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8th Bomb Squadron (L-NI)

8th Bombardment Squadron (Tactical)



  • Squadron Insignia
  • World War I and between the Wars (1917-1941)
  • World War II (1941-1945)
  • Occupation Forces in Japan -- Convert to B-26
  • Korean War
  • After the Korean War -- Johnson AB (1954-1960) and Yokota AB (1960-1964). Convert to B-57Bs (1957) with nuclear alerts at Kunsan AB (1958-1964)
  • Vietnam -- 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical) goes to Florida to convert to F-100s. Last B-57 squadrons in USAF get a reprieve from deactivation. B-57s to Vietnam: 8th & 13th attached to 41st AD and 2nd AD. (1964-1969).

  • 8th Attack Squadron Association Officers

    Johnson AB, Japan
    Yokota AB, Japan


    Acknowledgment: Special thanks to Jack Tickle for his photos and narratives of life at Johnson AB, Japan and TDYs to K-8. Thanks to Voy Mitchell for the use of his narratives and photos describing Johnson AB between 1957-1959 at Johnson AB. Thanks to Allan Murphy for his photos of Johnson AB at Bob Proctor's website. Special thanks to Jack Stoob of Arcata, California was a 8th TBS Navigator/Bombadier from Nov 1958-Oct 1962, for his invaluable photos and narratives of life at Johnson AB and at K-8. Thanks to Robert W. Koeser of Wheaton, Illinois, at the time a Comm/Nav specialist, contributed his special insights of life on the K-8 "C-Pad" (Contingency Pad) and life in general at Kunsan in 1960-1964. Thanks to Allan Murphy for his photos of Johnson AB at Bob Proctor's website. Special thanks to Norman Hartman for his photos, patches and narratives of life at Yokota AB and at K-8 Contingency Pad. Special thanks to Marquis Witt and the B-57 Canberra Website website for its materials and photos. Thanks to the marvelous historical site of the 3rd Wing History Office of Elmendorf AFB, AK for its materials dealing with the 90th TBS pulling nuclear alerts at Kunsan (K-8). Special thanks to the incomparable Joe Baugher sites for the history of the B-57B of the 3rd Tactical Bomb Wing. Lastly we are deeply indebted to the historical information found at Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) on line.

    8th Bomb Squadron insignia
    Approved June 21, 1954 (KE 8387)

    After the Korean War

    Move to Misawa AB (1954-1957) After the Armistice, the 8th returned to Misawa AB, Japan on October 5, 1954 along with its B-26 aircraft. On October 1, 1955 the unit was redesignated as the 8th Bombardment Squadron (Tactical). With the war over in Korea, the 3rd Bombardment Wing returned to the routine of peacetime duty in the Cold War environment. Beginning in January 1956, the 3rd Bombardment Group converted from the B-26 to the Martin B-57B/C Night Intruder.

    The 3rd Bomb Group formerly of Kunsan AB first went to Misawa. It traded in its B-26s for B-57Bs between 1956-1957. The B-57B was an improved version of the B-57A. and had many design improvements with the most notable being to the cockpit. The bomb bay was redesigned to incorporate a rotary-type door with bombs mounted on the inner surface of the door itself. When the aircraft was on a bomb run, the entire assembly rotated about its longitudinal axis. Because there were no conventional bomb doors extending into the slipstream (causing drag and buffeting), the bomb run could be made at higher speeds. The -B models were also armed initially with eight forward firing .50-cal. M3 machine guns mounted in the wings, but were later replaced by four 20mm M39 cannons. The B-57B also had an improved high altitude/high speed air braking system consisting of more conventional 'panel' air brakes mounted on the sides of the aft fuselage. The B-57B had improved avionics equipment including a Shoran bombing system and a threat warning radar. (NOTE: Though the 3rd BW converted to the the -B model Canberra (or Night Intruder), it was almost out of operational service with the USAF by 1960. However, the escalating conflict in Southeast Asia gave the B-57B a second chance and B-57Bs of the 3rd Bomb Group operated from air bases at Bien Hoa and Da Nang until withdrawn from combat in 1968.)

    B-57 of the 3rd BW at Misawa AB (6 Jan 56)
    (U.S. Air Force photo)

    3rd Bombardment Group Deactivated The 3rd Bombardment Group was reduced to one officer and an enlisted man on 13 August 1956, essentially becoming a paper organization. The wing headquarters assumed direct control over the 8th, 13th, and 90th Bombardment Squadrons. Finally, the Air Force inactivated the 3rd Bombardment Group on 25 October 1957, as part of a reorganization plan that created wing deputy commanders for various functional areas and gave wing commanders more direct control over their units. While the group ceased to exist after 36 years of service, its proud heritage, in the form of its emblem and battle honors remained with the 3rd Bombardment Wing.

    Move to Johnson AB, Japan (1957-1960) Then in 1957, the 3rd BW moved to Johnson AB, Iruma, Japan. The former Irumagawa airfield housed the Toyooka Flying School, officially known as the Army Air Academy, an independent school at Irumagawa Field. Johnson Air Base was located about 30 miles west of Tokyo and was the home of the 41st Air Division and the 3rd Bomb Wing with its 8th, 13th and 90th Tactical Bomb Squadrons.

    Map of Johnson AB (1959) (Allan Murphy at Bob Proctor's website

    According to Allan Murphy, "There was a need for additional housing and vacant land adjacent to Inariyama-koen (Fox Mountain Park) was developed. This area was known as Hyde Park. The land was owned by the city of Saiyama and several individual landlords. Hyde Park was constructed by about 1951 and at that time cherry blossom and pine trees were planted, as these trees represented Japan to the American residents. There are 300 cherry trees in the park."

    Johnson AB Housing Information (1959) (Allan Murphy at Bob Proctor's website

    According to a document from Voy Mitchell at Johnson AB

    "On May 7, 1938, the Toyooka Flying School, whose insignia is shown at the right, officially known as the Army Air Academy, was founded as an independent school at Irumagawa Field. Graduates of the Flying School were commissioned and were considered to be the nucleus for regular officers of the Japanese Army Air Force. The base continued to train and commission officers until the final days of World War II and, in the end, it was providing many of the Kamikaze pilots used in Japan's last ditch attempt to turn the tide of battle and win the war. In August, 1945, the first Americans in four to six Navy fighters landed at Irumagawa Field and by September 1945, Headquarters, 5th Air Force had been temporarily established at the base.

    In February, 1946, the base was officially named Johnson Army Air Base, in honor of a top American ace, Colonel Gerald R Johnson. Colonel Johnson was killed in an air crash over Tokyo Bay on October 7, 1945. He was 25 years old and was one of the youngest full colonels in the Army Air Force. He flew a Lockheed P-38 Lightning and had 24 confirmed air victories. Until its closure and return to the Japanese Air Self Defence Force, Johnson Air Base was the only active United States Air Base in Japan named after an American military hero. The base was slowly upgraded and eventually boasted a 7,000 foot concrete runway, paved roads, remodeled buildings, and a base housing area called Hyde Park. The base covered 1,051 acres and had over 1,170 buildings."
    Converted Kamakazi Bomber Display at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    Boca Bomb (Kamikaze plane) on display
    at Johnson AB, Japan after being repainted
    with a "Welcome" sign and USAF decal
    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    An interesting sight at Johnson was a converted Kamikaze plane that stood to welcome those to the base. A rather ironic scene. According to Voy Mitchell at Johnson AB

    The most symbolic landmark of Johnson Air Base was the Japanese "Baka Bomb" located in front of the 41st Air Division Headquarters. The official Japanese designation for the bomb was "Oka" which translated to Cherry blossom. The allies dubbed it "Baka" which was Japanese meaning "Fool". This is the human bomb that many graduates of the Air Academy flew to their deaths during the closing days of World War II. Only four of the Baka bombs survived the war. One was on display in front of the Division Headquarters and three were in storage.

    The Baka Bomb was carried under a twin engine land-based Navy bomber. The pilot was locked in the cockpit and as the mother plane approached a target the Baka left the parent airplane to make a diving attack propelled by rocket power. The 289 mph maximum gliding speed reached 405 mph when rocket-propelled. The rocket power lasted 30 seconds.

    Arrivals and departures of higher ranking officers were often noted on the Baka Bomb in front of Division Headquarters. If the officer was arriving the message would be "Welcome" painted on the nose of the bomb and the name of the person would be displayed on the side of the bomb, just under the cockpit. If departing "Sayonara" was painted on the nose. ...
    The flightline was operational and from here the unit started its visits to Kunsan AB again in the summer of 1957 for training.

    B-57B on Flightline after cart starts at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    Jack Tickle contributed some other scenes from Johnson AB. He said, "Johnson had an "open house" day where the Flight Line was open to the families and friends of the Base personnel. Don't remember seeing the B-29 before so it was probably flown in from another base for that occasion. Also the 6303rd A&E, my old outfit. Just figured some of your viewers might get some memories from that sign. Part of our Barracks is in the background."

