History Podcasts

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF)

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF)

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF)

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To


The 5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) arrived in the Mediterranean Theatre at the start of the long Italian campaign and carried out operations across most of southern Europe and in support of D-Day.

The group was formed in the US in July 1942 and moved to the Mediterranean in July-September 1943, officially taking up residence in Tunisia at the start of September, arriving a few days after the first landings on the Italian mainland. The group was assigned to the Twelfth Air FOrce in support of the troops fighting in Italy, moving forward to the Italian mainland at the start of December 1943.

The 15th Combat Mapping Squadron began operating in support of the Fifteenth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign on 28 December 1943 and was assigned to that Air Force in January 1944. The rest of the group moved to the Fifteenth Air Force in October 1944. Even after moving to the Fifteenth Air Force the group continued to carry out some missions in support of the campaign in Italy, but its main focus was to support the heavy bombers.

During 1944 the group helped support the Anzio landings in January 1944. It also photographed targets in the north-west of France in support of the D-Day invasion, surveying rail targets.

The group's aircraft ranged across France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Balkans. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 6 September 1944 when it mapped the Luftwaffe bases in the Balkans, allowing Allied fighters to destroy large numbers of German aircraft on the ground.

The group returned to the United States in October 1945 and was inactivated on 28 October 1945.




Main: Lockheed F-5 Lightning
Limited night-time use: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, North American B-25 Mitchell


14 July 1942Constituted as 5th Photographic Group
23 July 1942Activated
May 1943Redesignated as 5th Photographic Reconnaissance and Mapping Group
August 1943Redesignated as 5th Photographic Reconnaissance Group
Jul-Sep 1943To Mediterranean and Twelfth Air Force
Oct 1944To Fifteenth Air Force
May 1945Redesignated 5th Reconnaissance Group
Oct 1945To US
28 Oct 1945Inactivated
6 Mar 1947Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

2d Lt Frederick A Williams:23 Jul 1942
Maj J D Russell: 1942
Maj James F Setchell: 12 Jan 1943
Lt ColWaymond A Davis: 27 Feb 1943
MajLeon W Gray: 23 Oct 1943
Maj Lloyd RNuttall: 4 Feb 1944
Col Wilbur H Stratton:21 Sep 1944
Lt Col Bernard SHendler: 9 Aug 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Colorado Springs, Colo: 23Jul 1942-8 Aug 1943
La Marsa, Tunisia:8 Sep 1943
San Severo, Italy: 8 Dec 1943
Bari, Italy: 11 Oct 1944-Oct 1945
CampKilmer, NJ: 26-28 Oct 1945

Component Units

15th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1944-1945
21st Reconnaissance Squadron:1942-1943
22rd Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1943
23rd Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1944
24th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1943
32rd Reconnaissance Squadron: 1944-1945
37th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1944-1945.

Assigned To

1943-Oct 44: 90th Reconnaissance Wing; Twelfth Air Force
Oct 1944 onwards: Fifteenth Air Force

World War I

The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron's origins unofficially begin before the United States entry into World War I. In December, 1916 the squadron was first organized as an un-designated unit at Rockwell Field, California, it being the fifth Aero Squadron authorized by the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. [2] After flight training, the squadron was formally organized on 5 May 1917 at Kelly Field, Texas where it performed flight training duties. [3] It was transferred to the new Souther Field, Americus, Georgia in April 1918 where it joined the 116th, 236th and 237th Aero Squadrons as Curtiss JN-4D flight training squadrons. Souther Field was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the United States entry into World War I in April 1917. It consisted of warehouses, barracks, fifteen hangars and other structures. Eventually over eighty JN-4s were used for training.

In July 1918, as part of a re-organization of training squadrons in the United States, it was disbanded and replaced by Squadron "A", Souther Field which continued the flight training mission. [4]

The flying training at Souther Field continued until November 1919 when the War Department deactivated the field and sold its surplus airplanes to the public. One of the planes was sold to Charles Lindbergh who bought a JN-4 with a brand-new OX-5 engine, and an extra 20 gallon gasoline tank in May, 1923. [4]

Inter-war period

A new 5th squadron was established after World War I as part of the permanent United States Army Air Service in 1919. Authorized as the 5th Aero Squadron at Hazelhurst Field, New York, it was assigned to the 3d Observation Group. The squadron was equipped with war surplus Dayton-Wright DH-4Bs. The squadron moved to Mitchel Field, New York the following month. In 1921, the unit became the 5th Squadron (Observation) and two years later the 5th Observation Squadron. [5]

In May, 1921, the 5th was attached to General Billy Mitchell’s 1st Provisional Air Brigade at Langley Field, Virginia. From May to October 1921, the squadron and other units of the Air Brigade bombed battleships off the eastern seaboard. Mitchell was determined to prove airplanes could sink warships. In July, in the well known SMS Ostfriesland incident, brigade airplanes sunk a modern, German-made battleship. General Mitchell proclaimed the era of battleships had ended and the age of airpower had begun. [5]

On 1 August 1922, the 5th Observation Squadron joined with the 1st Observation Squadron to form the 9th Observation Group, today’s 9th Operations Group and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing’s predecessor. In 1928, the Army attached the 99th Observation Squadron to the 9th Observation Group and assigned the squadron to the group the following year. Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s the 5th flew normal observation and training missions and participated in air shows. Squadron pilots flew a variety of World War I-vintage aircraft, including the DH-4, O-1, O-2, A-3, B-6, and several others. [5]

In the mid-1930s, as tensions increased in Europe, the United States began to build its air arm. On 1 March 1935, the Army re-designated the 5th Observation Squadron as the 5th Bombardment Squadron. Soon after the re-designation, the squadron received new Martin B-10 bombers. The B-10, a small bomber best suited for coastal defense, could out-fly the best Army pursuit plane of its day. In 1938, the 5th switched to the larger Douglas B-18 Bolo. [5]

World War II

Sixth Air Force

By November 1940 German U-boats actively patrolled waters off Central America near the Panama Canal. The Army dispatched the 9th Bomb Group to guard the canal. The 5th Bombardment Squadron deployed to Rio Hato Army Air Base, Panama with that Group on 13 November 1940, at which time it was designated as the 5th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), this being changed to (Heavy) five days later. [6]

