HANDLING DIVISION - OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES

            The following accounts of the operational activities of the Handling Division, 3084th Aviation Depot Group, Stony Brook Air Force Station are abstracted from the declassified Historical Reports of that Group from 1 Jan 1956 to 31 December 1959.

(1 Jan - 30 June 1956)

            The operational activities of the Handling Division for the period covered by this report were of a highly diversified nature.  Categorically, they included participation in Mission Support Operations, Formulation of allied training programs, extensive re-evaluation and re-organization of the Augmentation Handling Technician Program.  Formulation of a comprehensive Emergency Road Breakdown Procedures program for Handling Division Convoy Vehicles and the initiation of a Management Improvement Program which consisted of technical innovations and Area Improvements aimed at increasing the efficiency and morale of the personnel assigned to this Division.

            Mission Support within the realm of Division Activities consisted of the timely delivery of weapons and associated components from the storage igloos to the Assembly Division on both a routine and operational basis.  Routine support of the Assembly Division furnished to a large degree the necessary training and experience for maximum effort Handling Operational Support.  The division's participation in locally directed training operations consisted of breakout, delivery to the plants, and convoying to the WCP those weapons and components utilized in the operations.

            ............(Ed. Note:  The DOE redacted about 5 lines of text.) ...... "Workhorse" Ross Straddle Carrier and shifts of two men to operate it as long as needed.  Additional support from this Division to the 4050th Special Weapons Loading Squadron was provided by loaning Handling Division personnel during "Squeeze Play" Operation, for the purpose of MA-1 (text uncertain) Bomb Lift Maintenance and Repair.  (See Letter "Loan of Maintenance Personnel", Adobe PDF file).

            During exercises of Operation "Safety First", Handling Division personnel successfully accomplished the safe loading of individual crated items without damage or incident.  During Operation "Big Talk", 3084th Ops Order 6-56, Handling Division assisted the AEC Handling Crews in breakout and convoy procedures as required.  Additional support of a routine nature rather than operational was the convoying of weapons, at numerous occasions, to WAFB (Westover Air Force Base) for the purpose of practice loadings whenever an aircraft was available, as well as the convoying of weapons to the location of the new SAC CAS Building located in the storage area adjacent to Stony Brook AFS.

            In conjunction with the Mission Support aspect of Operational Activities an extensive proficiency training program was conducted on igloo breakout, plant delivery, dispersal and convoy procedures.  (Ed. note:  DOE redacted another 5 lines of text at this point.)  .......  This was a definite improvement over the old system with one exception, notably, the H-435's further increase the required amount of draw bar pull exerted by the electric tug, due to the fact that the frictional resistance of these wheels are greater than the old system of steel tracks.  The tugs currently in use are of the 2000 lb. draw bar pull variety while it has been competently estimated that a tug of 4000 lb. draw bar pull was necessary for towing a unit the weight of the MK17.  (Ed. note:  the MK17 weighed approximately 42,000 pounds.)  Continued use of this underpowered electric tug could only lead to premature failure and at best remain an unreliable prime mover.  Hq 3079th ADW (AMC) was informed of this station's additional requirements for handling equipment and a message was sent to the Wing stating that five 4000 pound tractors and two 2000 pound tractors would be required for all commitments.  ...........................(Ed. Note:  One or two sentences redacted by DOE.).................................

            The recent arrival at this station of two new MK21 and one MK15 training weapons intensified the Handling Division's Training Program.  Three Ross Straddle Carriers were "modified" to expedite handling procedures of these weapons.  This "modification" was a simple adjustment of the Load Swing Hooks which in effect decreased the distance between the parallel hook bars located on each side of the carrier.  This decreased distance allowed less "play" or "backlash" in the load carrying swing hooks, thus facilitating handling procedures. ...................................(Ed. note:  One or two sentences redacted by DOE.).................  The integration of the new MK15/21 Igloo Assembly Concept has not caused any particular difficulty in this Division.  The Igloo Dispersal Plan has considerably decreased unnecessary handling functions thus conserving personnel and wear and tear on handling vehicles. ............................... (DOE redactions).  This was attributed to an insufficient amount of bearing area of bolster casters contacting the road surface for the weight involved and the type of road surfacing.  In short, too much load on a small bearing area further aggravated a soft bituminous surfacing produced a definite "settling" affect. ..........................(DOE redaction).............................

