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The Eielson-based aircraft conducted ELINT around the Kamchatka Peninsula of the Soviet Union. On 15 Dec 1956 three aircraft overflew Vladivostok
24 December 1957 A US Air Force RB-57 was shot down over the Black Sea by Soviet fighters.
Only eight B-57As were built. They never entered real operational service, being used for trials and evaluations. They were hard to distinguish from the Canberra B.2 at first glance, featuring the "fishbowl" style canopy, but there were significant differences.
* Initial flight of the B-57B was on 18 June 1954, with the type going into service with USAF tactical bomber squadrons before the end of the year. Some early machines were delivered in natural metal, but most were painted overall black. A total of 202 was built; from the 83rd machine on, the eight 12.7-millimeter machine guns were replaced by four Colt M39 20-millimeter revolver-type cannons, with 290 rounds per gun. There had been hopes that the cannon could be retrofitted to the earlier machines, but installing the cannon had required major changes to the wing structure and it wasn't possible.
There were four different "groups" of RB-57Ds, each with different mission configurations:
RB-57D Group A (6 built): Single-seat photo-reconnaissance variant, with an array of film cameras in the nose.
RB-57D Group B (7 built): Same as Group A, but with inflight refueling (IFR) capability.
RB-57D-2 Group C (6 built): Two-seat SIGINT variant with rounded nose, AN/APA-69A direction finder in a belly radome, distinctive wingtip antennas, an antenna fairing on the tail, and IFR capability. The AN/APA-69A is described as a radar in some sources, but it was actually an ELINT direction finder.
RB-57D-1 Group D (1 built): Single-seat radar reconnaissance variant with a rounded nose for an AN/APN-107 navigation radar, AN/APQ-56 SLAR with fairings on the fuselage under the wings, an antenna fairing on the tail, and IFR capability.
originally posted by: solidshot
Found this interesting Vid on Youtube as well
Mentions that some of the flights in that era were done without Presidential authorisation? Some were done with RAF crew rather than US? and of the aircraft shot down some of their crew members actually survived and were handed to the KGB and "Disappeared" rather than dying as their families were told? Could one of these be the reason the flight is still so secretive?