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HistoryVQ-2 HistoryHistory

Circa 1959

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVQ-2 History "...Atennas, Credit Don Gibbs..." WebSite: VQ-2 Batmen/Sandeman WebSite http://www.geocities.com/ vq2sandeman/ index.html [11NOV2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVQ-2 History "...JQ-7 BUNO 127729, and A3D JQ-3 BUNO 135425, Incirlik Air Base, Adana Turkey 1959, Credit Don Gibbs..." WebSite: VQ-2 Batmen/Sandeman WebSite http://www.geocities.com/ vq2sandeman/ index.html [11NOV2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVQ-2 History "...JQ-7 BUNO 127729, Incirlik Air Base, Adana Turkey 1959, Credit Don Gibbs, note Antennas..." WebSite: VQ-2 Batmen/Sandeman WebSite http://www.geocities.com/ vq2sandeman/ index.html [11NOV2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVQ-2 History "...Credit Don Gibbs..." WebSite: VQ-2 Batmen/Sandeman WebSite http://www.geocities.com/ vq2sandeman/ index.html [11NOV2008]


Circa 1957

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News December 1957 "...VQ-2 Gets New Safety Idea - Page 24 - Naval Aviation News - December 1957..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1957/dec57.pdf [11AUG2004]

VP History Thumbnail

Circa 1955 - 2002

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VQ-2 History..." WebSite: VQ-2 http://www.rota.navy.mil/vq2/ [12MAR2008]

VQ-2 was commissioned on 1 September 1955 as Electronic Countermeasures Squadron TWO (ECMRON TWO), originally home ported at the NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. In January 1960, the squadron transferred to its present homeport, NS Rota, Spain and was renamed Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (VQ-2).

Over the years the squadron has flown the P4M-1Q, the EC-121M Super Constellation, the A3D-1Q and the EA-3B Sky warrior. In July 1971 the squadron took delivery of the first P-3 Orion based EP-3E ARIES aircraft. The ARIES were upgraded to ARIES II beginning in 1991. Today VQ-2's P-3E's are Sensor System Improvement Program version 3.2.

Since establishment, VQ-2 has collected intelligence on areas and units of naval and national interest in Mediterranean, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern Theatres. VQ-2/Naval Support Group Activity plays an integral role in the War on Terrorism, combat action, crisis operations and peacetime intelligence collection.

Since 2001, VQ-2 has flown in Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Mountain Lion, Mountainpictaii1.jpg (4528 bytes) Sweep, Joint Guardian, Joint Force, Enduring Freedom and Dolphin Eagle. Most recently VQ-2 saw extensive overland combat action in Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. VQ-2 flies from operational detachments to such places as NAS Souda Bay, Crete, Greece; NSA Bahrain, Oman; Curacao, Netherlands Antilles and Incirlik, Turkey.

VQ-2 has been awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Medal, the Battle "E" for 1990, 1991, 1993-1996, 1999, 2000, and 2002, the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for 1993 and 1999, the Golden Anchor Award for 1993, 1994, 1998, and 1999, the Golden Wrench Award for 1999 and 2001, and the Association of Old Crows Award for 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, and 2001.