Two B-18A Bolos of the unit made a "training flights" through Central America commencing 12 January 1941, out of Albrook Field, Canal Zone. Flying from there to San Jose, Costa Rica, San Salvador, El Salvador, Guatemala City, Managua, Nicaragua and thence back to David Field, Panama and home to Rio Hato. Major General Sanderford Jarman, Commander of the Panama Coast Artillery Command, was a VIP passenger on this flight which gave the crews excellent familiarity with airfields, flight conditions and navigational problems unique to the Caribbean. [6]

The Squadron received a single Boeing B-17B Flying Fortress to augment its four B-18As by 25 August 1941 and, on 28 September 1941, deployed to Beane Field, St. Lucia, in the Antilles, from Rio Hato. By January 1942, unit strength at Beane Field consisted of but four B-18A's and a single B-18, where the unit was attached as an clement of the Trinidad Base Command. [6]

In May 1942, the Squadron was formally assigned to the Antilles Air Task Force/Antilles Air Command, still at Beane Field, and, in October 1942 the squadron was relieved of its mission and ordered back to the United States at Orlando Army Airbase, Florida. Its personnel and B-18s were reassigned to other units. [6]

At Orlando AAF, the squadron was re-manned and re-equipped with B-24 Liberators was assigned to the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, training aircrews in advanced combat tactics. For the next sixteen months, squadron pilots developed new tactics, tested equipment, perfected glide bombing techniques, and trained crews in high-altitude precision bombing. Eventually the squadron received B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-25 Mitchells and B-26 Invaders as part of the training program. [5]

B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan

In February 1944, the 5th was again transferred, without personnel and equipment to Dalhart Army Airfield, Texas then to McCook Army Airfield, Nebraska. At McCook Field, the 5th and its sister squadrons received new Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. Squadron crews spent the next six months training in their new airplane. [5]

When training was completed, moved to North Field Tinian in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands and the destruction of its war-making capability. [5]

It flew "shakedown" missions against Japanese targets on Moen Island, Truk, and other points in the Carolines and Marianas. The squadron began combat missions over Japan on 25 February 1945 with a firebombing mission over Northeast Tokyo. The squadron continued to participate in wide area firebombing attack, but the first ten day blitz resulting in the Army Air Forces running out of incendiary bombs. Until then the squadron flew conventional strategic bombing missions using high explosive bombs. [5]

Re-equipped with incendiary bombs, the squadron returned to attack Tokyo's wooden structures that housed Japan’s war industry, American bombers kept up a relentless attack on Japanese aircraft factories, chemical plants, naval bases, and airdromes throughout the final months of the war. Despite stiff opposition – heavy and light antiaircraft fire, search lights, flak boats, and fighter planes – squadron aircraft inflicted heavy damage on Nagoya, Osaka, Kobye, Tokyo, and other cities. [5]

Conditions were so difficult on two of the missions the squadron earned Distinguished Unit Citations. First, on 15–16 April 1945, the 5th and other 9th Bomb Group units attacked the industrial area of Kawasaki, Japan. Kawasaki provided vital components for Tokyo and Yokohama’s industry. Strategically located, Kawasaki’s industrial area was heavily defended, both on the flanks and surrounding the target area. This made the approach, bomb run, and breakaway extremely hazardous. Adding to the danger, squadron pilots flew the 1,500 miles from Tinian to Japan low-level, over water, at night. Severe turbulence along the way affected the mechanical navigation equipment, but the bombers held their course. [5]

Attacking according to the bombing plan, the 5th Bomb Squadron was in the last run over the target. By then the Japanese defenders were fully alerted and knew the approximate bombing altitude and direction of the attack. Exceptionally close coordination between the enemy searchlights and antiaircraft guns subjected the bombers to powerful concentrations of antiaircraft fire on their way to the target, over the target, and after their breakaway. Intense, accurate fire from flak boats on the flight to and from the target caused more damage. Approximately 56 Japanese fighters attacked the 5th and its two sister squadrons. The American strike destroyed Kawasaki’s industry, but the squadrons of the 9th Bomb Group paid a heavy price. Four of the group’s 33 B-29s crashed during the mission. Six other sustained heavy damage. [5]

The squadron won a second Distinguished Unit Citation the following month. Effectively mining the Shimonoseki Straits and the waters around the harbors of northwest Honshu and Kyushu would block sea traffic on the Inland Seas and isolate important northern ports. By laying mines in the seas around Japan, the Allies hoped to isolate Japan’s main islands and deprived them of resources from conquered territories in China, Manchuria, and Korea. The mines would also prevent reinforcement of Japanese-held islands. [5]

The squadron continued attacking urban areas with incendiary raids until the end of the war in August 1945, attacking major Japanese cities, causing massive destruction of urbanized areas. It also conducted raids against strategic objectives, bombing aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other targets in Japan. The squadron flew its last combat missions on 14 August, when hostilities ended. Afterwards, its B-29s carried relief supplies to Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan and Manchuria. [5]

The squadron was largely demobilized on Tinian during the fall of 1945. Remained in Western Pacific, assigned to Twentieth Air Force. Moved to Clark Field in the Philippines on 15 April 1946. It relocated to Harmon Field on Guam on 9 June 1947, by which time it was largely a paper organization with few personnel or aircraft. The squadron was inactivated on Guam on 20 October 1948. [5]

Strategic Air Command

Strategic bombardment

Following World War II, the National Security Act of 1947 established the U.S. Air Force as a sister service of the Army and Navy. The concurrent establishment of major commands within the Air Force brought wholesale realignments, including creating new wings with subordinate groups and squadrons. The Air Force established the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 25 April 1949 and activated it on 1 May. The Air Force also activated and redesignated the 9th Bomb Group and its subordinate squadrons, making them the 9th Reconnaissance Group, and the 1st, 5th and 99th Reconnaissance Squadrons. The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron’s new home was Fairfield-Suisan (later Travis) AFB, California. For the next 11 months, squadron crewmembers flew RB-29s on visual, photographic, electronic, and weather reconnaissance missions. [5]

On 1 April 1950, the Air Force again redesignated the 9th Wing and its subordinate squadrons. The squadron again became the 5th Bomb Squadron. In February 1951 the Air Force placed all flying squadrons directly under the wing. On 19 June 1952 the 9th Bomb Group inactivated. The 5th continued to fly B-29s from Fairfield-Suisun AFB until 1 May 1953. After the Strategic Air Command assumed jurisdiction over Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, the Air Force Moved the 9th Bomb Wing there. [5]

