Radar Bomb Scoring

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Radar Bomb Scoring[1] is a combat aviation ground support operation used to evaluate Cold War aircrews' effectiveness with simulated unguided bomb drops near radar stations of the United States Navy, the USAF Strategic Air Command, and Army Project Nike units. USAF RBS used various ground radar, computers, and other electronic equipment such as jammers to disrupt operations of the bomber's radar navigator,[2] AAA/SAM simulators to require countermeasures from the bomber, and Radar Bomb Scoring Centrals for estimating accuracy of simulated bombings.[3] Scores for accuracy and electronic warfare effectiveness were transmitted from radar sites such as those at Strategic Range Training Complexes[3] (e.g., from Detachment 1 at the "La Junta Bomb Plot").

Most of the SAC sites were in the continental US with units (detachments) manned by technicians and operators of the Automatic Tracking Radar Specialist career field (AutoTrack). Radar Bomb Scoring and the Autotrack specialty were discontinued shortly after the end of the Cold War when increased munitions accuracy (e.g., GPS-guided JDAMs 1st used in 1993) reduced the need for scoring of simulated bomb runs, and GPS avionics allow onboard tracking for "no-drop bomb scoring" of unguided bombs.


World War II included Army Air Forces Bombardier Schools' scoring of trainee's proficiency at the "West Texas Bombardier Triangle"[4] and other USAAF ranges (e.g., observers on Range Towers),[5] and ground-directed bombing for combat guided by automatic tracking radars was used in the Mediterranean Theatre's Po Valley. On 6 June 1945 "the 206th Army Air Force Base Unit (RBS) (206th AAFBU), was activated at Colorado Springs, Colorado under the command of Colonel Robert W. Burns [with] operational control of the two SCR-584 radar detachments located at Kansas City and Fort Worth Army Airfield (Det B),[6]: 3199  and dets were later "established at Denver, Chicago, Omaha, Albuquerque and [c. 1952 at] Los Angeles."[7] USAF RBS units were at MacDill AFB in 1947,[8] in Phoenix in 1952,[9] and Guam in 1954.[10]

Strategic Air Command[edit]

RBS by Strategic Air Command began with the last of 888 simulated bomb runs against San Diego[11] scored in 1946 as well as 2,499 runs scored in 1947.[7] The 1948 increase to 12,084[7] was the result of a "scathing" Lindbergh review of SAC in the Spring of 1948 (SAC's commanding general was replaced 15 October, and January 1949 simulated raids by Curtis LeMay's "entire command" on Wright-Patt AFB "were appalling").[12] On 21 July 1948, the 263rd AAFBU (RBS) had been renamed the 3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron (SAC),[13] and early RBS detachments were designated by letters, e.g., Detachment D at Fort George Wright WA in 1950.[14] Three detachments of the 3903rd RBS deployed for ground directed bombing in Korea[15] at "Tactical Air Direction Posts" (colloq. TADPOLE sites).[16] (10 August 1954, the 3933rd Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron was redesignated the 11th Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron.)[citation needed] In 1955, RBS bomb runs for the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition were on Amarillo, Denver, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and San Antonio[17] (Phoenix also had runs)[18] and in 1957, SAC installed RBS sites for the competition (named "Operation Longshot")[19] which had 3 targets: Atlanta, Kansas City, and St. Louis.[20] The c. 1963 "Goldwater congressional investigation" investigated working and travel conditions at the Lynchburg, Virginia, detachment, which was a mobile unit that had temporary radar stations at "Blackstone, Staunton and Farmville before [being] shut ... down".[6] c. 1960, Det 3 at Heston Aerodrome, England, moved to the Fairey Aviation Plant at Langley.[14]

Army & Navy RBS[edit]

By 1960, USAF RBS equipment had been incorporated in US Army Course Directing Centrals for Project Nike (i.e., receivers for telecommunicated tones to indicate the aircraft's bomb release on the Nike radar plotting boards).[21] Nike RBS of SAC/ADCOM bombers used USAF personnel on temporary duty to calculate the simulated bomb run score from the track by a Nike missile crew/radar (e.g., at the Chicago-Gary Defense Area).[22] In 1961, Nike units "scored 1,890 practice bomb runs" and in 1962 the NIKE site at Maitland/Lake Park in Milwaukee was RBSing.[23] Four Navy Radar Bomb Scoring Units during the Cold War included those near Spokane, Washington, and at the Pachino Radar Bomb Scoring Range near Naples, Italy. After the 10th Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron's RBS Express train had been used in 1961 near the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Plant,[24] SAC's Hawthorne Bomb Plot in nearby Babbitt also scored bomb runs of US Navy aircraft (e.g., out of Naval Air Station Fallon).

