1371st Mapping & Charting Squadron

 I was seaching for background info on the 1371st Mapping and Charting Sq and came across your site. You have done a superior job of putting together this important part of AF history. I spent two years with the outfit at Palm Beach AFB, FL, and was 2nd photographer on Hardtack Crew. I also served as acting NCOIC flight operations and as such I have copies of flight orders. I am sending along the crew list for the picture I found on your site of the RB-50F (#47-0160). The three people I can identify for you are the Aircraft Commander, Capt. Grafton N Smith, 1st person on left of photo, A/1C John F Hampton(me) 6th from the left, and T/Sgt Fred G Canado, 1st Photographer on far right of photo.

 This aircraft was outfitted with Fastex cameras (eight I think) and photographed the two underwater Hydrogen bomb explosions from directly overhead (25,000 feet). We were there for 92 days and practiced daily for these two events. I guess we were lucky, there was no air conditioning on the island and at our altitude we were very comfortable. It was 120 degrees in the shade one day I remember.

 This aircraft almost did not make it back to the states on the return flight. Number 1 engine was in terrible shape and burning oil like crazy and we knew when we left Hawaii it would have to be feathered for half the flight back. About half way back over the Pacific we had a fire in number 2 and lost it for the rest of the flight. Needless to say a B-50 dosen't fly well on two engines, especially when they are both on one wing. We dumped our fly away kit, all our souveneirs and booze and prayed like the dickens.

 We did make it back and landed at Monterey Airport, Calif. No civilian maintenance people would go near it however, someone had a geiger counter and the ship was still hot. I learned how to hand wrenches and tools to our crew chief for three days.

 They also wouldn't let us go into town. To many rumors floating around to let us loose in the San Franscisco bars, I guess.

If I think of any other interesting tidbits I'll pass them along.

John Hampton

1371st M and C Sq., Palm Beach AFB 1952-1959