The following year, B-47 "Stratojets" replaced the 5ths B-29s. For the next twelve years, the squadron served as an important element in the Strategic Air Command’s nuclear deterrent force. Massive retaliation became a cornerstone of national policy and an effective deterrent to perceived threats. Crewmemebers trained and practiced incessantly to achieve and maintain the high state of readiness needed to fulfill their demanding and vital mission. They then spent alternating weeks in Alert Sites, ready to launch their bombers at a moment’s notice. For its role in testing a new deputy-commander organizational concept to improve America’s immediate retaliatory strike capability, the 5th received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in 1958. [5] It maintained alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. [7]

Strategic Reconnaissance

By 1966, however, the B-47 was obsolete, replaced by the newer, larger B-52 Stratofortress. On 25 June the 9th Bomb Wing and its subordinate units inactivated at Mountain Home AFB. Although the 9th immediately activated at Beale AFB, California as the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, only the 1st and 99th squadrons activated with it. [5]

When the 9th Wing moved to Beale AFB in 1966, it became the parent organization for the SR-71 "Blackbird." Ten years later the U-2 "DragonLady" joined the 9th. The wing was the home for both America’s high altitude, manned, reconnaissance aircraft. In 1986, the 5th activated and rejoined the 9th as the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Training Squadron. [5]

The squadron recruited, screened, and trained U-2 pilots to fly operational missions around the world. Because the U-2 is so unique and difficult to fly, the instructor-to-student ratio was one-to-one. For the next four years, 5th pilots taught students at Beale AFB and also flew operational missions around the world. When the Air Force removed the SR-71 from active service in 1990, however, U-2 pilot training moved to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron and the 5th again inactivated. [5]

Modern era

On 1 October 1994, the 5 RS was reactivated as a subordinate unit to the 9th Operations Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing, at Beale Air Force Base, California. It replaced the 9th Reconnaissance Wing’s Detachment 2 at Osan AB, Korea. Detachment 2, the "Blackcats," had operated from Osan AB since 1976. The 5th had a "real world" mission-flying classified reconnaissance in Korea and the Far East. [5]

In 1995 the 5th RS was the first unit to have the new U-2S model aircraft fully operational and on 20 October 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Wilson II flew the first ever U-2S operational mission. Additionally, in 1995 the U-2 flew the 2000th Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System mission. The squadron was the recipient of the 1995 Lockheed Advanced Development Corporation Hughes Trophy, distinguishing the unit as Best Reconnaissance Squadron in the 9th Reconnaissance Wing and was also nominated for the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. [1] [5]

Since 1976, the unit has flown more than 7,000 operational sorties, utilizing an integrated suite of all-weather multi-spectral sensors. The unit has maintained a 98 percent mission effectiveness rating, despite challenging weather and a long logistics trail. Significant past events include the 1976 DMZ "tree cutting" incident in which two U.S. officers lost their lives. The unit provided continuous coverage of the area during the tense period that followed. Since 1976, surge operations have been conducted many times due to heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. In 1987, President Chun Doo-hwan visited the detachment to honor the unit for its outstanding contribution to the security of the country. In addition to its real world mission, the unit has flown humanitarian sorties to assess ROK environmental concerns, such as flood damage, and assist the Philippines in surveying the devastation caused by the Mount Pinatubo eruption. [1]


  • Organized as 5th Aero Squadron on 5 May 1917
  • Reconstituted, and consolidated (1924) with 5th Aero Squadron, which was organized on 24 October 1919.
  • Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic, and activated, on 1 May 1949.
  • Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Training Squadron on 12 February 1986
  • Redesignated 5th Reconnaissance Squadron on 21 September 1994

Note: There is no relationship to the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long Range, Photographic) which was inactivated on 20 October 1947 [7]


  • Post Headquarters, Kelly Field, 5 May 1917
  • Post Headquarters, Souther Field, 1 May − 30 June 1918
  • 3d Observation Group
  • Eastern Department, 24 March 1920
  • Second Corps Area, 20 August 1920
    , 1 August 1922
  • 1 Division, Air Service (later, 1 Division, Air Corps 1 Division, Aviation), 30 June 1923
    , 15 February 1929 – 20 October 1948 , 1 May 1949
    , 16 June 1952 – 25 June 1966 , 1 July 1986 – 30 June 1990 , 1 October 1994 – present [7]


    , Texas, 5 May 1917 , Georgia, 1 May − 11 November 1918 , New York, 24 October 1919 , New York, November 1919
    , Panama, 13 November 1940 , St Lucia, c. 28 September 1941 , Friday, 31 October 1942 , Florida, 15 April 1943 , Florida, 7 January 1944 , Florida, 13 February 1944
    , Texas, c. 9 March 1944 , Nebraska, 19 May − 18 November 1944 , Tinian, 28 December 1944 – 6 March 1946 , Luzon, 14 March 1946 , Guam, 9 June 1947 – 20 October 1948 , California, 1 May 1949 , Idaho, 1 May 1953 – 25 June 1966
    , California, 1 July 1986 – 30 June 1990 , South Korea, 1 October 1994 – present [7]


    (1917–1918) (1919–1928) (1919–1928) (1928–1936) (1928–1936) (1928–1936) (1928–1936)
  • Y1O-35 (1928–1936) (1928–1936) (1928–1936) (1928–1936) (1928–1936)
    (1936–1938) (1938–1942) (1942–1943) (1943) (1943–1944) (1944, 1949–1950) (1944–1947, 1949–1954) (1949–1950) (1954–1966) (1986–1990, 1994–present) (1986–1990) [7]

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) - History

/>15/11/1941 to 04/01/1942, 460 Squadron RAAF formed here with Wellingtons.
02/01/1942 to /02/1942, 159 Squadron formed here with Liberators.
/02/1942 Airfield transferred to USAAF and runways extended, /05/1942 First US units arrived.
/06/1942 to 10/09/1942, 5th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron.
09/06/1942 to 13/09/1942, 15th Bombardment Group with Douglas A20s, first mission 29/06/1942 to Hazebrouck. Re-equipped with B-17's /08/1942. Completed the first USAAF mission from the UK.
12/09/1942 to /06/1945, 358th, 359th, 360th and 427th Bombardment Squadrons of the 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy) 'Hells Angels' (Might in Flight) with B-17s. First mission 17/11/1942 to St Nazaire, the Group went on to complete 364 missions. B-17F 'Hells Angels' of the 358th BS was the first to complete 25 missions. 'Knockout Dropper' of the 359th BS was the first to complete 75 missions. Final Group mission 25/04/1945 before moving to North Africa. Eighth's highest score of 364 missions completed.
/> 01/07/1945 to 10/08/1945, 441 and 442 Canadian Squadrons with Mustangs.
27/07/1945, 1335 Conversion Unit with Meteors.
07/09/1945 to 28/06/1946, 19 Squadron with Mustangs, then Spitfires.
09/11/1946 to 03/12/1946, 129 Squadron with Spitfires.
/10/1945 to 11/12/1945, 222 Squadron with Meteors.