    Open House with B-29 (top) from Okinawa and B-66 (bottom) at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    6303 AEMS Barracks and 3rd Field Maintenance Squadron at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    FIGMO Party: "Finally I Got My Orders" whenever one of the "crew" got orders to return to the states we had a party in the barracks, after duty of course. The duty officer seemed to ignore what was going on and although E-1 thru E-4 couldn't buy whiskey by the bottle there was always an NCO who would do it and one particular brand had a small ribbon around the neck. We would tie this to the top botton hole on the jacket of our fatigues. It was a badge of "Egerness" cause it was about time to go home. Notice the cases of beer but the whiskey was a "no-no" so we'd secure the bottle with a strong cord and hang it out the window. anyone wanting a drink would pull the cord and then drop it back down again." From these years, Jack remembered his old buddies: Leland B. Schley from Calif. Lamar "Spike" Coker- Fl and Richard F "Dick" Powers from Brooklyn NY. (Courtesy Jack Tickle) (Click on photo to enlarge)

    On his website,Voy Mitchell relates his tour in Japan from Jan 59 to Dec 60,

    Johnson Air Base was located west of Tokyo about 30 miles or so, if my memory serves me correctly. After completing basic training and the Administrative Clerk technical school my entire class was assigned to the 41st Air Division and were told to report to Travis AFB, California, for transportation to Japan. I was greatly relieved when I arrived at Travis and found out that we would be flying to Japan instead of going over via boat. On the flight over we made stops in Hawaii and Wake Island before finally landing in Japan at Tachikawa AB. From there we were transported via bus to Johnson AB, a trip of about 45 minutes or an hour. After processing in, I was assigned to the 6041st Air Police Squadron as a clerk in the orderly room. Many of my friends were assigned to offices within the 41st Air Division while others were sent to the 6041st Air Base Group. I was secretly upset that I was being assigned to squadron level and even more upset that my first assignment would be in an Air Police Squadron. As it turned out, those of us assigned to the Air Police Squadron ended up with the better duty. In those days there was an 11:30 pm curfew and, while my classmates had to be sure that they were back on the base by that time, I did not need to worry. Once the Town Patrol air policemen recognized me as a squadron member and, more importantly, one who worked in the orderly room I would be given a ride back to the base. This special treatment was extended to me since they were never sure when I might be able to help them avoid the attention of the First Sergeant.

    Shortly before Johnson Air Base closed I was transferred to the 90th Bomb Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Wing. Within a month or so the whole Wing moved just down the road a few miles to Yokota Air Base. The 3rd Bomb Wing was comprised of the 8th Bomb Squadron, the 13th Bomb Squadron, and the 90th Bomb Squadron. All three squadrons had histories going back to the earliest days of U.S. air power. All three squadrons flew mail and fought Pancho Villa along the Texas/Mexico border. The 13th Bomb Squadron survived to fight in Vietnam before it too was inactivated. Just recently the 13th has been reactivated at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas, flying the B1-B bomber. While I was assinged to the 90th, the 3rd Bomb Wing flew the B-57 Canberra and was in the process of moving to F-102s when I left Japan. I don't know if this transition was completed because the 13th flew B-57s while in Vietnam.
    BX at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    Baseball Field at Johnson AB, Japan
    (Courtesy Jack Tickle)
    (Click on photo to enlarge)

    Top L: Baseball Field (1958); Top R: Johnson Main Gate (Gate A); Bottom L: Main Street in Toyooka Bottom R: Johnson Back Gate (Gate C) with Chindoni musician announcing Anniversary of Airmen Club (Voy Mitchell submitted photos at Johnson AB)

    Japanese House and Pagoda in Iragawa outside Main Gate: "There was a town outside the front and back gates of the base at Johnson. The front we called Irmagawa, not the right , pronunciation and the town at the back gate I can't remember but this was a Japanese home in Irmagawa." (Courtesy Jack Tickle) (Click on photo to enlarge)

    Cold War Duty

    3rd BW uses K-8 for LABS Training (1957-1958) According to Jack Tickle he was sent TDY to Kunsan AB (K-8) in the summer of 1957. The mission was NOT for nuclear alert. They practiced conventional bombing (rocket attacks, dive bombing, skip bombing, and strafing), and the over-the-shoulder Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) nuclear delivery maneuver at the Koon-ni (Kuni) range on the west coast of Korea.

    At that time, the B-57s were parked on the C-pad (contingency pad) area -- where it would later spend its time during monthly rotations for nuclear alerts in the years to come. Billeting was in the rundown transient quarters (Jamesway buildings) left over from the Korean War days.

    Down the road the fence line was open and the poor fishing village of Haje was almost directly up to the fence line. The opening was at the base of hill that is now called "Big Coyote." The village was a poor fishing village with shallow draft boats. Other mud-houses were up near the fence line of the Ammunition Dump. Besides the farmers and fishermen ekeing out a subsistence living, there was a thriving black market trade in the village -- along with some prostitutes living in mud-wattle huts with rice thatch roofs. There was not much in the way of off-base entertainment -- and only the Yellow Sea sunsets would classify as anything approaching a scenic site. Kunsan was the pits. (For pictures of Kunsan City in the 1960s go to Welcome to Kunsan City.)

    Kunsan AB (K-8) was used primarily as a typhoon evacuation base to provide a safe harbor for aircraft from Japan and Okinawa. As it does today, typhoons head up from the Philippines and pass Taiwan and head up the Sea of Japan. At times it crosses the Korean peninsula causing great damage to the Pusan up to Tonghae on the east coast. However, Kunsan usually escapes any of the damage.

    The base was also the location of TDYs for those using the Kooni Range near Kunsan. The 3rd BW used the range during its conversion from the B-26 to B-57 to practice its Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) nuclear training.

    Against this backdrop, we have to remember that the Cold War dominated international politics...it was a real threat then -- not theoretical. The building up of Kunsan as a contingency base with a 9,000 foot runway (to handle heavy bombers and larger cargo aircraft if needed) was a logical choice given the lessons learned from the initial days of the Korean War. Kunsan would remain a contingency base until the first operational units returned in 1968.

    Nuclear Mission (1958-1964): On the Aerospace Publishing Ltd site, it states, "Within the USAF, one bombardment unit that did prevail long after the others ceased to exist was the 3rd Bomb Wing in Japan. It continued with its important mission during those unsettled years by maintaining quick-strike capability against targets on the mainland of China, North Korea and the USSR. A squadron-strength detachment was always on 15-minute quick-strike alert at Kunsan, Korea as the primary mission of the 3rd Bomb Wing."

    The Martin 272 site states, "The 3rd Bombardment Group, stationed in Japan and Korea, was given a nuclear-attack role. Equipped with Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) computers, crews trained to toss their bombs in a 3.5g climb, then loop over and race away to escape the nuclear blast."

    Jack Stoob, a bombadier/navigator with the 8th Bomb Squadron (Tactical) wrote on Mark Witt's B-57 Canberra site, "The typical missions of the 8 TBS and the other two squadrons of the 3rd Bomb Wing were threefold:

    1. Practice Low Altitude Bombing (LABS) at the Mito range in Japan or at Kuni in Korea.
    2. Short Range Navigation (SHORAN) bombing practice at the Mito range.
    3. Conventional weapons (gunnery, rockets, dive bombing) at both ranges.
    4. The squadrons of the the Third Bomb Wing were at Kunsan, Korea about one-third of the time." (NOTE: The monthly rotation to Kunsan was rotated between the three squadrons -- 8th, 13th and 90th TBS.)

    Skip Bombing at Mito
    (Photo from Mark Witt's B-57 Canberra site

    In August of 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. The 3rd BG stood by in Japan to strike strategic targets in China, North Korea and possibly even the Soviet Union should the crisis escalate out of control. Fortunately, the crisis soon cooled and hostilities were averted. After the 345th BG deactivated in 1959, the 3rd BG was the only active B-57 unit in the Air Force. Plans were underway to also convert the 3rd to F-100 Super Sabres, but Vietnam cropped up.

    B-57 of the 3rd BW with Mt. Fuji in Background (USAF Photo)

    Move to Yokota (1960-1963) After Johnson AB, it moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan. Around 1960, the runway was extended to its present length.

    All flight operations were consolidated at Yokota and Tachikawa AB and the flightline at Johnson AB was shutdown -- though the housing area remained open. On 18 November 1960, the 3rd Bombardment Wing moved to Yokota Air Base where it continued to train in bombardment, reconnaissance and aerial refueling operations.

    Fusa Bar Row just outside Yokota AB (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Norman Hartman wrote in Jan 2007, "Upon returning to Japan, which always seemed to be a night flight we would get into Tachi around 2130 - 2200 Hrs. we would make a mad dash to get back to Yokota and then down to FUSSA by 2330 , and you know what happened next. The photo of Bar Alley at Fussa that shows the Kay Annex Bar is the only photo I have of this area. I wish to heaven I would of taken more. Talking to my good friends a lot of pieces are returning. I don't know if that is a good thing or not? Across the street from Bar Kay was a bar called PAL JOEY it turn out to be a refuge from the other bars! It was a bar only and we went there to just relax. Ole Joe, he had two fingers missing from his right hand and he could make the worlds best Vodka Giblet this side of Mt. Fuji. He was a real Bartender a trip to the shrink and a good drink."

