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gary1701

RAF Mildenhall photo thread

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Seems new douchey Base COs and dumb cops are becoming more common. 

Last December I was out at Luke AFB photographing from outside the fence on public property. I had a security forces vehicle approach and stop. The kid got out and told me I had to stop photographing the aircraft and to leave. At first, I asked if the base had extended their property line. He replied no, but the base commander doesnt want the jets photographed. WTF?? At that point, my friendliness ended and I told him that he and the CO had no jurisdiction outside of the gate. I wasnt doing anything unlawful nor trespassing on base land. I didnt even explain I'm a retired E7 and know better. 

He said something on his radio as I walked away from that spot and continued about my business. 

 

But that is not an isolated incident. Its happening more frequently.

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Posted (edited)

Seeing as this is also a research thread...

 

I notice differences in the side/cheek panels of the various RC-135 type aircraft...is that what differentiates between the various type models?

 

I understand this is a "R" (EDIT: I meant "U" model here...got KC-135Rs on my mind...) model, by the chin fairing:

 

RC-135U:

 

RC-135_U.jpg

 

Are the "V" and "W" identified by the different side fairings?

 

RC-135V?:


wa_RC135w-13.jpg

 

RC-135W?:

 

RC-135_W.jpg

Edited by 82Whitey51

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1 hour ago, 82Whitey51 said:


That's a pure example of a Low ASVAB score in uniform.  Nothing "classified" about Buno's as I'm sure you know...if they were, they wouldn't be out in the open! The SP should have reported the CO for a classification breach!

I'm not a big photographer, but have dabbled here and there in the past.  The "no buno" thing isn't unique to Whidbey, as I've been told the same thing in the past at a couple places; I think it was (is?) policy in that I guess the higher-ups don't want anyone to be able to tie a particular aircraft to a particular unit.  Not saying it makes sense, but it doesn't appear to be an isolated incident of an overzealous security guy.

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Hi gents,

 

Enjoying reading experiences that others have had. Jeff, you could have told the guy you'd probably worked the boom (you were a boom operator?!) for most of those jets. I know several guys here in the UK who have shot at Luke in the past without any trouble, but that was before the F-35 turned up and it was just F-16s. Maybe that's what's got them a bit on edge.

 

Andrew, your question got me thinking, as although I've been aware of the different external configurations of the SLAR on the various RC-135 variants, I'd never really thought if it was tied into a specific model, or if each individual airframe was slightly different. That sounds like a good research project for me to look into, I'll look into my archives and see what I can turn up. I haven't shot any of the more exotic models, but should have plenty of RC-135U/V and W variants.

 

I can do the U model (we tend to call them U-Boats) now, that's the one that you've pasted in first with the mission markings, there isn't a RC-135R that I'm aware of.

 

Only two RC-135U (Combat Sent) airframes are current from the original three converted, and I have shot both at Mildenhall;

 

RC-135U 64-14847

 

IMG_5314.jpg

 

IMG_5325.jpg

 

RC-135U 64-14849

 

IMG_9975.jpg

 

IMG_4745.jpg

 

Both aircraft shot at the same location, the 'mound' on the 29 approach, although the first is just before dusk. They look identical to me in configuration. Unfortunately, I haven't got it like this, but aircraft '847 was seen at Mildenhall last year wearing a sharks mouth.

 

 http://www.airliners.net/photo/USA-Air-Force/Boeing-RC-135U-739-445B/4324657/L

 

I'll follow up with some of the others once I've looked at them.

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahhh......I meant "RC-135U" thanks for catching that. I've been sifting through KC-135R pics so...

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Hi again Andrew/gents,

 

Right, I've been having a look through all my images of RC-135 variants going back to the first digital one's I took in 2006. I've edited up some close ups of the two main variants, the RC-135V and W, during their TDY deployments to Mildenhall. Some of these are crops from full frame images so are a little lacking in quality, others are from already close detail shots, only one set is from existing images on this thread.