Station placed on Care and Maintenance /10/1946.
/ 07/1951 Re-opened for USAF and new runway built, opened to flying /02/1954.
/02/1954 to 25/10/1956, 582nd Air Re-supply Group with B-29s, C-119Cs and Grumman amphibians.
25/10/1956 to 31/05/1957, 582nd ARG renamed 42nd Troop Carrier Squadron (Medium) with C-119Cs and C-47s. 1956, 47th Bomb Wing B-45s here briefly.
Flying ceased 1958, then became supply depot and reserve airfield.

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) - History


This is a history of the "Black Cats Squadron" written by MSgt James MacKinley, Executive Assistant to the Commander of the 5 RS. It was submitted by Lt. Col. Charles Wilson former 5 RS Commander.
-Thanks, for all your hard work

The need for aerial reconnaissance was perhaps first realized when the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon's adversary at Waterloo, once remarked "the most difficult part of warfare was seeing what was on the other side of the next hill." Early in the 20th Century General Werner von Fritsch, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army in World War I, predicted "The nation with the best aerial reconnaissance facilities will win the next war." Thus, the world powers soon found themselves in a race for the ultimate means of obtaining aerial reconnaissance. By 1952, the U.S. government had used existing aircraft and balloons for photo reconnaissance. In 1953, the government sought ideas on a new reconnaissance aircraft from civilian contractors. Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson, designer at the Skunk Works Division of Lockheed, submitted his proposal for a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft in March 1954. He took a F104 and made major modifications to the structure. The result was an aircraft later named the U-2. The letter U designated the aircraft as a "utility" aircraft. Eight short months later, in November 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the U-2 program.

The U-2 would be later called the "Dragon Lady." The term may go back to the 1940's. At that time, the word "dragon" was associated with British projects to gain information about German rocket programs. Eventually, in the reconnaissance world, the term "dragon" was used to refer to individuals processing scientific or technical information. In 1956 the U.S. Air Force was interested in obtaining the U-2 aircraft. So, "Project Dragon Lady" was the name given to the process through which the Air Force acquired the U-2. The CIA was the executive agent for the program. "Dragon Lady" was also the name of a popular comic strip that seemed to represent the nature of U-2. The Central Intelligence Agency flew the U-2 from 1954 until 1974 when all U-2 reconnaissance missions were turned over to the U.S. Air Force.

On 14 December 1960, Detachment H was created in Taiwan. The "Blackcat" nickname associated with the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was started by Detachment H. Det H flyers would frequent an establishment called the "Blackcat" in a nearby town. In another version, the name Blackcat was chosen because blackcats go out at night just like U-2 (during earlier missions). The two eyes of the cat also symbolize the cameras onboard. In any event, the name "Blackcat" soon became synonymous with the members of the U-2 Det. The original Blackcat patch was designed in 1961 by Major Chen, Whei-Shen. Major Chen was shot down on 9 September 1962.

Operations at Osan AB, later home to the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron, began in 1976. In February of that year, personnel from the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona and the 99th SRS at operating location, U-Tapao Airfield Thailand, deployed to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to establish a 90 day test program. The first TDY Commander was Colonel L. M. Kidder who was replaced in late March 1976 by Lieutenant Colonel R.B. Birkett. In April of that year the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the 99th SRS to move from U-Tapao to Osan. In mid-May 1976, Lieutenant Colonel David G. Young arrived with the last contingent from U-TAPAO and replaced Lieutenant Colonel Birkett. Shortly after his arrival, Lieutenant Colonel Young established the "Blackcat" as the Operating Location nickname. In July 1976, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry C. Sinclair arrived as the first permanent Commander. In September 1976, the 100th SRW was inactivated and OL-AO became Detachment 2 of the 9th SRW of Beale AFB, CA. During October 1994, Detachment 2 of the 9th RW became the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron.

The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron is a subordinate unit to the 9th Operations Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California. The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron is an Air Combat Command unit at a forward operating location tasked with a real-world classified reconnaissance mission and under the operational control of United States Pacific Command. 5RS flies highly sensitive reconnaissance missions, mainly supporting US forces in Korea. The National Command Authorities through the Joint Chiefs of Staff sanction these missions. There are approximately 230 men and women assigned to the 5RS. About one fourth of the squadron is composed of civilian contractors representing six corporations associated with the U-2 aircraft and means of reconnaissance. The squadron has three full time pilots and utilizes four to five TDY pilots from Beale AFB CA. The TDY pilots and Physiological Support Division personnel are on 60-75 day tours of duty. U-2 pilots spend an average of 140-180 days per year TDY at different U-2 detachments worldwide.

Since 1976, the unit has flown over 8,400 nine-hour operational sorties, utilizing an integrated suite of all-weather multi-spectral sensors. The unit has maintained an outstanding 98 percent mission effectiveness rating, despite challenging weather and a long logistics trail. Significant past events include the 1976 DMZ "tree cutting" incident. The unit provided continuous coverage of North Korea during the tense period that followed this unprovoked act by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Intelligence gathered by the U-2 helped preclude further hostile action by North Korea. Since 1976, surge operations have been conducted many times due to heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. In 1987, President Roh Tae Woo visited the detachment to honor the unit for its outstanding contribution to the security of the country. In addition to conducting intelligence gathering missions, the unit has flown humanitarian sorties to assess ROK environmental concerns, such as flood damage, and assist the Philippines in surveying the devastation caused by the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Lieutenant Colonel William R. Horton served as the Det 2 Commander from 1977 to 1978. "Oscar," the detachment mascot (black cat), was given to all Blackcats as a departing gift from Lt Col Horton. Oscar has remained a true friend and a faithful supporter to all personnel since his arrival. Oscar went AWOL and Oscar Jr. was acquired as a replacement mascot. He has successfully carried out all traditional mascot responsibilities, and has earned a reputation throughout the U-2 world. On 1 October 1994, Detachment 2 deactivated and the Blackcats received their current designation, 5th Reconnaissance Squadron. Lieutenant Colonel Scott D. Mefford was the commander.

