The EC-121 was flown by the 551 AEW&CON WG at Otis AFB MA and
552 AEW&CON WG at McClellan AFB CA. There was also a Squadron (966 AEW SQ) at McCoy
AFB FLA. The Radar version was first designated as the
RC-121C, then RC-121D. Then the Air Force changed the RC to EC and it was designated
as the EC-121D. The RC-121C originally had the APS-20 and APS-45 radar's on board. Then in
about 1962 the APS-20 (search radar) was replaced with the APS-95 radar. It had a range of
250 miles, operated at 405 MHz to 450 MHZ with three Meg-watts peak-power out. The
APS-45 (Height finder) had a range of 120 miles. Also, in about 1962 the 551 AEW converted
the D model to the EC-121H. It was called
(airborne long input). The airplane had a data processor on board and radar data was fed
to the SAGE CENTER (Semi automatic ground environment) by a Radio Transmitter (AGDL &
TDDL) and a steer-able antenna. The APS-45 was upgraded to the APS-103. More power and
range. The EC-121Q had the APS-95 and APS-103 and was used by 966th at McCoy AFB. The
551st and 966th were deactivated on Dec. 31, 1969. The 552nd also flew the "T"
model. The IFF data was fed to a computer and digitally displayed on a display console.
Some of the "T" models had the upper radome removed and the height finder radar
was replaced with special IFF gear. The 552nd distinguished its self over seas during the
Viet Nam conflict, earning several AFOUAs. The outfit overseas was first known as Big Eye,
then College Eye. They were flying out of Viet Nam then Thailand (southern operating
location) and Itasuke AB (northern operating location). The main operating location was in
Taiwan. Later they flew out of Kwanju Korea. While deployed overseas, the EC-121s carried Security Service personnel and
equipment. The 552nd was deactivated at McClellan in Apr. 1976 and reactivated at
Tinker AFB Jul. 1976. A Detachment was activated at Homestead AFB after the 552nd was
deactivated (Det 1, 20 ADS until it closed in Oct 78)
There was also a Reserve unit at Homestead AFB that flew the
EC-121 both "D" and "T" models (79th AEW&C Sq). All the above had
unit deployments to Iceland (Keflavik) from about mid 1960s until the end, Oct. 1978, the
last being the 79th AEW&C Sq and Det.1 20th ADS.
I flew on them as a radar tech at Otis from Jan 1963 through Aug. 1969 and at
McClellan 1969 through Apr. 1976. Dean Boys
This page is dedicated to the Officers and Men who lost their lives flying
Active Air Defense Missions over the North Atlantic on aircraft #136, 262 and 549. You are
Models and Types
TBM-- The Navy equipped some
Avengers with the APS-20 radar for use in defense of the fleet against
PB-1W-- Twenty Four
B-17Gs were modified to carry the APS-20 radar for use by the Navy in early warning in
1945. They were to late for W.W.II but were used until 1955, when they were replaced by
PO-1W / WV-1 The Navy ordered
two L-749A BuNos 124437 and 124438. They were equipped with radomes and radar
similar to the later WV-2s. In 1952 they were Redesigned WV-1 from PO-1W. In 1958 and 1959
they were transferred to the FAA. The radomes and radar were removed. Later they
transferred to the airforce bearing civil tail numbers N1192 and N1206. N1206 still survives.
C-121A--The US Air Force
ordered ten C-121As in 1948. Only nine were built as first one on the production was
plushed up to be "President" Dewey's Airplane. It was never used as Air Force
One. It was designated as a VC-121B. Thus, the air force had a "B" model before
it had an "A" model. The "A" tail numbers: 48-609 -- 617. In 1950 they
were sent back to Lockheed to be upgraded to VC-121As to haul VIPs.
RC-121C--The U. S. Air Force had 10
RC-121Cs with Air Force serial numbers 51-3836 -- 3845. They later had the radar equipment
and radomes removed and were re-designated TC-121C and EC-121C. One number 51-3840 was
converted to a basic C-121C transport.
The Air Force had a transport version (Qty. 33) designated C-121C
which included serial numbers 54-0151 /0183. The C-121C had Square widows while the
RC-121C had round windows. C-121C ex-USAF 54-0156 (N73544)
flying based at Camarillo owned by the Constellation Historical Society. C-121C 55-0157 was restored and is now flying in Australia.
