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Russian Overflights by RAF Crews during the "Cold War"

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Russian Overflights by RAF Crews during the "Cold War"

Old 3rd Jul 2009, 20:23
  #101 (permalink)  
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Air Pictorial August 1997

My reverie was rudely interrupted by the sudden heart-stopping appearance of a veritable flare path of exploding golden anti-aicraft fire. There was no doubt about it; it was very well predicted flak- dead ahead and at the same height as we were. My reaction was instinctive-throttles wlde open and haul the aircraft round on its starboard wing tip until the gyro compass pointed west. I began a gentle 100 ft per minute decent because that made us seem to go a bit faster, although it didn't because we started juddering in the limiting Mach number buffet. So I eased the power off a bit, but kept up the decent on the 'it seems faster' principle and since we had been predicted I thought it best to change height as well as speed and direction thus giving the gunners down below three new problems. Poor old Rex piped up, "Hey, what about my photos ?" I replied succinctly, explained that clearly we have been tracked very accurately, told him about the flak burst and requested a course to steer to Furstenfeldbruck, our refuelling rendezvous and declared alternative in an emergency.
We had about a thousand miles to go and I urged Mac to keep his eyes peeled for fighters which might pick us up outside the flack pattern. Much later,I leaned that there were fighters about with orders to ram us. Maximum speed was essential. I flew the aircraft just on the right side of the buffet, it sort of trembled affectionately. I had time to reflect that the earlier flashes we had seen below us had been ground fire and that our stately progress as ordered by Rex had given even the dimmest battery commanders time to track us and fire. The early attempts had all misjudged our height and thank God, the Kiev defences had misjudged our speed; they had chucked everything up a few hundred yards ahead of us.
I thought for a moment of jettisoning our now empty 1,200 gallon wing-tip tanks. Their absence might have added a few more knots to our speed but, once found, their makers name and address would have revealed that they came from America and there would have been the devil of a row. Anyway, the thought of them bouncing down the High Street of Kiev West at two o'clock in the morning disturbing the ladies and frightening the children did not appeal. We were not flying over Russia to do that! Moreover, General LeMay would not have been best pleased at my scattering expensive bits of his aircraft over Russia. So, we kept the tanks on and finally, after what seemed an eternity, met up with our tankers but, for the first time, the refuelling boom refused to stay in our aircraft. Fearing our refuelling system had been damaged over Kiev, I thought it wiser to land at Furstenfeldbruck and refuel in the conventional way. This we did and then flew home without further incident. It was good to see the other two aircraft back at Sculthorpe and to hear that their crews had had successful incident-free flights.
And that is almost all there was of it. But the story would not be complete without a tribute to those who set up the whole excecise, in particular General LeMay who was determined to get the best target information for his aircrews and to the late Sir Winston Churchill who agreed to the RAF's participation. A tribute must be paid to Mr Llewelyn who, at the time, was Bomber Command's Chief Scientific Officer and played a practical 'hands-on' role improving the quality of our radar pictures and even to giving them a stereoscopic effect. Finnaly, I still wonder how the Russians knew exactly where we were!
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Old 4th Jul 2009, 12:58
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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VIProds, very many thanks for a fascinating recollection – thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Old 4th Jul 2009, 23:56
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Russian overflights

Thank you for sharing John Cramptons article and also to David Baker of Aviation News for allowing PPRuNe members access to it.
Whilst I have followed this Operation over the years as a cold war mission with great interest this original report by Sqdrn Ldr Crampton is quite facinating and ,in my opinion needs updating in order that the full story can be told to the British Public some 56 years after the events in which the RAF demonstrated great bravery ,resourcefulness and determination in achieving the desired result.
Might I suggest someone of the calibre of Patrick Bishop ,the Author of Bomber Boys,could research and flesh out in further detail the story behind the the story?
It has to be that both sides of the equation have interesting records of these missions including those of the Russian hawks who apparently thought that WW3 might be starting !!
Regarding the comment about the Russians attempting to down the authors aircraft I seemto recall that the traitor KIm Philby was suspected of passing on the "flight plan "details to his Moscow masters who in turn alerted the Flak batteries down route,he had form for this sort of thing so it is just possible.
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Old 6th Jul 2009, 09:15
  #104 (permalink)  

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Many thanks again VIP.

midnight - An excellent idea about someone following this up. Had I got the time I would be all over this like a rash, but work/family/sloth precludes the hard and thorough research that would be necessary to do justice to this fascinating snippet of history.