In 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. "Chuck" Wilson II, became the commander. During this time, the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was the first unit to bring the new U-2S model aircraft fully operational. Lieutenant Colonel "Chuck" Wilson piloted the first ever U-2S operational mission on 20 October 1995. The unit was also the first U-2 operational unit inspected by the Air Combat Command Inspector General. Additionally, the 5RS scored in the top five percent on the 1995 Air Combat Command Quality Air Force Assessment. The 5RS was "benchmarked" by the ACC/IG in both operations and maintenance. 5RS flew the 2000th Advanced Synthetic Aperture RADAR System (ASARS) mission and was the first unit to bring the Enhanced Moving Target Indicator on line. The squadron was recipient of the 1995 Lockheed Advanced Development Corporation Hughes Trophy, distinguishing the unit as the best reconnaissance squadron. 5RS was also nominated for the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. This citation has been approved with the award yet to be presented.

The dedicated men and women of the Blackcat Squadron have sacrificed to meet every challenge of a seven day (and night) a week operation for 20 years. Captain Marty McGregor gave the ultimate sacrifice on 15 January 1992 when his U-2 aircraft crashed into the Sea of Japan. His memory lives on every day as the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron remains mindful of the responsibility they bear in this volatile part of the world keeping watch on hazardous peace. The traditional U-2 pilot patch simply stating "Towards the Unknown" speaks for the dedication of all Blackcats.

The following individuals have served as commanders of this unit since 1976:


5th Photographic Group [ edit | edit source ]

Emblem of the 5th Photographic Group

F-4B photo reconnaissance aircraft

The 5th Photographic Group was constituted on 14 July 1942 and activated on 23 July at Colorado Springs AAF, Colorado. Until 1 September, 5th Photographic Group consisted only of a headquarters, but on 2 September four photographic reconnaissance (The 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th) were assigned. While at Colorado Springs, the pilots trained to fly high speed, unarmed F-4 (P-38 Lightning) photo aircraft. The F-4 was a modified P-38 Lightning a twin-engine, long-range fighter equipped with cameras to accomplish aerial reconnaissance.

In May 1943, the 21st, 22d and 24th squadrons were reassigned to other reconnaissance groups leaving only one squadron, the 23rd, to deploy overseas with the 5th, being reassigned to Twelfth Air Force. The pilots departed Colorado Springs first in early June 1943. The rest of the group's personnel left on 8 August for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where they stayed a week before boarding ships for North Africa. On 4 September 1943, the 5th Photo Group arrived at Bizerte, Tunisia. Upon its arrival, the 5th was assigned to the Northwest African Photographic Wing.

When the group arrived at its headquarters at La Marsa, Tunisia, on 8 September, the allies were just beginning the campaign against Italy. Since the pilots arrived early and they began flying missions almost immediately, primarily using F-5s to get pictures required for the aerial war against the Axis powers. The group not only flew the F-5s, but also the F-7, F-9, and F-10. The F-7 was a modified Consolidated B-24J, while the F-9 was a modified Boeing B-17F and the F-10 was a modified North American B-25D. These aircraft were actually modified bombers that were lightly armed, and equipped with cameras and larger fuel tanks that allowed them to reach out beyond the range of the P-38s. These aircraft often brought up the rear on the bombing missions over Italy and the Balkans photographing the initial bomb damage to the targets.

Initially, the 5th flew its missions to Italy, Corsica and Sardinia, but as the fighting progressed towards the heart of the European continent, the operations area expanded. On 30 October 1943, the 5th flew its first mission to Germany, photographing targets in Munich, Augsburg, Regensburg and Stuttgart. In October 1943, allied forces successfully landed troops in southern Italy. As the war moved closer to the heart of the Axis, so did the 5th. On 22 November 1943, the 5th Group was assigned to the 90th Photographic Reconnaissance Wing, which was part of the Fifteenth Air Force stationed in southern Italy. On 8 December 1943, after the allies captured the airfields in the vicinity of Foggia, the group moved to San Severo, Italy, near Foggia.

On 1 October 1944, the 5th Group was reassigned from the 90th Wing directly to Fifteenth Air Force. Shortly thereafter, on 11 October, The group moved from San Severo to Bari, Italy where 15th AF had its headquarters. On 15 November 1944, the size of the 5th increased as the 32nd gained full strength, and with the assignment of the 37th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, which had just arrived in Italy. With the 37th came another reconnaissance aircraft modified from another bomber aircraft, the F-3, a reconnaissance version of the Douglas A-20 attack aircraft.

Beginning in November 1944, the 5th Photo group flew widely over the European Theatre of Operations. The 5th photographed many strategic targets in Germany including: oil refineries, aircraft factories, and communication facilities. Their destruction helped reduce the strength of the Luftwaffe. In the mountain campaign of Northern Italy, the 5th gathered intelligence which helped allied forces break the hold of the German Army in Italy. In Eastern Europe, the 5th's reconnaissance reports resisted partisan and other Allied forces to push the Germans out of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans.

In August 1945, the group was notified that it was scheduled for shipment to the United States during September, but the departure was delayed until 9 October, when the men sailed from Naples aboard the SS Noah Webster. On 26 October 1945, the ship carrying the men of the 5th arrived at New York Harbor. Two days later, the group was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Two years later, on 6 March 1947, the non-operational and unmanned 5th was disbanded.

26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing [ edit | edit source ]

RB-47H jet reconnaissance aircraft

The 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Medium (26th SRW) was established at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio on 9 May 1952 and activated on 28 May 1952.

The 26th SRW's mission was to gather intelligence on a global scale, for the strategic objective of the US as part of the strategic reconnaissance force of Strategic Air Command (SAC). Assigned to the 801st Air Division, the 26th SRW flew day and night strategic reconnaissance missions. Also developed the capabilities of the Boeing YRB-47 "Stratojet". With the exception of the 26th Air refueling squadron, Medium, the wing and its squadrons were manned with only minimal strength.

