UFO Conjecture(s)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

UFOs: Operation MainBrace 1952

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mainbrace.jpg

CDA (Christopher Allen of the U.K.) mentioned in a comment for our previous posting that he wondered if the photos of an alleged UFO spotted during 1952's military operation MainBrace were extant.

In this History Channel clip about the operation, with William Birnes, Steve Greer, and others, the photos are shown:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/576930/operation_mainbrace_ufos/

This is a particularly interesting UFO event, it seems to me.

More about it should be provided by some of our erudite visitors here I would hope.

RR

37 Comments:

  • "In this History Channel clip about the operation, with William Birnes, Steve Greer, and others, the photos are shown:"

    Birnes and Greer...oh the expertise.

    Well, the camera, kinda pans over a couple photos for a few seconds. This sort of crap is not ufology, but infotainment. It's about spookiness and things that go bump in the night...campfire stories.

    Btw, Rich, "Bob" is my evil twin and I would ignore anything he tells you.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • This is pathetic. You can hardly see anything of interest, just a fuzzy white object in the clouds. The rest of the film has no connection with it.

    As for Steven Greer, I would not trust a single thing he says. If he said there are reports that Ike was on board that ship, I simply do not believe him, or the so-called "reports". Is anyone motivated enough to consult Ike's diaries for that day (Sept 20, 1952)? Where are you Stan Friedman in this time of need?

    From what is shown in those two and a half minutes of film it seems to me just as well that these photos/films were never published, because what they show is virtually useless to anyone.

    The narrator talks about USOs, not UFOs, anyway. And what exactly is a USO? An underwater submarine object? What a letdown this episode is.

    What do others think?

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • Sorry Don...

    I was harried yesterday by those who found my clip that included an old couch to their chagrin.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • My father was one of the radar guys involved in Mainbrace re UFOs. That's what got me interested in the subject when he told me as a kid.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • Tell us more Nick...

    And CDA, when one is a starving UFO addict, a morsel will do.

    I like Bill Birnes. Greer doesn't offend either, no matter how much most UFO buffs are aggrieved by him.

    As Gilles Fernandez continues to remind us: That's ufology.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • The black border around the prints are modest evidence the film was positive -- slide film.

    Was the witness Mr Grusinski? It is his story and his prints. No other source is mentioned.

    Do we have evidence Litwin was the photographer? If so, why was he there? Who was his employer? Wouldn't they have the slides?

    Being a pro, the photographer would have shot Kodachrome (there were few alternatives, if any, in 1952).

    Developing Kodachrome *and* making enlarged paper prints aboard a Navy ship, as I mentioned in the previous discussion, is the element I find unbelievable. This is not a simple thing like developing b&w film.

    "Ufology" like this tv skit, is about creating a spooky moment, ghost stories around the campfire. There is no ufological intent. Just infotainment. No solution is sought, and none is desired. After all, if it were solved, that's the end of the spookiness, the mystery.
    No more tv skits, which is the Bad Thing they want to avoid.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • I'll put something together for you. Down with the flu right now, so it will be a while though.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • Yah, I saw you, like many others, had the flu.

    Take it easy, lots of hot chicken soup, and rest.

    We'll be with the MainBrace thing for a while, as I have a 1950s article about it that no one visiting here has seen I bet.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • According to one of his books, Nick was able to examine Grusinski's photos.

    Birnes, also tells a seaman's story about Eisenhower being on the bridge of the FDR at the time. Since Ike's presence in Kansas City and St Louis on 19 and 20 September 1952 is well documented, the seaman must be mistaken.

    Litwin appears to have shot Kodachromes professionally. He is credited for Kodachromes in a 1949 Esquire magazine -- circumstantial evidence the photos he took were Kodachromes. My question remains: how could they have been developed right then and there and prints made to be given to Mr Grusinski?

    Litwin used a Canon 35mm camera, according to Shutterbug Magazine. He was one of the pros chosen by Canon to test drive their new camera. A US photojournalist shooting 35mm and color in the late 40s and early 50s was pretty avant garde.

    CDA, what do you make of this? I don't know what the British have on this, but the Textus Receptus in US ufology is kinda crappy.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, January 08, 2013  

  • So Ike was supposed to be on board the FDR when he was in fact in Kansas.

    Wasn't he once also at Edwards AFB examining the Roswell crashed saucer at the very same time as he was having dental treatment in California (see ROSWELL INCIDENT, chap 7)?

    Enough said. Tell me, does anyone take this Dr Greer seriously, about anything at all?

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • What CDA?

    You don't like Greer's fictive efforts?