If someone out there has got the time, go for it!

FWIW - I'll certainly buy a copy of the resulting book!!
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Old 6th Jul 2009, 23:00
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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Angels
Many thanks for your views and support on this interesting but generally little known RAF involvement in Cold War aerial reconnaissance.Perhaps someone will take up the challenge and flag up the exploits of this brave band of RAF Aircrew and thus bring it to the attention of a wider readership who will appreciate what these covert operations were about and the great personal risks to the Aircrew who flew on these missions .
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Old 25th Aug 2009, 14:36
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Information from US

I was recently over in the states and had to visit Maxwell AFB on an unrelated matter. However, this thread had been so interesting I wanted to see what I could quickly dig up in the short time I had available.
This cannot compare to the article cited above by VIP, but does cover the training that the RAF crews received while in the states. There is more information available about the 1952 missions, but that will have to wait until I have a chance to type it into this computer. Hope this is of interest to you, it was to me.

Source: USAF Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery AL
K-WG-91-HI, Historical Report for September 1951 of 91st Strategic Reconnaissance, Lockbourne Air Force Base

Covering pages 45 - 49:


Mission Analysis

On 4 August 1951 three (3) Royal Air Force (RAF) crews reported to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana for the purpose of participating in a training program to be given by personnel of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. (See Ltr no no, Hqs 91st SRW to CG SAC, subj: Trng of RAF Crews, dtd 10 Oct 51) During the first week at Barksdale, the RAF crews were given a brief indoctrination in organizations within the USAF, the mission of strategic reconnaissance, and the internal organization and activities of a wing. Arrangements were then made for these crews to attend the B-45 Mobile Training Detachment (MTD) at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. This course involved 120 hours of instruction and was attended by the RAF crews from 12 August 1951 thru 2 September 1951. Each crew passed this course successfully and reported to Lockbourne Air Force Base, Columbus, Ohio, on 5 September 1951 for flying training and further ground school under the supervision of the Commanding Officer, 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.
The total ground school training per crew given by Headquarters, 91st Strat Recon Wing consisted of 80 hours of instruction, and was broken down into eight (8) different categories as follows: (1) Physiological Indoctrination – eight (8) hours consisting of four (4) hours classroom instruction covering the effects of high altitude flight on the human body, the mental hazards of which must be overcome, and the theory of operation of the pressure-demand oxygen system now in use by the USAF. The remaining four (4) hours of this training was consumed by simulated flight, through the use of a pressure chamber, to altitudes falling within normal operation of the B-45 type aircraft. An explosive decompression exercise was completed simulating decompression from 20,000 to 45, 000 feet. (2) Flying Safety – three hours. This phase of ground training consisted of explanation of USAF and SAC flying safety programs, discussion of traffic control system as administered by Civil Aeronautics Authority, and the jurisdiction of this agency over USAF aircraft in flight. (3) Regulations – one (1) hour review of pertinent Air Force regulations covering general flight rules and requirements, visual flight rules, instrument flight rules, clearance rules and authorized deviations. (4) Maintenance - three (3) hours, concerning Strategic Air Command Maintenance System as outlined in SAC Regulation 66-12. (5) Intelligence – six (6) hours concerning deportment of captured personnel, interrogation of prisoners of war, and articles contained in the Geneva Convention. (6) Navigation – consisting of 14 hours training in the theory of radar in general and a complete breakdown of the APQ-24 indicator, computer, modulator systems, and their relation to each other; 11 hours of practice on the APQ-24 radar trainer making use of the set under simulated flight conditions; and four (4) hours of training on identification and breakup of targets as applied to reconnaissance radar scope photography. (7) Basic Photography – eight (8) hours, consisting of training in the physical properties of light; principles and characteristics of lenses and filters upon components of light. Focal length of a lens and its application to photography; compilation scale; photographic coverage; flight line separation and exposure interval; photographic equipment used on the RB-45 and its operation. (8) Miscellaneous – consisting of six (6) hours link training, two (2) hours air refueling, 10 hours cruise control, and four (4) hours examination.
The flying training program for these three (3) RAF crews consisted of a series of missions designed to bring each crew to a combat ready status in the minimum of time. These missions have been designated as “P” missions. The breakdown of crew flying times is as follows: Crew Number One – 58:55 hours; Crew Number Two – 57:00 hours; and Crew Number Three – 50:55 hours. The following is the air training program as outlined by Headquarters 91st Strat Recon Wing for the training crews in transition to B-45 type aircraft.

