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Digital Subscriptions > Scale Aircraft Modelling > January 2018 > Operation Jiu-Jitsu

Operation Jiu-Jitsu

RAF Radar Reconnaissance Overlights of the Soviet Union with the RB-45C Tornado 1952 – 1954

COLOUR CONUNDRUM

North American RB-45C, upper view. The left (port) side shows the (likely size and location of) Jiu Jitsu I markings coniguration with 54” roundels at one third span. The aircraft is finished in overall Natural Metal. The rear fuel tank in is finished in Olive Green, with the forward in finished in Olive Green (inner face) and Insignia Blue (outer face). The horizontal in remains in Natural Metal. The anti-glare panels are either in Olive Green or Matt Black. The right (starboard) side shows the (possible size and location of) 84” roundels for Jiu Jitsu II. The rear and horizontal fuel tank fins are finished in Insignia Red. The forward fins are Insignia Red (outboard) and Olive Green (inboard)

The precise origin of Operation Jiu-Jitsu is currently unknown, but it might have been but one of several clandestine reconnaissance operations carried out by the RAF under the overall designation ‘Project Robin’. It has been suggested that the operational requirement for radar reconnaissance overflights of the Soviet Union originated with General Curtis LeMay, commander of the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) some time around 1950/51 as part of his planning for a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in the event of the outbreak of war.

The rationale for the overflights was that in order for SAC to deliver its nuclear weapons successfully, it would be necessary for the aircraft to fly at high altitude, in bad weather and or at night, which would make visual identification of the targets extremely difficult. Therefore SAC navigators would have to locate and identify their targets by radar and in order to do this, it would be helpful if the navigators could be provided with information as to what their targets would look like on a radar screen.

It was possible to predict what a town or city might look like on radar to a limited extent but the only way of being certain of what any given target would look like would be to illuminate the targets with radar and to photograph the radar display. The problem facing the planners was how to obtain such photographs and it was evident that the only way they could be obtained would be to carry out clandestine reconnaissance lights. Whilst the USAF had the equipment and the will to carry out such missions, following the loss of a US Navy Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer of VP-26, which had been shot down into the Baltic on 8 April 1950, the US Government would not sanction the necessary sorties.

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About Scale Aircraft Modelling

January 2018