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Aerospace Science Part 2 with Scott Davison | Starting Strength Radio #93

Mark Rippetoe | January 29, 2021

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Mark Wulfe:
From The Aasgaard Company Studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry... The one true voice in the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back to Starting Strength Radio. We are as usual here on Friday. And this particular Friday, we were in search of a more interesting topic than dealing with your bullshit questions like we did past couple of times. And you know, your questions are at times interesting, but we have you know, I think we've got higher standards than that don't you? Rusty, do you think that?

[off-camera]:
Oh, yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, we can do better than that. We can do better than the Q&A bullshit.

[off-camera]:
Just answering the same questions over and over again.

Mark Rippetoe:
The same questions over and over again. We can do better than that. So this time we're going to do better than that. One of our favorite shows, one of the one of the shows that we get the most compliments on is the one where we talked with our friend Scott Davison about what the hell did we talk about?

Scott Davison:
We called it B-52s and the Cold War.

Mark Rippetoe:
B52s and the Cold War or something like that. So, you know, Scott came up to the gym last night and he and I were sitting around shooting the shit and we said, hell, you know, we could talk about all kinds of interesting stuff. So tonight we're going to kind of reprise that that first show and we're going to talk about airplanes and weapons. Airplanes and weapons, every guy's favorite topic.

Scott Davison:
Nothing's more fun.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nothing's more fun than airplanes and weapons. So the girls are probably all saying to themselves, you know, let's go watch an incredible lightness of bein, again, you know. And the guys are all going, yeah, airplanes and weapons! So I understand the girls are bailing, but we don't have a... They don't comprise a huge percentage of the audience anyway, and that's just the way the demographics of our shit here works, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
When was the last time, in fact, that we had more than five women at the seminar? It's been a long time and it's been a long time, we usually have two or three girls at the seminar and then the rest of them are guys.

[off-camera]:
And they're being dragged in by their significant others.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Yeah, they didn't want to be there, but they showed up anyway. Oh, we have every once in a while we'll have six, maybe seven girls like once every three years we'll we'll do something like that. But this is... These topics that we deal with are typically, you know, male kind of things. And that's not our fault. I mean, we don't... It's not like we keep women from signing up, is it? Have you ever had somebody try to sign up and you had to say, no you're a girl.

Bre's never turned a girl away from the from the seminars, just, you know, this kind of shit we do is just kind of male. Well, I didn't want to get into that, but, you know, so here we are. I mean, this is kind of like a start, a seminar kind of thing, you know, it's mainly guy stuff and girls don't like that. You know, we can I tell you what we'll do. We'll have a we'll have a podcast one time on the incredible lightness of being will that...will that satisfy everybody? Would you girls be happy with that if we did it?

[off-camera]:
Hey, there might be a couple of them that are really into B52s.

Scott Davison:
Hey, there's female B52 crew members now.

Mark Rippetoe:
How about first seat pilots?

Scott Davison:
There's some. There's a few.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, somebody's got to fly the damn things, right? And if the Pentagon wants it to be girls, then girls fly the damn things.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well let's talk about the damn things. You want to start with weapons or airplanes? So let's do airplanes first since airplanes deliver weapons.

Scott Davison:
So what do you want to know?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, really, an airplane is a weapon isn't it?

Scott Davison:
A military plane, a combat airplane is.

Mark Rippetoe:
A combat airplane is actually technically the same thing as a rifle.

Scott Davison:
We call them weapon systems. So B52 weapon system, F16 weapon system.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the B 52 weapons system is comprised of the airplane, the crew and the ordinance? And that that all comprises the weapon system.

Scott Davison:
I would say so.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So who is in charge of this system?

Scott Davison:
The job title is Crew Commander or Pilot, the guy in the left seat. On all airplanes except helicopters, the guy on the left side is the senior pilot. So in my day when we had crews always stuck together, the job was called crew commander, you know, and you're addressed each other on the interphone, by what seat you're sitting in. So if you if you put the navigator in the IP seat to give him some experience, when you talk to him, you call him co-pilot or IP, even though he's a navigator.

Mark Rippetoe:
Hmm. OK. That way everybody knows who they're listening to and talking to.

Scott Davison:
You're talking to the seat on Interphone, whoever's in it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because the seat is the job, right?

Scott Davison:
Because on interphone you got to be careful you communicate properly. Yeah, you don't do thing, you don't say the word "fire" unless you mean it, you know. You don't discuss "maybe we should bail out." Someone's going to misconstrue that and pull ejection.

Mark Rippetoe:
And bail the fuck out. So no joking around.

Scott Davison:
No, not with certain words.

[off-camera]:
Scott, has it happened before?

Scott Davison:
The one I know of was there was a gunner who went to sleep on climb out. And on initial level off the co-pilot was flying the airplane and the pilot could see that he was going to overshoot the level. He's going to climb through his assigned altitude. So he waited for him. And when they when the co-pilot indeed went through the altitude, the pilot in the left seat started yelling at him. Level out, level out, level out. Well, they zero g the airplane. The gunner woke up with somebody screaming "out" on the interphone. So he did.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, my God.

[off-camera]:
Did he survive?

Scott Davison:
He did. He did. Yeah. But it was...

Mark Rippetoe:
You know I wonder how he explained that later. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I'm sorry I was asleep. Yeah. How did the tail gunner in a B52 fall asleep? That was a tired motherfucker.

[off-camera]:
He just probably booted him right out. Yeah.

Scott Davison:
I really don't know what the aftermath was on that, but I always thought about what how do you report back to the command post on this? We have a change to our flight orders? Got a different list of people. Took off was one more than we're going to land with?

Mark Rippetoe:
That's not supposed to be the case.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the B 52, what an interesting aircraft. We talked about the B 52 last time, but this this fascinating device was developed in the early 1950s. And I think the oldest airframe or the newest airframe in the inventory right now was built in what...

Scott Davison:
61, early 60s, no later than 62.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we're still flying this airplane. Sixty years later.

Scott Davison:
Sure. Because it still does stuff to no other airplane can do.

Mark Rippetoe:
Isn't that just amazing? I mean, it's just absolutely amazing. There's just there are a few aircraft that that have been developed by the the air forces of the world and the aerospace companies of the world and the B 52 and the C47. I mean, you just you know, you can't do without those.

Scott Davison:
KC 135. You can't you can't overstate the importance of the KC 135 and air refueling in general. U.S. air forces is almost universally air refuelable. Almost everybody does it. And during a Cold War that US capabilities that other countries couldn't even think about.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nobody else had that kind of capability?

Scott Davison:
They didn't have the massive capability that we had. You know, virtually everybody's refuelable now. The tankers are refuelable, not the KC 135, but the KC 10s are and the new tankers, which can't remember the designation. So the guys who pass fuel also receive fuel.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you're flying a KC 10, who can you refuel? Smaller aircraft. Right?

Scott Davison:
And or another KC 10.

Mark Rippetoe:
Or another KC 10.

Scott Davison:
Or a B52. You can refuel almost anybody.

Mark Rippetoe:
The ten can?

Scott Davison:
Yes. The real question is what kind of equipment does the receiver have. Most planes now are being designed so that they refuel with a boom. So the boom operator in the back of the tanker flies the hose into the receptacle and the receiver. OK. But some airplanes, helicopters, for instance, they use was called Probe and Drog. So on the on the on the receiving airplane, there's some sort of pipe that sticks way out. And then the tanker, the tanker just deploys a has a loose hose with an umbrella shaped thing on the end...

Mark Rippetoe:
To stabilize it, flying through the air.

Scott Davison:
And then the receiver has to plug that in. If you're if you're boom refueling... When I was refueling B52s...I just get myself into position underneath the tanker and the boom operator flies that the fuel...

Mark Rippetoe:
He stabs it into the plane.

Scott Davison:
Right. I just position.

Mark Rippetoe:
In the other configuration, it's the receiver...

Scott Davison:
Receiver has got to find that spot, that drogue and stick that probe in there. So helicopters have to be that way, obviously, because you get that rotor.

Mark Rippetoe:
So, yeah, we talked about air refueling last time and it's a fascinating topic. Who thought that up? What lunatic thought that let's let's fill another airplane up all the way to the top with gas.

Scott Davison:
Some of these great pioneers after World War Two came up with this idea. You know, the very first air refueling was done two planes just flew in vertical formation and they dropped, literally dropped a hose down to the other guy who put it into their normal ground refueling receptacle, and they pumped fuel. It was... They proved the concept usable by planes like maybe a year somewhere in there.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, this is a long ass time ago.

Scott Davison:
1920S. Oh, yeah. But of course, it wasn't a routine thing at the time. They just proved the concept that it was possible. It was it was, again, the Cold War that really provided the impetus to get this really going and get everybody doing this, you know. I've seen I don't know if I'm sure if you look on the Internet, you can find them, but at the the basic B52 school, back when I went, they had a hallway that was dedicated to photographs of air refueling incidents. Stuff that went wrong. OK. And some of that you just go...

Mark Rippetoe:
It makes you not want to.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. So how does it even happen? You know, I remember seeing a picture of one that had a boom from a KC 135 stuck through the engine, pod of a B 52, like an arrow shot through it. How do you miss the thing by that much?

Mark Rippetoe:
There's a bump in the air.

Scott Davison:
Yeah, I get, but that would take a real big bump.

Mark Rippetoe:
But I don't understand how any of this is done anyway. I mean, is the air that calm at 38000 feet?

Scott Davison:
Generally it is. It is. But you just have to it doesn't matter. You just got to play through it. You need the fuel, you know, you just got to.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you got IFR going on and you're you're flying through clouds and you are relying only on instruments and and there is turbulence and weather, it doesn't matter.

Scott Davison:
You go.

Mark Rippetoe:
You have to refuel.

Scott Davison:
What might happen as you might get disconnected a few times because you just can't stay in position because of the turbulence. But I refueled at night in the weather more times than I can count. You just... It's time to you do it, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, I guess you've got no other option, do you?

Scott Davison:
Where were you on training sorties...

Mark Rippetoe:
Well on training sorties you can turn around, go home. But if you're not, if you're actually on a mission someplace...

Scott Davison:
You've got to get it. You need the fuel to get the mission done, You do it, you know. Right. What choice do you have?

Scott Davison:
But it's it's it's indescribably difficult to do. It's the most difficult thing I've ever done in my whole life.

Mark Rippetoe:
Difficult to to I, I still have no idea what the hell you guys do to make that happen. I can imagine flying in a straight line. Right. And I can imagine everything, you know, we got gigantic surfaces in contact with huge amount of air flying through clear air and everything's fairly stable. Right. But how big a bump can that hooked up apparatus actually tolerate?

Scott Davison:
Well, on a KC 135 we had to keep our refueling receptacle in a four foot cube of space, four feet on each side. We got outside that it would automatically disconnect us.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it disconnects. And a valve closes, so it doesn't spray fuel all over.

Scott Davison:
Yeah, there's a little bit of spray comes out of the tanker, but it's just it's just a little mist. And you can see it if you look at videos of air refueling, when they disconnect, you'll see that little...

Mark Rippetoe:
But they're not eight or nine pounds of fuel sprayed all over.

Scott Davison:
No.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it's a pretty good little disconnect system.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. And now it's a really mature system. Decades of of learning how to do all this, you know, and it's gotten pretty reliable. Although we did have one airplane during Desert Storm that he had a malfunction on the receiver and he couldn't get his fuel so he had to abort the mission, divert to another place. It was a refueling and some I don't remember what the malfunction was in the receiver, but there was something wrong. It could happen.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you leave, you leave the base in in North Dakota and you're on a mission that lasts 20 hours. That's typical, right?

Scott Davison:
That's typical...that's on the long side.12 hour training sorties were typical. Now they're shorter. They don't go on low-level routes anymore, for instance, and we used to spend up to four hours on low-level. So that's just been subtracted from the missions now, I gather.

Mark Rippetoe:
Really? They these different aircraft for that now?

