350th

STRATEGIC RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON

 DC-130 / CH-3 / DRONE OPERATIONS
 
The Drone operations in Vietnam were deployed to  Bein Hoa ( OL-20 ) in 1964 and originally assigned to the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron ( SRS) of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing ( SRW).  The 4025th SRS was then reactivated under SAC General Order 115 on 1st July 1965  with Col D Rafferty in Command and operation transferred to the unit but they were not permitted to use the RB-57D Squadrons previous name of the" Black Knights" , although they did. Initial Drone recovery was by the Army Sikorsky H-37's but the search had already started for a more advanced heavy lift helicopter.
Hut at OL-20 Carrying 4025th emblem

 ( with helmet- plume) on door

 
     
At the start the OL-20 operations were based at two locations in Vietnam with the  two DC-130A's being based at Bien Hoa (OL-20) and the two CH-3 helicopter recovery ops at DaNang (OL-10)

In February 1966 the 4080th SRW became the 100th SRW and the 4025th SRS was renumbered the 350th SRS (Red Falcons)

The operation at Danang was the recovery center after the flight, and was the home of the ground-based command guidance trailer as well as the two CH-3 mid-air recovery helicopters. The drones were brought into Danang after recovery, post-flighted and rehung on the DC-130 for return to Bien Hoa. After several rocket hits on DaNang the DC-130s and the U-2s, the 100th moved the main operating base to U Tapao AB, Thailand in July of 1970. 

Not long afterward, the recovery operation moved from DaNang (OL-10) to Nakon Phanom (NKP OL-NB) Thailand. On the move to U-Tapao AB the operation from Bien Hoa/DaNang gained full Squadron status as the 99th SRS.

 

 
The two DC-130A's were later replaced by DC-130E's  
The operations resulted in some very important Reconnaissance/ ELINT gathering operations during the Vietnam war.

First Photos of SA-2 Missiles , Mig 21-D's and E's,  intercepts of SA-2 arming and proximity fusing signals.

The Drones also accurately launched Maverick and other smart bombs long before the present day Predator/ Reaper came on the scene.  Also drop leaflets, these were nicknamed the "Bullshit Bombers"

 

 
 
The reconnaissance for the attempt to rescue American POWs at Son Tay was conducted by the 350th SRS drones.  Bob Jeffries who had been a prisoner there. He said every time they heard one coming, everybody would look up hoping to have their picture taken, proving they were alive. They were beaten unmercifully for that, but they still would go out and do it again every time they could  
 

 

 
 
     
All DC-130 and CH-3 crews were assigned to the 350 SRS.  SAC Crews had a letter number designator.  S was Standard board meaning the crew that checked the proficiency and accuracy of the other crews. (They might have been operations staff, but they flew out of the 350 SRS..)  I'm not sure of the R and E   One probably was for a formed crew and the other for a fully qualified crew.  I think the E was for the highly proficient crews, but that's not certain.  I suspect the letter changes with the crew status but the number may have been tied to the pilot. 
  The DC-130 crew had the standard C-130 crew of pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer, but no loadmaster as they didn't carry cargo. 

In the cargo bay were two LCOs (Launch Control Officers) seated where they could see the AQM outside through the window in the paratrooper doors.  They had a launch control panel in front of them.  The panel could swing out of the way if you needed to exit out the paratrooper door.  In the forward cargo bay was an ARCO (Airborne Control Officer) and ART - an NCO Technician. They had a vertical plotting board in front of the ARCO onto which he taped a map with the mission track.  An ink pen marked the progress of the AQM during its mission.

  DC-130's 496 and 497 were the first conversions. They were DC-130As with 4 pylons used for testing.  Later As and the Es originally had only an inboard pylon.  The 154 / AQM-91 had a longer wing and used a special outboard pylon.  When the DC-130Es were converted, they were rewired for this pylon location only and the standard C-130E external tank fitted inboard.  In the cargo compartment a cabin was built for the plotting board and control equipment used by the ARCO. 
  I believe all the DC-130E aircraft were upgraded to this standard.  For the 147 / AQM-34 there was a shorter pylon which hung in the same outboard location as the 154 / AQM-91 pylon.  
 

