Seventy-Five Years of Inflight Refueling Highlights, 1923-1998

Seventy-Five Years of Inflight Refueling Highlights, 1923-1998

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The U.S. Air Force's development of aerial refueling cannot be attributed to any one person, but among all of those involved, General Curtis E. LeMay remains an outstanding figure. During his nine years as SAC commander, LeMay built the U.S. aerial refueling capability into what was practically an air force unto itself, an "invisible" foundation for the nation's original nuclear deterrent. With only a bit of exaggeration, it can be said that the KC- 135 was his airplane. When LeMay retired as Air Force Chief of Staff on February 1, 1965, Boeing already had delivered its 732d and last KC-135 tanker. At the time, SAC had forty-nine tanker squadrons with 641 KC-135s, with almost 200 other KC- 135 variants performing a bewildering number of specialized military missions. During the quarter-century after General LeMay retired, land- and sea-based ballistic missile forces gradually upstaged manned bombers. LeMay had left "all those tankers" in the wake of his career, and some people had wondered openly what the Air Force would do with them. First, the tactical air forces and B- 52 bombers answered that question in Southeast Asia. After the experience of the airlift to Israel, the Military Airlift Command had its own answer. In no way could tankers be considered surplus to anything, much less a declining asset. On October I, 1990, as hundreds of SAC tankers were cruising over the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, refueling fighters and transports on their way to Operation DESERT SHIELD, and other tankers were offioading fuel to support intensive combat training exercises over Saudi Arabia in anticipation of DESERT STORM, Curtis Emerson LeMay died at March AFB, California, just six weeks short of his eighty-fourth birthday. Within two years, at midnight on May 31, 1992, the mighty Strategic Air Command passed silently into history. Three new organizations divided its assets: the Strategic Command acquired the intercontinental missiles and some bombers, the Air Combat Command (formerly TAC) got what remained of the big bombers and some of the aerial tankers, and the Air Mobility Command (the old MAC) gained most of the tankers. The Old Order changeth; it was the end of an era.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 92 pages
  • 178 x 254 x 5mm | 177g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1508673667
  • 9781508673668