Scott Davison:
A they yeah... going low level is really hard on the structure of a B52. They did it for decades, you know, and it got to where it's just not smart to do anymore is too much fatigue.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because of the buffeting it takes, because of the ground topography?

Scott Davison:
When you're low, there's always turbulence, always. Plus the way the controls work, it makes the wings flex a lot. You know, they're designed to flex quite a bit, but all of that still induces fatigue, metal fatigue.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right, they're 60 years old. Let's not flex them any more than we need to.

Scott Davison:
Exactly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Well, so in a course of a of a 12 hour training sortie, how many times you fuel?

Scott Davison:
Once.

Mark Rippetoe:
That'd be once.

Scott Davison:
But you're going to be on that boom for 45 minutes, an hour, maybe more.

Mark Rippetoe:
To fill the airplane back up.

Scott Davison:
On training sorties we didn't fill up. We didn't need the fuel. We needed the practice.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Oh, you just topping off. Run it through the procedure.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. We'd take maybe 10000 pounds which to us is nothing.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if but if you're going, say, from Minot, North Dakota, over the top of the Arctic and down the eastern coast of Asia to the Philippines. And you're going to you're going to destroy Manila, right, and then you're going to fly back to Minot, North Dakota. How many times do you fuel in that kind of an insane - but that's that's a typical deal, right?

Scott Davison:
I mean, yeah, that's a typical contingency type. Yeah. Yeah, right. Well, again, there's a lot of variation depending on how are you going to go to a level how high are you going to be. What's the payload you got. But I would say typically you'd probably need three or four tankers from that.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you'd hook up three or four times.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. During Desert Storm...

Mark Rippetoe:
For an hour at a time.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. As long as it takes to get the fuel that might be an hour. Because we could not take if the tanker turned on all those pumps, it was more pressure than our manifold could take. So it had to be a little patience in there, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. You've run it to sixty-five percent or so.

Scott Davison:
Well, I'll give you an example. During Desert Storm, again, my unit was deployed to RAF Fairford in central England. And every day we flew combat sorties all the way to Iraq and back to England. So the short ones were 17 hours long and the required one tanker prior prior to the target and two tankers to get back. This is B52s versus KC 135 tankers.

Scott Davison:
So I'm trying to remember... Tanker could offload to us in a max gross weight of about two hundred seventy five thousand, of which probably 200000 was fuel we could pass. I'm really stretching my memory here. So, you know, it might take you might take on a total load of four or five hundred thousand pounds in the route. The thing the thing burns massive amounts of fuel. We had a canned figure that it took us 4000 pounds to start the engines and get to the runway.

Mark Rippetoe:
Just to move the aircraft into position to take off.

Scott Davison:
You put eight of those old technology engines, start running fuel through them, they're going to they're going to eat a lot of fuel.

Mark Rippetoe:
And yeanm I think we talked last last time about the design of the B 52, the whole damn thing is a tank. The entire internal volume of of the wing is full of liquid fuel.

Scott Davison:
Right and the top of the fuselage spine is all liquid fuel.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is all liquid fuel. Everywhere in the fuselage that's not bombs is fuel.

Scott Davison:
Bombers, since they were invented in World War One, have been fuel trucks. Because range and payload is what you need. So they're all fuel trucks. You know, three quarters let's see.. We we had a max gross rate, 488000 pounds of which I think about 315,000 could be fuel. So what, that 75 percent of your weight, something like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
75 percent of the weight of the payload or the weight...

Scott Davison:
Total gross weight of the weight of the airplane.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is 75 percent

Scott Davison:
Rough give or take, you know. Yeah. Could be.

Mark Rippetoe:
That might be added to that, might be replenished three times during the course of the...

Scott Davison:
But that's what gave it it's it's fantastic legs, you know. We used to fly these in the Cold War days. We would fly these over open ocean, hunt down the Soviet ship missions. Those might be 20 hour missions, might require three tankers, but most of it was at high altitude. More fuel efficient at high altitude.

Mark Rippetoe:
40000 feet?

Scott Davison:
Usually not that high 30 to 35. Something like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
About airliner cruising altitude.

Scott Davison:
The airliners like that, 35 to 40 for fuel efficiency. But of course, out of the open ocean, we're not on a flight plan or anything. Not in bombers. You just... We either file a false flight plan or we would file anyone at all because the flight plan systems are open computers Soviets could hack.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you didn't want anybody...stef was showing me last night a website. Apparently there are two or three websites right now... have you seen these things? where all the airplanes in the air at any given time appear on the on the on the screen.

Scott Davison:
Adsb exchange dot com. Fascinating website. I've spent hours looking at that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Adsb exchange dot com.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. And you can click on on any of the targets and it'll give you all the information it has on it.

Mark Rippetoe:
About the airplane. Yeah. That's what she showed me last night.

Scott Davison:
You can isolate just military planes, you know. Yeah. Some of which won't tell you what kind of plane they are because they're...

Mark Rippetoe:
X, x, x shows up, right.

Scott Davison:
Because it's not public information. So that's I mean I'm always on that website.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. That's pretty cool. And I didn't know of its existence until she showed me last night. Yeah.

Scott Davison:
That's a that's a great website.

Mark Rippetoe:
She also told me last night that her grandfather was a flew B 17s in World War Two. Now those guys... There's a whole different approach to to killing people and breaking things.

Scott Davison:
I can't imagine that job. I you know...

Mark Rippetoe:
It's the air. The aircraft itself has not got a pressurized cockpit. So at 10000 feet or 12000 feet, what was the actual service ceiling in that silly thing? Fourteen. Fifteen thousand?

Scott Davison:
Oh, I think a little higher. Maybe 20. I don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
But how do you function at 20000 feet for any length of time?

Scott Davison:
The crew, particularly the waist gunners had electric suits to wear, like electric blankets.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because it is 80 million degrees below zero up there, you know, and it's you know, and there's not any air. I can see how.... Well they covered them up in sheepskin and stuff. Like they kept them kind of warm with clothes. But after a while, the absence of enough air to breathe.

Scott Davison:
Well, they had to provide supplemental oxygen.

Mark Rippetoe:
How did they do that back then?

Scott Davison:
Kind of like they do now. They had oxygen tanks and there was plumbing running through the airplane. You could plug your oxygen mask into a port.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you actually had access to the O2?

Scott Davison:
Oh, you have to. Yeah, yeah. Above above thirteen, 14000 feet. You need supplemental oxygen. Yeah. For most planes they'll provide provided it above 10000 for some safety margin. And it's all it's all about your time of useful consciousness they call it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, yeah. I heard that concept. But those guys. Hell those B17 crews... I mean, if you... What was the average lifespan of those guys was like eight missions?

[off-camera]:
Less than 50 percent was your life expectancy for every single mission.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, the longest living guy flew like, what, 15 missions or something like that?

Scott Davison:
Well, it got better. The reason the Memphis Belle is so famous is because it took like a year or a year and a half for one B17 crew to fly 25 missions and no fatalities. That's why the plane was so famous. And at that time, that was your quota, if you flew 25 missions and were alive, you could go home and that was the odds were against you.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right, right.

Scott Davison:
I can't imagine that. I can't imagine the morale problems they would have had in those squadrons.

Mark Rippetoe:
Can you imagine the loading on your your eighth or ninth mission in a B 17 and thinking to yourself, you know, everybody I know is dead? Everybody I've ever known, all the guys I trained with have been shot down. And here's my ass, you know, getting on this airplane.

[off-camera]:
And the average age was less than 25.

Mark Rippetoe:
All of those all those pilots were kids.

Scott Davison:
I can't imagine being a B 17 pilot because your combat mission is you're going to take off, you're going to be in the middle of a cloud of maybe hundreds of airplanes. And your only job is to not have a midair collision with other airplanes. You can't look out the window, worry about the fighters or the antiaircraft firing. You just got to not have a midair collision for hours on end.

Mark Rippetoe:
With one of your own squadron.

Scott Davison:
Right. And this is going to be five, six, hour combat mission. And you got an antiaircraft fire and fighters trying to kill you and...

Mark Rippetoe:
And really the least of your concerns is dropping bombs on the target.

Scott Davison:
Pilot had no concern with that at all. That was the navigator's did that. The pilot's job was to not have a midair collision. That was his job. I just I can't imagine it. That's beyond my scope. The bomber job I did was so different. We're almost always single ship. You know, it was just me and my five guys and there's no other airplane for me to worry about. You know. So I just can't imagine that it's a complete... Bombing is a completely different job than it was in 1944.

Mark Rippetoe:
When those guys would soon B17s, like, you're going to go make another run over Liebzig. How many are in the squadron?

Scott Davison:
Well, it all depends on what was available, you know, and what the target was.

Mark Rippetoe:
Five or six or 15 or 20?

Scott Davison:
No, a squadron would be 20, 25, something like that. So you would you would launch wings, okay. Wings have multiple squadrons. So a lot of the especially as the war went on, theu launched multiple wings. There might be 500 to B17s attacking that target today. And this was necessary because, by the way, despite its name...

Mark Rippetoe:
500 airplanes in the air all together.

Scott Davison:
Yeah, but the reason why is because despite the name of precision daylight bombing, they estimated that maybe 10 or 12 percent of the bombs would hit in the target box. So you had to send a lot airplanes to make sure enough bombs got in the target box.

Mark Rippetoe:
To actually fuck the thing up that was to be destroyed that day. Well, that is that is interesting.

Mark Rippetoe:
We were talking the other night about about the precision of bombing now. And you told me that you guys operated from 40000 feet and you could put seven hundred fifty pound bombs on top of a target, a relatively small target, from that altitude, and that it was normal for you to be able to not miss with any one of the bombs.

Scott Davison:
Yep. It's common.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now that's a that's a whole different thing. What changed from 1944?

Scott Davison:
Technology. Hell it changed... My first B52 sortie was in 1976. And we couldn't bomb like that then.

Mark Rippetoe:
Could not.

Scott Davison:
No, no.

Mark Rippetoe:
What were you doing then?

Scott Davison:
If you dropped a single simulated nuke from 40000 feet you were thrilled if it hit within four or 5000 feet of the target. And for nukes, that might be OK, depending on the nuke and the target.

Mark Rippetoe:
Close is is OK with nukes and hand grenades and shit fights. But but I mean, four or five thousand foot radius of effectiveness still gives you the ability to to to be effective against that target.

Scott Davison:
Right. It should be. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. And that got better.

Scott Davison:
Technology, computers changed everything man. You know, digital stuff. When I...the computer we're using the bomb with in 1976 was an analog thing full of vacuum tubes and relays, you could actually stand inside that computer. And again, in the good navigator teams were the ones that could get it to work. I'm not exaggerating.

Mark Rippetoe:
They would get the equipment to operate!

Scott Davison:
The radar navigator - who you would call Bombardier - would board the plane with a great big suitcase full of vacuum tubes and relays and stuff.

Mark Rippetoe:
In case he needed it.

Scott Davison:
Yeah, and it was very common to spend your high altitude cruise time after the tanker before Low-Level, the radar navigator standing inside the computer and the navigator's trying to... and they're talking on the interphone you know. Shake that one. Kick that one, replace that one. You know, trying to get stuff to work was really common in those days. Solid-state and transistors and digital changed all that. You know, everything became plug in a new one and it works. Take it out and give it to maintenance. When we get back, they'll put on a bench and figure it out. But we got to replace it, we'll plug it in, you know.

Scott Davison:
Plus the accuracy, just all this computing power, you know. Mm hmm. Remember 1976, there wasn't a desktop computer. It didn't exist yet.

Mark Rippetoe:
For another, what, eight or nine years?

Scott Davison:
Yeah, there was there was programmable calculators. That's the best you could get, you know. And so the digital revolution just changed all this stuff. So much computing power now, you know. When I graduated college in 1974, the University of Minnesota had a computer and it filled a three story building and it was one one thousandth as powerful as your cell phone. So think of that.

Mark Rippetoe:
The college I went to here in town. It was it filled up a large room and it was punch cards was the interface. Punch cards was the interface. And they held class on that old equipment. And every year the class that you had taken last year was irrelevant.

