zoggavia
553rd Recon Wing

The only complete wing in Southeast Asia flying the EC-121 Super Constellation, the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing was formed 1967 and based at Korat, Thailand. All 30 EC-121Rs (converted from ex Navy EC-121K/EC-121P aircraft) were delivered to the wing during the course of 1967.


67-21485 seen on duty during 1968, Zoggavia Collection.

The EC-121R differed from Air Defense Command’s airborne warning and control version of the EC-121 in that the radomes had been removed and special electronics and antennas had been installed. The 553rd RW - its call sign was "Batcat", used overland and off the coast of Vietnam, over Laos and Cambodia, monitoring and retransmitting the low-power sensor signals - flew its first operational mission on Nov. 25, 1967.

The EC-121R carried a crew of 17 or 18, including a combat information center crew of six or seven working the Igloo White gear in the back of the aircraft. It was a long duty day. To provide round-the-clock coverage of the sensors, the Batcats orbited the Ho Chi Minh Trail in eight-hour shifts. With transit times, the flights lasted about 10 hours. Briefing and debriefing made the missions still longer. The 121s sent a live feed of the sensor alarm data to the computers at Task Force Alpha. (Airmen working the scopes at NKP could not listen directly to the sensor microphones, but the mission crews on the aircraft could and did.) Input from the audio sensors was also recorded and kept on tape. For several reasons, the Batcat crews simultaneously tracked and analyzed the sensor data they were relaying. Doing so maintained continuity if the link to NKP was lost or in case a Task Force Alpha computer or other piece of equipment crashed. In addition, several parts of the trail were outside the range of the relay equipment. At those locations, the aircrews processed the sensor signal data manually and called it in to 7th Air Force.

During the first two years of operation, the Batcats were flying daily missions, with each aircraft assuming flying 150 hrs per month in late 1968/ early 1969. Most of the EC-121R were returned to USA and storage by 1970, with nine aircraft remaining in the region until 1971, when they too were returned.

The EC-121R did a good job, but it was expensive to operate and it exposed a large crew to enemy fire. Consequently, it was replaced by a smaller airplane. The QU-22B Pave Eagle was a single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft, a modified Beech Model 36 Bonanza, designed to fly in either a manned or unmanned mode. 


Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, was home to the Igloo White Infiltration Surveillance.





Wiring Vietnam: The Electronic Wall  relates
the history of the electronic detection system
that was deployed during the Vietnam War.






An airman gets ready to hurl a seismic sensor from an HH-3 helicopter over Vietnam to form part of the electronic infiltration barrier approved by Defense Secretary McNamara.


Model
c/n
 Reg.  From To
EC-121R
4382 67-21471 67 70
EC-121R 4385 67-21472 67 70
EC-121R 4420 67-21473 67 71
EC-121R 4430 67-21474 67 70
EC-121R 4436 67-21475 67 70
EC-121R 4441 67-21476 67 69
EC-121R 4444 67-21477 67 70
EC-121R 4452 67-21478 67 71
EC-121R 4454 67-21479 67 71
EC-121R 4459 67-21480 67 71
EC-121R 4462 67-21481 67 71
EC-121R 4465 67-21482 67 70
EC-121R 4469 67-21483 67 70
EC-121R 4476 67-21484 67 70
EC-121R 4477 67-21485 67 70
EC-121R 4478 67-21486 67 70
EC-121R 4480 67-21487 67 70
EC-121R 4481 67-21488 67 71
EC-121R 4482 67-21489 67 70
EC-121R 4484
67-21490
67 70
EC-121R 4487
67-21491
67 71
EC-121R 4488
67-21492
67 70
EC-121R 4489
 67-21493 67 70
EC-121R 4490
 67-21494 67 70
EC-121R 4491
 67-21495 67 69
 EC-121R 4492
 67-21496 67 70
EC-121R  4493 67-21497
67 70
EC-121R 4496
67-21498
67  71
EC-121R
4497
67-21499
67 71
EC-121R
4498
 67-21500 67 71
Video links about Batcats