EC-121DRC-121D--The Air Force had 73 RC-121Ds #s 52-3411 --
3425 / 53-0533 -- 0556 / 53-3398 -- 3403 / 54-2304 -- 2308 / 55-0118 --0139. Also, one was
obtained by modifying a C-121C. They were re-designated as EC-121Ds in 1962. Other EC-121D Images
WV-2 143226 was transferred to the Air Force and modified and used to measure radiation
from the reentry of high speed bodies into the earth's atmosphere. The program was called
Trap III. It was assigned serial number 56-6956. The airplane was nicknamed "Triple
Nipple", because of the turrets that protruded through the top of the fuselage.
single VC-121E, 53-7885 was modified on the production line from a Navy R7V1 to be used as
a special VIP plane. It was used by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. When the president
was on board, it was called Air Force One. Ike named the plane Columbine III after the
state flower of Colorado. While in the army, Eisenhower had two other Connies as personal
transports, all named Columbine. Columbine III is at Air Force Museum and Columbine II is
in Tucson AZ. and still may be flying. (C-121A 48-0614) Gen. MacArthur had a personal
plane named Battan. (48-0613--N422NA) It is preserved in flying condition at
Planes of Fame Museum.
YC-121F--The Navy had four
R7V-1s completed as R7V-2s with 6000 hp Pratt & Whitney T34-P-6 turbine engines. Two
of these were transferred to the Air Force as YC-121Fs # 53-8157 and 53-8158
C-121G/R7V-1--The Navy transferred
to the Air Force thirty-two of its fifty-one R7V-1s. The Air Force assigned the
designation C-121G and a single block of serial.# 54-4048--4079.
TC-121G--Four C-121Gs, --54-4050 --4052
and 54-4058 were modified as crew trainers designated TC-121Gs. One became a VC-121G with
plush interior for VIP passengers.
EC-121H -- Redesignation of 42
EC-121Ds after electronics upgrading in 1962. Seven WV-2 from the U.S. Navy were included
in this upgrade and were given #s 55-5262 -- 55-5268. They had a data processor that fed
data directly to the ground. It also carried two more crewmen, An ADP Tech and a NAV Tech
Aircraft --53-0535 is in storage at Minden Aircraft
near D-M AFB
C-121J -- The Navy ordered fifty
cargo versions designated R7V-1. Thirty-two R7V-1s were transferred to the USAF which
became C-121Gs. In 1962 the R7V-1 became C-121Js
EC-121J --Two EC-121Ds 52-3416 and 55-0137 were upgraded with
additional electronics. Both the USAF and US Navy had airplanes with the J designation.
NC-121J--Four R7V-1/C-121Js were
converted to NC-121J for use as airborne television transmitters in Viet Nam. A Number of
others were converted and many were one of a kind. Some were used for "Black"
EC-121K / WV2-- In 1954 the US
Navy begin receiving the first of 142 Super Constellations designated as WV-2s. BuNos
126512, 126513, 128323 -- 128326, 131387 -- 131392, 135746 -- 135761, 137887 -- 137890,
141289 --141333, 143184 -- 143230, and 145924 --145941. In 1962 they were redesignated
EC-121Ks. EC-121Ks that have been preserved are number 137890
displayed as air force EC-121D 53-0552A at Tinker AFB OK, 141297 at Warner-Robbins AFB
GA, 141309 displayed as Air Force EC-121D 03-0552 at
McClellan AFB CA, 141311 at Rantoul IL,
143221 at Naval Air Museum Pensacola FL.
JC-121K - EC-121K was used
by the US Army for testing electronics. It had US Army marking but remained Navy property
- Some EC-121Ks and YEC-121K which were extensively modified for special missions. 141292
ENC-121K - One NC-121K 142192 was placed on exempt status.
YEC-121K - One NC-121K, 128324
used as a test bed for new equipment.
EC-121L--A WV-2E with a
roto-dome, later a similar roto-dome was used on the AWACS E3 and Hawkeye E2. BuNo
-- Eight WV-2s, BuNos 137391 -- 137898 were completed as weather reconnaissance planes.
One WV-2, BuNo 141323 was modified after delivery as a ninth WV-3. In 1962 they were
redesigned WC-121Ns. 143198 replaced 137891 after it was damaged in Hurricane Cleo.