Scott Davison:
Because it's changed. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
But I suppose that at it so at 40000 feet, the things that are going to enable you to drop a bomb out of an aircraft and hit a target on the ground while you're flying at 500 miles an hour are going to be if you can get that data into the computer. You get the temperature and the wind speed and all the all the weather between the bomb bay and the ground. And the airspeed and the precise location of the target that could all be calculated, and you let the computer drop the bomb. And the damn thing goes where it's supposed to. And so that's that's the object, right?

Scott Davison:
Yeah. And remember, we're so far we've talked about unguided weapons. Gravity is the only force pulling that bomb down. A larger and larger percentage of everything the U.S. does and much of the West is is guided weapons. So there's a computer on the weapon that's changing its path, you know. Those are spectacularly accurate, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
In response to changing conditions or in response to changes in the destination of the weapon?

Scott Davison:
Changes in the target, that's pretty new. And there's not still not, as far as what I know that's out there in the general public, that's still not a fully developed thing. But there are weapons... I just read on the Internet about how there's weapons in the testing stage, that the idea is the bomber is going to drop the weapon and it's going to find the target.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's going to decide what it's going to...

Scott Davison:
It changes priorities.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it'll have orders coming from somebody besides the airplane that dropped it.

Scott Davison:
Right. It's preprogrammed with priorities. So, right. When I dropped it, I wanted to hit Target A, as it fell, it decided that target B is a higher priority and so it changed its course. That's pretty new technology. You know, but guiding on to the targets you had when you released the weapon that's been around since Vietnam. Laser guided bombs were first used in Vietnam. So they would they would just ride the laser beam down, you know?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, that's kind of what the forward controller does, right?

Scott Davison:
That's... He can you know, that that's another one of those really gets into what you're specifics you're talking about. But, yeah, there's a forward air controllers are using this guy. Yeah. They most army units have one associated with them. And it's usually it's an Air Force guy, usually a fighter pilot.

Mark Rippetoe:
Those guys are not really talked about very much. The CCI, Combat Control.

Scott Davison:
Ah combat control team. Yeah, they're pretty hush hush.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's that's not discussed very much. And those are the craziest bastards in the world.

Scott Davison:
Those are snake eaters, those guys. But they're well respected, OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'd have to say that they are. That... Because that job is you have to be absolutely crazy because 100 percent of that job is taken takes place behind enemy lines.

Scott Davison:
Yep. That's their function. And. You know, I don't know the details and nobody told me, but I guarantee you...

Mark Rippetoe:
Essentially they're going and painting an X on the door and saying, kill these guys, but they got to go physically paint the X on the door.

Scott Davison:
Or at least get a laser on them, you know? But, yeah, nobody told me. So I'm not divulging anything here, but I promise you that before we launched our first air raid during Desert Storm that those guys had been on the ground for a long time now.

Mark Rippetoe:
By a long time, you mean a couple of days or...

Scott Davison:
Days to weeks.

Mark Rippetoe:
Days, two weeks. They'd been crawling around on the ground, finding targets...

Scott Davison:
Gathering intel, reporting the weather. You know...

Mark Rippetoe:
This is behind enemy lines where the bombs were going to drop.

Scott Davison:
They go... When you get selected to do this out of boot camp, you're almost two years away from getting qualified. They go to school after school, after school. It's just not because they're qualified. They're meteorologists, they're radio operators. They're radar controllers. They're they're they're infantrymen.

Mark Rippetoe:
They're in charge of a whole bunch of information.

Scott Davison:
Yeah. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
They've been prepared very, very thoroughly.

Scott Davison:
And they can all do one or two other guys jobs in case somebody's a casualty, you know. And they're smart. Absolutely.

Mark Rippetoe:
They're highly intelligent. And they don't worry about things that you and I worry about. Like getting bit by bugs, yeah, just not a factor.

Scott Davison:
No, you have to lay there and be quiet, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
Lay there and be quiet. Doesn't matter what's happening to you.

Scott Davison:
Survival might depend on it, you know,

Mark Rippetoe:
More importantly than that, the mission.

Scott Davison:
Right. So there's a bee sting in your forehead. You have to just sit there. Yeah. Not for me, thanks.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, it's a different type of human being wants to do that. I've met a couple of those guys over the past 20 years and you have to have a lot of respect for that, kind of the kind of focus.

Scott Davison:
And you talk about physical fitness, you know, where.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's not even, it's beyond that.

Scott Davison:
Not a job I'd want to do.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, that doesn't sound like... It's not a job. Not everybody.

Scott Davison:
And if you volunteer for it, it's not to get patted on the back, because nobody's ever going to know you did it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nobody's going to know anything about what you do. Now, I had never heard of this before I met these guys.

Scott Davison:
I was stationed in a station near one of those combat control teams because they have some permanent locations around the globe that they'll deploy out of there, you know, in usually in parts, you know, so they might have 40 guys there, but only ten man teams might deploy or something like that. The year I was near those guys do... They did Halo jumps for training, high altitude, low opening. And they'll jump out of a plane at an altitude that requires oxygen. So they're way up there and then they just freefall.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the point of that is they want they want to drop out of the airplane and somebody's on the ground might be able to see the aircraft, but they would not ever associate that aircraft with somebody jumping out of the damn thing. And then they drop down and open it 800 feet.

Scott Davison:
Last second. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
The last second turn around their wrist or something. And they're on the ground now. That was... Read about that. About the Halo thing, and it might have been in that book about Area 51.

Scott Davison:
I haven't read this, I don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
And that that that is a fascinating book. Yeah, I can't remember the girl's name that wrote it.

Think of it.

She's written several books about this kind of shit. She gets annoying number of things wrong that you can kind of recognize if you know anything at all about this. But Annie Jacobs, Annie Jacobsen looked her up. Well, look, but that like that the whole book about Area 51 is fascinating, but she put some stuff about aliens in there to sell the book. But Area 51 was where they developed aircraft.

Right. The only thing I know about is that's where they train in F1 17 when it was secret.

At 22, I think they called it. But it was. But but Area 51, that whole complex out there.

Was where they developed the U2 and the oxcart. And. The 71, that was what the facility was for.

And all this other shit was just you did an amazingly good job of keeping that stuff classified. Yeah, they really did.

It's. What what's the or why? The CIA's version of the Associated with the wife, 12th wife will well, yes, know. The wired world, that was. Now you talk about cool airplanes, let's go back to airplanes. Everybody's favorite airplane in the whole world is the S.R. 71.

Did you?

Ever know anybody? Well, yeah, I had a blast that flew that airplane.

I had an 06, a full colonel boss that that flew us or 71. And of course, in those days, it was still flying. So he couldn't talk a lot about it. But he did tell me that at the time. I think the Air Force would admit that its speed was in excess of moch, too. I think that was the official release data.

And I asked him about it and he said, well, in excess weight, he said.

Yeah. So they yeah. I don't know that they ever truly declassified all the performance figures. So I think it was amazing. The guys got astronaut wings when they qualified it because of the altitude. They flew out and they flew in a national sweep the whole time because and he did tell me that when you got above a certain altitude, you weren't really flying an airplane anymore. And the first versions of it not aerodynamic, it there's not here air. And he said the first early versions of it were really complicated to fly and a lot of a lot of time, you know, open the nozzles and close knobs and because you're not really flying an airplane. Right. And then they put out when computers got better, they changed it to where it flies like an airplane. So computer does all that stuff and you still have a stick and rudder and trials, you know? And he says it became much easier to fly then.

Well, did you see. Well. We lost Chuck Yeager, yes, a few weeks ago, we lost Chuck Yeager. It's just what a guy? Oh yeah. And and there was that video that that big, long interview he did. And I know Rusty. I know you saw that video, didn't you? I thought you got where, Chuck? It's just matter of fact, talking about, you know, we got the thing up to eighty five thousand feet and and I can't remember what he's actually flying it. This might have been the next one.

Could be.

And he said he got it on up to 85000 feet and they wanted to see what the airplane would do, so I took it on up to one hundred twenty five thousand feet. And just real matter of fact, he's saying he took this thing on up to one hundred and twenty five thousand feet. And then, you know, he pancakes the thing and it starts off a flash.

It went upside down. I did watch this in your office. Yeah.

But just as a matter of fact, he says we took it on up to one hundred twenty five thousand feet. The that the disclosed ceiling of that airplane was 50000 feet, and he's he's talking about Mach four point two. Yeah, well, there's this is this is way before the S.R. 71. Yeah. Way faster.

This guy who knows what he's often told the story on Air Force about a S.R. 71. Their call sign was always blackbirded. Right.

And there's a story and I'm sure that's what you're talking about, the story where they're out in the western United States. And he wanted a speed reading.

Oh, that's a good one, too. That's a good. But now this one is it goes something like this. He calls up he's coming back into the United States. So he calls up an air traffic control center and he requests flight level six zero zero, which is essentially 60000, 65. And a controller comes back, says Cobbe, if you can get up there, you can have it. And he says Blackburne one two will descend and maintain flight level six 00 smartasses.

Will these. But that I think the. There is a. I think there's like an audio recording of the exchange between the yes or 71 crew in the tower, it was just a ground speech.

This is the ground. I've heard something that alleges to be that the ground speed check.

And you had so you had a like a 172, you know, request and a ground speed check from the tower. I mean, two hundred and fifteen miles an hour. At least Smart is flying a 15 or sulfadiazine comeback cell tower with ground speed Jack.

And the guy comes back and says. 610.

75 miles an hour, not, or whatever the hell it was, probably not. And and these guys in the asare said he wanted to listen to the our Calicos but 2750 just to embarrass the guys and fucking with the guy flying the 172.

That was a pretty funny story. And that's on the Internet.

I'm sure there's truth in it. Most of those kind of stories, there's at least some grain of truth in it someplace. Yeah, I'm sure.

Yeah. The guy who was flying the story, 71, is the one that told the story. He said he has some it was some conference he was talking about.

Yeah. Yeah. I think I listen to at least some of that. Yeah. Yeah.

Well we'd we'd also talked about a couple other bombers that our bombers are cool like bombers or cool fast bombers are the coolest airplanes in the world like the the B fifty nine, 58, B. 58 I'm sorry, lessler the hustle. That thing was a Delta wing supersonic bomber, Mach two, right when his operation was the fastest airplane in the world.

Did you know anybody that flew? I did. I had another boss who flew out. Yeah. What did he say about that? He said it was not a pilots airplane, that if you took off with a full load of fuel and they used to carry a single weapon and fuel in a big pot underneath the belly. So you took off with that. It took you many miles to get to a safe flying speed. It took forever. It had just enough thrust to accelerate, you know, like one not per mile or something. Just real nice. It was scary. And once you got the thing up to speed, then it was a much better behaved airplane.

But he also talking about it just didn't behave correctly.

It under the hand while you were accelerating cause it didn't have enough thrust to go fast, you know, yet you had to talk. I had to explain this. You have to get going to a for any airplane, Piper Cherokee, if it gets too slow and sloppy on the controls. Right. Well, the be 58 had just enough thrust to eventually get to these high speeds. Right, if you had a full payload in that big pot underneath. So I had a car that behave that way when the goddamn thing didn't wake up till it was 4000 r.p.m..

Yeah. You know, 800 R.P.M. is like a Volkswagen. Yeah. And then you got it up to 4000 and suddenly Whitehill, this thing is in fact. So then it was similar to the hustles like that on initial take off with that big pot and everything.

So it's much better if you didn't have that pod.

The other thing was designed to drop a nuclear weapon. Single weapon. Yeah. A single nuclear weapon. Yep.

Do not have a big internal had any internal bombi I think that carry that pod. Really. I think that's right. I know conventional bombs on the, on the, on the. Not that I know. Well that's interesting because it was designed to dash in the speed was its protection from, from ground fire. It was just growing so fast nobody could track it. That was the concept.

You get the thing up Dimmock to go over there, drop the bomb, turn around, take whatever how many thousand miles around and come home if you can get back.