Circa 1955

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "VQ-2 was commissioned on 1 September 1955 to provide the United States with an improved defense posture. Designated Electronic Countermeasures Squadron TWO (ECMRON TWO) at the outset, it was homeported at the U. S. Naval Air Station, Port Lyautey, Morocco. With a complement of 24 officers and 78 enlisted personnel under the command of CDR Morris L. Kalin, VQ-2 commenced operations supporting the United States SIXTH Fleet. The squadron originally utilized the P4M-1Q Mercator and the P2V Neptune as mission aircraft. In September 1956, a new and faster carrier-capable A3D-1Q Skywarrior came into VQ-2 service. In January 1960, the squadron was transferred to its present homeport, Naval Station, Rota, Spain. In early 1960, while commanded by CDR Paul D. Halpin, the squadron's name was changed to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (VQ-2). Shortly thereafter, the P4M-1Q aircraft were replaced by the WV-2Q Super Constellations. In October 1962, the WV-2Q was redesignated the EC-121M Super Constellation. VQ-2 continued to operate and maintain EC-121M aircraft into 1974. The A3D-1Q was replaced by the A3D-2Q and was subsequently redesignated the EA-3B Skywarrior. On 31 July 1971, the squadron received its first delivery of the EP-3E ARIES aircraft. On 29 June 1991, the first EP-3E ARIES II aircraft arrived in Rota and on 20 September 1991, the squadron retired the EA-3B Skywarrior. VQ-2 currently operates four EP-3E ARIES II, and two P-3 training aircraft. Since commissioning, VQ-2 has provided reliable and timely intelligence on areas and units of naval and national interest. The squadron has participated in numerous exercises with Fleet and air units of the Mediterranean/European theater, while simultaneously conducting operations with fleet and theater commanders. The squadron's EP-3E's have been valuable assets in Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Caribbean operations. In the summer of 1990, the squadron provided electronic reconnaissance during the evacuation of 2000 non-combatant personnel from war-stricken Liberia in operation SHARP EDGE. From August 1990 to April 1991, VQ-2 provided combat reconnaissance during operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, PROVEN FORCE, and PROVIDE COMFORT. Since July 1992, VQ-2 has flown more than 11,000 hours in support of Operations DENY FLIGHT, PROVIDE PROMISE, SHARP GUARD, JOINT ENDEAVOR, DECISIVE ENDEAVOR, AND DELIBERATE GUARD providing combat reconnaissance and intelligence to NATO and United Nations forces in the Former Yugoslavia. In March 1997, VQ-2 provided electronic reconnaissance during the evacuation of non-combatant personnel from Albania following unrest from a failed pyramid savings scheme during operation SILVER WAKE. VQ-2 was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for participation in the 1982 - 1983 Beirut evacuation; operations in the vicinity of Libya, 12 -17 April 1986; and operations in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to February 1991. Four Navy Unit Commendations were awarded to VQ-2 for meritorious service during the Arab-Israeli conflict from October to November 1973, operations near Libya in March-April of 1986, meritorious service during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and meritorious service during the Balkans conflict from January 1992 to February 1994. Four Meritorious Unit Commendations have been awarded for operations conducted in October 1970 during the Jordanian Crisis, March 1979 to April 1980, June 1982 to May 1983, and from August 1983 to November 1985. The squadron also received the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for operations in the Balkans from July 1992 to March 1994. The squadron has been the recipient of COMNAVAIRLANT's Battle "E," as the most effective and operationally efficient special mission squadron for 1983, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996. VQ-2 also received the 1977 CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award, the 1988 COMFAIRMED Silver Anchor Award, the 1991 CINCUSNAVEUR Silver Anchor Award, and the 1987, 1989, 1993, and 1994 CINCUSNAVEUR Golden Anchor Award for excellence in career motivation and retention programs. The Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award was bestowed upon the squadron in 1969 and again in 1993. Finally, the squadron received the Association of Old Crows Award in 1986, 1991, and 1994 for its outstanding contributions and achievements in Electronic Warfare...." http://www.rota.navy.mil/vq2/htmldocs/main.html


Circa 1951 - 1987

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...A History of U. S. navy Fleet Air Reconnaissance - Part I and II - The Pacific and VQ-1 By Captain Don C. East, USN - (VQ-2 also included)..." WebSite: The Cold War Museum http://www.coldwar.org/ [17DEC2008]



Author's Preface

To my knowledge this is the initial attempt to produce a written history of the U.S. Navy's two Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons, VQ-1 and VQ-2. It is the story of a highly dedicated group of men and women who seem to be permanently relegated to second-class citizen status within Naval Aviation even though their product has been repeatedly praised by operational commanders as the "vital force multiplier". Yes, this is the story of the U.S. Navy's own "band of gypsies"; experts in the art of community survival and "midnight small stores", who produce a first-class product with "hand-me-down" aircraft and equipment.

