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Discuss helicopters and other rotary wing aircraft from any era.
Op Gothic Serpent, Black Hawk Down MH-60 Info
HeavyArty
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Posted: Saturday, January 04, 2014 - 04:03 PM UTC
The question comes up often on the forum as to what types of Black Hawk helicopters were used by the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) in Operation Gothic Serpent, Somalia, Oct 3-4 , 1993. It was also called the Battle of Mogadishu or the Battle of the Black Sea and was made popular by the movie Black Hawk Down.

Info on Op Gothic Serpent Black Hawks collected from various crewmen who were there....

Doorgunner from the 160th who flew the mission on Oct 3-4 1993:
The Black Hawks were all MH-60s (a mix of A & L models), they were black with OD markings, no IFR probe, pilot doors were removed for missions, FLIR and Radar dome were fitted but not the angled missile detectors on the nose. No ESSS wings were used during missions, the AH-6Js were used for fire support. The internal fuel tanks were removed for missions due to small distances flown and to fit more passengers in the back. The aircraft's call sign was painted on the window of the cargo door on both side ,e.g. Super 68 had "68" painted on the windows. As for the crews, they all wore desert sand colored flying suits with a pistol usually on the thigh and their survival vest (unsure what type) and SPH-4 helmets w/NVG mounts, personal weapons were MP-5 or M-16 usually. M-134 was the only weapons carried, no .50 cals and the miniguns were fed by 2 individual 20mm ammo boxes, one per gun, not the huge central one like in the Academy MH-60L kit.

From another crewman:
1) The 160th MH-60s didn't use internal aux tanks as the ranges flown were minimal, and they were primarily configured for max pax. Some of the regular Army UH-60s used ESSS and the MedEvac UH-60s as well.
2) There are actually two internal aux tanks mounted side-by-side against the rear bulkhead. Sometimes we use only one, sometimes both, and sometimes neither. The mission and environment dictated how many.
3) Since we're talking about Gothic Serpent, only the M-134 miniguns were used. Every insert bird also carried two (sometimes 3) Delta snipers. The D-boy snipers used M-25s (accurized M-14s) M-4s and I think I saw a couple SR-25s or AR-10s.
4) While the 160th guys brought two DAP kits with them and even used them for training (to keep currency, etc.) they were never used operationally during Gothic Serpent. For that fact, I don't remember ever seeing an MH-60L using ESSS during my deployment there.
5) Weapons, a personal thing for each crewmember. MP-5s were sometime carried in thigh rigs but were generally stowed up front somewhere. Crewchiefs had M-4 carbines and M-16A2's usually stowed behind the pilots' seats but they were also stowed elsewhere. We stowed them hanging off the webbing on the H-bar directly over the minigun ammo bins. All crewmembers also usually carried at least one pistol (issued M-9, but some had Sigs and M1911s) in a thigh rig or in a vest holster.
6) IFR probes were not used in Gothic Serpent for the same reason as Item 1, and that the only refueling assets were two USMC KC-130's based out of Mombasa Kenya, but I think they left when the Marines left prior to Gothic Serpent.

I vividly remember that some MH-60s had the nose radar and some did not. All had the FLIR turret mounts but didn't have FLIR installed for every mission. There were no plume detectors that I saw but each one had nose and tail mounted APR-39 radar detectors.

Pat Powers crew chief Super 65:
"The aircraft always flew with the cockpit doors off. The fairings around the main landing gear strut weren't installed on any of the Blackhawks in D Company and cargo hooks weren't installed on the aircraft. There was a tube, about 3 inches in diameter installed in its place. The tube had 4 rings (in a clover leaf pattern) attached to it in the center. The system was installed in place of the cargo hook for securing the aircraft during fixed wing transport of the helicopter..."

Aircraft info:

Two MH-60Ls shot down in Mogadishu.
Super 61 91-26324
Super 64 89-26188

Three additional aircraft damaged and able to land (controlled crash) under own power.
Super 62 83-23882
Super 68 90-26288
Super 66 85-24395 (damaged on night resupply)

OGS Aircraft:

Super 61 was named 'Thunderstruck' 91-26324 Walcot's bird, nose radar, FLIR, hoist
Super 62 was named 'Black Widow' 83-23882, no nose radar, FLIR, hoist
Super 63 was named 'Grim Reaper' 90-26257, nose radar, FLIR, no hoist, hoist mount installed
Super 64 was named 'Venom' 89-26188 Durant's bird, nose radar, FLIR, hoist
Super 65 was named 'Heavy Metal' 83-23887, no nose radar, FLIR, no hoist, no mount
Super 66 was named 'Predator' 85-24395, no nose radar, FLIR, no hoist, no mount
Super 67 was named 'Texas Express' 83-23924, no nose radar, FLIR, no hoist, no mount
Super 68 was named 'Razors Edge' 90-26288, nose radar, FLIR, no hoist

