Strategic Air Command

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Strategic Air Command
SAC Shield.svg
Strategic Air Command emblem
Active US Army Air Forces
(15 December 1944 – 18 September 1947)
US Air Force
(18 September 1947 – 1 June 1992)
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Major Command
Garrison/HQ Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
Motto "Peace is our Profession"
Curtis LeMay

Strategic Air Command (SAC) is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1946 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was the command and control of the United States' land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strategic nuclear arsenal.

SAC also controlled the infrastructure necessary to support the strategic bomber and ICBM operations, such as aerial refueling tanker aircraft to refuel the bombers in flight, strategic reconnaissance aircraft, command post aircraft, and, until 1957, fighter escorts.

It was inactivated on 1 June 1992 and its personnel and equipment were absorbed by Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command. Its direct successor, Air Force Global Strike Command was activated on 7 August 2009 to meet the needs of the Air Force to develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operation.

Overview[edit source | edit]

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Air Force instituted a comprehensive reorganization of its major commands. As part of this reorganization, SAC was disestablished on 1 June 1992. As part of the reorganization, SAC's bomber aircraft, ICBMs, strategic reconnaissance aircraft, and command post aircraft were merged with USAF fighter and other tactical aircraft assets and reassigned to the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC). This included B-52 and B-1 bomber aircraft assigned to the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, respectively.

At the same time, most of SAC's aerial refueling tanker aircraft, including those in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, were reassigned to the new Air Mobility Command (AMC). Tankers based in Europe were reassigned to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), while regular air force tankers in the Pacific, as well as Alaska Air National Guard tankers, were reassigned to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).

The ICBM force was later transferred from ACC to the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) on 1 July 1993. Another change in late 2009 and early 2010 resulted in the transfer of the ICBM force from AFSPC and the B-52 and B-2 strategic bomber force from ACC to the newly established Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), which is a direct descendant of SAC.[1]

History[edit source | edit]

1946-tbd SAC patch

SAC's United States Army Air Forces predecessor was the Continental Air Forces (CAF) established on 13 December 1944 (activated 15 December 1944)[citation needed] during the World War II Strategic Bombing Campaign in the European Theatre (the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were conducted by USASTAF's Twentieth Air Force). Preceded by "4 continental air forces" formed in early 1941 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th Air Forces in the northeast, northwest, southeast, & southwest CONUS, respectively);[2] the CAF coordinated the training activities after 8 May 1945 of those numbered air forces and of I Troop Carrier Command.[citation needed] After planning for a separate USAF began in 1945, in January 1946 "Generals Eisenhower and Spaatz agreed on an Air Force organization [composed of] the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, the Tactical Air Command, the Air Transport Command and the supporting Air Technical Service Command, Air Training Command, the Air University, and the Air Force Center."[3] CAF had 13 bombardment groups transferred just before SAC was established, e.g., 40th (effectively became 43rd),[when?] 44th, the 93rd, 444th, 448th (became 92nd), 449th, 467th (effectively became 301st), 485th, and 498th (became 307th). There was also the 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy;[4] and also active was the 73rd Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy (several of these units were quickly disbanded or renumbered.)

On 21 March 1946 Continental Air Forces was disestablished and its airfields[which?] were reassigned to TAC, ADC, and SAC; while the CAF headquarters (personnel and facilities at Bolling Field) became SAC headquarters under Commander in Chief General George C. Kenney.[5] Fifteenth Air Force was assigned to SAC on 31 March (Eighth Air Force in June 1946), and SAC HQ moved to Andrews AFB on 20 October 1946. Strategic Air Command continued the evaluation of bomber crews with the last of 888 simulated bomb runs scored against San Diego[6] in 1946 (2,499 SAC runs were scored in 1947.)[7]

6th Bombardment Wing B-29 Superfortress 44-62234, Walker AFB, New Mexico, 1951
11th Bombardment Wing Convair B-36J-5-CF Peacemaker 52-2225 1955 showing "Six turnin', four burnin".

Initial USAF Major Command[edit source | edit]

After transferring to the September 1947 United States Air Force, units reporting directly to SAC headquarters were the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces, 3 fighter wings, a bomb wing, and 2 reconnaissance units.[8] In May 1948 versus ADC's Blue force, SAC was the "Red" strike force flying war game attacks on Eastern Seaboard targets as far south as Virginia.[9]:77 After a "scathing" Spring 1948 SAC review by Charles A. Lindbergh, Kenney was removed on 15 October.[10] The 8AF's Lieutenant General Curtis LeMay became CINCSAC on 19 October 1948 when the command had only 60 nuclear capable aircraft (none with long-range capabilities[11]—the 20AF's B-29 Superfortress fleet had largely been demobilized 1945-6).[citation needed] The B-50 Superfortress (improved B-29) was first delivered to SAC in June 1948,[12] and SAC's 1st Convair B-36 Peacemaker arrived at Kirtland AFB in September 1948[13] (SAC Radar Bomb Scoring runs in 1948 more than quadrupled to 12,084.)[7] SAC fighter escort wings' F-51Ds and later F-82Es were replaced with Republic F-84G Thunderjets by 1949.

January 1949 simulated raids on Patterson & Wright Fields by "LeMay's entire command…were appalling",[10] and LeMay's improvements through the year ranged from increased sorties to the opening of a SAC survival school for mountainous terrain at Camp Carson, Colorado, on 16 December 1949 (moved 1952 to Stead AFB, then ATC in 1954).[14] A USAF reorganization in 1949 transferred Barksdale Air Force Base to SAC from ATC,[14]:59 and SAC Emergency War Plan 1-49 was for delivering 133 atomic bombs, "the entire stockpile…in a single massive attack" on 70 Soviet cities over[specify] 30 days.[15]

Korean War[edit source | edit]