The small size of the airborne electronic reconnaissance community, and the classified nature of its squadron operations, have discouraged past attempts to tell this story. Consequently, little published information could be found for this undertaking. The squadron history summaries were infrequently submitted and were of little value because the "classified mission" waiver usually resulted in a blank narrative section. Fortunately, the few narratives that were completed (now declassified), provided some crucial information. The majority of the information for this VQ-1/VQ-2 history, however, came from dusty cruise boxes and the memories of the community's "old timers". The gaps were filled in by the author's personal recollections of 30 years in the reconnaissance business and numerous weekends in the extensive Naval War College library at Newport.

The Requirement

Tactical commanders tasked with carrying out the fundamental war fighting tasks of the U.S. Navy always require the most accurate and timely information available. This information can be provided through reconnaissance of potentially hostile forces on, under or above the seas, and in related littoral land areas. Therefore, capabilities are needed to collect, process and evaluate various types of information relative to the activities and intentions of these potentially hostile forces. These capabilities must function in a manner which is sufficiently timely to satisfy the immediate needs of the tactical commanders.

Since the advent of electronics, warfare has become increasingly complex. Specifically, in the years since World. War Two, there has been a dramatic explosion of electronic technology and it shows all indications of continuing into the foreseeable future. Today it is difficult to point to any aspect of warfare, whether it be air, sea or land, that does not involve electronics in some manner. The electronics associated with sensors and weapon systems invariably involve the transmission of signals in the electromagnetic spectrum. By observing foreign military operations through the collection and analysis of these electromagnetic signals, the Navy has developed and maintained a unique and highly technical capability. Electromagnetic signals exploitation, and the associated timely reporting of this information, has proven to be operationally critical. A tactical commander must be provided with such timely information to update his understanding of who is out there, where they are, the composition of their force, the capability of the force, the intentions of the force, when they are likely to carry out these intentions and what is their state of operational readiness. An effective signal exploitation system is capable of collecting data relevant to all these questions, processing and correlating the data to assess its tactical significance and rapidly passing the synthesized product to the user.

Because of certain basic characteristics, the fixed-wing aircraft is a prime platform for the electronic reconnaissance mission. First of all, the aircraft has the mobility and speed to allow rapid movement to the area of operations. Second, the aircraft has an operating altitude which allows it to take advantage of the line-of-sight nature (radio horizon limitations) of signals above the HF portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Third, aircraft have the range and endurance to transit considerable distances and remain on station for extended periods of time. Fourth, aircraft have the payload capacity to carry considerable quantities of equipment and sizeable operating crews. With these basic qualities of a fixed-wing aircraft platform, a highly skilled and professional aircrew can effectively collect, distill, correlate, synthesize and transmit the collected intelligence required by the supported commander for timely tactical decision making.

The Beginnings

The story of the Navy's airborne electronic reconnaissance squadrons began in the great global struggle of WWII. Just as it was a war of destructive, or "hard kill" weapons, it was also an electronic or "soft kill" war. Sir Winston Churchill recognized the latter and termed it the "Wizard War".

Even before entry into the conflict, America recognized that a combination of the military, civilian industry and scientific communities was urgently needed to conduct research and development for the electronic war. The need became a reality when President Roosevelt directed the creation of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) in June 1940. In turn NDRC formed the United States Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology four months later. Since the U.S. had very little information on radar development in Japan or Germany, the radiation laboratory was tasked with development of U.S. radar, as well as countermeasures for enemy radar systems.

The Navy became directly involved in the soft kill solution only four days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, when a preliminary meeting was held to discuss formation of a U.S. organization devoted solely to the development of radio countermeasures. In short order a formal conference was held between the Navy and NDRC resulting in establishment of the Radio Research Laboratory (RRL) within the Radiation Laboratory at MIT. From these beginnings came the first intercept receiver built for airborne use, the P-540, which later evolved into the SCR-587 and finally the APR-l.