    "Walking to bar alley from the main gate you would head down hill and then make a hard right turn unto bar alley . There would be a food outlet that served YAKATORI (barbeque chicken), you could tell you were in the right place, because the ceiling was black in color from smoking of the squid. (squid ink). You are now entering a movie lot and watching the village take in the movie of "Air America ". It was a wild and crazy place.Walking down bar alley your going to pass "The Bar BRB ", BAR BON , This was a nice place. The back bar was a full length fish tank, and it seemed they always played Ray Charles songs. Why ? Next would be The" SHERO" and then the Bar "ACE" after that you would stop off at the " TRIPLE 3 TRAY ". Now you could end the night with a stop at the Italian Eattery around the corner from my Buddy place, Pal Joey's."

    "The outlaws I ran with were not your average BUMS! We saw Japan and Korea. I have known fella's the did not get past the first bar at Fussa for the next two years. What a waste! We used to go so far back in the hills that they never saw a round eye before, and would treat us like a long lost cousin. We did have fun there and we have memories that you can not buy !! I loved Japan and Korea!!"

    RHIP: Reserved Toilet for 8th BS First Sgt -- GI Humor. (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    As a side note, the baseball park named for the 3rd Bomb Wing's WWII Medal of Honor Winner, Raymond H. Wilkins, when the 3rd Bomb Group FIRST came to Yokota in Aug 1946 still remains in operation at Yokota AB today.

    8th BS fliers with 1000 hrs accident-free flying time
    Photo - The Afterburner via Chuck Ramsey
    (Courtesy Marquis G. Witt)

    NOTE: In 2004, John Hurley wrote, "I was a pilot in the 8th for two different periods: 1959-1963 and 1966-1967. I'm in the 1000hrs accident free flying picture. No hat left side."

    The wing also stood nuclear alert with its B-57s. For a period, from 1 September 1963 until 8 January 1964, the wing's headquarters remained in a non-operational status pending Air Force plans to convert it to a tactical fighter wing. During its time in Japan, it received two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards - June 1 1958 to June 30, 1960; July 1, 1960 to March 31, 1962.

    Yokota AB 8th BS B-57 going to Washrack (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS B-57B Opposite Base Ops at Yokota AB (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS B-57Bs over tidal flats (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS B-57Bs Training Mission (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS B-57Bs over Yellow Sea (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS B-57Bs on training mission (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    8th BS Yellow Quebec 931 on training mission (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    F-104 for Japanese Self Defense Force (1965)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Norman wrote, "This photo is of the A/C that took part in the first official flight of the first F-104 built by Mitsubishi Industries. (This took place at Yokota AFB note B-57s in the background). The Base was shut down for the flight demo, and all of the brass and public officials were seated on a 18 wheeler flat bed all most at the end of the runway next to Base Ops. It was a sight to behold !"

    "Well, we figured it was a paid day off, so we just kicked back and laid down to catch some rays on our B-57 wings and waited for the show to start. When it did the flags were flying and bands a playing and speeches made. When the A/C did launch he did a few fly -bys . Did a super high speed pass with the shock waves building up on the leading edges of the A/C , he was close to super-sonic. Now the blood is rushing ! Man that was cool ! His next pass was something I have never seen before."

    "After proving the high speed of this A/C the pilot put on a slow speed past that I have not seen till the F-15s came out. This is all done with an A/C of just over a 14 foot wing span and no computers. As he came down the runway the A/C s nose was at a 45 degree up angle with the wings rocking side to side. It looked like he could stall out ever easy. As he approached the reviewing stand the nose pitched vertical, I thought this is it, he's going to crash. Well as he stalled and went vertical, he cut in all four stages of afterburner and climbed like a home sick angel."

    "With the concussions of the afterburners kicking in, in front of the grand stand and for a split second the A/C standing still everyone thought they were dead."

    That's all I saw, banners flying, people jumping, top hats flying in the air and for a second people looked like they just saw the Grim Reaper, after this was over Me and a few others walked over to the F-104 after it has landed and saw the Japanese Airman changing a perfectly good main wheel and tire . I asked him why his was changing a good to go tire! His answer has stuck with me me whole aviation career life, his answer was TIRES ARE CHEAPER THEN AIRPLANE! And another Pearl of wisdom picked up from the Far East !"

    The demise of the 3rd Bomb Group would ordinarily have been the end of the service of the B-57B with the USAF, with the 3rd BG being inactivated and all its planes being transferred to the Air National Guard. However, the worsening situation in Indochina led to orders for the 8th and 13th Bomb Squadrons of the 3rd BG to deploy to Clark AFB in the Philippines for possible action in Vietnam.

    The 3rd Bombardment Wing was redesignated as the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing on 8 January 1964. The 3rd TFW moved without personnel and equipment, to England AFB, Louisiana. It was part of an overall effort to reduce the number of wings in Japan. At the same time, the wing gave up its B-57s, becoming the last bombardment wing to fly the medium bomber. The move also ended the long association with the 8th and 13th Bombardment Squadrons and nearly 22 years of active duty in the Far East.

    The 3rd Bombardment Group was deactivated after 46 years of continuous service -- and all honors passed to the 3rd TFW. The 8th's sister squadron, the 90th Bomb Squadron (Tactical), was redesignated as the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 8 Jun 1964 and transformed into a light attack unit. The 90th TFS was at England AFB from 9 Jun 1964-8 Feb 1966 and transitioned to the F-100 aircraft which it flew from 1964-1969.

    Cold War Duties

    The following is the history of the 3rd BW during the Cold War from the 3rd Wing History:

    3rd Wing Cold War Duties

    With the war over in Korea, the 3rd Bombardment Wing returned to the routine of peacetime duty in the Cold War environment. It remained at Kunsan Air Base until 1 October 1954, when it moved back to Johnson Air Base. Beginning in January 1956, the 3rd Bombardment Group converted from the B-26 to the Martin B-57B Night Intruder. Powered by two 7,200 pound thrust engines, the medium jet bomber could carry 7,200 pounds of bombs.

    The 3rd Bombardment Group was reduced to one officer and an enlisted man on 13 August 1956, essentially becoming a paper organization. The wing headquarters assumed direct control over the 8th, 13th, and 90th Bombardment Squadrons. Finally, the Air Force inactivated the 3rd Bombardment Group on 25 October 1957, as part of a reorganization plan that created wing deputy commanders for various functional areas and gave wing commanders more direct control over their units. While the group ceased to exist after 36 years of service, its proud heritage, in the form of its emblem and battle honors remained with the 3rd Bombardment Wing.

    On 18 November 1960, the 3rd Bombardment Wing moved to Yokota Air Base where it continued to train in bombardment, reconnaissance and aerial refueling operations. The wing also stood nuclear alert with its B-57s. For a period, from 1 September 1963 until 8 January 1964, the wing's headquarters remained in a non-operational status pending Air Force plans to convert it to a tactical fighter wing.

    The Air Force, on 8 January 1964, redesignated the wing as the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, and moved it, without personnel and equipment, to England AFB, Louisiana. It was part of an overall effort to reduce the number of wings in Japan. At the same time, the wing gave up its B-57s, becoming the last bombardment wing to fly the medium bomber. The move also ended the long association with the 8th and 13th Bombardment Squadrons and nearly 22 years of active duty in the Far East. The 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing kept the 90th Bombardment Squadron, now redesignated as a tactical fighter squadron, and gained the 416th, 510th and 531st Tactical Fighter Squadrons. While at England AFB, the wing was brought up to full strength and equipped with the North American F-100 Super Saber.

    Atomic Bomb Explosion
    (U.S. Army Photo)

    Reason Nuclear Alert in Korea: The reason the unit stood nuclear alert in Korea all those years -- instead of in Japan -- was that there was the Japanese "peace" constitution to contend with -- as well as a vocal protest movement (Zen Gakurin) against nuclear weapons on Japanese soil. According to the NRDC Bulletin, "The United States removed non-nuclear bomb components from Japan in mid-1965, more than a decade after their initial deployment. The precise circumstances of the withdrawal remain classified. During the late 1950s, the Pentagon had hoped to cure the Japanese of their "nuclear allergy" so that they would accept ongoing nuclear weapons storage on their territory. But by 1965, Pentagon officials apparently decided that the allergy was too difficult to cure. In any event, U.S. bombers and warships continued to use bases and port facilities in Japan for routine transit of nuclear weapons, which was permitted in a secret codicil of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty."

    On the other hand, the Korean government never raised any arguments against nuclear weapons being stationed on their soil. The reason was that Korean President Syngman Rhee was entirely dependent upon U.S. aid to keep his government afloat. To illustrate how high-handed the U.S. operated in Korea during that time take the fact that the U.S. operated with no SOFA agreement in Korea until 1963. It was a perfect match...the Korean government -- as corrupt as it was -- had its palms greased with American aid. It accepted without protest anything the American military did as its very existence depended upon the good graces of the U.S. The Korean people were too busy scratching out an existence in their devastated country to bother with higher issues like nuclear weapons being on their land. The Koreans did not have an "allergy" to nuclear weapons as the Japanese did ... and may have secretly applauded the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima for their deep-seated hatred of the Japanese colonial days.