During the Korean War, 15th Air Force was ordered to deploy four of its non nuclear-capable B-29 groups to Far East Air Force to perform strategic bombardment missions over North Korea. To support the strategic bombing mission, many stored B-29 aircraft were retrieved from storage at Pyote AFB in West Texas and refurbished. After initial successes in day bombardment missions over North Korea in the summer of 1950, the enemy introduced the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 interceptor, which outclassed both the propeller-driven B-29 and their straight-wing F-84G Thunderjet escort fighters. The groups suffered severe losses and the United States was forced to change tactics to night bombardment missions by smaller groups or attacks by individual bombers. As many as 48 B-29s were lost in crash landings or written off because of heavy damage after returning to base. When the Korean War ended on 27 July 1953, the B-29s had flown over 21,000 sorties, nearly 167,000 tons of bombs had been dropped, and 34 B-29s had been lost in combat.[16]

Boeing B-47B Stratojet rocket-assisted take off (RATO) on April 15, 1954
93d Bombardment Wing B-52Bs at Castle AFB, California, after their record-setting[specify] round-the-world flight in 1957

Strategic bombardment[edit source | edit]

SAC's 1st jet strategic bomber was the B-47 Stratojet medium bomber in 1951, which was the backbone of SAC until 1957[5] and was the main resource for the October 1953 "The New Look" strategy: "to minimize the threat[17] ... the major purpose of air defense was not to shoot down enemy bombers--it was to allow SAC[9] … to get into the air [and] not be destroyed on the ground [to allow] massive retaliation".[18] Concern of a bomber gap after the 1955 Soviet Aviation Day resulted in a buildup to a US peak of "over 2,500 bombers" after production "of over 2,000 B-47s and almost 750 B-52s." (50% of the aircraft & 80% of the bombers in SAC at one time[when?] were B-47s).[5]:104 Overseas "Reflex" forward bases in Spain and Turkey (Sixteenth Air Force, 1957–66) used SAC B-47 wings rotated from the US to reach Soviet Union targets.[19]

The 1955 SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition had RBS runs on Amarillo, Denver, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, San Antonio[20] and Phoenix;[21] and the 1957 competition ("Operation Longshot")[22] had three targets: Atlanta, Kansas City, and St. Louis.[23] The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber was first delivered to SAC in June 1955 and replaced the B-36 by 1958 with a peak of 650 SAC B-52s operating in 1963 (42 squadrons & 38 SAC bases).[24] In 1957, SAC headquarters moved from the complex formerly used for WWII bomber production to Offutt building 500, and SAC's fighter escort wings were transferred to TAC during 1957–58.[25] To counter Soviet surface-to-air missiles, SAC began low-altitude bombing training on Oil Burner routes in November 1959,[26] and SAC completed UK deployment of the PGM-17 Thor IRBM with turnover of the last British-based Thor to the RAF on 22 April 1960.

SAC's airborne alerts included operations such as the 1960-8 Chrome Dome which had 5 B-52 crashes, and the 1961 Operation Looking Glass used SAC aircraft as Airborne Command Posts in the Post-Attack Command and Control System. The Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic medum bomber was 1st received by SAC on 11 May 1961 (1st General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark in 1965), and a SAC squadron performed Lockheed U-2 surveillance during the Cuban missile crisis. After early 1961 development by SAC of "a Radar Bomb Scoring field kit for use in NIKE Systems",[27] SAC aircraft flew mock penetrations into Air Defense Command sectors in the 1961 "SAGE/Missile Master test program",[28] as well as the joint SAC-NORAD Sky Shield II exercise followed by Sky Shield III on 2 September 1962.[29] Early 1960s cancellations of planned Strategic Air Command resources included the Mach 3 North American B-70 in 1961, the GAM-87 Skybolt in 1962, and Colorado's Deep Underground Support Center in 1963. After SAC's 1st Missile Division was activated in 1957, SAC's 1st intercontinental missile base was on alert status in May 1960, and its 1st ICBM launch complex (Titan I Missile Complex 1A) was dedicated April 1962 (the SM-65F Atlas became operational in September 1962.) Secretary of Defense McNamara decided to reduce the number of B-52s in favor of the Titan II and Minuteman missiles beginning in 1966.[citation needed]

SAC FB-111A Strike aircraft in formation

Vietnam War[edit source | edit]

SAC conducted the Vietnam War's Operation Arc Light (1965–73)[30] and operated the B-52D model (a 1956 design for low altitude operations with cruise missiles and decoys) modified by Project Big Belly to increase conventional bomb capacity (entered combat in April 1966).[31] SAC's RBS Squadrons were discontinued when most of their bomb scoring personnel transferred to Vietnam for 1966-73 Combat Skyspot ground-directed bombing, e.g., for 1972 Operation Linebacker II bombings of Hanoi/Haiphong in which 25 SAC aircrew members were killed.[32]

SAC retired the B-58 in 1970 and with the c. 1973 Vietnam War draw-down, SAC inactivated wings and retired older B-52B, B-52C, B-52E and B-52F aircraft (1975 SAC strength included several hundred B-52D, B-52G, B-52H and FB-111A aircraft.)[16] "SAC's first major exercise in 23 years" was the Global Shield '79.[33] The Rockwell B-1A replacement for the B-52 was cancelled in 1977 and after the program was revived in 1982, the 1st Rockwell B-1B Lancer was delivered to SAC in 1987 (the stealth bomber developed for SAC was delivered in 1993 after SAC was inactivate.)[34] SAC's 1991 Gulf War B-52D attacks were followed by SAC bomber and refuelling aircraft being taken off continuous nuclear alert on 27 September 1991 at the end of the Cold War.[35][36]

In-flight refueling[edit source | edit]

B-52D Stratofortress being refuled by a KC-135 Stratotanker, 1965

In-flight refueling, long a dream of airmen, became a reality with SAC in July 1952 when the 31st Fighter-Escort Wing took off from Turner AFB, Georgia with 60 F-84G Thunderjets and flew the 1,800 nautical miles to Travis AFB, California non-stop. Refueled en route by 24 KB-29P Superfortresses modified into aerial tankers over Texas, this was the first large-scale aerial refueling exercise. This was followed-up by exercise Fox Peter One. At 1,860 nautical miles and with no alternate landing sites or divert fields, the flight from Travis AFB to Hickam AFB (Territory of Hawaii), was the longest of the trans-Pacific flight. All of the 31st FEW fighters made it and then island-hopped the rest of the way to Yokota Air Base, Japan, via Midway Island, Wake Island, Eniwetok, Guam, and Iwo Jima. The arrival of the last aircraft in Japan on July 16, less than two weeks after leaving Georgia, marked Fox Peter One as a resounding success.[37]

