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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bombs Away

Here is a nine minute tape from a B-52 over Hanoi in the "Christmas Bombing" of 1972.  We get this link from Carl Prine's Line of Departure.  The original link has been around for a couple of days in other fora.

There are a couple of terms that might be unfamiliar, such as
  • RED CROWN, which was a US Navy Picket Ship off North Viet-nam, which would transmit warnings of SAM or "MiG" activity.
  • The term EWO is Electronic Warfare Officer, the person who ran the electronic jamming gear on the B-52.  Sometimes referred to, I am told, as "Extra Weight Onboard".
  • The term "Up-Link" refers to the guidance from the ground to the in-flight SA-2 Surface to Air Missile.  Without the Up-Link the SAM is on a ballistic course.  Toward the end of the war the SAMs would be launched ballistically, with the intent to capture them in flight and guide them to the target, with less warning to the target.
  • Early on one hears a repeating sound, which is the "beeper" that transmit on Guard Frequency (243.0 UHF), indicting an person has bailed out of an aircraft.  They were activated automatically upon ejection and the job of the person who ejected was to turn the radio off as soon as possible, as it clogged the frequency and thus the radios of others.
Carl talks about use of the F-Bomb and its pervasiveness in combat situations.  He is not wrong.  However, radio is a scarce resource and one is expected to speak briskly and clearly and then shut up.  My friend from long ago, James Y Myers, told of hearing a Thud flight lead talking to a wingman.  The wingman came up on the air, saying something like "I am hit and my EGT is going up and my oil pressure is going down.  The RPM is falling off.  My hydraulic pressure is low..."  As he paused for a breath the flight lead said "Shut up or punch out."  When you are "up North" you don't want the radio channel clogged with nice to have information.  You don't want to miss a call about an enemy aircraft closing to your six o'clock while someone else tells you he is "Feet Wet".  The first is much more urgent than the second and may not be repeated (in time).

Or, to cartoon it, there is the flight lead in a briefing who says to the new wingman, "All I want to hear from you is "Two", "Bingo" and "Lead you're on fire".  Which led to my daydream about one day being able to say, "Wastrel Lead, Two is bingo, and, ah, Lead, you're on fire"; in that order.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In a flight of several aircraft each carries the flight call sign plus their number in the flight, Lead, Two, Three (Deputy Lead), Four.
  Bingo indicates one has reached a predetermined fuel level at which the flight should terminate business and head home.

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