Navy's William Victor Aircraft ANECDOTE
CTRC Donald J. "WAG" Wagner, USN (RET)
Just exactly WHY do the Naval airmen that flew the military variants of the LOCKHEED MODEL 1049 SUPER CONSTELLATION refer to their fixed wing aircraft as "WILLY VICTORS"?
HERE'S WHY: The LOCKHEED "WARNING STAR" aircraft began it's development as the U.S. NAVY's military version of the SUPER CONSTELLATION built by LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT CORPORATION. The Armed Forces of the United States likes to change their Phonetic Alphabets just about as often as each branch of the service independently changes their AIRCRAFT DESIGNATION SYSTEMS -like I change my skivvies - DAILY! Now, more than one person cannot wear the same set of skivvies at the same time, so it only stands to reason that each branch of the service shouldn't use the same Aircraft Designation System at the same time! (The Armed Forces finally woke up in 1962 and adapted the JOINT SERVICE AIRCRAFT DESIGNATION SYSTEM in use by the Army, Navy and Air Force today! This system of identifying military aircraft is almost easy enough for a CIVILIAN to decipher and understand!
WAY BACK (in the early 50s) when the NAVY first became interested in the "SUPER CONNIE' for Naval use, the Navy Aircraft Designator assigned to the aircraft was (phonetically): "PETER OBOE DASH ONE WILLIAM (PO-1W)" Why in the world don't the WILLY VICTORS change their name to the PETER OBOES? Probably because of the Paperwork Reduction Act!
How to read the Navy's Aircraft Designation System in use between 1923 and 1962:
TYPE/CLASS: P PATROL
LETTER ASSIGNED: 0 LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT CORP,
DASH - (Navy likes dashes, commas!)
NUMBER(S) 1 DESIGN NUMBER(S)
SUFFIX LETTER(S) W SPECIAL SEARCH/AIRBORNE
EARLY WARNING VERSION
I suppose the Chief of Naval Air Training didn't like the term "PETER OBOES" either, so it was either change the Phonetic Alphabet, so the aircraft could be referred to as the 'PAPA OSCARS' by the aircrews - or - contact LOCKHEED and change the AircraftDesignator to WILLIAM VICTOR DASH TWO (WV-2)! Much better for Navy aircrews to say something like, "Back in '02, when I was flying co-pilot with Orville in the Billy Vickies..."! Much better indeed! Change the DESIGNATOR with Lockheed!
Here's what the NEW AIRCRAFT DESIGNATOR means:
TYPE/CLASS W AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING
LETTER ASSIGNED V LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT CORP,
(VEGA PLANT) (Plant B must
DASH (AGAIN!) - have been in AREA 53 and that is still super secret.
NUMBER(S) 2 DESIGN NUMBER(S)
SUFFIX LETTER(S) NONE ASSIGNED
Now, enter JUNIOR - The United States Air Force (established well after Navy pilots and aircrews were moon-lighting after duty hours as MESS COOKS on board the U.S.S. LANGLEY!). They came equipped with their very own AIRCRAFT DESIGNATION SYSTEM (some of which was indentured from their predecessor, The United States Army Air Corps)! Oh well, the Army should come up with a complete new Designator System for their Rotary Wing birds anyway! The USAF told the Senate Armed Services Appropriations Committee that we want some of what the Navy's getting from Lockheed, only we'll call 'em "ECHO CHARLIE DASH ONE TWO ONEs with a whole bunch of VARIANT SUFFIX LETTERS to really confuse the civilians."
How to decipher the AIR FORCE'S (and later, THE JOINT SERVICE AIRCRAFT DESIGNATOR SYSTEM)
SYMBOL E SPECIAL ELECTRONIC INSTALLATION
BASIC MISSION SYMBOL C CARGO TRANSPORT
DASH - (It worked well for the NAVY, so why not? (None of them commas though!)
DESIGN NUMBER(S) 121 (Math is not writer's gig!)
LETTER M Or KILO... or LIMA... or NOVEMBER...or PAPA... or QUEBEC...
The LOCKHEED "WARNING STAR" went into service of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force in 1955. A total order of Warning Stars was S44 for the Navy and 8S for the Air Force (some orders were cancelled by both services). The last Warning Star (with all variants and military designator's) that was RETIRED in 1978 was an U.S. Air Force Reserve EC-1S1(?), after 23 years of eventful service to our country!
I would like to dedicate this anecdote to all who flew in the
Lockheed "Warning Star"
And particularly to those that were put in harm’s way to protect us from unexpected events; especially,
…Whom were both shipmates of mine at the Naval Security Group Activity, Hakata, Japan, on Temporary Additional Duty to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One based at Atsugi Naval Air Station, Japan and who did climb aboard a Lockheed "Warning Star" (BuNo 135749) on April 1969 along with 29 other men to fly to their destiny so those they left behind could live!
When we of the Army Security Agency, Naval Security Group and Air force Security Service of the Hakata Administrative Annex received the word of the loss of 31 of our "band of brothers", the popular song, "Green, Green Grass of Home" was playing in the base NCO Club.