    The U.S. simply unilaterally ignored Section 13d of the Armistice agreement and introduced the nuclear weapons on Korean soil. After Syngman Rhee was deposed in 1963, the policy of nuclear weapons being on Korean soil continued without protest as the economy was still almost entirely U.S. funded. The defense strategy for called for the early use of nuclear weapons in case of a North Korean breakout -- either from missile or artillery -- and the twelve ROKA and two U.S. divisions in South Korea keyed their defense plans around this. A recently U.S. Government declassified document showed that in 1952, it was realized that the forward positioning of COMPLETE nuclear weapons were essential as "delays bringing the weapons to bear on a target were considered unacceptable in a fluid situation." The document also stated that they realized that there were "political and psychological considerations offered deterence to foreign concurrence." In other words, nobody really wanted the weapons to be stationed on their soil. Psychologically, the Japanese had a distinct "allergy" to the weapons on their soil. (NOTE: Curiously, this same document has a chronology of deployments broken down by country -- in alphabetical order. "South Korea" is not listed...though there are blacked out entries that could possibly be the country.)

    Atomic Demolition Munition
    20 kilo-ton destruction in a small package
    (From "Where Were They" by Norris)

    In Korea's Place in the Sun, A Modern History by Bruce Cummins, 1997, (pp478-479) it states, "On January 14, 1957, the NSC Planning Board, at the instruction of President Eisenhower, "prepared an evaluation of four alternative military programs of Korea." A key question was "the kinds of nuclear-capable weapons to be introduced, and the question of storage of nuclear warheads in Korea." In the ensuing six months of discussions, Secretary of State Dulles agreed with the Joint Chiefs of Staff that such weapons should be sent to Korea. There were two problems, however: the armistice agreement and Syngman Rhee. A subparagraph in the agreement (section 13d) barred both sides from introducing new types of weapons into the Korean theater. Radford simply wanted unilaterally to suspend section 13d, since in his view it could not be "interpreted" to allow nuclear weapons. Dulles, ever the legalist, conditioned his support of the JCS proposal on the provision of "publishable evidence confirming Communist violations of the armistice sufficient to justify such action to our allies and before the UN." The problem was that the "publishable evidence" was not satisfactory, because the communist side had not seriously violated section 13d. It had introduced new jet aircraft, but so had the United States, and neither innovation was considered a radical upgrading of capabilities. Nuclear weapons were quite a different matter. This bothered the British, but the United States went ahead in spite of their worries and in June 1957 relieved itself of its section 13d obligations."

    It continues (p479), "In January 1958 the United States positioned 280-mm nuclear cannons and Honest John nuclear-tipped missiles in South Korea, and a year later the air force "permanently stationed a squadron of nuclear-tipped Matador cruise missiles in Korea." From Peter Hayes Pacific Powderkeg: American Nuclear Dilemmas in Korea, 1991, (p35) it states, "With a range of 1,100 kilometers, the Matadors were aimed at China and USSR as well as North Korea." By the mid-1960s Korean defense strategy was pinned on routine plans to use nuclear weapons very early in any new war. According to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, in December 1960, "the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff complete SIOP 62. This war plan called for the launch of more than 3,000 nuclear weapons--including hundreds of hydrogen bombs--to attack in the first few hours of conflict 1,000 separate targets in the Communist bloc."

    As a 1967 Pentagon war game script put it, "The twelve ROKA and two U.S. divisions in South Korea had ... keyed their defense plans almost entirely to the early use of nuclear weapons."

    8th Bomb Squadron 3rd BW at Mt. Fuji
    (Chuck Ramsey)

    Nuclear Alerts at Kunsan: The 3rd Bomb Group in the Far East at Johnson AB in Japan traded in its B-26s for B-57Bs in 1957. It stood nuclear alert in Japan and Korea during the height of the Cold War. The nuclear alert was on a monthly rotational basis between the squadrons of the 3rd BW. (Go to 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical) at Kunsan AB for details of the nuclear alert at Kunsan AB.) It flew the B-57Bs until 1965.

    In August 1958, the 3rd BG started a rotation to Kunsan Air Base (K8) with a squadron-strength detachment to stand nuclear alert. This quick-response nuclear alert that would last until April 1964 when the 3rd BW gave up its nuclear alert tasking and returned to Japan to be deactivated.

    Monthly Rotations to Kunsan: Robert W. Koeser of Wheaton, Illinois, at the time a Comm/Nav specialist, contributed his special insights of life on the K-8 "C-Pad" (Contingency Pad) and life in general at Kunsan in 1960-1964. He was assigned to the 3rd A&EMS and it was a hectic period for his work. He wrote, "Yokota had 4 squadrons of '57's, the only air refueling outfit in the Far East (KB-50's of the 421st), an F-86D (later F-102) fighter squadron and a recon outfit. So it was many a time we would arrive back in "Yukata Flats", Japan and off we would go to another island or country within a few days (being a com/nav weenie and being "essential" had its disadvantages...). Hell, I was in Nam in 62 and 63 when we only had a thousand or so GI's in-country total."

    Pad-C patch (circa 1962)
    (Courtesy Robert W. Koeser)

    Patch for Martin B-57B (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Patches: B-Flight Patch (with B-57 as LABS); C-Pad Patch; 8th BS, 5th AF, PACAF, TAC patches (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman) (NOTE: Norman wrote about the B-Flight patch, "There were very few issued, as you can see the bomb is flying the LABS and the A/C is the device. Well, it seemed funny at the time.")

    Robert W. Koeser wrote about Kunsan, "After the B-57's arrived from Johnson AB and landed in Yokota we began the tasking for our month long TDY's to Kunsan. I was an Airman 2nd and later 1st 30150 (Aircraft Comm. Maint.) with the 3rd A&EMS (Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron). This was in the years 1960 thru 1964. I had been stationed with SAC (let us bow our heads) Stateside so this nuclear alert force business was nothing new to me. Or so I thought"

    "Several of us were notified that we would be part of the "load teams" when we arrived in Korea and that, because we were electronics types we had the "intelligence" to handle the situation in addition to our com/nav duties. We went for some training on Yokota, but it was almost totally a security session with emphasis on the two man concept (NO one will ever be near a "special weapon" alone - EVER!!!) and other concerns."

    Some times there were high-jinxs of the aircrews to break the monotony. Kiyomi Noriye, SMSgt USAF (ret) of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote, "With the B-57s, I was TDY When we finished our commitment there. On the last sortie there our detachment commander made a LABS run right over the control tower, opened his bomb bay doors and dumped a case load of toilet paper, It was beautiful."

    He later wrote, "The info you asked about the 3rd's presence at Kunsan may be of no help to you but when I was with the 3rd O.M.S. and going to Kunsan. Our alert facilities were on C-Pad (I think I sent you a photo of an F-4 parked in front of a then fuel cell maintenance building) that was our alert building/maint, hanger for the B-57s." Kiyo is referring to a photo of his F-4D parked on the C-pad in 1971. The hangar he refers to is still in existence.

    Kiyo continued, "I think in those days also, we were one of the few outfits that had tail letterings on the vertical stabilizers and identified the aircrafts as such ie: RD as red delta and so on as far as from a maintenance standpoint. originally the B-57s were painted all black but when I worked on them they were dull gray or natural aluminum with the air force markings with nose dome and vertical tips painted according to which outfit the aircraft belong to. 8th was yellow 13th red 90th blue and our B-57c models were painted with green nose and tail anything else I can be of help or I can remember to confuse the issue let me know. The B-57c? they were used for pilot orientation. training etc. I don't recall ever using them for alert though."

    Life on C-pad: Bob continued, "Generally, we flew over on C-124's (The "loose formation of rivets"or "aluminum cloud") or the old C-130A which also carried resupplies for Kunsan along with us maintenance types. Once there we were issued special Pad badges and taken to the Pad which was to be our home for 30 days. "Home" consisted of quonset huts. One latrine quonset, one living quarters quonset, one lounge quonset and outside the fence a chowhall quonset. The latrine and living quarters were larger than normal since they consisted of two quonsets bolted together. The living quarters gave each guy about the equivalent of eight feet of length and about four to five feet of width. Some of that space was taken up by a GI bunk and a wall locker of sorts. Air conditioning was provided by opening the windows and doors and by a oil operated space heater, one to a hut."

    "The pad itself was double fenced with an area wide enough for a sentry dog and his handler between the fences. There were earthen revetments covered with PSP (perforated steel planking) for the aircraft and a couple of sheds used during turn-arounds (aircraft coming in or leaving). There was a large yellow circle painted on the concrete within which was the B-57. Outside the yellow circle were yellow lines about four and a half to five feet apart. This was where you were allowed to walk. Step outside the lines or enter the circle and the cabin-fevered sky cops would lay waste to you. And they meant it! I saw crash trucks stopped at the gate while the guards checked ID's while we had pucker factors of 9+ waiting."