In 1953, the flying squadrons began receiving additional personnel. The flying squadrons were the 3rd, 4th and 10th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadrons, Medium. In July 1953, the wing began transitional training in YRB-47s. In March of that same year, the RB-47Es began to replace the YRB models. By the end of December 1954, the wing's last two YRB-47s were sent to Dobbins AFB, Georgia, for modification. In February 1955, these two aircraft were returned to the wing as RB-47B-1s. By the following year, the wing was only flying RB-47Es.

The 26 SRW's other aircraft, the Boeing KC-97Fs and later KC-97Gs were flown by the 26th and 321st Air Refueling Squadrons, Medium. These units were assigned to the wing in May 1952 and April 1955, and remained as part of the wing until September 1956 and April 1958, respectively.

The wing participated in a variety of SAC directed exercises and operations between 1953 and 1958. These included numerous simulated combat missions and deployments, ranging from a few days to a few months. The exercises took the wing's reconnaissance and tanker aircraft to such bases as Eielson AFB, Alaska Thule AFB, Greenland Royal Air Force stations at Upper Heyford and Fairford, United Kingdom Sidi Slimane AB in Morocco Goose Bay AB, Labrador and Lajes Field in the Azores.

In December 1957, the wing learned that it was to be inactivated the following summer. On 15 April 1958, the 321st Air Refueling Squadron was reassigned to the 301st Bombardment Wing, as were the remainder of the wing's aircrews. The wing's strength was slowly reduced by transferring personnel to other units.

On 1 July 1958, the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was inactivated.

26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing [ edit | edit source ]

Toul-Rosières Air Base [ edit | edit source ]

McDonnell RF-4C-22-MC Phantom Serial 64-1060 22d TRS. This was the first RF-4C to arrive at Toul, July 1965

On 19 April 1965, the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was consolidated with the earlier 5th Reconnaissance Group, and was redesignated the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (26th TRW). On 1 July 1965 the 26th TRW was activated at Toul-Rosières Air Base, France. The 26th TRW was designated to be equipped with the new RF-4C "Phantom".

The squadrons initially assigned to the 26th were the 19th TRS, flying RB-66's acquired from the deployed 10th TRW RAF Alconbury deployed squadrons already at Toul and the 32 TRS, flying RF-101C "Voodos", which were transferred from the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Laon Air Base.

On 1 October 1965, the 19th TRS and its RB-66s were reassigned to the new 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which was being established at Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France. The RF-4C's started arriving on 3 October 1965, phasing out the RF-101s. On 1 January 1966, the 38th TRS was reassigned from the 66th TRW and was equipped with the RF-4Cs.

On 7 March 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle announced that France would withdraw from NATO's integrated military structure. The United States was informed that it must remove its military forces from France by 1 April 1967.

Ramstein Air Base [ edit | edit source ]

McDonnell RF-4C Phantoms of the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 26th TRW. Serials 65-0891, 65–0826 and 66-0418. These aircraft were retired to AMARC in the early 1990s.

As a result, the 26 Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, and its two squadrons, the 38th and 32d, were relocated to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany on 5 October 1966. The 22d TRS was reassigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho where it became a dual-based squadron, deploying frequently to Ramstein. The 32d TFS was transferred to RAF Alconbury England where the 10th TRW was being re-equipped with the RF-4C.

Assigned squadrons of the 26th TRW at Ramstein were:

  • 38th Tactical Reconnaissance (RF-4C, Tail Code: RR)
  • 526th Fighter Interceptor/Tactical Fighter (F-102/F-4E (1968–1973) Tail Code: RS)
  • 7th Special Operation (C-130, C-47, UH-1)

While at Ramstein the 26th TRW acquired a number of other units with different flying missions. Along with the RF-4Cs of the 38th TRS, it flew a mixture of aircraft, including T-29s, T-33s, T-39s, C-54s, O-2s, H-19s, and UH-1s.

One function gained by the 26 TRW, almost immediately after arriving at Ramstein, was the maintenance and flying of the HQ USAFE liaison aircraft. In addition, the Wing was responsible for flying members of the HQ USAFE staff to Air Force and NATO bases throughout Europe.

The 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), flying F-102 aircraft, was assigned to the wing in November 1968, thus adding an air defense role to the mission of the wing. With the phaseout of the F-102 from Europe, the 526 FIS was redesignated the 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and begun converting to the F-4E fighter aircraft.

In the spring of 1972, the 7th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) was assigned flying C-130Es, C-47As, and UH-1Ns. Because of the special operations mission of the 7 SOS, it reported directly to HQ USAFE for operational control.

Zweibrücken Air Base [ edit | edit source ]

17th TRS McDonnell Douglas RF-4C-37-MC Phantom 68-0568 in mid-1970s Southeast Asia camouflage motif.

38th TRS McDonnell Douglas RF-4C-37-MC Phantom 68-0553 in late 1980s early 1990s "Air Superiority Gray" camouflage motif.

As part of operation "Creek Action", a command-wide effort to realign functions and streamline operations, HQ USAFE transferred the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing from Ramstein Air Base to Zweibrücken Air Base, and the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing from Zweibrücken to Ramstein on 31 January 1973. Operational squadrons of the 26th TRW were:

  • 7th Special Operations (C-130, UH-1)
  • 17th Tactical Reconnaissance (RF-4C) (Red tail fin stripe)
  • 38th Tactical Reconnaissance (RF-4C) (Yellow tail fin stripe)

Note: 7th SOS reported directly to HQ USAFE. 17th & 38th RF-4Cs carried tail code "ZR".

For nearly five years the wing remained stable at Zweibrücken. Then on 1 October 1978, the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated with a single F-4D aircraft and assigned to the 26 TRW. USAFE planned on equipping the squadron with F-4Es, however, inadequate munitions storage compelled the command to reverse its decision and consequently reassigned the 417th TFS without personnel or equipment to the 86th TFW at Ramstein AB on 1 November 1978, being placed in not operational status.

Later that month, on 20 November, the 17 TRS was inactivated due to budgetary cutbacks leaving the 38 TRS as the wing's only in-place operational squadron. High-hour RF-4C aircraft were sent to AMARC, others were reassigned to the 38th TRS or to existing Bergstrom, Shaw, RAF Alconbury or Air National Guard squadrons.