On 1 August 1961, SAC's 1st Radar Bomb Scoring Group at Carswell AFB merged with the 3908th Strategic Standardization Group to form the 1st Combat Evaluation Group at Barksdale AFB.[14] Manual RBS "bomb scoring projector" computation of "the bomb problem"[25] with scale, protractor,[26] E6B computer, and bombing tables"[14] was replaced with computerized bomb trajectory integration by the 1965 Reeves AN/MSQ-77 Bomb Directing Central developed for Vietnam War Combat Skyspot bombing. The Bayshore Bomb Plot in Michigan (formerly located in Ironwood, Michigan) was destroyed by a television fire on 26 December 1967,[27] and in 1969, the Combat Skyspot Trophy was first "awarded annually to the most outstanding [RBS] detachment in the 1st Combat Evaluation Group".[28]

At least 1 of the SAC RBS sites was operating until mid-1994 when Wilder Radar Bomb Scoring Site closed after the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.[29] In 2005, USAF RBS records were designated for destruction "10 years after inactivation of site".[30]

Post-Cold War bomb scoring[edit]

The Northrop T-38C was upgraded to have no-drop bomb scoring capability in 2007[31] by estimating the impact from the onboard GPS-calculated position of release,[32] and the United States Marine Corps had no-drop bomb scoring at Yuma Proving Ground in 2010.[33] At least 1 Strategic Air Command RBS site continues as an electronic warfare range—the Belle Fourche Electronic Scoring Site in Powder River Military Operations Area with Infrared Enhance Targets and Unmanned Threat Emitters (the site's call sign remains "Belle Fourche Bomb Plot").[34]

USAF Equipment[edit]