    "The aircraft and the enlisted guys lived together. In fact, one parking spot had the tip tank of a '57 no less than six feet from the side of the quarters quonset. The officers, all flight crews, lived outside the pad around OP's. Everyday, once in the morning and once in the evening we all got together and performed a preflight and a postflight of the aircraft and the weapon. Even if the aircraft had not been run up that day we performed these inspections."

    "A crew of enlisted and officer was assigned to a specific aircraft. They included the crew chief, his assistant, the "A" man for the weapon and the two man air crew. NO ONE got near the aircraft without the "A" man. We were on a schedule of six on and one off for the month. A crew all took the same day off. "Roving" crews were used to fill in for the crews that had days off. Being on a "roving" crew was a pain in the neck, because as you will see knowing which aircraft was yours when the klakson went off was pretty handy information. Especially at O Dark Thirty."

    Jack Stoob, a bombadier/navigator with the 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical) sent some pics of K-8 in 1959 that are terrific examples of what existed on the base at the time.

    Bottom of the Mark O-Club

    Bus in the O-Club Parking Lot

    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)
    Click on Photo to Enlarge

    The Officer's Club was called the "Bottom of the Mark" and basically was the "cleaned up" version of the O-Club in the Korean War. The hand-painted sign in the front of the O-Club building marks the parking spot for the Base Commander. The 9-hole Golf Course is in the rear. The location was the O-Club until the 1990s when the kitchen burned and the facility was not rebuilt. In 2001, the building was renovated and reopened as the West Wind Golf Course. The main entrance is in the same location. Another picture is of the bus in the O-Club parking lot that transported the crews to the C-pad where the unit's B-57s were parked on nuclear alert. The individual in the photo with the crew bus is Jim Young, a nav/bomber in the 8th BS.

    Billets for Transient Crews

    Ambulance and Quonset Hut Structures

    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)
    Click on Photo to Enlarge

    The picture is of the billets for the rotating crews. These were the Squadron Commander billets during the Korean War. The one pictured belonged to the 8th Bomb Squadron (L-NI) Commander and featured the "Wheel House" after-hours bar for the squadron. Another picture which we believe is of the clinic area with the ambulance out front. The Clinic at the time was simply a leftover of the quonset hut buildings from the Korean War. The picture taken by Jack primarily for the trailer shown in the center. The trailer with bench seats was hauled by a weapons carrier and used to transport the pilots and navigators to the aircraft.

    6175th ABG HQ Building

    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)

    The above picture is a classic example of the base in transition. The sign is incomplete...with only "617 th ABG" painted on the sign. According to John Moench's book, the exact date the numerical designator changed is unknown, but the sign indicates it must have been around 1959. The door to the left is the Private Entrance of the Base Commander. The entrance is behind the truck.

    The following article is excerpted from 90th Fighter Squadron History -- After Korea. The acknowledgements are extended to former 90th pilots John Schaefer and Vaughan Wells.

    After the Korean War

    "The Bomb Squadron"

    On January 9, 1956 the 90th having been renamed "90th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical", in 1955, started converting to the B-57B Canberra bomber. For the next year and a half, the squadron was a mix of the incoming B-57 and outgoing B-26's they used during the Korean War. They practiced rocket attacks, dive bombing, skip bombing, and strafing, and the over-the-shoulder Low Altitude Bombing System nuclear delivery maneuver at Mito range, northeast of Tokyo and at the Koon-ni range on the west coast of Korea.

    1LT John Schaefer outside the Kunsan AB Alert Facility. Note the 90th BS patch on flight suit and red dice embroidered on hat.

    They were also tasked with a nuclear alert commitment at Kunsan AB, Korea in case of nuclear war. The following is an excerpt from the autobiography of John Schaefer, Major USAF (Ret), former 90th BS B-57 Pilot.

    Initially the entire squadron went to Korea for one month. It was winter; fierce cold and the facilities left a lot to be desired. The "alert building" had a freestanding, kerosene heater to keep it warm but no latrine, just an outhouse in the snow. It was no fun getting up in the middle of the night to use it. Eventually an indoor latrine and showers were installed in the alert building but it was bad for a while.

    The routine was one day on alert, one day flying a practice mission to Koon-ni Bomb Range and one day off. When on alert we slept in the alert building, which really was a fair size building. We had a lounge room with reel-to-reel taping equipment, which was very popular. We spent many hours dubbing tapes for personal use and I still have them. We also had a target study room. It was a restricted area, for aircrews only, to study their targets of responsibility. Each crew had one target in China and one in Russia to study, such as routes in and out, target photographs, maps, weather for the day, escape procedures if we went down over land, etc. We spent some of each day on alert in target study.

    We had a practice alert every day, sometime during daylight hours, but never knew what time it would be. Some of us were napping, fully dressed in flight clothing and usually with boots on. Others might be playing pool, ping-pong, in target study, etc. When the siren blew we actually did not know if it was a practice or the real thing. We all ran for the hallway to grab our Mae West life jackets and sidearms that were hanging on hooks near the door. The navigators ran into the target study room to get the mission folder we used for target study while the pilots ran outside and got onto a flat trailer with bench seats that were connected to the rear of a weapons carrier. All the while connecting the Mae West and sidearm. The navigators came out with the target folders and did the same thing. That was when the navigators said it was a practice or the real thing. Up to that point the pilot's did not know.

    90th BS B-57's on the Alert Pad at Kunsan AB, Korea, 1964.

    When everyone was aboard the trailer we were towed about 300 yards to the area the aircraft were parked. The ground crews by now had the canopies pumped open, the battery connected and the engine covers removed. The bomb door was open and the bottom half of the bomb was visible. The trailer was towed slowly down the center of the parked aircraft without stopping. We would jump off while it was in motion as it came abeam our aircraft and we would jump onto the ladder and climb into the seat.

    The airplane was already "cocked," meaning the battery switch was "ON" and the throttles in the start position. Prior to the alert, the battery was disconnected but the ground crew connected it when the alert siren sounded. Because the battery switch was on and ready for engine start, as I was getting into the seat I would reach down and hit both engine start switches, which fired the starter cartridges. Then I would settle into the seat, monitoring the engine instruments during the start while the crew chief helped me into the parachute harness. As soon as the engines reached idle speed and hydraulic pressure built up, the bomb door would close. I'd give the signal to pull the chocks and start taxiing to the active runway.

    The alert parking area was at mid-field so either way we had about one mile to taxi, which we did at faster than normal taxi speed. As we got to the end of the taxiway we'd pull the inboard engine throttle back to idle (depending on which end of the runway we went to) and make a quick 180-degree turn onto the active runway. Without stopping, both throttles were advanced to full throttle and we started a take-off roll. At 60 knots airspeed we'd throttle back to idle, apply brakes and turn off the runway; returning to the alert pad. Then we parked, "cocked" the aircraft for another alert and returned to the alert building. We were able to get the time down from when the alert siren blew to the last aircraft rolling down the runway, to five minutes.

    My thanks to former 90th pilots John Schaefer and Vaughan Wells for their help with this page.

    In addition to the B-57s, the F-100Ds of the 39th Air Division shared the space. Lester G. Frazier, an F-100 pilot with the 531st TFS made a comment about the B-57s that were enlightening in that he considered the B-57s carried "primitive" weapons. At that time, the Air Force had already decided to phase out the B-57s and replace them with the F-100Ds. He wrote, "We shared out Alert Pad with B-57's out of Yakota AB, Japan. The B-57's carried the rather primitive MK-7 Atomic weapon in their bomb bay. The B-57 also had four 20-millimeter cannons imbedded in the wings and one day, while working in the cockpit of a B-57, a crew chief pulled the gun trigger. Since the airplane was on jacks, the squat switches, designed to prevent the guns from firing when the weight of the airplane is on the landing gear, did not work and the guns fired. When a B-57 is on jacks, it is distinctly nose low, so the 20 mm rounds impacted the concrete in front of the airplane, some ricocheting into the headlight of a pickup, while a mechanic lounged against the other headlight, and other rounds smashing into the wing of an uploaded B-57 and setting the wing on fire. A navigator, passing by and using his head, grabbed a fire extinguisher and pulled it over to the wing only to find the extinguisher empty when he depressed the spray bar. Other personnel starting to react found serviceable fire extinguishers and were able to put out the fire. I heard the guns fire, but with a building between the B-57 and me, I did not witness the event and had no idea what was going on. However, outside the containment fence, I could see Korean workers running as fast as possible in no particular direction. There was little likelihood of a nuclear explosion, but if the fire had engulfed the weapon, there probably would have been a conventional explosion with release of radiation. A conventional explosion could have easily set up the entire Alert Pad for additional explosions."

