Click on any picture to get a slightly larger and smoother version.

Kuwait Air Force Skyhawks lined up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia ready for a mission - Jan. 1991.

A-4KUs with the normal load: 3-Mk 82's (500 lb.) on the centerline, 1 Mk 82 each on stations 1 and 5, and Mk 12 guns.

Here's one of the other loads the KAF carried. Early in the bombing campaign, the US Marines were looking for a vehicle to deliver ADSIDs and they knew the A-4 would do the job and asked the KAF to do the drop.

The load is 3 Mk 82's (500 lb.) on the centerline, 2 ADSIDs* each on stations 1 and 5, and Mk 12 guns - you may be able to just make out the link ejection chute for the left gun.

* (Air Deployed Seismic Intrusion Detector, if I remember right)

A closeup look at the TER-mounted ADSIDs. Note the sway brace adapters and the extended ejector foot.

Click on the picture for the big view.

The KAF Mirage F-1s are lined up in the background. Early in the bombing campaign the F-1s sat idle because they were not setup for bombing and were not well supported. Later, one of the Arab allies loaned the KAF multiple bomb racks and the F-1s flew with the A-4s.

The F-1s were in two paint schemes – gray, and desert camo similar to the A-4KU.

A couple of the Kay and Associates avionics crew setting mode 2 codes in the transponder. The KU did not have mode 4 IFF, so hourly-changing mode 2 was used to identify the aircraft.

There I am. Can't fight a war without a beard.


Here's another page with the rest of the pictures I took on the Dhahran flight-line.

Ahmed Al Jaber Base, Kuwait
The Skyhawk Base
After the war was over

On the base, outside the maintenance hangar. The control tower and crash crew central on the right. That looks like a badly damaged A-4 in the rubble, but it was a plane that was scrapped after a desert landing in the late 70's. It had been converted into a maintenance trainer. Most of the rubble is parts of the hangar that had been blown off.

One of the aircraft shelters, severely damaged by allied bombs.

Here's what a penetrator does. The shelter roofs were a couple of feet of concrete slab, a few feet of earth and a couple of feet of reinforced concrete. Just about every shelter was penetrated this way.

This is the maintenance hangar with the wing from an aircraft that had been disassembled during the Iraqi occupation; the fuselage was not on the base. There was a second wing laying flat on the hangar deck behind the camera position. I believe that the two wings, as well as two new ones in crates behind the supply building, were put in the scrap heap because they were not transferred to Brazil with the other spares. That's Ernie Clayton.

Here I am in Kuwait in the summer of '91. It was not too late in the summer because there were still a lot of oil wells burning. All of the well fires had been “officially” extinguished and the wells capped before I left at the end of '91.


Other GW-1 stories
 

Dhahran Action

The RSAF base at Dhahran was co-located with the international airport. There were two parallel runways, probably 8,000+ feet apart with a runway between them - so the runways look like an H. The international airport was on the left side (as I walked out of the hangar) and used that runway, and the base was on the right side and used that runway. After the airport was shut-down for the war, the left runway was used mostly for the freighters bringing materiel and troops into the base, but the Tornado's were also using that runway. Sometimes the freighters were stacked up on the connector runway waiting to get on the rather small MAC ramp. All other tactical aircraft were using the base runway.

The Dhahran International Hotel is near, and overlooking, the airport runway. There was a CNN reporter on the roof of the International Hotel and he had a good view of the airport runway. The KAF maintenance shops were in a nose dock on the ramp between the airport and the base, and there was a TV set-up to receive CNN. Since the dock was open I could stand in the doorway of the shop and watch the Tornado's begin their take-off roll on CNN and when they popped out from behind the obstructions I could look over and see the rest of the take-off "live". That's what you call real time coverage.

Later, the reporter was taken off the roof and was by the pool with a good view of the pool - and nothing else. That happened after a couple of wild Patriot launches occurred. They weren't shown on CNN so the censor must have been on the job.

Another Patriot Story

There was a Patriot battery not far away. When I walked out of the hangar it was straight ahead on the other side of the runway and taxiways. One night, I was in the hangar when the Scud siren went off, so I walked out to see what was going on. Just as I stepped out the battery let one loose. I swear the thing went up no more than 500 ft, turned horizontal (towards me), and screamed away at about Mach 15. I had the urge to duck, but by the time I did the Patriot was long gone. I was staying at the Al Hamra Hotel in Damman and remember thinking I'd find the Scud in my room that night. Actually they reported that it did a "ground level" intercept at a school between the base and the hotel.

Post War Travel

When the fighting was over the Dhahran airport reopened to commercial traffic and I was on the first departing flight. My Saudi visa expired during my trip and I worked with the Kuwait Embassy in DC to get a renewal. For one reason or another it never happened: the Saudi embassy was on holiday. I returned anyway and when I arrived at Dhahran airport I was refused entry and was told I would have to stay in the departure area until I left on the next flight. During the discussions, I pointed to my rental car, visible in the parking lot across the street, and showed my hotel key, but there was no way to convince the Captain that I would be in Saudi that night.