Mission Description
P-1 Back seat familiarization ride, instructor pilot demonstrates
Operation of all emergency procedures

P-2 Front seat ride transition

P-3 Transition

P-4 This is normally a pre-solo stand board check but since
RAF crews did not solo until completion of training this time was used for more transition.

P-5 Instrument demonstration

P-6 Instrument practice

P-7 Instrument practice

P-8 Instrument practice

P-9 Instrument check

P-10 Night Check

P-11 Primarily a photo training mission and X country

P-12 In Flight Refueling Demonstration

P-13 In Flight Refueling Practice

P-14 In Flight Refueling Practice

P-15 In Flight Refueling Practice

P-16 Standardization Board Check

Two (2) of the three (3) RAF crews completed all phases of the foregoing air training successfully. RAF Crew Number Three did not complete the air refueling phase. After expending 14 hours and 45 minutes on the refueling training, it became obvious that considerable more time would be required before the potential aircraft commander on this crew could complete the air-to-air refueling with any degree of success. Experience of this Wing has shown that the normal crew training time required on this phase of training is 10 hours. RAF Crew Number One completed the air refueling training in 11 hours and RAF Crew Number Two completed the air refueling training in 13 hours. With the exception of the air refueling phase of this training program, all three (3) crews successfully completed their air training.
As a check on the capability of the RAF crews and to substantiate their combat ready status, each crew was briefed to fly a simulated combat mission. These simulated missions were flown without instructors and incorporated all phases of a normal reconnaissance mission including in-flight refueling, radar scope and conventional photography. The RAF Crew Number Three was flown by a combat ready aircraft commander of the 91st Strat Recon Wing. All of these missions were completed successfully and photo results were forwarded to higher headquarters for evaluation and observation. As a result of these missions and previous results, RAF Crew Number One and RAF Crew Number Two were considered Combat Ready by Headquarters 91st Strat Recon Wing. RAF Crew Number Three, with the exception of the aircraft commander, was also considered to be in a Combat Ready status.
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Old 2nd Sep 2009, 16:22
  #107 (permalink)  
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Information from US

ECMO1


Many thanks for that information, it fills in a lot of gaps from Sqd Ldr John Crampton's article. I have been asked to give another talk in October to the North Lincs Branch of the ACA. This time, on "Russian overflights by the RAF during the Cold War", so will use John's article & the information that you have supplied ECMO1 on "Operation Ju Jitsu" & the daring "Operation Robin" mission to Kapustin Yar. I can't wait to see your next update, as it is of real interest.
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Old 2nd Sep 2009, 22:11
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Research... I have a plan

I think this is a great topic for further research. And I'm in the invidious position of being able to get some talented people to 'voluntarily' look at it over the next year. Lets see what we can deliver...they/he/she may need your help.

Rock
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 13:08
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More info from AFHRA

Further to my last posting, here is the additional history source I was able to gather at Maxwell AFB.

Source: USAF Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery AL
K-WG-91-HI, Supplement to May 1952 Historical Report of 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Note: I’ve left off the footnotes in the text since they all reference Ibid and I didn’t start copying until after the first reference source.

