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RB-66C

The RB-66C featured a reconfigured bomb bay, which housed electronic components and provided space for 4 additional crew members (electronic countermeasures operators or observers). The aircraft's design weight was 75,000 pounds (5,000 more than the RB-66B's and 3,000 pounds less than the B-66B's). Wingtip radar pods and a radome containing antennas for the various radars were the other significant new features of the RB-66C. As in the case of every B/RB-66 version, the basic 3-man crew of the RB-66C (pilot, navigator, and gunner) used upward ejection seats, the 4 additional ECM operators, downward ones.

The RB-66C's first official flight took place on October 29, 1955, TAC getting one of the new aircraft soon afterwards.

TAC's initial RB-66C, received at Shaw AFB on February 1956, was assigned to the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Only a few more of the aircraft were delivered before mid-year, but by the end of December, more than half of the RB-66C contingent had reached the Air Force. The ferret RB-66C was the first weapon system of its kind. Its assignment also proved unique, as TAC from the start planned to equip certain squadrons with a mixture of RB-66Cs and of forthcoming and equally novel WB-66Ds.

The RB-66Cs arrived overseas shortly after TAC received its first aircraft. USAFE got most of its RB-66C quota in 1956. The 12 aircraft, one third of the total procurement, went to the newly activated 42d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany. PACAF, in 1957, received 12 RD-66C electronic intelligence (FLINT) aircraft, which it assigned to the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing's 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan. To various extents and regardless of location, the delivered RB-66Cs were to participate in the Little Barney and other modification programs, still to be applied to the preceding RB-66Bs and B-66Bs.

Operational deficiencies, observed during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, vindicated TAC. In the next years, continuing reconnaissance operations around Cuba further demonstrated the validity of the modifications that had been sought by the command. Meanwhile, during the first months of the crisis, TAC's RB-66s (a mixture of RB-66Bs and RB-66Cs) flew many extra hours, and soon began to participate in numerous exercises.

Like the RB-66Bs, TAC's RB-66Cs first went to Southeast Asia in April, 1965. Soon the command's entire meager RB-66C contingent was committed to the war effort, leaving the command no other immediate alternative than to request 5 RB-66Bs for training aircrews. Of necessity, TAC's temporary duty RB-66C personnel carried out most electronic warfare operations in Southeast Asia during the whole of 1965.

Delivery of 2 last RB-66Cs in June, 1957 marked the end of the aircraft's production.

The decision to create a new model series, the WB-66D took place in August, 1955. The WB-66D was identical to the RB-66C, except that the bomb bay housed electronic weather equipment in lieu of ECM components. The pressurized crew compartments also were alike, but the WB-66D only required a crew of 5 - pilot, navigator, gunner, and 2 weather observers. In contrast to other B/RB-66s, all WB-66Ds were equipped from the start with J71-A-13 engines. A total of 36 WB-66Ds were accepted.



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