left over from WWII which had been poorly stored and much of it was damp and failed to deploy adequately when (or if) it dispensed.
About the same time Charlie Poole (pilot) and Lou Langford (ECM) were at Eglin #9 (Hurlburt) with three B-26B hard nosed "ECM Hunter Killers" (forerunners of the F-100, F-105 and F-4 Wild Weasels) for radar search light control busting. Those tail numbers were 44-35207, 44-35208 and 44-35186. Both programs ceased to be scheduled for deployment when the truce was signed.
The Langley and Hurlbert B-25s and B-26s and crews transferred to Shaw AFB in the spring of 1953 where class mates Gordon Molestad, Tom Sterling, Bob Assanakis and me joined them in September 1953 when we finished ECM school at Keesler. Wayne Kiger, also a Keesler classmate was also assigned to Shaw as the ECM Officer in the 507th Tactical Control Group (radar). Except for Wayne who flew with us we were assigned to the ECM Cell of the 16th TRSq (Photo) under Captain Sidney W. Crews the Flight Commander. By the way, a photo Flight Commander was Captain Robert L. Hoyt who replaced Lobdell at Takhli in the spring of 1968 as the TEWS Group Commander. Rex Deaton and Paul Henkle joined us in October or so after their combat B-26 tour in Korea. (Interesting that MGen Harrison Lobdell, III who led the first B-26 bomber raid on Korea was assigned from Korea to Hq USAF as the Tactical ECM Officer in DCS/Operations. About the same time as the 9th was formed Lobdell was in the 16th transitioning in the RB-57 which was replacing the RB-26Bs). Crews, Molestad, Sterling, Assanakis, Deaton, Henkle and me and those five aircraft formed the 9th TRSq (E&W) under the command of LtColonel Charles A. Callahan.
After the 9th TRSq (E&W) was formed in October 1953 we later received three B-26J jamming aircraft where we ECM types operated the waist gun position with ECM jammers including long trailing antenna for tank to tank communications. Then we received seven RB-26Cwith two ECM positions one back to back with the navigator like the "Hunter Killers" and one in the waist gunner's compartment. This machine had a big APQ-13 navigation radar in the belly. Seven or nine WT-33s arrived later for the weather mission.
So our full complement of recce and jamming machines we had on hand when the RB-66C (City of Sumpter) arrived in 1956 follows: Two B-26B "Hunter Killers" (186 had been ferried to Spang by Rex Deaton for the 41st TRSq (E&W); seven RB-26C two ECM postion recce aircraft; two TB-25J jammers; three B-26J jammers; and seven or nine WT-33 weather recce machines.
The source that said Weyland and TAC HQ did not like ECM is just not true. Agreed in 1953-54 we had two sorry ECM Majors at TAC HQ who were just plain staff weenies who could not operate either of the two TB-25J waist jammers. I know because I had to take them with me when they visited Shaw. We did not let either of them fly in the single ECM position B-26B "ECM Hunter Killers". We were the favorites of Colonel K. C. Dempster who was the father of the F-100 Wild Weasel and the famous 1961 HQ USAF "Dempster Committee" (when he was a Major General) that not only pushed the Wild Weasel but the B-66B and RB-66B jammer modifications. I know for fact these things, since in the late fall of 1954 Colonel Callahan sent me to HQ 9th AF as the #2 ECM guy under Major Mills (ECM). When Mills transferred, Pete Osterhouse (pilot) replaced him. We were in the Directorate of C&E under DCS/Operations, Colonel K. C. Dempster and his deputy, Colonel Gordon F. Blood (my next door neighbor in Wherry Housing who as a MGen was also the DCS/Operations at 7th AF from 1966-68). The Deputy Commander of 9th AF under Major General Temberlake (whose brother was also was a USAF General) was BrigGeneral Bruce K. Holloway, from Knoxville who fortunately became a good friend of mine.
