Soviet bombers and airfields

with tales of radar contacts

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This section provides images of the Soviet aircraft threats of the 1950s and 1960s.

and don't tell me that the Soviets couldn't do mid-air refueling to extend range -

Tales of Radar Contacts
This section contains extracts from "" dated October 27 & 28, 2012

> Just wondering how many of us actually saw Soviet bombers on our scopes? 
> I can remember only twice at the 640th in Newfoundland and they were 
> at the edge of our coverage out over the Atlantic. 
> Might have happened more often for some other stations?
> Larry Burfield
> 36th Air Division SAGE
> 640th AC&W
> and TAC locations
You should have been in either Rockville or Hofn Iceland.It was almost a daily occurance as the bears made their runs to Cuba.Then we would have them do recon on our sites.Usually with a us Interceptor along side them.Made for some interesting times. Woodie Gay MSgt Ret
Rockville 1959/60and 72/74

I probably tracked a dozen or so while in Alaska in the very early 70's(most TU-95's, but at least two Backfires), but several dozen while flying on Connies out of Keflavic. At the very end of the Icelandic mission for the 121's, the Det Commander started issuing 'Bear Hair'(bear hair tied with colored yarn and hung from our name tags) for controlled intercepts by the 57th FIS Black Knights. I was one of a small handful who made 'Ace' with 4 Bear Hair and one May Hair for an intercept of an IL-38 May ASW. Good question, it sure brought back some sweet memories.
Bob Perkins

Re: Soviet Bombers on Scopes
Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:24 am (PDT) . Posted by:
"Ted Wilming" ted.wilming
In the 1960's there would be overflights of Soviet A/C on the Eastern Radar Picket line (AGR's) and we also had Elint vessels in the area. during the Cuban missile crisis many ships on the Southern Alaska, at the 626th, the crates off the Prebiloff (sp) Is. Also incursions in the Ak coast, we did the same thing out of Eilson, with the WB-66.

Re: Soviet Bombers on Scopes
Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:40 am (PDT) . Posted by: "ebetten418" ebetten418
I was stationed at the Operations Control Center (OPCON) at Keflavik from '68-'69. We received information from Norwegian and other sensitive at the time reporting sources on Soviet flights bound for the GIUK gap as soon as they came around the cape. Some soviet bombers came south a ways and then headed back toward the cape while others headed in a southerly direction.
Those that continued to head southerly were of course of interest to us. At some point radar and whatever other source information we had would cease. We would in turn estimate when the subject aircraft would penetrate the GUIK area. In most cases, we were right on the money on predicting when the bombers would arrive. Of course, there were many times when some of the bombers would turn north back toward the cape, and others would head west/southwest taking them on a path around the north side of Iceland.
I recall one track that had 22 aircraft in it. Once again, these were aircraft that had come around the cape and had not yet penetrated the GUIK gap.
I don't know how many total Soviet bombers at one time Rockville or Hofn tracked on the PPI. That would be interesting to know.
We, Rockville, and Hofn were always aware when the civilian version of the Bear came from the Soviet Union enroute to Cuba - it had a published flight plan. What was interesting is that sometimes a Bear bomber would fly along with it in an attempt to hide while enroute through the GUIK gap. I know of several instances when we figured it out and launched. I don't know how many Bears got away with it for various reasons to include not being seen on active radar altogether or seen on active radar too late to launch.
Rich Bettencourt
SMSgt, Retired

Re: Soviet Bombers on Scopes
Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:30 pm (PDT) . Posted by:
"Bob and Dee Miller"
I was stationed at Rockville, and in June or July of 1971 we tracked 51 Zombies during 1 day shift. I have the exact date written on a calendar - somewhere. We were told that our naval fleet was having an exercise.
The 57th FIS was sure busy that day! By chance, were any of you there that day?
Robert (Bob) Miller
1968 - 70 965/963rd McClellan
1970 - 71 932nd, Rockville
1971 - 72 4642nd SAGE, Malmstrom

Re: Soviet Bombers on Scopes
Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:31 pm (PDT) . Posted by:
"Fitz, Chief Fitz, Chief" chieffitz1935
Yes Woodie,we had the same situation at Cartwright, Labrador through out 1967. The Bears would be heading south and then turn and run straight at our station after penetrating the CAIDZ. We would scramble the deployed Loring AFB F-106s out of Goose and chase their Bear tails back out over the Atlantic and they would go on their way south. Lots of times they would call in on our control frequency and comment on our set up and how we were improving, etc. A couple times the rascals sent us pictures of our birds positioned off their wings. Several ofthose high rankingfighter pilots wanted permission to fire tracers at them to teach them a lesson and to not keep mooning our pilots. I was not ready for WW III though. Yep, excitingtimes, especially for me for the commander, Major Norton E Byrd and I were the closest thing to controllers assigned after the PTB converted us to a NSS station since "we had no threat or need for a control capability." Some one forgot to inform the Ruskies and Ol Ivan usually got me scrambled about 04:00 hours to deal with him. A couple of times while I had the sixes inbound for recovery we had spotted a Russian sub from our one observation window surfaced right off the coast about a mile or less with the sailors lined up on top and I got the interceptors to buzz them a couple times up close and personal. Did not take long for them to get back inside and everything under water except the periscope that left a little wake as they were maneuvering outbound. Ah yes good times at beautiful Cartwright. After I got the fighters back home it was chow prep time and I would go down and help my head cook buddy fix breakfast for the troops with those lovely green eggs and powdered everything. Thanks Woodie for sharing your experiences with them bad guys. Our guys returning from the REMOTE sites in Alaska also told me some similiar stories of the threatening runs by the Russian bombers, too. So we should hear lots more first hand stories from the Alaska radar vets as well. All be well, Chief Fitz

Re: Soviet Bombers on Scopes
Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:41 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "miller4106" miller4106
We saw them a few times south of Iceland when I was there at the 932nd AC&W Sq (H-1) Rockville AS in 1964-65. They were flying recce over our Navy ships in the North Atlantic.
Their NATO ID status was "Zombie". TSGT Allen Miller USAF RET

from Ralph Barrett,CMSGT,USAF,RET.
In 1966 I was stationed at Stephensville, Newfoundland, Canada,640th AC&W SQ., a 27560 Radar Operator.Most of the time I worked as the Movements and Identification Tech. I had the Flight Plans on all Air Traffic coming across the Atlantic and passing through the Air Defense Identification Zone. All of the Soviet Aircraft , including the Bombers would pass through the ADIZ and would cross over the most southern part of Newfoundland. Although we passed their movemovents forward, there was never a scramble. They were always enroute to Cuba. I always felt that they would do it on purpose, just to tick us off. I ask for fighters to check them out, but it never happened.We would have about 110 flight plans per a day shift.I could not even guess how many they would have today.

Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:35 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Wallace Davis" noloadfs
We were very busy with the Bears on the 4th of July 1976 at Rockville, I was one worn out ID Tech at the end of my shift.
Wally Davis
Rockville 76/77

Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:35 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "John Tianen" jtianen1943
At H-1 in Iceland in '62 and '63, the weapons director's names were put on the plotting board in ops. Every time they ran a successful intercept against a TU-95, a red star was placed alongside their name. Kind of like fighter pilots who put a red star on their aircraft after they shot down a MIG. We had a commander's call one day and they showed us 35MM slides that the pilots of the 57th FIS took as they flew alongside the Bears. You could see the faces of some of the crew members in the Bears. Some of them even waved.
John Tianen

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Started March 28, 1997
Updated April 4, 2011