Carrying a Nuke to


'Crazy Days' (email from the Spadguys - 5)

Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 19:51:58 -0500 44
From: reid002 <>
Subject: Re: Loft delivery from a Skyraider

As I recall, the only thing that ground ordnance crew set was the release angle, about 38 degrees nose up. This was done in the hole of the A/C

The timer, is calculated by the pilot for 260 knots, with the plane using water injection. The timer is calculated from a IP to point of pull up. When the needle drops a 4.5 G pullup is begun.

If there is a cross wind, the pilot would have the offset heading needed to hold the desired run in line. Under no circumstance would he play with the vertical yaw needle. Just keep it in the center, meaning wings are level and aircraft in trim.

There are two weapons release buttons,"piclkes" on the control stick. The one on top is for the center, right and left wing stations. The lower pickle is for release of weapons from the 12 wing racks. I hear that Senator McCain is one of us who use to tape a thumb tack to the lower button to be sure the correct pickle is depresed at the IP. By the way, the bomb is only loaced on the center station. 300 gal. Fuel tanks are normally on the two wing stations.

Lets see if this helps. The pilot selects type of delivery with a switch, say Instantaneous for normal delivery or loft for the nuke. If the timed loft is the option, then the timer begins when the upper pickle is pressed and held at the IP. When the timer runs out, the needle drops to begin the half cuban eight which slings the bomb one way as the pilot tries to head in the opposite direction.

Ask some of these guys if anyone ever did a [Boar] delivery. In this one a rocket propelled nuke is fired with the Spad about 20 degress nose up. This may account for some of the different settings available in the cockpit. I have never even seen this one with a real size training weapon.


Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 08:46:20 EST

The ejector fired on all centerline drops (or was supposed to, you didn't want a freefall in a dive since it could go through the prop). It was a muffled bang, you knew it went off, a little nudge, and some cordite oder in the cockpit, but you were so happy to hear it and feel it that there was a very good feeling to have it go off. If it didn't fire, you would have to drop it using a manual release.

Has anyone talked about the ways that we passed time on the long overwater legs? I used to smoke, and would time when I could have a cigarette, and how long it would take to finish, when to have the box lunch and how many sandwitches, cookies, apples, etc there were to help the time pass.

Hope this helps. Cheers, Ron

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 12:50:16 EST
Subject: Re: more questions!

The armament panel was complex, but very selective as to what you could do. The MK7 was own of several weapons you could loft, but always off the centerline ejector foot station. The shell, when it went off was like a thump, when you "kicked off" the weapon. No big deal. Full tanks, about twelve or thirteen plus hours at 170KTS or less indicated. Bomb direct was push the switch, and the selected station, single, pairs, or all, or "interval or riffles in 123456789101112. Boooooom! The timer selected in the center of the knurled knob. When you punched the button at the IP. timer started down a rated you figured for wind, etc., at the end of the time the needles came into play for pull up "g," wings level, and at a preset. (ground crew set that) angle the ejector foot kicked of the bomb. This is the only station used for loft. The labs gyro was the heart of the system, Run in speed 275KTS, 50-100ft above 4)4 ground, you correct for windage, and the timer you figure in to HW or TW for the exact timer setting. The Horizontal needle had to remain centered for you pull. To little recenter, to much recenter. It was designed to maintain the A/c or a perfect trajectory to loft the weapon. I never used a thumb tack,"cause I was good, and so were my compatriots. The lower button would drop bombs off a different station. 500# at fifty feet good do sever damage and maybe knock you out to the sky or kill you.

From: "Doug Clarke" <>
Subject: RE: more questions!
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 12:41:09 -0800

- I never heard of anyone taping a thumb-tack to the bottom pickle, but it sounds like a smart idea.

- re the sighting rod/rods. I vaguely recall one, but thought it was only used the "High Dive" maneuver. It was outside the cockpit, on the port side. This was a 75 degree dive-which seemed from the pilot's perspective that you were going straight down-entered at about 15-17,000 feet. It wasn't very accurate and we didn't practice it very much. I don't ever recall using any sighting rod in connection with a LABS delivery.

- I'm sure that the ejection foot was used to get rid of the shape. It was actually comforting to hear and feel the little bump because you knew for sure that the damn thing was gone.

