Although in military service since 1943
The US Navy didn’t acquire the C-69 until 1949, adapting it to carry two large early warning radars.
A dorsal AN/APS-45 height finder radar and a ventral AN/APS-20 air search radar. Originally known as ‘Willie Victors’ (WV-2)
as the concept was developed it was standardised in 1962 by the Dept of Defence as the EC-121.
142 were ordered and deliveries started in 1953. Of those, the USAF took 84. ‘Warning Stars’ operated Picket duty over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Augmenting land and sea based early warning radars, to counter the Soviet threat.
EC-121’s also operated in Vietnam and coordinated the first ever airborne interception, resulting in F-4's shooting down two Mig 17’s.
This restoration started out as an EC-121K from NAS Point Magu CA, employed to track missiles fired at the Pacific Missile Testing Range.
But halfway through the painting, I stumbled across the story of PR-21 a EC-121 of the Navy Fleet Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1).
Nevermind, i'll just change the codes
On the 15th April 1969 PR-21 took off from its base at NAS Natsugi Japan for an intelligence mission off Musu Point over the Sea of Japan.
6 hours into the flight ground based radar detected two North Korean Air Force MiG-21s taking off from East Tongchong.
A warning was transmitted to the pilot in command, LCDR James Overstreet, but there seems to be some debate as to whether or not it was received, much less acknowledged.
A routine activity report appears to be the last confirmed transmission made by ‘Deep Sea 129’ approximately 30 minutes before being intercepted by the Migs.
Even though it was clearly over International waters and had likely aborted its mission, PR-21 had no hope of outrunning the rapidly approaching Mig 21’s
and it was later thought PR-21 was hit by a single AA-2 ‘Atol’ air to air missile.
PR-21 and the crew of 31 didn’t stand a chance.
Even the Soviets who were shocked by the unprovoked attack helped in the SAR effort, which yielded some floating wreckage and 2 bodies.
Nixon, although he talked tough, was at a loss as to what to do. Indecision turned to indecisiveness.
Communication between the White House and CINCPAC was muddled, the moment for retaliation passed.
So apart from a vow to continue the missions (this time with a fighter escort) no action was taken.
A VQ-1 Warning Star with a VF-51 F-4 escort (the subject of an earlier restoration).viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1499
Secretary Kissinger lamented, ‘our conduct in the EC-121 crisis was weak, indecisive and disorganized’.
Easy to see why the Kim regime has been getting away with thumbing their noses at the International community for so long.
I was so impressed by an earlier post which featured an Air Force EC-121, that I never contemplated such an undertaking.
but then stumbled across some suitable moulds for the radar domes, so thought I may as well
the last Navy Warning Star was retired in 1987. Besides the combat loss of PR-21, 31 Warning Stars were destroyed in operational accidents, by both branches of the service, at a cost of 179 crew.
This restoration is a tribute to the memory of LCDR Overstreet, his crew and indeed all the airmen who lost their lives serving on EC-121's.
PR-21 as it really was, Japan circa 1969