How the Navajo Nation helped the Soviet Union by decreasing a combat readiness of the Strategic Air Command

In the 60’s SAC began an extensive training on low level flight to give its pilots much needed skills to penetrate Soviet radar coverage and to avoid being shot down by anti-air defences. There were a special training routes set in the Continental United States – an ‘Oil Burners’ (sometimes crews flew this routes 300 feets or 91 metres above ground) which allows to experience a difficult approaches and to learn how to overcome a turbulence on such low altitudes.
Earl McGill mentioned an episode about one of such routes:
[…] there was another Oil Burner that was every pilot’s favorite. From the entry point near Farmington NM we flew west across the Navajo Reservation at low altitude, detouring to avoid Navajo Mountain, before dipping into the Grand Canyon, terrain following the Colorado River until popping up over the rim and attacking the RBS (radar bombing score) train at St. George, UT. It was a fabulous experience, as well as unbelievable that we were being paid to fly through the top-rated wonder of the world. One day we were wending our way down the mighty Colorado below the canyon rim. I was feeling smug and full of myself for accomplishing such a ‘daring feat’ when I spotted a civilian sightseeing Goonie Bird several hundred feet below us. Another time we popped over the North Rim and scattered the largest herd of deer I’ve ever seen – a sighting that took place literally in the blink of an eye. I loved the Grand Canyon Oil Burner for its scenic wonders, but the Navajo said we were desecrating their holy mountain and gave us the boot – boot – rightfully so, I believe.
Excerpts from Earl J. McGill’s book ‘Jet Age Man: SAC B-47 and B-52 Operations in the Early Cold War’.
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LeMay’s first flight to Germany

Piece of air war over Europe history. 305th Bomb Group in January of 1943. The first raids were flied in December 1942 and LeMay still developing his doctrine of using the bombers in tight formations. Luftwaffe has not transferred yet the most experienced fighter squadrons from the Eastern Front and resistance over targets was moderate – few fighters and flak which was not very effective at the earlier stages of bombing campaigns (in the later stages it wasn’t too effective either – too many shots were needed to bring down the B-17; fighters did most of the job).
When Germans fortified their air defence with more fighters on more faster and better armed planes the bombing campaign has become more gruesome.
This particular propaganda film deals with the very first raid of an VIII Air Force on German city of Wilhelmshaven.
It is worthy to note that the man who was interviewed after LeMay is Ralph Nutter, who was a law student in Harvard before the war; when his tour in Europe was over he voluntarily transferred to XX Air Force in the Pacific (under command of Possum Hansell). Throughout his two tours he was a navigator. After the first couple of missions he became a lead navigator of the 305th Bomb Group (means he fly lead aircraft with LeMay and plotting course during the flight for the entire group). After the war Nutter passed the bar, served in a court, had a private practice and eventually became a judge in Los Angeles. In 2001 he was appointed as a Federal Judge (Federal District Court, Ninth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court). Nutter wrote a memoirs about his wartime experience which giving some insights on personalia of LeMay and Hansell “With the Possum and the Eagle, The Memoir of a Navigator’s War over Germany and Japan”.
The film presented is uncut, and that mean that there’s a few things that were not included in the official chronicle, such as sarcastic chuckles of LeMay (which is unusual to see giving his customary public image) or aviators who were swearing on camera.

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Nuclear deterrence and its effects

Reading through Phillip S. Meilinger’s monograph “Bomber, The Formation and Early Years of Strategic Air Command” I stumbled upon an interesting idea. He writes that:
“And, of course, technology was central to the development of atomic weapons themselves. The bombs dropped on Japan in August 1945 were, for all their extraordinary power, crude devices of great weight and size. As nuclear scientists continued to learn, the bombs they built grew smaller and more powerful, culminating in the thermonuclear revolution that measured power in megatons, not kilotons. At the beginning, however, the secrets of the bomb and its manufacture— indeed, even the number of bombs that existed — were so closely guarded as to cause paranoia among airmen. The basic function of strategic bombing, integral to the Air Force, was dependent upon a weapon over which it had no control and little insight into its design and availability. That would change with the Korean War, but it was not an easy path to that point. Moreover, Korea demonstrated that nuclear war was not inevitable. Major conventional operations could occur under the umbrella of nuclear deterrence. War had stepped back two centuries to the age of limited war, although that was not yet realized at the time.”