They put me on the next flight, a Gulf Air 737, going over to Bahrain (wheels up, wheels down.) When I arrived, I called Ernie Clayton, one of my teammates in Dhahran, and he agreed to drive over and pick me up: Bahrain and Saudi are connected by causeway. So I went to the bar at one of the local hotels and waited. On the return trip, when we approached the Saudi border point on the causeway we showed our Geneva Convention Cards, which look just like military IDs, and they waved us on.

A while later we pulled into the Dhahran airport, I jumped into my car and headed to the hotel. Saudi never did renew the visas, so as they expired we probably became illegal immigrants. It was never a problem going back and forth to Kuwait - the GCC was accepted at the border.

Ahmed Al Jaber Base

After the relocation to Kuwait we started visiting AAJ Base (the Skyhawk base) to see if we could find anything useful.

I'll describe the base. Entering the main gate the road went to a small round-about. Turning left or right led to the squadron dispersal areas with the aircraft shelters, ready rooms, etc. To the left of the round-about was the training building and the headquarters was to the right. Continuing straight, passing the avionics I level and engine shops, the road ended at the maintenance hangar. A couple of hundred yards past the maintenance hangar were the line hangar, tower, crash crew, etc. The runways were beyond, perpendicular to the entry road. There were 26 aircraft shelters, all damaged as pictured above, evenly split to the left and right with some being along side the ends of the runways.

The first time I went out with Ernie Clayton the oil wells were still burning particularly to the south of the road from Al Ahmadi: we stuck to the road rather than take the shortcut from the gathering center (the GC area was converted to an oil lake by the Iraqis.) When we entered the base (unguarded and we thought deserted) we drove down to the round-about and stopped to decide which way to go - tower, hangar or where?. Since a missile or bomb had partially lifted the road just past the training building we decided to go to the pilot's rest room (ready-room) to the left. After verifying that the building was bare we were pondering our next move and noticed there seemed to be some activity behind the large aircraft shelter not far away. Upon investigation we learned there was an EOD team getting ready to blow some unexploded munitions near the tower. Good thing we didn't go there first since they weren't expecting people to be around.

The walls of the maintenance hangar were standing, but the roof was blown off and there was debris everywhere with a big stack in the center of the hangar deck. Over several trips we looked everywhere for materiels that may have been left behind, including rummaging around the stack. Later we learned that as EOD was clearing the base, they found an unexploded bomb under the stack. There were unexploded (allied) or unexpended (Iraqi) munitions all over the place so I don't know if we were exposed to more dangers by digging around the base or by just driving down the road. Of course, the base was a target so maybe there was more danger there.

There must have been thousands of Rockeye type munitions (cluster bomb) dropped. When looking over the desert the white case-halves were everywhere. Some of the desert dwellers were using the cases for various housing projects. About the funniest thing was after some time there was a reward for returning them to the military. It became common to see red pickup trucks headed to town stacked high with white cases: sometimes the loads were over 15 feet high.

Finding accommodations wasn't easy. Important TV crews were occupying most of the major hotels that were open and they drove the prices well above our per diem rate. I, along with Ernie, finally found rooms at the Carlton Hotel in downtown Kuwait City. The place was filthy and had limited services, but they were trying. Eventually we moved over to the SAS Hotel. The hotel itself was a bare hull but they had some suites by the swimming pool that were opened. Like many places they were struggling along with limited services and staff, but their restaurant was open so we could eat - not as good as the Al Hamra in Damman but edible.

Mined Beach

The SAS hotel was on the beach and the beaches had been mined by the Iraqis. After the fighting they had been cleared and this particular stretch had been cleared by the Brits. One day we were walking around the beach side of the pool and looking out I noticed a mine sitting right there with a piece of wood partially covering it. We reported the sighting to the manager, but he insisted it could not be a mine because the beach had been cleared. The next day when we returned from work we got the word, and saw the results: an EOD team had come in and blown the mine in place.

Final Chapter?

This may be the beginning of the end of my direct involvement with the A-4. In December 2001, I was part of a Boeing team visiting the Brazilian Navy to discuss avionics upgrades. These aricraft were purchased from Kuwait, so I was very familiar with these particular planes. In addition to meetings at headquarters we traveled to the base to talk to the operators and look at the aircraft. The story dragged on into 2005 when Boeing ended its pursuit of this opportunity and I once again ended my relationship with Boeing.

The story comes to a close

Since my departure from Boeing in mid-2006 I have been called a couple of times about A-4 problems. In December 2006 it was front wing spars and in May 2007 it was electrical power generating systems. In both cases I was able to provide a little information, although I never learned how useful it was. Now (I don't know how all of a sudden it became 2014), I no longer get calls, and I doubt anyone at Boeing remembers the A-4 Skyhawk, or me.