Military Review

Arrow-radio operator memories, radio communications in military aviation. Part II

In strategic aviation.

Two years later they sent us a replacement. I should note that, given our military merit, we were given the opportunity to choose a place for further service. I have long wanted to get into decent aviation, and from the amateur radio point of view it was a distant strategic aircraft on the TU-95 aircraft, and I was the only one of our air regiment to go to a new duty station, saying goodbye to BTA forever. Summing up the results of my service in the latter, I want to say that from the amateurish view it is more interesting than on the IL-28. There were different airfields, people, meetings, radio engineering.

Our heavy bomber air division had about 50 strategic bombers TU-95K. Based in Semipalatinsk. It consisted of two air regiments on 20-25 combat vehicles. Arriving at a new duty station, I was amazed at the size of the aircraft. The flight weight is 182 tons. Flight range over 15 000 km, duration 12-15 hours, with refueling in the air. The aircraft was extremely economical, so the fuel consumption in cruising mode for all four propulsion systems was 5 000 liters per hour, and the working fueling of 87 000 liters fuel. Consider the distance yourself. Radio communication equipment. First, the same 1-RSB-70, but here it is on the sidelines. The main radio transmitter P-837 "Helium", the range 3-24 MHz, the power in the phone AM 60 W, in the telegraph 250 W. The radio transmitter provides simplex and half duplex radio communication. Has 18 pre-configured channels. An exit on parallels from GK-71. A P-836 "Neon" transmitter, later developed, was also used. The range is smooth, 1,5-24 MHz. The remaining parameters, as in P-837. Setup of transmitters was carried out according to tabular data. I have a suspicion that these transmitters are made by foreign analogues, like the lady of the RSB-70, but, as usual, worse. There were two receivers, US-8, with remote control. The radio operator’s workplace had two US-8 remote controls, a P-836 remote control and a RSN-70 remote control. There were two antennas, one for the RSN-70 and the length of the 21, m, and the second is shorter for the Р-836. As for my personal opinion about the US-8 receiver, this was not the best option. Of course, for ease of use. P-311 would be better, it has a stretch in 20 kHz, and not 50 kHz, as in US-8. P-326 the same would not be bad. It was possible to use these all-army receivers, but the “grandfather” of Tupolev was apparently persuaded to his own, specific air receiver. But this is my point of view, as a radio amateur.

Worked mostly only on P-836. Of all the types of aviation, the organization of communications in the strategic was the most perfect. The crew of the missile carrier consisted of 9 people, but there was an extra seat for another member. Of these, two were located in the stern of the aircraft. This is the second radio operator and COU (commander of fire installations). There were three AM-23 dual gun installations on the plane. The second radio operator sat immediately behind the stern shooter and had two huge side blisters and two sighting stations, respectively, as well as radio control panels and receivers. In the front cockpit were the rest of the crew. There are two pilots ahead, the commander on the left, the co-pilot on the right, or his assistant. In general, the aircraft was called the ship. Further down the right was the on-board technician ("fireman" by flight nickname). He was responsible for the operation of four propulsion systems with a total power of 60 000 HP. and all main equipment. Opposite sat the navigator of the ship. Then he was followed by the second navigator, who was responsible for the operation of all the radio equipment associated with the X-20 air-to-air cruise missile (the marginal zone of destruction of the enemy 360km) and helped the first navigator. The workplace of the senior radio operator of the crew was the best of all, it was located on a hill (on the throne, as we designated it). Above his head there was a large round blister, which allowed seeing everything at 360 degrees, the chair was rotating, and the senior radio operator was the most “survey”. I saw the whole plane from above and it was nice, for which many thanks to the "grandfather" Tupolev! Throughout aviation, this is the best radio operator place.

Arrow-radio operator memories, radio communications in military aviation. Part II

Tu-95 with a cruise missile X-20

At the disposal of the senior radio operator, in addition to radio communication equipment, was a gun installation. The astrocompass AK-53 was located near the sight, and at the command of the navigator during the flight the senior radio operator took readings from him. At TU-95K, the senior radio operator was the head of the ship’s aerial communications. Aircraft driving was mainly carried out with the help of astro-orientation with the involvement of radio direction-finding bases "Kometa". The position of the ship was determined by the senior radio operator and then gave data on the aircraft’s position to the navigator. In flight, three crew members worked most actively, as they say, without closing their eyes. This is the navigator who controlled the route, the "fireman" followed the work of the power plants and the senior radio operator who was constantly in touch. The rest of the crew could alternately take a nap. In order to imagine the conditions in which the three permanent crew members had to work, try to sit on a stool and do not get up for 12-15 hours. But we must constantly work!

