Story #1: The following story was related to me in the early 70's by the Q-38 Program Manager (James T. Faulkner) for the Inventory Management Division at Robins:

When '52s with the Q-38 were initially sent on bombing missions in Vietnam, a problem developed with the Intervalometer Switch, part of the weapons release system. As the switch ticked off release of the individual iron bombs, some times it worked, some times it didn't. Many 52s came back to base with unreleased bombs in the bombay.

A small crew was sent from Robins to Udepohl to investigate the problem. They found that since the Intervalometer Switch had not previously been used in all its previous life, coupled w/the humid temperatures they were now subject to, all switch contacts had become corroded. Swap-out of the Intervalometer was ordered, while some attempt was made to refurbish some in the field.

There weren't any switches in inventory to be swapped out. The original IBM drawings (from spares provisioning records for the switch) indicated that ITT had built the switch. (I remember looking at the original drawings showing ITT identified by its source code on the drawing.) That portion of ITT that had built that switch no longer existed. Finally, Bendix responded to an RFP and was contracted to provide a new Intervalometer. But there is such a thing as 'design and production lead time' (Bendix would not build to the original drawing), so there would be some delay from new design and production lead-time, before any could be made available from new production.

Then one of the guys from provisioning (Item Manager for the Item) remembered the item. According to stock, storage and issue regulations in existence at the time, any item in inventory that did not show usage over a period of two years, was automatically pulled out of inventory and sold for scrap. He went on his paper trail and found that the scrap (new and never used) Intervalometers were purchased by the Trench Aircraft Co. of Macon, GA.

It turned out that Trench Aircraft Co., of Macon, GA., was a junkyard with a cinder-block building in the middle of the lot. The proprieter was a guy in bib overalls who was barely literate. So, as the Q-38 Program Manager continued, he and a contingent of reps from provisioning, quality and contracts went to the place, first had to talk him into selling back the item, then had to walk him through the paper work, showing where he had to put his X on all the papers for his signature. So the inadvertantly scrapped Intervalometers were bought back from a junk yard in sufficient quantity until the Bendix replacement became available.

(So what can we say for our current U.S. domestic industrial engineering production and manufacturing capability to support all the new weapons systems that have been fielded to date? - one of the two driver issues for my campaign.

The following from classic literature keeps ringing in my head: "For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe, the horse was lost, for want of a horse the kingdom was lost. A horse! A Horse! My Kingdom for a horse.") End of story. (Think I could sell this story to Reader's Digest?) Do you think its a story that should be told? Re-print only w/permission.

Bernard Palicki

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