            A recent inquiry by Col. xxxxx of the 3079th ADW (AMC), on the Augmentation Handling Technician Problem, prompted the re-evaluation and re-organization of this program.  This Division in a joint working agreement with the Station Motor Pool and Air Installations has produced an extensive training program in explosive handling for Augmentation Personnel.  The program included classroom lectures and field training on vehicles and equipment. It also established minimum training requirements and provided for the scheduled periodic re-qualification of Augmentation Personnel on equipment and procedures.  This periodic re-qualification kept the Augmentation Personnel informed of the latest procedures used by the Handling Division and also provided them the opportunity to become proficient in the actual mechanics of any new operation.

            Another major project was the formulation of a comprehensive Emergency Road Breakdown Procedures Program for Handling Division convoy vehicles.  The problem at hand was the determination of which organization would accomplish this function.  An extensive study of the problem and possible contributory difficulties and complications was accomplished.  The study revealed that a definite need existed for a centralized storage depot for all necessary spare parts, tires and associated tools which would be easily accessible to the lengthy five mile convoy route.  During operational periods Handling Division personnel were actively engaged in work directly contributory to the performance of the primary mission of the station.  Thus, emergency road servicing of convoy vehicles by Handling Division personnel would result in extensive time loss and delays and was at best a misappropriation of training skills to permit highly qualified explosives handling technicians to interrupt their vital function to service broken-down vehicles.  Since the Motor Pool has qualified automotive maintenance personnel available during operational periods who could effectively and logically be used for these functions, it was decided that the most logical and feasible solution to the problem was to set up a centralized pool of spare parts, tires and tools at the Station Motor Pool.  For Motor Pool Division was therefore given the responsibility for the servicing of vehicle breakdown during convoys.  To further expedite matters, the Handling Division prepared a study on procedures and tools required and approximate times involved in the process of accomplishing a tire change on a Ross Straddle Carrier, P-3 or M- (unreadable) Bomb Trailer and submitted these times to the Motor Pool Division.

            This Division's operational activities have also included the initiation of a Management Improvement Program consisting of technical innovations and area improvements aimed at increasing the operational effectiveness and morale of the personnel assigned to this Division. The first of the technical innovations was the introduction of a steel bolster utilized in connection with a Ross straddle carrier for transporting an electric forklift and tug from the MHE building to the igloo area.  Prior to the introduction of this device, electrical equipment of forklift and tug variety used on the breakout cycle of most weapons had to be transported from the MHE building to the igloo area by one of two existing methods.  The first involved the use of a 15,000 lb gasoline driven forklift to lift the two pieces of equipment onto the bed of a tractor-trailer combination whereupon they had to be securely chained, driven to the igloo, unchained and off loaded with the use of a tractor and 25 foot trailer, one or possibly two 15,000 lb gasoline forklifts, log chains and binders, and a minimum of four men to safely and expeditiously accomplish the job. 

(View various photos of MK17 handling.)

            The previous alternate method was the use of a pick-up truck equipped with a trailer hitch and a tow bar to pull the electrical forklift and tug to the storage area.  This procedure was highly unfavorable primarily because the distance between the MHE building and the storage structure was approximately 3/4 mile and constant towing over rough roads caused considerable premature wear on vehicles which were not built to be driven over comparatively long distances. Another significant factor was the towing of these vehicles, which are not equipped with headlights of any kind, so night presented a very serious ground safety problem since vision was greatly impaired and the location of a rather high center of gravity makes them very susceptible to over-turning if any sharp or sudden changes of direction are affected during the towing process.  Utilization of the steel bolster innovation required only the use of one Ross straddle carrier, the steel bolster, and one man.  This man drove the individual pieces of equipment on to the bolster, then drove the Ross straddle carrier over the loaded bolster, picked up the load and drove it to the destination whereupon he reverses the process to off load.  This method saved considerable time and achieved more efficient use of personnel and equipment.  The photo on the following page depicts the use of this steel bolster with the Ross straddle carrier.

            Another minor difficulty encountered by this Division in the performance of its operational commitments was the lack of a centralized record of up-to-the minute information pertaining to convoys en route to the WCP.  This problem was effectively solved by convoy radio-equipped pick-up trucks used in conjunction with a large metallic wall map of Stony Brook Air Force Station and Westover Air Force Base located in the office of the Handling Division Supervisor.  Periodically the convoy Handling Commander would radio-in his position and the person receiving the message affixed a small iron-core magnet to the metallic wall map, thus fixing his position and providing a quick reference for anyone desiring information concerning the whereabouts of the convoy.  This map was then used in conjunction with a convoy control chart which would give the convoy makeup, i.e., what type of weapons are being convoyed, the number, what type of vehicles are in the convoy and how many personnel were being utilized.  Thus all the necessary current information was immediately available at all times for quick intelligible reference which contributed to well-run operational procedures.

