(The following information is abstracted from the declassified Historical Reports of the 3084th Aviation Depot Group from 1 Jan 1956 to 31 Dec 1959.)
NUCLEAR DIVISION - OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES
(1 Jan - 30 June 1956)
During the training exercise and operations of the past six months the Division's function has been to inspect and prepare for strike missions a specified number of nuclear components. This number has varied from 3 in 3084th OPS Order 1-56 to 35 in the AMC Directive "Last Chance" of May 8, 1956. (Ed. Note: This is an interesting lapse from the accepted military format of dates, usually would have been 8 May 1956.) These capsules were then delivered to the WCP or to the aircraft involved. The functions have been simulated in that empty carrying cases have been delivered, however, training capsules have been inspected and prepared for delivery. In order to maintain operational efficiency, time studies have been conducted and minor changes put into effect, to reduce total time involved before delivery to the using organization.
In addition, the functions of the Division included furnishing SARC's when required and briefing all couriers and drivers just prior to departure on convoy duty.
From 9 thru 13 January 1956, Nuclear Division took part in a locally directed operation, and 22 January an AMC directed "Last Chance". Division recall was completed in excellent time and the Division performed creditably in both operations.
On 2 February Capt. King and Lt. Connor conducted a lecture on nuclear components for the personnel of Mechanical Bay, Plant 1. A dummy component was utilized as a training aid, and special emphasis was placed on differences in MK6 and MK18 loading at the request of M-Bay personnel.
With the present influx of new officers in the Division, Nuclear Weapons Salvage Appraisal and Recovery training was intensified to insure that all officers were proficient in Salvage Appraisal operations. Two hour lectures on Type I and II weapons and new developments were conducted, tours of B-36 and B-47 type aircraft were accomplished at Westover AFB, and a lecture and practical work in the use of radiation detection instruments were given.
Lt. Connor delivered a lecture on treatment of high explosives involved in aircraft accidents to personnel of WAFB Fire Department on 23 February. The lecture was well received and was rescheduled to insure that all Fire Department personnel could benefit there from. In addition, all station couriers were thoroughly briefed by Lt. Vilter on courier procedures.
Questionnaires concerning reassignment were received from AMC and were completed by all Nuclear Division officers. After several discussions in the Division, Major Malcolm C. Hamby, Director of Operations (D/O), and Major Robert F. Hilbun, Assistant D/O, held a group meeting of all Nuclear officers concerning the questionnaires, and the individual interviews with each officer involved were arranged by Major Hamby. By this method the officers' preferences were ascertained and every effort was to assign them their duty or technical school preferences.
On 5th thru 9th March, the Division participated in a local operation, OPS Order 5-56 (view PDF). An unusually large number of simulated capsules was called for, but no difficult problems were encountered.
New platform type scales were unpacked and checked out in early March. (DOE redaction - one sentence.) ................ The new scale was used to weight the entire capsule ball rather than individual parts. (Ed. Note: I participated in some testing of the weight characteristics of nuclear capsules using the platform scales. We also measured the radiation levels of the capsules.)
On 12 March, Capt. King and T/Sgt Amies conducted a pit inspection in Plant I and on 14 March, Lt. Connor, Airman Randall, and Airman Saam demonstrated trap door and pit inspection in Plant II. Also on 14 March, Lt. Connor briefed all base Special Weapons Duty Officers on Salvage Appraisal functions.
On 29 March, information was received that Salvage Appraisal & Recovery responsibility might be deleted from Nuclear Division duties. No further word has been received, and this function has remained as one of the responsibilities of the Division. In April, AMC Operations Plan 4-56 ("Round Up") and 114-56 ("Set Screw") were cancelled. These operations, because of their nature, had involved the Nuclear Division almost entirely and had been an integrated part of the Division planning. Therefore, Division EWP planning was devoted entirely to AMC Operations Plan 8-56.
An NR-51 Geometry, used to determine enrichment of active material, was received and installed. Calibration difficulties were encountered by Division technicians but were eventually overcome.