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • "Wasn't he once also at Edwards AFB examining the Roswell crashed saucer..."

    That was from one of Meade Layne's correspondents. Ike was "spirited away", I think he wrote. Amusing.

    There was a ufo event during Mainbrace...the Topcliffe story, a British report.

    BB has an account. I'm reading from the redacted copy. According to it, there were 3 photos provided by Mr Litwin, "color transparencies" [slides], but "The photographs were enlared by Hq USAF from the original 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch size to the present size".

    According to BB, the slides were square medium format, not 35mm. Grusinski's photos, according to the video, are 3:2 aspect ratio, 35mm and 6x9cm (like Trent's) medium format.

    Ufo skeptics and advocates opinions are about the Mainbrace ufo stories, is one thing, but the failure of basic research is obvious. It appears neither Birnes, nor Greer had bothered to read the relevant news stories, and they did not read BB -- with the result, like a virus, this tale is told everywhere ad inf on ufo websites.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • In "FOTOCAT Report #4 NORWAY IN UFO PHOTOGRAPHS: THE FIRST CATALOGUE"

    "19 September 1952, afternoon – USS Franklin D. Roosevelt in the North Sea During Operation Mainbrace, the first major NATO exercise in the North Atlantic, several UFOs were observed and reports were published in various newspapers, both in Norway and other countries. On one of these occasions, a reporter named Wallace Litwin observed a white sphere above him and took a series of photos of it. The myth of these photos is quite interesting, for example it is rumored that the photos were never published (another proof of the cover-up by the US military). However, Ole Henningsen of SUFOI (Denmark) actually tracked down the photographer, and the photos were published in 1978. Litwin initially believed this to be a balloon, as well it might have been.

    The one photo in this Fotocat is 3:2, not square format. For some reason, where they were published in 1978 isn't noted. A common enough experience, having to fill in the information ufologists have left out of their reports.


    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • Don:

    I have an article from the 50s and a later magazine piece from the 70s in which the photos appear.

    I'll dig them out and put them online here.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • Thanks, Rich. From what is in BB, I think the prints were cropped from the original square format ("The photographs were enlarged by Hq USAF from the original 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch size to the present size; the vertical dimension of the copies correspond to the coverage in the original photographs (enlargement ratio 2.25:5)".

    The Litwin photos were sent to Maj. Fournet by an editor from Metropolitan Sunday Newspapers, Inc. on 10/2/52. He names the film as Ansco (aka Agfa) color transparency in square format. The editor quotes Litwin on the circumstances of the shots, and mentions an affidavit by someone redacted who saw what Litwin was photographing. Litwin did not think it was the balloon launched at 3:30. The editor requests the "quick return" of the transparencies.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • As usual Don, the photos are non-descript....an ill-defined blob.

    One has to combine the photos with eye-witness reports, and that doesn't get us very far, as you know.

    What was seen was out-of-the-ordinary surely, but that's all we got.

    And the military's handling of the incident creates a "they must know something more" patina.

    And since the Navy is involved, they certainly do.

    The Navy, as I keep trying to impress on others, is in the know about UFOs, more so than the Sir Force or CIA even.

    This is one episode that made the Navy pay attention to UFOs more diligently than other military agencies.

    That the sighting clip used by History refers to USOs is important, not to be dismissed as a misnomer.

    Nick Redfern knows much about this.

    I'm hoping he fills us in, again.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • Rich: "The Navy, as I keep trying to impress on others, is in the know about UFOs, more so than the [A]ir Force or CIA even."

    The Navy made it difficult for the AF to bury the UFO story. It seems deliberate...service rivalry, which can be found in the Operation Mainbrace story, too. Might be worth some reading to see how much the ETH was a Navy work-product via Keyhoe. I don't know if the Navy had information about "real UFOs". In any event the new AF and the old Navy did not play well together.

    A handwritten BB page:

    "3 only 4x5 photographic negatives and 1 only 8x10 photographic negative or transparency
    Sighting at sea by military personnel on the USS FDR"

    So, more than Litwin's photos.

    4x5 negatives mean a press or Navy photographer, but an 8x10 negative or transparency? That's the one I want to see.

    The take-away on this discussion about the Litwin photos, for me, is don't assume Ruppelt's Project Blue Book stories are fact-based. His account of the Litwin story is simply not true according to BB itself.

    A flaw in the Birnes' version is the "Canon 35mm camera". Although, Litwin did test drive such a camera, but on the FDR he used a medium format camera. Canon made only small format cameras.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • Contact info for Ole Henningsen (mentioned by Don in his FOTOCAT post) is available on http://www.euroufo.net/2011/12/henningsen-ole-denmark/ . It includes his e-mail address.

