A tragic event for Chelveston Some of the guys who were stationed at Chelveston A. F. B. have been trying to remember the events concerning a plane that crashed at the base in the early ‘ 60s. The plane was an “RB-66C” tail number 54 – 460

My name is Robert H [ Bob ] Mearns. At the time of the crash I had just rotated back to the States for discharge. I was an assistant crew chief/ ECM operator on flight status prior to my rotation. I was advised of the accident by a very close friend A1C Richard [ Pappy ] Adams, 460 had been near and dear to me dating back to Spangdahlem. I believe the cause of the flameout was haz17icing of the fuel filters. There were new filters fitted to prevent flameout. Both the housings and the filters had been redesigned.. It was theoretically impossible to install the original filter in the new housing. However someone proved it could be done as the fuel filter on 460 had the new housing with the original filter. Once that was discovered, wing conducted a complete inventory of all similar units,, Further investigation indicated that at least part of the problem was at depot level. Supposedly a one time inspection was done of all spare and operational assets and only new housings with the new filters were retained. The problem at Bruntingthorpe was equally needless. According to the accident report that was caused by the wrong fuel selector switch being installed. A new selector switch had been retrofitted to all B – 66 aircraft that had one or two [ I forget which ]flats on the shaft. The original switch had no flats. When the set screw loosened, the selector switch could slip on the shaft. There was more than one bird that haz18had problems due to this, prior to the one at Bruntingthorpe. At any rate both engines flamed out and the airplane bellied in on the runway. If I remember correctly investigation revealed that the fuel selector switch was the original model with no flats on the shaft. The fuel selector knob was pointing to the correct position where all fuel passed through the the alt tank to the engines and the CO system could maintain the correct CG imbalance before the forward and aft tanks. BUT the knob had loosened on the shaft and slipped and the fuel selector switch was in the FWD position and the engines flamed out when the fwd tank ran dry.I always figured it must have been late in the flight because surely the A/C would have noticed the developing CG imbalance before haz19the tank ran dry unless the wings were empty and the fwd and aft were down to the point the the fwd could run dry before the A/C noticed the developing imbalance. The reason I remember this incident as well as I do.is that after I read the accident report.I checked 460 and it had the wrong switch in it. I cited the TCTO and ordered another switch which was received, verified to be the correct switch and installed. I believe Skip had all the other 42nd birds checked and 460 was the only one with that problem.

Researching B – 66 U. S. A. F. serial numbers for all you guys interested in  the old planes.

Mark Sublette                             elijahbailey@erols.com

I see that you have a great deal of information on B 66’s  and thought you might be interested in what I found  while reading old microfilm at the Fort Walton beach public library I have not been able to trace a serial number for the accident yet April 11 1957  an R.B – 66 Destroyer twin jet reconnaissance bomber from Shaw A. F. B. Sumter SC., crashed off the north end of the main runway at Eglin A. F. B. The plane from the 43rd squadron of the 432nd T R G.. was on a routine training mission to Eglin The RB – 66 landed on a wet runway in heavy rain The pilot deployed the drag chute used to aid in braking but the connection pin sheared and the chute fell away The plane then ran off the runway, across the over – run and plunged over the edge of a 50 foot bluff It landed flat in the valley below, although the impact demolished  it and broke it in half The two crew members.. Capt., John T McLaine, pilot and Capt., F Duncan observer navigator escaped serious injury. This was the first accident that the 432nd had had in 10 months of flying the RB – 66 Reference, “Twin Jet Crew Escapes Injury in Elgin Crash” Playground News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, April 18 1957

Herb Greene [ Hightower ]              herbmai2000@earthlink.net

In response to Larry Porter’s enquiry about the colour of the rooster’s tail on the RB – 66C I don’t have the info you need. However a google search might help. The crash of RB – 66C on 7th Feb., 1962 I was walking parallel to the runway on the main street returning to work in the afternoon. I saw one very late ejection taking place and the rescue crew was, Johnny on the spot.

Larry Porter                             regalbear@msn.com

Does any of the G I’s remember the exact colors of the rooster tail on the “66.  I have a model of the RB – 66B and have been trying to get it completed.