TAC ECM made its debut during Louisiana SageBrush which was the largest joint Air Force and Army maneuver to be conducted, since WWII. I was assigned the ECM Officer for the Agressors and Pete Osterhouse was ECM Officer for the Friendlys with DCS/Ops Blood under the Friendly Commander, MajGeneral Temberlake. In pre-maneuver negotiations to align 9th AF forces, I was initially assigned the two TB-25Js, two radar simulator vans (GPQ T-1), and Wayne Kiger commanding the QRC T-13 Passive Detection Vans and get this the TC-54 ECM training aircraft at the Keesler ECM School to be operated by students! I convinced Dempster and Holloway that I had to have my best buddy, 1st Lt John J. Rispoli, from the 9th TRSq (E&W) to command the two mobile radar simulators. To get Rispoli from Temberlake and Blood I had to give them one of the two TB-25J jammers. We 7th Air Army (agressors) defeated the friendly forces on the opening day and made the then famous Periscope section of NewsWeek weekly magazine with something like this "What is this we hear that during last weeks largest joint Air Force and Army maneuver since WWII down in southern Lousiana the agressors soundly defeated the friendlies in a secret war of radar and jamming?". It never was determined who leaked this, but I remember talking to the NewsWeek reporter and if I am not mistaken he also visited Rispoli or Kiger in the field. (NOTE: I always thought that either Holloway or Dempster or both leaked this as they were determined we get the full complement of 36 RB-66Cs being built for TAC, USAFE and PACAF.)
As a first Louie, I was the 7th Air Army ECM staff officer with Colonel K. C. Dempster as the AF DCS/Ops under BrigGeneral Bruce K. Holloway, Deputy Commander. An Army Major General was the commander. Since Holloway and I arrived at the maneuver site at the same time with just some enlisted men setting up the headquarters, he authorized me have a A/C trailer to live in for the full six weeks. The seven trailers surrounding the headquarters compound were assigned to the two generals and four full colonels and me. Some disgusted full colonels who complained at our first maneuver staff meeting, but Dempster put them in their place with "If you got here first with General Holloway and helped set this place up I will listen. Otherwise, button it!" I was both Dempster and Holloway's fair haired boy and that continued for the rest of my Air Force career.
Shortly after SageBrush the 9th TRSq (E&W) began to receive RB-66Cs (the first airplane ever built for an ECM mission all of SAC's premier crap were modified bombers or recce machines) to replace the the three B-26B "Hunter Killers" which had been supplemented by seven two place RB-26C ECM recce airplanes. Then, the T-33Ws that had been assigned for weather recce were replaced with 12 WB-66D aircraft. The B-26B Hunter Killer, #186, was ferried to the 42nd TRSq (E&W) at Spang for their ECM mission. After Shaw got its complement of RB-66Cs and WB-66Ds, Spang got theirs and then the 11th TRSq (E&W) at Yakota got theirs.
Six months after the maneuver John, Wayne and me finished our commitment and returned to civilian status. Wayne stayed a civilian, but after a year in the spring of 1957 I wanted back in the Air Force so I went back to Shaw to meet with Holloway and Dempster. They greased the skids so to speak for me to be recalled in September under Colonel Charles A. Callahan who was now the Director of Ops of the 10th TRWg at Spangdahlem. Bob Williams and Dempster (I think) got Rispoli recalled about the same time. About the time Rispoli and I arrived at Spang, Holloway got his second star and Dempster was assigned to Schulthorpe (after Hurbert Field transition) to command the B-66B 17th Bomb Wing. In the winter of 1960 when the first B-66B was modified with a bomb bay full of jammers (Brown Cradle) Dempster worked with James D. Kemp (10th TRWg commander) for me to be the testing project officer for the stateside testing (Green Dragon). Holloway was a member of the Hq USAF oversight group. As everyone knows that configuration was approved and 12 more B-66Bs were so modified and they went on NATO alert in the winter of 1961. During Vietnam, RB-66B photo machines were so modified as jammers and re-designated EB-66Es and the Brown Cradles were re-designated EB-66Bs. The Brown Cradles that were moved from NATO to Vietnam were replaced on NATO alert by ADC's EB-57Es. I had a two year flying tour with that machine at Hill Field in 1961-63 a fine aircraft and fun to fly. We had the big wing RB-57s but to my knowledge there were no big wing RB-57s that had an ECM recce mission.
Otis McCain and I joined to write historical articles of Early TAC ECM a couple of years back in the B-66 Destroyer NewsLetter. I think I have a copy of those articles if I knew who asked the questions.
Postscipt by Clarence "Bud" Summers (EWO)
I wish that I could remember the names of some of the companies, etc., of the early tactical EW.
I came into TAC in 1957 and was greeted by General O. P. Weyland completely pissed off that ECM officers were assigned to TAC. We had some in TAC, some in USAFE, and some in PACAF. Before the B-66 was the A-26 [I think] that the RB-66 replaced. I think we retied the A-26s to Fort Smith in Kansas or Arkansas or something. I know people who can refresh my memory on that one. The B-57 was also involved as was the black widow, etc., from the props.
