October 18, 1965 Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Electronics,
published 1930 - 1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
1965 was the beginning of America's
involvement in Vietnam.
A mere decade had passed since the end of the
Korean War (or
"conflict" if you prefer), and the Department of Defense had not done much to modernize
the military since then. Unlike with World War II when U.S. factories were turning
out military aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles ahead of formal involvement, Congress
was not interested in making headlines with news of war machines. When the first U.S.
troops were sent in March of that year, things kicked into high gear. Lyndon Johnson
was said to have tried to direct the war from the White House, but it was his Secretary
of Defense, Robert
McNamara, whose actions caused the Vietnam efforts to be nicknamed "McNamara's War." The "Washington Newsletter" feature of this October
1965 issue of Electronics magazine reported on, among other military-related
items, the U.S. Air Force's plans to phase out the venerated (now, not then)
Stratofortress bomber by sometime in the 1970s. Well, here it is half a century later
and the B-52 is still the primary long range heavy bomber in its inventory. More than
60 of the original 744 built between 1952 and 1962 are flying today (version H). The
bomber (supersonic)was a debacle, and the
Spirit bomber (stealth) is way too expensive to deploy in large numbers. The other
headline of note was early plans for using satellites to broadcast classroom lectures
from universities to remote locations. The few Masters' level electrical engineering
courses I took while at General Electric in Utica, New York, in the late 1980s were via
satellite from the
National Technological University (NTU), based in Boulder, Colorado.
... and on New Attack Aircraft
Decisions on other major weapon systems are also pending. Among them: whether to develop
a new strategic bomber and an advanced armed helicopter for the Army, and what airplane
to select as a new strike fighter, primarily for use in Vietnam.
McNamara still has reservations about replacing
the B-52 with a strategic bomber. If he decides that a strategic bomber should be kept
in the Air Force's inventory after the B-52 is phased out in the 1970's, he may turn
to the F-111. He appears to like the idea of modifying the F-111 to perform strategic
missions; the plane is now under development as a tactical fighter-bomber. If the F-111
is modified for strategic operations the Air Force's hopes for a totally new plane would
The Army is eager for McNamara's early approval of a proposal to develop a helicopter
designed specifically as an aerial weapons platform; the new model would replace helicopters
that were designed for other missions, and to which heavy guns were later added. The
Army is evaluating proposals from the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. and the Sikorsky Aircraft
division of the United Aircraft Corp. In addition, the Army is considering speeding development
of a less-ambitious interim helicopter that uses off-the-shelf avionics rather than an
integrated avionics system. If approved, such a craft could be developed quickly for
use in Vietnam.
A decision is expected soon on whether to purchase a new strike-fighter to replace
the aging propeller-driven Douglas A-1. The leading competitors would be the Northrop
Corp.' s F-5, now sold only abroad and the A-7A, which is being developed by Ling-Temco-Vought,
Posted October 29, 2018