            An incidental allied project initiated by this Division was the establishment of a convoy Route Coordinator whose primary function was to maintain periodic surveillance over the established convoy routes between SBAFS and WAFB.  The purpose of this was to preclude the possibility of convoys leaving this station only to find the usual route impassable or unsafe, due to the extensive construction currently in progress on Westover Air Force Base.  The best route was then posted on the map in the Supervisor's office.  This particular function proved itself quite invaluable during operational periods when, but for use of this current information, the usual convoy routes would have been attempted only to be found impassable and thus cause delays and confusion.

            Another mechanical innovation was the Control Light Board concept to be installed outside of Plant 2.  The purpose of this system was to regulate and direct the flow of Type II weapons in and out of the assembly bays].  ...........(Ed. Note:  DOE redactions of 2-3 sentences.) ......................  The idea was formulated by Lt. xxxxx for the Control Light Board to be installed outside the plant and controlled by a switchboard within the assembly bat, which would give the proper indications to straddle carrier operators as to which bay the next unit was to be delivered and which bay was occupied by a weapon [that had been ? assembled and ready for dispersal].  Necessary wiring diagrams were prepared by Plant 2 personnel and the project is currently in the AIO shops for fabrication.

            The latest innovation in this current program is the design of a container to be attached to the ladder of the Ross straddle carriers for the purpose of carrying the [B] 2-2 component can belonging to the MK17 weapon.  This receptacle for the [B] 2-2 can would eliminate the necessity for placing the component can up in the cab of the straddle carrier, which presents a considerable safety hazard when the operator must carry the bulky, awkward can while climbing the ladder to the cab.  Thus this container would eliminate one more safety hazard and at the same time expedite handling procedures.

            The next consideration of the Division was the Area Improvement Program.  The intent here was to improve the morale and thereby improve the efficiency of Handling Division personnel through the medium of providing safe, attractive and well-equipped working areas and by offering competently instructed classes to selected courses distribute[d] by USAFIT, during off duty hours.

            Safety considerations were furthered by the installation of an emergency shower in the top working area.  Its purpose was to quickly dilute acidic reactions by immersion in the event personnel became sprayed with electrolyte while working on the storage batteries which power the [MHE] equipment.

            Morale was aided by the adoption of a division motto, "Handling: The Key to Operations", which is prominently displayed on a plaque adjacent to the main access door.  Further morale improvement was accomplished by the introduction of an officer instructed USAFIT classes.  Mathematics is the course currently being offered with an enrollment of 15 airmen.  The program stirred interest in self-development throughout the entire Operations Squadron, and future classes, which are held after normal duty hours, promise to be quite larger.

(1 July - 31 December 1956)

            The operational activities of the Handling Division for the period of this report were of a highly diversified nature.  (Ed. Note:  This is exactly the same opening sentence as in the previous report.)  They included participation in routine operations as well as those directed by higher headquarters.  Improvements were made to increase the efficiency and morale of the personnel assigned to this division.

            In addition, support was given to AEC in moving units, packing of crates, and other work pertinent to the mission of this station.  There was a large turnover in motorized equipment during the period covered by this report.  Three of the five Ross straddle carriers (RSC's) were shipped to other stations, leaving the division with only two to complete the mission.  The division received another shipment of two Ross straddle carriers which made a total of four available for use.   Three of the five 2,000 lb electric tugs were exchanged for 4,000 lb electric tugs.  Handling Division was able to accomplish its mission at all times during and after the transfers.

            Handling Division assumed the management of the coffee shop in the plant area.  The coffee shop was remodeled, making it more convenient and pleasant  for the men, therefore benefiting the morale of the station.

            Cooperation between this division and Westover Air Force Base was excellent.   Several times this division supplied Ross straddle carriers with operators for use by WAFB in their training.  The division in turn borrowed the use of SAC's MA-1 lift several times in order to check or install bolsters and bolster wheels.  It is estimated by this division that approximately one hundred (100) man hours were spent in supporting WAFB.

            During this period, Plant I, Plant II, and Handling Division consolidated their surplus and excess handling equipment into one building.  Handling cooperated with the Plants and supported them in this move.  This equipment was moved from the igloos to a Butler Building.  This gave more spare room in the assigned igloos and also saved time and motion through security and distance.