    Off-duty Routine on C-pad: Later Bob continued, "When we did have our day off it was a blessing just to get out of the quonsets. To this day I hate playing cards, because that is all we did hour after hour. Pinochle and hearts till it came out of your ears. The lounge hut had a couple of old paperbacks and a TV with rabbit ears as I recall which didn't reduce the boredom a lot. Other than going to the chow hall which was only a few feet outside the fence we were in the Pad and stayed there. (The chow hall fare was not all that bad since it was made in the main base chow hall and trucked over to us. Since we weren't manned for KP, local nationals came with the food to serve and keep the place clean. That is until one of the mandatory local national strikes was called. Then they stacked C ration cans in the chow hall and first in got the best. The bread pudding was pretty cool. We would drive a pencil through the center of two of them, after they were out of the cans, and race them. I even got a can of Lucky Strike Greens, only the really old guys will know what I'm talking about there, and when I lit up it was like det cord! But I digress...)."

    "Oh, I forgot to mention that we did have movies brought in. The Roadrunner was the favorite as I remember. It was so bad that the guys would watch West Side Story and hardly make comments!"

    "Anyway, the day off really was not a full day in the sense that we were off from midnight to midnight. I think, it was more like 16 hours or so. We would get on the Kimchee Express bus and travel a dirt road to town for an OB or two with a charming bar girl to keep us company. When asked where we worked on Kunsan we lied...a bad way to begin a long term love affair I think. That was pretty much it for downtown for us. It was a bit daunting if your day off was in the middle of the week and you were in a foreign town for such a short time, so a lot of us stayed on base and did the golfing, bowling, club or just walked around. The ROKAF had F-86's and a couple of us would wander over to their area (and I could not point it out to you today if you had a gun to my head!) and got permission to look at the old birds. ... Other than that we had no contact with the ROKAF (other than the time a ROKAF F-86 strayed across the parallel and got shot up. For some reason he limped it all the way back to Kunsan and dumped near the runway. We went on FULL alert - I heard they even loaded 50's on T-33's in Japan - until the all clear. Talk about an adrenaline rush!). ... Other than that not much went on during days off. Just not being on the Pad was nice. Getting away from the card games, for me, was the biggest blessing of all."

    Later Bob provided some information about the golf course that was now in operation. The course is in the same basic location with the end-of-runway/dearm area right across the street. He wrote, "I remember the golf course well...never had a club in my had and my cute Korean caddy handed me one, I swung that sucker for all I was worth and saw it hook right over the runway into the path of an inbound B-57!!!! I put the club back in the bag, gave her a tip and headed to the Club to do what I did best. Never have had a golf club in my hand since."

    Bob parroted an interesting -- but untrue -- rumor that has been rotating around Kunsan for years...and still floats around today. It is the one of the hangar where the American GI's were executed by North Koreans and/or Chicoms and hung up on meat hooks. Nice rumor, but not true. First, there were no GIs stationed at Kunsan in 1950 and all the fighting with U.S. forces was taking place up in Taejon. Second, the ROKAF hangar did not even exist until about 1959. In addition, he mentioned a place called "Marine Hill" which was the rumored site of Marines fighting to the last man on the hill. The truth was that the hill never had any Marines on it. During the North Korean invasion, there were ROK Marines who fought on the Changhang side of the Kumgang river, but no U.S. Marines. During the Korean War, there was a Marine GCI unit, the MCGIS-1 (later redesignated the MACS-1) which was located near the Yellow Sea perimeter. In 1953, it moved to a hill outside the base. Though the tale was untrue, the rumor mills are what make life interesting for GIs -- and now we know that "Big Coyote" (the hill) had another name back then.

    Bob continued, "Once in awhile a crew would volunteer to make a burger run to the NCO club. They would take orders for up to 30 burgers, fries and cokes, leave the roving patrol to fill in in case of an alert, and head out. On the way we would ask the sky cops doing sentry duty for their orders too. Into the club we would walk with our Pad-C arm bands and go to the head of any line we wanted (All that power!!!) and order up. The ploy was to order a coke while we waited at the bar. When a couple of sips had been taken the Korean bartender would grab the coke can, put it behind the bar and "freshen" it up a bit. Not too much mind you, but it did bring a smile. When the order was done we would head out once again. One night the flightline bread-truck we were driving suddenly without explanation ended taking us onto the active runway. Kunsan's skycops apparently saw little humor in this and the chase was on. But even with that we did manage to deliver the burgers to our sentry buddies through aerial delivery from the speeding van. We made it to the Pad gate handed them their chow and they let us in. A rather loud argument ensued between the Kunsan cops and our guys as to whose jurisdiction we were under. We heard weapons being cocked (I told you they were a serious lot!) and it became quiet once again."

    The mistake of making a wrong turn in the dark would be very easy for someone new to the base as Taxiway Charlie (which leads to the runway) must be crossed to get to the C-pad. If upon coming back, you made the right turn too early, you'd be right on the active runway. Nowadays there are flashing lights and other signals that would prevent this...but this was 1960.

    B-57 with Mt. Fuji
    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)

    Jack Stoob of Arcata, California was a Navigator/Bombadier in the 8th Bomb Squadron (Tactical) from approximately November 1958 to October 1962. He first arrived TDY to Kunsan in Dec 58 and had many opportunities to revisit the Kunsan C-pad because of the monthly rotations circulated between the squadrons.

    Jack wrote, "My memory is a bit hazy but actually we were not too bored as I remember. There were running poker and bridge games going on all the time. I was a bridge player; at a tenth of a cent a point. An arriving crew would simply take the place of departing crew members' at either a poker or bridge table. Sometimes played up to sixteen hours a day." He added, "Also, towards the end of my tour a nine hole golf course was made available to us, if I recall correctly."

    He wrote, "Our daily routine included going to the officer's club for dinner and a movie. The movie was often interrupted by a loss of power." He later wrote that the name of the club was the "Bottom of the Mark." He went on, "I also recall that the only vegetable available there was lima beans. I still can't stand them." During this time, the local produce was fertilized with "night soil" (human waste) and all of local produce was considered unfit for consumption. As a result, on canned "greens" were authorized.

    When asked about his general impressions of Kunsan, he stated, "I don't have any real positive or negative impressions of the base. We were all in the same boat and made the best of having to be there. Because of the comradeship of all there, it didn't seem so bad. Of course, we all would have rather been back with our famlies but such was not the case. In fact, I had to be evacuated back from Kunsan to Johnson/Yokota three different times to be there for the birth of each of our three children. Tough on my wife but such was life at the time."

    He added later, "I do recall that early in my tours at Kunsan, we all slept in buildings near the officer's club. I'll be sending a picture of one in the future. In the middle of my stint there the sleeping quarters were on the pad itself. In the same building where the poker and bridge games were on-going. Near the end of my tour a permanent type barracks building(s) were constructed and became our sleeping quarters. These were again near the officer's club. I believe these were built about the same time that the golf course was built."

    (Go to 6175th ABG (1958) for photos of the base that Jack contributed. The photos are great in that they capture buildings left from the Korean War that would soon be leveled to make way for modern structures.)

    Kunsan AB (K-8) above end-of-runway showing the BOQ area (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Kunsan AB (K-8) above ROKAF Ramp (lower right); main base (middle); BOQ area (upper left). (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    ROKAF F-86s at Kunsan (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Photo of farmer with A-frame (Choge) outside of Kunsan AB (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Norman Hartman said, "The Korean farmer held me up for 5 cigarettes in order to take his photo."

    Norman Hartman outside the fence line at the Haje fishing village (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Later Norman wrote in Jan 2007, "As far as the flats, we got a day off and checked out a Ford crew cab from the motor pool and just drove around . ... When I was at K-8 the PAD was a total lock down, and you were there for thirty days. Some times if there was no workload you could get permission to explore the rest of the base and surrounding area. We would check out a truck from the motor pool for our local travels. We just happen to be able to drive out to the flats at low tide and we only did this just one time. On this outing is when I took the photo of the local farmer. On this day we also attracted a group of children , ages of 5 - 12 yrs old. As we walked thru the village they ( the children were chanting in a tune of GIGUM !, GIGUMI ! , GIGUM ! ) It took me a while to finally figure out they were wanting gum ! So me like a dumb shit just happen to have a pack of gum on me and figured at least I could make 10 kid's happy, right ! WRONG ! I gave the youngest one a stick of gum and at that instantly the other kids beat the crap out of this poor young kid. That was it , I shut down the welcome wagon and were outta here. On the way back to the truck the older kids were wanting cigarettes, I asked one of them how old he was , he said 12 yrs old ! I told him you are to young to smoke, at that in a true ( THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY ASS FROM THE COMMIES ) he replied F**K YOU G.I.! Upon hearing that we left Dodge City and never went back in two and a half years."

    Contingency Pad flightline. Note the double wire fence to side for alert area. Quonset huts in background for maintenance. (1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Norman wrote, "...this photo I believe is of the" BACK LINE" outside of the PAD. As you stated the huts are maint.to support the activities of the BACK LINE, and a U-2 open air hangar was located there also. The way that the shadow is on the ground tells me the wing tip is pointing WEST and it is around NOON time. The tail of the A/C is pointing south. So the Yellow Sea is to the left, of the left wing tip. The BACK LINE was home of about three B-57's from the 8Th & 13TH BS that were used to keep the flight crew's active. The A/C on the PAD were uploaded and were just waiting for a call. No flight ,except for the real thing. The BACK LINE was also home for some F-100's out of Misawa AFB. GREEN HOUSE IS UNKNOWN TO ME. SORRY !