By the way, there is no separate toilet in the plane. But the most unpleasant on the plane for the senior radio operator was that next to his place on the fuselage there was a flashing red light, and he literally beat his eyes all the flight. Try looking at these glimpses of the 15 clock!

Speaking of flashing beacons. When they reported the collision of two airplanes in the night sky of Switzerland, for some reason no one noted that the commander of the Bashkir plane TU-154 did not detect the flashing beacons of the Boeing transport and mail, which are clearly fixed at distances of at least 20 km. The commander was obliged to see them, and make an independent decision to change the course or altitude to prevent collisions. And only then report back to the ground dispatcher, and at his direction return to the safe flight level. And yet, there would be no disaster. Moreover, according to the instructions, he is obliged to take all measures for the divergence of the aircraft. Okay, we carried mail on Boeing, a plane on autopilot, maybe we played cards, and if there were ladies in the crew, we were doing something else. But after all our pilot carried people, children. It means that the crew did not have any prudence, visual control, they trusted the ground controller completely, and they saw that the dangerous approach was continuing, but the teams from the ground were waiting. I believe that the commander of the TU-154 was criminally negligent, and in a not-so-difficult situation, he could have avoided a collision. Both psychologically and professionally, he had to do it. Trust in ground services, killed himself, passengers.

In our crew this would never have happened. Flying across the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic and the Atlantic, and crossing the airways without any permission from anyone else, we did it with the utmost discretion and never climbed, avoiding accidents. Although for obvious reasons, the services of ground controllers did not use and did not report to them about their type: here the TU-95 strategic missile carrier flies with the intersection of the ocean and you guys excuse us that we are breaking the route in the wrong place and at the height not recommended by you . Of course, they saw us and warned the controlled borta themselves, and I guess how they swore at us softly, but what to do if we have, among other things, aboard a cannon and a cruise missile. What if these Russian missiles have nuclear warheads? This is what happens in life, we trust those who are not ready, and in vain!

According to the current work of the radio operator. Having received the flight route at the preliminary setting, I will compile my logbook, which I indicate the control points of contact. On the average in flight it is one radiogram per hour 1-1,5. The combat order of the aircraft is always a pair. One is communicating in a radio network with Moscow, the second - in the radio network of an air division. The instructions to the crew say that the on-board radio station allows you to keep confident communication at a distance of at least 4100km. Practically we kept the connection on 10 000 and more than km with audibility of at least 3 points. We must pay tribute to the operators in Moscow. There were radio operators of the highest class. And the transmitting power of radio centers was far beyond 50 kW. Similar were on the periphery along the Far Eastern arc. I, perhaps, was the first to use the electronic key in my work and say that he helped a lot. We worked with the help of the signal table TC-13911, this is a metal-bound book with pages. The main signals were put in the journal, for example: "completed the launch", and so-called digital keys were laid out in front of it. They were given for a day and then changed. The radio operator had to cut this page with scissors and carefully insert it into the guides. It turned out a number, for example, 53141, and tomorrow it was already 12147. So secret radio, worked, usually in duplex mode. After the transmission, the ground radio operator repeated the received radiogram, and in the event of a discrepancy, I could correct it at any time. As for the frequencies, I think they were not used very wisely, sometimes in the broadcasting and amateur bands. What caused it, I do not know. Responsible for the distribution of radio frequencies throughout the USSR and outside it, the IZMIRAN Institute regularly gave its forecasts, but they were rarely used. In the crew, all the work on the HF was carried out by the senior radio operator, the second radio operator only slept along with the meals. But he didn’t have such a possibility - only the senior radio operator had a signal table with all the radio data. Why so, without duplication, it is not clear. Secrets were afraid to disclose?

In emergency or other situations with the violation of the passage of radio waves when flying over the ocean, we had the opportunity to use the radio communications of passenger, commercial and fishing vessels of the Ministry of Maritime fleet USSR as repeaters. Each ship radio operator had corresponding instructions (closed) under the rules of radio exchange. But we practically did not use this, although in passing the control points in the ocean, in some cases, we checked this type of connection for VHF. The connection was clear, but not with the fishermen. They treated this negligently, after the sleeves. They have in the first place the size of the catch, and not the defense of the fatherland.

Of course, we had enough of our own adventures. There was such a case. The senior radio operator was depressurized by the upper blister, but he was not wearing a seat at that time, and he was sucked along with the flight documentation. Neither the radio operator nor the documentation, naturally, was found in the ocean. Since then, they have included in the card of control reports: "the documentation is fastened, the radio operator is fastened".