 
Mid Air Recovery System.  MARS
jun03mars.jpg (379615 bytes) MID AIR RECOVERY SYSTEM

MARS

"LIGHTNING BUG" DRONE

 

 

 Later production produced the HH-3E rescue version which had aerial refueling.  Obviously, if you were going to fly just over a parachute, you didn't want a refueling probe to catch the parachute.  The MARS crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and winch operator.  The ramp remained, but the door behind the ramp that opened upward was removed.  The winch was under the rotor head and the cable extended down through a hole in the fuselage.  The cable extended back under the fuselage to a harness with three hooks.  Two of these hooks were at the end of the extended poles.   Between them was a 3 or 4 pointed flying hook. The poles telescoped for a shorter length when not deployed. 
  The drone had two parachutes.  The main chute controlled the AQM's descent.  Above it was a smaller engagement chute.  The engagement chute could not hold the AQM.  The CH-3 hooks caught the engagement chute.  When the line down to the AQM was tight, the man chute was disconnected.  The cable and load line were then reeled in on the winch to the position shown in your photo.  At the recovery base there was a fuel bladder or similar item and the AQM was lowered onto the bladder and the load line cut. 

A crane then lifted the AQM from the bladder and placed in on a standard engine dolly with AQM adapters.  If the recovery site was not the main base, the AQM was then loaded back on the DC-130 pylon for the trip home.  One procedural change was the result of an AQM falling off the pylon on the trip to the main OL base.  The film was removed at the recovery base and carried inside the DC-130 back to the main base..

There was a ground version of the MCGS with on site generators to insure no power failures. it was the prime control for the MARS recovery portion of the flight.  Being fixed on the ground its location never changed and that insured the AQM if controllable would always come down in the same area.  Its operators lived with the CH-E pilots and could review each mission and discuss any problems with each other.

 
  During one test mission, the DC 130 took off with two AQM-91s on DC-130 power and landed for a second takeoff with the AQM-91 engines also running.  I don't remember which was the first takeoff, but the extra jet power shortened the DC-130 runway used.  The AQM-91 was much heavier than the 147s, and there may have been one or more H-53 equipped with MARS.  It was a very heavy load for the smaller CH-3.

Going Fishing - CH-3 with capture gear deployed

 

 
GOTCAH!!

 

Not all Drones made it back home, some were shot down and others nearly made it home.

 

       
       
DC-130 FLT EXAMINER USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, 350th Reconnaissance Squadron. The "Bounder Control"  AQM-34 Drones that were equipped with the River Bounder ECM System capable of jamming North Vietnamese SA-2 Missile Sites The "Suzy Wong" Patch CHINESE 

WILLIAM TELL 

Drone operation

4025th SRS

WANTED

 

WANTED WANTED J COOK

WANTED

jan04350 SRS-P05 - NEED.jpg (23274 bytes) feb04350srs.jpg (97326 bytes) mar03lbug.jpg (277890 bytes)
350th SRS

CREW E-81 CH-3

350th SRS 350th SRS 350th SRS 

"LIGHTNING BUG"

RYAN 147

Thanks to Mark Ruby

WANTED

J COOK

WANTED

 

I HAVE IT WANTED
mar0399srsolnb.jpg (24935 bytes)
99th SRS

BUFFALO HUNTERS

OL-NB

NAKHON PHANON R.T.A.B THAILAND

99th SRS

BUFFALO HUNTERS

OL-NB

NAKHON PHANON  R.T.A.B THAILAND

99th SRS

BUFFALO HUNTERS

OL-NB

NAKHON PHANON R.T.A.B

THAILAND

BUFFALO HUNTERS

Patch Image Courtesy of 

Past Our Prime

Web Site

 

I HAVE IT WANTED WANTED

 

WANTED
AQM-34M(L)

The "ROCK FLOCK"

 

WANTED

 

STATISTICS
First Drone Flight at an OL 20th August 1964  
Last Done flight at an OL 6th June 1975  
Number of Operational sorties by the 100th SRW  3,435 Excluding Training,, Test and Stateside flights.
Mid Air Recoveries    
Attempts 2,745  
Catches 2,655  
Operational success rate 96.7%  
     
DRONE LOSSES    
Total lost 578  
Confirmed Killed 251  
Unknown 80  
In recovery stage 53  
In Retrieval 30  
In other ways 158  
     