The EB-66 replaced the EB-25 that I think was always called the TB-25J. TAC hated ECM because it took all the fun out of flying. Most of the tactical ECM, starting from before W.W.II that I know about was small secret programs that they did not tell the fighter pilots about. Some were joint with the British. I would have to sit down and work hard to come up with the facts. Maybe some of the old W.W.II types are still alive and they could help me. Several were called up for Korea and then again later for special assignments.
It has been a long time. Several of the programs have been declassified and I have come across them in the official Air Force History. Others, I do not know the fate of. If I finally quit working maybe I will take the time to figure it all out.
I enjoy reading the emails. It really brings back memories of some of the W.W.II teachers.
Followup by Bill Starnes
Kinda confused as to who it is that I am to respond to. Who was Pierre Levy and Bud Summers and what was their tours and assignments in tactical ECM? If they had SAC ECM time, I am really not interested in that being a full time tactical ECM type for my full 20 years (Shaw, Spangdahlem, Chelveston, Hill, Misawa, Takhli, Langley, and the SECDEF ECM type in DDR&E. Anyway, it appears his 1957 observations may be clouded in the 1950s time frame all powerful SAC ECM sponsored by HQ USAF. That was not TAC's philosophy. Agreed TAC was a fighter command and we in twin engine bombers, ECM and recce took second seat. Still we had some huge ECM sponsors in TAC.
Our beloved B-66 Destroyer was a utilitarian aircraft developed from the Navy's A3D Skywarrior to provided the Air Force with a tactical light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft to replace the Martin B-57. The B-66 had a coke bottle design to permit speeds near (or through) the sound barrier. Unfortunately, the Pratt-Whitney J57 engine installed in the A3D and scheduled for the B-66 was scatted up by leMay for his B-52 program and left the B-66 with the Allison J71 which was originally designed for a missile program. These underpowered (10,200 Ib of thrust each) and way too heavy engines plagued the B-66 program during the twenty years it served the Tactical Air Forces. Indeed, the disparity between the service careers of the B-66 and the A3D was largely attributable to the qualities of the poor J71 and the remarkable J57. Douglas built 294 aircraft at their long Beach and Tulsa locations. The B-66 first flew on June 28, 1954 and deliveries began in 1956. Four variants of the aircraft were built: B-66B (bomber); RB-66B (photo recce); RB-66C (ECM recce); and WB-66D (weather recce). The ECM and weather versions were the first aircraft ever designed and built for those missions. All previous ECM and weather aircraft were modified bombers or recce machines. The aircraft crew consisted of a Pilot, Navigator and Gunner or EWO on the flight deck. The C and D model crew compartments in the waist had four EWOs and a Weather Forecaster and Weather Technician respectively. Originally a remotely con- trolled tail gun was installed; however, in 1960 these were replaced with ECM chaff cones which increased the air speed by 35 knots. The aircraft gross weight was 83,000 lbs; wingspan 72ft 6in; length 75ft height 23ft; maxjrnum-speed 600mph; range 1 ,800 miles; ceiling 43,000ft; and the basic cost $2.55 million. The aircraft was retired in 1974 because they had been used so extensively that both J71 engine fatigue and excessive maintenance requirements were insurmountable. It appears the last flight of a B-66 was an aircraft used by the Westinghouse Electronic Facility in Baltimore. Around 1976 this aircraft was flown to Kelly Field to be honored along with other Vietnam Era Warplanes.
The B-66 followed the interim tactical medium bomber the B-57 which kinda replaced (1954) the B-45 (four engine) first tactical medium bomber which did not fill the bill in the early fifties.
The Douglas B-66 was selected by the Air Force in 1953 as a modified type of Navy A-3D, made by Douglas but which did not have ejection seats. The A-3D had J-57 engines and the B-66 modification included a "coke bottle" design for near or just past the sound barrier flight performance.
How the B-66 Got to The War in Southeast Asia
By Bill Starnes
The Token radar was a six beam early warning with some height finding ability (it was a copy of our CPS-6B). It did provide input to the Spoonrest SA-2 radar for acquisition and tracking. As an aside, the first bird in the war may have been an RB-66B photo machine and the RB-66C (modified for some jamming) followed closely. This has been hard to track. The jamming modified B-66B followed very closely as well. It came from NATO alert and I think ADC EB-57J (I spent a tour in them as well at Hill Field) took over that NATO mission.