The second-generation aerial tanker, KC-97 Stratotanker came into active service shortly afterwards. The KC-97 became essential to SAC as it was capable of enhancing the limited range of about 2000 miles of the new B-47 Stratojet medium jet bomber.[11]:108 In-flight fueling gave the B-47 unlimited range and the ability to fly for extended periods of time. This new ability was openly demonstrated to the USSR with several well publicized non-stop flights around the world. The development meant that SAC was no longer dependent on stationing nuclear capable bombers in foreign countries like Spain and Britain, which proved to be politically sensitive in the late 1940s/early 1950s.[11]:108 In the 1960s, KC-97s began to be assigned to SAC-gained Air National Guard wings.

The Boeing Company's model 367-80 was the basic design for the commercial 707 jet airliner as well as the KC-135A Stratotanker. In 1954, the Air Force purchased the first 29 of its future 732-plane fleet. The first aircraft flew in August 1956 and the initial production Stratotanker was delivered to SAC at Castle Air Force Base, California, in June 1957. Assigned primarily to B-52 Stratofortress Heavy bomber wings, the KC-135 gave the B-52 an unlimited range for carrying out its global mission. The last KC-135 was delivered to SAC in 1965.[38] Like its predecessor, the KC-97, in the 1970s KC-135s began to be assigned to SAC Air National Guard units.

A modified McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) DC-10 airliner, the KC-10A Extender entered service with SAC in 1981. Although it retained 88 percent of systems commonality with the DC-10, it was equipped with additional systems and equipment necessary for its Air Force mission as an aerial tanker. These additions include military avionics; aerial refueling boom and aerial refueling hose and drogue; seated aerial refueling operator station; and aerial refueling receptacle and satellite communications.[39]

Strategic reconnaissance[edit source | edit]

One of the SAC's primary missions was to plan and acquire strategic reconnaissance on a global scale. Indeed, one of the most important and dangerous missions during the Cold War era was electronic and photographic reconnaissance. SAC crews often flew perilously close to a border over land or just outside the twelve mile limit defining international waters. Until the 1960 U-2 incident when the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, the general public was unaware of this mission.

When SAC was created in 1946, its initial reconnaissance forces consisted mostly of F-2 reconnaissance aircraft (which were the photo variant of Beech C-45 Expeditor light transports). By 1947 SAC had acquired one F-9C squadron (12 photo-reconnaissance configured B-17G Flying Fortress bomber) and one F-13 squadron (photo-reconnaissance configured B-29 Superfortress bombers). The F-13’s were later re-designated as RB-29’s and would be configured as ELINT and COMINT (SIGINT) platforms as well. During the late 1940s the United States grew increasingly apprehensive concerning the Soviet Union's development of advanced weapons including aircraft, air defense radar & missile systems, and atomic bombs. The 1948 Berlin Crisis and Airlift increased the level of mistrust on both sides; however, the closed Soviet society made gathering intelligence about the development of new weapons very difficult and greatly concerned the US and its allies.[40]

"Kee Bird" was a SAC B-29 Superfortress, 45-21768, of the 46th Reconnaissance Squadron, that became marooned after making an emergency landing in northwest Greenland during a secret Cold War spying mission on 21 February 1947.

In an effort to obtain information about weapons development and deployment, SAC conducted regular routine reconnaissance missions near the Soviet land borders or just outside the 12-mile limit defining international waters. In most cases, the planes were forbidden to fly into Soviet airspace, but in a few cases the need for information outweighed the risk of over flight and a plane was sent into the Soviet Union. The best platform was the F-13/RB-29 with a combat radius of about 2,000 miles. At altitudes above 30,000 feet and traveling up to 350 miles per hour, the RB-29 was difficult for a Soviet fighter to intercept. These early reconnaissance aircraft would be relatively safe from any Soviet interception until the jet-powered MiG-15 interceptor entered service in late 1948.[40]

The first RB-29 missions were flown to conduct photo intelligence (PHOTINT) mapping and charting and visual reconnaissance in the Arctic and along the Northern Soviet Coast. This effort, named Project NANOOK, was the Cold War’s first Top Secret reconnaissance effort. SAC needed to know about Soviet defenses in the region for war-planning. A series of PHOTINT missions along Chukchi Peninsula under Project LEOPARD. This unit later expanded to other missions code-named RICKRACK, STONEWORK, and COVERALLS. By October 1949, over 1,800 pictures had been produced. Other missions were configured to begin ELINT collection along the Soviet coast. These early ELINT missions were ordered as the PHOTINT mission verified increased Soviet activity and construction in the Soviet Far East and Siberian areas. SAC ordered specially-configured ELINT RB-29 aircraft which could sample the area for signs of improved Soviet radar defenses.[40]

In addition to PHOTINT and SIGINT missions, the third important task of early Cold War reconnaissance units involved monitoring the progress of Soviet atomic weapons testing. The island of Novaya Zemlya, north of the Soviet Union landmass was an area used by the USSR for atomic testing. Not only did SAC reconnaissance aircraft photograph the island but they were also fitted with special air collection scoops. These scoops collected air samples and ran them through filters that could detect particles of radioactive fallout.[40]

During the Korean War, Communist China captured 15 US Air Force pilots and crewmen on charges of violating their air space. The first became a prisoner when his F-86 was shot down. Next the pilot of an F-84 was captured. The next incident was when a B-29 was attacked and 11 of the crew made it to the ground. Three others in the plane weren't so lucky. Then a F-86 was shot down by MiGs. The last pilot to be captured was also from an F-86.