We flew on average twice a week. Our flight missions were different. Part of the tasks was directly related to electronic intelligence. We climbed and walked along the Chinese border, including using the Sino-Mongolian section, to the Far East and came back, observing the work of the air defense systems of the PRC. I must say that when we violated the border (of course, if the navigator made an error, unintentionally), China’s air defense did not lift interceptors into the air, but of course there were diplomatic scandals and noise. In one of our flights, as a result of a random navigator error, the border of China was violated. As a result of this incident, the navigator of the crew, by the way a cheerful and friendly guy from Kazakhstan, had to part with the flight work. On a number of flights, we walked along the US Pacific coast, but generally at some distance, so as not to provoke US air defense interceptors at a sufficient distance to launch cruise missiles at enemy targets. Accompanying the American interceptors was almost constant, but there was no arrogant and dangerous rapprochement with us, as our NATO fighters did in the Atlantic. And we tried to behave carefully. Of course, in the event of a rocket attack on the territory of the United States, we practically did not have a chance to return safely. This we knew. There were also flights on the Arctic route through the pole to the Canadian coast, and to the east coast of the USA through the Atlantic with a flight of the European continent. Here I specially note that we never carried with ourselves missiles with nuclear warheads when flying beyond the borders of the USSR. Although the official propaganda of the USSR, and in the media abroad about the flights of our strategic aviation with nuclear weapons on board, there were plenty of messages.

But our main task was to search for enemy aircraft carriers. The range of our X-20 air-to-sea cruise missile was about 350 km, and the deck aircraft of the E-2C Hokai radar detection of targets could determine us at a distance far exceeding the maximum range of our missile, therefore secretive approach to the aircraft carrier for its defeat was very problematic. With our detection, an on-duty interceptor group, usually of the Tomcat type F-XNUMHA, was raised from the deck of the aircraft carrier. They sometimes approached us at a very close distance, to 10 meters. But pilots of US aircraft carrier, as a rule, had very high piloting techniques and, like NATO pilots, did not allow flight incidents and accidents. The search was carried out using airborne radar, space and radio intelligence data, and more often was successful. There were memorable episodes. In one case, due to incomplete reconnaissance data, the TU-95 pair could not locate the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Raised our pair. Our commander KOU-2 (aft fire installation) took with him in flight a banner with the English inscription: "Where is Kitty Hawk?", Made by his daughter, a schoolgirl. When approaching the alleged location of the aircraft carrier, we were taken to escort deck fighters. Approximation of planes was minimal, a few meters, and we clearly saw the faces of smiling pilots, one of them was a black, which surprised us a lot, we somehow propagandistically believed that in the US, blacks were clogged and oppressed, and did not have access to the most difficult combat missions. piloting, and pilots should be only white. The commander of the fire installation stuck a poster on the inside to the side glazing of the cabin, and with interrogative gestures made it clear that we are looking for their ship, and we ask you to indicate the exact direction of approach to it. One of the pilots raised his hand to show the direction of the search for an aircraft carrier and, for his part, pointed to the lower bomb holes "Guys, open up, show what you have there!", And ducked under the fuselage. We were inspired in the homeland by other notions about upbringing, therefore, of course, we couldn’t open the hatches just like that. I think the American pilots understood us correctly, especially in this particular flight our bomb bay was empty, without a rocket. We were able to safely fly over the aircraft carrier and take photographs, although the Americans were not completely sure that we did not have missile weapons. I note that the co-pilot of the escort fighter, holding the control knob of his legs, was shooting at that time. Our commander KOU jokingly picked up an ordinary Chinese thermos, and put it to the eye, imitating the counter photographing. The American pilot was extremely intrigued by this new photo facility of the Russians, and he, as close as possible to us, was taking a close-up of our new secret thermo-weaponry on a video camera. In general, in this technique they left us far behind. We had an extremely cumbersome device for such a shooting, the manual use of which was extremely inconvenient. A light household camera "Zenith" and "Sharp" to take with you during the flight was strictly prohibited.

I must say that the search for aircraft carriers was not always so successful. Upon detecting the operation of our on-board radar, the Americans launched a large raft with corner reflectors of signals, and the radar screens were jammed with bright false targets, and at that time the aircraft carrier was at maximum speed over 30 nodes (up to 60 km / h) and in the course of a day he could go on 700 miles, and there, as they say, "look for the wind in the field." Until the middle of the 70-s for several successful flights with target detection, the crew presented themselves to government awards, usually to the “For Military Merit” medal, but later they began to consider our work as routine, and the medals “ended”. We joked - metal in the mint was scrapped.