Graham Abbott                    Avro698@aol.com

Just came across your web site whilst researching information  on the B – 66 crash 07/02/62. I was only 9 years old then, but can remember my dad taking me to see the crash site in the car, which he says you can still see the gap in the trees where it happened. I live in Rushden and my father in Stanwick, he will be very interested. Here is a list of some of the participants in the 1960 air display at Chelveston. I would be happy to receive any info anyone may have.

  1. 54 – 0470 – USAF   EB 66 C Destroyer   Broken up Kadena A B. Japan – October 1973
  2. 51 – 16568 – USAF   DHC – 2 Beaver MK 1   Still flying as N17393 Sky Dive Inc., USA
  3. 51 – 8752 – USAF T – 33A – Shooting Star   On display –  Hat Yai Thailand.
  4. 52 – 0960 – USAF  C – 124C – Globemaster. Scrapped at Davis Monthan AFB – arrived April 1969
  5. 52 – 4140 – USAF  F – 86D Sabre,  Fate not known.
  6. 53 – 3219 – USAF  C – 119G Boxcar   Castel Volturno Campania Museum Italy
  7. 44 – 76428 – USAF – VC – 47D – DC 3 Dakota  Fate not known
  8. 56 – 0031 – USAF  RF – 101H – Voodoo Fate not known
  9. 56 – 1076 – USAF F – 102A Delta Dagger   Fate not known
  10. 57 – 0455 – USAF C – 130A – Hercules  Still flying Peruvian AF as 393 Lima Callao
  11. TG510 – RAF  Hastings C MK 1  Scrapped at Teversham Cambs., 1977
  12. WL 459 – RAF  Metror T MK 7    Fate not known
  13. XE645 – RAF  Hunter  To UAE Air Force – 1967 – written off June 1975
  14. XH767 – RAF  Javelin FAW MK 9  At Yorkshire Air Museum Elvington UK

Luis R Raldiris                               LRALDIRIS@AOL.COM

I was stationed at RAF Chelveston from 1959 – 1962 at Shaw AFB from 1962 – 1965 and Takhli AB on and off from 1965 – 1968 I hold the RB66C very dear for many reasons one of which is the fact that I created several advances to it’s operation. These included the unorthodox alignment of it’s reconnaissance receivers  and DF systems which led to the destruction of SAMS in the RV and in the interception of weak missile signals from Cuba which, in turn, led to the U2 pictures. Yes, I’m proud of the RB66’s their heroic crews and outstanding support personnel God bless them all.  [ Ham Radio KU4CV ]

Received from, Dean Clark                  deanclark@cwcom.net

A very interesting web site I also have an interest in the RB66. My website is 19th-trs-usafe-bruntingthorpe.com I have some photographs of various RB66’s which your visitors may find interesting. research below thanks to,  Hank Howard, M/Sgt., USAF retired. In March 2000 I began researching information regarding a RB – 66C crash that occurred at RAF Chelveston England. I could not find the tail number or date the crash happened,  on the internet
A few articles were written on the B – 66 internet site… but some had conflicting information and none had the tail number I then went to the web site at the Pentagon got forwarded to the Air Force Safety Center now at Kirkland AFB – NM. In a matter of days I had the information I had searched for, for two months. The RB – 66C  tail number was 54 – 0460 the date was February 7th 1962. I have since  found out what happened to most of the B – 66 1953 AND 1954 serial numbers.

The following B – 66’s were scrapped at Kadena AB,. Okinawa in October 1973.

0420 – 0424 – 0435 – 0459 – 0461 – 0468 – 0469 – 0470
0506 – 0508 – 0509 – 0520 – 0522 – 0523 – 0537 – 0546

54 – 459 RB66   at Chelveston.  [ thanks, Bill Donald ]
54 – 0419 EB66 –


54 – 0451  RB66 – B  Shot down by MIG – 21 over Gardelegen, East Germany 3 crew members ejected and were captured. 19th TRS..10th TAC Recon wing Toul – Rosieres France March 10th 1964 53 – 0384..   EB66 – C   Operational loss   24th October 1978  53 – 0387..  EB66 – C  Shot down by Sam over NVN  4th February 1967 E scrapped at MASDC – Tucson.  October 1972