On 15 March 1953, a B-50 reconnaissance plane of the 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was attacked by a pair of Soviet MiG-15s. The plane, nicknamed "The Laboring Lady", was flying in international airspace, approximately 25 miles off the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Soviet Pacific coast when two MiGs. intercepted the USAF plane. After escorting the B-50 for a short time, one Soviet pilot opened fire on the B-50. The B-50's central fire control gunner, Technical Sergeant Jesse Prim immediately returned fire after the aircraft commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rich, gave the OK to protect the plane. Although Prim did not hit the attacking plane, his quick action surprised the MiG pilot who quickly broke off his attack and returned to his base.

Two days after the armistice was signed ending the Korean War, a Boeing RB-50 reconnaissance plane assigned to the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS), 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, temporarily attached to the 91st SRS based at Yokota Air Base, Japan, was shot down over the Sea of Japan in international waters in an area about 100 miles southeast of Vladivostok, a city just north of North Korea on the east coast of the Soviet Union.

Lockheed U-2 in flight

On 7 November 1954, a US Air Force RB-29 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down near Hokkaido Island in northern Japan. The plane carrying a crew of eleven was conducting routine photographic reconnaissance near Hokkaido and the southernmost of the disputed Kuril islands. The plane was attacked by Soviet fighters and seriously damaged, forcing the crew to bail out. Ten crewmen were successfully rescued after landing in the sea; however, the eleventh man drowned when he became entangled in his parachute lines after landing.

On 21 July 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the "Open Skies" Treaty at a summit conference held in Geneva, Switzerland. Since the early 1950s the United States had tried to gain as much reconnaissance information as possible about the Soviet development of offensive weapons systems. Although most surveillance flights were carried out in international airspace off the coasts of Russia, a few flights were flown over Soviet territory in violation of international law.

After the Korean War ended, SAC received the Martin RB-57D Canberra, built strictly by Martin as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. The RB-57D was unique and set the stage for high-altitude reconnaissance operations in the rarefied air of the stratosphere. The project was carried out in high secrecy. It was known as Weapon System MX-2147, and the code name was Bald Eagle. The first deliveries were in April 1956 to the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Turner AFB, Georgia. They were deployed in 1957 to Rhein-Main AB, West Germany. All RB-57D operations were under heavy security and very little information ever leaked out about their operations. They presumably carried out ELINT/SIGINT missions along the East German border and over the Baltic Sea. Since the missions were carried out under an atmosphere of high secrecy, RB-57s returning from missions over the Baltic were often intercepted by RAF Hawker Hunter interceptors just to make sure that they were not Soviet aircraft.[41]

Gathering reliable intelligence information was very difficult. President Eisenhower believed that getting permission to over fly Soviet military facilities while granting permission for the Soviets to over fly US military installations would greatly ease tensions between the two superpowers.

Unfortunately, the Soviets immediately rejected the "Open Skies" Treaty proposal fearing the US intended to trick the USSR into a disadvantageous position. As a result, the US was very apprehensive about Soviet development of long range bombers and more advanced nuclear weapons. The supposed "Bomber Gap" led president Eisenhower to authorize the continued reconnaissance flights (including the over flights) because the Soviet threat was judged to be more important than the international incident that would result if a US plane was shot down over Soviet territory. In June 1957 SAC received its first U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft (4080th SRW). Prior to this, all U-2 flying was performed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

On 1 May 1960, the international incident the United States dreaded happened when a CIA U-2 piloted by Frances Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet Territory near Sverdlovsk. Just two months later, a USAF RB-47 was shot down in international airspace resulting in the deaths of four crewmen and the capture of two more. These two men were held in Lubyanka Prison, Moscow for seven months before being released.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

On 1 July 1960, a Soviet MiG fighter north of Murmansk in the Barents Sea shot down a six-man RB-47 crew . Probably at no time in this nation's history has the importance of aerial reconnaissance been demonstrated more dramatically than during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. In September and October of that year, Soviet officials had persistently denied their intent to install offensive weapons in Cuba, only 90 miles from U.S. shores, despite intelligence reports to the contrary. On 14 Oct, two USAF high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft photographed portions of Cuba and analysis of these photos confirmed that bases were being constructed for intermediate-range missiles within striking distance of the United States. On 27 October 1962, a U-2A (S/N 56-7611) flown by USAF Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. was shot down while flying high over Cuba conducting a reconnaissance mission during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The SR-71 Blackbird was the successor to the U-2 and was widely used during the 1960s, although the U-2 remained in service carrying out both strategic as well as tactical reconnaissance missions during the Vietnam War. U-2s and SR-71s, deployed to Kadena AB, Okinawa, began operations to gather intelligence on North Vietnam – initially known as "Lucky Dragon" this project was renamed ‘Trojan Horse’, then 'Olympic Torch', 'Senior Book' and finally 'Giant Dragon'. The sorties involved flying along North Vietnam and Chinese borders, generally gathering SIGINT, The U-2 flights also monitored the roads and trails from North Vietnam that were being used to send both weapons and personnel into South Vietnam and the surrounding states of Laos and Cambodia. As the war progressed the U-2's had to move to operating at higher altitudes as first the Mig-17 and then MiG-21s were introduced making flights at medium altitude a risky business. Also the introduction of SAM-2 missiles by the North Vietnamese necessitated the careful planning of flight routes to bypass these hot spots.

