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During the 1980s, NKC-135E s/n 55-3135 belonged to the 4950th Test Wing, Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB. The 6510th Test Wing, Air Force Flight Test Center, at Edwards AFB had no tankers assigned at the time. The solution was to provide a 4950th tanker to Edwards for use by the USAF Test Pilot School as a stability and control curriculum platform and use by the 6512th Test Squadron ("Test Ops") as tanker support for local test programs. Much of the time the tanker on loan was '135, with '128 occasionally filling in when '135 was not available. The tankers were flown crews from the Tanker/Transport Branch of Test Ops and maintained by local crews. 55-3135 started out as a JKC-135A, the "J" denoting a temporary test modification, and was used to support/observe nuclear weapons tests. Hence the many windows on the right side of the fuselage. At some point, someone realized that all those holes in the jet and whatever other modifications existed weren't easily removed, the criteria for a "J" prefix, and the designation of '135 was changed to NKC-135A, the "N" prefix denoting permanent test modifications. Later still, '135 was upgraded to NKC-135E by replacing the original J57 turbojet engines with TF33 turbofan engines. Enough blather? then on with the pics... January 1983 refueling F-16A 80-0550 June 1983 refueling F-15B 77-0166 April 1984 refueling B-1B test bed 74-0158 October 1984, static display for the Edwards AFB Open House January 1985 refueling FSD F-16A 75-0746 May 1985 refueling FSD F-16A 75-0746 May 1985 refueling F-4C 63-7409 June 1991. Where did all those "permanent" windows go? And notice the "ASD" tail band now reads "AFSC". The new Systems Command commander noted that other aircraft with this type of tail band carried the initials of the owning major command (mostly Military Airlift Command birds), rather than the initials of a unit lower on the organizational chart. So, he directed that all the ASD tail bands be changed to AFSC. I'd like to make an aerial diorama of '135 refueling a white-winged F-4E during a cruise missile chase mission, but I'm still trying to work out how to inconspicuously suspend the models. The image in my brain is a single acrylic rod supporting the tanker with the F-4 suspended from the tanker using a brass rod inside the refueling boom. Though I have my doubts that a brass rod that thin would sufficiently support an F-4 model. Hmmmm.... Thanks for looking, Sven
DC-130A, 57-0461, of the 4950th Test Wing, Aeronautical Systems Division out of Wright-Patterson AFB. On the Edwards AFB transient ramp, September 1984. This aircraft reportedly bounced back and forth between the USAF and the US Navy. Thanks for looking, Sven