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Hersch Pahl's Non-Combat
"Cornerstone" Stories #4

The RBS - Radar Bomb scoring Unit / and fighter
affiliation exercises with Air Force B-50 Heavy Bombers.

The US Air Force had a Radar Bomb Scoring Unit (RBS) located at or near the city of Marrakech, which was about 100 miles south of Casablanca, French Morocco. This unit was designed to track a high flying aircraft while it was making a simulated or practice bombing run on a designated target on the ground. The aircraft transmitted a simulated bomb release point to the unit on the ground. The unit then would electronically generate the simulated bomb's trajectory and calculate where it would impact the ground in relation to the target. In other words the unit could score and evaluate the bombing run electronically.

A photo taken of a scene in Marrakech, French Morocco is included below, taken in April of 1952. The architecture seen here is quite common throughout this part of the Arab/Moslem world.

Marrakech, French Morocco, 1952. Photo by Hersch Pahl

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The Air Force cycled some of its B-50 heavy bombers and crews through several air fields in Morocco for training using their RBS unit and for familiarization with the fields and facilities. These fields had been built as general war post strike recovery bases.

U.S. Air Force B-50 Superfortress Heavy bomber 1952
U.S. Air Force Photo

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View Plane Specs here

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Their RBS Unit looked like a good deal for us too as we had trained on a RBS unit back in Virginia so we knew how to use it. Our skipper tried to negotiate a deal with the Air Force to use the unit when the Air Force was not using it. They exhibited an air of cooperation, but our skipper had to bribe them a little. First we had to send our electronic specialist (Bud Jinks) down to Marrakech to help them do some electronic maintenance and repair work on their unit (which was contained in a portable van). The Air Force also needed some fighter affiliation exercises so that their gunners could get some realistic practice for their waste and turret gunners using their camera guns.

Our Skipper jumped at the chance and indicated that we would be glad to provide fighters to make runs on them and arranged a time, date and place for the exercise to take place. He did not tell them that we were going to make gunnery runs on them with our AJ-1 Heavy attack type planes. He said that they probably would not know the difference just as long as they were carrier based aircraft.

A couple other old fighter pilot types and myself were given the assignment to go with the skipper. This AJ-1 of ours was designed as a bomber but it was also very rugged and maneuverable and could be used to make fighter runs by anyone who had been trained to do that kind of flying.

On 21 April 1952, four of we "AJ-1 fighter pilots" made the rendezvous with the flight of B-50 heavy bombers, in an airspace off the airways over eastern Morocco. We coordinated our attack in two, two-plane sections so that there was one plane making an attack at all times for about 45 minutes.

We made all kinds of gunnery runs on them. I made several roll-over steep high side runs; some from the front quarter; several beam runs as well as low runs from their front quarter.

Of course we were light and had plenty of power, using all three engines so getting back into a position to make another run was easy. We gave them a good work out.

As suggested by our skipper, on the last run we each made our runs with our bomb bay doors open and purposefully rolled our under sides up so they could see that they were being attacked by Navy bombers rather than fighters as they had been lead to believe. We hoped they would get some good photo of our open bomb bays. Our planes could carry the same 10,000 pound bomb that the B-50 could carry.

AJ-1 Savage Heavy Attack planes flown by Hersch Pahl and another former fighter pilot preparing to engage in a fighter affiliation exercises with Air Force B-50 heavy bombers. French Morocco April 1952.

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A flight of three Air Force B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bombers similar to the flight that we had a fighter affiliation exercise with using AJ-1 heavy attack planes as fighters. The exercise took place over eastern French Morocco in April 1952.
(U.S. Air Force Photo)

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We got a chuckle out of the deal and at a later date enjoyed visiting with some of their pilots about the exercise when they came over to Port Lyautey to log a little free time with their elbows on our Officer's Club bar.

- Hersch Pahl

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