Yeah. He also told me on the bomb run at bomb run speeds with all four engines of full afterburner, if one of the outboard engines quit, the plane would come apart. Just wasn't stressed or any kind of sign. So he said it was the only airplane ever flew that when he was scheduled to fly and they came and it came to him and said, you're canceled. Plainsboro keep kind of relieved.

Well, I'll tell you, you I really want to die.

I'll give you the actual figures. One out of four that were ever built was destroyed in an accident. That's got to be the worst safety record of any combat airplane ever won out of love. So he's only served about 10 years and therefore said it's just what replaced the B 52 came along and he was already there.

But the man has decided that the 58 wasn't the mission, was it?

And the performance just wasn't worth the losses they were taken and the expense it was an airplane way ahead of its time, you know.

So this is an airplane that probably would have worked perfectly well with computers. Yeah. That we've got now.

Right. And engines with more thrust right now. Remember, just jet engines were really thrust limited until the 70s. You know, it's what you needed, eight of them because jet engines just didn't put out a lot of power. Right. So they had to put eight on ABC to do. Now, when they put fan jets on the Model B 52, which is the only one left, I got I've got seven 800 hours and models. And you could do almost anything but initial takeoff on two engines as long as it was symmetrical and they were that far ahead.

I mean, you didn't routinely do previous turbo jets.

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And now I can he didn't routinely do this. And the key was symmetrical power. My initial take off at full gross weight, you could usually handle a tailwind, even a full gross weight with two engines out depending on the temperature. Right. Because you had someone would figure out an alert, the duty co-pilot would take today's weather and he would come up with an eight, seven, six engine takeoff performance data. And what you do is get the maximum tailwind you could take, because one of the problems in the sitting on nuclear alert is your there's one primary runway. Right? If you got to use the other one, your launch is going to be much slower because you got to back to actually two miles down that runway. Right. And so you had to know how much tailwind you could take on the primary route. Right. And my memory is carrying that stuff, those H models at full wartime weight. It was frequent. We could take 10 and 15, maybe 20. That's a tailwind even with a couple of engines out, which that is amazing. It's the only bomb only be to those overpowered as the model, the current one.

And they're about to get in. So how many engines are on the edge? Six or eight. Still eight as eight points.

And they're getting real serious. Talk about reimagining the buffalo, the G, I think in Rolls Royce or recompetition to sell them engines. But I think they're going to put it engines on it again. So it's going to be even more. Why not? Yeah, you know, and I think that I think and I'm speculating, but I think when they went to the drawing board to go, how do we design it for four, it was just too much engineering. You know, just let's just put it on it. Plane was designed for eight. Let's put it on. How much more fuel efficient are these new engines or new ones compared to the ones that I flew? And models are probably 40, 50 percent more fuel. I mean, night and day, the jet models are 15 to 20 percent more fuel efficient than the previous ones. But that was a first generation fan jet engine. It basically just took the J4 twin engine that was already there and the first two or three compressor stages, they extended the blades out to make fans and made a fan jet. Yeah, yeah. So what?

So it's just a minor redesign, but it was enough difference that it worked in a different way.

Yeah, yeah. The outer part of those blades is now act as propellers too. And so you get kind of the the benefits of propellers, which is fast response.

So you get some thrust from the rotating assembly right now and not just thrust from the burning fuel.

Exactly. So the performance actually falls off with altitude more than the the jimar, I guess it was propellers falloff in performance at altitude. Right. Because they can accelerate the air a certain amount and that's it. Right. So as you get higher and higher and less and less. Right. But but the model was way more fuel efficient than the G model and didn't require water injection to boost takeoff thrust. So it's another complicated thing that could malfunction and wait. Yeah, you think refueling is crazy, water injected takeoffs, inability to work? I'd say scary, but they weren't quite scary. They were concerning. And we almost always the temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, basically had to use water injection. And once you initiated that water, all you could do, steer the airplane. You couldn't adjust the thrust anymore because if you pulled the power back, water would flame the engine out. So I know of a guy who was killed when he flamed out, eight of them that way, and it'll take all eight engines. He was taking off from what we call minimum interval takeoff behind another 52 when you'd be on the runway simultaneously. And the plan was to stretch the interval to 12 seconds by the time the first guy took off. But you'd start with zero seconds and you'd let the guy, how do you go 12 seconds and then you'd apply take up or the guy behind you would wait 12 seconds. He'd apply take up our right to land.

That was the max density. You could lift off at it. One right after the idea being to escape the incoming submarine launched ballistic missiles, you know.

Right. So it's considered worth the risk. But it was it was risky. I mean, I never did those. Well, we had to keep currency and, you know, you had to do one every six months or something. And they were volunteered to do more than I had to in those days because they're just they're just frightening. And you get airborne into the worst wake terms because you're below and behind a great big heavy guy. Sure. You know, and the yolk would start going stop to stop just to try to keep the wingtips out of the telephone poles. You know, there was just when I look back on it, the safety people would never let you do this anymore. But but it was the only way to get a maximum weight to 52 Jimal in the air or earlier model. So this guy, he was taken off in a G model behind an H model which had the Fantas and at low altitude until the water ran out, that G would actually outperform that H. And so he evidently looked up and had a windscreen full to be fitted to in front of him and reacted like any pilot in World War. He reduced the power, sadly, and reduced the power.

And that really only fuel, but not the water.

Right. The water just went it was on or off. That's it. And so it was still on. So when he pulled the power back, flamed out, eight of them near Sacramento, California, was there anything he could have done to to salvage that he could have done to try to steer out of the way?

But every part of the world is going to react by reducing the thrust. It's just it's built India, you know, right now, I can't remember how many guys go.

That system just worked counter to all your intuition as the pilot.

Yeah, the first time I did when I was young co-pilot and I was I was scared to death. I just I was used to six 6000 foot takeoff rolls no matter what the weight is in an HMO. And then my unit reequipped to GMOs. All the pilots had to get checked out. And the check programs, you would watch one from the IPI seat and then the next time you flew, you would sit in your seat and do it. And I'll never forget sitting in that IPE seat and watching a 65 second takeoff roll. My eyes are getting bigger and bigger. You know, the runway remaining markers are going by and going by go by.

And I'm like, you're still going to start blowing on the windshield.

I was frightened. Little did I know that was going to come another day at the office, you know, because I never flew in each model again after that. So it's amazing how what you can get used to, you know, every feeling, something you get it's a job. You just do it. When I look back at it, I go, that's the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life and really frightening. They have two big airplanes so close together.

You know, the first time you see the whole damn concept is just so crazy. Those of us that, oh, yeah, sit here on the ground.

But there's YouTube videos taken from the bomber cockpit of refueling and it doesn't do it justice. It doesn't really show you how difficult that is. And it's a skill that you just had to I can count on two fingers at times I took off and ability to do and did not plug into a tanker. And nine out of ten of those, I didn't need to feel I needed the practice of plugging it be 47.

Not a cool Boeing product. What a neat airplane that was. They was that a British design? No, no. That's a Boeing. That's a that's a Boeing aircraft. And the the the wing carried on that thing was this is kind of the opposite of a Delta wing. Yeah.

That's highly swept, but it's fairly thin for airplane its size. Right. You know, and it was it was always good from the time I was on the drawing board was considered an interim airplane to get us to the B 52. Right. It had a tandem seating for the pilots in the. Navigator sat kind of below them and on a lower deck, had tailgunner that was remotely controlled by the co-pilot radar aimed to remotely controlled by the co-pilot, six engines. It was partially acrobatic, the pilots airplane. The pilots love flying the airplane. It was like a like a big and slightly slower to maneuver fighter, you know? Right. Again, I had a boss and it might be the same guy that would be 50 Shades. I can't remember. Now, that flew by 47 because there were so many of them that if you're my age, all the senior staff, when you got into it, does it all flown be 47 and you know, some 58 said all flown those 24 hour airborne alerts with Newcome nukes on the airplane. Stop doing that. A 60. So I never did that one. But the senior officers all had done that kind of stuff, you know, and they they they were universally loved the airplane. It was really sweet. Fly an airplane ride. The Air Force eventually asked a little too much out of it. They started they wanted to toss bombing with it. And toss bombing is a deal where you put positive GS on the airplane and that just the right place, you release the weapon and that allows you to actually toss the bomb and you turn away so you can cause there's a trajectory.

Right? Not just that a drop, but you're creating a trajectory for the weapon.

So you're throwing the bomb over terrain or defenses or something like that. So the story I got was Boeing said, don't do that with the B 47. Then Zach said, yeah, I will, go ahead.

So now we're going after after a couple of years of this, they had I don't know how many, but way too frequent examples of the wings coming off the airplane on initial make too much metal fatigue, not doing the task bombing, but on initial takeoff when your distress was at its most.

So the stress was being applied during the during the toss. Mommy. Right. And the guys were paying for it on takeoff. Right.

So one of the big 47 squadrons is at MacDill Air Force Base on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just outside Tampa. And after one or two of those went in there, the the unofficial slogan became one a day in Tampa Bay because pilots have good bye.

Pilots are cynical bastards. And they got good gallows humor, you know. Yeah. Yeah.

What a day they have. Yeah. So I don't know how many they lost, but more than one, you know, in Boeing kind of said, we told you, you know, don't do that because it just really wasn't designed for that. Design is extreme high altitude bomber. Right. But there's also a trick to the pilots. Teams had to be matched up very carefully because in order to get landings, the co-pilot had to fly the whole mission front seat because you couldn't change you change seats then for some period of time. Nobody's at the controls. Right. So if it's time for the co-pilot to get landing currency, he's going to fly in the front seat. And this caused some stress between the pilot and co-pilot teams. And sometimes you had to find another team that could get along better. And so maybe this guy was telling me he had a really good story about this. They were they would fly a three ship across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain and Portugal to put nuclear alert in the back in the early 60s. And they would coast out in the Atlantic coast of Florida and they take a dead reckoning heading to Europe. And there's no GPS radios now. Just fly that heading, you know, so they're out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, three ship. They're outside of UHF. Radio and military always is a UHF, ultra high frequency radios and they're outside of UHF range of anybody but themselves. And the there was a storage bin that the co-pilot had someplace in the front seat. Pilot didn't have any extra room like this. So he carried the pilot's lunch and the co-pilot storage. And this is the way the guy told me the story anyway. And so in this three ship, there was a pair of these pilots that were known for not getting along and saw it in the middle of the ocean, obviously intended to be on Interphone, but instead on the radio, I guess he was pushed the wrong button.

This happened.

I'll tell you, you push the wrong button, you know, so he the pilot says, hey, co-pilot, pass me to lunch. And somebody in formation heard this and recognize the voice and without hesitation jumped on the radio, said, get it yourself, fuckface, which you can't do it.

And he said when they got back from Europe, those guys still were talking to each other like, I don't know how true the story was, but he had me laughing and I'm sure similar things happened.

Oh, shit. What other airplane was cool back then? That the era of the cool airplane was nineteen fifty through 1975.

Yeah. A lot of what the U.S. Air Force calls the Century Series freighters, the F 141 F one or two. Those are cool airplanes. Designers can make fast airplanes, then the problem was it couldn't make faster planes go slow, so they had some unfriendly characteristics if you weren't careful about your speed. Right.

The FAA 43 was the trainer version of the. Of the 80, that's what they call that the World War Three, just basically a World War Two fighter with jet one jet engine, right?

I think Fusel, I think at the end of World War two, they got four or five of those to the continent. I don't think they ever saw any combat with them. So that that morphed into the T-3 later. Really solid basic design. Not one of those. Not a very big aircraft. Yeah. And it's just another one of those planes that the original design was just so good that it just got adapted to all kinds of roles and write like F 86.

Yeah. Yeah. Solid airplane. Yeah. When I was whip wing version of a T-3 basically.

Oh, I think there's more than just that, right? You know, it's a it was a much more of a barrel design, you know, wrapped around an engine. Right. I actually saw 46 flying when I was overseas and there was contractors, civilians flying them. And they were they were doing they're getting paid to tatto targets for for the Air Force to shoot. And so they they let out a drone, not a drone. That's not the right word.