SAC continued operations of both the SR-71 and U-2 until its inactivation in 1992, the mission being transferred to Air Combat Command.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles[edit source | edit]

SAC Minuteman ICBM missile combat crew on alert. Typically, a two-person missile combat crew is on alert in an underground launch control center for 24 hours at a time monitoring their ICBMs, ready to launch them if directed

Along with in-flight refueling, another important element in the growth of SAC was the development of ballistic missiles. The rapid development of ballistic missiles in the 1950s provided SAC with another means of carrying out its mission of being able to strike anywhere in the world. While the U.S. Air Force had started a missile development program in 1946, it was not seriously pursued until reports surfaced about the progress of Soviet Union rocket technology and the threat it posed to the US.[5]:112–13

The perceived threat motivated the Eisenhower administration to make ballistic missiles a top priority and tasked Air Force Brigadier General Bernard Schriever with leading the development program. By 1958, roughly four years after Schriever had initiated his ballistic missile program, SAC activated the 704th Strategic Missile Wing to operate first the intermediate range Thor missile and then a year later the first true ICBM, the SM-65 Atlas missile.[5]:117–18 The HGM-25A Titan I was brought into active service in June 1960. By October 1961, SAC had activated 13 Atlas and six Titan squadrons. Both of these weapons systems were put on high alert during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Beginning in 1963, the next generation LGM-25C Titan II reached operational service.[16][42][43]

Liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel propulsion posed several problems. The fuel was dangerous and corrosive, and the missile silos were difficult and expensive to maintain. To overcome these obstacles, development was begun in the late 1950s on a missile powered by solid fuel. The result was the LGM-30A Minuteman I. This was first deployed in 1962. The LGM-30F Minuteman II replaced the earlier Minuteman I beginning in 1965. With these advancements in technology, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered the standown of the Atlas and Titan I sites in 1965. 1970 saw the deployment of the LGM-30G Minuteman III, that introduced Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology. The Minuteman III missile was then able to target 3 separate locations. This was an improvement from the earlier Titan II, Minuteman I and II models, which were only able to carry one large warhead. At its peak, 1000 Minuteman II and III ICBMs were on active status.[16][44]

The final generation of SAC ICBM was the LGM-118A Peacekeeper, also known as the MX missile. The Peacekeeper reached SAC missile silos starting in 1986. The Peacekeeper was a MIRV missile; it could carry up to 10 re-entry vehicles, each armed with a 300-kiloton W87 warhead. The total combined firepower for all 114 Peacekeepers was rated at around 342 megatons, or 342 million tons of TNT.[16][45]

Nuclear strategy[edit source | edit]

During LeMay’s command, SAC was able to effect great changes in American nuclear strategy. At the beginning of the Cold War, SAC was effectively powerless in shaping the American nuclear strategy it was tasked with carrying out. The four main issues instrumental in forming the nuclear strategy were technical limitations, nuclear weapon availability, lack of strategic thinking and politics. The first of the two factors of technical limitations and availability went hand in hand, as from 1946 to 1948, the US had only 12 atomic bombs and between five and 27 B-29s capable of delivering the bombs.[46] Had the president ordered an atomic attack in 1947 or 1948, the 509th Composite Bomb Group would have needed five or six days to obtain the bombs from the Atomic Energy Commission and arrive at the base it would attack from.[47] The lack of strategic thinking was largely a result of the unfamiliarity of the atomic bomb and the high level of secrecy with which it had been developed. That began to change in 1948 when reports of Bikini Atoll tests were circulated among the Air Force, which made information about the bomb more available to planners and helped to convince them of its strategic capabilities.[46]:67 The new strategic thinking found its place in the proposed Joint Emergency War Plan codenamed “Halfmoon”, which called for the dropping of fifty atomic bombs on twenty cities in the Soviet Union.[46]:68 At this point, politics entered into the formation of nuclear strategy in the form of president Harry S. Truman. The president initially rejected “Halfmoon” and ordered the development of a non-nuclear alternative plan, only to later change his mind during the Berlin Blockade.[46]:68–9 These four factors combined to create a high level of uncertainty and prevented the development of an effective nuclear strategy.

Titan II missile launching from silo.

It was this uncertainty that LeMay entered into upon assuming command of SAC which emboldened him and SAC planners to attempt to unilaterally form American nuclear strategy. LeMay started shortly after his arrival at SAC, by having SAC planners draw up Emergency War Plan 1–49, which involved striking seventy Soviet cities with 133 atomic bombs over a thirty day period in an effort to destroy Soviet industrial capacity.[46]:70–1 But with the Soviet Union gaining possession of atomic weapons in 1949, SAC was forced to rethink its nuclear strategy. Under orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, SAC was told its primary objective was bombing targets in order to damage or destroy Soviet ability to deliver nuclear weapons, its secondary objective was stopping Soviet advances into Western Europe, and its tertiary objective was the same as before, destroying Soviet industrial capacity.[48] The redefinition and expansion of its mission would help SAC to formalize and consolidate its control over nuclear planning and strategy. This was done by LeMay in a 1951 meeting with high level Air Force staff, when he convinced them that unreasonable operational demands were being placed on SAC and, in order to alleviate the issue, SAC should be allowed to approve target selections before they were finalized.[48]:18

SAC’s assumption of control over nuclear strategy led to the adoption of a strategy based on the idea of counterforce. SAC planners understood that as the Soviet Union increased their nuclear capacity, destroying or “countering” those forces (bombers, missiles, etc.) became of greater strategic importance than destroying industrial capacity.[11]:100 In 1954, the Eisenhower administration concurred with the new focus, with the President expressing a preference for military over civilian targets.[48]:35 While the Eisenhower administration approved of the strategy in general, LeMay continued to increase SAC’s independence by refusing to submit SAC war plans for review, believing that operational plans should be closely guarded, a view the Joint Chiefs of Staff eventually came to accept.[48]:37 By the end of the 1950s, SAC had identified 20,000 potential Soviet target sites and had officially designated 3,560 of those sites as bombing targets, with the significant percentage being counterforce targets of Soviet air defense, airfields and suspected missile sites.[48]:60 LeMay and SAC’s continuing efforts to assume greater control over nuclear strategy were vindicated on 11 August 1960, when Eisenhower approved a plan to create the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (dominated by SAC) to prepare the National Strategic Target List and the Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) for nuclear war.[48]:62

Besides developing and implementing new technology and strategies, SAC was actively involved in the Korean War. Shortly after beginning of the war in July 1950, SAC dispatched ten nuclear-capable bombers to Andersen AFB on Guam under orders from the Joint Chiefs.[11]:112 But SAC did more than just provide a nuclear option during the Korean War, It also deployed four B-29 bomber wings that were used in tactical operations against enemy forces and logistics[11]:114 All of this led LeMay to express concern that “too many splinters were being whittled off the stick”, preventing him from being able to carry out his primary mission of strategic deterrence.[11]:113–4 As a result, LeMay was relieved when the Korean War ended in 1953 and he was able to go back to building SAC’s arsenal and gaining control over nuclear strategy.

