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EB-66 FE

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An A/3c fe?  Hard pressed to understand what fe inflight duties there were on a twin engine light bomber.  And what the qualifications were that allowed a rookie one striper just out of tech school to qualify.  Guessing the position more resembling a flying crch. 

When I was an A/3c about all I was allowed to do was empty the relief can and wipe down the engine exhaust paths.  After advancement to A/2c was then permitted to clean the windscreen and wipe down the struts.  

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Hmmm...I know Wikapedia isn't necessarily the gospel in every case; but...

Design and development

At first, the United States Air Force intended the conversion to be an easy matter of removing the carrier-specific features, so no prototypes were ordered, just five pre-production RB-66A models (the reconnaissance mission being considered a high priority). The list of modifications grew, and before long, the supposedly easy conversion became what was substantially a new aircraft. Many of the changes were due to the USAF's requirement for low-level operations, while the Navy version had originally been designed and employed as a high-altitude nuclear strike bomber. Two major differences between the A-3 and the B-66 consisted in the types of jet engines used, and the emergency crew escape systems. The A-3 had two J57 turbojet engines, whereas the B-66 had two Allison J71s. The B-66 was equipped with ejection seats whereas the A-3 was not.

The first RB-66A pre-production aircraft flew in 1954, whereas the first production RB-66B aircraft flew in the beginning of 1955.

The basic B-66 design proved to be a versatile one, and was produced or modified into a variety of other versions, including the EB-66, RB-66, and the WB-66. Likewise, many variants of the A-3 Skywarrior were produced.

Operational history

RB-66B of 19 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron based at RAF Sculthorpe England in 1957

Deliveries to the Air Force began in 1956, with 145 of this model produced. RB-66s were used as the primary night photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the USAF during this time, many examples serving with tactical reconnaissance squadrons based in the United Kingdom and in West Germany. A total of 72 of the B-66B bomber version were built, 69 fewer than originally planned. A total of 13 B-66B aircraft later were modified into EB-66B electronic countermeasures (ECM) aircraft for the cold war with Russia, and were stationed at RAF Chelveston with the 42nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron who did the conversion in the early 1960s. They would rotate out of an alert pad in Spain during the time that the 42nd had them. These and the RB-66Cs that the 42nd had would eventually be sent to Vietnam. Unlike the U.S. Navy's A-3 Skywarrior, which performed some bombing missions, the Destroyer was not used as a bomber in Vietnam.

Specifications (B-66)

General characteristics


One of the guys in my first ops duty in Thailand had been in B-66 bomb-droppers in France earlier in his career. He wasn't an EWO. Makes me wonder if the crew make-up was pilot, nav-bomb, and EWO in the bombers. For sure there wouild have been an EWO in the EB's. I suspect that this post is bs of somekind. No FE in B-47 or B-52. "Unlike...the Destroyer was not used as a bomber in Vietnam..." according to Wikapedia.

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On 8/2/2018 at 11:03 AM, larry myers said:

An A/3c fe?    Guessing the position more resembling a flying crch


Yep, Larry, that was my first thought -- a flying crch, but all the B-66's at Korat took off and landed back at the same base.  Also, these planes were flying over North Vietnam.  Don't think they'd allow a crew chief to tag along.

When you mentioned your duties as an A/3C, you omitted the wash rack.  Spent a lot of time washing the bellies of a lot of B-models.

Don R.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don,  I think you've hit the nail on the head.  I agree, no way would a non-essential person be allowed to fly on an aircraft entering hostile territory.  Further, as you said, the fact the aircraft took off, flew the sortie and landed back at home base lends further credence to your statement.  Guessing there was something peculiar going on in the outfit that caused senior leadership to decide a flt. eng. was necessary.

My first five years were in a B-47E wing.  The last three years were as a crew chief.  Strange thing I don't remember ever washing my aircraft.  And don't remember where the wash rack was.  In my defense, I don't remember what I had for lunch.  However, my next three assignments I vividly remember washing mine and other acft. … repeatedly.  By the time I got to CCK thankfully had been promoted out of the wash rack crew.  The 374th was doing it the smart way...by contractor.   

The one thing I remember well that you didn't mention was KP.  The worst ass chewing I ever got was by the mess sergeant.  Seems I left the potatoes in the peeler too long and they came out the size of golf balls.  

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  • 11 months later...

I was FE on B-66, kind of.  Little late to reply but just saw this post.  I was assigned to a C-130 detachment in ElCentro NAS as an E6  flight engineer in 1968 .  Detached from Edwards.   While our primary job was C130 FE we  were also utilized in the B66 and the back seat of the A7 something .  Single engine prop fighter of some kind.   Basically whenever they needed a non qualified to sit in a seat for a single purpose they tapped an FE or a temporarily assigned pilot, in lieu of flying someone down from Edwards.  The B66, when on simple non recon training missions,  was sometimes flown single pilot,  so some fool (the FE) had to be available to crank the emergency gear handle. located in the bomb bay. We sat in the Nav seat with no other duties. I liked it because I was working toward my pilots license and  sometimes I got to sit the right seat, did some touch and goes and other fun stuff.    Forgot why we were in the A6 type aircraft.  I think to turn on some cameras. Anywise system command was a  "different" kind of Air Force.  The B-66 mission was to photograph special pallets being airdropped from the Herc.  Later we found out these Goodyear chutes and pallets were designed to drop bombs.  Once we flew up to the bomb range at Hill AFB and dropped one of the first bombs. I think we were at 5,000 ft AGL and got the hell out of Dodge at full power the minute that bomb was out of the cargo compartment but we still felt a sizeable blast effect.  Exciting for a FE who had only flown passengers, cargo and tactical missions.

During my time at El Centro the FEs were the ranking enlisted people. 2 of us.  The maintenance workforce was civilians and a whole bunch of young airman who were getting on the job training from the civilians.  The young administrative Lt. assigned there said he had to have sergeants to pull CQ duty because the airman were all getting drunk and rowdy in Mexico.   We tried to explain crew rest rules to him but he wasn't having it. One night on CQ duty it was really boisterous and I didn't get any sleep. I was scheduled to fly and claimed crew rest violation to the Operations officer. Now the pilots were pissed because there was no other FE available.   After that we didn't have to pull CQ duty and I got to sleep at home with my family. 

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Correction to FE flying on B-66. on my post.  In my eighties, easily confused. 😁 We did have to sit at nav table when no one else was aboard but it was a one pilot airplane and I used to stand behind the pilot and he gave me navigations lessons as we flew around the desert. Sorry about that.
























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