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What the heck is this? Spook C-121


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I've seen some odd antenna configurations before, but these might take 1st prize.   Any idea what the mission of this rather anonymous C-121 was?  Picture taken at Da Nang AFB, RVN, around 1966.

 

IMG_0120.jpg

 

Picture courtesy:

Da Nang Air Base (danangafb.blogspot.com)

 

Lots of other rare / interesting pictures.  Well worth checking out. 

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Mobile laundry services , flies in , washing machines in fuselage , hang clean uniforms up above on those lines  , hey presto , keeps the troops out in the fields that bit longer . 

 

The Herc in the background was on the same mission rota, burgers and beers relief . 

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Blue Eagle

Although seldom mentioned, the United States Navy was also involved with psychological radio operations in Vietnam. The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. The aircraft was sent to Vietnam shortly afterwards where in October it broadcast the World Series to American troops and became the world’s first operational airborne broadcast station. United States Navy RMC Steve Robbins told me:

I spent three of my four flight tours in Vietnam flying this bird. Blue Eagle I (aircraft 131627) was one of four Navy Project Jenny broadcast birds that we built and operated. This bird was a radio-only bird (unlike the other three which were radio/TV broadcast birds.  Blue Eagle I, after doing a test flight in Vietnam which rebroadcast the World Series from the United States, was assigned to PSYOPS operations.

Two Blue Eagle aircraft were based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon to broadcast Channel 11 of Armed Forces Vietnam Television (the American Forces Vietnam Network), and Channel 9 of THVN (the official station of the Government of Vietnam) in South Vietnam until 1970. 

A third aircraft was based at Da Nang Air Base to provide airborne PSYOP broadcast missions for MACVSOG off the coast of North Vietnam from 1966 to 1970. It took part in psychological operations from 1965-1967 and earned the nickname “Da Nang Dirty Bird.” John Plaster mentions the Project Jenny missions in his book about SOG and it was Blue Eagle I that flew those missions.  

Plaster says about Project Jenny in SOG: the Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam:

In Project Jenny, a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft broadcast SOG radio programs while flying off the North Vietnam coast, a technique that confused enemy radio direction finders and, because the radio wasn’t far away, tended to overwhelm local station signals.

This was a highly classified mission and most of the crew did not know they were working for at the time. In 2001, personnel who served with SOG were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by direction of President George Bush.

Robbins continues:

After 1970, the Blue Eagles were retired to the bone yard to lick their war wounds and the Navy got out of the airborne broadcasting business. The U.S. Air Force then  took over these missions with Coronet Solo broadcast birds (which were essentially remakes of the navy birds) and ultimately the Commando Solo EC-130 airborne broadcast platforms currently flown by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 193rd Special Operations Wing.  

It is also interesting to note that in order to make the TV programs work as a psychological operation; the United States Agency for International Development provided 500 television sets for Vietnam. They were placed in public squares, store windows, or wherever Vietnamese citizens were likely to gather.

Courtesy of http://www.psywarrior.com/VietnamOBPSYOP.html

Edited by Sabrejet
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25 minutes ago, Ben Brown said:

Those were the Batcat C-121Rs. Interesting history. One of these days I’m going to build the Da Nang Glider. Link to pdf doc

 

Ben

Cool airplane.  Good story.  Most likely somebody on the crew pissed it off and the airplane was getting even.  Don’t think it doesn’t happen!

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On 9/8/2022 at 7:01 PM, Oldbaldguy said:

Cool airplane.  Good story.  Most likely somebody on the crew pissed it off and the airplane was getting even.  Don’t think it doesn’t happen!

True! Two companies I used to work for had airplanes named “Christine” for good reason. :D
 

Ben

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