On 10 August 1987, the 26 TRW became the only tactical reconnaissance wing in USAFE, when the 10 TRW at RAF Alconbury was redesignated the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing and assigned to fly A-10 attack aircraft. This left NATO and US Forces in Europe the services of just one US tactical reconnaissance unit and one squadron of RF-4Cs.

The wing continued to conduct reconnaissance operations in support of NATO, USAFE, and the US Army in Europe (USAREUR). The wing also engaged in operational employment and development of advanced reconnaissance systems to further enhance the military posture of NATO in Europe.

With the end of the Cold War in 1990, 26th TRW was gradually phased down. In addition, the 1960s-era RF-4C Phantoms were increasingly costing more and more to maintain. Tactical reconnaissance was being handled more and more by other means, and the need for the 26th TRW was becoming less and less critical to USAFE planners. As a result, the RF-4Cs of the 38th TRS were sent to AMARC on 1 April 1991 and the squadron was inactivated.

Profile: 5th Special Forces Group

The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) derives its lineage from two units of World War II fame --The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the First Special Service Force ("The Devils Brigade"). The OSS was formed in 1941 to collect intelligence and wage secret operations behind enemy lines. Small teams of OSS operatives parachuted behind enemy lines in both Europe and Asia to lead partisans against the Axis Forces. From these guerrilla operations came the nucleus of men and techniques that would form the Special Forces Regiment.

The First Special Service Forces was a combined Canadian-American Force constituted July 5, 1942, in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 1st Special Service Force. The Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 1st Special Service Force was first activated and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana. The Force participated in the Italian Campaign and saw additional action in Southern France. The Force was disbanded in Menton, France on Feb. 6, 1945. The unit was reconstituted in the regular Army on April 15, 1960, designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces Regiment.

On Sept. 21, 1961 at Fort Bragg, N.C., the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was officially activated. Just one year later, elements of the 5th Special Forces Group began serving temporary duty tours in the Republic of Vietnam. Full deployment of the Group was completed in February 1965. Units from within the Group deployed from its operational base at Nha Trang to the four military regions of South Vietnam. Operational detachments established and manned camps at 254 different locations to train and lead indigenous forces of the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, and regular units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam. The 5th SFG (A) also formed specialized units that conducted special reconnaissance and direct action missions.

Despite being one of the smallest units engaged in the Vietnam conflict, the Group’s colors fly 20 campaign streamers. Soldiers from the Group are among the most highly decorated warriors in the history of our nation. Sixteen Medals of Honor were awarded (eight posthumously). The Group is awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Vietnam 1966 to 1968, The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) Vietnam 1968 Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam 1964 and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Vietnam 1968 to 1970. On March 5, 1971, the colors of the 5th SFG (A) were returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., by a 94-man contingent led by then Col. (Maj. Gen. Retired) Michael D. Healy, thereby terminating their official Vietnam service.

The 5th SFG (A) remained at Fort Bragg until June 10, 1988, when the Group colors were cased at a ceremony marking its departure from Fort Bragg. Subsequently, the colors were officially uncased at its new home at Fort Campbell.

The 5th SFG (A) added to its rich combat history during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In August 1990, the Group was called upon to conduct operations in Southwest Asia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During this crisis, elements of 5th Group, comprising 106 special operations teams, performed a myriad of missions that spanned the scope of operations: supporting coalition warfare conducting foreign internal defense missions with Saudi Arabian Land Forces, performing special reconnaissance, border surveillance, direct action, combat search and rescue missions and advising and assisting a pan-Arab force larger than six U.S. divisions, and conducting civil military operations training and liaison with the Kuwaitis. In the words of the CENTCOM Commander, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, "Special Forces were the eyes and ears on the ground." A new chapter in coalition warfare was written while new military relationships were forged which continue their importance today. On June 11, 1993, the Valorous Unit Award was presented to the 5th SFG (A) for service during Operation Desert Storm from Jan. 17, 1991 to Feb. 28, 1991."

In August 1992, four months prior to the deployment of any other U.S. forces, 5th SFG (A) conducted operations in the country of Somalia. Soldiers of the Group deployed in support of U.S. and United Nations Forces and conducted unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance and coalition support.

Throughout the 1990s, 5th Group elements conducted missions in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. Soldiers from the Group also executed contingency operations and training missions throughout Northeast Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Central Asia.

Within hours of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, Soldiers from 5th SFG (A) were being deployed in support of the Global War on Terror. Together with indigenous forces, the Group succeeded in ending Taliban rule in Afghanistan, enabling the Afghan people to choose their own destiny while denying terrorist organizations of their primary base of support. The Group received two Presidential Unit Citations in recognition of its service in Afghanistan. The 5th SFG (A) has also played a key role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to unconventional warfare and direct action missions conducted throughout Iraq, the Group has trained Iraqi military and security forces to enable them to carry on the fight against extremism on behalf of the long-suffering Iraqi populace.

As requirements related to the Global War on Terror continued to increase, U.S. Special Operations Command received authorization to add one Special Forces Battalion to each of its active duty Special Forces Groups. U.S. Army Special Operations Command issued Permanent Order 193-7 on July 12, 2006, directing 5th Group to prepare for activation of a 4th Battalion. The Group formed an activation cell on June 4, 2007. Over the next year, a very small number of Officers, a strong cadre of NCOs, and a contingent of new Special Forces and Support Soldiers came together to build the foundation for this new organization. The new Battalion was activated on Aug. 8, 2008.

Today, 5th SFG (A) teams are deploying throughout Southwest Asia and Africa and the Soldiers continue to live the Special Forces motto--"To Liberate the Oppressed."