Command and control[edit source | edit]

SAC EC-135H "Looking Glass" Airborne Command Post

Despite SAC's establishment of "hardened" underground command and control facilities at its headquarters at Offutt AFB, LeMay and his planners knew that a direct nuclear strike by Soviet forces employing hydrogen weapons would likely destroy the facility. As a backup to this potentiality, the concept of a SAC airborne command post was developed. As envisioned, the airborne command post would be carried on a long range/long endurance aircraft, manned by a battle staff headed by a SAC general officer of at least brigadier general rank. The aircraft would be equipped with the latest in electronics and communications equipment so that it would be able to assume control of all of SAC's bomber, aerial refueling and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as SAC's land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force and the U.S. Navy's Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarine force in the event SAC headquarters was destroyed. Like the B-52, the airborne command post would also be hardened against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiation, making it capable of operating during a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. A fleet of these aircraft would also enable SAC to keep one such aircraft continuously airborne, 24 hours a day every day of the year. The aircraft selected for this duty was a derivative of SAC's KC-135 Stratotanker. Named the EC-135 Looking Glass, it realized the SAC vision of a flying command post. As a result, one of SAC's EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft was constantly airborne from 1961 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the de facto end of the Cold War in 1990.[49]

In an effort to augment the Looking Glass mission, a 1973 initiative resulted in the establishment of the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP), also known as "knee cap," resulting in the procurement of four Boeing E-4 aircraft derived from the Boeing 747. The E-4 aircraft were originally stationed at Andrews AFB, Maryland so they could be easily accessed by the President and the Secretary of Defense, with SAC also establishing three dispersed support squadrons for the E-4 at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and March AFB, California. Basing for the E-4 aircraft was later moved to Offutt AFB, with one E-4 continuously stationed at Andrews AFB in order to be available to the National Command Authority.

Inactivation[edit source | edit]

SAC's final major operational engagement occurred during the 1990–1991 time frame during the First Gulf War. SAC bomber, tanker and reconnaissance aircraft flew numerous conventional bombing, aerial refueling and reconnaissance missions over and near Iraq from RAF Fairford and other bases in Great Britain, Turkey, Akrotiri, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

On 31 May 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, SAC was eliminated in a major reorganization of USAF commands. Two of the air force's U.S.-based war-fighting commands, SAC and Tactical Air Command (TAC), were reorganized into a single organization, Air Combat Command (ACC). ACC was essentially given the combined missions that SAC and TAC held respectively, with the newly designated Air Mobility Command (AMC) inheriting most of SAC's KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender aerial refueling tanker force, while a small portion of KC-135 aircraft were reassigned to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), the latter to include PACAF-gained KC-135 aircraft of the Alaska Air National Guard. SAC's former land-based ICBM force, initially part of ACC, eventually became part of the new Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). The USAF nuclear component was then officially combined with the United States Navy's strategic nuclear component, its Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarines, to form United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), which is headquartered at SAC's former complex at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.

In late 2009, the ICBM force was transferred yet again, this time from AFSPC to the newly established Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). In early 2010, the B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bomber force was also reassigned to AFGSC, while the B-1 Lancer bomber force remained in ACC due to the B-1's removal from the nuclear strike mission and reassignment to conventional roles only.[50]

The Strategic Air and Space Museum, formerly the SAC Museum, was located adjacent to Offutt AFB till moved to its site off of I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln, preserves SAC's heritage in a fashion open to public view.

Lineage[edit source | edit]

  • Established as Continental Air Forces on 13 December 1944
Activated on 15 December 1944
Re-designated: Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946
Inactivated on 1 Jun 1992

Assignments[edit source | edit]

Stations[edit source | edit]

Components[edit source | edit]

SAC included a large number of subordinate components. At the highest level, five Numbered Air Forces served within the command at various times, the Second Air Force, Eighth Air Force, Fifteenth Air Force, Sixteenth Air Force, and briefly, in 1991–92, the Twentieth Air Force. Large numbers of USAF Air Divisions served with the command and were typically responsible for an average of three or four geographically separated wings. At lower levels, there were a large number of Strategic Air Command wings, groups such as the 1st Combat Evaluation Group, and large numbers of bases (see List of Strategic Air Command Bases).

Myriad smaller subunits included test, evaluation and acquisition activities serving as tenants with former Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Logistics Command entities, as well as ceremonial guard formations such as the SAC Elite Guard.

Air Forces
Air Divisions

Refer to the following articles which encompass the wings of SAC in detail:

Overseas components[edit source | edit]

Strategic Air Command in the United Kingdom was among the command's largest overseas concentrations of forces, with additional forces at bases in North Africa during the 1950s and 1960s in addition to SAC bomber, tanker, and/or reconnaissance aircraft assets at the former Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and at Andersen AFB, Guam, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom and the former NAS Keflavik, Iceland through the 1990s. SAC "Provisional" wings were also located in Okinawa and Thailand during the Vietnam War and at Diego Garcia and in the United Kingdom during the first Gulf War.

Aircraft[edit source | edit]

Combat aircraft[edit source | edit]

Support aircraft[edit source | edit]

Missiles[edit source | edit]

Insignia[edit source | edit]

The insignia of SAC was designed in 1951 by A2C Robert T. Barnes (his statement and test question as a CMSgt and Assistant Commandant of the ADC NCO Academy 1970), then assigned to the 92nd Bombardment Wing. Submitted in a command-wide contest, it was chosen as the winner by a three judge panel: General Curtis E. LeMay, Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command [CINCSAC]; General Thomas S. Power, Vice Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command; and Brigadier General AW Kissner, Chief of Staff, Strategic Air Command. Staff Sergeant Barnes' winning design netted him a $100 United States Savings Bond.[51][52]

It has a sky-blue field with two white shaded blue-gray clouds, one in the upper left and one in the lower right extending to the edges of the shield. Upon this is a cubit arm in armor issuing from the lower right and extending toward the upper left part of the shield. The hand is grasping a green olive branch, and three red lightning bolts.