Cheers, Doug Clarke

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 21:06:26 -0500
From: Joe Shea <>
Subject: more questions!

The rods, I only remember the one on the port side, outside and just forward of the joint where the canopy seals against the windshield. Most every one not of the nuclear persuasion did not realize that it was part of an OLD bombing system. It made one mighty fine helmet holder during mount up. I KNOW the USAF people never had anything to do with it because by the time they got their first birds the mission was history. I did my time sitting in the ready bird often enough during two WestPac deployments. We (I) used to listen to Armed Forces Radio on the ARN-6 reciever. The targets we had were one hell of a long way away. I don`t know much about the Med people but I know there was NO shortage of targets behind the Iron Curtain that the USAF couldn`t get to or the missiles couldn`t be bothered with. Each pilot memorized his target then regurgitated it to the intel people on demand. We did have charts but we had to be ready to get all the way in and out without them if we had to.

The 4.5g maneuver was a 1/2 Cuban eight. The weapon released on the way up and I think centrifigal force was enough. HOWEVER the low angle maneuver was a system for delivering a rocket propelled device. It was blown off the Centerline station and when it got a few feet out an umbilical cable pulled out and ignited the rocket. We used to practice with 5 inch HVAR`s off the wing station. We used the fixed fin style not the FFARs. I think we were just usung up the old stuff. I did a lot of that qualifying at the Stumpy Point Target ( R-128). it is due south of Kitty Hawk, N.C. in Pamlico Sound. the bullseye was the anti aircraft gun tub on an old scuttled LST. We did well once we got the hang of it.

I do recall that the assumption was that the carrier in the Med would probably be toast about 20-25 minutes after the ballon went up. The Pacific boat had about twice that time at a minimum. After all the Pacific is a big place.

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 21:17:41 -0500
From: Joe Shea <>
Subject: more questions!

Forgot something. never been hit by anything bigger than a Canadian goose except for a fuel truck that got me once. I have nothing to compare it with but [the Douglas ejector] was a pretty sharp crack. Not exciting unless you didn`t know it was coming. It did stink something awful but it was only gun powder. it was usually open the canopy time for some fresh air IF you weren`t too busy and you usually were.

Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 22:06:50 -0500
From: Joe Shea <>
Subject: Re: more questions!

If you wanted to see an airborne disaster you should have been on the scene when someone did NOT set the selector switch for low angle and then attempted a low angle delivery. The sequence went like this. Run in to the I.P. , pickle and hold it , pull up, watch for the rocket to go. It wouldn`t --- decide to abort by continuing the wing over maneuver to the left at which time, while pointing about 70 to 90 degrees left of the bomb line and VERY nose up, the selector switch would sense the correct angle and fire the rocket. the range at those angles was 3 to 5 miles. Such excitement. Especially when we were working under a 2,000 ft overcast. It was just thrilling to watch that missle launch into the overcast generally eastbound toward the Outer Banks south of Oregon Inlet. One could only hope no one saw it either going up or coming down. They had inert heads but would still cause a ruckus

I will share with you that the USAF was not fond [of] our nuclear mission but since we were a part of the grand plan they had to treat us like we were semi - SAC. I had fun with that on the west coast. I forgot what USAF SAC base it was but there was one that was a good liberty spot. Most non SAC aircraft were refused landing rights due to security rules but they had to let us in. It really set their hair on fire when two of us would slip in and layover using their BOQ and O-Club.

From: Blake Middleton <>
Subject: RE: more questions!
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 09:16:43 -0600

Thumbtack --- I never heard of that one, nor did I use it, but not a bad idea. Sighting rods --- I don't remember having those, but a lot of brain cells in this old head are dead. Ejector --- When lofting a SHAPE, the Y-shaped ejector was fired by an explosive charge, resulting in a fairly loud "thump" as the weapon left the airplane.

Blake Middleton

P.S. When I flew Spads off Hornet (1957), China was considered as big (or bigger) a threat as USSR. Each of us pilot types had 4 or 5 nuclear-delivery targets pre-assigned in the Southeastern part of China. If the whistle were to blow, they would assign one target to each of us, fire us off the front end in the early dark hours, and we would no doubt fly off into history. Makes me shudder to remember it.

continued in part 6