Strategic Air Command Operations in the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

Welcome to the fifty-third episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast, the second in a series of Strategic Air Command bomber and tanker operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October and November of 1962.

Strategic Air Command’s Cuban Missile Crisis After Action Report was declassified years ago. I did not find it until researching the chapter of my book called Klaxon! Klaxon! Klaxon! on nuclear operations in the Reagan Cold War. In the days leading up to President John F. Kennedy’s landmark speech on the evening of 22 October telling America nuclear missiles are on the island of Cuba, Commander of Strategic Air Command General Thomas S. Power prepared his forces for the increase in airborne nuclear alert called Chrome Dome missions. SAC went from twelve Chrome Dome missions a day to seventy-five on 5 November 1962! The episode discusses the preparation, generation, and launch of SAC nuclear bomber and tanker assets over thirty days.

This is the link to the SAC Operations during the Cuban Crisis of 1962 document most of this podcast was taken from.

Financial support for the Lessons from the Cockpit comes solely from Wall Pilot, custom aviation art for the walls of your home, office, or hanger. One hundred twenty-seven Ready to Print aircraft profiles printed on vinyl you can peel off and stick to any flat surface are available on the website. These prints are four, six, or eight feet long and very detailed, the arming T-Handles with the stenciling are on the AIM-9 heat-seeking Sidewinder missiles! Wall Pilot also creates custom aircraft profiles with your name, unit insignia, tail codes, and even desired weapons loadout on your favorite aircraft.

The KB-50J was Tactical Air Command’s air refueling platform for TAC fighters deployed to Florida. A Ready to Print KB-50 from the 429th Air Refueling Squadron is available in four, six, or eight-foot-long vinyl prints.

The KC-135’s played a huge part in every refueling of the B-52s flying Chrome Dome airborne nuclear alert missions in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, over the North Pole, or near Thule Greenland. A KC-135E from the New Jersey Air National Guard is available from Wall Pilot.

The B-58 Hustler was new to Strategic Air Command’s inventory and all 84 were placed on nuclear alert to cover the gaps in the Single Integrated Operations Plan or the nuclear war plan with the B-52 forces flying all the Chrome Dome missions. This B-58 Hustler profile is the Cowtown Hustler, a speed record-breaking Hustler now in the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton Ohio. 

The F-8E Crusader was the Navy’s premier air superiority fighter as the McDonnell-Douglas F-4B Phantom II was coming into the fleet. This Ready to Print F-8E Crusader from VF-162 off the USS Oriskany can be purchased here.

The U-2 Spy Plane took the first pictures of the San Cristobal Medium Range Ballistic Missile facility in Cuba on 14 October 1962. A Ready to Print U-2 is also available from Wall Pilot.

Thanks for downloading and listening to this and previous episodes of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast, I really do appreciate it! All episodes can be found on my website at, under the Podcast pull-down header.

Episode fifty-four will be up next week… discussing another time period where Russian nuclear subs caused SAC to increase the alert status once again in 1987. I discuss this event in chapter two KLAXON! KLAXON! KLAXON! of my book Tanker Pilot, available on Amazon. Look forward to talking with you again next week.

Check out this episode!

Mark Hasara

Have a great Day!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here, I read them all.

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