    "When I was there the enlisted quarters were on the south side of the PAD and the Flt. crews quarters for PAD C were just further south from us. Anyone that lived at PAD C knows that the Kero heats always ran out of fuel at 0400 or 0430 and how was going to out wait who, to get more fuel ? Answer ! no one . You laid there waiting to go to the chow hall. I will say one thing,the food at K-8 was the best I ever had while in the service of our country, Wake Islands Chow Hall comes in second.

    "Yes , when I was there we did have double fencing with stacks of barb-wire, and at times dogs were in the area. The AP's were squirrely and in one case shot himself, just to get out of Korea and the hot pad. There was a wide red line that you did not walk out of or one of these fall on the sword guys would toast you. The secret word of the day would be Black Bear or it would change daily at times. It could be brown bear, polar bear, grizzly bear I don't know , but you better know what bear it was before you got to your A/C or you are dead.

    "I preferred to work at the PAD, to get away from all of the action at Fusa. I wanted to just relax with a nuclear device and smell the roses.

    I remember when we were flying over Korea on our way to K-8 on Air America"s C - 46's you could look down from 6 to 8 thousand feet at the ground area and see all the battle damage from years ago, It looked like the Korean War was just over last week.

    "When I was there, there was a step mountain ( HILL) called Marine Hill as we called it. and was as I have read in afew articales, and was told , American Airman or other U.S.A. personnal were hung upside down and defiled by the North Korean's.in the hangars that were close by." (SITE NOTE: This is one of the urban legends that has persisted until today. The fact is that the Americans (US Army, 3d Btn 63rd Regiment) departed what was called "Camp Hillenmeyer" in May 1948 and turned the camp over to the Korean Constabulary -- forerunners to the ROK Army. When the North overran Kunsan, there were no Americans -- and no Korean constabulary either. Anyone in power fled south to Mokpo and Pusan.)

    Flight from Kunsan to Tachikawa on Air America C-46 with Mt. Fuji off the wingtip (7 Jun 1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Boarding Pass for Tachikawa from Kunsan for Norman Hartman (7 Jun 1963)
    (Courtesy Norman Hartman)

    Norman Hartman said, "I figured the boarding pass would be of interest. In 61 Air America had the contract to haul are Butts around. It was an adventure in flying those C-46's, one night on the way to K-8 we got caught in a typhoon. We bounced around like a BB in a Pea Can, luckily I got to fly the jump set. The rear of the aircraft smelled like the worse bar I was ever in while in Japan. There is nothing worse then smelling recycled Kerin Beer and Aka Dama Wine." Later he noted, "After all of these years, I just noticed that the a/c number on the boarding pass is the same number that is on the wing of Air America's C-46 enroute from K-8.) (SITE NOTE: In the early 1970s, Kalani O'Sullivan remembers the TDYs to Korea where the troops from Yokota would take along their Akadama wine (much too sweet alcoholic fruit juice) to cut the rot-gut soju that was available in Korea.)

    After the End of Nuclear Alert: The rotation continued until April of 1964, when the 3rd BG returned to Yokota to begin the process of inactivation. According to Baugher site, "This would ordinarily have been the end of the service of the B-57B with the USAF, with the 3rd BG being inactivated and all its planes being transferred to the Air National Guard. However, the worsening situation in Indochina led to orders for the 8th and 13th Bomb Squadrons of the 3rd BG to deploy to Clark AFB in the Philippines for possible action in Vietnam. As it happened, this move did not take place until August 5, following the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which North Vietnamese gunboats clashed with US destroyers."

    After the deactivation of the 3rd Bombardment Wing, the nuclear commitment at Kunsan was continued by F-100s from the 39th Air Division of Misawa AB, Japan from 1964-1967. It was not until 1968 that 475th TFW Det 1 assumed standing nuclear alert at Kunsan.

    Martin B-57 Canberra:

    According to FAS site, "The origins of the B-57 Canberra can be traced indirectly to the latter part of World War II when the Luftwaffe began combat operations with two jet propelled aircraft. The Messerschmidt and the Arado. Although the introduction of these two aircraft was too late to affect the outcome of the war, it sent a shock throughout the allied air forces. In 1951, the United States broke a long-standing tradition by purchasing a foreign military aircraft to be manufactured in quantity for the U.S. Air Force. The B-57 is a modified version of the English Electric Canberra which was first flown in Great Britain on May 13, 1949, and later produced for the Royal Air Force."

    It continued, "After the Korean Conflict began in 1950, the U. S. Air Force looked for a jet-powered medium bomber to replace the aging Douglas B-26 Invader. In March 1951, the USAF contracted with the Glenn Martin Company to build the Canberra in the United States under a licensing agreement with English Electric. The first Canberra in American colors flew in 1951 with the first American built Canberra or Intruder in 1953. The Martin-built B-57 made its first flight on July 20, 1953. When production was terminated in 1959, a total of 403 Canberras had been produced for the USAF. The B-57 served as a light bomber and as a reconnaissance aircraft. American built Canberras have also been exported to Turkey as well as other countries. One unique feature about the B-57 was its rotating bomb bay door. The bombs were loaded on the door assembly itself which would rotate completely inside the bomb bay prior to weapon release."

    B-57 (From FAS Site)

    According to Martin B-57 Canberra/Night Intruder, "...the B-57B, which had as its most dominant feature a fully redesigned nose section that had all the traits of American design for that time. It was a tandem arrangement for the crew of two which raised the navigator out of the lower part of the fuselage so that he could see to navigate. Another unique feature of the Americanized bomber was its one-piece rotating bomb bay door. Attached by two pivot points fore and aft, it rotated 180 degrees to expose the bombs attached to it. This innovation eliminated the need to reduce the speed of the B-57 when opening the door, which is often the case when opening conventional clamshell doors. Also introduced were speed brakes to the sides of the fuselage for added control in descents." With the rotating bomb bay door, the bombs were loaded on the door assembly itself which would rotate completely inside the bomb bay prior to weapon release.

    8th TBS Bomber configuration:
    Photo from Mark Witt: B-57 Canberra site

    The following writeup of the B-57B is excerpted from Baugher site:

    The design of the B-57B definitive production version of the US-built Canberra began in early 1952, when the Air Materiel Command and the Air Research and Development Command recognized the basic deficiencies in the B-57A configuration. In March, they presented a list of the problems and shortcomings that had been encountered with the Canberra to Air Force Headquarters. In April, the two Commands provided the Air Council with a list of minimum changes that would be needed to make the B-57A into a useful combat aircraft. The Air Force committed the new aircraft to production on August 11, 1952. The aircraft was assigned the designation B-57B.

    Letter Contract AF 32(038)-22617 of March 1951 had originally called for the production of 250 B-57s, but it was amended several times. In the agreement of August 11, 102 B-57Bs were substituted for 70 B-57As and for 32 RB-57As. In Letter Contract AF 33(600)-22208, which was issued on September 19, 1952, 119 more B-57Bs were added. It was amended on December 18, bringing the Fiscal Year 1953 B-57B procurement to 191, bringing the planned total production of the B-57B to 293.

    However, the production order was not to remain at that level. In early 1954, the USAF cut back the FY 1953 B-57B procurement to 158 (a 33-aircraft reduction) and dropped the tentative order for 50 more. In the spring, 38 additional B-57Bs were cut in favor of an equal number of B-57C dual-control trainers. A few months later, 20 additional B-57Bs were diverted to the B-57D program, bringing the total reduction to 91 aircraft. In the event, a total of 202 B-57Bs were built, more than all the other versions put together.

    The most significant change introduced by the B-57B was the complete redesign of the cockpit area. The navigator/bombardier was moved from the "buried" position in the fuselage behind the pilot and moved upwards to a position behind the pilot, with both crew members seated in tandem underneath a large clamshell-opening bubble canopy. This arrangement improved visibility, provided more space for equipment, and made it easier for the navigator/bombardier to escape from the aircraft in the event of an emergency. The new arrangement also made for better communication between the two crew members. Although the pilot's seat was on the aircraft centerline, the navigator's seat was lightly offset to left of center to provide room for a Shoran receiver-indicator and the M-1 toss-bomb computer unit. The B-57B also introduced a flat-plate windshield which permitted the installation of a gunsight, which was impossible in the B-57A because of the distortion and flexing of the latter's curved one-piece canopy. The tandem cockpit seating arrangement was first tried out on Canberra WD940, but it is not certain if the aircraft was ever actually flown in this configuration. The first true B-57B flew on June 18, 1954. Four external pylons were fitted underneath each wing that could carry bombs or rockets. A 17-foot long, one-piece rotating bomb door was incorporated, which was a feature originally developed for the XB-51. The door rotated 180 degrees around two pivots, taking four seconds to open and six to close. The bombs were attached directly to the inward side of the door, so that when the door was rotated open the bombs were in an externally-mounted position. The attachment points on the door allowed a wide variety of stores to be carried, including nuclear weapons. The rotating door also made it possible to make bombing runs at higher speeds because the buffeting associated with conventional bomb doors when they were opened was eliminated. The development of this door was the main reason why the B-57 became the most accurate of the aircraft using the LABS. Another advantageous feature was that the entire door could easily be removed from the aircraft while it was on the ground, making it possible to pre-load the door with ordnance and quickly winch it into place inside the fuselage, enabling a rapid turnaround.