The blue sky is representative of USAF operations. The arm and armor are a symbol of strength, power and loyalty and represents the science and art of employing far-reaching advantages in securing the objectives of war. The olive branch, a symbol of peace, and the lightning flashes, symbolic of speed and power are qualities underlying the mission of the Strategic Air Command.[53]

The blue background of the SAC crest meant that SAC's reach was through the sky and that it was global in scope. The clouds meant that SAC was all-weather capable. The mailed fist depicted force, symbolized by lightning bolts of destruction. The olive branch represents peace.

In addition to the SAC crest, non-camouflaged SAC aircraft bore the SAC Stripe. The stripe consisted of a very dark blue background speckled with stars. The stripe appeared on the sides of SAC aircraft in the area of the cockpit on bomber aircraft and mid-fuselage on tanker and command post aircraft running from the top to the bottom of the fuselage at an angle from 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock. The stripe also appeared on ICBMs in the strategic missile force. The SAC crest was a bit wider than the stripe and was placed over the stripe. The stripe indicated that SAC was always ready to fulfill its mission.

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ "AIR FORCE GLOBAL STRIKE COMMAND (USAF)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Arnold, Henry H.—Foreword (June 1944--Special Edition for AAF Organizations) [May 1944]. AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 13–15. 
  3. ^ Leonard, Barry (2009). History of Strategic Air and Ballistic Missile Defense. Vol II, 1955-1972. Fort McNair: Center for Military History. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4379-2131-1. "In November 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Army Chief of Staff, while General Carl Spaatz began to assume the duties of Commanding General, Army Air Forces, in anticipation of General Arnold’s announced retirement. One of General Eisenhower’s first actions was to appoint a board of officers, headed by Lieutenant General W. H. Simpson, to prepare a definitive plan for the reorganization of the Army and the Air Force that could be effected without enabling legislation and would provide for the separation of the Air Force from the Army."  NOTE: Leonard p. 47 names the "Air Force Center" as an initial USAF organization, but does not disambiguate the center's mission, commander, or subordinate units. (The AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces Special Edition identifies 2 1944 USAAF centers on page 16 ("Tactical Center" in Orlando & "Distribution Center" in Atlantic City)--the "Army Air Forces Tactical Center" became the "Army Air Forces Center on 1 June 1945" which merged into Proving Ground Command on 8 March 1946 after the Eisenhower/Spaatz agreement.
  4. ^ [verification needed]Moody, Walton S. (1995). Building a Strategic Air Force. Air Force History and Museums Program. pp. 60, 62. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Boyne, Walter J (1997), Beyond The Wild Blue: A History of the United States Air Force 1947–1997, New York: St. Martin's Press 
  6. ^ Herring, G. B. (Jr.) (19 May 1966). "TBD". Laurel Leader Call (Laurel, Mississippi). Retrieved 2012-07-11. "Radar bomb scoring began in 1946 with 888 bomb releases for the year against a site in the San Diego" 
  7. ^ a b author tbd (9 November 1983) ( transcription). Historical Summary: Radar Bomb Scoring, 1945–1983 (Report). Office of History, 1st Combat Evaluation Group. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  8. ^ Strategic Air Command (organizational chart), retrieved 2013-08-14  (published in Mixer, Ron. The Genealogy of the Strategic Air Command. Battermix. )
  9. ^ a b Schaffel, Kenneth (1991). The Emerging Shield: The Air Force and the Evolution of Continental Air Defense, 1945–1960. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. "after meeting an attack, Clausewitz advocated that a military force be prepared to launch a counterattack, as unleashing a "Sword of Vengeance" was the "greatest moment of defens." For the Air Force, the Strategic Air Command constituted its "Sword of Vengeance."" 
  10. ^ a b Alexander, Sigmund. "Radar Bomb Scoring: RBS Operations". The Stratojet Newsletter. Volume 22 (B-47 Stratojet Association). Retrieved 2012-07-09. "By 1959, there were 26 [SAC] RBS sites, 21 located in the United States and five outside the country." 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Tillman, Barrett (2007). LeMay. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 94. 
  12. ^ Baugher, Joe. "Convair B-36 Peacemaker". 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b A Brief History of Keesler AFB and the 81st Training Wing (Report). A-090203-089. Retrieved 2013-07-08. "Flight Engineer Training [was a] Mather-based program transferred to Strategic Air Command in early 1947 … [a] flight engineer rating [required] successfully complet[ing] flying training in SAC [after] February 1947, and within several months ATC transferred the B-29s to SAC. … Geiger Field transferred to Strategic Air Command as of 15 September. [ATC also] transferred a Geiger subpost, Fort George E. Wright, to Strategic Air Command on 16 July." (the fort had SAC's RBS Detachment D by 1950.)
  15. ^ Englehardt, Tom (2007). The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America…. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Lloyd (2000), A Cold War Legacy: A Tribute to Strategic Air Command, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co.; 1st edition, ISBN 1-575100-52-5
  17. ^ Joint Chiefs of Staff summary[specify] (cited by Schaffel p. 194)
  18. ^ Canadian House of Commons transcript (quoted by Schaffel, p. 251 -- speaker not identified). Note: Massive retaliation was "espoused publicly in January 1954 by Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles" (Schaffel p. 194)
  19. ^ Baugher, Boeing B-47 Stratojet
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Fairchild Wing To Get Trophy In Bomb Tests" (Google news archive). Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 2, 1955. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  22. ^
  23. ^,5208977&dq=bomb-scoring&hl=en
  24. ^ Baugher Boeing B-52 Stratfortress
  25. ^ Robert J Boyd, 'SAC's fighter planes and their operations', Offutt AFB, NE : Office of the Historian, Headquarters Strategic Air Command ; Washington, D.C. : Supt. of Docs, U.S. G.P.O., [1988]
  26. ^
  27. ^ [ NIKE-HERCULES Technical Details]
  28. ^ A Survey and Summary of Mathematical and Simulation Models as Applied to Weapon System Evaluation (Report). Aeronautical Systems Division, USAF. December 1961. Retrieved 2011-09-13. "the Phase II and Phase III NORAD SAGE/ Missile Master [program] employing SAC and ADC aircraft [under] the NORAD Joint Test Force stationed at Stewart Air Force Base." (cites Miller 1961)
  29. ^ "title tbd".  pdf p. 17
  30. ^ Correll, John T. "Arc Light" (transcript of magazine article). Air Force Magazine. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  31. ^ Baugher, Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
  32. ^ USAF Factsheet, SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile
  33. ^,942311&dq=global-shield+strategic-air-command&hl=en
  34. ^ Baugher, Northrop B-2A Spirit
  35. ^ B52 Stratofortress Association. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  36. ^ Strategic Air Command alert ends. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  37. ^ History of aerial refueling, History office, Air Mobility command
  38. ^ KC-135 Factsheet, AMC
  39. ^ KC-10 Factsheet, AMC
  40. ^ a b c d [Wack, Fred J (1992), The Secret Explorers: Saga of the 46th/72nd Reconnaissance Squadrons, Seeger's Print, ASIN: B0006EZ8GQ]
  41. ^ Mikesh, Robert C. (1995), Martin B-57 Canberra--The Complete Record, Schiffer Pub Ltd. ISBN 0-88740-661-0
  42. ^ Walker, Chuck, & Powell, Joel (2005). Atlas The Ultimate Weapon. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Apogee Books. ISBN 1-894959-18-3.
  43. ^ David K. Stumpf. Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program. University of Arkansas Press, 2000. ISBN 1-55728-601-9
  44. ^ Hefner (2012), The Missile Next Door: The Minuteman in the American Heartland, ISBN 0-674059-11-5
  45. ^ LGM-118A Peacekeeper fact sheet, USAF
  46. ^ a b c d e Rosenberg, David A (June 1979), "American Atomic Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision", The Journal of American History (66.1), pp. 62–87, retrieved 1 March 2009 , 65.
  47. ^ Kohn, R. H.; Harahan, J. P. (1988). "U.S. Strategic Air Power, 1948-1962: Excerpts from an Interview with Generals Curtis E. LeMay, Leon W. Johnson, David A. Burchinal, and Jack J. Catton". International Security 12 (4): 78–95. doi:10.2307.2F2538995. JSTOR 2538995.  edit
  48. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, David A (Spring 1983), "The Origins of Overkill: Nuclear Weapons and American Strategy, 1945–1960", International Security (7.4), Los Angeles: University of Southern California, pp. 3–71, retrieved 1 March 2009 , 17.
  49. ^ Pike, John (24 July 2011). "Strategic Air Command". Global Security. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  50. ^ "Factsheet", Information, USA: Air Force 
  51. ^ "History", 7BWB‐36ASSN 
  52. ^ "SAC", B‐29s over Korea 
  53. ^ "Shield", Strategic Air Command 
  • Boyne, Walter, Beyond The Wild Blue: A History of the United States Air Force 1947–1997, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • Moody, Walton S. Dr., Building a Strategic Air Force, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998.
  • Rosenberg, David A (June 1979), "American Atomic Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision", The Journal of American History, pp. 62–87
  • Tillman, Barrett, LeMay, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Further reading[edit source | edit]

