Carrying a Nuke to


"Crazy days" (email from the Spadguys - 4)

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 21:18:36 -0400 From: Joe Shea
Subject: instrument panel

the knurled knob was the timer, it was rotated to a precalculated setting based on a time / diatance solution from a predetermined I.P. The Initial Point was a place on the ground that you would cross on a certain heading, airspeed, power setting and at 50 feet. At the I.P. you would pickle the weapon and fly the two needles which were attitude (wings level) and nose 4X4 level. this was very accurate. Of course the bomb did not release and one of those red lights came on. At the end of the elapsed time the red light went off and the needles changed to a wings level and a G meter. The trick was to pull the correct G load for the maneuver to center the needles and hold them there. At the correct angle the bomb director would release the weapon and a light would tell you it was gone, (as if you needed to be told). You then initiated recovery.

I seem to remember a tone in the headset from the I.P. to release. The calculations of elapsed time from the I.P. included a wind correction and was made in real time enroute to the I.P. In practice we would do 8-16 of these deliveries on a single training flight. At that time we were tossing the 25 lb (or lighter) practice bombs

The rod you might see at the forward outside of the cockpit on the left side was a primitive high altitude bomb sight for dropping nukes from on high. It was installed on the AD-4 found to be useless so it was kept on as an excellent place to hang a helmet and other crap while mounting or dismounting. I believe it was meant to be used for a weapon that did not last long in the inventory.

Our practice weapon for low angle loft was a 5 inch HVAR and I remember the release to impact was about 35,000 feet. I do not think we got above 900 feet on the low angle and I believe we were at about 1,400 feet, inverted, with the throttle closed and just above stall speed at the top of th maneuver. The throttle was closed at the moment of weapons release to protect the engine form oil starvation going over the top. All in all it was quite a maneuver.

We did a lot of these at high altitude gradually getting lower as our confidence built.

From: "Doug Clarke"
Subject: RE: instrument panel
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 14:15:34 -0700

As I recall, there were 3 options for LABS delivery: a low-angle loft (circa 16 - 25 degrees) for use with the BOAR rocket-boosted weapon; a timed over-the-should [see below], and an instantaneous-or some such name-over-the-shoulder in which you started your pull-up when directly over the target.

The lights, I believe were a warning light and then a pull-up light.

The needles were used to keep you on the correct profile. If you kept the vertical needle centered then your wings were level as called for in the maneuver. When it was time for you to pull up, the horizontal needle would drop to the bottom of the dial and you had to pull 4 1/2 G's to as to get it back to the center in 2 seconds. From then on you had to keep it centered-if you let up on the g's the needle would drop, and if you pulled too many g's it would rise.

The LABS time enabled you to use a remote initial-point (IP) to plan your attack. You would press the pickle when you crossed the IP and then wait until the light/tone came on and the needle dropped to start your pull-up.

Hope this is helpful. While you're off to China Lake I'm on my way to Lemoore for a reunion of Vietnam-era aviators.

Doug Clarke
CAPT, USN (ret)
Vashon, WA 98070

Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 23:32:50 -0400
From: Joe Shea
Subject: tossing shapes from a jet fighter

Please,,,,,, I don`t believe any JET FIGHTER ever carried a Nuke except the F3H Demon because it was so stable. Slow but stable, thus accurate. They were replaced by F4`s in the very early 60`s and I am quite sure no F4 ever carried a nuke. It was not their mission, but then the AF does odd things with their A/C. At that time SAC was VERY jealously guarding the nuke mission so I believe that no USAF A/C that didn`t have a B (bomber) as a prefix ever got close to a nuke.

All of the VA birds (Navy) of the Attack variety, AD-4,5,6,7, and the A4d carried the nuke / shape on the centerline station and the dam thing weighed over 5,000 pounds for certain models. The fuel tanks were kept in balance but to keep the plane trimable. We never dropped the tanks, ever, but on a real mission (WW III) we would have dropped them as soon as they were empty to cut down drag. The AD could not take on fuel in flight. but we could and did easily fly 11 hour missions and land with plenty of fuel. Fuel was never a problem for us. Remember that the Navy used the plane longer and for vastly different missions than the USAF. By the time they got their first AD I believe the nuke mission was probably history

The A3D carried her weapons internally as did the A5C. The Navy A3D was the USAF B-66 with a tailhook and folding wings and some other differences. The A5 became a reconn bird (RA5C-Vigilante) because it couldn`t hit Texas with a bomb.