- All helos had the numbers painted on the front cargo door of each a/c except 63.
- 63 had the internal aux tanks installed for longer loiter time. She also had the C2 radio console installed in between the crew chief seats.
- 64 had a life raft package in between the crew seats
- All had faded OD green floor armor on the floor.
- All had the standard antenna package including the towel bar. 63 & 64 had an additional antenna on the tailboom. Also 63 had commo antennas on her since she was C & C.

Super 61 & 62 had Special Forces on board
- Super 62 - carried Shughart and Gordon
Super 63 was the C2 (Command and Control aircraft)
Super 64 through 67 were filled with Rangers
- Super 64 - carried chalk 1
- Super 65 - carried chalk 2, led by 1LT Thomas Di Tomasso
- Super 66 - carried chalk 3
- Super 67 - carried chalk 4
Super 68 was the Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) aircraft.

OPGS aircraft from a 160 SOAR crewman:
I am sure I am going to leave a couple out. These were from my platoon. Some were the MH-60A others were MH-60L. Most were DAP capable.

MH-60As
83-23839 - "Iron Maiden"
83-23853 - "Bat Copter" - Batman logo on engine cowlings
83-23882 - "Super 62"/"Black Widow"
83-23887 - "Super 65"/"Heavy Metal" - Crew chief took the engine cowlings off of 908 and put them on 887.
83-23908 - Original "Heavy Metal", transferred to sister unit
83-23924 - "Super 67"/"Texas Express"
84-24000 - "The Liberator"
84-24010 - "Bounty Hunter"
85-24395 - "Super 66"/"Predator" (1st ever DAP)

MH-60Ls
89-26184 - "Flatliner" - 1st L model DAP
89-26186 - Original "Super 62"/"Rude Dude" down for maintenance on 3-4 OCT 93
89-26188 - "Super 64"/"Venom"
90-26257 - "Super 63"/"Grim Reaper"
90-26276 - "Dirty Deeds"
90-26288 - "Super 68"/"Razor Edge"
91-26324 - "Super 61"/"Thunderstruck"
91-26363 - Original "Super 66"/"Gun Slinger" for most of deployment, sent back for Phase Maintenance before 3/4 OCT 93
91-26360 - "Thrasher"

Super 64, 160 SOAR, Michael Durantís bird.

Durantís Blackhawk was Super Six-Four. It had 64 painted on the front cabin door windows. As for the helicopter's nickname, Durant never referred to it in his book other than Six-Four. Looking at the photo of his crew posing with the helicopter, on the right engine nacelle (looking forward from the pilots' positions, there is a word written in what looks like Arabic under a square root symbol. It is hard to make out, but in another picture, this time of 64's crew chief Tommy Fields, you can make out the bottom half of the left engine nacelle. ďVENOMĒ is on the nacelles, with the V forming the left leg with a line extending across the whole word so it looks like a square root sign.

Also from Durantís book:
"Tommy, in his late twenties, had a race car back in his garage in Lisbon, Maine, and he treated 'his helicopter' no differently from that hot rod. The wheels were always slick with Armor All, the windshield washed after every mission. There wasn't a drop of oil on that thing." So you don't have to dirty the model up too much to accurately represent the real thing.

Pilot of Super 65 CWO Gerry Izzo. It has some great info on Super 62, 'Black Widow'.

"Super 62 was the Black Hawk that put in the two Delta snipers, Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon. They were inserted at crash site #2 (Super 64). Shortly after Gary and Randy were put in Super 62 was struck in the fuselage by an antitank rocket. The whole right side of the aircraft was opened up and the sniper manning the right door gun had his leg blown off. The aircraft was able to make it out of the battle area to the port area where they made a controlled crash landing. (This is not depicted in the movie.)"

You can read CWO Izzo's full account of the battle here.

Super 62 "Black Widow" 83-23882 after being damaged by an RPG to the right side gunner's station after dropping off MOH recipients Shughart and Gordon at the crash site of Super 64.


The gunner's station damage.



