Douglas RB-66C Destroyer

Last revised January 8, 2002

The RB-66C was a seven-seat specialized electronic reconnaissance and electronic countermeasures aircraft built at the Douglas plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tulsa plant was government-owned and had been leased to Douglas for production during the Korean War. 36 RB-66Cs were built.

The crew consisted of seven--pilot, navigator, gunner, plus four additional crewmembers who sat inside a pressurized compartment that replaced the camera/bomb bay of the B/RB-66B. The basic three cremembers in the front used upward-firing ejector seats, whereas the four additional ECM operators used downward-firing ejector seats. An extensive suite of specialized equipment was fitted to locate and identify enemy radar emissions. Additional ECM equipment was carried in wingtip pods. Chaff dispensing pods could be carried underneath the wing outboard of the engine nacelles. Later examples had the tail turret removed and replaced by additional ECM equipment installed in an extended tailcone.  After the tail guns were removed, the gunner's position was usually left empty unless occupied by an instructor pilot or instructor navigator. Most of the RB-66Cs were equipped initially with J71-A-11 engines, but were retrofitted with J71-A-13s at a later time.

The first flight of the RB-66C took place on October 29, 1955. The last example was delivered in June of 1957. The RB-66C entered service with the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Shaw AFB in February of 1956. The RB-66Cs which had been delivered were momentarily grounded in June of 1956 because of a problem with the aircraft's center of gravity being affected by the fuel level. There were problems caused by buffeting with the wingtip pods, which required that a special vane be fitted to the wingtip pods. 12 aircraft went to the 42nd TRS based at Spangdahlem AB in Germany. 12 RB-66Cs were delivered to the 67th TRS based at Yokota AB in Japan.

TAC RB-66Cs carried out missions over Cuba during the Missile Crisis of 1962. They were first deployed to Southeast Asia in April of 1965. Soon, virtually all available RB-66Cs were on duty in Southeast Asia, where they carried most of the early electronic warfare operations during the early years of the US involvement in the war. They saw active service with the 41st and 42nd TEWS of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Takhli in Thailand. They were used to locate and identify North Vietnamese radar sites that directed missiles and AAA fire, so that strike aircraft could avoid them. The RB-66C had no offensive capability, so it could not attack the radar sites directly.

The RB-66C was redesignated EB-66C in 1966, when all B/RB-66 aircraft involved in electronic warfare were assigned the E prefix.

Serials of RB-66C

54-0447/0476		Douglas RB-66C-DT Destroyer
				c/n 44747/44776
55-0384/0389		Douglas RB-66C-DT Destroyer
				c/n 45016/45021


  1. Post World War II Bombers, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1988.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Volume 1. Rene Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  3. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  4. E-mail from Joe Montana on non-use of gunner position in EB-66C after removal of the guns.