A locally directed "Last Chance" was conducted on 3-4 May with an AMC directed "Last Chance" called on 8 May. No unusual difficulties were experienced by the Division in either operation. An audit was performed on 17 and 18 May 56 by personnel of the Santa Fe Operations Office, utilizing about one quarter of the stockpile, and no discrepancies were noted. Mr. Yates of the auditing team stated that the Division personnel performed very favorably when compared with personnel at other sites.
In June, the Division took part in Operation 6-56 ("Big Talk") conducted 19-26 June, and furnished Salvage Appraisal and Recovery Officers during the alert period.
Humidity conditions inside the Structure were in excess of acceptable standards for nearly a full month because of a breakdown in the air-conditioning unit. A small portable dehumidifier was placed in each laboratory as a temporary measure, but failed to keep relative humidity down to acceptable percentage. Humidity was lowered when the regular unit became operational again.
A nuclear survey was conducted on 11-15 June by Mr. Rarrick & Mr. Jacobs, Sandia Corporation, and no discrepancies were noted.
Information was received to the effect that AFSC's in the Nuclear field were to be eliminated as of 30 June and that all 3274 and 331XX personnel should be cross-trained in Nuclear duties. Plans have been formulated by Nuclear Division for all such personnel to undergo a two week period of training. This training will cover all Nuclear duties as much as possible, with all Division personnel being utilized as instructors. All plant personnel will be trained by 1 Sept 56. It is anticipated that all Nuclear Division personnel will be assigned to other duties in the near future, as the Division is to be conducted on an individual duty basis.
(1 July - 31 December 1956)
The division participated in all operations directed by this Headquarters and by higher Headquarters. In each case, the division's function has been to inspect and prepare a specified number of nuclear components for strike missions. These capsules were delivered to SAC couriers at the WCP or at the aircraft involved.
Some functions have been simulated in that empty carrying cases have been transferred. However, training capsules have been inspected for delivery. In order to maintain operational proficiency, time studies have been conducted and minor changes put into effect to reduce delivery time. One major change was the modification of all station busses to carry 16 nuclear components each.
In addition, the functions of the division included furnishing Salvage Appraisal and Recovery Officers as required and briefing all couriers and drivers prior to departure on convoy duty.
In July and August, division personnel worked exclusively on preparations for the cross-training school and actually conducting the school. Normal division work was performed when no school was conducted such as paydays and non-school days.
On the 15th of August, division personnel conducted a lecture for operations supervisors and technicians concerning weapon pit inspections. The lecture was given in "M" Bay, Plant 1, and lasted one and one-half hours, and was attended by approximately 60 persons.
On 20 August, division personnel participated in operation 11-56. Division recall was completed in excellent time and no difficulties were encountered. On 27 August, division personnel experienced trouble with the air evacuation equipment in the lab and could not complete the scheduled monthly inspections. The pumps were repaired and inspections completed on 28 August.
Late in the afternoon on the 27th of August, several personnel were dispatched to Barnes Airfield to inspect and decontaminate an ANG-F94-A, if required. This plane had collided with a tow target and the nose radar damaged. The radioactive tubes in the radar were found to be intact and no decontamination was required.
In September, personnel of this division participated in a series of operations and the IG inspection. The division performed creditably in each case. During the IG inspection, the division was visited by Colonel Dole and no discrepancies were noted. A nuclear audit was performed by Mr. Perry from Albuquerque, N.M. The entire division participated and received valuable training.
In October, personnel conducted the final training school for Operations personnel, and then attended school themselves. A/1C Randall attended Type I school, and Airman Saam and Trevathan attended Type II school. Each school was of one week duration.
In November, division personnel went on immediate alert because of the world situation. "C" Structure was manned by a full shift, 24 hours a day. (DOE redaction of one sentence.) ................ No capsules were transferred at this time.
Two new officers were trained on AEC material during 17 annual visual inspections conducted on 27 and 28 November. These officers, Lt. E. T. Coppock and CWO E. S. Hall, were then certified by Sandia Corporation to work on AEC material. (DOE redaction of two sentences.) .......................... Annual classified document inventory was conducted by Airman Saam prior to his departure on Christmas leave.