    An APW-11 Bombing Air Radar Guidance System was provided, helping the pilot to make accurate runs into the target. The Shoran bombing system was added for use by the bombardier/navigator. An APS-54 Radar Warning System was provided, which increased the angle of coverage astern of the aircraft and gave the crew some warning of AI illumination.

    There were important changes to the starter system, with the manually-operated cartridge of the RB-57A being replaced by one that was electrically-ignited. A pyrotechnic cartridge was loaded into a breech in the center of the engine air intake. When ignited, the cartridge drove a starter turbine which brought the engine up to a self-sustaining rpm via a clutch system. This eliminated the need for heavy and bulky ground starting units, but the starter cartridge spewed out a characteristic dense cloud of choking black smoke, which was often mistaken by inexperienced ground crews for an engine fire.

    The new B-model had a set of speed brakes installed at the waist position of the fuselage. It was found that the finger-like spoilers on the top and bottom of the outer wing panels did not provide sufficient drag for speed control, and these were supplemented by the waist speed brakes. It would turn out that the speed brakes would be very useful in controlling acceleration during diving passes in the ground attack role.

    Some other features incorporated on the B-57B worth mentioning are wing surface and engine inlet anti-icing, anti-skid wheel brakes, a drag chute for landing on short runways, and power boost controls.

    A forward-firing armament was fitted to the B-57B. The B-57B initially mounted eight 0.50-inch machine guns, four in each wing in pairs outboard of the engine nacelles. Each wing carried 300 rounds of ammunition. After the 83rd B-57B (52-1575), the eight 0.50-inch forward-firing machine guns in the wings were replaced by four M-39 20-mm cannon, two in each wing. The cannon were fixed to fire downwards at 3.5 degrees from the flight path. Each gun had 290 rounds of ammunition. The mounting of cannon in place of machine guns involved airframe alteration and considerable wing modifications. Consequently, machine-gun equipped B-57Bs were not converted to the cannon weapons.

    According to the original licensing agreement with English Electric, the name Canberra was also to be used to describe the Martin-built version of the British-designed twin-jet bomber, both by the Glenn L. Martin Company itself and also by the US Air Force. Although the official popular name of the B-57 was indeed listed as Canberra by the Air Force, this name was not used very often in practice, the aircraft being referred to simply as B-57.

    The first few B-57Bs to be built had a natural metal finish, but the remainder were finished in gloss black overall, in fitting with their night intruder role.

    The first true B-57B flew on June 18, 1954. The first organization to re-equip with the B-57 was the 345th Bomb Group (Tactical), based at Langley AFB in Virginia. The 345th was initially responsible for training its own crews. However, in the spring of 1955 a special B-57 operational conversion unit was formed -- the 3510th Combat Crew Training Wing (CCTW) at Randolph AFB in Texas. Shortly thereafter, a second B-57B unit, the 461st Bomb Group (Tactical) was formed at Hill AFB in Utah, receiving its first B-57Bs in January of 1955. In the summer of 1955, they moved to Blytheville AFB in Arkansas. The 461st BG was, in fact, the first of the Bomb Groups to be fully equipped with B-57s. B-57B units were also formed overseas. In 1956, the 38th Bomb Group (Tactical) was formed at Laon AB in France. The 3rd Bomb Group in the Far East at Johnson AB in Japan traded in its B-26s for B-57Bs in 1957.

    From the beginning, emphasis was placed on rapid deployment of the B-57B overseas in the event of a crisis. Tactical cooperation procedures were worked out in late 1956 in Exercise Sagebrush, which involved joint operations by the 461st BG and the RB-57As of the 363rd TRW and was carried out across the southeastern portion of the USA. The 461st TBG and the 363rd TRW were the aggressors in the exercise. In 1957, 13 B-57s of the 461st BG embarked on a goodwill tour of Latin America, after which it deployed to Laon in France to fly alongside the 38th BG in Exercise Counter Punch, NATO's annual tactical air exercise.

    Like the RB-57As, the B-57Bs suffered from engine malfunctions which filled up the cockpit with toxic fumes, which led to a brief grounding. The culprit turned out to be the engine compressor, which was quickly fixed and the grounding order was lifted. Difficulties with the aircraft's stabilizer control system led to another grounding order in February of 1955. The B-57Bs were released for flight a month later, but were restricted to a maximum speed of only 250 knots pending the modification of the horizontal stabilizer and the installation of a different stabilizer trim switch.

    During this period a number of B-57Bs were lost in accidents, particularly during high-speed, low-level operations when aircraft suddenly and unexplainably dived into the ground. As these accidents persisted, all tactically-assigned B-57Bs were grounded again in May of 1956 for a period of four months while the problem was investigated. The fault was eventually traced to a faulty tailplane actuator which set the trim incorrectly. The installation of a new actuator switch cured the problem.

    The USAF was not very happy with the B-57B as it was initially produced. It was still deemed to be inadequate to meet the night intruder and close support role for which it had originally been designed. The target acquisition system was inadequate, the navigational range was too short, and the radio navigation could not recover the aircraft after strikes. The armament was inadequate -- the gun-bomb-rocket sight, the gun charging systems, and the external stores release mechanisms were all unreliable. In September 1955, the Air Force organized a three-phase program to bring the B-57B up to tactical standards. Phase 1 installed the low altitude bombing system (LABS), the AN/APS-54 Search Radar, and the ALE-2 chaff dispenser. Phase 2 added the M-1 toss bomb computer and the AN/APG-31 tie-in equipment. This phase also involved modifications to the longitudinal control and stabilizer systems and to the fuel control panels and special weapon bomb bay doors. Phase III dealt with the AN/APN-59 radar beacon, which was destined never to be installed. These modifications were carried out by Martin subcontractors in the USA and overseas. These modifications were still in progress in late 1957. The service life of the B-57B with USAF tactical bomb groups was destined to be brief. After three years of service with the B-57s in tactical bomb groups, the decision was made to phase out the B-57 in favor of supersonic aircraft. By the end of 1957, the tactical squadrons of USAFE had began to re-equip with the F-100 Super Sabre, and early in 1958, the 38th BG returned to the USA to begin deactivation. In April of 1958 the 461st BG began to deactivate at Blytheville AFB. As the active duty USAF TAC bomb groups deactivated, their aircraft were transferred to the Air National Guard (ANG).

    The 345th BG was about to deactivate at Langley AFB when one of its squadrons had to be hastily deployed in July of 1958 to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to make a show of force in response to a crisis in Lebanon. They stayed there three months. After the Lebanon crisis was defused, the B-57Bs were returned to Langley AFB.

    The deactivation of the 345th BG was further delayed by a crisis in the Taiwan Straits. In August of 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. In late August, the 345th BG sent a detachment of B-57Bs to Okinawa to stay on alert just in case mainland forces tried to invade Taiwan. The 3rd BG stood by in Japan to strike strategic targets in China, North Korea and possibly even the Soviet Union should the crisis escalate out of control. Fortunately, the crisis soon cooled and hostilities were averted, and the 345th BG returned to the USA to begin deactivation. This was completed in June of 1959.

    Specification of Martin B-57B Canberra:

    Two Wright J65-W-5 turbojets, 7220 lb.s.t. each.

    Maximum speed 598 mph at 2500 feet, 575 mph at sea level. Cruising speed 476 mph. Stalling speed 124 mph. Combat ceiling 45,100 feet. Initial climb rate 6180 feet per minute. Combat radius 948 miles with 5240 pounds of bombs. 2722 miles ferry range.

    27,091 pounds empty, 53,721 pounds gross, 36,689 pounds combat weight.

    Wingspan 64 feet 0 inches, length 65 feet 6 inches, height 14 feet 10 inches, wing area 960 square feet.

    Four 20-mm M-39 cannon in the wings, 290 rounds per gun. 4500 pounds of bombs in internal bomb bay, 2800 pounds underwing.

    8TBS Aircraft on practice bombing mission near Mt. Fuji
    (Courtesy Jack Stoob)


    For inputs or comments, contact Kalani O'Sullivan.

    NOTICE/DISCLAIMER: The content of this page is unofficial and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of anyone associated with this page or any of those linked from this site. All opinions are those of the writer and are intended for entertainment purposes only. Links to other web pages are provided for convenience and do not, in any way, constitute an endorsement of the linked pages or any commercial or private issues or products presented there.

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    28 October 2003

    For inputs or comments, contact Kalani O'Sullivan.

    NOTICE/DISCLAIMER: The content of this page is unofficial and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of anyone associated with this page or any of those linked from this site. All opinions are those of the writer and are intended for entertainment purposes only. Links to other web pages are provided for convenience and do not, in any way, constitute an endorsement of the linked pages or any commercial or private issues or products presented there.

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    email to: kalani@hanvit.com

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