Bob Crane Col., USAF [Ret ]                                   msehd@aol.com

Great info,  Flew the EB66C at Takhli 66 – 67 Chief Raven, [ EWO ] on bird lost Feb 67 was my trailer mate. We flew the same mission that morning in Rpac6 and briefed the crew on the bad winds,  border proximity and sites firing at earlier positions of our orbit which we constantly changed.   53 – 0388 EB66 – C..   Shot down by MIG – 21 three of the crew were held as POW’s.      53 – 0389   Operational loss 10th March 1971  53 – 0390  WB66 – D  Converted to Westinghouse test bed. Displayed at Lackland AFB Texas.  53 – 0452  RB66 – B   Lost on night mission NW of Pleiku.  RVN.  20th October 1965.  54 – 0427  EB66 – E  Burned at RTAFB.. Udorn.. Thailand     54 – 0439  EB66 – E  Engine explosion and fire, Hickam AFB.. Hawaii  21st April 1970  54 – 0441  EB66 – E  Damaged by fire on taxiway..  30th June 1970..  54 – 0445  EB66 – E   Jumped chocks on engine run up hit light pole  July 73  54 – 0457  EB66 – C  Shot down by SAM -2 Crew killed, 15th February 1966  54 – 0460  RB66 – C..    Crashed at Chelveston AFB.England 3 EWO’s and Gunner were killed. Pilot and Navigator and one EWO survived.  7th February 1962.   xxxx – WB66 – D Crashed into ocean near Bermuda, engine flameout  one week after Chelveston crash  9th TRS February 1962  54 – 0461  EB66 – C   Shot down over NVN     54 – 0462  EB66 – C   Crashed on landing approach at RTAFB..  Takhli     54 – 0464  EB66 – C  Shot down by SAM – 2.  20 / 7 / 1966

54 – 0466  EB66 – E[Hunt  02] Shot down by SAM  Famous BAT – 21rescue, recovery effort  42nd TEWS 31st March 1972

54 – 0467  RB66 – C  Crashed at Frances E. Warren AFB Wyoming. pieced back together from spare parts 42nd TRS

54 – 0471    Crashed at Donalson AFB.. S.C.  10 / 3 / 1961
54 – 0473  EB66 – C  Crashed at RTAFB Takhli.
Crew of five killed, no survivors 42nd TEWS 17th November 1967
54 – 0474  EB66 – C..  Shot down over NVN.
54 – 0475  EB66 – C  Shot down over NVN.
54 – 00491  EB66 – C  Crashed on takeoff.from RTAFB  Takhli 19th July 1968.
54 – 0498  EB88 – C  Operational loss.  17th April 1969.
54 – 0524  EB66 – C  Crashed at RTAFB..  Takhli..  5 / 3 / 1968
54 – 0529  EB66 – C  [Hunt 02 ]Crashed on landing RTAFB, Korat
when engines failed.  23rd December 1972.
54 – 0540  EB66 – C  Crashed on takeoff at RTAFB, Korat.
plane scrapped  1972
I was at Korat as an ECM troop in 1972. when EB – 6654 – 540 crashed on take off.
This happened within hours of a F- 105 Wild Weasel crashing on take off also.
The recovery crew for the F – 105 was still at work.

B Randall Heaton.                                        sk8minn@aol.com
I came across your web site today. September 26th 2002.
About your EB66 54 – 540 which crashed at Korat on take off in 1972.
I was the crew chief of the plane at that time, it was replaced by 54 – 420
( thanks to Hank for the following )
0466 [  42nd TEWS, 355th TFW ] shot down by SAM March 31st 1972.
5 K.I.A., Lt., Col., Iceal “Gene” Hambleton, Navigator bailed out.
His rescue was the famous “BAT – 21” rescue effort.e scrapped list 1973 ]

Joyce’s note my husband, Jack Wade was the Crew Chief on 54 -0466 from 1958 – 1960, so has an interest in this story too. I believe it was converted to an EB – 66C

I hope some of the guys find this information useful,
The internet is a strong methodology to bring information to knowledge.
Hank Howard. hazmatking@aol.com