Covering pages 2 - 5:

Upon arrival at RAF Station Sculthorpe, a new development in the operation confronted the detachment. A directive was received from Headquarters, Seventh Air Division, to transfer the RB-45C aircraft to the Royal Air Force. Immediately the aircraft were repainted, obliterating the stars of the United States Air Force, and substituting the red, white and “bull-eyes” of the RAF. The transfer was completed on 5 April 1952 when the RAF accepted the 263 equipment from Lt. Colonel Marion C.Mixson, Detachment Commander.

A special Duties Flight, commanded by Squadron Leader John Crampton, was formed of RAF personnel who had received training in the RB-45C at Lockbourne, and had acquired additional training with the present detachment of the 91st Strat Rcn Wing at Sculthorpe. Three (3) reconnaissance crews were formed of these personnel and were assigned to fly the jet aircraft. Three (3) USAF air crews thus relieved of duty assignments, were then returned to the Zone of the Interior.

The operations which followed the transfer of aircraft, were conducted under the joint supervision of the RAF Bomber Command and Seventh U.S. Air Division. The mission of the detachment was twofold in purpose. First to co-operate with the RAF Photo Reconnaissance Unit at RAF Station Upwood in the accomplishment of a photographic project utilizing the APQ-24 radar equipment with certain modifications. Secondly to evaluate USAF aircraft and profile type missions by RAF crew personnel. During the project, a number of profile missions were executed and the operation was climaxed by two (2) highly successful maximum efforts. Further information concerning the flying operations of the Detachment will be included in a subsequent section of this report.
Upon completion of the project as set forth by RAF Bomber Command and Seventh U.S. Air Division, the Detachment prepared for return to it’s home station, Lockbourne Air Force Base Ohio. Included in this preparation was the return of the RB-45C aircraft to the USAF, which was concluded with the transfer of 263 equipment on 5 May 1952.

The six (6) tanker aircraft departed RAF Station Sculthorpe, England, on 7 May 1952, and arrived at Lockbourne the following morning. The four (4) reconnaissance aircraft, (three (3) flown by RAF crews and one (1) flown by a USAF crew), departed Sculthorpe on 9 May 1952 and arrived Lockbourne on 11 May 1952. The latter four (4) aircraft remained at Keflavik, Iceland for nearly two days due to adverse weather conditions at the next refueling point of Goose Bay, Labrador.

The total strength of the organization while on temporary duty in the United Kingdom, included two hundred and twenty (220) USAF personnel and nine (9) RAF personnel. Thirty-seven (37) officers and one hundred eighty three (183) airmen comprised the total USAF strength while the RAF personnel included five (5) officers and four (4) airmen.

Flown by RAF personnel, the RB-45C aircraft completed nineteen (19) profile missions and two (2) highly successful maximum efforts of three (3) aircraft each. Sixty five thousand, eight hundred and five (65,805) gallons of fuel were transferred during the in-flight refueling operations. Of this total, forty eight thousand, six hundred and five (48, 605) gallons of fuel were transferred during the completion of the profile missions, while a total of seventeen thousand, two hundred (17,200) gallons were received by jet aircraft while accomplishing the maximum effort requirements. During the first maximum effort flown on 12 April 1952, the total fuel transferred was four thousand, one hundred (4,100) gallons and the total RB-45C flying time was sixteen (16) hours and ten (10) minutes. On 17 April 1952, the second maximum effort was flown during which time, the three (3) jet aircraft compiled a total time aloft of twenty four (24) hours and twenty (20) minutes, and received thirteen thousand, one hundred (13,100) gallons of fuel in air refueling. Forty one (41) sorties were flown by the RB-45C type aircraft. This figure includes the profiles and maximum efforts described in the preceeding subparagraph. Of the total sorties, twelve (12) were test flights and four (4) were for training purposes only. The total flying time amassed by the reconnaissance aircraft was one hundred eighty five (185) hours and fifty (50) minutes.