            Handling Division personnel carried on area beautification during this period.  Seeding, planting of trees, and landscaping was carried on with a low priority to other activities, but a great improvement was made in the Handling Division's assigned area.

            Headquarters, Air Materiel Command, conducted its annual inspection during September, and Handling Division made several breakouts, deliveries to Plants I and II, and convoy runs to the WCP for inspection purposes.  This division did very well during the inspection;  only minor discrepancies were noted by the inspection team.  These discrepancies, although minor, were corrected immediately with care bring taken to insure no repetition in the future.

            Although the operational activities of this station involved different types of weapons, components, and equipment, this division has kept abreast of all these changes and has been able to handle all weapons safely and efficiently.

(1 Jan - 30 June 1957)

            Handling Division's operations during this reporting period were of a highly diversified nature.  This Division participated in several joint training exercises with Westover.  These joint exercises resulted in an improved concept of breakout and delivery times and revealed probable future areas of difficulty. The difficulties noticed were lack of sufficient personnel strength authorized by the UMD and a shortage of straddle carriers.  Cooperation between this Division and Westover's loading function proved satisfactory for the most part.

            One of the several operations this Division participated in was Operation BOOT HEEL.  This operation was long and involved.  Loadings and off loadings of units were scheduled at all hours and during inclement weather conditions. The mission was accomplished with success and with a minimum of trouble.

            This Division worked closely with AEC, Plant I and Plant II.  Augmentation personnel were furnished to these sections when requested due to unusually heavy periodic work loads.  Daily support of the Assembly Plants and AEC with electrical handling equipment was accomplished without difficulty, and coordination between this Division and the above mentioned Divisions was quite satisfactory.

            Handling equipment assigned to this Division was adequate with the single exception of the shortage of Ross Straddle Carriers.  At the time of the last report, four straddle carriers were assigned, and since that time this Division received an additional two carriers, bringing the current total to six.  It is the opinion of this Division that six straddle carriers are not adequate to meet present time commitment schedules and that the addition of two more straddle carriers would alleviate the problem and make the delivery operations more flexible.

(1 July - 31 December 1957)

            Handling Division's operations during this period were of a highly diversified nature. This Division participated in several joint training exercises with Westover.  These training exercises resulted in an improved concept of breakout and delivery times and in addition indicated probable areas of difficulty. One difficulty noticed, was a lack of sufficient personnel strength authorized by the UMD.   A shortage of straddle carriers noticed in the previous reporting period was helped by an assignment of two additional straddle carriers, bringing the total to eight.  Cooperation between this Division and Westover's loading function proved satisfactory for the most part. 

            ....................... (1 sentence redacted by DOE) .......................................These operations necessitated the utmost safety precautions and cooperation among the airmen of this Division.  The exercises were accomplished with little or no difficulty.

            In order to accomplish our initial EWP commitment more expeditiously, AEC has collected all the weapons necessary to meet the initial phase of this commitment in one igloo.

            ......................... (3 lines redacted by DOE) .......................................   Because of the fact that 6x6 trucks have to transport the units only to the WCP, whereas straddle carriers must go all the way to the Westover flight line, the return time of the 6x6 trucks is far shorter than that of straddle carriers.  This alleviated the problem of not having our vehicles back in time for the next convoy.

            This Division worked closely with AEC, Plant I and Plant II.  Augmentation personnel were furnished to these sections when requested due to unusually heavy work loads.  Daily support of the Assembly Plants and AEC with electrical handling equipment was accomplished without difficulty, and coordination between this Division and the above mentioned Divisions was quite satisfactory.

(1 Jan - 30 June 1958)

            This division participated in several joint training exercises with Westover AFB, improving breakout and delivery times and refining procedures. Cooperation between this division and Westover AFB loading function proved satisfactory.

            These operations required utmost safety precautions and cooperation among personnel of this division. The shipments were accomplished with little or no difficulties.

            This division worked closely with the USAEC Resident Manager and the Assembly Division.  Daily support to the Assembly Division and the AEC of electrical handling equipment was accomplished without difficulty and coordination with these agencies was quite satisfactory.

EVALUATION

            The primary mission of the Handling Division was successfully accomplished during this reporting period.  Personnel are fully trained, safety conscious and mission oriented.  Their morale is high and future exercises and missions are viewed with the confidence of past success.