Bodrog right on a cable. And then the fighter pilots can make passes trying to shoot at that that drug. Oh, that sounds safe. Yeah, but the that those guys, the civilians that flew them were really there are retired Air Force fighter pilots with long hair, you know, back when you couldn't. And they're having time in her life, you know. Oh, I'm sure flying these things around the Pacific to different locations. And, you know, they fly a sortie a day, go to the club. You know what I could deal. Yes. And a lot of money. But but in the meantime, you got, you know, young fighter pilots shooting at her. You're right.

You drugged your ass. Yeah, that's they call it the dart. They shoot at the dart, the dart, the. The F 104. There's an interesting airplane that was the thing was not even aerodynamic. Yeah, it bit below 200 miles an hour. No, I agree with him, but for some reason, air forces around the world like that airplane and used it up until just like 15, 20 years.

I think the Italians were the last users. And I don't think it's been 20 years since they retired him. I could be wrong, but the Germans used the damn thing. We had a lot of them. I have friends at work that flew them in the German Air Force. The air for the U.S. Air Force quickly named it The Widowmaker. You.

Yeah, because of those one of those single engine. Yeah. And no glide ratio, no glide ratio. The wings would cut you. They literally would for the leading edge of the wing was sharp.

Yeah. The crew chief would say there was guards' they'd put on a mask.

What I heard from you probably because it was just, you know, the thing and the and the the the air foil was kind of like not really an air foil, but I think it was totally symmetrical airflow.

So it had no camber to it. It didn't have that unusual air force. Right. So you get lift by by putting angle of attack on it right there. And planes like that titillates like that. It's an almost symmetrical airflow. And so when you when you and I remember as a student a demo disc, they would put you in 34 degrees of bank in 83, but not use any back pressure on the stick. And so the plane would almost fly straight ahead in a bank. Yeah, if you got a positively cambon airfoil, it'll turn if you if you just put in bank because now there's lift going that way. Right. It tried to shove you. Right. But with a symmetrical airfoil, you put it in bank and then you pull the nose across the horizon because you got to get horizontal lift by creating angle of attack. That right.

Well, that's interesting. So that if one of four was kind of an extreme version of that.

That's my understanding. Yeah. And it was just it was designed for straight line speed. Nothing else. All right. Just go fast. That's why they adapted the first astronaut classes, flew a special version of it that had a rocket motor in the tail just above the exhaust from the main motor.

I think that is the aircraft Yeager was talking about could be you know, now that I think about that, about that interview, it might have been the F 104 he was talking about because they he there was a they added a rocket motor to the thing to let it do this acceleration thing at that altitude. And that could be I believe that's what that's the airplane that I could be wrong.

But but and I did hear that it had terrible spin characteristics. It would go flat on you.

That's what that was the that was the incident he was talking about in that interview. That's apparently a very famous thing that happened to him during that. And he he was in a flat spin upside down. Yeah, we could have got out of the thing in one piece. I mean, can you imagine maintaining any kind of orientation upside down in a flat spin? I'm sure he had to just sit there till they got the denser air so he could get some of what he used, wrote down and then and then apparently got it back up. And punched out, yeah, and survived the damage.

Those guys, those test pilots in the 50s are crazy, crazy, almost as crazy as the World War One test pilots. You know, those guys at the time, there was no science of aerodynamics. The people building airplanes knew the wing had to be in that shape, but they didn't know why, didn't understand what was going on. Right. And so somebody at some point has to walk up to that plane. And the designer, the builder says, I think it'll be all right. You know, take off and find out.

That's what your job is, my job is to build it. Your job is to fly the.

Ok, if you were killed in an airplane in World War One, it was like 75 percent chance was an accident, not combat their own plane was way more dangerous to them than the enemy. Planes were like, oh, they're crazy. A lot of the the really famous ones like the Forker try playing the Sopwith Camel had had radio engines. And in those days, what that meant was, yeah, the cylinders radiated out from the middle, but the propeller was fixed to the engine. Right.

And the tire engines, the whole engine block rotated with the propeller around the crank. And that's how they cooled the engine. Right. And that's now think of the torque.

Think of the moment of inertia, that 50 percent that is out there spinning around in front of you crazy, you know, and then most of those planes didn't even have a throttle because they did everything on speed.

So you take about 80 knots, you climb today and nitpickers a notch maneuver today to notch insanitary. Not so. If you could hear one, you turn it on, turn it off. Had Killswitch as Muslim did. And so that's how you descended.

So if you could listen to one land, you know, it would go higher and you got to time this now to land.

Ok, inherently nuts by today's standards here and even as late as World War Two, if you were killed in an airplane, it was 50/50 was an accident. And some of that was airplane design, again, was just not where it is today, but a lot of it, too, was everybody's trying to pass as fast as they can. Right. And so they're not screening him as carefully as we do now. And, you know, and so basically, if you can get in the airplane, survive, you'll get pilot wings. So. Right. And again, those planes are enormously complicated to fly by today's standards because the pilot had to control the mixture, the propeller pitch, the temperature, the engine, you know, while he's flying an airplane and people are shooting at you, the workload must have been insane. And a 51 or Messerschmidt one to nine. I can't imagine.

Yeah, flying the airplane was as complicated as fighting the airplane.

Oh, yeah. Those both of those pilots, Spitfire in the in the Messerschmidt had a terrible accident rate in training because they had very narrow landing gear and the thing would ground. Rupo You mean like under. Yeah, because because the wheels retracted outward so when they're down they were close to get right. Right. Right. So now you start stomping on the rudder or something and it's going to ground loops, going to get up on a wing and crash. You know, I've read more than one book by guys who flew those two airplanes and they talked about the fatalities and training that they had.

Is it one mistake? Plus, tail draggers like that are just more complicated to land and take off and tricycle gear airplanes are usually on takeoff roll. You had to get to speed and push the stick forward and you weren't in the air yet. Miscalculate that prop strikes the ground and. Might survive, maybe. Yeah, so again, I just can't imagine what the workload, like I said, to be 17 state information without an autopilot just for hours on end. Unbelievable. You know how they did it.

It's just personal.

But did you ever have to take those pills and stop pills? No, Itzak. We absolutely never did that, really because of the source of nuclear weapons. They were so hard over. But that one of my best buddies was a tanker pilot and he had really bad acne. Yeah. And so they prescribed them tetracycline, pretty common antibiotic. He was grounded for weeks while they made sure there was no adverse effects. You know, fighter pilots did good, did well.

I remember that famous story in Desert Storm where we had a bunch of American pilots gunned down Canadian ground troops.

The end when they got back there blaming it on their go pills because they were so strung out and they thought that they were enemies.

I don't know. I don't I didn't hear that one.

But, yeah, I got court martialed in their court martial. That was a defense they had strung out on these go pills. And because at the time they were mandatory. And then after that, they said they weren't mandatory anymore.

But because of the nuclear mission, we could not use the rule was you can take a title or an aspirin. You can bring a nose spray with you on the flight in case you get a sinus or earmark. But if you use it, you're grounded as soon as you touch down. No, you have to go get grounded, get another physical done. They were hard. If you had allergies, you're probably not going to get certified. You're probably not a flight risk of serious allergies, probably. Wow. Yeah, they were there was concern. Think about all the stuff that we knew, all the classified stuff. We knew there was concerns about getting general anesthesia. And I don't care what was wrong with you. They're not they would not let you go under general anesthesia until a flight surgeon cleared it. Right.

And there was probably somebody sitting there with you the whole time, no doubt in my mind.

Yeah, right. So that's exactly opposite. I was shocked when I found out that fighter pilots were taken go pills because I had never heard of such a thing. We just did not do that in the above, you know, so you can take anything but a tunnel or an aspirin if you needed something else, you go to flight doctor bombers drop bombs.

Yep, that's what they do. Bombers drop bombs and bombs explode in the explosion of a bomb, fucks things up on the ground. Right. Bombs are interesting devices.

I guess we've got.

Conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, right? Conventional bombs can can be of several types, right? Oh, yeah. You've got how many different types of bombs? What are their what are their applications?

Oh, you got general purpose bomb GHP bombs like those typically 500 pound mercury 2s or 750 pound and 117, the common one that. Right. That we carried. And they they just have blast, you know, produce a shockwave.

Right. That disrupts everything underneath the the exploding.

Right now, the Mercato can be fitted with penetrator caps that allow it to penetrate a certain amount of like reinforced concrete. And before the detonation occurs, they can be fitted with fuses that make it detonate slightly above the ground like an extended fuse sticks out of the nose, depending on what what you want to do to what the kind of target. All right. But there their gravity, unguided weapons, once they leave the bomb, once you leave the bomb, they're just going to fall, right? Right now, they're oriented straight down.

And since they're leaving the airplane at whatever the cruising speed is, 450 miles an hour, there's a trajectory that eventually. Erodes to vertical, right, correct. How long does it take for that trajectory to erode?

And I don't remember exactly. More within a within a minute or so. I think it's basically it's all basically just vertical at that point. I know when we dropped from 40000 feet, they would travel about five miles.

So in front of five miles, horizontally along right along the axis and so we typically did not order an airplane is right assumed when the thing leaves the aircraft.

So we typically do not overfly the target of bombing from altitude. You release the weapons, they're on their merry way.

You turn you get the hell out of there. Right. And how long does it take to for the bomb to fall from 40000 feet to the ground?

I want to say a minute and a half, maybe two minutes. It takes quite a while. That's a long way. Right.

So because it's vertical speed, when it leaves the bomb bay is essentially zero and it has to. And then I guess there's a terminal velocity depending on the aerodynamics of the bomb itself.

Yeah, right. Again, you know, the guys who really knew that kind of information were the navigators, right? Because they were the guys that employed the weapons. They were the weapons experts on a bomber crew. In my day, the crew commander was in charge of the mission and he was the pilot. All right. He had a co-pilot because no one guy can fly the airplane all the time. Plus, there's there's so many controls around that one human being can't reach all of the stuff. Right. That's why they need to. And the co-pilot, he's in he's in training to be a crew commander. Right. And then you got a navigator downstairs who on a well oiled crew gets you from takeoff to what's called the initial point, the last turn point before the target. And at that point, he turns it over to the bombardier, which in as we called the radar navigator, he conducts the bomb run through the navigator and the radar navigator.

Two different guys. Yep.

They sit down the lower deck. The radar navigator is the senior of the two guys, the guy in the right seat. The navigator is an apprentice to become a radar navigator. And they're really the central part of the mission, right? That navigator, that junior navigator initiated most of the operational checklists and was when I first got in the bus, worked really hard because there wasn't there was an inertial navigation systems and GPS and he sat down, there was a plotter and a board. And it was a math problem, what we call a whiz wheel and in-flight computer, mechanical business, a circular slide rule. Right. And just worked his butt off, you know. Right. The co-pilot was working pretty hard because he was also the flight engineer of a very complicated airplane right now, which is why we really wanted to have a lot of experience as a co-pilot before you upgrade to crew commander. So you have a full understanding of all those systems and all that all works. Who's the fifth guy then? You got you got a ECM operator who we always called the EDB or EWR electronic warfare officer. He's trained as a navigator and after navigator school, he goes to electronic warfare school.

And those guys tended to be the the highest IQ on the after a while. If you also being close, you could you could almost always pick out some operator on another crew. Must be that guy. Right. You tell by the way they talk because what is. So what's his job? Well, what made it really different when I first got into you tattoos, most electronic warfare was was what they call noise jamming. It wasn't real sophisticated. And so he would listen to a bunch of sensors to listen to a bunch of frequencies, and he had to be able to identify from sound part of his check. Right. Was he going to like a hearing booth? And they would they would play beeps and squeaks for him. And he had to be able to say, well, that's an essay to guideline operating on an upper side lobe. And, you know, I need to jam that with my Al Q on 23. And it was very cerebral job. Yeah. And that's why you could kind of pick these guys, because they tend to have high IQ guy.