Upon completion of each mission, the exposed photographic film was delivered by courier, to Headquarters Seventh Air Division, South Ruislip, England. It was then forwarded to RAF Bomber Command for evaluation. No written evaluation reports were received by the Detachment, however, according to verbal reports, the missions were generally very successful.
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 18:06
  #110 (permalink)  
 
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MiG-17 Shootdown of USAF C130

Not RAF but NSA have just released a load of interesting information on a USAF sigint C130 shot down over Armenia in Sept 1958


C-130 Shootdown - NSA/CSS
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Old 10th Sep 2009, 12:01
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Operation Ju Jitsu

I have just received a letter from Squadron Leader John Crampton DFC AFC & Bar RAF Ret'd, what a delightful Gentleman. John wrote "Let it be clearly understood from the start - we survived by pure luck".

"Two or three points: We were never told what the operation was all about. Never. It was one of the most difficult aspects about it all. Why were we attached to an elite USAF RB45C Strategic Reconnaissance Squodron? Why didn't the Yanks fly the missions? It was only at the end when I realized that what you do not tell the Squadron Leader and his aircrew they cannot tell the Russians in the unlikely event of their surviving a successful shoot-down".

"You might know about the above by now. In early 1951 The Russians were fed-up with American recce aircraft flying over their territory and so Kruschev got on the hot line to Washington and told Harry Truman that Russia would consider it a act of war if America sent one more recce aircraft over their Country. This put the wind up the American President who sent for General Curtis E LeMay, C in C Strategic Air Command, and told him - no more recce aircraft over Russia.................
LeMay went immediatly to the Pentagon and called for a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told them it was essential that the target information was obtained. The Russian nuclear targets have to be destroyed in the first ten minutes of WW3 not just the first day. Since the President had banned him from sending any more recce aircraft out would the Joint Chiefs get onto Westminster and ask if the RAF would do the job if neccessary in the USAF's RB45Cs? Attlee, the PM, didn't like it all but his Intellegence blokes persuaded him to at least form an RAF Special Duty Flight only to go out with his permission if all was clear. So Attlee agreed. The VCAS asked Squadron Leader Micky Martin the last surviving Dam Buster pilot to form the Flight but Micky failed his explosive decompression test so it was back to his day job and someone else had to be called. Get Crampton perhaps the only operational type in Bomber Command at that time with jet experience and how that came about is another story altogether".

"Now all you have to do is read my paper that appeared in Air Clues in August 1997. That's what happened".

"One of the stuped things about the flight was that it contained three NCO's. We should all have been officers and lived together in the US Officers Club and Batchelor Officers Quarters. As things were three of my men were in the Enlisted Mens Quarters. A security leak was the problem. The NCO's were subjected to searching questions as indeed the officers were".

"Also the Second Pilots were Flight Engineers incapable of flying the aircraft if the pilot had been hit".

P.S. "Churchill was back in Downing St when we did the two ops in April '52 & '54".
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Old 17th Sep 2009, 13:14
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Operation Robin

Well, here goes. I have done some further investigating from several sources including the CIA Archives (thank goodness for the Freedom of Information Act). As a result I have changed some of the information that I had previously written.

In May 1953, English Electric were producing the Canberra B2. Bomber, when they started the production line for the reconnaissance version, the PR3. Richard Bissell, who was the head CIA person responsible for Russian Overflights asked his Scientific adviser, Richard S Leghorn to research high Altitude aircraft that could help the United States carry out photographic overflights of Soviet territory.

Leghorn was convinced that the Canberra could be the aircraft if it were modified. He insisted that English Electric be invited over to the Wright Air Development Command in Dayton to discuss modifications. They said that the CIA were extreamly impressed with the altitude perfofmance of the B2. (47,000 ft ceiling) and asked the English Electric Designers if there was any possibility that they could extend the length of the Canberra's wings and install more powerful engines, to produce an even higher ceiling. When the Boffins got back to the UK, they felt that their wing design was nigh on perfect, but installed six, more powerful Rolls Royce Avon-109 engines to three Canberra's on the production line (WH726, WJ573 & WJ574). To their amazement, the ceiling on these three aircraft increased from 47,000 ft to 65,000 ft. Which was incredable as this was only 5,000 ft lower than the U-2's ceiling and the U-2. wasn't even on the drawing board at this stage.