Major Robert Dailey completes his 100th Batcat Mission



Views around Korat AFB with nice Connie flying by and approach
c/n 4382 67-21471 EC-121R

c/n 4420 67-21473 EC-121R


c/n 4436 67-21475 EC-121R


c/n 4441 67-21476 EC-121R

c/n 4441 67-21476 EC-121R

c/n 4444 67-21477 EC-121R


c/n 4469 67-21483 EC-121R


c/n 4477 67-21485 EC-121R


c/n 4478 67-21486 EC-121R


c/n 4482 67-21489 EC-121R


c/n 4484 67-21490 EC-121R


c/n 4488 67-21492 EC-121R


c/n 4490 67-21494 EC-121R


c/n 4492 67-21496 EC-121R


c/n 4493 67-21497 EC-121R










Korat Air Force Base, Thailand 1970



Recommended to read




Link to Larry Westin's Batcat site





Notes
67 - March 71

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21471 553 Reconnaissance Wing, Korat. 552AEW & CW, McClellan by March 1971. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 June 71. Scrapped by September 1977.

Seen at MASDC just before scrapping,  March 1977, Zoggavia Collection via R.R. Leader.





67 - March 71

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21473 553 Reconnaissance Wing, Korat. 552AEW & CW, McClellan by March 1971. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 June 71. Scrapped by May 1974.

Photo taken at Korat February 1970, Zoggavia Collection.





67 - March 71

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21475 553 Reconnaissance Wing, Korat. 552AEW & CW, McClellan by March 1971. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 June 71. Scrapped by September 1976.

In use by AFSC-ADTC, seen at Eglin June 1969, Zoggavia Collection.




67 - January 69

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21476. Believed used by AFSC-ADTC, Eglin 1968/69.


Nice in flight photo taken in 1969, Zoggavia Collection.





67 - January 69

Written off in landing accident 24 January 1969, probably at Otis AFB, MA.


The fuselage was parked within the Otis AFB area,  September 1985, Zoggavia Collection via Geoff Lebaron.





67 - March 71

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21477. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 June 71. Scrapped by May 1974.


Photo taken at Korat, in September 1969, Zoggavia Collection.






67 - December 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21483. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 29 December 1970. Scrapped by September 1976.

Photo taken at Davis Monthan, in September 1969, Zoggavia Collection via Benjamin Knowles.





67 - December 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21485. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 March 71. Scrapped by May 1973.


Photo taken MASDC, in April 1971, Zoggavia Collection.




67 - December 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21486. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 December 1970. Scrapped by May 1973.

Seen shortly after arrival from Korat at Davis Monthan, in March 1971, Zoggavia Collection via Roy Lock.







67 - December 70
Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21489. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage 30 December 70. Scrapped by July 1974.


Photo taken at MASDC, in April 1971, Zoggavia Collection.





67 - November 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21490. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage November 70. Scrapped by May 1974.


Photo taken over Thailand, in late 1969, Zoggavia Collection.




67 - December 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21492. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage December 1970. Scrapped by October 1973.

Photo taken at MASDC in April 1971, Zoggavia Collection.




67 - February 1971

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21494. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage March 71. Scrapped by October 1973.


Photo taken at MASDC, in April 1971, Zoggavia Collection.







67 - October 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21496. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage late 70. Scrapped by July 1974.


Photo taken at MASDC, in March 1971, Zoggavia Collection.




67 - October 70

Flown to Ontario, CA 1967 and converted to EC-121R by LAS for U.S. Air Force as 67-21497. Transferred to MASDC, Davis Monthan, for storage December 1970. Scrapped by July 1974.


Photo taken at MASDC, in March 1971, Zoggavia Collection.



Compiled from sources; Batcat History, 1st Wave Batcats, and Airforce Magazine 


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