Re: Intercepting a U-2 with help of the SEPR 841

Thomas Russ

On Tue, Aug 2, 2022 at 1:04 AM Gorka Martinez Mezo <glmm2001@...> wrote:
I find hard to believe that the US would violate French airspace at such a late date for any kind of recce work. What for? This looks like a high altitude transit by the U-2 cutting through France on her way to the target.

I think in the mid 1960s, the USA didn't necessarily trust Degaulle, so it might not have been that far-fetched that there was reconnaissance going on.

Of course, the French used high flying US aircraft for practice as did other Allied AFs. For example, Spanish AF Mirage IIIs loved B-52s wich could be intercepted without rocket assistance if they were mildly cooperative, as at operational  heights the Mirage struggled to fly straight and the B-52s could outmaneuver and outclimb them easily…..

Apparently, from what I read in Michel's "The Eleven Days of Christmas", the F-4 Phantoms that were used for setting up chaff corridors during Linebacker II also struggled to fly at the B-52 altitudes. Especially while loaded with chaff ordnance:

"Just before the B-52s arrived, F-4s began laying a chaff corridor into Hanoi at 35,000, and Joe Richardson was in the first group.
'We were to lay the chaff at 35,000 feet, a mere 8,000 feet above the combat ceiling* of the F-4 carrying chaff dispensers, and at that altitude we were going to have to be in at least stage one or two afterburner...' " [p.91]

*Combat ceiling is the altitude where the aircraft's rate of climb is down to 500 feet / minute. It is generally the highest altitude at which the plane has useful combat maneuvering capability.
 Service ceiling is 100 feet / minute.
The SEPR was quite a hassle has it had to be mounted, fueled before taking off and the pilot fitted with the custom made pressure suit. This wasn’t your usual Alert 15 fare for the alert pad 24/24. 


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