British Intelligence had found out that a lot of German WWII missile experts were shipped to Kapustin Yar, South East of Stalingrad to develop missiles by the Russians. No one knew if these were short, intermediate or long range missiles. At this time, the USA did not have a long range, high altitude photo reconnaissance aircraft like the Canberra, so the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA agreed that they would propose that the RAF would carry out a deep penetration mission to Kapustin Yar in a modified Canberra. US President Eisenhower would not give permission for US overflights of Russia. The UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to the RAF undertaking this operation, even though he had reservations about it.

All three aircraft were modified for reconnaissance duties. WH726 was fitted with extra fuel tanks in the bomb bay and was flown to Hanscom Field in the US and had an ultra high quality 100 inch oblique camera, designed by Dr Jim Baker which was on loan to the RAF and was fitted to the Port side of the rear fuselage.

When WH726 flew back to the UK, they did a trial flight by flying up the English Channel and took some high quality photographs of the streets of Central London! The three aircraft were delivered on loan to 540 Sqn at RAF Wyton. On the 27th August 1953, Canberra WH726 who's Crew consisted of Wg Cdr A.W.H.(Freddie)Ball, Sqd Ldr W.N.(Don)Kenyon and Sgt A.J.(Jim)Brown. Canberra WJ574 who's Crew consisted of Fl Lt Garside, Fl Lt Shield (on the 27th August mission) and Fl Lt Reeve (on the 28th August mission) and Sgt Wigglesworth. Both aircraft took off on the 27th August during the day for a practice flight. The normal procedure was once they achieved operating height, the second aircraft would check to make sure that the lead aircraft was not displaying a telltale "contrail".

At about 1:00am on 28th August 1953, both aircraft took off from the American Base at Giebelstadt, which is about 8 miles South East of Wurzburg in West Germany (right on the East German Border). The idea was to fly under cover of darkness and to arrive at Kapustin Yar just after sunrise. WH726 flew via Kiev, Kharkov then south of Stalingrad then turned to Port to head for the missile production and testing grounds at Kapustin Yar. Russian Radar tracked WH726 as soon as it entered Soviet airspace and the Russians vectored fighters to try and intercept the Canberra, but the MiG-15 fighters did not have A.I. Radar and they had to rely on visual sightings, which at night and with WH726 being blacked out would have been impossible.

By the time that WH726 arrived at Kapustin Yar, it was daylight and one MiG-15 Pilot, Lieutenant Mikail Shulga spotted the Canberra several thousand feet above him glinting in the morning sun. He was flying at his maximum altitude which was 47,000 ft, so all he could do was to accelerate in a shallow dive then pulling the MiG-15 into a climb, but his aircraft kept stalling "and nothing came of it", which dispels the stories that WH726 was flying at 47,000 ft also that the aircraft was fired on and badly damaged. A Russian defector, who in 1953 served as an Air Defence Radar Operator and recalls that the Canberra incident was an absolute farce as some MiG-15's were incorrectly vectored and the Pilots were confussed and started firing at each other.

Once the photographs were taken, WH726 turned back on itself and followed the Volga River to the Caspian Sea and then on to Iran (Tabriz airfield). Once the Crew were rested and the aircraft refuelled, it was flown back to Giebelstadt where the film was transported back to the States for processing and analysis.

WH726 went on to fly "Operation Robin" missions along the Eastern Block Countries between 10 and 40 miles outside their Border with the oblique camera. On 1st March 1954, Fl Lt D.C. Downs and Fl Lt J. Gingell flew WH726 back to Hanscom Field in the States to have the 100 inch oblique camera replaced by a 240 inch downward looking LOROP camera fitted in the bomb bay. WH726 continued flying photographic missions till 21nd September 1966 when it was struck off the RAF Inventory and sold to BAC, who converted it to B72 standard. It was then sold on to the Peruvian Airforce.

Many thanks to all the sources, that I have been able to piece this all together.