Although considerable progress had been made by the British in their "Wizard War" in Europe by early 1942, there were no serious studies of enemy radar in the Pacific. But the fortunate capture of a Japanese radar system on NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal caused great interest and effort to be expended on electronic reconnaissance in the Pacific Theater.


(Photo: The first US. Navy airborne electronic recon missions were flown from NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal in 5th Bomb Group B-17Es in late 1942. Courtesy Fred Johnson)

Meanwhile, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at Anacostia had been involved to some degree in radar and radio experiments since the 1920s. By 1942, NRL's efforts had resulted in the production of a few crude crystal-type intercept receivers suitable for airborne use. These receivers, designated XARD, had a frequency coverage of 50-1,000 MHz. In a crash program to get a Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance capability to the Pacific, six radioman petty officers were selected to attend a two-week cram course on the new XARD system in September 1942. These men had just completed the Radio Material School near Anacostia. After their training on the XARD they were formed into a detachment designated Cast Mike Project NR 1 (Cast Mike for countermeasures) and, with their new equipment, transferred to Hawaii. Two of these men, Chief Petty Officer Jack Churchill as POIC and Petty Officer Robert Russell, soon departed Hawaii for the Pacific War Zone. The Cast Mike team arrived at headquarters, Commander Air South Pacific, on NOB Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands in early October.

The mode of operation at NOB Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands for the Cast Mike team was to "hitch hike" themselves and their experimental electronic recon- naissance equipment on any aircraft large enough for the "extra bag- gage", and whose mission profile was generally compatible with that of conducting reconnaissance.

The Initial Missions

Churchill and Russell soon had their XARD Receiver installed in an Army Air Force B-17 of the 11th Bomb Group. Chief Churchill flew with the first B-17 electronic reconnaissance mission 31 October 1942 from NOB Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands to NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal, Bougainville and return. Unfortunately for such a historic occasion, no Japanese radar signals were intercepted. During the next month seven more B-17 electronic reconnaissance missions were flown to the Solomons and New Britain but still no enemy radar signals were detected. Whether this lack of signal intercept was a result of the primitive XARD equipment or a paucity of Japanese radars in the region is not clear.

In December 1942 Churchill and Russell began flying their XARD receivers on PBY-5 seaplanes of VP-72. The Navy Catalinas operating in this theater were painted black and primarily flew at night. The Cast Mike team hitchhiked missions with VP-72 from NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal and NOB Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, performing electronic recce around the Solomon Islands. Although the Cast Mike gypsies continued their airborne electronic reconnaissance missions throughout the remainder of 1942, using B-17s and PBYs, no Japanese radar signals were intercepted by their XARD receivers.

Parallel U.S. Army Air Force Operations

Meanwhile, the Army Air Force was dedicating considerably more funding and personnel to its embryonic electronic reconnaissance effort. Instead of a ragtag band of nomads who hitchhiked on aircraft belonging to other units, the AAF developed a coherent program which would soon pay dividends. While RRL was designing and fabricating the first production airborne electronic reconnaissance equipment in the fall of 1942, the Army established a four-week radio countermeasures course at the Airborne Radar School in NAS Boca Chica, Florida. Upon graduation these officers were designated Radio Observers. At this same time the AAF Chief of Staff, GEN Hap Arnold, directed the initiation of a crash program to develop a dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance capability. This project, code named Ferret, turned out to be a modified B-24D Liberator equipped with the SCR-587 receiver and a developmental version of a radar pulse analyzer. The pulse analyzer became a vital tool to assist the airborne operators in identifying the type of enemy radar being intercepted.

