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Strategic Air Command tests 'bombers' around Bulloch
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.


The Bulloch Herald issue of Aug. 10, 1961 front page headline declared “SCA B-47 and B-52 Bombers Plan to Fly Low Over Statesboro,” (according to) Strategic Air Command Commander-in-Chief Gen. Thomas S. Power.

Power said that, “The bombers will fly both day and night missions in all kinds of weather. Low-level flying increases SAC’s combat efficiency, enabling the crews to perform any bombing task. The route has been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority. Both types of bombers will fly at attitudes of 500 and 1,000 feet above the highest point along the route.

“The route begins at Jacksonville, Fla., east over the Atlantic Ocean, northeast to South Carolina, and south to the terminating point at Statesboro.”

Powers added, “the bombers normally fly at 280 miles per hour, so local residents will not hear sonic booms (and) the safety of local residents and of our crews will be the paramount factor in our planning.”

After WW II, the U.S. Army also created a unit designed to rate how well its pilots bombed their targets during the day or night. This detachment was known as the 206th Army Air Force Base Unit (AABU).

It was activated on June 6, 1945. They used two SCR-584 (Signal Corps Radar) units to score how well the bombers hit their targets. They were stationed at the U.S. Army’s 2nd Air Force’s Tactical Center.

The center was headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The Army Air Force became the U.S. Air Force in 1947. The Air Force combined the 3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Group and the 3908th Strategic Evaluation Group.

On Aug. 1, 1961, the First Combat Evaluation Group (CEG) was created. This unit reported to the Strategic Air Command HQ at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas, but was based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

There were 28 detachments of the new First CEG. Detachment #3, was stationed at Statesboro’s airport beginning in May of 1961. On May 25, the Bulloch Herald announced Maj. Roger E. Cuddeback had arrived.

Det. #3 of the Combat Evaluation Group’s operations was located at the Jacksonville airport. The Air Force moved Bomber Squadrons around the country in trains. It employed 35 people in 1961. In 1968, it had seven officers, 113 enlisted men and one civilian.

At Statesboro’s airport, B-52s, and other types of bombers, were scored on their "bombing runs" over all of Bulloch County. As many as 30 runs were made daily from Monday through Friday.

The pilots and navigators of the SAC bombers were kept at their sharpest. The bombers projected electronic impulses from as high as 30,000 feet to pinpoint their targets.

These “hits” were recorded by scoring units on a big screen panel on their radar displays. In Statesboro, D#3 was provided with a MPS-9 Fire Control Radar System and a QA-215 Shipboard Radar System.


Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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