Last edited by VIProds; 17th Sep 2009 at 15:14.
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Old 18th Sep 2009, 11:00
  #113 (permalink)  

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This one is more and more fascinating! Thanks everyone.
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Old 19th Sep 2009, 07:49
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Kapustin Yar

VIProds,

I'm delighted to find another individual interested in clarifying exactly whether the overflight of Kapustin Yar ever took place. I assume that you have used my article at The Spyflight Website as part of your source material.

Chris Pocock, the aviation journalist and U-2 expert, has probably done more research into the Kapustin Yar overflight than anyone else, including numerous visits to the National Archives where he searched through dozens of de-classified files looking for positive evidence that the sortie took place. Chris has published his findings and conclusion at:The Overflight of Kapustin Yar and Operation Robin

If you haven’t done so already you will see from reading the article that, despite the many references to the sortie in American publications, no official confirmation that the sortie ever took place has been found in any de-classified MOD files. Cargill Hall’s article on Pre-U-2 Cold War Overflights probably contains the most detail on the Kapustin Yar mission, yet it is still not proved possible to confirm the details quoted by cross-reference to any de-classified documents. Just as importantly no individual involved in the sortie has ever publically admitted taking part.

You mention that WH726 was flown to Hanscom Field to have the 100inch camera fitted in 1953. Can you clarify the source for this trip and the date, because as far as I know, the only date that can be positively confirmed is when the 240inch bomb camera was fitted to WH726 in March 1954.

Also the date you quote for the overflight, 28 Aug 53, is very specific, and I assume you believe that the crew of WH726 who undertook the flight on 27th Aug, Wg Cdr Freddie Ball, Sqn Ldr Don Kenyon and Sgt Jim Brown were the crew that made the Kapustin Yar overflight? Yet in the 540 Sqn ORB the sorties undertaken on 28 Aug 53 by these two aircraft are shown as only lasting 2hrs. I haven’t researched what medals they ended up when they finally retired, but this may give a clue.

The quoted use of Giebelstadt for the start of the sortie is very unusual, particularly as Akrotiri or Incirlick and even a base in Iran would have been much closer and an entry point into the USSR from the south would have encountered far less radar coverage. I think the use of Giebelstadt may be directly linked to the use of an American camera – mounting the sortie from there probably allowed the camera to be given a final once-over and calibrated by American technicians before the sortie took place.

Like you I also believe the crew of WH726 did undertake the overflight some time in the late summer of 1953, but given the secrecy and classification involved, no record would have been made in the ORB and it’s clear from the investigations undertaken by Chris Pocock that any reference to the flight has been very effectively expunged from de-classified files from this period. Sadly I suspect the actual file on this sortie was destroyed many years ago, so perhaps the best solution is to fall back on the Scottish legal judgement of ‘Not Proven’ until more positive confirmation eventually emerges.

I wish you every success in your forthcoming presentation and if you wish to use some of the photos in my article for your forthcoming presentation, or I can assist you in any other way, just let me know.

Heimdall
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Old 19th Sep 2009, 16:21
  #115 (permalink)  
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Kapustin Yar

Heimdall

Many thanks. I used your excellent paper on "Spyflight" for Operation Ju Jitsu and Operation Robin as the basis of my investigation. You are right, I have all sorts of memo's and letters between Bomber Command, Air Ministry, The Secretary of State, The Cabinet and the PM (thanks Dave) on Operation Ju Jitsu, but not a sausage on Operation Robin.

The only two official mentions are in a Memo from Bomber Command to Air Ministry stating that "we will have to wait until late 1952 before a Canberra PR3. will be ready". Also, in John Crampton's article where there is a very professional looking chart of Europe and Russia, showing the three routes for the April 1954 Operation Ju Jitsu mission, but also for the August 1953 route (WH726) which starts at Giebelstadt and follows John Crampton's out leg i.e. Giebelstadt - Prague - Krakow - Kiev - Karkov and Stalingrad.

I took the information on the more powerful Rolls Royce Avon-109 engines from the CIA Archives, a document entitled "The CIA and the U-2 Program" by Gregory W. Pedlow & Donald E. Welzenbach Chapter 1 Page 5.