145929 became MH-8. Both were assigned to VW-4, The Navy Hurricane Hunters
EC-121P - Several EC-121Ks were upgraded with submarine detection
equipment and designated EC-121Ps.
JEC-121P - Three Navy EC-121Ps BuNos 143189,
were transferred to the US Air Force for testing. They retained their Navy Serial numbers.
EC-121Ds-- 53-0542, 53-0547, 55-0120 and 55-0128 after electronics upgrade (Height Finder and IFF
). Used for Gold Digger missions.
EC-121R --The Air Force
converted thirty ex-Navy EC-121Ks and EC-121Ps into EC-121Rs. They had Serial
numbers 67-21471 -- 21500. The radomes and the AEW equipment were removed and they
were used as airborne relay stations to detect and
transmit signals from air dropped seismic devices dropped behind enemy lines. Based at
Korat RTAFB Thailand the Rs processed data received from Beech QU-22Bs, which was picked
from seismic devices (called ADSID) planted along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 67-21496 at DM AFB
EC-121S Five C-121Cs 54-0155,
-0159, -0164, -0170, and -0173 were converted to S models and flown by the Tactical
Electronic Warfare Group of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Aircraft 54-0155 preserved at
Lackland AFB TX
EC-121T -- The upgrade of
electronics of fifteen EC-121Ds and seven EC-121Hs. They were used by the 552nd and the 79
AEW & CS until 1978. The following are preserved, --52-3417 Helena MT. --52-3418 Combat Air museum Topeka, KS -- 52-3425
Peterson AFB CO. -- 53-0548 Camarillo CA, Flying --53-0554 Pima Air Museum.
RADAR PICKET SHIPS
This year's reunion was held June 1-3 in Minneapolis, MN. and the overall
coordinator for us is Harry Miller. His mailing address
is 230 West Forest Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860-3318 and his phone number is
(401)724-7278. His email address is YAGR@MSN.COM
— Air Force One, the world’s most recognizable
airplane. This book features a detailed
examination of what makes this airplane so special,
including its sophisticated communications, navigation, and defensive systems.
Learn about how today’s 747 was built, and compare it to presidential aircraft
of the past.
A revolutionary commercial propeller transport, the Lockheed Constellation
burst on the aviation scene in the early 1940s. Unheralded for the most part
due to wartime secrecy, it finally entered commercial service in 1946, and
promptly set new standards for speed, range, reliability and passenger
The "Connie," as it was affectionately known,
pioneered new flight paths in many parts of the globe. Connies ultimately flew
commercially for more than thirty years, and underwent countless modifications
and upgrades during that time. They continued to be utilized by the military
as well; in fact, Connies were involved in a number of endeavors that remain
shrouded in secrecy to this day.
This, then, is the story of a remarkable and distinctive
airplane. It is also the story of the people who made the Constellation great,
including aviation legends like Howard Hughes and Clarence "Kelly"
Johnson. Most importantly, however, it is a story that sheds light on the
dynamics of technology, politics and society over the course of four decades.
About the Author
Claude Luisada is a life-long aviation enthusiast, a past student pilot, a
long-time member of the Civil Air Patrol and a freelance contributor to the
first aerospace encyclopedia ever published. He currently resides in
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This page maintained by Msgt Dean W Boys ret
Any comments, corrections, additions, I am always looking
for pictures (aircraft, aircraft interiors, base scenes) and any
stories you may like to add to the page please mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources of information for this page
Air Force Historical Records Archives
National Records and Historical Archives
James C Lawler
J D Batesole
Wes Mortensen US Navy
The Lockheed Constellation -- M.J. Hardy isbn 0-668-02885-8
Lockheed Constellation -- Austin J Brown isbn 0-7110-2182-1
Lockheed Constellation -- Steve Pace isbn 0-7603-0303-7
Lockheed Constellation -- Curtis K Stringfellow and Peter M Bowers isbn
Lockheed C-121 Constellation -- Steve Ginter isbn 0-942612-08-6
50 Years of The Desert Boneyard -- Phillip D Chinnery isbn 0-7603-0187-5
The 388th Tactical Fighter Wing -- Don Logan isbn 0-88740-798-6
Fifty Fallen Stars -- A. J. Northrup
Fallen Stars and Beyond A. J. Northrup ISBN
0-9667486-2-X The Secert Vietnam War: The
United States Air Force in Thailand 1961 to 1975 --
Jeff Glasser ISBN 0-7864-0084-6