Over the entire period of my service in strategic aviation, we had one radio communications disaster. TU-95 was returning from a long flight. When approaching the aerodrome, the weather conditions deteriorated sharply, and they were given a spare aerodrome in 60 km from theirs, with another communication channel. On board the aircraft in place of the co-pilot was one of the chiefs who had not flown for a long time, but was obliged to fly periodically according to the governing documents. According to the instructions, the co-pilot (assistant commander) is responsible for the VHF radio communication, and his duties include the restructuring of communication channels (and their 20) using a memory device (storage device). They landed at the landing aerodrome, and there they demanded to switch to another communication channel, but it is not there, it is necessary to restructure. The big boss, the acting assistant, has long forgotten how to do it - and there, too, his own order. They demand from the ground, the boss does not know how, there is a scandal in the carriage, a hubbub. The senior radio operator gave him the rules for working with the charger, and while the channel was being rebuilt, he had to sit down. In a tense state, the crew mistakenly takes the approach lights of the airfield for false, suitable with a large flight. A bortekhnik should remove the screws from the stop to transfer the engines to reverse thrust for braking, and is waiting for the command, but in the current heat the commander forgot to give it. This chain reaction led to an aircraft crash; two crew members died in the aft cabin. The simplest complication of the task with the game of classifying, the illiteracy of one crew member led to this outcome. On the other hand, they could have done both two and five laps and not cater to sit down, there was fuel, and no one declared war. In general, what happened happened. They tried to blame the senior radio operator, but he managed to fight back.

Thus, in the incomplete 13 years as a radio operator, I was lucky to be in all kinds of aviation. As a radio amateur, I really liked my job, and I retired in 35 for years, as a ballet dancer of the Bolshoi Theater, unlike my peers, who still have to trumpet and trumpet. And yet, aviation radio equipment significantly lagged behind foreign, and what was, borrowed from the same Americans. Where were our numerous design bureaus and research institutes? And it becomes sad. I think that at one time the American radio operator on B-29 felt very confident, but I keep silent about B-52. This radio equipment was better and more modern. Whatever it was with the disappearance of the USSR, but I still hurt for the power.
Articles from this series:
Arrow-radio operator memories, radio communications in military aviation. Part I
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. Rus2012
    Rus2012 10 August 2013 10: 44 New
    More, more, you need to write about service in the armed forces! This is our story! As you know, when eyewitnesses are silent - an unprecedentedness is born, which they will then consider as the truth ...

    Here I specially note that we never carried missiles with nuclear warheads when flying outside the borders of the USSR. Although in the official propaganda of the USSR, and in the media abroad about the flights of our strategic aviation with nuclear weapons on board there were any number of messages.
    - once argued on this topic, here is another confirmation of a direct participant in the events ...
  2. Yuri11076
    Yuri11076 10 August 2013 12: 07 New
    Well, I read the article super with great interest, especially since the radio amateur himself ...
  3. RoTTor
    RoTTor 10 August 2013 18: 59 New
    The author was lucky with the service. One of the saddest branches at the air forums is about the flight attendants. And what does the author do after the army?
    1. Alex 241
      Alex 241 10 August 2013 19: 35 New
      Nothing but respect!
      1. Alex 241
        Alex 241 10 August 2013 19: 36 New
        1. Alex 241
          Alex 241 10 August 2013 19: 36 New
  4. Sochi
    Sochi 19 August 2013 13: 33 New
    Good article. I would like to know from the author in which box he lived in Chagan? memorable places for me ...
  5. Iraclius
    Iraclius 19 August 2013 13: 50 New
    The senior radio operator was deprived of the upper blister, but at that time he was not fastened, and he was sucked out along with the flight documentation.

    What a horror! A man is sitting, sitting. Once - and sucked. And what did relatives say? Sucked out of an airplane? recourse
    And when the American fighter escorted our bombers, did the gun mounts target them? Or was it fraught?
    In general, I heard that for many years of service both the Naga and the Americans knew each other as flaky.
    Almost congratulated each other on the next military rank and other important events in his career and personal life.
    The article is interesting, thanks.
    1. Sochi
      Sochi 19 August 2013 14: 01 New
      Of course they knew, the father told how they talked on the radio about their children, how many and who were born, they knew each other by name. My father had pictures of their cars and he called the names of the pilots by the numbers of the sides.
  6. Votyak
    Votyak 26 October 2015 17: 12 New
    My friend, a gunner on the TU-16 on the first flight, took it so badly that he vomited his entire cockpit