So his job basically was to interfere with attacks on your aircraft.

Hitman, the gunner were the defenders of the air, the defenders of the air. We called them the defense team. The navigator's with the defense team. And then there was a pilot team. Right, sitting next to him on a gene model was the gunner on the left side of the airplane, but facing aft and his gun was Tirelli radar and he had no visual backup at all up through the F model. He sat way back in the tail and had some visual capability.

This is so this is that little turret kept looking thing that hung down from the back of the aircraft. Yep. Then he sat and this is a 50 caliber weapon or there are 450 calibers up to the G model.

The H model had a twenty millimeter rotary cannon instead. Was a devastating weapon, the same weapon the fighter is going to carry, right? All right. What if he closes at six o'clock? You got a 50 percent range advantage on him because he's flying into your burst and we're flying away from his right. So we did practice intercepts with with four guns. We had to ask the fighters to make tail attacks because they understood it was essentially suicidal to approach a before to do it in gun range. Got all the advantages, guns, gyro stabilized the downloads, 20 millimeters were almost fully automated system, way ahead of their time for being developed in the 50s because they were they were the same tailgunner to be 58, had that right and was designed to be operated from the forward, from facing forward by a guy who's also got to do ECM stuff. Right. So his workload on the gun had to be low. So it had a lot of automatic features and everything back in the days when there's vacuum tubes relays again. Well, this time is so simple to use that when I was young Copart, we we had to go out and do intercepts. I'm sure it was with that force. The day before the flight, the gunner sat me down and gave me a instruction on how to use this thing. Then we got got up there, we swap seats and I got in a gunner seat and I got tracking gun kills in the first couple of guys because at six o'clock, never done it before. Amazingly simple. Just a just a lethal weapon. So when they when they took it off in most of our opinions, the two really took a hit. You don't have. How would they have taken at all? General McPeak was the chief of staff of the Air Force, and one of our rewards for winning Desert Storm was he fired all the guards as soon as we got back. Well, good. That was one of his many crimes against humanity.

Well, good. To effective at killing people and breaking things.

Yeah, so we've got to yeah, I don't want to get a handicap. I don't wanna go on and on about that guy, but I don't know of an officer who served under him that would have spit on him if he was on fire. No respect for the guy at all.

Not to dwell on this. What was your fucking reasoning?

I what his reasoning was, it's antiquated equipment. We don't need this anymore. And the fighters can protect the bombers.

But that's stupid. Why would you not want a redundant system that.

So they talked about doing smart things like putting Stinger missiles on her, you know, Stinger was a designed as an infantry launched an aircraft missile. And so it was designed to do what we call a face shot. It was designed to shoot at the fighters coming right at you. Right. Would have been perfect to put. And with the weight of ability, you could put 50, 60 of those things back there right now.

But no, they just fired two gunners instead, just took away the capability, took away that they were the very last defensive aerial gunners in the United States history were fired after Desert Storm.

Oh, by the way, I mean, I'll get this honor, the thing I'm probably most proud of for 20 years of active duty was I was made an honorary gunner in 1987. Really? And that's not something they did for retiring colonels and crap like that. It took a unanimous vote of everyone renewing in any one of them could veto you anonymously. So I was I got that certificate in my cube now at work and I got my Gunnars coin, you know, in the Air Force. Now, there's this big thing about challenge coin Gunnars invented that, you know, their mascot or unofficial mascot was a bulldog. And so they got Mack Trucks to produce a bunch of coins. We had the Mack Bulldog on one side and on our side it says you make the difference. And that was the Gunnars coin. And when I became an honorary gunner, I got one of those. And there's this whole game you play with. You got to have it on you at all times and stuff. And so I learned to when I took a shower on alert, I would put that thing in my mouth, because if they if they ask you to see your Gunnars coin, you don't have it.

You owe them OK. You owe them a beer or coke or something. Yeah. And so it was a whole game to play the gunners played amongst themselves. And if you're an honorary gunner, you're gunner. Right. And they'd love to get an officer this way. I would stand outside a building, a shepherd 20 years ago, back when I was a smoker. I stand outside smoking and his car comes up, stops and backs up and out, jumps a guy I hadn't seen in 10 years, the gunner, and he's at Shepherd to do some other school. And he runs up and says, Got your coin?

And I did. As a matter of fact, I've had to stop carrying it because I'm scared to death.

I'm going to lose it. And there's no replacement. No, no. I'll get busted now because I keep it in my desk drawer at work because I don't want to end up, you know, falling out of a torn pocket or something like that and paying for a Coke with it. I just want to lose the coin. Yeah. You know. Right. I accidentally put it in a coffee fund one time and I was the building I was in was all officers. There's no gunnars there. And everybody knew I was not a rear gunner. So soon as I showed up, they knew exactly where it came from. Right. So they brought it over to the squadron gunner, you know, and he called me up and he says, I get your coin back.

Cost of Katabira sold next.

Gunasekera, you got to you have to take your your medicine with it. Yeah, but that's just our culture. The Gunners had all kinds of cool traditions and that was just sad to see him go culturally. I thought it really hurt the bomber community, you know.

Well. And you got a general making political decisions. Isn't that good? Yeah, isn't that good. So when you when you bomb a target. When you bomb a target, and I understand that you had never dropped a nuclear weapon. Because nobody has it's not exactly right and, well, not in anger. Well, not at yeah, we've we've tested the drop, the test drops, we've test dropped. Well, more than people think. Yeah. You know, quite, quite a few more than people think. There have been what, two hundred and sixty five or seventy.

Serb aerial.

I don't know, um, nuclear rates in the high 200 nuclear tests in. In the United States.

You know, the out in Nevada and out in the Pacific, we we blew up a hell of a bunch of bombs. Oh yeah. Because we had to figure out how they were. Exactly. And those of you that have not seen the atomic bomb movie, one thousand fifty four from the United States.

That's not that's all. It includes all tests. Yeah, that's underground. Yeah, that's underground.

But yeah, we we did some atmospheric tests. We did 216, 216. OK, yeah that's that's good. So there have been 216 atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. There have been a bunch of underground tests that, you know, aren't really the same thing. But but. Those of you that have. Not seeing the atomic bomb, we need to watch the atomic bomb. It's narrated by Shatner and it's it's footage from nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States. And one of the most unforgettable things you will ever see is shot maker. This was at Bikini Atoll in 1946. All right. Has a bit right up 26 is right after the war in 1946. So we're still learning about the about the technology. And they they did a surface explosion that what they did was they hold a bunch of ships they were going to scuttle anyway out here to this and some captured Japanese ships and stuff. Yeah, that and, you know, they just had a bunch of a bunch of, you know, floating targets basically out there. And they anchored them and they wanted to see what a nuclear weapon would do to these things. So they took 50 or 60 ships out there and they're anchored in various positions and shot Able was the first one. And it was that one was like 200 feet in the air or something like that after an air booster. It was an air burst. It was an air burst and it fucked a bunch of stuff up and then shot. Baker was the second thing. And this was. By today's standards, not a terribly high yield weapon and I don't remember what it was. Neither do I. I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't a nine megaton device like we made thousands. It was a it was a low yield, normal atomic bomb, not a fusion weapon or anything. But it was because they didn't have those at the time. But it was a might have been boosted. I don't know. But this this is the damnedest video you will ever see. You are watching. A hundred and fifty foot long.

Battleship holds it all right.

So let me back up. This bomb was set at 300 feet of depth of water. I believe that's I think that's right. I believe it's 300 feet deep, so they they sink the bomb and they they hang it off a raft and it's 300 feet of water. And then they detonate this thing. And you're in a position, you know, 10 miles away where they're taking this video and. The goddamn thing is lifting these 150 foot long holes straight up in the air, standing them on their associates all 250 feet and just it just the. The volume of water that goes up in the sky is the damnedest thing you have ever seen. If you haven't watched the Atomic Bomb movie and you're still listening to this thing we're talking about here. You're crazy. You need to go right now in order that the atomic bomb movie. And it's a fascinating thing to watch. It really is, but. So nuclear weapons are a theoretical thing, basically. What do you mean by that? I mean, their application is theoretical since we haven't done it but twice. Right. OK, we haven't done it. But twice we don't know precisely what a nine megaton weapon would do if it was dropped in the middle of Houston.

Or better dropped in the middle of Los Angeles.

I couldn't agree with it, but we don't actually know what would happen. We we're pretty sure from all the testing we're pretty sure what the effects would be. But this is these things have a completely different use. And in terms of tactical use than do conventional weapons.

Sure, right, yeah. With the so-called tactical nuke, you're still nervous. You're looking for blast effect. You know that the weaponeers consider the radiation. Let's talk about their tactical and strategic are two different things. Right. All right. Strategy and tactics. Right. So a tactical knew because it would be a battlefield. Nukes, another name for it where your target is enemy armor and infantry is that this is the target.

We need to destroy this thing right here.

So those are TGC applications are big, big bombs, take out hardened targets or large targets or geography right now. And so typically in the big the big nuclear war plan that was called the PSYOP, that was what was so much a part of my life for so many years. CYB stands for Single Integrated Operating Plan because all of our nuclear weapons world, they were all in one big plan for the war, the big retaliation. Each year, the plan got more and more complex to give the president more and more choices.

You know, this is where we're talking about the response to a Soviet attack.

Exactly. That's the only way we would have launched. That's where the deterrence comes from. You can start it, but you can't win it because what we're saying no. Right. OK, those weapons tended to be large weapons delivered by bombers. All those missiles, submarine and intercontinental ballistic missiles, tended to be targeted on the defenses against bombers. Now, that's a very broad brush statement. There's lots of exceptions, right? But the missiles couldn't carry the payload the bombers could carry. So essentially, in a brush statement, missiles knock down the defenses because the bombers aren't going to get there four hours after you launch the missiles. And then and then we'll will go in and carry the heavyweight weapons and take out the target. That's the strategy that's up against broadbrush overview of that that big sayat plan. Right. So as we got more and more warheads, there was more and more things we could target. You know, when the air launch cruise missile came along during the Carter administration, it became clear that the targets didn't know what to do with all the warheads. And I don't know that we ever disclosed how many warheads the United States had. I don't know what it was, but it was a lot. Thousands, thousands, thousands. Yes. And I did see at the time a top secret data showed a map of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, and they had these clear overlays for every hour after we launched this big attack. And I got convinced that if we ever do this, there's not going to be anybody to shoot at me. By the time I get there, we're going to bury had that much nuclear ordnance, though. It was amazing. So the hard part was going to be we're not going to survive because we had no shielding from radiation. We didn't even have any armor plate on the airplane. And so we're going to fly through all that fallout from thousands of warheads given, you know, you're not going to live more than a couple of weeks.

But theoretically, this is still not a suicide mission.

U.s. doesn't do kamikaze missions. They were all planned and, you know, they were all planned. I had faith that that there was fuel to do get done. What we want to get done. However, like if you take off and shortly after takeoff, you have malfunctions. There was a decision tree to go to in our in the kit that we had. And you would go through this. You know, if this is your problem, then do this and yada, yada. And when it got down to is in the extreme, if this is really the thing and we know this war is on, if you can reach your first target and get a safe, workable, safe escape distance beyond, then you're going to go. Because this is it, right, you know, and we need that one more weapon so we don't plan suicide missions, but it could end up almost being like that. Right. And I really think we most of course, all, like you said, hypothetical. But I really think most of us would do this because the fact is, the reason we're doing this is because the Soviets had just killed my wife and kids and everything I care about. Right.

So, yeah, I don't want to just lose in a poker game. Right. Right. This is everybody's motivated.

Yeah. I really think we would have been. Yeah, we'll never know because thank God it never happened. Right. But, you know, we could know that on the time, you know, I spent seven days at a time out there with, you know, I live feet away from that Lookaround bomber. And the whole point was get in the air as fast as you could. Right. To go pay him back.