(Photo: Cast Mike team became a band of electronic gypsies "hitch-hiking" missions with various squadrons operating in the Solomons area. Early missions were flown with VP-72 in PBY-5 Catalinas, one of thefirst "Black Cat" squadrons which won fame for their night operations in the Pacific. PBY-5 carries underwing Yagi antennae during takeoff run in late '42. Black Cat squadrons later painted their aircraft all black for their nocturnal forays. SNTailhook yp 0178 courtesy Hal Andrews)

After its completion in February 1943, the modified B-24 Ferret, with two Boca Raton radio countermeasures course graduates on board, deployed to NAS Adak, Alaska. On 6 March the B-24 flew the first successful AAF electronic reconnaissance mission, gaining valuable data on Japanese radars installed on the Aleutian Island of Kiska. The success of this initial AAF program soon led to a second-generation platform. This time, a few B-17s were acquired and fitted with the latest equipment available from RRL efforts, including the APR-l and the newer APR-3 wide band receivers, pulse analyzers and most importantly, a direction finding (DF) capability. Although this initial airborne DF capability was crude, it allowed the aircrew to obtain several lines of bearing on the intercepted radar signal so that its location could be determined.

(Photo: By Nov 1943, Cast Mike had been expanded to include several teams in the Pacific and began operations with VP-104 PB4Y Liberators at NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal)

Meanwhile, back state side, on 24 May 1943, the Navy organized Special Project Unit Cast at NAS Squantum, Massachusetts, under a Bureau of Aeronautics directive. The unit was to provide services for flight testing the electronic equipment under development at the Radio Research Laboratory. Perhaps the Navy finally recognized the failure of the XARD in its wartime OpEval and decided to conduct realistic airborne tests on future equipment before deploying to the war zone!

Early in 1943 the Cast Mike team in the Pacific received a few ARC-1 receivers (Navy version of SCR-587); a vast improvement over the experimental XARD system. Chief Churchill and PO Russell had continued their missions with the Catalina squadrons in the South Pacific. On the night of 18 June, while flying with a VP-54 crew, they acquired their first intercept of a Japanese radar. The enemy signal was intercepted while flying near the Shortland Islands, just south of Bougainville. Unfortunately, the Navy had not provided the Cast Mike team with an airborne DF capability like that of the AAF; therefore it was impossible for Churchill to pinpoint the location of his all-important initial radar intercept.

With no prospect of acquiring airborne DF equipment in the near future, Churchill and his team did what VQ squadrons continue to do even today in their "special projects" or "bicycle shops"- improvise their own capability. Assisted by VP-54 metal smiths, they constructed a pair of yagi-type directional antennas which they installed on either side of the Catalina's nose, pointing forward. The "Rube Goldberg" antennas were then connected through a receiver switching assembly to a cathode ray tube (CRT) display unit where the signal strength could be interpreted by the operator as being to the left or right of the aircraft. Through coordination between the PBY pilot and the Cast Mike operator, the aircraft could be steered until it was pointing directly toward the intercepted radar site. At this point, a line of bearing would be logged. After repeating this procedure at several geographically separated points, a reasonable fix of the radar site could be calculated.

On the night of 8 September 1943, the Cast Mike and VP-54 team obtained three good lines of bearing on the Japanese radar signal and established its position on Poporang Island south of Bougainville. Following this initial successful mission, a photographic recon- naissance aircraft obtained photographs of the enemy radar site, which was then attacked by fighter-bombers.  After their long and arduous struggle to prove the concept of USN airborne electronic reconnaissance, Chief Churchill and his Cast Mike Project NR 1 team were disbanded in the fall of 1943. However this unique band of gypsies, operating with begged, borrowed, stolen and improvised equipment, while flying on "other folks" aircraft, had nevertheless performed a major service to their country and to the future of U.S. Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance. Many years later, in recounting his experience as an airborne electronic reconnaissance operator, CDR Jack Churchill commented that he had "started my Navy career in electronic intelligence and when I retired I was still in electronic intelligence."

In the place of the Cast Mike team, the Navy slightly upped the ante in airborne electronic reconnaissance by organizing several teams of aircrew officers to carry out much the same program accomplished by Churchill and his men. These officer teams continued the marginally-satisfactory procedure of temporarily installing and operating radar intercept equipment in resident Navy patrol (VP) or patrol bomber (VPB) aircraft.

