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    B-52 navigator in New York Times
    From: Paul Hirose
    Date: 2015 Dec 14, 19:43 -0800

    This New York Times article on the B-52 mentions old fashioned
    navigation with stopwatch, slide rule, and protractor when the computer
    complex temporarily goes down. Part of the navigator instrument panel is
    You enter a B-52 through a belly hatch. Take one step forward and a
    vertical ladder to your right goes through a square hole in the ceiling
    to the upper deck where the EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer), tail
    gunner, and pilots sit. Before I retired from the USAF (my entire career
    was in bomber avionics maintenance), the gunner was deleted from the
    crew and the gun removed. However, the last time I looked the control
    panels were still there.
    In the lower deck forward of the ladder are seats for the radar
    navigator (senior navigator, on the left) and navigator. There's enough
    space between them for a man to stand. At the rear of the compartment
    are racks for electronics, a urinal, and toilet.
    Once upon a time the computer crash mentioned in the article would have
    been my job to troubleshoot after flight. Back then, the OAS (Offensive
    Avionics System) had three identical IBM AP-101 general purpose
    processors for nav and weapon delivery. An instructor told me these were
    also the main processors of the space shuttle.
    The panel on the left third of the photo controls the processors. In 30+
    years it hasn't changed. The DTU (Data Transfer Unit, not shown) has
    four slots for removable tape cartridges. In this case, the top row of
    status lights shows two tapes are installed. Below that you see the
    status of the three processors, then knobs to load them. You select the
    DTU slot that contains the software, the processor to load, and which
    program (1 - 4) to load. The button in the lower left starts the load,
    and the PROC SYNC button puts all loaded processors on line. Digits in
    the RES PGM readout (overexposed and hard to read) show what software is
    resident in each processor.
    Unfortunately the article has much bias and misinformation and should be
    taken with a grain of salt, or maybe a whole salt shaker. For instance,
    the B-70 never "spewed highly toxic exhaust." The exotic high energy
    "zip fuel" project was abandoned years before the B-70's first flight
    due to insuperable problems with toxicity and deleterious effects on
    engine components.
    However, what the article says about the B-52 processor complex taking
    "several minutes" to reboot is probably accurate. I remember reloading
    two or three processors was irritatingly slow. You had to wait for the
    tape to rewind after each one. Do they still use tape cartridges? I
    don't know.
    The middle third of the photo is munitions stuff. Note the guards over
    the switches. You must flip the guard up to throw a switch. Furthermore,
    each guard can be secured with copper wire. It takes a hard pull on the
    guard to break the wire.
    (Speaking of switch guards, in the early 1980s a B-52 crew chief at
    Griffiss AFB in New York, proud of "his" airplane, did some detailing in
    the cockpit. Among other things, he installed new guards on the landing
    gear emergency switches at the pilot station. Unfortunately, the new
    guards held the switches to the retract position. On its next mission
    the bomber slid on its belly off the end of the runway when the gear
    retracted on the takeoff roll. Though nobody got hurt, the plane was
    severely damaged. A co-worker who was stationed there at the time told
    me, "They wanted to hang the guy but couldn't do a thing to him because
    nobody could find any official guidance on switch guard installation!")
    In the right third of the photo are old school instruments. The small
    gauge is the outside air temperature indicator.
    Part of the radar presentation panel is visible at the bottom right
    corner. STC = sensitivity time control. This produces a variable
    receiver gain (with respect to time) to help equalize the intensity of
    near and far terrain on the scope. The small triangular "BW" knob
    coaxial with the STC knob varies the antenna beamwidth. Just out of
    sight are the marker intensity (e.g., for the range rings on a PPI
    display) and video gain knobs. Between them is a button to toggle
    between logarithmic and linear receiver response. LOG is selected.
    The photo shows only a small part of a panel which spans the full width
    of the lower compartment in front of the navigation team. There's also a
    panel on each side and an overhead panel. They are all packed with
    stuff. It's impressive. Not all the available space is occupied,
    however. There are metal plates to cover the empty areas. In some planes
    I saw the plates removed and HO 249 and the Almanac stuffed into the
    openings! I've also seen those publications in the storage bin behind
    the nav seat.
    Each navigator has a table which slides out from the console. There's a
    reasonable amount of space to plot on a chart. In case of ejection,
    pyrotechnic actuators automatically retract the tables before the seats
    fire. In the B-1 there's only one navigator and the table is small. And
    if you need a table in the B-2 there's only the lid of the storage
    compartment between the seats.
    Before the B-52 tail gunner was deleted he usually operated the sextant
    and the navigator reduced the sights. I suppose manual celestial on
    bombers is history now. As far as I know the B-1 never had any such
    My first encounter with the B-2 was at the plant in Palmdale. Standing
    in a partly completed cockpit, I noticed a circular port in the ceiling,
    on the center line. A sextant port for emergency nav, I thought. Wrong.
    The hole was for an air refueling lead-in light!
    The B-2 does have an AINS (astro inertial navigation system), and
    eventually I had a chance to track stars in daylight. But that's another

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