Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (71-75)

SAC 75 #70 The technology and innovation of SAC transcended to the civilian sector but sometimes SAC took a hands-on approach. On 13 February 1986 a heart was being readies for removal then transplant. The challenge, once a heart is removed doctors only have 4-hours for transplant. The problem was the donor was in Oklahoma City and the recipient was in Hartford, Connecticut, there were no civilian aircraft could accomplish that flight. The 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing responded with two FB-111s and a KC-135 to make the 1,415-mile flight, averaging 700-mph, in order for doctors to complete the transplant in 3-hrs 59-mins from the time the heart was removed. Five weeks later the FB-111 crew, representing all SAC members involved, held a press conference with the recipient who had received well. SAC 75 #71 Following the April 2, 1986 TWA 727 airliner bombing and the nightclub bombing in ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (66-70)

SAC 75 #66 With the ending of SAC operations in Southeast Asia one would think SAC could resume full attention toward nuclear deterrence. Looking back to 1970 and the three-day skirmish between Israel and Egypt tensions had continued and strained. On October 6, 1973 (beginning of Yom Kippur and Ramadan). Egypt and its allies launched a surprise attack on Israel. This event pushed the possibility of escalation to all out nuclear war as the US was a strong ally of Israel and the USSR supported Syria and Egypt. As both super powers provided extensive munition and equipment support, neither committed its own combat forces. SACs 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wingdid fly (Operation Giant Reach) sorties from October 13, 1973 to April 4, 1974. These nine sorties were staged out of Griffiss AFB, NY and Seymour Johnson AFB, NC as Great Britain declined to allow the U-2s to land at Mildenhall AB, ...
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The Atomic Bomb & Japan’s Surrender

The dawn of the atomic age cannot be defined by a single event as the series of events that lead to it and those that followed play just as an important place in history as the single action. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 “Superfortress” bomber, nicknamed Enola Gay, dropped the world’s first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan.  In development since 1940, the United States had been warned that Germany was researching nuclear weaponry.  The threat of a nuclear Germany passed when Germany surrendered in May 1945, leaving Japan the only Axis power left fighting.  President Harry Truman had two decisions: launch an invasion of the home islands, resulting in thousands of American casualties, or use the atomic bombs.  The five ton atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, delivered a blast roughly equal to 15,000 tons of TNT and leveled four square miles of the city.  80,000 people ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (61-65)

SAC 75 #61 SAC participated in several bombing operations during the Vietnam War but not over North Vietnam’s capital Hanoi. In early 1972 President Nixon eliminated that restriction and authorized Hanoi as a target as part of Operation Bullet Shot. The first sorties began 8 February 1972 based out of Anderson AFB, Guam. The surge of forces and 24-hour battle rhythm of maintenance, refueling, engine run-ups, and rearming created so much noise that service members could not sleep on their off-time. Many of the maintenance personnel would catch a ride on tankers leaving for combat missions just to get some sleep. The Soviets kept a close eye on flights in and out of Anderson AFB by placing a trawler (dubbed the skunk boat) just inside international waters off the end of the runway. They would pass the numbers and types of aircraft north to Hanoi. By 15 April 1972, SAC ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (56-60)

SAC 75 #56 Also during 1965, SAC was phasing out the B-47 and KC-97. In 1963 SAC carried 613 B-47s and another 70 variants as well as 636 B-52s and 86 B-58s. For tankers at that time SAC had 919 KC-97, KC-135, and and EC-135s capable to transferring fuel. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis SAC moved more toward an all jet fleet and by 1965 was even retiring earlier versions of the B-52. ON 28 June 1965, just 10 days after the first Arc Light mission, Boeing B-52B(RB) #52-8711, the first operational B-52 assigned to SAC was transferred to the SAC Aerospace Museum, Offutt AFB, NE. It sat there for the next 32 years in the Nebraska elements until it was moved to its indoor display at the current Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. SAC 75 #57 Jumping backwards again, just to give some scope to the true size, ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (51-55)

SAC 75 #51 SAC was tapped to assist with photo reconnaissance over Alaska following an intense earthquake. On Good Friday, March 27, 1964, south-central Alaska experienced a 9.2 earthquake and SAC was asked to help with damage assessment. Two B-58s of the 43rd Bomb Wing were dispatched from Carswell AFB, TX. Within 14.5 hours the two B-58s had completed the low-level photo mission and the 5,751-mile round trip. Three U-2s and two B-57s were dispatched for high-altitude photo reconnaissance. Two more B-58s were dispatched the next day for another low-level pass. SAC 75 #52 The turmoil and strife of Vietnam had confounded and defeated the French following World War II. By the 1950s the United States began to participate in the quandary with advisors and then trainers. By 1964 the US military was engaged in another heated conflict of the Cold War, pitting communist tyranny against capitalist invaders. Tanker aircraft ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (46-50)

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 ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (41-45)