  • Adams, Chris, Inside The Cold War; A Cold Warrior's Reflections, Air University Press, 1999; 2nd printing 2004; 3rd printing 2005.
  • Adams, Chris, "Ideologies in Conflict; A Cold War Docu-Story,Writers' Showcase, New York, 2001.
  • Clark, Rita F. Major, From Snark to Peacekeeper, Office of the Historian, HQ. SAC, Offutt AFB. NE. 1990.
  • Clark, Rita F. Major, SAC Missile Chronology 1939–1988, Office of the Historian, HQ. SAC, Offutt AFB. NE. 1988.
  • Clark, Rita F. Major, Strategic Air Command, U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Goldberg, Sheldon A., The Development of the Strategic Air Command, Office of the Historian, HQ. SAC, Offutt AFB. NE. 1986.
  • Knaack, Marcelle Size, Post-World War II Bombers 1945–1973, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington DC 1988.
  • Knaack, Marcelle Size, Post-World War II Fighters 1945–1973, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington DC 1986.
  • Lloyd, Alwyn T., B-47 Stratojet in detail & scale, TAB Books, 1988.
  • Lloyd, Alwyn T. A Cold War Legacy: A Tribute to Strategic Air Command, 1946–1992. Missoula, Mont: Pictorial Histories Pub, 2000. ISBN 1-57510-052-5.
  • Mixer, Ronald E., Genealogy of the Strategic Air Command, Battermix Publishing Company, 1999
  • Mixer, Ronald E., Strategic Air Command, An Organizational History, Battermix Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Narducci, Henry M (1 April 1988). Strategic Air Command and the Alert Program: A Brief History (Report). Offutt Air Force Base: Office of the Historian, Headquarters Strategic Air Command. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  • Polmar, Norman, Strategic Air Command, 1st Edition, Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1954
  • Polmar, Norman, Strategic Air Command, 2nd Edition, Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1996.
  • Ravenstein, Charles, A., Air Force Combat Wings 1947–1977, Office of Air Force History, USAF, 1984.
  • Yenne, Bill, History of the U.S. Air Force, Exeter Books, 1990.
  • Yenne, Bill, SAC, A Primer of Modern Strategic Airpower, Presido Press, 1992.
External video
Modern Marvels film
The short film HIGH STRATEGY is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
Power of Decision
The short film SEMIANNUAL FILM REPORT is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The short film SAC Command Post is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The short film THE STRENGTH OF SAC is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The short film SAC – THE GLOBAL SHIELD is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The short film AIR FORCE STORY is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]

External links[edit source | edit]