Unfortunately, the gunner lost a leg in the engagement. The aircraft was able to stay in the air long enough to make an emergency (controlled crash) landing at the Port of Mogadishu and evac its wounded.

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HeavyArty
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Posted: Saturday, January 04, 2014 - 04:19 PM UTC
Super 62 continues to serve. Pics were taken in Nov 2009.







After being repaired/rebuilt back to a standard UH-60L, she was assigned to the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) mission in Sinai, Egypt. MFO is an independent organization established in 1979 during a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel to monitor and enforce peace in the Sinai peninsula and keep the Suez canal operating w/out obstruction.

More info: MFO website

The hi-vis orange and white paint scheme is used to make the aircraft easily identifiable as neutral and a member of the MFO mission.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2014 - 04:26 AM UTC
Super 68 'Razor's Edge' is now on display at the Army Aviation Museum on Ft Rucker, AL. It is in a more recent MH-60L DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) Gunship configuration though. She did not have the DAP parts and some of the sensors that this now shows during OGS.





More info on Super 68 "Razor's Edge"

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. and Pararescueman Scott Fales received U.S. Special Operations Commandís highest honor when he was awarded the 2012 Bull Simons Award in Tampa, Fla., May 23...

In August of 1993 Fales was assigned to Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. On the fateful day of Oct. 3, he led the search and rescue of ďSuper 61Ē a Black Hawk helicopter shot down by a rocket propelled grenade. Fales and fellow PJ, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Wilkinson, who would earn the Air Force Cross for actions at Mogadishu, were flying in ďSuper 68Ē toward the crash site.

...the helicopter they are fast roping from gets hit by an RPG while they are on the ropes ...

This is MSG Fales w/ Super 68 in the Mog.



A little more info on Super 68 from the Aviation Museum:

ďSuper 68 sustained significant damage in Mogadishu from small arms fire and a hit from a rocket propelled grenade...Ē


From CWO Gerry Izzo (pilot, Super 65):

"Super 68 was hit in the rotor blades by an RPG. This blew a semicircle out of the main rotor spar, but the blade held together long enough for them to finish putting in the medics and Rangers at the first crashsite. It was then that they headed to the airfield. What they did not know, was that their main transmission and engine oil cooler had been destroyed by the blast. As they headed to the airfield all 7 gallons of oil from the main rotor gearbox, and all 7 quarts from each engine was pouring out. They got the aircraft on the ground just as all oil pressures went to zero. They then shutdown, ran to the spare aircraft and took off to rejoin the battle. They were in the air just in time to affect the MEDEVAC of Super 62, which had landed at the seaport."
HeavyArty
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Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2014 - 01:30 PM UTC
I have uploaded all the Op Gothic Serpent pics I have to the following PhotoBucket Link. I hope they are useful.
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Removed by original poster on 12/05/17 - 14:04:25 (GMT).
youngtiger1
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Posted: Thursday, June 04, 2015 - 11:20 PM UTC
Great amount of info here buddy and you again for taking the time to share it. One of these days I'm going to build one of these Black Hawks to honor the men and women that were part of this mission. A quick question for you...what is ESSS on these Helos? TIA

Mike
HeavyArty
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2015 - 03:17 AM UTC
Thanks. It is a bunch of info I and others have collected over the years and I put it here so it would be in one place. ESSS is External Stores Support System, which is the short wings that hold the weapons when in the DAP (Direct Action Penetrator - gunship) version. You can see them on "Super 68" in the above pics.
youngtiger1
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2015 - 03:48 AM UTC
Thanks for clarfying this. I do want to build one with ESSS set, so it is good to know what it is all.

Btw, the Super 62 in MFO scheme looks pretty cool. Do you know if the interior was the same as when it was in Somalia or did they changed that as well?
HeavyArty
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2015 - 05:36 AM UTC
No, after the OGS damage, it was converted back to a standard UH-60L. As an MFO bird, it carries a standard UH-60L interior setup of 11 troop seats and two crew chiefs'/gunners' seats in the middle at the gunners' windows.
youngtiger1
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Posted: Friday, June 05, 2015 - 09:14 AM UTC
Cool, thanks buddy
HeavyArty
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Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 07:40 PM UTC
A great collection of pics showing the engine cowl art for each MH-60 Black Hawk in the air on 03-04 OCT '93. Collected by Tim, "Hawkwrench" at ARC.

Super 61 "Thunderstruck"

Artwork done in gray lettering and yellow lightning bolt

Super 62 "Rude Dude"†

Artwork done in OD green

Some additional info about Super 62. The aircraft that wore 62 that day (Black Widow), was not the original 62. The original 62 "Rude Dude" was in the middle of an engine change when the mission order came down. So the crew jumped into Black Widow instead.