One of those team members was LT Lawrence Heron who, with another officer, reported to NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal in November 1943. There they joined VPB-104, flying PBY-l Liberators. Circumstances were not much different for LT Heron than they had been for Churchill. Heron still had to fabricate his own installation rigs to enable the APR-l receivers and other equipment to be transferred from one aircraft to another. As unbelievable as it may seem, there was still insufficient support within the Navy for the electronic reconnaissance mission to acquire even a few dedicated aircraft solely for the task.

Late in 1943 a major event occurred when a new headquarters unit was formed in the Southwest Pacific Theater for coordination of Allied electronic reconnaissance. The new unit, designated Section 22 of General Headquarters, included personnel of all U.S. military services along with British, Australian, New Zealand and Dutch allies. Section 22 was responsible for collecting information on enemy radar and radio systems, analysis, dissemination of the resulting intelligence and requisitioning and assigning electronic countermeasures/reconnaissance personnel and equipment. The need for such an organization in the theater had been evident for some time. By mid-1943 USAAF B-24 Ferret aircraft had been assigned to the Southwest Pacific Theater, and shortly thereafter Section 22 was beginning to assemble a detailed picture of the Japanese radar network in the area. Section 22 would quickly note the more effective operations of the "dedicated" AAF Ferrets and soon force the Navy into a similar mode of operation.

Meanwhile, as the momentum of the war in the Pacific swung to the Allies and our ground forces began the island-hopping advance toward Japan in early 1944, airborne electronic reconnaissance joined the northward migration. In March 1944 VPB-116, based on recently- captured Eniwetok Atoll, began flying electronic reconnaissance missions around the strategic Japanese naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. The VPB-116 PBY-ls, with their electronic reconnaissance "hitchhikers", were tasked to locate and collect information on Truk's radar installations. This data proved extremely valuable during the following carrier air strikes on the atoll.

The Navy is Dragged into the Future

By spring of 1944 it became painfully clear that the AAF's permanently modified Ferret aircraft, entirely dedicated to the mission of electronic reconnaissance, were markedly more effective than the Navy's makeshift installations operated by the "gypsy" air crewmen. In recognition of this glaring fact Section 22 directed the formation of a dedicated Navy unit, where all its personnel, equipment and aircraft would be responsible solely for the electronic recce role.

The Navy selected an old hand to form and lead this new dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance unit, LT Lawrence Heron. The new unit was temporarily based at the Palm Island seaplane base near Townsville, Australia, and equipped with two PBY-5A Black Cats to be modified for electronic reconnaissance.

The Consolidated PBY seaplane entered service in 1936 and became the Navy's principal patrol bomber. The amphibious PBY-5A was the model primarily employed for electronic, reconnaissance. It was powered by two 1,200-hp engines, cruising at 95 kts with a service ceiling of 13,000 ft and had a crew of 7 to 9.

The installation of the ARC-l receivers in the Catalina was simple enough, but again, the direction-finding antenna system had to be locally manufactured. Because of the location of the new DF antenna, pointing downward from the rear fuselage gun hatch, the PBY could not take off with the system in place. Instead, it had to be manually attached after takeoff, which created some interesting and exciting situations for LT Heron's crews.
>(Photo: Continuing their association with the patrol squadrons throughout the war; the teams increased their capabilities with the PBY-2 Privateer flying first with VPB-116 in the spring of 1945. The Privateer became the mainstay of the Navy's dedicated AER missions until relieved in the early '50s by the P4M-IQ.)

After the Navy had been more or less forced to dedicate a few aircraft and men to the function of electronic reconnaissance, on 13 May 1944, CNO directed the Chief of Naval Air Technical Training to establish a training pipeline for the new mission. The facility was to be called the Special Projects School for Air and was assigned to NAAS San Clemente Island, off San Diego, Calif., with training to commence 1 June 1944.

