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Do You Know A Snark From a Bomarc? How About A Falcon From A Quail? Jimmy Stewart Helps Us Out

A Guide To The Air Force Arsenal From This 1960 Time Capsule Film

When the 1960s began the United States and really the entire world were on treacherous ground. The Cold War was getting colder each and every day. Americans were building bomb shelters in their back yards and basements. We didn’t know it at the time but the capability of the Soviet surface to air missiles (SAMs) would force alterations to the mission profiles of just about every Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber. We were headed toward a war in Southeast Asia that would sap the strength of the armed forces of the United States so much it would take decades to fully recover.

In the Air Force-produced film “Air Force Missile Mission”, Jimmy Stewart (that’s Brigadier General James Stewart USAF to you and me) did his best to explain for what we needed all of the various missiles and different aircraft in the Air Force inventory in the late 1950s / early 1960s timeframe. The film is like a catalog of the bomber, fighter, and missile weapons systems in use at the time. Beginning with his comparison between the World War II-era aircraft he first flew and then-current aircraft, Stewart steps through just about every major weapon system in the Air Force arsenal.

Official US Air Force Photograph

Starting with the North American P-51 Mustangs and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts to Consolidated B-24 Liberators and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of World War II, the film then highlights Boeing B-47 Stratojets, Consolidated B-58 Hustlers, and Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses along with the Douglas B-66 Destroyer and Martin B-57 Canberra tactical bombers. Air Defense Command (ADC) and Tactical Air Command (TAC) North American F-100 Super Sabres, McDonnell F-101 Voodoos, Convair F-102 Delta Daggers, Lockheed F-104 Starfighters, Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs, and Convair F-106 Delta Darts are also seen in action.

Official US Air Force Photograph

Martin MGM-1 Matador and MGM-13 Mace, McDonnell ADM-20 Quail, Douglas PGM-17 Thor Northrop SM-62 Snark, Convair SM-65 Atlas, Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc, Martin HGM/LGM-25 Titan, Chrysler PGM-19 Jupiter, Douglas AIR-2 Genie, Hughes AIM-4 Falcon, Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder, and several other air-to-air, air-to-ground, ground-to-air, and ground-to-ground missiles are mentioned and/or shown in use. Thanks to the US National Archives for uploading this HD time capsule video to YouTube.

Official US Air Force Photograph


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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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