 

I'll start with the RC-135V

 

RC-135V 64-14841

 

RC135_V_6414841.jpg

 

RC-135V 64-14842 #1

 

RC135_V_6414842.jpg

 

RC-135V 64-14842 #2

 

RC135_V_6414842_2.jpg

 

Then the RC-135W

 

RC-135W 62-4130

 

RC135_W_624130.jpg

 

RC-135W 62-4139

 

RC135_W_624139.jpg

 

RC-135W 62-4138 #1

 

RC135_W_624138.jpg

 

RC-135W 62-4138 #2

 

RC135_W_624138_2.jpg

 

A small sampling I know, but I was trying to use images I haven't already posted. Unless something interesting is going on the 95th RS only normally has a single RC-135 on TDY from Offutt at Mildenhall at any one time, and he might only fly once every few days so they're not as easy to catch as you might think. However looking at that, it initially looked quite clear cut that the V and W models of the RC-135 uses a different SLAR panel on the fuselage, and it was based on the airframe variant. Then I looked at the three pictures that Andrew posted up, the top and bottom are taken by me, but the middle one wasn't, and that's the one that has screwed up the pattern shown above. It's not a RC-135V, as airframe 62-4131 is a RC-135W, and I've checked that at multiple references so it's accurate. Problem is that pic shows a panel configuration from a RC-135V, as in my pics above. I've since gone back and looked over the history of images of this airframe at Airliners.net - a great site for checking how a aircraft has changed over the years. Results below;

 

http://www.airliners.net/search?registrationActual=62-4131&display=card

 

What that tells me is that the panels have changed between 2012 and 2016. The image Andrew has posted shows a 'V' configuration, and that pic is presumably quite old as images from 2016 show it with the usual 'W' configuration. Because RC-135's get around a fair bit they do actually tend to get photographed quite often, yet on A.Net there is no photos of '131 from between 2012 and 2016. Coincidence? Speculative but I would guess the airframe was in for some major work in that time frame and is also when the panels were changed. Next thought that occurred was is this a one off or maybe all 'V' models will adopt the same panel as the 'W's. Sure enough using A.Net I can find other examples of RC-135Vs and also W models having the panels I've photographed above as exclusively 'V' models, but also both models appearing with the configuration I've photographed as the 'W' variant at a later date. Overall, that suggests there is a rolling programme through both variants to change from a older panel configuration to a later one, and I've just happened to photograph one model in one configuration by chance.

 

If that doesn't confuse anybody I'll be amazed, as I've confused myself several times writing it!

 

Gary

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It's interesting that most of the -135 airframes (RC-, KC-) have the turbofan engines yet the E-3 still has the older engines. Are they ever going to re-engine them?

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Posted (edited)

Hi again gents,

 

Returning to a normal post and this one will concentrate on just the one, rather distinctive type - the USAF version of the Osprey, the CV-22. As the base of one of the two forward deployed USAF Special Operations Groups and the withdrawal of their MH-53s in 2007, it seemed inevitable that whilst the 352nd Special Operations Group (now Wing) was based at Mildenhall, CV-22s would eventually arrive at the base. A early deployment of four US based CV-22s arrived in March 2011 for what was publicly billed as a test run prior to the establishment of a squadron here. I did however hear rumours they were also involved in operations in the Middle East and even one that they were part of the Bin Laden raid into Pakistan. Certainly they did deploy forward for a while whilst here but I can't vouch for anything else. 

 

I never was able to get over during the 2011 deployment, except on the night they arrived, and it certainly was night! Best I could do...