SAC 75 #41 With the ever increasing tensions and threat of nuclear war, CINCSAC GEN Thomas Power had begun airborne alert operations for SAC bombers. Code names like Head Start, Hard Head, and Chrome Dome were used for B-52 missions that included flights near Soviet airspace as a deterrent to a Soviet first strike. The B-52 missions incorporated flights around Thule Air Base, Greenland to ensure its continued monitoring early warning systems to a Soviet ballistic missile launch. Unbeknownst to most civilians, the B-52s were carrying live nuclear bombs. The program called for up to 8 B-52s to be in the air at all times. The Chrome Dome airborne alert program ran from approximately 1960 to 1968 when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara began pushing for its cancellation. SAC 75 #42 In November 1961 Headquarters USAF designated SAC as the single manager of the Boeing KC-135 Straotanker fleet. SAC would ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (36-40)

SAC 75 #36 Between 13 March and 15 April 1958, six SAC B-47s were lost while performing LABS (Low Altitude Bombing System) training runs. LABS called for B-47 crews to fly toward target sites at very low level then pop-up to about 18,000 ft. Once they hit the altitude they would drop their bomb and perform an Immelman turn; this maneuver allowed the crew to literally toss their bomb and then get away quickly. Unfortunately this put create stress on the large bolts (known as Milk Bottles) that attach the wing spar to the bulkhead fittings. In some cases these bolts snapped causing the crashes. Project MILK BOTTLE (1958-1966) was a modification program that alleviates some of the risk and extended the overall life of the B-47. And it goes without saying; SAC limited the use of LABS. SAC 75 #37 A year of missiles for SAC, the 702nd Strategic ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (31-35)

SAC 75 #31 In another demonstration of SACs broad reach, GEN LeMay; then Vice Chief of Staff USAF; flew a KC-135 on a record non-stop, non-refueled flight from Westover AFB, MA to Buenos Aires, Argentina covering 6,322.85 miles in 13-hours 2-minutes on the 11th and 12th of November. Around the same time a B-52 flew from Homestead AFB, FL to Buenos Aires and back to Plattsburgh AFB, NY with the aid of three re-fuelings covering 10,600 miles. SAC 75 #32 In late 1957 SAC held a reenlistment campaign with a 50-ft tall Christmas tree in front of the SAC Headquarters building at Offutt AFB. The theme of the campaign was “Maintaining Peace is Our Profession”. A sign was to be placed next to the tree but there was not enough room for the entire message. Colonel Edward Martin and Chief Warrant Officer Ben Kohot made the decision to eliminate the ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (26-30)

SAC 75 #26 The first Boeing B-47 Stratojet was accepted by Strategic Air Command on 23 October 1951. With its sleek body, swept back wings six turbojet engines, it was the height of engineering and innovation. With the support of the Boeing KC-97 Stratofrieghter, SAC’s reach was global. In an unintentional feat, COL David Burchinal set a jet aircraft distance and endurance record. He departed Sidi Slimane, French Morocco on 17 November 1954, heading north for Fairford RAF Station, England. Due to bad weather COL Burchinal could land in England and headed back to French Morocco only to find bad weather deterring his landing there. With the help of nine inflight-re-fuelings he managed to stay in the air until the weather cleared and he could land at Fairford. His predicament resulted in him flying 21,163 miles and staying aloft for 47-hours 35-minutes. SAC 75 #27 In the mid-1950s, when the ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (21-25)

SAC 75 #21 The SAC insignia; the blue sky representing Air Force operations, the arm and amour being the symbol of strength, power, and loyalty. The olive branch being a symbol of peace with the lightning flashes representing speed and power; all these were the qualities that drove SAC missions. SAC existed for four years before the insignia was adopted. Coming from a competition judged by LGEN LeMay, BGEN Power, and BGEN Kissner, Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes’s design was chosen over 59 other entries and made official on 4 January 1952, thus creating the symbol to be recognized around the world. SAC 75 #22 In 1951 SAC saw some organizational changes that included the establishment of Air Divisions. The first five divisions (4th, 6th, 12th, 14th, and 47th) were organized at bases in the United States. SAC created the 5th Air Division to be headquartered in Rabat, French Morocco and ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (16-20)

SAC 75 #16 In 1923 two Airco SH-4B biplanes completed the first mid-air refueling and by 1935 the grappled-line looped-hose air-to-air refueling took place. Following World War II the USAAF began fitting some B-29s with the looped-hose units and testing in-flight re-fuelings. Strategic Air Command’s first Air Refueling Squadrons; 43rd and 509th; were established on 18 June 1948 at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ and Roswell AFB, NM respectfully. They would receive their aircraft; converted B-29s designated KB-29Ms; later that year. SAC 75 #17 After seeing the dismal performance in the simulated bombing mission over Wright-Patterson AFB, LGEN LeMay push his crews hard, nearly to the breaking point. In a bold move to increase crew stability and proficiency as well as reward outstanding combat crew performance, LGEN LeMay received special permission to award “spot-promotions”. Following the October 1949 SAC Bombing Competition and seeing marked improvement, LeMay promoted on 20 December, 237 aircraft ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (11-15)