    By Blogger JAF, at Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

  • Thanks, JAF...

    Let the further "investigation" begin.

    (I'd ask Tony Bragalia to go after this, but some who visit here would not like that.)

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • Whether the object is a weather balloon or not is discussed in Edward J. Ruppelt's The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. It certainly sounds like a weather balloon to me. Here is the entry:

    In late September 1952 the NATO naval forces had held maneuvers off the coast of Europe; they were called Operation Mainbrace. Before they had started someone in the Pentagon had half seriously mentioned that Naval Intelligence should keep an eye open for UFO's, but no one really expected the UFO's to show up. Nevertheless, once again the UFO's were their old unpredictable selves — they were there.

    On September 20, a U.S. newspaper reporter aboard an aircraft carrier in the North Sea was photographing a carrier
    take-off in color when he happened to look back down the flight deck and saw a group of pilots and flight deck crew watching something in the sky. He went back to look and there was a silver sphere moving across the sky just behind the fleet of ships. The object appeared to be large, plenty large enough to show up in a photo, so the reporter shot several pictures. They were developed right away and turned out to be excellent. He had gotten the super-structure of the carrier in each one and, judging by the size of the object in each successive photo, one could see that it was moving rapidly.

    The intelligence officers aboard the carrier studied the photos. The object looked like a balloon. From its size it was apparent that if it were a balloon, it would have been launched from one of the ships, so the word went out on the TBS radio: "Who launched a balloon?"

    The answer came back on the TBS: "Nobody."

    Naval Intelligence double-checked, triple-checked and quadruple-checked every ship near the carrier but they could find no one who had launched the UFO.

    We kept after the Navy. The pilots and the flight deck crew who saw the UFO had mixed feelings — some were sure that the UFO was a balloon while others were just as sure that it couldn't have been. It was traveling too fast, and although it resembled a balloon in some ways it was far from being identical to the hundreds of balloons that the crew had seen the aerologists launch.

    We probably wouldn't have tried so hard to get a definite answer to the Mainbrace photos if it hadn't been for the events that took place during the rest of the operation, I explained to the group of ADC officers.

    The day after the photos had been taken six RAF pilots flying a formation of jet fighters over the North Sea saw something coming from the direction of the Mainbrace fleet. It was a shiny, spherical object, and they couldn't recognize it as anything "friendly" so they took after it. But in a minute or two they lost it. When they neared their base, one of the pilots looked back and saw that the UFO was now fol
    lowing him. He turned but the UFO also turned, and again it outdistanced the Meteor in a matter of minutes.

    Then on the third consecutive day a UFO showed up near the fleet, this time over Topcliffe Aerodrome in England. A pilot in a Meteor was scrambled and managed to get his jet fairly close to the UFO, close enough to see that the object was "round, silvery, and white" and seemed to "rotate around its vertical axis and sort of wobble." But before he could close in to get a really good look it was gone.

    It was these sightings, I was told by an RAF exchange intelligence officer in the Pentagon, that caused the RAF to officially recognize the UFO.

    By Blogger JAF, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • Ruppelt, JAF, is seen by me as an honest guy who really wanted to know what the phenomenon was that Blue Book was meant to decipher.

    His untimely, early death is troublesome also, like that of Jim Forrestal.

    His account indicates that the MainBrace sighting and photos were significant, and the operation's incident is fascinating, but unresolvable at this late stage of the UFO game unfortunately.

    But the photos he notes would be interesting to see.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • Forrestal? Is he the one who committed suicide by jumping from his hospital window? (Presumably there are conspiracists who think he was pushed).

    Ruppelt was late 30s, (heart attack?) Forrestal was quite a bit older, I think.

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • I seem to remember that Ruppelt's death was also regarded as suspicious, by Keyhoe & NICAP at first. But Keyhoe was always suspicious of anything untoward related to UFOs.

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • Yes, Forrestal was pushed, CDA.

    And a heart attack for an otherwise healthy guy in his 30s?

    I don't think so.

    Nick Redfern knows about such mysterious deaths, as do all you U.K. people.

    Your government has been as rabid as the Soviets in dispatching people who know too much....and not just in movies or novels.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • Ruppelt's story doesn't square-up with the BB files. One possibility is Ruppelt conflated two sets of photographs. One set is Litwin's 3 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch color transparencies, and the "3 only 4x5 photographic negatives", which likely were shot by Navy photographers (or, just possibly, a press photographer).

