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Old 10-30-2011, 02:53 PM   #52
Bindair Dundat
Scoring Winger
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: St. Albert
Thumbs up For those who feel like a little "Sunday readin'..."

Originally Posted by sclitheroe View Post
Slight correction, which makes them infinitely cooler - they were Genie air-to-air rockets which means they were unguided. Point them at a formation of incoming bombers, and as long as they go off close enough, mission accomplished.

Here is a Canadian CF-101 launching a Genie, 1.5kilotons of nuclear welcome mat

God I love nukes. It's unhealthy and unbalanced, but the raw power combined with the engineering gets me lathered up.

It's Sunday and I was bored...

What I believe the good "Captain" may have been referencing is the nuclear role of the Canadian CF-104 squadrons serving in 4 ATAF, NATO, during the height of the Cold War.

Canada had made the decision to "go nuclear" in the middle of Diefenbaker's mandate. Over the remainder of Diefenbaker's term (and well into Pearson's), we entered negotiations with the US, with respect to the following capabilities:

The "Bomarc" SAM system (integrated under SAGE/NORAD)

The CF-101/"Genie" combination (also under SAGE/NORAD)

The "Honest John" SSM (to be deployed @ Hemer/W. Germany, under 4CIBG)

The CF-104/B28 gravity bomb.

I can find no evidence of the RCN/MARCOM ever deploying US nukes under a "custodial agreement", depth charges or otherwise.

Canada's CF-104 Squadrons were eventually certified operational for the carriage/delivery of three different "gravity weapons", in a number of distinct configurations:

B 28EX ("variable yield", external carriage, non-######ed) IOC:June 1964

B 28RE ("variable yield", external carriage, equipped with a parachute for low-level "precision" delivery) IOC: "Spring" of 1964

B 43 Mod1("high yield" [1MT], deliverable either ######ed or gravity) IOC: Oct 1968

B 57 ("low yield" [15-20KT], "tactical" weapon) IOC: April, 1966

The B 43 capability was short lived in Canadian service; only one Wing ("4 Wing", Baden-Soelingen, FRG) of two Squadrons (421, 422), ever carried the weapon. By late 1969-early 1970 (sources are unclear) the B 43 was withdrawn and supplanted by B 28/ B 57's at 4 Wing.

All of the B 28's "assigned" to Canada were in the lower yield ranges, either 70KT "variable" (set by means of an external "selector" dial; this done by the USAF "armorers" in the QRA) or 350KT "variable" (also set manually prior to flight). Security was provided by a four (later six) digit code, entered by USAF personel into a keypad on the weapon as the final "step", prior to the aircraft departing the QRA for the active runway. The weapon was still not "live" at this point however.

Responsibilty was now transferred to the Canadian pilot, as he was given a copy of the same code by the USAF groundcrewman, just prior to pulling the canopy closed.
Once safely airborne, the pilot would "enable" the bomb delivery system. This sent onboard power to the nuclear device; he would then select for either "air" or "ground" burst (done by enabling the respective safety switch in the cockpit). He would then have to enter the security code given (prior to departure) into the keypad device in his cockpit and only then would he be able to move the bomb selector switch from "off" to "enable". This would then send a signal from the keypad in the cockpit to the keypad in the device...if the codes matched, the bomb would then proceed to arm itself for either ground or airburst.

At the height of the Canadian committment to the nuclear strike role, the RCAF had six CF-104 Squadrons each standing a 4 ship (instantaneous)QRA, all based in the FRG. These were 427, 430 and 434 Sqds (based at 3 Wing, Zweibrucken) and 421, 422 and 444 Sqds at 4 Wing. These aircraft were manned and armed 24-7 and would be "on their way" inside of 15 minutes (much less than this, but this was the "QRA" standard). The RCAF committment represented about 20% of NATO's capability for fast all-weather attack aircraft in the nuclear role, within 4 ATAF (Allied Tactical Air Force).

1967 saw a major "reorganization"/contraction, concurrent with the closure of 1 Air Division HQ at Metz (France) and the closure of 1 Wing's French base at Marville ("2 Wing" [Grostenquin] had been closed in the early 60's). Nuclear attack capability was "drawn down" to a total of 4 Squadrons, 2 each at Baden and Zweibrucken... a total of 72 aircraft. 444 (Baden) and 434 (Zweibrucken) were disbanded at this time. 1 AD HQ was relocated to the former Armee de L'air (French) airbase at Lahr (in the FRG), and 1 Wing's 2 Strike/Recon Squadron's (439, 441) followed shorly thereafter.

With the advent of the "Trudeau Revolution", came the beginings of a firm political mandate to see Canada to get out of the nuclear role in NATO.

Another major "re-shuffling" of the "deck chairs on the Titanic" came in 1969, with the closure/disbandment of 3 Wing.
This saw the transfer of 430 (S/A, nuclear) Sqd to 1 Wing, 427 Sqd, (S/A, nuclear) to 4 Wing, and shortly thereafter, the merger of 1 Wing's 441 S/R and 439 S/R into 441 S/A. The USAF jumped through hoops to get the requisite "nuclear" infrastructure established at Lahr and IOC for the 1 Wing QRA was achieved in June of 1969.

Contraction continued fast and furious...By June of 1970, the USAF were back at Lahr, picking up their nukes, and moving all their people back to Ramstein. 430 Sqd was disbanded at Lahr and 2 months later 441 was transferred to Baden; at Baden, 422 and 427 Sqds were disbanded, leaving 421 and 441 Sqds as the only nuclear capable units in CFE. In August 1970, 1 "Air Division" became 1 Canadian Air Group and curiously, 441 Squadron was broken back apart into 441 and 439 Sqds., with 439 once again flying in the Strike/Reconnaisance role.

It was also at this time, that the political decision was taken whereby a good percentage of the CF-104 force was to be "disposed of". Denmark, Norway, and Turkey all took delivery of ex-RCAF machines as they were "retired" throughout the early-mid '70's.

When my family arrived in CFE in the spring of 1971, I remember my Dad pointing out the window of the 707 over in the direction of the south QRA; we'd landed at Baden, as the runway in Lahr was being resurfaced at the time. He said to me: "See over there, inside the fences? That's why we came to Germany."
I'll never forget the feeling of seeing that, up close. The armed guards and the dogs with their handlers; No one saw that view back then...except under "extenuating circumstances"...Like those that put us there, turning off at the end of the active runway.

Anyone truly interested in this period of Canada's military history should seek out this book: "Canadian nuclear weapons: The untold story of Canada's Cold War arsenal", John Clearwater, Dundurn Press Ltd. (1998).
The author relies primarily on (then) recently declassified documents, many of which are reproduced in their entirety in the book. I have it in my own is the source used in the preparation of this (admittedly voluminous) post.

Cheers, Ron
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