25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

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25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
United States Air Forces in Europe.png
Alc-rb66.jpg
Active 1940–1944; 1944–1945; 1965–1966
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Reconnaissance
Part of United States Air Forces Europe
Motto(s) Guard With Power[1]
Engagements Antisubmarine Campaign[2]
European Theater of Operations
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (Detachment 1 only)
Insignia
25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing emblem (used from October 1965)[1] USAF - 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.png
25th Bombardment Group (Medium) emblem (approved 3 October 1940)[2] 25th Bombardment Group - Emblem.png
Patch with unofficial 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance emblem[note 2] 25th Bombardment Group - Reconnaissance - Emblem.png

The 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing is an inactive United States Air Force wing. It was last active in 1966 at Chambley Air Base, France as an element of United States Air Forces Europe.

The wing replaced the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group at Chambley. The group was formed in 1965 by the consolidation of the 25th Bombardment Group (Medium) and the 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance. The first 25th Bombardment Group performed anti-submarine warfare missions in the Caribbean Sea following the entry of the United States into World War II. This group had been disbanded in 1944 after the threat of German U-boats lessened. Later in 1944 the second 25th Bombardment Group was organized to perform weather and special reconnaissance missions from England during World War II for United States Strategic Air Forces over Europe and the Atlantic approaches to the British Isles. In 1985 the wing and group were consolidated, but the consolidated unit has not been active.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Media related to 25th Bombardment Group at Wikimedia Commons

Antisubmarine Warfare in the Caribbean Sea[edit]

B-18s of the 12th Bombardment Squadron flying over British Guiana

The first predecessor of the wing was the 25th Bombardment Group, which was activated at Langley Field, Virginia during the buildup of the Air Corps prior to the entry of the United States into World War II, with the 10th, 12th, and 35th Bombardment Squadrons as its original components.[2][3][4][5] Most of the cadre for the group was drawn from the 2d Bombardment Group at Langley.[6] Although initially designated as a heavy bomber unit, the group trained with Northrop A-17 light bombers and Douglas B-18 Bolo medium bombers[2] (although the 10th Squadron briefly had a few Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses on hand).[3]

In late October 1940, the 25th sailed on the USAT Hunter Liggett for Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, along with the newly-organized 13th Composite Wing.[6][7] Upon their arrival in Puerto Rico on 1 November, the group was assigned to the 13th Wing and had the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron, which had been at Borinquen since 1939, attached to it from the Puerto Rican Department.[8] In April 1941, the group provided the initial cadre for the 40th Bombardment Group, which was activated at Borinquen, losing almost half of its personnel to form the new group.[6][9]

The group participated in the defense of the Antilles, and after the commencement of hostilities, escorted convoys and conducted antisubmarine patrols.[2] Shortly before the entry of the United States into World War II, in November, the group dispersed two of its squadrons to increase its coverage, with the 12th moving to Benedict Field on St Croix and the 35th to Coolidge Field on Antigua. During its remaining time in the Caribbean, the group operated with its squadrons or detachments at various locations in the Antilles.[4][5] Partly due to the dispersal of its units, the 12th Squadron was under the operational control of the Antilles Air Task Force from November 1942 and the 10th was reassigned to VI Bomber Command in 1943.[3][4]

In May 1942, the group's designation finally matched its equipment, when it became the 25th Bombardment Group (Medium). That November the group moved to Edinburgh Field, Trinidad. The B-18 was its primary operational aircraft, although in October 1943, the 59th Bombardment Squadron, which had been attached to the group briefly earlier in the year, was assigned to the group. The 59th operated Douglas A-20 Havoc aircraft.[2][10] Between November 1942 and August 1943, the 26th Antisubmarine Wing deployed squadrons from Jacksonville and Miami Army Air Fields to Edinburgh Field, where they were attached to the 25th group for operations until returning to Florida.[11][12][13] After the group moved back to Borinquen in the fall of 1943,[2] it began a training program to convert to the North American B-25 Mitchell.[6]

In April 1944, in light of the decreasing threat in the Caribbean and the transfer of the remaining antisubmarine mission to the United States navy,[14] the group moved to Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, where it began training with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, but was disbanded in June 1944 and its personnel and equipment transferred to the 231st AAF Base Unit (Combat Crew Training Station, Bombardment, Heavy), which conducted B-17 training at Alamogordo.[2][15]

Reconnaissance in the European Theater of Operations[edit]