Cargill Hall asserts that "the RAF flight was part of Operation Robin and flown by a Canberra B2. carrying a 100 inch lens. It took off in late August 1953 from Giebelstadt, Germany" Paul Lashmar contacted former 540 Sqn aircrew and states that Fl Lt Gingell remembers flying WH726 to the US in Spring 1954. The RAF Wyton ORB confirmed that this aircraft departed 1st March 1954 for six weeks.

Again from the CIA Archives on page 189 of "Intelligence and National Security". Chris Pocock checked RAF Wyton ORB to see "On 1st March 1954 No58 Sqn sent Fl Lt DC Downs and Fl Lt J Gingell to the US for Operation Robin, originally planned as a two-week joint RAF/USAF trial, but extended to six weeks. They returned on 10th April 1954 and during this month WH726 was attached to the Squadron for Operation Robin. Cargill Hall has photographs of WH726 being modified to take the 240 inch camera and even though they are not dated, Chris Pocock believes they were taken in 1954.

The Public Records Office, Air/1106 (Project Robin) has three papers still missing, but a Memo from June 1955 (to & from the Vice - Chief of Air Staff) reveals that "Robin" received UK Political approval in June 1953. A specially modified Canberra fitted with an American 240 inch focal length lens camera would be used to photograph special targets near the Russian Border and Satellite frontiers. The flights would be 10 miles inside Western airspace. Neatly missing out the deep penetration to Kapustim Yar.

Last edited by VIProds; 22nd Sep 2009 at 11:46.
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Old 26th Sep 2009, 21:25
  #116 (permalink)  
 
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I have been asked by VIProds to post the following picture, and am happy to do so:



Sorry for the delay VIProds.

STH
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Old 27th Sep 2009, 08:27
  #117 (permalink)  
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Operation Ju Jitsu & Operation Robin

Many thanks STH

I believe this chart to be from the USAF, as it show Fairford, Sculthorpe and Giebelstadt which were all American Air Force Bases.

In the Key on the top left corner, it shows the April 1954 "Ju Jitsu" mission, but inadvertantly also shows the August 1953 "Robin" mission, not only that you can see that the Robin mission starts at Giebelstadt and follows a similar route to John Crampton's out leg i.e.

Giebelstadt - Prague - Krakow - Kiev - Kharkov & Stalingrad.

Last edited by VIProds; 27th Sep 2009 at 16:57.
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Old 27th Sep 2009, 15:06
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Map

VIProds

I'm not sure exactly when this map first appeared, but it did not accompany John Crampton's first article on Op Ju-Jitsu entitled 'Russian Photo Shoot' in the Aug 1997 edition of Air Pictorial.

As far as I am aware a version of this map first appeared in Cargill Hall's article 'The Truth about Overflights' in the Spring 1997 edition of 'The Quarterly Journal of Military History'. The map accompanying this article also includes the route of the Fairford based RB-47E's overflight of Murmansk in May 1954. It's in this article that Cargill Hall gives the most detailed account of the overflight of Kapustin Yar, including the month, Aug 1953, that he believes it occured, but he does not mention a specific date.

Of course it's interesting to speculate why Cargill Hall, who after all was the National Reconnaissance Office historian for many years, would choose to include so much detail if the flight never actually took place?

Heimdall
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Old 27th Sep 2009, 17:14
  #119 (permalink)  
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Tornados Over Russia - Secret Flights Revealed

Heimdall

You are right, I never scanned any of the photographs or charts from John Cramptons article. I created a folder and saved them electronically from other sources, as they were were the same photos that appeared in the article, as you rightly said, there was no chart, sorry for any confussion. I have removed any mention of it appearing in the article. I actually got the chart and some of the photos from data-freeway. com
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Old 29th Sep 2009, 13:14
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Russian overflights 1954

I was fascinated to pick up this reference to RB-45 recce flights and to Mr Llewelyn. I would like to make email contact with the writer of this particular entry if he recalls Lew as I am writing a life History of him.
Many thanks in advance.
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