Victor Alert: Exceprts from the F-100 Super Sabre Chat Room
Love to hear any stories of USAFE Victor Alert duty from either pilots or maintainers. I was going through my dad's files (Chief inspector QC, 48th CAMS, Lakenheath 60-65.), and found numerous reports and memos to the chief of maintenance concerning acft being given 'spot' inspections and then 'pulled' out of VA due to numerous maintenance discrepancies. Apparently this was a real problem at Lakenheath in 62. Typically, how long did VA alert aircraft rotate in the 'barns'?
Don't know how Victor Alert worked in the 48th but I was a crew chief at Hahn Air Base (50th TFW) 1963-66, and did a lot of Victor Alert duty. We had four birds loaded, in hangers at all times...two spares...Crew chiefs pulled 48 on...48 off. Each bird generally stayed 30 days unless a problem developed, hydraulic leak, etc. We never had anything called "spot inspections". Any problems were generally found during daily run up tests performed by the pilot on duty and the crew chief.....we slept next to the bird with an armed AP in front of each hanger.
I pulled nuc alert (called Victor Alert in Europe) for a period of over 7 years during my 20 years as a fighter jock (Hahn & Ramstein, Germany, RAF Lakenheath, England, Incirlik, Turkey and Osan & Kunsan, Korea). I NEVER ONCE saw a spot inspection of an alert aircraft. The pilot would have to have been there for anyone to get near the loaded aircraft.
What WAS done was to monitor the first flight after the aircraft was taken off the alert pad and records kept of that status.
I was a crew chief at Hahn 1963-66 and before a bird was taken to Victor alert it was checked out for leaks, etc. then taken to Victor where it sat on a pad for a day or two until it was loaded...then it was put in a hanger and the one it replaced sat a day or two until it was downloaded and put back on the flightline where it was put back into normal rotation. I'm not aware of any special monitoring......the whole time that bird was at Victor it was checked out and run up on a daily basis.......the only people who ever touched it was the pilot and crew chief, not even munitions. If for some reason it didn't check out (developed a serious leak, etc.) it was immediately replaced by one from the flightline. In three years I never saw any "spot" inspections....as I said, the pilot and crew chief (who slept next to the F-100) where the ONLY ones who came near that aircraft while it was loaded and ready.
One postscript to my comments about Victor Alert......One afternoon as I was coming on duty (48 on-48 off) I witnessed a F-102 "accidentally" knock a wing off an L-19 that was flying slowly over Victor compound......this happened right over my head as I was going through the gate and it crashed about 100 yards from me. The L-19 had West German markings on it and it had two men in civilian clothes, cameras and lots of film..........
I was at Hahn in the 81st from Oct '60 to Dec '64. We sat with 4 birds and the 10th had 4 birds on alert. We were on 48 hours and got the next 24 off to do whatever. The only time we had any problems was in the winter when the hydraulics leaked. In the four years I was there, I only had to change one airplane. I don't remember when, but some crewchief "invented" a "T" stanchion to put under the strut. A tug would pull the bird up onto the ball joint. This helped preventing flat spots on the tires. During the Berlin "crisis" Victor was suspended at Hahn. Each squadron sat daylight alert with four birds armed with Sidewinders. After official sunset, we sometimes launched all four to get flying time.
I've seen pictures of the type stands you are describing, I just never saw one at Hahn or WAB, guess we were too poor to afford one!!
While at Woodbridge, just down the road a bit from Lakenheath, I had the opportunity twice to work on birds that were sitting in VA. Both times were in the middle of the night for some reason I don't remember. But, in both situations they had been working on a check out of the birds as was normal, not a QC sneak inspection but a regular process they did on a regular schedule. I was a weapons tech but not a flightline bomb loader (and apparently the only qualified troubleshooter in the squadron). Anyway, they had been working on something in the cockpit and decided there was a problem in the Master Arm Switch as the system would not check out by the checklist. The crew chief, and assigned weapon flightline guy worked on it until they decided it was either time to fix it or get it off VA. They sent the AP's after me in downtown Ipswich and drug me back to the base, making sure I was sober by the time we got there. I was able to find their hitch one time (someone was not throwing the right switches the right way, the other time I had to change out the MAS while it was on VA. (they dropped the weapon down and disconnected it both times but did not remove it from the vicinity of the bird. It was down when I got there and put back after I left. The sky cops were on my butt all the way up the ladder and would have been in the cockpit if the pilot hadn't shooed them off a little. It seems it was only a little bit later, a month or so, that we got word that "fixing" them while in the VA shed was a no no and that we would not do it again.
It's funny how anyone who has done Victor Alert duty has a lot of stories that are not your usual flightline tales.....I knew from the very beginning that VA duty was going to be an experience when after all the security background checks they did on me, I finally got my bright red security badge......with my name spelled wrong!!! I never said anything and nobody ever noticed. I did however make sure they spelled my name right on my DD 214!