654th Bomb Sq Martin B-26[note 3]
de Havilland Mosquito XVI of the 654th Bomb Sq

Weather reconnaissance for Eighth Air Force was initially performed on an ad hoc basis by heavy bombers detailed to the 18th Weather Squadron for individual missions. In the spring of 1944, Eighth Air Force created provisional reconnaissance units, primarily for weather reconnaissance. On 22 March, it brought these provisional units together, along with a squadron for special reconnaissance, under the 8th Reconnaissance Group (Special) (Provisional) at RAF Cheddington, England. This unit became the 802d Reconnaissance Group (Special)(Provisional) on 30 March 1944, and moved to RAF Watton on 12 April 1944.[16] In July, Eighth received permission to organize these provisional units into a regular organization and on 9 August, it activated the 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance from the resources of the provisional 802d Group and assigned to it the 652d, 653d and 654th Bombardment Squadrons.[17][18][19][20]

The group's weather reconnaissance missions included area reconnaissance over the Atlantic Ocean, ranging as far as the Azores, to obtain information for weather forecasting for Eighth and Ninth Air Forces units operating in the British Isles. These flights were performed by B-17s and Consolidated B-24 Liberators assigned to the 652d Squadron.[17] Squadron bombers on these long range missions, code named Sharon and Allah, took periodic meteorological readings at altitudes varying from 50 to 30,000 feet.[21]

Flights over the Continent of Europe to obtain information for use in operational planning and occasional weather scouting missions over targets to provide current weather information for relay to bombers on their way to attack fell to the de Havilland Mosquitos Mk. XVI of the 653d Squadron.[17][note 4] These missions were code named Bluestocking.[21]

The 25th's 654th Squadron conducted night photographic reconnaissance missions (code named Joker)[21] to detect German operations being conducted under the cover of darkness as well as daytime and mapping missions over Occupied Europe using a variety of aircraft. Some missions were conducted to provide target imagery for H2X radars to be used on later strikes.[21] The group also performed post-strike visual reconnaissance and prestrike electronic warfare, distributing chaff ahead of attacking formations. Experiments had shown that Mosquitoes equipped with an electric dispensing system in their bomb bays provided the optimum coverage of chaff and three of the group's aircraft were specially equipped for this mission.[17][22] The squadron also had two Martin B-26 Marauders assigned for special operations with the Office of Strategic Services.[21][note 5]

By the end of the war, the group had flown 3501 sorties, each of which (with the exception of chaff missions) was flown by a single aircraft.[21][note 6] Following VE Day in July 1945, the group and the 654th Bombardment Squadron left the European Theater of Operations for the United states.[20][note 7] It was inactivated in September 1945 at Drew Field, Florida.[17]

Cold War[edit]

Media related to 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Wikimedia Commons

In 1965, United States Air Forces Europe reorganized its reconnaissance units in France, several of which which were physically separated from their headquarters, the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at RAF Alconbury, England. On 1 July 1965, the 42d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron moved from Toul-Rosieres Air Base to Chambley Air Base, France.[23] The two World War II 25th Bombardment Groups consolidated as the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and activated along with support elements at Chambley as the parent for the 42d Squadron. The group absorbed the personnel and equipment of the 7367th Combat Support Group, which was simultaneously discontinued at Chambley.[24] On 1 October, the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron joined the 42d at Chambley and the 25th Group was inactivated and replaced by the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.[1]

The 25th flew variants of the Douglas B-66 Destroyer on photographic reconnaissance and electronic warfare missions. Its 42d Squadron flew RB-66Cs with a seven-man crew for electronic reconnaissance, (commonly called Ferret) operations. The squadron's electronic countermeasures operators were known as Ravens. The 19th Squadron flew RB-66Bs with a three-man crew to perform day and night photography missions.[25] Squadron markings were a red band on the engine nacelle for the 19th and a blue band for the 42d.

Although the 19th and 42d had been flying the Destroyer before joining the 25th, major construction projects were needed to accommodate their modified bombers, since Chambley had previously hosted fighter units.[26] Larger hangers, maintenance facilities and a more capable electrical system were constructed. The base operations facility was expanded to accommodate the specialized RB-66 aircrew simulator. This simulator could be used to train pilots, navigator/camera operators and gunners, but did not provide for training the 42d Squadron's Ravens. Pilot training also posed a problem because there were no dual control B-66s for pilot checkout. Another obstacle to photographic reconnaissance training was a 1965 edict that prohibited aerial photography over France. This forced training missions to be conducted over West Germany and Great Britain. The closing of American bases in Morocco deprived the wing of suitable ranges where flash bombs could be used for night photographic reconnaissance training.[25]