 

5560295721_7b1ea9bc23_o.jpg

 

The first permanent examples for the 7th Special Operations Squadron, was a pair that arrived in the spring of 2013. There was a lot of speculation whilst waiting for them to turn up about the types reputation, and one former Marine Osprey driver was quoted as saying 'coming soon to a field near Mildenhall' when they arrived. He was right, but it did take a few months for the first precautionary landing to occur. 11-0057/58 were the first pair in, and it took me until August to get my first shots of one flying;

 

9422627130_f6af0857b7_o.jpg

 

9419862961_001d15d369_o.jpg

 

This wasn't made easy as immediately after arriving '58 had gone unserviceable and disappeared for about 4 months before it next flew, so early on the 7th SOS only flew one airframe. We wondered how they would operate, as they took over the old 'dustbowl' used by the MH-53s, which had been resurfaced and extended. Mildenhall PA also stated that the type could only lift to and from certain reinforced surfaces on the airfield, which seemed rather odd when MV-22s were seen supporting the US President elsewhere landing in car parks...grass...etc. However, it looked like they would operate from the main runway when rolling or from the 'Alpha' pad when lifting vertically, which was just in front of their ramp and beside the runway at the 11 end. This was also located pretty well for photos from the fence, ladder and patience permitting. They adopted the 'Knife' call sign for local training and air tests and it soon became apparent that once they'd worked up in daylight most of their ops was going to be at night, alongside the MC-130s from the SOG. That made them quite hard to get in good light in front of the camera, especially as it soon became apparent they had a more than normal chance of ground aborts prior to departing. I next caught one in December 2013, luckily during a daylight air test as he rotated off the pad early afternoon in some nice light.

 

11606387234_ddb69cf435_o.jpg

 

11606274683_f6500ba9ab_o.jpg

 

11606301933_916312080e_o.jpg

 

In February/March 2014 I was able to spend a lot of time over at Mildenhall due to having taken redundancy and having a few months free. A couple of evenings I was able to catch a 'Knife' flight of two lift not long before dusk, in doing so catching some excellent light as they lifted towards the sun and camera. By now the 7th SOS was up to 6/7 airframes.

 

First pair. 09-0046 was a oddity, as all the remaining airframes delivered had carried on from 11-0057. It also had a slightly different antenna fit on the upper fuselage.

 

12309658155_32f0d879ca_o.jpg

 

12309830343_762546eb76_o.jpg

 

12309845583_8b9ae155d5_o.jpg

 

12310274506_a439550a31_o.jpg

 

12310276496_4da5940eb0_o.jpg

 

Another pair a week later (actually the same two airframes)

 

12509383834_e703e4d601_o.jpg

 

12509033693_d074d77130_o.jpg

 

This next sequence of the second of the pair lifting is one of my favourite sequences of aviation pics that I've taken, as it just looks so right.  I didn't know at the time that I would shortly be working for a UK firm that is owned by one of the two major corporations that co-produce the Osprey. Although the UK operation has no aviation or military connections, there's many images and references to the Osprey on the IT side, and for a company that makes the damn things, their publicity photography is appalling and amateurish. I have offered them free access and use to any of these images several times, but even trying to help such a massive bureaucracy is met with constant obstruction and inertia.

 

12509380554_1ec44c3c7f_o.jpg

 

12509379814_005531fca9_o.jpg

 

'Knife 77' touching down on the runway, taxiing in for a crew change, then heading back out again.

 

12777655614_994c11a4ba_o.jpg

 

12777651064_30cfb47c3b_o.jpg

 

12777656284_dee1cfd9bd_o.jpg

 

Another one from 2014 with the 'Knife' pulling to the hover over the runway and then air taxiing back to the pad. Not so easy to get nowadays, as they tend to settle in the hover a lot further down the runway and air taxi across further away and settle back on the apron rather than use the closer pad.

 

12974395463_7c4aa9edb3_o.jpg

 

12966703574_37399a595e_o.jpg

 

That pretty much was it for a few years. I wasn't able to get over very much due to the new job (which meant I now had to commute in the opposite direction), the few times I got over and they were due to launch whilst I was there they broke before departure, or I found them working different positions on the airfield and I missed them. 

 

This shows the 7th SOS line just prior to dusk one evening with them preparing to launch, but unfortunately it was a after dark departure.

 

25627044271_5a276327bc_o.jpg

 

Did manage to quickly catch one of the new birds, 12-0063 coming off the pad in September 2015.