Super 62 "Black Widow"

Artwork done in black

Super 63 "Grim Reaper" (C2 helo)

Artwork done in gray

Super 64 "Venom"

Artwork done in gray/silver

Super 65 "Heavy Metal"

Artwork done in OD green

Super 66 "Gun Slinger"

Artwork done in OD green

Super 67 "Texas Express" (the "X" is larger and used for both words)

Artwork done in OD green

Super 68 "Razors Edge"

Artwork done in OD green

Here are 2†of the additional helos that deployed to Somalia, but didn't fly on the mission.

"Thrasher"

Artwork done in OD green

"Iron Maiden" (Taken before Somalia deployment; before HIRSS exhausts were added.)

Artwork done in OD green

Some overall pics and Littlebirds as well.

Link

Most of these markings (Black Hawks and Littlebirds) are covered in Werner's Wings 160th SOAR decal sets (scroll down to Decals).



Review.





Review

HeavyArty
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Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 09:23 PM UTC
Another compiled list of MH-60s Black Hawks with features and pilots of each by Jakob "JakobJakepilot" on ARC.

OGS MH-60 Black Hawk List
HeavyArty
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Posted: Wednesday, February 05, 2020 - 11:12 AM UTC
A great option for a 1/35 OGS MH-60L build is now available in the Kitty Hawk 1/35 MH-60L kit. It comes with markings for four different OGS aircraft. It is really a nice kit and full of details. I highly recommend it.



It does have a couple of issues that have come to light though. The main one is that if you follow the instructions, you will build a much later MH-60L than was used in Somalia in '93. You have to know what to change and what to leave off to build an OGS MH-60L. All the specific aircraft mods are listed above in this thread. Another (bigger) issue that has been found is with the markings. The stenciling and common markings should be in OD green, but they are in black on the decal sheet. The issue is that the aircraft are also black, meaning the decals will disappers on the black fuselage. For proper, OD, markings, get the Werner's Wings "Irene!" decal sheet.

Below is a list of changes to the Kitty Hawk 1/35 MH-60L made by Floyd Werner when he was building Super 61.


Summary of changes for OPERATION GOTHIC SERPENT MH-60L
1- Install H-bar support (Wernerís Wings) on ceiling for side facing crewchief seats
2- Modify two seats in Step 1 (A-A) slightly with the legs pointed aft.
3- Reposition Fire Extinguisher (E33) in step C-C to the copilot seat frame right next to the center console
4- Substitute cargo hook with four ring tiedowns (Wernerís Wings part)
5- Cut copilot (left side) collective and rotate the control head 90 degrees.
6- DO NOT ADD the rear part of the center console. Or use Wernerís Wings part.
7- Use smaller ammo cans (Wernerís Wings part)
8- Remove rivet detail from B28 and B-29. To be totally accurate these should be uncovered and show the hydraulic and electrical lines, as well as, the sheet metal detail.
9- Donít make holes in part B27
10- Skip Step 6 ammo boxes, both types
11- Donít add the X antenna, or E37 antenna
12- Donít open the holes for the right-side chaff dispenser.
13- Donít open the holes for the left side forward chaff dispenser. Note that these aircraft only had one Flare/Chaff Bucket on the left side.
14- Donít forget to open up the two holes for the aft lower part of the tailboom. Not indicated in the instructions
15- Donít make holes on the left side for the antenna behind the cockpit.
16- Fill hole where D25 fuel drain goes, don't use D25.
17- Fill and sand transmission access panel just in front of D25 fuel drain
18- Either cut G9/G15 to a point or use Wernerís Wings part
19- No pilot or copilot doors
20- Donít install the right-side chaff dispenser.
21- Donít install the left side forward chaff dispenser.
22- Check aircraft for FLIR and/or weather radar nose cone.
23- Use Chaff dispenser (G20, F47)
24- Cut part G35 and G36 Strut covering so the bottom part is removed
25- Add the ESSS covers (left and right) provided separately (not shown in the instruction). If not included in your kit, contact Kitty Hawk.

