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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Tankers were the forgotten hero’s of the Vietnam war And also during later operations in the Sandbox.

A search will turn up lots of hits. Here’s just one good website about Vietnam operations by tankers. Interesting stuff. I’ve heard about some of these stories from shortly after they happened. Word would spread rapidly, thru ‘scuttlebutt' tales.

Also shows the fears the tanker crews operated under, when they "violated the rules”. And their heroism.

Imagine going near downtown Hanoi, unarmed, with no ECM equipment, to get a fighter out of trouble. It’s getting misty in here.

https://www.airforcemag.com/article/0698tigers/
 

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It’s just hard to imagine a F-105 GLIDER could get refueled.
 

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A 135 “towed” a slightly disabled 117 out of Kuwait one late night in ‘91

A damn versatile plane, been there, done that since the late fifties. Been around the world a few times on them. Was with Franks overseas on 9/11 on an Ec-135N. Best days of my life on those old gas cans
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
There was one little mistake in the article that I saw. The author mentioned the KC-15 had 100,000 pounds of fuel. The tanker could carry quite a bit more than that. One hundred thousand was about its max, normal off load.

When I've flown airborne alert for 26 hours without landing, we would have three refueling's, spaced out over time. The offload each time, was 130,000 pounds of fuel.

Basically the tanker would take off from a forward operating base in front of us. We would rendezvous shortly after he arrived at altitude, and hook up. We would get the fuel and the tanker would return to land, before it ran out of fuel.
 

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Caver, I noticed a vast increase of tankers for 1972 was that because of the increase bombing of NV and Linebacker?
 

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I think I only did one actual mission related AR on the C-141. We normally didn't need to, with 153,352lbs of fuel and cruising at .70. We did do a lot of training. Usually two FE's and 5 or 6 pilots.

Being behind a KC-135A sucked. Those little engines made it pretty rough back there. The KC-135R's, with the CFM-56's were much nicer. We didn't get behind KC-10's that often. But when we did, I had a little bubble to fill out on my AR paperwork, saying we were behind a -10. The wake, really moved the tail of the 141 around, I guess. They must have wanted to track it, for when a tail twisted off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think I only did one actual mission related AR on the C-141. We normally didn't need to, with 153,352lbs of fuel and cruising at .70. We did do a lot of training. Usually two FE's and 5 or 6 pilots.

Being behind a KC-135A sucked. Those little engines made it pretty rough back there. The KC-135R's, with the CFM-56's were much nicer. We didn't get behind KC-10's that often. But when we did, I had a little bubble to fill out on my AR paperwork, saying we were behind at -10. The wake, really moved the tail of the 141 around, I guess. They must have wanted to track it, for when a tail twisted off.
I never refueled behind anything but a 135A. The only time we noticed anything from the tankers engines, was if we got high in the envelope. We could feel some minor disturbance. Good warning to get backdown.
 

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There was one little mistake in the article that I saw. The author mentioned the KC-15 had 100,000 pounds of fuel. The tanker could carry quite a bit more than that. One hundred thousand was about its max, normal off load.

When I've flown airborne alert for 26 hours without landing, we would have three refueling's, spaced out over time. The offload each time, was 135,000 pounds of fuel.

Basically the tanker would take off from a forward operating base in front of us. We would rendezvous shortly after he arrived at altitude, and hook up. We would get the fuel and the tanker would return to land, before it ran out of fuel.
An Alert load for an A model was 180k. The CFMs raised the R model Alert load to 202k
Standard loads were dependent upon the mission and time of the year. I’ve flown on an A frame, taking off from Grissom with 165k onboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Interesting chart LEO/Dad.

Until B-52's went north of the DMZ, and to Hanoi, we lost many more B-52's due to operational factors than to enemy action. There was one more mid air collision in 67, after the one that is mentioned in the report below. And of course various landing and takeoff accidents, like the one at Okinawa.

Down south they had nothing that could shoot as high as we were flying. There was a civilian airway named 'Green 67' that ran right across Saigon. Airliners flew it all the time.

  • B-52 Stratofortress—31 total (17 in combat, two more being scrapped after sustaining battle damage, and 12 crashed in flight accidents)[12]
    • First losses were operational (non-combat) mid-air collision 2 B-52F 57-0047 and 57-0179 (441st Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Wing), 18 June 1965, South China Sea during air refueling orbit, 8 of 12 crewmen killed
    • Final loss: B-52D 55-0056 (307th Bomb Wing Provisional) to SAM 4 January 1973, crew rescued from Gulf of Tonkin
 

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Interesting chart LEO/Dad.

Until B-52's went north of the DMZ, and to Hanoi, we lost many more B-52's due to operational factors than to enemy action. There was one more mid air collision in 67, after the one that is mentioned in the report below. And of course various landing and takeoff accidents, like the one at Okinawa.

Down south they had nothing that could shoot as high as we were flying. There was a civilian airway named 'Green 67' that ran right across Saigon. Airliners flew it all the time.

  • B-52 Stratofortress—31 total (17 in combat, two more being scrapped after sustaining battle damage, and 12 crashed in flight accidents)[12]
    • First losses were operational (non-combat) mid-air collision 2 B-52F 57-0047 and 57-0179 (441st Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Wing), 18 June 1965, South China Sea during air refueling orbit, 8 of 12 crewmen killed
    • Final loss: B-52D 55-0056 (307th Bomb Wing Provisional) to SAM 4 January 1973, crew rescued from Gulf of Tonkin

I was assigned to the 320th Bomb Wing (H). That was a very long time ago!
 

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What a great article. Thanks Caver 60 for posting.
 

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There's one story where the fighter was leaking fuel so bad, the tanker kept pumping fuel into him as he returned to base. On short final, the tanker disconnected and went around, while the fighter landed.
I read a series of books by a Vietnam era USAF veteran named Mark Berent. He gives tankers a lot of props in that series. I heard a caller/friend of Rush Limbaugh on his radio show one day, he was a KC135 pilot. The quote I remember was "No one kicks ass without tanker gas".
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I recall the night a tanker saved us from having to do a gear up landing. I don't think anyone has ever done one of those in a BUFF. I searched and couldn't find one and I don't remember any stories of one ever happening.

We were returning from a normal 12 hour flying time, Guam mission. We started penetration for landing from 45,000 feet. When we put the landing gear lever down, none of them went down. As we continued the penetration we hit the emergency procedures checklist. I can't remember now, but I think we only got one main down.

We leveled at 27,000 feet and headed for the airborne tanker. In those days SAC still had a
WW-II mentality and was putting 12 bombers on a target. So when the wave returned to Guam, they would launch a tanker, in case anyone had trouble.

We took on about 40,000 pounds of fuel as I remember. We then flew loose formation behind the tanker while trying to get the gear down. They had us patched into Boeing Tech Reps from the states, trying to help us solve our problem.

Then the tanker announced he needed to land. He said he could give us another 20,000 pounds right then. But he was the only tanker down there that night, and if we needed more fuel, he would land, refuel, and bring it up to us.

We worked for about 2 1/2 hours trying everything Boeing could come up with. Finally we thought we had them down, but the cockpit indications showed them not locked.

We went down to 10,000 feet and the Navigator crawled back to look the front trucks over. He reported they looked over center and locked. We had gear pins on board, but there was no way anybody was going to climb out on those trucks at 10,000 feet and pin them.

The gunner gave the same report on the rear trucks. The tip gear lights were burning, so we figured they were down. We landed, stopped straight ahead on the runway, and maintenance came out and pinned them. Big sigh of relief.
 
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