55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron

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55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron - 1958.jpg
Detachment 1, 55th WRS at Ladd AFB in 1958
Active August 21, 1944 – July 16, 2002
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Weather Reconnaissance
Engagements World War II
Cold War
Members of the 655th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, Weather Reconnaissance. This photo was taken during training at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma in 1944
"Weather Witch" Ford B-24L-10-FO Liberator 44-49506 655th Weather Recon. Squadron, 20th Air Force Depot (later, Harmon) Field, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, May 19, 1945.

The 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 50th Operations Group, being stationed at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. It was inactivated on 16 July 2002.


Established in mid-1944 as a weather reconnaissance squadron; trained under Third Air Force using B-24 Liberator aircraft. Deployed to XXI Bomber Command on Guam in April 1945. Equipped with B-29 Superfortress very long range aircraft and provided weather reconnaissance for Twentieth Air Force B-29 raids on Japan in the Western Pacific theater. Returned to the United States in 1946, where it trained and conducted weather reconnaissance. Between July and Oct 1947, when it inactivated, the squadron flew daily missions over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Reactivated as part of Strategic Air Command in 1951, assigned to McClellan AFB, California. The squadron flew weather reconnaissance missions over the northern Pacific using WB-29s. Upgraded to WB-50 Superfortresses in 1954. Tested WB-50 aircraft flying long-duration missions over 24 hours in length and trained crews for other weather squadrons.

During the 1950s, supported atomic tests by monitoring radioactive clouds and taking atmospheric samples. Provided weather reconnaissance data for northeast Pacific Ocean, parts of Arctic Ocean, and northwestern Atlantic Ocean in late 1950s. Tracked Hurricanes Dot and Donna in 1959 and 1960. Provided weather data for transoceanic fighter deployments, photographic reconnaissance for testing experimental CORONA reconnaissance satellite imagery, and surveillance for space flight recoveries. Operated detachments in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington until inactivation in 1961 due to budget reductions.

Reactivated in late 1961 and reorganized and equipped with new RB-57F Canberra aircraft modified for high altitude, long range intelligence gathering, assigned to the meteorological role. Part of their duties involved high-altitude atmospheric sampling and radiation detection work in support of nuclear test monitoring. Replaced Canberras in 1964 with WB-47 Stratojets and flew weather reconnaissance and atmospheric sampling missions over the Pacific and Arctic. Between 1965 and 1993, used WB-47s to test air for radiation from possible nuclear tests to verify treaty limitations, flying missions worldwide.

Retired RB-47s in 1969; re-equipped with WC-135 Stratolifters. In 1986, monitored atmospheric radiation in Europe after Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union. In 1988 and 1989, tested special photographic equipment for Strategic Defense Initiative research. Inactivated in 1993 with the end of the Cold War. Reactivated under Space Command in 1997; inactivated in 2002 due to budget reductions.


  • Constituted as: 655th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 11 Aug 1944
Activated on 21 Aug 1944
Redesignated: 55th Reconnaissance Squadron, Long Range, Weather, on 16 Jun 1945
Redesignated: 55th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather, on 27 Nov 1945
Inactivated on 15 Oct 1947
  • Redesignated 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather, on 22 Jan 1951
Activated on 21 Feb 1951
Redesignated 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on 15 Feb 1954
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 8 Jul 1961
  • Activated on 12 Oct 1961
Organized on 8 Jan 1962
Inactivated on 1 Oct 1993
  • Redesignated 55th Space Weather Squadron on 1 Mar 1997
Activated on 17 Mar 1997
Inactivated 16 Jul 2002


Attached to XXI Bomber Command, c. 11 Apr-c. 26 Nov 1945
Attached to U.S. Army Strategic Air Forces, 27 Nov 1945-c. 19 Mar 1946


Detachment 1, located at: Ladd AFB, Alaska, 1 Jul 1958-8 Jul 1961
Detachment 2, located at: Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 1 Jul 1958-8 Jul 1961
Detachment 3, located at: McChord AFB, Washington, 1 Jul 1958-8 Jul 1961



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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