Meanwhile, back in the Pacific, Heron completed the modifications and moved his Black Cats to NAF Biak Atoll, Schouten Islands, Dutch New Guinea to begin flying electronic reconnaissance missions from the seaplane bases at Port Moresby and Samari Islands. By late 1944 as operations expanded in the Pacific, Heron's Black Cats were flying electronic missions out of the Philippines. He and his small group performed with the utmost distinction and courage throughout the remainder of the war in the Pacific, participating in most of the major battles and campaigns.

By autumn of 1944 the navy had been convinced of the merits of electronic warfare in general, and specifically of electronic reconnaissance. Consequently it was ready to begin, employing these air- borne capabilities on a much larger scale. Thirteen of the eighteen land-based VPB squadrons in the Pacific already had some of their aircraft modified to carry the APR-1 radar receiver and the APT-l, APT-5 or APQ-2 radar jamming equipment. In addition, a few Navy Liberators were equipped with the newer APR-5 receiver to search for Japanese radars in the higher frequency spectrum (microwave). Carrier-based aircraft, such as the TBF/TBM Avenger, also received an allocation of the new electronic warfare equipment.

An important addition to the Navy electronic warfare effort was made in the spring of 1945 with arrival in the Pacific of the new PBY.2 Privateer in VPB-106. The Privateer was derived from the PBY-1 Liberator and was specifically modified for Navy long-range maritime patrol operations with a crew of up to 16. In its conversion from the AAF B-24, the twin tail was changed to a single tail and a seven-foot extension was added to the fuselage for the countermeasures compartment. A large number of radomes were also added to cover the countermeasures antennas. Because of these radomes protruding from its skin the Privateer received the nickname "Wart Hog".

The countermeasures compartment included the following: for electronic reconnaissance there were APR-l, APR-2 and APR-5 radar intercept receivers with associated pulse analyzers and DF equipment. Additionally, APR-5 and APR-7 communications intercept equipment was available. If electronic countermeasures operations were required the PBY-2 included the APT-l, APQ-2 and APT-5 jammers. Furthermore, the Privateer's standardized equipment mounting racks allowed the electronic warfare suite the flexibility to be quickly tailored for each mission. With this new capability, VPB-106 immediately began flying barrier patrols in support of naval forces preparing for the assault on Iwo Jima. Operations continued throughout the closing months of WWII.



(Photos: One of The earliest carrier-based electronic reconnaissance missions was flown 16 Feb 1945 by a TBM-3D of VT(N)-90 from Enterprise (CV-6j. LCDR Charlie Henderson, pilot, with LCDR Henry Loomis and LTJG Ted Halbach operating specially-installed gear, reconnoitered Japanese radar characteristics and positions in support of the first carrier raids on Tokyo 16-17 Feb.)

The Rush to Demobilize

In the post-war era of rapid demobilization, the Navy's fledgling airborne electronic reconnaissance capability suffered accordingly. By the end of 1945, RRL's manpower had decreased dramatically and the Navy pushed hard to complete development of the new APR-9 radar receiver set before the shop doors closed. The APR-9 was in fact completed, later manufactured in large numbers and would be at the heart of the Navy's airborne electronic reconnaissance for many years to follow.

On 31 December 1946 Special Projects Unit Cast was disestablished at NAS Squantum, Massachusetts. The unit's personnel, materials and functions were transferred to the Air Support Division of NRL. Even so, the capability would survive. Like most other fields of military endeavor during the post-war period, Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance undoubtedly survived mainly through the dedication of a few "true believers".

It appeared the small group of airborne electronic reconnaissance proponents had finally won an influential following. They now felt secure that the United States would never again be found without the technical skills and equipment necessary to fulfill the airborne electronic reconnaissance mission, unfortunately such was not the case. The severe economy programs between the end of WWII and the Korean War took their toll of the established airborne electronic reconnaissance programs, severely inhibiting the research and development required if the systems, technicians and aircraft were to keep pace with jet-age technology.