  • Bomb Scoring Centrals: SCR-584+RC294, AN/MSQ-1 (AN/MPS-9+OA-132), AN/MSQ-1A (ANMPS-19+OA-626), AN/MSQ-2 (−9+OA-215), AN/MSQ-35, AN/MSQ-39, AN/MSQ-77, AN/TPS-43, AN/TSQ-35, AN/TSQ-81, AN/TSQ-96
  • Simulators: AN/MPQ-T3 (AAA), AN/MPS-T1, AN/MST-T1, AN/VPQ-1 (TRTG)
  • Jammers: AN/MLQ-T4, AN/TLQ-11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flight Information Handbook (Flight Information Publication (Enroute)). United States Department of Defense. 6 July 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 August 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
    "Addendum A" (Supplement to Space, Missile, Command, and Control regulation). Range Planning and Operations (Air Force Instruction 13–212). Air Combat Command. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ The RBS Express SFP1324. 1365th Photo Sq. Retrieved 17 May 2012. idea ... born in 1960 ... USAX 35764 5:50 ... USAX 357046:10 ... [grain silo near siding]6:57
  3. ^ a b "Part 1- Unedited". Tone Break: The 1st Combat Evaluation Group Story. Retrieved 17 May 2012. MUTES ... new threat simulator
  4. ^ Colwell, James L. "Midland Army Air Field". Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012. In August 1943 the AAF Central Bombardier Instructor School was transferred from Carlsbad, New Mexico, to Midland ... the "West Texas Bombardier Triangle" of bases at Big Spring (1942), San Angelo (1942), and Childress (1943), and were instrumental in developing photographic and sonic methods of scoring bomb hits and analyzing bombing proficiency
  5. ^ "The Weapons Impact Scoring Set (WISS) is a manned video scoring set which scores the impact of air-to-ground delivered ordnance within a 4,000-ft (1219.2 m) radius of a defined land target under day or night conditions."" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Combat Evaluation Group – A place for CEVG'ers and Range Rats to Meet".
    • McAfee, Emerson R (20 December 2002). "Re: [Combat Evaluation Group] Re: RBS Express". Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2017. from Montreal to Lynchburg in 1962. Then on to Richmond in 1963 when we moved. He was in charge in Lynchburg when we had the Goldwater congressional investigation when the wives wrote their congressmen about the deplorable conditions we were forced to endure for about 6 months. ... Col Urban arrived one morning and fired the commander on the spot and sent Hill on a 30-day leave. Capt (at the time) Seitzberg was called in from Laurel to be the new commander and straighten out the problems. [which were:] We arrived and (I'm talking about the single guys) found a rooming house where we could temporarily find a place to sleep. I guess the married folks used motels and started looking for houses to rent or buy. Mother Hill had us riding the old Blue Goose military buses from Lychburg [sic] to Blackstone (Camp Pickett) in our dress blues and carrying our fatigues to work in. This was a trip of 85 miles one way. It took close to 2 hours each way and we only had two shifts, 8 to 8 and vice-versa. That was 7 days a week. If you add that up it came out to 12 hours work and 4 hours travel which only leaves 8 hours. Plus you had to drive from the restaurant where we met to catch the bus, to where you lived. Pretty hard to get 8 hours sleep if you wanted to eat a meal. Plus we had those wonderful trenches for doing our business at the site. That was until they brought in the porta-pottys with the electric incinerators in them. You had to be careful not to turn the switch on while you were still sitting. And of course you can imagine what the smell was like when you hit the switch. ... After Goldwater we went to contracted A/C buses with crappers in the rear, 4 crews, never more than 8-hour duty days, a different crapper at work, and the whole situation got much improved with the change in command.
    • johnd584 (22 January 2002). "Message 3202". I joined Det. B, 263rd AAFBU (RBS) in Sept '47 which was located at Ft. Worth AAfld.
    • MacDonald, Ray (4 December 2004). "Sites Not Found" (newsgroup posting). Yahoo 1CEVG group. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2012. A new Site Aerial Photo File uploaded.
    • McAfee, Emerson R. "tbd". train. ... Several of us ... volunteered to go to Lake City in 1964 ... And we had all kinds of volunteers for Mayfield, KY
    • Withers, Daniel A (17 February 2005). "Message 13073". Closing Deeth (literally), we relocated to the New Mexico garden spot of Vaughn.
    • McAfee, Emerson R (6 August 2005). "Re: [Combat Evaluation Group] Greetings!". I was at Det. 8 Richmond from Jun 63 – Apr 72. I also made trips to Browns IL but we were the ones who moved it from Mauk GA to Browns so I was only at Browns for about a week
  7. ^ a b c author tbd (9 November 1983). Historical Summary: Radar Bomb Scoring, 1945–1983 (MobileRadar.org transcription) (Report). Office of History, 1st Combat Evaluation Group. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2012. {{cite report}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ "3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Group" (Web Bulletin Board). KoreanWar.org. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Prescott Evening Courier – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Spokane Daily Chronicle – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  11. ^ Herring, G. B. (Jr.) (19 May 1966). "TBD". Laurel Leader Call. Laurel, Mississippi. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2012. Radar bomb scoring began in 1946 with 888 bomb releases for the year against a site in the San Diego
  12. ^ Alexander, Sigmund (July 2005). "Radar Bomb Scoring: RBS Operations" (PDF). The Stratojet Newsletter. Vol. 22. B-47 Stratojet Association. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2012. By 1959, there were 26 [SAC] RBS sites, 21 located in the United States and five outside the country. [with] twelve low level 'Oilburner' training routes. ... Combat Skyspot, directed over 300,000 USAF, Navy, Marine, and RVN re-supply, reconnaissance, and tactical air missions, as well as 75% of all B-52 Arclight strikes.
  13. ^ Units 726-6483 Archived 26 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Mobileradar.org. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  14. ^ a b c d Roush, Dick (5 May 1001). "3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Group" (Web Bulletin Board). KoreanWar.org. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012. Served ... from October, 1957 to June, 1962. ... Keesler AFB for tech school, then ... at Los Angeles RBS site
  15. ^ "The Tadpoles of Korea". Archived from the original on 6 September 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  16. ^ Multiply.com Archived 3 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Sojapanradargroup.multiply.com (31 May 2013). Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  17. ^ 7th WING OPERATIONS HISTORY, 1955-1958 Archived 6 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. 7bwb-36assn.org. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  18. ^ "Spokane Daily Chronicle – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  19. ^ "Operation Longshot: Bomber Command Participation in the S.A.C. Competition". Flight. Flightglobal.com. 18 October 1957. p. 615. Archived from – 1525.html the original on 16 January 2019. Retrieved 18 September 2013. {{cite magazine}}: Check |url= value (help)
  20. ^ "The Milwaukee Sentinel – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  21. ^ "Chapter 3: Radar Course Directing Central" (PDF). Nike-Hercules and Improved Nike-Hercules Air Defense Guided Missile System. United States Army. December 1960. p. 18. Archived from the original on 10 June 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  22. ^ Contact Information Archived 28 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Det6.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  23. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  24. ^ "Hawthorne "Bombed" Daily". Nevada State Journal. 14 December 1961. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  25. ^ "Combat Evaluation Group Regulation (CEVGR) 50–6". 1CEVG.
  26. ^ "Pen Moves on Tracing Paper and Charts Course of Bomber". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 9 July 2012. from...Ironwood...A1C...Johnson...and A2C...Passmore... Using scale and protractor...computed the [impact] point (description of Milwaukee bomb run tracked by Nike IFC M-20)
  27. ^ Bayshore Bomb Plot Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Reocities.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  28. ^ "Ashland group awarded Combat Skyspot trophy". Bangor Daily News. 22 March 1985. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  29. ^ "Closure plan saddens radar base chief". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. 29 May 1993. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Radar Bomb Scoring: RBS Operations" (PDF). Retrieved 27 September 2012.[dead link]
  31. ^ "History of the 80th Flying Training Wing Sheppard AFB, Texas" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  32. ^ Last two T-38s get avionics upgrade. Archive.is. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  33. ^ [1][dead link]
  34. ^ "Range Planning and Operations" (PDF). 8 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.[permanent dead link]