|96 School & Skyspot School
Bergstrom AFB : Austin Texas : Spring '74
|Arc Light bombing mission impacting.
|B-52D Bomb Bay
If I remember correctly
we could stuff 64, 500
pound iron bombs in the
|B-52D Underwing Pylon
If I remember correctly we could
hang 48, 750 pound iron bombs
under the wings.
A typical Arc Light missions consisted of 3 B-52s in a
group called a "cell". The cell name was usually a color,
thus : "gold cell", "red cell". Not all the B-52 would
necessarily fly out of the same Air Base. The origins could
be as diverse as one from Anderson AFB, Guam, one from
Clark AFB, Philippines and U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand.
They would assemble in what was called a "timing ladder",
this is simply flying in a circular course while waiting for other
members of the cell to arrive.
Some math :
(Again if I remember correctly a "BB" load consisted of) :
64 x 500 pounds = 16 tons. (internal)
48 x 750 pounds = 18 tons. (external)
Thus one B-52 could carry 34 tons of iron bombs.
And a cell would be about 102 tons of HD iron bombs.
Missions consisted of 3 potential targets, in priority called,
"primary", "alternate" and "secondary". If the primary or
alternate target was unavailable the secondary target would
be used. Any unused bombs were dropped in a BDA,
(Bomb Disposal Area). Landing with weapons still on board
can cause problems.
My Ops position at Udorn call sign LID, was "recorder", if
you hadn't guessed.
|I am not sure, but this may be a TSQ-81 it looks similar to the ones mentioned here.
Maybe it is the one from NKP call sign BROMO. When I was at LID, I thought BROMO
had a TSQ-96 along with GAP at Ubon.
|This is a pair of AN/TSQ-96 Mono Pulse Target Tracking Radars at Bergstrom
AFB in Texas. I was down here twice in preparation for my TDY to Det 23 in
Udorn. The first visit was 10 weeks of learning the radar for maintenance
purposes. The second visit was to learn how to use it for Arc Light missions.
| When I worked at Dolby Labs., I had
no problem convincing engineers that
these were actually acoustic weapons
that killed with sound.
I always thought the antennas looked
like speakers. Had they been so the
bass response would have been great !
There was a video camera and
telescope mounted with the dish. I
remember once at Udorn on a weekend,
I watched several guys playing poker
sitting under the nose of an F-4 across
base. It didn't occur to me until now, but
I wonder if we could have heard them if
we had mounted a microphone at the
focal point of the antenna.
| A number of the equipment cabinets
and panels look similar to the
MSQ-77. That is because they were
salvaged from Niki Ajax Missile Systems. I
say this because I found printed labels
saying so on the inside of several panel
assemblies and on the rails that held the
| Above : Radar control panel. Az, El & Rng A-Scan scopes, antenna control hand
wheels. In the upper left is I think the receiver controls. Center top, the beacon delay
calibration.. On the far right is the edge of the PPI-Scan scope.
| Above : The radio room. The center of the racks contain the HF transceivers and
power supplies. Mounted above and below, is Crypto.
|Above : Plotting Board and Plotting Control Panel.
| Above : Center, a Situation Display, a video monitor showing a large area view of
the target area, including the track of aircraft involved in a mission. Below the Situation
display is the UHF radio control panel. Center, right is an intercom.
Center, right and covered, the only thing I couldn't take a picture of, the "Fail Safe
Board". It was a lighted board of indicators listing conditions that need be present
before, "shackles". Shackles is a slang term used to refer to the release command.
The bombs in the bay of a B-52 are held in "ejection racks", the racks are secured
by shackles. Releasing the shackles was the final step in dropping the bombs before
firing the ejection racks and blowing the bombs out of the bomb bay. If not forced out
of the bomb bay, the bombs will float on the air stream below the bay doors and that will
cause timing errors. A rule of thumb was that one second is 750 feet on the ground.
One of the release requirements that I thought was odd, at first, was that we
needed to check with the Navy. The B-52s typically flew between 30 and 40 thousand
feet. But so do those "relatively light 2,240 pound" shells that the Missouri tosses
around. Like shooting a pigeon with a .44 Mag.
| Above : On the left the analog computer. I contains several dozen Operational
Amplifiers, I think they cost a little over $800 each. Good quality for the times. If I
remember they had a maximum DC offset of 50 micro volts. That would be at 1mV per
yard over 400,000 yards.
The two dark panels in the center left and the larger panels at the bottoms of the
cabinets are indicators for each of the OpAmps. They indicated if an OpAmp went out of
tolerance. These OpAmps were constantly being tested and automatically adjusted for
minor offset errors during operations. If an indicator went on, the card would be replaced.
| At right : Two banks of OpAmps in the Analog Computer. We had one
OpAmp that was typically used as a backup if another went out for service. It
was called the "plunge" amp. It was only part of the ballistics calculation if the
aircraft that was being tracked, went directly over the top of the antenna,
pushing the elevation angle past 90 degrees to a maximum of 180 degrees. For
our purposes it would never happen.
|9 x 16 in (406 mm) 50 cal. Mark 7 guns.
The Mark 7 gun originally intended to fire the
relatively light 2,240 pound (1,016 kg) Mark 5
armor piercing shell. However, the shell handling
system for these guns was redesigned to use the
"super-heavy" 2,700 pound (1225 kg) APC
(Armor Piercing, Capped) Mark 8 shell, before
any of the Iowa-class battleships were laid down.
|The USS Missouri BB-63
| At right : System volt meter, actually called a digital ratiometer.
When the guys at Precision Instrument Alignment on base found out
about this meter they borrowed it to check the alignment of there
It was a very good volt meter. In todays terms an A/D converter.
This was the source of radar data to the digital computer.
|Above : Univac 1219b. This was the digital computer that took the Automatic Tracking up
to the Computer Tracking level. This computer was originally designed for the Navy as a fire
control computer. It is the classic "Lost in Space", blinkin' light box. Inside it was all wire
wrap. We used to program it to make cool light patterns.
|This is the punch tape reader for loading the ballistics programs.
| Above: This is the "clunker" that was used to enter mission information into the
computer system in preparation for an Arc Light Mission. It was possible to run missions in
the computer so we did that for fun. The computer of course scored the bomb run so we
could keep score. I consider this my first video game experience. The map on the left
probably covers the Texas coast near Madagorda Isl.
|Left - Right
Main Power Cabinet
| Above : The back of the antenna dish was covered with a thick thermal blanket.
The intent was to evenly distribute solar heat around the dish and allow complementary
expansion of dimension.