U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet


Martin RB-57E

Two B-57Es were modified for special reconnaissance missions and sent to Southeast Asia beginning in May 1963 -- becoming the first jet aircraft assigned in Vietnam. The modifications, done by General Dynamics rather than Martin, included altering the nose to house a 36-inch forward oblique camera and a panoramic camera. The lengthened nose gave the aircraft -- redesignated RB-57E "Patricia Lynn" -- a distinctive appearance. These aircraft were also fitted with infrared sensing equipment and began combat operations flying out of Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam.

In December 1964 two more B-57Es were modified to RB-57E specifications and sent to Vietnam. A fifth aircraft was received in November 1965. These five aircraft formed Detachment 1 of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (earlier 6250th Combat Support Group and earlier still 33rd Tactical Group).

The United States began Operation Steel Tiger over the Panhandle and the DMZ on April 3, 1965, to locate and destroy enemy forces and materiel being moved southward at night into South Vietnam. On a typical mission, the RB-57E was accompanied by B-57B "Night Intruder" bombers and C-130 flare ships. After a strike, the "Patricia Lynn" aircraft would complete a bomb damage assessment reconnaissance run over the previous attacked target area.

Two RB-57Es were lost in combat operations. The first (S/N 55-4243) was lost as a result of a fuselage fire caused by small arms while on a low level reconnaissance mission. The crew ejected safely when near Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The second aircraft (S/N 55-4264) was lost on Oct. 15, 1968, after an engine fire started by ground fire forced the crew to eject.

One more RB-57E was converted as a replacement for the combat losses. This aircraft had a Terrain Following Radar designed to allow the aircraft to fly at a constant altitude, which would, in theory, produce better reconnaissance photos. Unfortunately, the aircraft flew so low (500-1000 feet) that the infrared film was used up before the entire assessment area could be photographed.

The RB-57E "Patricia Lynn" aircraft continued flying missions into the late 1960s including Barrel Roll strikes in 1969. The aircraft were withdrawn from combat operations in mid-1971.


· Serial numbers: 55-4237, -4243, -4245, -4249, -4257, -4264
· Two aircraft began combat operations in May 1963 (S/N 55-4243 and 55-4245).
· Two more aircraft began combat operations in December 1964 (S/N 55-4237 and 55-4249).
· One aircraft was lost in combat on Aug. 5, 1965 (S/N 55-4243).
· One more aircraft began combat operations in November 1965 (S/N 55-4264).
· One aircraft was lost in combat on Oct. 25, 1968 (S/N 55-4264).
· One aircraft began combat operations in October 1968 (S/N 55-4257).

Span: 64 ft. 0 in. (without tip tanks)
Length: 66 ft.
Height: 15 ft. 7 in.
Weight: 55,000 lbs. maximum takeoff weight
Armament: None
Engines: Two Wright J65-W-5 turbojets of 7,200 lbs. static thrust each (Wright J65 was U.S.-built version of the Armstrong Siddeley "Sapphire")
Crew: Two (pilot and navigator/reconnaissance equipment operator)

Maximum speed: 600 mph at 45,000 ft.
Cruising speed: 530 mph
Combat radius: Approx. 950 miles