SAC 75 #11 When SAC was created it was originally headquartered at Bolling Field, Washington DC but quickly moved to Andrews Field, Maryland. With it’s coastal location vulnerable to bomber attack it was prevalent that SAC Headquarters (aka Command Center) be better positioned to survive a first strike bomber assault. At 0100 on 9 November 1948 SAC Headquarters transferred from Andrews AFB to Offutt AFB, NE. The new HQ was housed in the modest Building A of the WWII Martin Bomber Plant Complex. SAC 75 #12 When LGEN LeMay took over SAC it was already believed that piloting and navigational skills tightened during WWII had atrophied amidst unrealistic bomber training. In January 1949 LeMay ordered a radar scored bomb run over Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Since he already knew that SAC crews lacked current reconnaissance photos and maps, LeMay had crews issued three year old maps and photos of the Dayton, ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (6-10)

SAC 75 #6 Following conflicts between the east and west over Berlin, the Soviet Union cut access into West Berlin. In late June SAC ordered a 301st , Bomb Group squadron equipped with B-29s to remain in Germany where they had been training and moved the two other B-29 squadrons of the 301st to Goose Bay AB, Labrador. SAC’s 28th and 307th Bomb Groups were placed on less than 12-hour alert with the rest of SAC placed on 24-hour alert. All this action was in anticipation of defending West Berlin and West Germany from a communist invasion. The invasion did not come and the allies instituted an air lift to keep the city alive and free. SAC 75 #7 When Strategic Air Command was created at the controller of atomic weapons it not only inherited bombers, reconnaissance, and other support aircraft, it also inherited escort fighters. Initially SAC had squadrons ...
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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Strategic Air Command (1-5)

This year, the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum celebrates 75 years! To honor the men and women of Strategic Air Command, our Curator, Brian York has compiled a “look back” at the people, places and moments that made Strategic Air Command a force for peace with “75 Days of SAC.” Beginning on June 1, 2020, a daily #SAC75 post has been featured on our Museum Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. We understand that not everyone imbibes on social media, so before our summer celebration of Strategic Air Command is a wrap, we wanted to feature some of these posts in our #CuriousCurator Blog. SAC 75 #1 Established on March 21, 1946, Strategic Air Command (SAC) became one of three commands dedicated to the establishment of air superiority in the world. Tasked with long range strategic bombing, Strategic Air Command was built from the air superiority of World War II ...
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F-117 Nighthawk

Museum Welcomes Next Chapter in Stealth Story

For the first time in 15 years, the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum will welcome a new aircraft to its collection. An F-117 “Nighthawk” stealth bomber will arrive at the Museum in early March. Developed by the Lockheed Corporation, the F-117 “Nighthawk” gained worldwide attention for its role during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. The F-117 fleet included 64 aircraft, which the U.S. Air Force retired in 2008.  “When we were informed this F-117 would become available, we jumped at the chance to continue at collecting Cold War artifacts,” Museum Executive Director, Jeff Cannon explains, “The F-117 is a bookend in our collection as it helped to usher-in the end of the Cold War. It represents a huge innovation leap that started with our SR-71 and U2.” The F-117, which will be displayed at the museum was a part of the “Nighthawk” testing and evaluation program. Holding the ...
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Snow_Post

Project Snowbound and Strategic Air Command

Throughout the Cold War, Strategic Air Command trained for all scenarios in all types of terrain and climate. Thousands of SAC warriors can probably relate many winter snow storm stories of being on the flight line doing maintenance, security and alert flights not to mention missileers and communications in the remote areas. But today makes me think of a particular snow storm or rather a series of snow storms from the winter of 1948/1949. Retelling from Nebraska History.gov; it all started on November 19, 1948 when the first storm hit Nebraska. A second storm hit December 29 and followed by the major storm of January 2-5, 1949. According to Nebraska Historian Dr. Harl Dahlstrom, some areas received as much as 90-inches from the three storms with drifts as high as 25 to 30 feet. Though State and Highway crews fought the great battle, they could not keep up. Trains were ...
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Now Playing in the SAC Museum Theater

Now Playing: History Of SAC, Stealth Jets & Omaha’s Martin Bomber Plant

Next time you visit the Museum, be sure to add in some extra time to take a load off, grab a seat in our Theater and enjoy our latest programs playing through April 1. Daily showtimes at 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. SAC History Part 1 Military Aviation, Strategic Bombing, B-17, B-29, B-36, B-47, B-52, KC-97, KC-135, GEN Kenney, GEN LeMay, GEN Power, Interviews Dating back to the dawn of aviation and the Wright Brothers, the United States military always saw the potential of lighter than air controlled flight. During WWI the airplane proved valuable for reconnaissance, command control along with bombing and strafing. It was ultimately born out of this early experimental stage that strategic bombing would become the deterrence of the Cold War. This video explores the early days of aviation; barn storming, bombing, and even air-to-air refueling. Charles Lindbergh would prove the ability of trans-oceanic navigation, Eaker ...
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Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum Podcast

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum Podcast

Listen to the premier episode of the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum Podcast with Curator Brian York and President/CEO Jeffrey Cannon join host Marketing Director John Lefler, Jr ...
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