 

21727535046_b14c1e0845_o.jpg

 

Marine MV-22's have made a couple of short deployments to Mildenhall to work locally, usually just a pair a few days from the detachments down in the Med. I haven't been able to get them and they seem to have been troubled by serviceability the moment they arrive. During the last formal US Presidential visit the green MV-22s have deployed into Mildenhall but besides seeing them parked one Saturday I haven't been able to get anything.

 

Finally for this post, the last CV-22 I got at Christmas is right back on the first post of this thread.

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Posted (edited)

 

Gents,

 

Hot off the press, as in taken four hours ago earlier this morning on this bank holiday Saturday here in the UK. Strange considering the discussion above about RC-135's that this would happen the same week. With good weather over the bank holiday expected I figured I would do a early morning run over the base as with an Easterly wind any arrivals overnight would come into sun, so got the gear and planned a morning trip. Before I set off at around 8:00 I checked the latest planned movements. RC-135 out at 7:00 for a 7 hour sortie down into Europe had already gone so would be back early afternoon. Pretty routine and arriving at that time would not be good for sun angles. The second one in was due out around 08:55...hmm...just under a hours time and it takes me 45 minutes to get there in good traffic. Also, if he takes the underrun at the 11 end there's some good photo opportunities, lot's of 'if's' there but I went for it. As I drove around the base I heard 'Olive 56' call up for taxi, so I gunned it down the other end to 'John's Field', and dutifully paid my £1 parking in the honestly box! Pulled up by the fence, saw a local couple who I knew already there as they put their ladders up, who then shouted, 'you've come over for 'sharks mouth'? It then dawned on me it was the RC-135U with the sharks mouth as mentioned above in the thread that was coming out. I had no idea he was in!  Excellent news. Thankfully he used the underrun or we'd have been in the wrong position, although he did turn the wrong way, a left turn towards us on the 180 would have been better.

 

IMG_8937.jpg

 

IMG_8940.jpg

 

I remembered to get a close up of the SLAR array, which looks like it's changed since I last photographed this bird.

 

IMG_8671.jpg

 

Love the sharks mouth.

 

IMG_8673.jpg

 

Hung around for the two KC-10's that came in afterwards but that was it, as it wasn't worth waiting for the other '135 to come back.

 

IMG_8716.jpg

 

IMG_8725.jpg

 

Not too shabby for a quick couple of hours.

 

Gary

Edited by gary1701

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On 5/2/2018 at 11:22 AM, Wolfgun33 said:

It's interesting that most of the -135 airframes (RC-, KC-) have the turbofan engines yet the E-3 still has the older engines. Are they ever going to re-engine them?

From what I have heard, there are certain sensors on the E-3 that would be blocked by the larger engines. The Saudis have re-engined, but one of the other users of the Sentry have. 

 

Aaron 

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Posted (edited)

 

Hi Aaron/all,

 

When  I was on Mildenhall during a visit the other year one of the 100th ARW hosts was a Captain, who whilst now a pilot was a former E-3 systems operator (battlefield manager or whatever they call the people down the back of a E-3). Although I obviously don't know anything about USAF career planning, I thought that was a bit of a unusual career change, going from one unrelated role to another, especially as she barely looked out of school! With somebody who had worked E-3s and now flew KC-135Rs, I thought she was the ideal person to ask the exact same question. Her opinion was it came down to cost, and didn't mention any technical issues. What is there, 30 odd E-3B/Cs on the USAF fleet?  It did seem strange too me as they didn't seem to have any problems doing all those KC-135s some years ago. The RAF and French both have had E-3s from production with CFM-56s fitted. So I'm still none the wiser as to why the USAF hasn't re-engined as well. I did wonder about this large arrays on the side of the fuselage, but although the RAF examples aren't fitted, the French are.

