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Bob's Stories

The following are a collection of memories and stories from Bob (Zellner, Robert O. (1953-1954)) about his time at Loring Air Force Base, Maine.  You can contact him at rozellner@msn.com.



The End of the Goat

<posted 12 March 2010>

During the summer of 1954, General Harrison started a competition between the wing squadrons based on performance, inspections and other criteria. The poorest squadron got a goat and had to keep him for a month. He was a big, handsome ram. One day soon after the losing squadron got the goat (I won't mention which squadron except to say it was not the A&E squadron) he appeard on the lawn outside the barracks, dead. The base vet performed a necroscopy and it turned out he was drowned. The poorest performing airman in the squadron was assigned to take care of the goat, and after a few days he stuffed the goat head first into a mop sink and killed him. I never heard what happened to the airman. but I don't imagine he was around much longer. This is absolutely a true story.
Contact Bob at rozellner@msn.com


From B-29 to B-52; a Bomb Nav System Specialist story...

I was a Bomb/Nav System Specialist for four years from 1950 to 1954 working on first the RB-36 and later on the B-36. I finished basic at Lackland AFB in late September of 1950 and was sent to Keesler AFB, Miss. for technical training. At that time our training consisted of 22 weeks of electronic fundamentals and 20 weeks of what was called "sets", which could be either ground or airborne radar. Airborne systems at that time consisted of the APQ-13, which was installed on B-29s and some B-50s, and the APQ-24 which was installed on some B-50s, some early B-36s and all of the RB-36s. I K-system had just been developed at that time and the school, I believe, was being held at the Sperry factory on Long Island. (I could be wrong about that). I was selected for Q-24 school, which was a Bomb/Nav system made by Westinghouse, both the computer and the radar. I was sent from Keesler to Rapid City AFB, SD, later known as Ellsworth AFB. Colonel Ellsworth was the wing commander at that time and, as you probably know, was killed in a B-36 crash a few years later after he made BG. The wing back then was known as the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and consisted of three Recon Squadrons of fifteen aircraft, the 77th, the 717th and the 718th, as well as the big maintenance and overhaul squadron (I forget what it was called), and the 28th Armament and Electronics Squadron where I was assigned. Incidentally, my AFSC was 32150E. The A&E squadrons back then were responsible for maintenance of all electronics on the aircraft such as B/N, communications, ECM, compass systems, auto-pilot and fire control, as well as all of the guns. When I first arrive at RC the maintenance organization was organized by bomb squadron, that is, A&E technicians were assigned to work for a specific bomb squadron and were allocated space in the squadron hangers. I was assigned to the 717th and reported out there each morning. Within that shop, a team of two men was assigned to a specific aircraft and was responsible to see that the B/N system was "up" when it was scheduled to fly and to meet and debrief the RN when it landed. This was a very good system to work under because it fostered competition among the crews and created a lot of pride, however, it wasn't very efficient. After about a year they made a major change and brought us all back in to the A&E building and set up a work order system. All the gripes were written up and the work was handed out by an NCO and a tech might find himself working on any of the 45 aircraft in the wing. In addition to the B/N system, the 321X0 AFSC was also responsible for the maintenance on the N-1 Compass System, which made us responsible for doing compass swings. That was a lot of fun during a South Dakota winter.  I was transferred to Carswell AFB in September of 1952 to train on the K-systems at the Field Training Detachment. The K-system computer was made by Sperry and used the same radar set as the Q-24. After training I went to Limestone AFB, Me., later known as Loring AFB, to the 42nd Bomb Wing, commanded by BG Bertram C. Harrison. My new AFSC was 32150F. There I was assigned to the Periodic Maintenance section of the 42nd A&E Maintenance Squadron. Each aircraft was required to undergo a complete inspection after a certain number of hours flying time, I forget how many, I my team got to do that on the K-system, which was a job I didn't much care for. I liked flight line maintenance much better.  I got out of the AF in August, 1954, and went to work for IBM, first as a punched card machine technician, and later, in 1957, as a tech rep on the new APQ-38 Bomb/Nav system, which you are probably familiar with. The computer was designed by a R&D company in Mass. called Perkin-Elmer and IBM was selected to manufacture it for the AF. The radarsystem was supplied by Raytheon. A prototype was developed called the MA-4 and was installed in a squadron of B-47s at Lake Charles AFB, La. In 1957 Boeing started to install them in the B-52E aircraft. I was first assigned to the Boeing factory in Wichita, KS, and then to Altus AFB in Altus, Ok. SAC was just starting to go to the fifteen aircraft wing concept and they broke up the 11th Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB and sent on squadron the Altus and called it the 11th Start Wing. I bounce around SAC as a tech rep for the next five years, stationed at Seymour-Johnson AFB, Goldsboro, NC, Beale AFB in CA. and K. I. Sawyer AFB in Marquette, Mich. The most challenging part of that was when they introduced the Advanced Capability Radar to the Q-38 which gave it terrain following capability. That kind of stuff is old hat now, but back in 1961 it was leading edge.  I hope all this hasn't bored you too much, but I thought you might be a little interested in the old days, and writing about them as sure brought back a lot of memories.




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