Madame Queen radioman's ramblings, Part I

By: Clyde Larry Mings
On: 09/16/2005
to Win Bryson: Instead of sending you the annswers to the myriad questions you asked,I will save posting via email and post my comments here as installments . My typing is the Columbus System (search, discover, land on it) so bear with me.Computers renew their memory on each reboot and memory is easily added, but we humans are not so fortunate. The best times of our lives are under two and over eighty. Any sign of intelligence is an event to be celebrated! If I goof-and I certainly will- just blame my being a vine ripened radio operator. You dont HAVE to be crazy to be a "static chaser",but it gives you one helluva head start! After completing radio school (Scott,1941 and gunnery school (Buckingham)and Phase training (Drew Field, Tampa) it was off to Deenthorpe. Radio duties vary with ,assignment but here goes: You make the main briefing and then go pick up your code booklet and authenication verification sheet and  special instructions. You help load the equipment and check your radios for proper functioning.Your code booklet is changed daily and is a form of shorthand  such as" XPKWZ= Primary target obscured by clouds, bomb secondary". The Nazis had a" mole"  and the booklets were sometimes compromised or leaked  to the Germans. Your authenication sheet was a grid pattern and the key letter changed every hour and seemed fool proof. The sheet was very thin tissue , probably made from rice flour, and designed to be eaten if you had to bail out or were going to crash. It was slightly sweet and didnt taste bad at all.You challenged any message that could be dangerous because the Germans had some very sharp operators who could mimic the 8AF ground stations "fist" .each radio operator has his own sending characteristics, and a skilled  enemy could learn to duplicate the "fist" . The authenication sheet was a safety net.Enroute to the target you test fired your gun and settled in for ten hours or so of copying code messages on frequency.You also ran the big strike camera  and turned on the Tokyo" tanks that gave us a total of 2780 gallons of fuel for the flight.We carried many boxes of "Chaff"- foil backed paper strips that were resonant at the wavelength of the German flak and control radars. Each strip reflected the radar signal and the German saw thousands of returns on  his scope. Sort of like your TV screen on a blank channel.Fine for clouds, but not much help on a clear day with our contrails. Chaff saved many lives.It took forever for the strips to reach ground, and we were putting out 4 bundles every 10 seconds if my memory is correct.I will continue the rambling on PartII

Re: Madame Queen radioman's ramblings, Part I

By: Don Dawkins
On: 02/28/2006
Mr. Mings:
  I am a vietnam generation guy and student of history who has been reading and enjoying your recollections. A thousand years from now if we still exsist as a species, humans will marvel at what you and your generation of Airmen did.
From the bottom of my heart thank you for your incredible memory and commitment to the nation.