 

Gary

Edited by gary1701

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2 hours ago, gary1701 said:

 

Hi Aaron/all,

 

When  I was on Mildenhall during a visit the other year one of the 100th ARW hosts was a Captain, who whilst now a pilot was a former E-3 systems operator (battlefield manager or whatever call the people down the back of a E-3). Although I obviously don't know anything about USAF career planning, I thought that was a bit of a unusual career change, going from one unrelated role to another, especially as she barely looked out of school! With somebody who had worked E-3s and now flew KC-135Rs, I thought she was the ideal person to ask the exact same question. Her opinion was it came down to cost, and didn't mention any technical issues. What is there, 30 odd E-3B/Cs on the USAF fleet?  It did seem strange too me as they didn't seem to have any problems doing all those KC-135s some years ago. The RAF and French both have had E-3s from production with CFM-56s fitted. So I'm still none the wiser as to why the USAF hasn't re-engined as well. I did wonder about this large arrays on the side of the fuselage, but although the RAF examples aren't fitted, the French are.

 

Gary

This is what I was told from an E-3 systems guy at Boeing. He DID mention cost (the Saudis have more than enough money to do pretty much whatever they want) but he also said there were sensors that would be blocked. Of course, he could not go into WHAT sensors they were, but that was the reason he gave me. I trust this guy, as he has worked on every model of E-3 practically since they rolled off the assembly line, but take it for what it's worth. 

 

Aaron 

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Posted (edited)

More great shots! Thank you Gary.

 

Model geeks take note, check out all the structural mods and repairs from over the years on these things. Pardon my marking up your photo Gary.

 

IMG_8673_-_Copy.jpg

 

Does anyone do a RC-135U mod/conversion set?

Edited by 82Whitey51

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Hi Andrew,

 

No worries, please feel free to point out stuff that I as a enthusiast wouldn't know. Here's another batch, we're getting towards the end now, probably another couple of posts worth of material left.

 

I've been saving the Bones up. I haven't been very lucky with these as they often turn up when I can't get over. In reality, there shouldn't be any B-1s turn up at Mildenhall, as the only times they've turned up in the last 10 years or so is when either them or their supporting tanker has broken and they've been forced to divert. 'Rama 81' diverted in while outward bound from the Middle East, heading home in July 2012. The aircraft declared an emergency due to smoke and a possible fire and the guys who saw it arrive say the crew evacuated out on the runway. It wasn't as serious as first thought, although it was still here for a couple of weeks before heading back home. It started to be moved around the stands on the base almost daily and I turned up on a Saturday morning to find it directly opposite Folly Rd on the usual 100th ARW stands. Best position on the base for piccies!

 

7615542890_d399c4b44b_o.jpg

 

Note the mission marks on the nose wheel door.

 

7615541308_6e59a3a147_o.jpg

 

What I gather is fairly common sand discolouration from a lengthy stay in the desert.

 

7615541756_99c62348ba_o.jpg

 

'Rama 72' blasting off in February 2014. This again was a Bone that had gone u/s, outbound this time and also staying for a while. The clouds were hit and miss on this one, and I came within seconds of losing him. A nice postscript to this was the email I got from the pilot a few weeks later, after he saw it online, asking if he could have a copy, which was duly sent.

 

12506875425_ab471c0d44_o.jpg

 

12506996503_ede6cea937_o.jpg

 

12508225323_e9f55f807d_o.jpg

 

Kalitta 747 turning onto 11 on a extremely hot August day in 2013. Amazed I didn't lose this one to heat haze.

 

9422627576_f0f6db6754_o.jpg

 

Missed this one from the earlier E-3 posts. A little experiment with a NATO E-3 in early 2014 that worked out rather well. When I knew this guy was in for circuits for a while (in fact they tend to turn up for hours at a time!), I decided to drive away from the base down the country lanes and try and catch the base turn, NATO E-3 crews are renowned for tight circuits, so it seemed a worthwhile gamble. Nailed him...

 

12930798583_7651bff7b3_o.jpg

 

12930691555_230959a20b_o.jpg

 

The sole C-40 assigned to Ramstein.

