Douglas A/B-26 Invader

The Max Hawkins page

HOME | SUB INDEX | Preface | Features | Site Navigation | Reg'n cross ref. | S/No's & Prod'n codes | MILITARY VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | CIVIL VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | About the author/Contact | Info Req'd | LATEST

Max Hawkins
Max Hawkins, who was assigned to both the 4750th Drone Sq., at Yuma, and the 4756th at Tyndall, as a Control System Tech on the Q-2, sent in some interesting shots below.

After attending tech school at Lowry AFB, in Denver, in the winter of 1955-1956, I was assigned to the 4750th Drone Squadron at Yuma County Airport, later Yuma Air Force Base, then Vincent AFB. I arrived in May, 1956, and remained there until March or April 1958, when I was transferred to Tyndall AFB, Panama City, Florida. I was discharged in July, 1959.

My job involved nearly all aspects of the drone, except the airframe and engine. During my time at Tyndall, I was one of the guys on the B-26 launch crew. I participated in the William Tell projects, both at Yuma and at Tyndall.

Given the time frame mentioned in the website, I must have known and/or worked with your dad, but the name "Nitka" doesn't ring a bell.

Of course it's been over 50 years, so I'm sure I don't remember everyone's name. In any event, it's interesting to see and read about the days of the Ryan Firebee drones.

Best wishes,

Marion Hawkins (Ex-S/Sgt)

Max also wrote:
    I looked closely at the group photo of 4750th guys. 
Many of the faces were familiar.  Some I could put names to, some not. I'm not among them.  I was briefly assigned to work in the 4750 th Air Defense Group headquarters, as a personnel records clerk.  I don't remember the dates, but it's possible that's why I'm not included in the drone group.
       I don't have any pictures showing the interior of the B-26, so can't help there.  As I said, I was one of the so-called "Launch Engineers" when I was stationed at Tyndall, one of two enlisted personnel responsible for checking out and launching the drone from the B-26.   
    There isn't much to add to what you already know about that function.  There were two control units (launch consoles), one for each drone.  Each unit had a joy stick and the necessary switches to check the drone systems and to operate the drone's throttle and ignition system to air-start the engines.
    One of the launch operators would crawl back toward the tail of the aircraft, to a seat with a window on either side, where he could visually observe both drones, do the pre-flight checks, start the engine and launch the drone. 
 Each operator had communications with the ground control officer as well as the B-26 pilot, so that all concerned were involved with the pre-launch and launch activities.  When everything was checked out and ready, he started the drone engine, adjusted the thrust and released it from the B-26 on a countdown/launch command from the ground operator, a rated officer.
    I have some black & white snapshots of one of our drones in the (outdoor) maintenance area at Yuma, which I'll attach.  I also have a 4750th Air Defense Wing, 1958, year book containing photos, etc. If it would be of interest, I'll send it to you.  Let me know.
    I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions about the drone operations, I'd be happy to answer them, if I know, or can remember, the answers.
Regards,  Max

Associated reading



A shot of Max with one of "his" Q-2's