    There is no mention the negatives were color film. If b&w they could be developed on-board and prints made, so that "The intelligence officers aboard the carrier studied the photos".

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Thursday, January 10, 2013  

  • I believe that the handwritten BlueBook page which Don referred to in an earlier comment thusly:

    "3 only 4x5 photographic negatives and 1 only 8x10 photographic negative or transparency
    Sighting at sea by military personnel on the USS FDR"

    So, more than Litwin's photos.


    is listing the results of enlarging Litwin's 3 slides using the ratio of 2.25:5 plus a blowup of either a portion of one of those slides or the entire slide to 8 X 10 size.

    Here are the web addresses so anybody can verify this.

    The handwritten page: http://www.bluebookarchive.org/page.aspx?PageCode=MAXW-PBB16-58

    The page describing the enlargements made:
    http://www.bluebookarchive.org/page.aspx?PageCode=MAXW-PBB16-47
    (Paragraph number 2 on this page describes both the enlargements of the original slides and a "reversal print" enlargement of the second transparency "to show that the image is still round".)

    With the end result being, no more than Litwin's 3 slides.

    By Blogger JAF, at Friday, January 11, 2013  

  • JAF, so it would seem. However, the note refers to "negatives", not prints. There is a separate record in BB for the Litwin print.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Friday, January 11, 2013  

  • I did ineed have contact with Grusinksi, I think from memory around 1990-2 I think, which was the time when I wrote a paper on Mainbrace and UFOs for Tim Good's "UFO Report" which was a collection of papers from various writers published by Sidgwick & Jackosn around that time. Over the years, I've interviewed a number of military people on Mainbrace. One was a guy named Bill Maguire, who was the subject of a big article (around 1998/2000) for Graham Birdsall's UFO Magazine, and which reproduced a lot of his RAF papers. Maybe CDA has a copy of the issue? His was a very interesting radar report - similar to that of my dad. My dad was a radar mechanic and got the lowdown from the radar operators about how they had tracked stuff for 3 days and nights, that led to aircraft scrambled etc.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • I'd be interested (as would others I bet) in what your father thought about the event, Nick.

    RR


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • Well, to his credit, even if he's asked today, he still says the same thing: the radar people tracked something that was present, that flew very high and fast and which responded to the presence of military aircraft by moving away. My dad was based at the time at RAF Neatishead. And the aircraft were scrambled from a nearby base, RAF Coltishall. So he got to speak to the radar people at his base. But, he never was able to speak to the pilots from the other base. But he did tell me that everyone was reminded they had signed the Official Secrets Act and not to talk about it. Which he didnt until he told me when I was about 12 or 13, so around 1978.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • Thanks, Nick...

    So it wasn't a balloon.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • well, that case certainly was not balloons. Nor was the Topcliffe one. Topcliffe, in my view, was very credible. Bill Maguire's was too, as were most of the other Mainbrace ones too. But, that doesnt mean that some of the stuff seen during Mainbrace was all unexplained. There are a couple of Danish military UFO reports from Mainbrace too, as they were involved also.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • It would be great to see the photos.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • Somewhere, I probably have the Grusinski pictures. I remember he sent me fairly high res photos. They were photos taken of two images on slides. So, yes, they were copies of copies. They dont prove anything of course. But there's absolutely no doubt that there were a lot of UFO rpeorts across the English Channel and North Sea during the Mainbrace exercise.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • Hey Rich

    I found the Mainbrace pic I have on file. It's the same one in the video link you have at the article.

    I'm emailing it to you. But quality is not as good as I thought it was. Admittedly, I probably havent looked at it for 20 years.

    CDA is right in that it really doesnt show anything definitive. But, it is at least a part of the story.

    Cheers,
    Nick

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • Real UFOs, Nick, don't allow themselves to be photographed, clearly anyway....part of the enigma.

    I'll put the photo online maybe, with other photos of "real" UFO sightings.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

  • I would agree on that. Given the clear "visonary" nature of certain classic cases (particularly CE3s and aliens "taking soil samples"), I would not be at all surprised if nothing turned up on film that was in any way definitive.

    As you know I have a big interest in both Contactee cases and MIB reports.

    While the Contactees get a bad rap (often very deserving), I do believe - as per the conclusions in my "Contactee" book - that some cases are real.

    But not necessarily external to the witness, so photography would prove nothing. But, I think the internal, visionary experience may be provoked by some external source - the "other."

    Same with the MIB - I'm not sure that in the real high strangeness cases the witness isnt in some sort of altered state, again provoked by the "other." But again, something that would make it impossible to get photographic evidence.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Saturday, January 12, 2013  

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