So it was a very grim view of things. You know, there was the tankers we would on a nuclear mission. We'd refuel almost as soon as you got to altitude. And the tankers of top us off if we needed to, there was a code we could pass to them that said, give us all your fuel. And in their standpipes, they had enough fuel to turn out of our way before they flamed out. That's how grim the whole thing was.

Give us all of your fuel. Yep.

Wow. And you can't be a lot of to reply to.

No ejection system. No, you can't.

You're over the Arctic Ocean anyway, and you can't even manually bail out of it. They stopped carrying parachutes sometime ago because it was just kind of there's just no way to use. Yeah, right. So if this happened but again, remember, if this happens, it's because the world's going to end as we know it.

Right. So. All right. So how do you drop a nuclear bomb? All right. So you got a payload of nuclear bombs. How many are in the airplane?

Oh, it all depends. I've pulled or this view, too. Right. And as many as 20.

So would you drop two bombs in a different. Way, then you would drop 20 miles. Obviously, you'd have to there'd be a different operation to hypothetically, there's three kinds of ways to deliver a nuke.

You can do an airburst where detonates on an altitude. Right. This is how you get the widespread destruction. If you detonate it at exactly the wrong radius of the fireball, you can get the most destruction on the ground.

So they know the maximum fireball generated by the weapon.

That's why all those tests, well, you can do a ground burst or detonates like conventional munitions on collision with the ground.

Right.

Or you can do got a rather abbreviated version of the you get less widespread destruction, spread destruction, but it might be more useful to dig out an underground target. Right. And then the third way is you can do what we call a lay down release. And in this, you released a bomb and it has parachutes that that carry it to the ground while you're escaping.

So it slows it down to give you time to get the hell out of there.

Right. And so it's going to lay on the ground for whatever time is programmed into it. A couple of minutes. Yeah, a few minutes while we while we try to run away it safe escape distance. Right. And not certainly not enough time for anybody on the ground to do anything about it. Right. It's going to go right. And all of the all the sorties that I pull the dirt on, all of the release of bombs were laid on releases because we're going to be an extreme low altitude.

To escape the defenses, so you're at a thousand feet or less.

That would be pretty high on a combat mission.

So you dropped the the the bomb out of the bomb bay. It's under a parachute immediately as it leaves the gap, so it slows down and it's obviously sturdy enough to whack into the ground all the time to do that. Breaking. Right, right. Do. And again, if you know how nuclear weapons work, the impact is not trigger the nuclear weapon. So you're getting the hell out of there climbing.

Apparently, these are usually stay and really stay low. Climbing will expose you to more of it. And of course, the more you get exposure, more the blast to oh, really? Yeah, it's better to be down kind of think of it as it go over your head. Right, if you think of it that way.

Some of the terrain will shield you for some of the dress that I see that if you climb up now, you're exposed to the to the the shockwave, the shockwave, the spherical shockwave more than if you're down being protected by Tehrangeles, you know.

So we're escaping just with speed. Right. And so we knew in advance what the blob the bomb was programmed to know what our safe escape time was and that at that time, then it would finally go off. Right. And you're not that far away from it. I mean, that's kind of a subjective statement. Right? But I would I would think the distance is probably smaller than most people would guess. It's just going to be a few miles. It's not going to be every 30 miles or something. Right. Because by being down low and running, you're the weapon isn't as destructive as a lot of people think, honestly. I mean, certainly more destructive than conventional weapons. But people look at pictures of Hiroshima and they think that the bomb did all that damage. The fact is, the fires that the bomb started did all that, did all the cities made of wood and paper burned like a cigarette. You know, the initial blast. In fact, some of the survivors were underground in a I think it was a library, I think, and only a few thousand feet from the ground zero. But because they were protected, they survived. Right. And other people that were three times the distance away didn't because they got a full blast of gamma radiation and have done right. Or the blast wave killed them. So most of the destruction you see when you look at these these aerial shots of Hiroshima, most of that was fire started by not the nuke.

Our fire bombing campaign in Tokyo killed far, far more people in one night, in one night than both of the atomic the nuclear weapons. Yeah, together. That was Curtis LeMay's. He's a man. My God.

That was yeah. They actually they calculated the mixture of high explosives, incendiaries that would create a self-sustaining tornado of fire and it would feed on the buildings as it moves to move through to six hundred fifty thousand people.

I don't remember something to that effect. Some insane number of people died in the in the firebombing of Tokyo far more than we killed with the two nuclear morpheme in Tokyo wasn't the only place to undergo firebombing right now.

Well, there was a lot a lot of civilian casualties, Scott. Yeah, it was an ugly situation and, you know, to the to the strategic planners, it's that they were targets. That's what a tragedy.

That's what strategy is. Yeah. Strategy is a big thing you do to make the other side stop fighting with you. Right. Right. So in that way, in that respect, you can do strategic bombing with conventional weapons. And that's what carpet bombing is right now.

A carpet bombing, in my experience. Usually the target is infantry, right. Where like in Vietnam, to drop so many tons of bombs under the jungle. And the critics will talk about them bombing this empty jungle. And it's not an empty jungle. No infiltrators is a Ho Chi Minh trail down there. Right. Valid targets. And just because you can't see it because of the canopy doesn't mean you're not killing people down there. Right. A case on the whole point of case on set up an artillery base that gives the North Vietnamese a choice. If you leave that artillery base there, it's going to cut your supply trail. So you must put a set piece battle, in fact, to overrun that place. That was the strategy when we knew they had their people together the before the DOS came in and killed them by the thousands. That was the purpose of it. It was the decoy, right. Was to get them into a fixed location about killable that they had to do. They had no choice. They had to do that. We would kill the North Vietnamese general during one of those attacks. So that was that was massively destructive and massively successful effort, right, that the historians have written up as a mistake.

You know, politics, right, dictates the history, right? Right.

But, yeah, you'll see these things critiquing Vietnam all the time and they're down. They're just driving blind bombing in the jungle again. When it was blind, all of it had targets.

You know, yeah, we don't drop bombs not knowing where they're going. They're too fucking expensive.

Yeah, the closest I ever saw out of that was during Desert Storm. Some of the bombers before the units got Scud hunting missions, especially after they got lucky and killed 14 airforce people with one of their Scud missiles. All right. So this mission was they would load up with cluster bomb units and they would orbit over Kuwait and the Saudi peninsula. And if the satellite detected a Scud launch, they would run in and just spread those over lat long latitude longitude, hoping they could get the Scud launcher before it moved.

And I don't know if we ever get a good launcher is a device that has these little missiles.

Yeah, it's a ground launch. It looks like an 18 wheeler with a missile on the back. Right.

And so if you go over there, where were you detected its presence? Maybe it hasn't moved yet and maybe it hadn't moved yet. Maybe it moved a little bit. But if you do a radius from that original detection point, then you are likely to disrupt the. Yeah, it was to have that.

And that's a strategic I'm sure that the intention was to tell you it's not free if you're going to launch these missiles, it's not free. We're not going to just let you do this. Right. And I think that Mossad came after that was they got lucky and they hit a barracks and a base in Kuwait.

I said that was strategic. That actually be a tactical attack, maybe more tactical. Yeah. So it's it's a target that needs to be taken out. Right. Right. Right, but if you're going to deny the use of a piece of property. To the to the enemy. And just disrupt every piece of existing infrastructure in that area, and that's that would be a strategic type that you would do with a whole bunch of 500 pound bombs dropped. One right after another on top of this target.

Yeah, like during World War Two, the U.S. went on a ball bearing campaign with their be seventeen's because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a modern army moves on ball bearings. If I can deny them ball bearings. I'm going to affect airplanes and ships and tanks and everything, everything that rotates right. So they went on for for a couple months. Almost all the targets were ball bearing factors. In the end, we find out after that war, isn't it? Right. Dresden, I think that was in the new Dresner was a firebombing. Schwein leaves, I think was what leasing was. Yeah. But like there was a ball bearing factory. But we find out after the war strategic bombing survey, by the time we started attacking small BearingPoint, the Germans had already dispersed the industry pretty well and we didn't hurt them all that bad with it. You know, we the strategic bombing survey sometimes touted as showing the failure of strategic bombing by by opponents. In fact, it was a success. It just wasn't a success the way we thought it was going to be right. We thought we're going to deny them their factories and their ball bearings in their oil, which we did some of them. Right. But it's major effect. Was it made the Germans expend huge amounts of resources to against shit around and every bullet they fired, at least 17 was a bullet. They couldn't fire at my dad and his armored truck, you know, and that would that part was the success they had to spend. They couldn't just let us do it. So they had to expend massive amounts of resources defending against it. And that was the major positive effect of that strategic bombing. So it's definitely worth doing. You know, it just wasn't we were kind of surprised at where the effect was. We thought it was going to be benign and resources, but actually it was making them expend resources. Right. Oh, so it worked. It was worth doing in Japan, it worked more the way we thought it would firebomb the whole city. The factory is not going to be there anymore.

So when. When you're going to carpet bomb a target. How many ways are there to do that seems like you could line the aircraft up. Well, if you're going or you could nose to tail or wing. Tip to wing. Exactly. And get two completely different effects out of the out of the the application of those.

Right. So if you want to put you want to put a lot of bombs in a wide area, then you fly usually a three ship formation in a V shape. OK. And they all released at the same time and you put a lot of bombs in a large square mileage. OK, right. But if you want to just power, would that be for a, again, infantry that you know is dispersed? Right. You know, the jungles in Vietnam where you can't pinpoint each guy, but, you know, they're down there, you know, in a you know, the area they're in, you know, sometimes that's called area bombing to the British call it area bombing in World War Two. But there's another way, if you want to continuously hit the same target or contiguous targets that are all in the line, then you can line the guys up nose to tail.

And, you know, normally we flew a mile and trail and stacked up 500 feet. So each guy was 500 feet higher than the guy in front of him. This keeps you from flying to the guys bomb train and Brian. And then you you don't really simultaneously he really says each guy gets to the point. So now you're going to have three bombers all jumping on the same target. So you're not going to have as many square miles, but you're going to put bunches of destruction into a small area.

Can you imagine what the hell that is like on the ground? This is Mike.

This is why when the whole thing just turns to or just disintegrated vapor all around, we we knew the ground was about to start because the targets all changed to carpet bombing and that kind of bombing of the Republican Guard on the Kuwaiti border. You know, and that's we knew, OK, two or three days of this ground was going to start, you know, and that's why when it started, there's film of Iraqis trying to surrender to drones because the survivors just they're not hardy soldiers anymore at all. Or just if you live through this, you're going to be bleeding out of your eyes and ears. Your internal organs will be turned to mashed potatoes. You know, just you're not quite a bad guy anymore. So it's it's devastating way to do business. Yeah. And you can't stand up to it.

And I don't guess anything could withstand such a.. Such a treat.

I was sitting in England because I didn't fly any combat. I planned missions and brief missions. And because I didn't have my own crew, I'd have your own crew to fly missions. And by then, I was a staff instructor pilot anyway, I was member sitting next to a nurse at the Officers Club Fairford, and we're watching CNN International and the so-called experts as well. This bombing like this, this isn't doing any good to the Iraqis. About six months to dig in there. And they're not really all they're doing is rearranging the sand on the desert floor. What a moron. This was the same guy a few weeks earlier, obviously with the same nurse. And he says when the ground war starts, it's going to be a massacre. The American tanks are in a crack. They're going to break down and all the dust and sand and and, you know, the crack Iraqi army, which just fought an eight year war, is going to be ready for them in their sharpness or hydraulic shit. And so the same nurse, she's there to me in a hospital that we expected a lot of casualties. And so, of course, her concern is she do you think this is true? Am I going to be having to deal with a lot of casualties? And I said, do you know where the U.S. Army does are training in the Mojave Desert? The mood there since World War two? They're absolutely a desert force. That was the war the U.S. Army trained and equipped for since Pearl Harbor, a war of maneuver without any chance of civilian casualties. There was an army in world that's going to stand up to U.S. Army in that circumstance. Nobody, nobody got. So what a moron.

