Strategic Air Command Alert During the Cold War

Lindsay Peacock, Brian C Rogers, Robert S Hopkins III

From 1957 until 1991, the Strategic Air Command of the US Air Force (SAC) fought a war of deterrence. Every single day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thousands of men, women, and hundreds of aircraft were kept on alert, armed with nuclear weapons, ready to attack pre-determined targets on short notice.
Date Published :
June 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
100 b/w photos, 6 maps, 12 color photos, 12 color profiles
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914377112
Pages : 88
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


For nearly 35 years, Strategic Air Command (SAC) maintained a continuous 24-hour, 7-day alert presence with its nuclear-laden bombers, nuclear-tipped missiles, and tankers filled with jet fuel. Ready to launch with just 15 minutes’ warning, the SAC alert force represented the most visible portion of America’s strategic deterrent to any prospective attack on the United States or its allies.

For the first time, this book provides a detailed history of the evolution of the alert force, the airplanes, missiles, and units involved, and the many successes and failures that shaped the alert force. Chapters cover SAC’s earliest efforts to have bombers and tankers ready to retaliate, the origins and evolution of reflex alert, the changing demands on the alert force structure driven by improvements in Soviet defenses, the alert force during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, chrome dome airborne alert, SAC’s ballistic missile alert force, the Post Attack Command and Control System, the impact of the war in Southeast Asia on the alert force, as well as the final years of alert and the abrupt end of the Cold War.

Filled with extensive chronologies, tables, charts, maps, and photographs, the book is written by a noted author of multiple books and articles on SAC and its aircraft, as well as two former SAC pilots with alert experience in Titan IIs, B-52s, KC-135s, and EC-135s. Klaxon! is sure to become the definitive reference for this often overlooked but critically essential part of the Cold War.

About The Author

Lindsay Peacock Once upon a time in a school to the west of London there was a young lad named Lindsay who was very interested in steam engines. One day during morning break, while in the school playground in early 1960 at the tender age of 12, he happened to look up and see what was making all the noise. It was a Belgian Air Force C-119G Flying Boxcar on approach to Northolt. The rest is history...and the steam engines were very quickly forgotten, especially after he went to Heathrow Airport for the first time. Among his many publications are books on Strategic Air Command, the B-47, and the B-52.

Brian C ‘Buck’ Rogers served in SAC for 12 of his 22 years in the US Air Force. He pulled alert first as a Titan II deputy missile combat crew commander, crew commander, and evaluator in the 390th SMW. After graduating from pilot training, he returned to the SAC alert force as a B-52 copilot, aircraft commander, flight commander, and instructor pilot in the 9th BS. From there he was selected to be a member of the Strategic Weapons School initial cadre. During Operation desert storm he flew 27 B-52G combat missions, including 25 as flight lead/mission commander. He flew the B-52H four more years in Air Combat Command, two as a squadron operations officer and two as squadron commander. Rogers has more than 3,200 hours (121 combat) in the B-52. He authored USAF Flying Unit Designations Since 1978, and co-authored a book on the B-52G/H.

Robert S Hopkins, III, is a second-generation SAC pilot. He flew 17 different variants of KC-135 tankers, EC-135 airborne command posts, and RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft during his US Air Force career, including SAC alert in KC-135As and EC-135G/Ls. He also served as an RC-135 Tactics Instructor. In addition to multiple publications and appearances in aviation programs on the History Channel, the Smithsonian Channel, and the BBC, Hopkins is the author of books on the KC-135, B-47, Strategic Air Command in the UK, and Cold War strategic aerial reconnaissance. He earned a PhD in US and Soviet history from the University of Virginia.

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