F-89D group of the 59th FIS from Goose Bay Air Force Base, Canada.

Three missed salvos

The pair of fighters intercepted the freely flying Hellcat at the altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100

meters) Northeast of Los Angeles. The pilots

waited until it flew over California's metropolis

and when it headed towards the sparsely populated areas they decided to attack. The fire

control system Hughes E-6, composed of the

radar AN/APG-40 and a computer was supposed to launch the missiles at the right moment.

This did not happen however despite several

attempts. In the meantime, Hellcat turned again

towards Los Angeles and the situation became

really tense. The simple task of destroying the

drone, which the airmen were looking forward

to, turned into a drama. The pilots switched from

the automatic launch mode to the manual one.

F-89D had been delivered with the gun sights

for the situation like this but the Air Force had

them removed as redundant. Therefore, the pilots had to rely only on their best estimate while aiming. They also could select the missile's

launch time sequence. They could be fired all at

the same time in 0.4 seconds or in 2 or 3 salvos.

To increase their chances to hit the pilots opted

for three salvos.

Flying over the Castaic area the first interceptor fired 42 missiles without any result. It was

followed by the second Scorpion which settled

in the firing position and launched 42 missiles

as well. Despite lacking the gunsight, the pilot



aimed pretty well. Several missiles skidded off

the Hellcat’s fuselage bottom. The direct hit causing the destruction did not take place though.

In the vicinity of Newhall city, the fighters executed the second attack. This time they fired

32 missiles but scored no hits again. When the

drone headed towards Palmdale the Scorpions

conducted third attack. This time each of them

wasted 30 missiles. Altogether they launched

208 missiles without a single hit. Slow, propeller-driven drone kept happily flying and the

USAF's most advanced fighters shamefully

turned back to the home base.

The fact that they completely wasted all their

missiles was not the last failure of that day.

Mighty Mouse missiles were set to automatically arm after the launch and after some

time, when it was clear they missed the target,

disarm again. Out of 208 missiles fired only

15 were found disarmed and did not explode.

The explosion of the remaining 193 projectiles

caused a hell on the ground.

Forest fires and damaged homes

The exploding missiles caused three large and

several smaller forest fires. One of them burnt

150 acres of vegetation 7 miles (11 kilometers)

North of Castaic. One hundred firemen were

fighting it for half a day. The large fire erupted

in Placerita canyon near the city of Newhall.

A missile with its propellant still burning was

skidding on the ground leaving fires in its trail.

The Indian Oil Co. fuel storages located in the

canyon burnt out completely. Two men having

a lunch in the truck got extremely lucky. When

they finished, they moved outside into the shade

of a tree. They did so just a moment after the

vehicle was hit by a missile and destroyed…

Very dangerous situation occurred at the Bermite Powder explosives plant also located in the

Placerita canyon. The flames reached it within

less than a hundred meters but ultimately more

than 200 firefighters stopped them. This fire

burnt down 100 acres.

The third and the largest fire took place in Soledad canyon West of Mt. Gleason. More than

350 Department of Forestry firemen were fighting it but could not get it under control until nightfall. They only succeeded the following

day after deploying 500 firefighters. 350 acres

of the forest burnt down. Altogether these three

large and several smaller fires burnt down 1000

acres of vegetation and putting them out took

two days. Luckily no one was killed.

The most damage to the populated areas was

sustained in Palmdale, North of Los Angeles.

One missile exploded in the front of Edna Carlson house on Third Street East. A large fragment penetrated the window into the house,

ricocheted off the room ceiling and penetrated

through the wall into the kitchen where it ended

up in a cabinet. The fragments from another mi-

INFO Eduard - FEBRUARY 2022