Here is a little aside regarding how we got the B-66B in the ECM mission. Designated the Brown Cradle (SAC had a in-service Blue Cradle at the time -- a modified B-47 bomber) a B-66B was modified in the fall of 1959 for jamming equipment in the bomb bay and tail cone) was tested as Green Dragon in the winter of 1960 at ESD in upstate NY -- Griffiss AFB. The testing finished on Easter Sunday and was extremely successful. I was fortunate enough to be the USAFE Project Office and spent a six weeks or so with the machine and recorded the results which I used to brief ESD, ASD, AFSC, USAF, USAFE, 3AF and the 10th TRWg. After my briefing to the Air Staff they authorized twelve more B-66Bs modified for the NATO support jamming requirement.
That is how we got the thirteen B-66B Brown Cradles later to be called the EB-66B. The ECM modified RB-66B Brown Cradles were named the EB-66E, and they had an ECM receiver for setting the jammers in flight. The B-66B Brown Cradle was just a jammers on and off switch -- no way to tune them in flight. Your bit on the deployment to SEA matches what I have read and talked to B-66ers about. I suppose the B-66 was a difficult aircraft to refuel, but I always flew with guys that hit the basket with little trouble. In my 1,600 or so hours in the machine at four different bases I never experienced a pilot that could not hit the basket in three or less stabs. It really was not the machines fault it was that damn Curtis LeMay who took the J-57s designated for the B-66 program (that is the engine the Navy used on their Douglas machine we copied) for his precious B-52 program. Back in those days TAC suffered terribly at the hands of Lemay's SAC. So we got the substitute that damn too heavy and too little thrust Allison J-71 which was really designed for a missile. Can you imagine how well the B-66 could have performed with the J-57 engine?
Since TAC was low on the totem pole at the time that General LeMay got the entire output of J-57s for his SAC B-52 procurement program. That left this fine Air Force B-66 airframe with 400-cycle and lots of amps available airplane looking for an engine. That's how we got the under-powered J-71 Allison engine that was never worth a crap, because it was not only too heavy for the airframe specs, but too little thrust for the "coke bottle" design. Consequently, what was quickly delivered to the Air Force for testing were three RB-66A photo photo recon aicraft with the Allison J-71 engines.
The first deployment of operational B-66s (1954-55) were two squadrons of RB-66B photo reconnaissance aicraft delivered each to the 363rd TRWing at Shaw AFB, SC, 10th TRWing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany and the 67th TRWing at Yakota AB, Japan to replace the aging (late WWII) RB-26B fleet.
In 1954-55, the B-66B, the bomber version, was first delivered to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) at Hurlbert Field, FL. The others went to and Schulthorpe AB, England. I do not think any were ever delivered to Japan or the Far East for the medium bomber mission. The B-66B had the nuclear carrying capability and a pretty fine bombing radar. In fact, the B-66B later flew "Path Finder" missions in 1966 in Vietnam with four F-105 fighter bombers on it's wing to targets in Hanoi and the rest of Route Pack Six. I understand that in weather the F-105s could not find the targets because they had neither bombing radar nor any friendly Air Force or Navy ground radar capability to vector them to their assigned targets in Route Pack Six.
In 1955, Douglas delivered the first ever Air Force from design to delivery ECM aircraft -- the RB-66C. All those SAC machines of LeMays were modified recce or bomber machines for the ECM recce or jamming missions. There were 36 RB-66Cs delivered: 12 for each Shaw, Spangdahlem and Yakota to replace the RB-26C tactical electronic reconnaissance birds. These machines had four ECM types in a waist compartment to recon all known radar frequencies at the time.
Also in 1955, 36 WB-66Ds were delivered (12 each) to the same squadrons to provide a Tactical Weather Reconnaissance capability. They replaced WT-33Ds that had been doing the job. The D model had a waist compartment the same size as the C but only two positions -- a Weather Forecaster and a Weather Technician. Unfortunately, the WB-66Ds did not stay in the active inventory much longer than four years as that weather mission was taken away from TAC by you know who -- SAC and LeMay... who incidentally hated TAC until he became the Air Force Chief of Staff and found out first hand how he had "Raped" TAC all those years as CINCSAC. Now his replacement, General Bruce K. Holloway, was a TAC man who was an ace-pilot with the Flying Tigers and also an ace in WWII. He commanded TAC's first all jet fighter squadron.
I knew General Holloway personally since he was from Knoxville, Tennessee -- my home. In 1960, the B-66B bomber force was being phased out of the Air Force inventory primarily due to that damn LeMay and SAC taking the TAC USAFE nuclear bombing mission and removing the TAC medium bomber mission to be replaced by his wonderful BUF crap.
A group at the Pentagon thought that the B-66B possibly could be configured like the SAC B-47 "Blue Cradle" for a heavy, yet unattended, massive jamming capability to support their SAC strike force. NATO embraced the concept and a B-66B was sent from Schulthorpe to the states for a similar jammer modification in this case called the "Brown Cradle". The B-66B jammer did not have ECM radar receiver monitoring device aboard but just simple on-off switches -- no ECM radar receivers.