Those museum a/c are usually cleaned up and polished. In use that AD was the grimiest thing you ever saw. The exhaust stacks insure that any leaking oil was seared onto the fuselage on both sides. This did give it character.

From: Blake Middleton <>
Subject: RE: instrument panel
Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 15:27:53 -0500

I flew AD-6 aircraft (VA-145, USS Hornet, 1957). We did LOFT only, not O/S, using the LABS gear. Your description of the two needles on the LABS dial is correct: vertical [needle] hinged at 6 o'clock, horizontal hinged at 9 o'clock. At the risk of boring you, let me take a moment to describe the LOFT manoeuver in the AD-6:

1. On the run-in to the target, 50 feet AGL, water injection on, minimum 295 knots IAS with full power.

2. Passing the IP (visual landmark), start the LABS timer (with one of the buttons on the stick, I think). Note: the timer was set for x seconds, based upon speed/distance calculations to determine pull-up point at a pre-determined distance from the target. The run-in line and pull-up point were determined by studying a high altitude photo (from a U-2 ?), picking a prominent visual landmark (IP), plotting the pull-up point at a required, known distance from the target (between the target and the IP), and then calculating the time from IP to pull-up.

3. When the LABS timer ran out (meaning the airplane was at the pull-up point), two things happened simultaneously: a loud tone sounded in the pilot's headset, and a rather bright red light on top of the glare shield came on. Now starts the one-half Cuban 8. Within one and a half seconds, you had to put four and a half G's on the airplane, with the nose coming straight up. At pull-up, your attention went straight to the LABS dial. Prior to pull-up, the horizontal needle (which was a real time G-meter) was "sloped downward" from left to right, hinged at 9 o'clock. As the G load increased, the needle started to come up, so that at 4 1/2 G's the needle was horizontal. The verticle needle told you whether you were going straight up.

4. At 42 degrees above the horizontal, with 4 1/2 G's still on the airplane and the nose still coming straight up, the weapon would release automatically from the rack (center station, if it were the real thing) and be LOFTED to the target. If you flew a good profile, you'd be on your back at 1800' AGL, at about 85-90 knots, put the nose about 20-30 degrees below the horizon, roll upright, and haul ass.

5. Practice hits were usually within 500-800 feet of the target --- probably would have gotten the job done with a 20 KT weapon.

Blake Middleton

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:47:10 -0700
From: "william r. wilson" <>

The "loft maneuver" for which LABS was created required a 4.5 "g" half-Cuban Eight delivery in which the a/c and shape were under positive "g" load throughout. The shape separated under positive "g" as opposed to the 90 degree dive delivery where any projectile would tend to cling to the a/c on separation.

Douglas created the "Douglas Foot" which was a forked explosive driven piston which forced separation of shape/bomb from the center station during steep dives. Of course delivering a nuclear weapon from either a level or steep dive position guaranteed disaster for the pilot. It was not a popular option.


From: (f&s bonansinga)
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 15:42:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: shapes and spads

I am a former Naval Aviator who was involved in the first loft or lob bombing demonstration for a group of big wigs. Four of us went to Sandia NM for some instruction after attending special weapons classes in Norfolk. We practiced lobbing small bombs from wing racks, making two flights a day with an 8G cuban eight(idiot loop) launching the bombs at a target. We wore g suites and were all in pretty good no excellent shape. I was 25 then.. We still got mighty tired and one guy, our leader got hemroids after it was all over. We flew together each in our own assigned AD4N. We put on a demon at a secluded target area in FL infront of Admiral, general, congressmen etc. and flew off a carrier with shapes that expolded. It was a success. We got commendations but I never did any more of the work. That is about it and if you need additional amplification perhaps I can help you out. Good

Luck fcb

From: (f&s bonansinga)
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 16:06:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: a correction

I errored in my first answer to your ltr Dan. The cuban eight was pulled at 6.5 g's not 8..That's a lot... Also checked my log book and found we did the ORI demo at Pincastle believe it is called,from the WASP CV 18 (a straight deck boat then) on 10 Sept. 1953 which might help you.. fcb

continued in part 5