Units: Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 2nd Battalion 3rd Battalion 4th Battalion Group Support Battalion

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) - History

home | leadership | gallery | reunion | news

Squadrons / Flights / Detachments / Operating Locations

  • Army Air Forces Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Test) Number 1
    30th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Air Route Medium
    1st Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Air Route Medium
  • 2d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Air Route Medium
  • 3d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Air Route Medium
    3d Reconnaissance Squadron, Weather, Heavy
    53d Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Weather
    53d Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
    53d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination, All Hurricanes
    (Operating Location A, 53WRS/CARCAH)
  • 654th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy (Reconnaissance, Special)
    54th Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Weather
    54th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
    54th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 655th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, Weather Reconnaissance
    55th Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Weather
    55th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
    55th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 56th Reconnaissance Squadron, Weather Scouting
    56th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    56th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 57th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    57th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 58th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather
    58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 59th Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Weather
    59th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
    59th Weather Reconnaissance Flight
    59th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 373d Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 374th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 375th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 512th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 513th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 514th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather
  • 8th Reconnaissance Squadron (Special)
  • 154 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
    63rd Reconnaissance Squadron (Long Range, Weather)
  • 61st Reconnaissance Squadron, Weather Scouting
  • 60th Reconnaissance Squadron, Weather Scouting
  • 652d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, Weather Reconnaissance
  • 653d Bombardment Squadron, Light, Weather Reconnaissance
  • 1st Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Special)
    2078th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Special
  • 2079th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Provisional)
  • 1211th Test Squadron (Sampling)
  • 1212th Balloon Activities Squadron
  • Special Army Air Forces Hurricane Reconnaissance Unit
  • 6166th Air Weather Reconnaissance Flight
  • 815th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (AFRES)
  • 34th Air Weather Flight (AFRES)

Commands / Air Forces / Divisions / Wings / Groups

(AFRES) - Air Force Reserve
(AFRC) - Air Force Reserve Command
Units in boldface currently perform the weather reconnaissance mission.

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) - History

In August 1943, the USAAF drafted plans to organize seven air-sea rescue squadrons, each to be equipped with Consolidated OA-10 Catalinas for rescue operations with Vultee L-5's for liaison, and Beech AT-7 or AT-11's for utility purposes. The program was scheduled for completion by the spring of 1944. All seven were to be assigned to the Pacific Air Forces. The problem was the Pacific was Navy turf and there was a difference in the assignment policy of air-sea rescue units. The Navy favored a principle of area coverage, with rescue units assigned for operational control to a variety of area or island commands. The USAAF insisted that it's air-sea rescue units be assigned to a theater air force. This difference in policy was escalated to the Joint Chiefs of Staff but was never resolved. Only two of the seven squadrons were in operation by the summer of 1944. Another had become operational by the end of 1944, in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), but the others did not become operational until 1945 and some of them only at the end of the war. The Eighth Air Force in England, primarily used the established RAF air-sea rescue system but in May 1944, the 65th Fighter Wing designated Detachment B as an air-sea rescue unit. On 26 January 1945, this unit was designated the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron.

In the Mediterranean, the USAAF assigned three or four worn-out Catalinas to ASR in the summer of 1943. Administratively, they were assigned to the Twelfth Air Force operationally, they were under the Northwest African Air Force's Coastal Command. In late 1943, the crews were sent back to the States to serve as instructors at the newly established Emergency Rescue School at Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi. The first unit formed, the 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron was sent to the Mediterranean in April 1944 early in 1945, two of its three flights were reassigned to India as the nucleus of a newly established 7th Emergency Rescue Squadron assigned to the Tenth Air Force. In July 1944, the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron was sent to the SWPA under the Fifth Air Force in September 1944, the 2nd was reassigned to the Thirteenth Air Force and the 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron was assigned to the Fifth Air Force. In April 1945, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron began supporting the B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force with three of it's OA-10s at Peleliu and the remaining aircraft on Iwo Jima. The Navy also supported the B-29 raids with submarines and surface craft. As the end of the war approached, the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron was scheduled to be re deployed from England to the Pacific. The 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron was assigned to the Fifth Air Force and part of the squadron began operations from Okinawa. In August 1945, two flights of the 7th Emergency Rescue Squadron were transferred from India and were assigned to the Seventh Air Force on Okinawa. Jack McKillop

DEC'43 - APR 15, '44 | APR 16, '44 - JUN'44 | JUL'44 | AUG'44 | SEP'44 | OCT'44 | NOV'44 | DEC'44
JAN'45 | FEB'45 | MAR'45 | APR'45 | MAY'45 | JUN'45 | JUL'45 | AUG'45 | SEP'45 | OCT'45 | NOV'45 | DEC'45
SUMMARY 1944 | 5230th Organizational History |
History of Air Sea Rescue | "Dumbo" Missions

USAAF 37th Photo-Reconnaissance Squadron, 5th Photo-Recon Group, 12/15th AF Patch

ARTIFACT: This is a World War II United States Army Air Forces 37th Photo-Reconnaissance Squadron, 5th Photo-Reconnaissance Group patch. The 37th was attached to both the 12th and 15th Air Force patch. In Italy, they flew P-38, A-20, P-39 and B-25 aircraft, supported the 5th and 8th UK Army Surveillance of Balkans Luftwaffe base and flew Recon for 15th Air Force Bombers out of Italy. Also, they were in Sicily for the invasion of Sicily and in northwest France for the D-Day invasion. The patch features a rooster.

VINTAGE: Circa World War II.

SIZE: About 4-1/2"e in diameter.


ATTACHMENT: To be sewn onto garment.

ITEM NOTES: This is from a United States Army Air Forces collection which we will be listing more of over the next few months. LAEJV93 LDGEX

CONDITION: 6+ (Fine-Very Fine): Minor wear and cracking of decal coloring on decal worn.

GUARANTEE: As with all my artifacts, this piece is guaranteed to be original, as described.

5th Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) - History

/>09/1940 to 1942, relief landing ground used as a satellite to Middle Wallop. Rebuilt with concrete runways in 1943.
12/1943 to 09/1944, 5th Tactical Air Depot, 10th and 86th Air Depot Groups of the 9th USAAF with P-47D Thunderbolts.
03/1944, 12th and 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons with Mustangs and Spitfires from Aldermaston.
03/1944 to 06/1944, 395th, 396th and 397th Fighter Squadrons of the 368th Fighter Group with P-47's from Greenham Common, became the first 9th USAAF unit to move to mainland Europe.
09/1944 to 03/1945, Used by many 9th USAAF TCG's including the 442nd Troop Carrier Group with C-47's.
/>03/1945 to /1946, RAF No. 41 Operational Training Unit, 03/1946 became the first RAF Station to operate Vampire jets with 247 Squadron.
Airfield then used by Folland and Vickers for aircraft testing until 1961. In 1952 the flying sequences for the film 'The Sound Barrier' were filmed here with the Supermarine Type 535 prototype which was named 'Prometheus' in the film.

Watch the video: Obrněné operace 05 Obrnění obři (January 2022).