Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (46-50)

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SAC 75 #46

In the spring and summer of 1962, SAC began expanding its Post Attack Command Control System (PACCS). The expansion would include three auxiliary airborne command posts at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, Westover AFB, Massachusetts, and March AFB, Californian. Each auxiliary airborne command post would be equipped to carry the same communication systems as the Looking Glass. On 20 July four strategic support squadrons were based across the country at strategic locations; Mountain Home AFB, Montana, Lincoln AFB, Nebraska Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, and Plattsburgh AFB, New York. These squadrons were equipped with EB-47Ls; reconfigured B-47s with communication equipment. The squadrons were designated Post Attack Command Control Squadrons. Photo: James Dunlap


SAC 75 #47

On the 14th of October, 1962, a SAC U-2 made a startling discovery; intermediate range ballistic middiles being installed in Cuba. MAJ Richard Heyser made the flight and took the pictures of Soviet missiles being installed a mere 90-miles from the United States. Follow-on flights occurred over the next few days by the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (U-2s). By October 22 a quarantine was ordered and SAC Battle staffs were placed on 24-hour alert, B-47 Stratojets were dispersed to predesignated military and civilian airfields, additional bombers and tankers were placed on alert, and the B-52 Airborne alert was expanded to include bombers in the air round-the-clock. Tragedy struck on 27 October with the crash of a 55th Strategic Wing RB-47 upon take-off at Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda; killing all four crew members. Also on the day MAJ Rudolph Anderson was killed when his U-2 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Cuba. The Dooms-Day clock stopped before midnight by 20 November after the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw all ballistic missiles from Cuba. Also part of the deal was the removal of US Jupiter missiles from Turkey.


SAC 75 #48

On oddity of sorts in 1962, the last B-52 (s/n 61-0040) and the last B-58 (s/n 61-2080) were produced for Strategic Air Command. For the first time since 1946, there were no bombers in production or development for SAC. Also in 1962, due to SAC’s role during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the SAC Bomb Competition was not held.



SAC 75 #49

The 1963 Cold War classic, “A Gathering of Eagles” highlighted the stress and strain as well as the professionalism and courage of service with Strategic Air Command. GEN Curtis LeMay, serving as Air Force Chief of Staff, authorized access to Beale AFB, CA and filming of B-52 Stratofortress, KC-135 Stratotanker and other operations. The film also used footage of Titan I missile site. The central event within the plot revolves around an ORI (Operational Readiness Inspection) and the removal of a base commander. ORIs for Strategic Air Command were always a surprise and often filled with concern.

SAC 75 #50

Demonstrating the range and speed of the Convair B-58 Hustler, Operation Greased Lightening provided that opportunity. Three B-58s departed Japan on 16 October 1963 with a final destination of London, England. Major Sidney J. Kubesch, Major John Barrett and Captain Gerard Williamson crewed Convair B-58A-20-CF Hustler, serial number 61-2059 arriving 8 hrs. 35 mins 20 sec with an average speed of 692.71 mph. Kubesch and crew had to slow down five times for refueling. This flight showed the USSR how fast our bombers could deliver.