 

12637999405_a12e717383_o.jpg

 

This is why I prefer photographing in the winter, as long as the suns out. Nice low light and no problems with heat haze when on the ground. 2nd January, 2015 and the base was still officially closed for Christmas/New Year when this NATO C-17 made a quick stop over. I wouldn't have gone over if I hadn't have gotten the 'heads up'. This was the last aircraft I photographed here prior to the USAF announcing the bases closure a few days later.

 

16151002046_5b10dcf7a5_o.jpg

 

15557010143_f57ee07ec3_o.jpg

 

Same spot turning onto 29 from 'Alpha', just a couple of weeks later.

 

16174735528_97248c18c8_o.jpg

 

15742383373_3074a338f9_o.jpg

 

16336390586_14a1556ee6_o.jpg

 

Last set for this post is from a sequence I shot late on a bank holiday Monday in August 2016.  The conditions were kind on a perfect evening when 'Reach 347' came off 29 towards me into the sun. I was cheating a little as I know the driver, who posts on another forum I frequent, and we'd spent the previous afternoon in the pub by the base entrance, so I knew the departure time. He was asked to keep it low, which he did, I wasn't expecting the wing waggle as he came over Johns Field at the departure end! He was also the guy who was the first to take a C-17 through the Mach Loop in Wales last year.

 

29343167255_24e98b64ce_o.jpg

 

29343166265_389076b128_o.jpg

 

29343162385_7f2a984d73_o.jpg

 

Wing rock saying bye, next stop Charleston!

 

29235016882_c9a7048f8d_o.jpg

 

Until next time.

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

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Enjoying this thread Gary. Thanks for posting

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Hi Gents,

 

Another batch for tonight. Thought I would start with the finale from the 21st SOS as the MH-53 bowed out at Mildenhall in 2007. These guys were good with the enthusiasts as they posted up the route for the final flypast on the various forums and would finish with a run down the runway at Mildenhall, breaking towards the photographers trailer at the end of runway 11. Spot on they were as well, but unfortunately the clouds didn't play ball. There was five aircraft involved, but only four fitted in my viewfinder.

 

2151939188_eb042183e6_o.jpg

 

Another finale today sees the 56th Rescue Squadron bowing out with their HH-60s at Lakenheath, although this is a transfer rather than a disbandment, they're going to Aviano. If the base is going to gain two F-35 units in addition to the two F-15E outfits (I assume the F-15C/D's of the 493rd will have gone by then) then Lakenheath is going to need all the space it can get. Sticking with the Mildenhall theme, here's one sunny afternoon on a winters day a few years ago when one of Lakenheaths 'Jolly's' came over to the Mildenhall circuit to play.

 

31186588491_5c74bb162e_o.jpg

 

31265082896_965f4694db_o.jpg

 

31186582621_855a665d79_o.jpg

 

Charleston bird on arrival.

 

9979577195_7f3abfcd32_o.jpg

 

9979650066_4e0599cd2f_o.jpg

 

Clearing the runway, KC-10 style in January 2013.

 

8417108626_25aca5cf28_o.jpg

 

SOG out of the sun!

 

5644504064_48a48dd37c_o.jpg

 

The week that HMX-1 came to town in May 2011 for a presidential visit and seemed surprised that people pointed cameras at their top secret helicopters, which after all, are never normally filmed!

 

5742851162_72418de0d2_o.jpg

 

5742851334_0238309d71_o.jpg

 

Pleased to get this one, even if it was a few years ago.

 

4316265355_e0800fd711_o.jpg

 

4316269591_c82b428fea_o.jpg

 

Finally, for this post another Moose, with the 9/11 nose art.

 

2150467836_6df04c9125_o.jpg

 

Gary

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On ‎5‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 3:10 PM, strikeeagle801 said:

This is what I was told from an E-3 systems guy at Boeing. He DID mention cost (the Saudis have more than enough money to do pretty much whatever they want) but he also said there were sensors that would be blocked. Of course, he could not go into WHAT sensors they were, but that was the reason he gave me. I trust this guy, as he has worked on every model of E-3 practically since they rolled off the assembly line, but take it for what it's worth. 

 

Aaron 

 

Never thought about that. Good enough explanation for me.

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