Top Drones    
L-229  TOMCAT 68 FLIGHTS Shot down
L-225 BUDWEISER 63 FLIGHTS  
L-235 RYAN'S DAUGHTER 52 FLIGHTS  
L-223 BABY BUCK 46 FLIGHTS  
     
ENDURANCE FLIGHT 34R - 7.8 hours- Recovered  
     
Most Launches in a    
7 DAY PERIOD 27 20th through  26th Dec 1972 - Support Of Linebacker  II
30 DAY PERIOD 91  19th Dec 1972  through  17th Jan 1973
     
 Operational Launches per Year    
1964 20 4080th SRW
1965 77 4080th SRW
1966 105 408Oth SRW /  Feb 1966- 100th SRW
1967 153 100th SRW
1968 340 100th SRW
1969 437 100th SRW
1970 365 100th SRW
1971 406 100th SRW
1972 570 100th SRW
1973 440 100th SRW
1974 388 100th SRW
1975 161 100th SRW
     
Total Operational time flown by 100th SRW Drones    
Captive 2,699.02 hours  
Free 5,315.86 hours  
     
DC-130A / E

 
  • 56-0527, c/n 182-3135, built as a C-130A-8-LM
    • Converted to DC-130A
    • 4025 SRS / 4080 SRW, 1965
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Bien Hoa, February 1968
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Davis-Monthan AFB, 15 April 1968
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Bien Hoa, May - August 1968
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Davis-Monthan AFB, 5 August 1968 -31 Dec 1968

       
  • 57-0461, c/n 182-3168, built as a C-130A-45-LM
    • Converted to DC-130A
    • 4025 SRS / 4080 SRW 1965
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Davis-Monthan AFB, 1968
       
  • 61-2362, c/n 382-3663, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Davis-Monthan AFB, October 1971

     

  • 61-2363, c/n 382-3681, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E April 1968
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, Davis-Monthan AFB, May 1971 - October 1973
       
  • 61-2364, c/n 382-3687, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E October 1970
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, October 1973
       
  • 61-2368, c/n 382-3713, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW November 1966 - September 1972
       
  • 61-2369, c/n 382-3714, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, November 1966 - 1976
       
  • 61-2371, c/n 382-3716, built as a C-130E-LM
    • Converted to DC-130E, August 1966
    • 350 SRS / 100 SRW, November 1972-1973
DC-130 LAUNCH CREWS
           
S-60   S-60 was the crew that launched TOMCAT on its last mission, when it was lost over Tay Ninh
Select/ Standardisation Crew Senior Master Sergeant, Flight Evaluator Flight Engineer. Tony Girtman L/C Frank Joachim was the Nav    
E-22   Capt Beckner Capt Bauknecht Capt Ibbotson
    Lt Permaul Lt Walker  
E-62        
E-64        
R-92        
CH-3E
65-12790 THE FLYING  SLICK   65-12788    
65-12796     65-12794    
           
           
           
CH-3E RECOVERY CREWS
E-81          
           
           
           
           
DRONE NUMBERS AND NAMES

 

? COMBAT DON ? EL SCIZZOR ROZE    
? PHANTOM FLYER ? D JUDGE ? SNEAKY PETE
? CHERRY GIRL ? PRISKILLA'S PUSSYCAT 432 JAWS
? DIAMOND LIL ? MARY ANN 062 ??
    ? SOO-AY-MAHK    
? MYASSIS DRAGGIN ? JAW-RA-KAH    
? SUPER CHICKEN ? NAH RAHK R12 ??
? M.R. LING L250 BUFFALO CHIP R10 CAJUN QUEEN II
    L229 TOM CAT R21 ??
? FLYING SUBMARINE L223 BABY BUCK    
    L235 RYANS DAUGHTER    
    L225 BUDWEISER 1130 ??
    L191 ?? 1067 ??
    L174 ??    
H13 ?? L203 ?? Q22 ??
H43 ?? L198 ?? Q26 ??
           
           
           
M30 The STREAKER        
M39 LALO'S SUPER MEX        
M16 ?        
M35 ?        
M46 CJD STRUGGLE        
           
           
Past Our Prime 

The 100th A.M.M.S. Website

 

MISSION NAMES

COMPASS COOKIE BUMBIE BUG
LIGHTNING BUG BUFFALO HUNTER
BLUE SPRING LITTERBUG
   
A.M.M.S. Web Site
   

 

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