In October 1965 six of the wing's RB-66Cs deployed to Thailand to establish an electronic countermeasures capability in Southeast Asia. These were organized as Detachment 1 of the wing on 10 October. The detachment was awarded an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its performance.[27] The movement of B-66s to the combat theater resulted in the inactivation of the 42d Squadron in August 1966 and the transfer of the majority of its aircraft and a large proportion of its aircrews to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, where they were assigned to the 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.[note 8] A few of the aircraft were flown to Douglas Aircraft's Tulsa, Oklahoma plant for modifications before going to Southeast Asia.[28]

The impact of the need for reconnaissance assets in Southeast Asia and limitations on training on the wing's continued existence was compounded by French President Charles De Gaulle's March 1966 announcement that France was withdrawing from NATO's integrated military structure. In connection with France's withdrawal all foreign troops stationed in France were to be withdrawn by 1 April 1967. As a result, the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron moved to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and was assigned to the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 1 September 1966. The squadron flew its RB-66Bs from Chambley to Shaw with three air-to-air refuelings over the Atlantic following a stop at Moron Air Base, Spain. Although the 19th was based in the United States and was to be available for NATO operations, It primarily trained aircrews for combat operations in Southeast Asia.[28]

Although it was no longer operational, the wing continued to wind down operations at Chambley until 15 October 1966, when it inactivated.[1] Its remaining support personnel were transferred to the 7367th Tactical Group, which managed US Air Force operations at Chambley until they terminated in April 1967.[28][29]

Consolidation[edit]

In January 1984, the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing were consolidated into a single unit.[30]

Lineage[edit]

25th Bombardment Group (Medium)

  • Established as the 25th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 22 December 1939
Activated 1 February 1940
Redesignated: 25th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 7 May 1942
Disbanded on 20 June 1944[31]
Reconstituted on 19 April 1965 and consolidated with 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance as the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group

25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group

  • Established as the 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance on 17 July 1944
Activated on 9 August 1944
Inactivated on 8 September 1945[32]
Consolidated with the 25th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 19 April 1965 as the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and activated (not organized)
Organized on 1 July 1965
Discontinued and inactivated on 1 October 1965[30]
Consolidated with the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 31 January 1984[30]

25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established as the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and activated on 24 September 1965 (not organized)[1]
Organized on 1 October 1965[1]
Inactivated on 15 October 1966[1]
Consolidated with the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Group on 31 January 1984[30]

Assignments[edit]

Operational Squadrons[edit]

  • 7th Antisubmarine Squadron, attached 20 April – 20 July 1943[11]
  • 8th Antisubmarine Squadron, attached July–August 1943[12]
  • 9th Antisubmarine Squadron, attached November 1942 – March 1943[13]
  • 10th Bombardment Squadron, 1 February 1940 – 17 December 1943 (attached to VI Bomber Command after 13 December 1943)[3]
  • 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 October 1965 – 1 September 1966
  • 12th Bombardment Squadron, 1 February 1940 – 20 June 1944 (under the operational control of the Antilles Air Task Force and VI Fighter Command November 1942 – c. 19 July 1943)[4][35]
  • 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 October 1965 – 1 September 1966
  • 27th Reconnaissance Squadron (later 417th Bombardment Squadron): attached 1 November 1940 – 25 February 1944, assigned 25 February – 20 June 1944[8][note 9]
  • 35th Bombardment Squadron, 1 February 1940 – 20 June 1944[5]
  • 42d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 July–1 October 1965, 1 October 1965 – 22 August 1966
  • 54th Reconnaissance Squadron, see 654th Bombardment Squadron
  • 59th Bombardment Squadron: attached 26 April–1 August 1943 (under operational control of the Antilles Air Task Force),[36] assigned 11 October 1943 – 20 June 1944[10]
  • 417th Bombardment Squadron, see 27th Reconnaissance Squadron.
  • 652d Bombardment Squadron, 9 August 1944 – 13 July 1945[18]
  • 653d Bombardment Squadron, 9 August 1944 – 5 September 1945 (attached to 7th Reconnaissance Group after 6 August 1945)[19]
  • 654th Bombardment Squadron (later 54th Reconnaissance Squadron), 9 August 1944 – 8 September 1945[20]

Stations[edit]