The B-66B flight test was conducted as "Green Dragon" in the Hanscom Field, MA area of ESD and I was the USAF/NATO Project Officer. The "Brown Cradle" B-66B prototype just "blew out" all the American radar's (both civilian and military) on the East Coast which the precious LeMay B-47 "Blue Cradles" were never able to do. Consequently, the Air Force modified 12 more B-66Bs to the "Brown Cradle" configuration and the machines were assigned to the 10th TRWing now stationed in England for a two machine "strip alert" NATO Strike Mission on the Continent -- I think Toul-Roseur in France.
Since the B-66B "Brown Cradle" did not have an ECM Receiver other than the APS-54 (radar tracking alerting device) which was completely blocked when the jammers were turned on, the B-66B "Brown Cradle" jammers were checked out in the North Sea by flying side-by-side with the RB-66C which had a ECM recon capability for all radar frequency bands used at the time. The B-66B "Brown Cradles" stayed on alert until the Vietnam War heated up in 1965 and they were sent to Vietnam to help -- but of course without any ECM receivers to monitor enemy radars. Hence, your complaint the B-66B in 1965 did not let you know when the SAMs were up -- how could they since they did not have receivers?
I understand that the US Air Defense Command (ADC) EB-57E jammer target aircraft replaced the B-66B "Brown Cradle" machines on NATO alert so that the B-66B could go to SEA in 1965 with some RB-66Cs from Shaw AFB. Anyway, somewhere along the way the B-66B "Brown Cradle" machines became the EB-66Bs and the RB-66C got a jamming capability to compliment the ECM recce equipment and became the EB-66Cs.
Then, to beef up the unattended receiver EB-66B "Brown Cradles" in 1967 the Air Force started modifying some RB-66B photo reconnaissance aircraft with a sort of 'Brown Cradle" configuration called the EB-66E but with a kinda receiver to help position the jammers in flight. I flew those first EB-66E machines along with the EB-66Cs at Takhli RTAFB, but that receiver the machine had was really not worth a flip. The only B-66 that could have helped the fighter strike force with SAM warnings would have been the EB-66C ECM reconnaissance aircraft.
Starting some time in 1970 until the unit was moved out of Thailand in 1974, the EB-66s operated out of of Korat RTAFB. The move from Tahkli put them a little closer to the operational area. As a result, a lot of us who had SEA EB-66 tours in the later stages of the conflict had Korat as our home base.
All B-66 aircraft were retired in either 1972 or 73 and the last B-66 to fly was a ECM test aircraft from the Westinghouse facility in Baltimore which became the last B-66 to fly -- in 1976. It was a WB-66D and it is on display at Lackland AFB, TX along side an B-57, an F-105 strike fighter and other Vietnam era machines.
So that is the story of the B-66 and the "SAC Rape" of the development and manufacture of a fine machine by the SAC Bastard of TAC, Curtis LeMay who incidentally is a fellow Ohio State graduate of mine.
You guys that got into Tactical ECM in the good days of the Vietnam War do not know the problems we first tactical ECM guys had when we started Tactical ECM in 1953. I know because I was in that first ECM Cell of the 16th TRS (Photo) in 1953 flying two TB-25J jammers and three B-66B ECM Radar Hunter Killers the forerunners of the eventual Wild Weasel effort pushed by Colonel K. C. Dempster, DCS/Ops of 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, in 1954 and a big sponsor of Tactical ECM which was something else for a fighter pilot in TAC at the time.
It is Major General K. C. Dempster (The 1965 Air Staff Dempster Committee) that got the first F-100 Weasels sold and eventually F-105 machines later Tactical ECM "Bears" flew.
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The game called "Downtown" is the story of a revolution in tactics and technology.
The air campaign over North Vietnam was not like any battle before (or arguably, since). Technology transformed the fighting and tactics had to catch up. The US and Vietnamese started Operation Rolling Thunder in 1965 with weapons and doctrine unchanged from WW2 and Korea. By the end of Operation Linebacker in 1972 the US and Vietnam's Russian backers had perfected the weapons of the
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Here's a list of Electronic systems widely used on the B-66 and other aircraft:
- Radar D-F Set for RB-47, EB-66
Note: If you know the designation of the B-66 Navigation/Bombing System and other electronic systems, including ECM, photo and Weather equipment, not listed above, please send an email to: webmaster@B66.info