Yeah, I remember all of that propaganda that was circulated before.

I mean, even I was shocked by just how light our casualties were. We all expected more than just, what, a couple of thousand. Something like this. Oh, yeah. I mean, the whole damn thing, right. When we deployed, they told us to expect 50 percent casualties in our unit. What? So they told us to expect.

Has any B 52 unit ever experience 50 percent casualties?

No, no, no, but of course, we on paper, their defenses around Baghdad in those places were pretty dense. You know, but what wasn't factored in by whoever thought of this, no doubt, was the effectiveness of wild weasel fighters, the guys whose job it is to go down and lure them into firing a missile so they could shoot a missile back down its throat. Incredible. Reveal their position. Yeah, incredibly effective thing at suppressing surface-to-air missiles. So just like the North Vietnamese, the the Iraqis learned it the first night, if you bring up your radar, you're going to die because that thing rides the radar beam back.

We could see your radar.

Yeah, those those missiles were designed to ride that ride, that radar beam back to the antenna and their high velocity anti radiation missiles. Harms, and they're incredibly effective. So that's why we were able to go high altitude and Desert Storm, because those guys suppressed all that on paper, it was dense defenses, but in reality, we couldn't get them useless. Yeah, and you can't afford to turn on your radar. So what my guys would describe to me typically is they'd be over Iraqi territory and they would they would see a Sam Surface-To-Air missile radar come up over at two o'clock and it would sweep them twice and go off. And then five minutes later, that's another one come up over at nine o'clock and it would sweep them twice and go off. And then obviously what they're doing was they were calculating where we were going to be in the future and they would fire off surface-to-air missiles, unguided by radar, which means they're just expensive in aircraft artillery rounds. Right. And they never got anywhere near any irrigation. But that was their only answer to this, because if they if they kept that radar on, they were going to die because we sent guys, you know, in these F forgeries, which is the weasel variation down on the deck trolling for you. Yeah, right. Those guys had a big pair because they're down there. They're trying to get you to shoot at them, you know, so but yeah, I read about the wild weasel thing.

That was what an amazing end. And it's kind of interesting to me that they use the F force for that.

I think I would have thought it was a better aircraft for that. I think it was its ability to accelerate. You know, the very first while weasel's were F1 or fives to see anyone was right and nothing accelerated at low altitude faster than F1 05 because they could run the afterburner at at that very little thrust. So when they needed speed, they could slam that and it was already lit. So it would be I guess it felt like just getting kicked in the ass. Oh, yeah. And so that's why the two three GS, that's why the iPhone five was chosen as the first weasel's. And I don't really know why they've shifted to their 4G.

Honestly don't know why maybe could carry more ordinance or is that is that mission being performed right now with they don't have specialized squadrons doing it anymore.

It's an additional duty for certain air to ground fighter units. So they it's one of several things they may do. So in bombers, we kind of didn't want to see the dedicated ones go away.

Those are fighter pilots we'd buy drinks for. They made our life easy, clean things up. We're taking you know, after Francis Gary Powers got shot down, we were all forced to go down low, everybody. Right. And because low is your only chance against the defenses, if you go high, the Sam's going to get you right away. The problem with going low is now everybody with an AK 47 gets to pop one off at you.

You know, they put a 762 round in your engine intake. Yep. Yeah. Some guy on the ground can.

Yeah. A huge percentage of the losses in Vietnam were ground fire there. Lost over 100 planes and air to air, if I remember. Right. But that was a fraction of the total losses. It was ground fire that brings them now. So if you're a country and you're buying a surface to air missile, what you're trying to do is force your opponent down to where the guns can kill him. You don't really care if the missiles get the cheap guns. You don't really care if the missile gets them or not. Right. Because it's going to force him down or while weasel's took that away. Right. So we can go back up high again where we were immune. The only gun that the Iraqis had during Desert Storm that could theoretically reach us was this Russian hundred millimeter anti-aircraft gun. And all you had to do is offset half a mile to the side or something in the water could reach you. So they banged away in the shot, you know, without guiding it. And so the guys would see flag bursten there, you know, but it's never anywhere near them. No, there was I don't think there was a BP to do the most threatening B 52 was a guy that took one of those hard missiles in the tail. Right. That's not good that our missiles he had a he had an airplane going 310 miles an hour. That that that they didn't disclose all that till after the war.

But what is the biggest danger to a B 52?

Biggest danger.

I mean, from an enemy, from the enemy, what is the most effective thing he can do to you? Well.

Ground fire, if you're forced down low, is pretty lethal and it's hard to counteract it, you know, it's hard for your ETM Operator Jamot, because you're not going to be exposed very long, you know. Scams are bad if you don't take them out. You don't eliminate them. You know, I got shot down at Red Flag a couple of times by fives, and that was a teaser rate that they put guns on. They sold them for themselves, will be ennemies, bought some very good fighter. But it was a very basic World War Today fighter that went fast, you know, had no radar on it. Right. And that's why they got us at Red Flag, because we couldn't.

You said that was his favorite airplane to fly.

Didn't surprise me. Yeah, I think there's thousands of pilots out there that will tell you the teacher, it was their favorite airplane. Yeah, it's just a pilots airplane. You know, I have a few hundred hours in it after pilot training because in the 70s and 80s, copilots and Sjaak were dual qualified and their primary airplane and then a teacher, 1738, the grant for 23. So we just logged time in those things. You know, you can't imagine two more different airplanes in every possible way than to be 238.

So as good experience, 1952, I think you told me one time it's like flying a building.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the one of the jokes I can't remember exactly. It goes something like this. The eight engines have more power than 25 locomotives. There's more there's 15 miles of wiring in the airplane, right. Yeah.

And it flies like 12 locomotives being pulled by 15 miles of cable, not from a from a stick.

A router point is not a pilot's airplane, but the pilots love it because there's a tendency to bring you home, you know, and it can do things other airplanes can't do.

Well, I guess that's why they're still using the flying after 60 years.

They've never really editorialising. The Air Force has never really asked for replacement. By that, I mean, I respect they put up for new bomber does not carry more stuff further. And those are two things you care about. The BE1 on paper can carry more. But our standard joke was, yes, it can carry more. And if the target's near the departure end of the runway contact, but it just doesn't have the range. It so much fuel, it just doesn't have the range. It does have speed in Afghanistan has been proven pretty useful because there was always a before to end or be one orbiting with these joint direct attack munitions, a guided bomb. And if it was a befitted to an Army lieutenant on the ground, you say, hey, I got a target for you. If he on the other side of Afghanistan, it was a much longer wait for him to get there and for everyone to be one like those four big afterburners. And he's smoking that. There's nothing faster right down on the deck than a B one. It's in a straight line. It just goes. Mm hmm. So I've talked to more more than one of my fighter pilot friends who said it is almost impossible to intercept the things a low altitude. They just run away from you. Just can't can't get a good intercept geometry out them because they're moving so fast, and that was what it was designed for, speed. So in Afghanistan, that's been pretty handy, understand?

So if you've got a combination of B ones and B 52, you've got the whole mission pretty thoroughly ass. Yep. And why would you want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars developing a new airplane that does what the B 52 has been doing for 60 years? Yeah, I guess it just doesn't make any sense.

Well, they've put out the spec for a new replacement to be 21. I haven't seen I don't know if they've released all the details on range and payload, but it's clear from looking at the artist's conception that stealth is their major thought.

Why don't they just re manufacture some new air frames for this silliest thing? I mean, they know what to do already and they could go in and tweak. While there remain in the the the B 52 come up with a new age in combination. Why would you want to rethink the wheel? I don't know. They don't ask me this because it's not about the product. It's about the contract, right?

Yeah. Yeah. You know, the F-16 is like that. We acquired more than the Air Force said they wanted. And that was political decision to keep people working. Sure. Not that that's about airplanes. We're going to be an incredibly successful airplane after its initial teething problems. You know, but the Air Force said we want action. Congress said you're going to get X plus.

Right.

So the acquisition process is highly political because it's shirks politicians that control the purse, politicians making decisions about money.

Yeah, and there's always a different agenda than what the end user wants.

Right? So I liked the historian in me, likes the old system that created to be 17 and that was the Army Air Corps saying we need a plane that carries this many pounds this far.

We're not going to tell how many engines we're going to use, all the carriers dish it this far. We'll buy it. This is what we need needed to do. You figure out how to make it do. And so Boeing builds a prototype at their own expense. Taxpayers don't buy that right because there's a potential for billions of dollars a year if you get the contract. But the taxpayers don't pay for all that development. That's your if not, I mean, that's a part of the cost of doing business. And that's the process that got us be seventeens, that got us to the 51 people.

You want to start as a private project by North American Airlines, an aircraft company.

They built a plane hoping they could sell, idea that there would.

If we build this, maybe there's a market. Exactly. Exactly right. Which kind of makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? That's what the developers should be doing. Right.

But nowadays, you know, they want they complain it's too expensive. So the taxpayers got to help us do the prototypes. And, you know, I if I was the king, I would go suck it up because there's a potential for you to make billions of dollars.

Don't do it wrong. Yeah. And then you'll get there because you'll be paid if you do it right.

Yeah. And this whole thing in one of my favorite stories about a true story about the 26 peashooter built by Boeing interwar airplane loing monoplane with fixed gear and Boeing built it where it didn't have any any external bracing by cables like you look at World War One, airplanes are always got you. It didn't need any extra bracing.

The Army Air Corps generals didn't like it without bracing. They didn't trust it because they didn't like the way it looked. So, yeah, so Boeing went back and put completely unneeded cables all over this digital cable and sold it to the army.

Then they bought it.

So the process wasn't perfect even then. But I think it was better than this is how you get a Sherman tank that won the war. This is how you get Missouri class battleships that won the war. You know, all the hardware, not just airplanes. Right. You get this one. Private enterprise says I can do better than my competitor, and if I do, I'll make billions. Right. That's a system that works, right?

Well, that back to the B 52, what an amazing device that things turned out to be and not anything in the world like it, there's guys flying in now that say, my grandfather, Floyd.

Maybe the same airframe, possibly the same there's not 100 air frames left, so very possibly the same airframe. OK. And I think still out there is one of those that that had the vertical stab knocked off in a you know, so they had no rudder or vertical stabilizer and landed it. Yeah, they flew it hundreds of miles and they landed it back at Edwards and they called up Boeing. So what do we do with it? And they said, we'll send some guys down and get it. And they took off and flew that thing where they flew the thing out of vertical, flew back to Seattle, fixed it, and I've flown better for him. It was at Grand Forks when I got there was an H model that came out of the tail number anymore. But you knew it because when you reviewed the maintenance forms, traditionally the first form in there for for inspections that were overdue or sometimes never going to be done right. There was a write up by Boeing test pilots that they should inspect your frame because it's 60 seconds of inverted flight after they put a tail back on.

Yeah, that's the right upset.

And that was there. They did that because they put the tail back on there and they wanted to test fly it, you know, and they wrote up. I don't know if they're telling the truth. They wrote up 60 seconds of no time. And that that was famously the first overdue inspection in those forms for that dilemma, because since it isn't designed for inverted flight, probably should be inspected. But we don't know what inspections to run because it wasn't designed for what we're doing.

We don't know what to look for. So, well, let's check it anyway. No one knows how much of that was just bragging by these bright eyes, but so that's what the write up was.

So B 52, what an amazing invention by Boeing.

Probably the smartest thing they ever did, in my opinion, yeah, yeah, obviously so well, that's our show.

I hope this has been as interesting for you guys as it has been for Scott and I. Every time we get together, we talk about I just pick his brain for an hour or two every time he comes to the gym. And I thought, it's so damned interesting.

I just let you in on some of it, so.

Next Friday, we'll get somebody else on here. It probably won't be this good, but thanks, Scott, thanks for being with us.

Hey, thanks for having enjoyed it.

And we'll see you next time on Starting Strength Radio.

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Scott Davison returns to discuss flying, weapons, the Strategic Air Command, bombs and other cool stuff with Mark Rippetoe.

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