  • Langley Field, Virginia, 1 February – 26 October 1940
  • Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, 1 November 1940
  • Edinburgh Field, Trinidad, 1 November 1942
  • Fort Amsterdam, Curaçao, 1 August 1943
  • Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, 5 October 1943 – 24 March 1944
  • Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, 6 April – 20 June 1944[31]
  • RAF Watton (Station 376),[37] England, 9 August 1944 – 23 July 1945[17]
  • Drew Field, Florida, August – 8 September 1945[17]
  • Chambley Air Base, France 1 July 1965 – 1 October 1965, 1 October 1965 – 15 October 1966[1]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and campaignes[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 13 October 1965–8 June 1966 Detachment 1, 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing[27]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
American Campaign Streamer.png Antisubmarine 7 December 1941 – 1 August 1943 25th Bombardment Group (Medium)[2][note 10]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Northern France 9 August 1944 – 14 September 1944 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance[17]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance[17]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance[17]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Central Europe 22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Aircraft is Douglas RB-66B-DL Destroyer serial 54-419, later converted to EB-66E
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 77 indicates the 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance had no approved emblem.
  3. ^ Aircraft is Martin B-26G-1-MA Marauder Serial 43-34195 painted black for night reconnaissance missions.
  4. ^ The pilots for the Mosquitoes of the 653d and 654th Squadrons came from the 50th Fighter Squadron. which provided the personnel for the provisional squadrons, and which was disbanded in August 1944 with its personnel transferring to the new squadrons. Freeman, p. 240.
  5. ^ The source misidentifies these as Douglas B-26 aircraft.
  6. ^ It is not clear, but this mission total appears to include those flown by the provisional predecessor of the group between April and August 1944.
  7. ^ The other two squadrons remained in England and were reassigned to other headquarters. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 696-697.
  8. ^ The planes and personnel at Takhli were transferred to the 6460th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
  9. ^ Conway, however, dates the change from attachment to assignment as 3 March 1942 or 3 March 1943. Conway, History 25th Bombardment Group (Medium), Conaway, William, Jr. "VI Bomber Command in Defense of the Panama Canal 1941-1945: Unit Histories 417th Bombardment Squadron (Medium)". planesandpilotsofworldwarii. Retrieved April 27, 2017.  Conway cites an order dated February 1942 as authority for the change, and other reconnaissance squadrons redesignated as bombardment squadrons in the spring of 1942 changed their status simultaneously. See Maurer, Combat Squadrons, entries for the 391st-436th Bombardment Squadrons.
  10. ^ Credit for American Theater service continued until 20 June 1944, but the Navy took over Army Air Forces antisubmarine warfare responsibilities on 1 August 1943. Maurer, Combat Units, p. 480
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ravenstein, pp. 46–47
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 75-76
  3. ^ a b c d e Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 54-55
  4. ^ a b c d Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 64-65
  5. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 167
  6. ^ a b c d Conaway, William, Jr. "VI Bomber Command in Defense of the Panama Canal 1941-1945: Unit Histories 25th Bombardment Group (Medium)". planesandpilotsofworldwarii. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 382-383
  8. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 510-511
  9. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp.96-97
  10. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 232-233
  11. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 781-782
  12. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 776
  13. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 775
  14. ^ Conaway, William, Jr. "VI Bomber Command in Defense of the Panama Canal 1941-1945: Unit Histories 10th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)". planesandpilotsofworldwarii. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  15. ^ See Mueller, p. 249
  16. ^ a b Freeman, p. 240
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 76-77
  18. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 696
  19. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 696-697
  20. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 697-698
  21. ^ a b c d e f Air Force 50, p. 51
  22. ^ Freeman, p. 176
  23. ^ Robertson, Patsy (December 18, 2007). "Factsheet 42 Electronic Combat Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Abstract, History 7367 Combat Support Group Jul-Dec 1963". Air Force History Index. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  25. ^ a b McAuliffe, p. 181
  26. ^ McAuliffe, pp. 165-180
  27. ^ a b AF Pamphlet 900-3, p. 146
  28. ^ a b c McAuliffe, p. 182
  29. ^ "Abstract, Terminal History of Chambley Air Base and 7367 Tactical Group". Air Force History Index. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  30. ^ a b c d Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 539q, 31 January 1984, Subject: Consolidation of Units
  31. ^ a b 25th Bombardment Group (Medium) lineage, including stations, in Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 75-76
  32. ^ 25th Bombardment Group, Reconnaissance lineage in Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 76-77
  33. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 444
  34. ^ "Factsheet 325 Air Division, Reconnaissance". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  35. ^ Conaway, William, Jr. "VI Bomber Command in Defense of the Panama Canal 1941-1945: Unit Histories 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium)". planesandpilotsofworldwarii. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  36. ^ * Conaway, William, Jr. "VI Bomber Command in Defense of the Panama Canal 1941-1945: Unit Histories 59th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)". planesandpilotsofworldwarii. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  37. ^ Station number in Anderson.

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Further reading

External links[edit]