I’ve underlined an idea, though leaving explanatory text as intact as possible. An interesting construct considering to million of Chinese volunteers in Korea who have participated in battles but still it have some point. Massive armies of conscripts again began to give way to much smaller and professional forces whom conducting limited operations. The characteristic of a hostile forces en masse are also changed back to tribes or small states which have controls over valuable resources or strategic regions. Just like in the second half of 18th century and through the whole 19th.

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For educational purposes

Many of the amateur researchers or those who just interested in history doesn’t know that there’s a plenty of possibilities to acquire a book, thesis, manual or even an actual document regarding the object of interest.
As to an US Air Force there’s a few main stops where listed items could be found online. I’ll try and list it here.
  1. Air Force Historical Research Agency
  2. Air Force Historical Support Division (latter Office)
  3. The Air University Press
  4. Air and Space Power Journal
It’s a good places to begin. The same goes for Army, Navy and Marine Corps – they have similar libraries which allow to read books online. And believe me, all these libraries and collections of magazines back issues are worthy.
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Strategic Air Command and Atomic Diplomacy

A thesis for those who interested in whether US was capable of using an atomic weapons in Korean war or not and what role Curtis LeMay had played in the nuclear diplomacy of Truman.
  1. When the situation on a Korean peninsula became dire and the Communists forces had overwhelmed UN soldiers General MacArthur have asked for sending more troops as a reinforcements so he could held up the southern tip of the peninsula from the ongoing assault.
  2. First proposition to give General MacArthur the authority to use atomic weapons was made by a General Omar Bradley in JCS meeting on 8th or 9th July of 1950 (he in turn learned this from General Vandenberg and was less than enthusiastic about it until the JCS meeting).
  3. JCS postponed the decision on sending more troops to Korea on MacArthur’s request and ruled out Bradley’s suggestion deeming that using of atomic weapons there to stop enemy invansion would be less likely decisive (JCS took into consideration doubts of Admiral Forrest Sherman that MacArthur was exaggerating the direness of the situation).
  4. For devising a most feasible approach on matter of using of atomic weapons in Korea JCS dispatched Generals Joseph Lawton Collins and Air Force Chief of Intelligence Charles Cabell for evaluation of situation. Yet initial ground situation was stabilizing and MacArthur though previously discussing with his staff using of A-bombs, was in favor to delay of implementing such measures. This and overall optimistic mood in MacArthur and his staff reassured Collins and he announced that there’s no need to use atomic weapons in Korea.
  5. Though the first SAC nuclear-configured bombers (i.e. capable of carrying atomic bomb) was deployed to Britain in the late June of 1950 the decision of such deployment in South-East Asia was made only three weeks later, almost at the end of July. It is worthy to note that this was only deployment of ships able to carry devices, not devices itself. Britain were against escalation with Soviet Union and China and reluctant to allow USA to put atomic weapons on the British soil.
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Custers: From Horses to Jet Fighters

Did you knew how many descendants of a Custer family served in the US Army since the death of theirs famous ancestor?
Well, I’ve dig some books and websites of some American genealogical societies and want to share what I’ve found.
First of all – if you hate GAC and the whole thing about him, stop the reading, please. It’s a simple story about simple and not-so-distinguished men who served in the military, bearing the name of the man who with almost every male member of the family rode into the Valley of Death to fight his last battle. No one of Custers fled, unlike his batallion commanders. It should counts for something.
As you know George A. Custer had three brothers who survived childhood (another two died as babies) – Boston, Thomas and Nevin.
Although he was married George never had any children (because of gonorrhoea he contracted during his Point years). Boston and Tom never been married. It fell to Nevin, youngest of Custer’s lineage to continue the family tree. And that he did. He left a son, named James Calhoun Custer who in his turn brings the Custer family into a new century.
About those men I’d like to tell.
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