DO NOT ADD THE FOLLOWING ITEM. Mark your instructions before beginning construction.
Step 1-Seats ((B-B))
Step 2-B5, D8, PE44, PE45
Step 3-D28, B22, PE24, B23
Step 4-F30, F38, F50
Step 6-D13, D14, D15, D16, F8, PE 37, F30, F50, F387
Step 9-D7, G32, G52, E3
Step 11- Recommend not adding C42
Step 13- D66, D25, G24 PE33
Step 14- D63, GP24, GP25, Pilot and Copilot doors (GP11, GP6, GP7, GP14, B13, B10)
Step 15- Chaff dispenser (G25, G19, E29, F47)
Step 16- Chaff dispenser (G26, G19, E29, F47), antenna F34
Step 17 & 18- Donít use the wings or supports (entire top of page, except for part G35 and G36 (see note above)
Step 24-27 and final unnumbered page- Omit entire page
JQuinn66
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Posted: Monday, April 13, 2020 - 04:07 PM UTC
No major problems with the fit on this kittyhawk kit?
I have heard/read about some kittyhawk airplane models being very frustrating due to big seams and poor alignment
HeavyArty
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Posted: Monday, April 13, 2020 - 11:56 PM UTC
No major issues from the reviews and builds I have seen. I am currently building their 1/35 HH-60G here and have had no issues.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Wednesday, May 06, 2020 - 03:24 AM UTC
Some artifacts have been recovered from Somalia in recent years.

The rotor head from Super 61 is now on display at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum near Ft Bragg, NC.



Engine section from Super 61 to be displayed at the National Museum of the US Army outside Ft Belvoir, VA. It is scheduled to open later this year.


M134 minigun recovered from Super 64 presented to 160th SOAR.


And in the same exhibit as Super 61's rotor system.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 12:14 PM UTC
I have started to build Super 65 "Heavy Metal" for a display that will eventually be presented to the 160th SOAR at Ft Campbell, KY or the Army Aviation Museum at Ft Rucker, AL. You can follow along here.

While I was looking for some more pics of it, I came across a website for Unical Defense. Unical rebuilds surplus aircraft and resells them on the civilian market. Interesting enough, they have refurbished and have Super 65 for sale.

Unical Website

This is how she looked as they were completing the rebuild a few years ago. She looks pretty good for a 37 year old aircraft.



They restored it back to its 160th SOAR, Op Gothic Serpent, Super 65 "Heavy Metal" markings as well (minus the FLIR). This was at the 25 year OGS reunion at JSOC in Oct '18. It was still shown with these markings, for sale, in Oct '19 as well.



Unical has a good Mogadishu webpage that talks about the battle as well.
SF-07-18D
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Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 08:44 PM UTC
Wow, Gino!!

I'll be watching your Super 65 project.

The pictures of the museums are amazing. I wish I could travel there someday. By now I only have been in NY for 5 times. I should mess my wife about going south

Regards!
shuck42
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Posted: Monday, June 22, 2020 - 08:51 PM UTC
Please can anyone provide the serial numbers for the four MH-60L that were flown out by C-5 to Morocco for filming the movie Black Hawk Down.

The MH-60L arrived named as Night Stalker, Black Scorpion, Armageddon and Gladiator. Armageddon and Gladiator being movies by Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott.

Thanks
HeavyArty
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Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 01:53 AM UTC
I found the below in a book called The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion by Simon D. Beck:

"...two of the Black Hawks supplied for filming - MH-60L (s/n 91-26365) ... and MH-60L (s/n 91-26350) ... both are 160th SOAR serving helicopters."

I couldn't find the other two, nor which names these two wore.

I did find a couple pics of the movie helicopters, but the tail numbers aren't visible.

The first is "Armageddon".


The next one I can't read the name, but I have seen a couple pics of it.



This one looks like it doesn't have a name, but was used as Super 63, the Command & Control aircraft.


I also found this pic that shows all four of the movie Black Hawks. Unfortunately, the sun is coming from the wrong angle to make out any names or tail numbers.


I found a pic of the four Little Birds as well. Same issue with the sun angle.


shuck42
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Posted: Monday, July 06, 2020 - 03:52 AM UTC
Thank you for the info and photos. Stay safe.
envyxx
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Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 02:31 PM UTC
I know this is pretty old now but they wore SPH4 B Pilot Helmets with NVG hook up. In fact, there use to be a picture of a young Somali little boy with Durant's helmet on that was taken at the crash, and it shows him wearing it smiling. And under Aircraft info at the top you have to add Super 66 to aircraft damaged and able to land, because it got shot up during the resupply and was out of action after it landed. There was 5 in total.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 07:32 AM UTC
Welcome and good catch on Super 66. I had recently read that and failed to update it. Fixed now.