Only one year after V-J Day, the massive military demobilization had taken such a toll of technicians and spare parts that a large percentage of all U.S. Navy electronic equipment was inoperative. Since too few technicians remained in the service for electronics repair, and since the radio and radar equipment was fundamentally required for the mission of the aircraft, the second-priority electronic reconnaissance equipment fell into a general stage of disrepair.

The New Threat Arises

By 1949 U.S. military planners fully realized they had insufficient   information about the location, capabilities and overall technical characteristics of Sino-Soviet Bloc radar systems. Also, the Soviet Union was now involved in the development and testing of high technology weapons such as surface-to-air missiles. Therefore, by the beginning of 1950 the collection of electronic intelligence on these systems became a high priority. Such an ambitious collection program, however, required reasonably sophisticated electronic equipment. Unfortunately for the United States most of the equipment built to conduct electronic reconnaissance during WWII had since been sold to junk and surplus dealers.

When it was decided to equip two patrol squadrons to conduct the electronic reconnaissance mission, the Navy found it had insufficient equipment on hand. The Navy sent two chief electronic technicians to locate and buy back some of the equipment which previously had been sold as surplus. Wearing civilian clothes and carrying large quantities of cash, the two chiefs rooted through war surplus stores in New York City. They purchased all the intercept receivers, direction finders, pulse analyzers and other electronic reconnaissance equipment they could locate. This equipment was then repaired by Navy technicians and installed in Privateers and P2V Neptunes for the high-priority electronic reconnaissance or Ferret (the Air Force term used unofficially by Navy crews) missions around the periphery of the communist nations, particularly Russia.

In order to accomplish the significant airborne electronic reconnaissance requirements of the late 1940s and early 1950s, it appears he U.S. Navy took two separate but coordinated directions.

One direction was oriented toward "mission support" of the aircraft in which the electronic reconnaissance equipment was installed. This evolution was primarily reflected in the VP squadrons where the equipment was usually operated by normal squadron personnel as "just another sensor" to assist the conduct of the squadron's missions of anti-submarine patrol, surface surveillance, bombing, mining and general area surveillance. This mission support airborne electronic recce effort was fairly significant considering the proliferation of the Privateer (redesignated P4Y in 1951) to patrol squadrons worldwide soon after WWII.

The P4Y-2 was followed shortly by introduction of the P2V series to patrol squadrons. The Lockheed Neptune entered operational service in 1947 and remained the mainstay of U.S. Navy land-based patrol aviation for nearly 20 years. The P2V-l of the late 1940s evolved into he P2V-7 final production model of 1954. Major design changes were introduced in the P2V-5 which first flew in 1950. A pair of Westinghouse J34 turbojets were added to -5s to boost the takeoff and speed-over-target capabilities of the standard 3,500 hp reciprocating engines. This model, with a ten-man crew, was designated the P2V-5F and was frequently employed in electronic reconnaissance.

Both Privateer and Neptune aircrews performed routine electronic -reconnaissance in support of their anti-submarine and surface surveillance missions worldwide. Additionally, their electronic recce operations often paid high dividends in the intercept of information which was of Navy and national interest, well beyond the mission sup- port function. Perhaps it was the Communists' appreciation of this fact that accounted for several of their attacks on "normal" VP aircraft during the 1950s.

The second direction taken by the Navy was oriented toward dedicated electronic reconnaissance, performed by highly specialized and trained personnel who conducted their missions in a few specially-configured aircraft. These special aircraft operated within normal Navy patrol or airborne early warning (VW) squadrons. This "branch" of U.S. Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance operations subsequently gave birth to VQ-1 and VQ-2. From the end of WWII until the early 1950s these "dedicated" electronic reconnaissance assets remained as a part, or detachments, of otherwise normal Navy squadrons. These squadrons, including the electronic reconnaissance detachments, primarily flew the P4Y-1, P4Y-2 or the newer P2V series. The Navy's dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance units, after getting their rough-hewn start in 1944 with LT Heron's two PBY-5A Black Cats, struggled along in typical "orphan" style.

Although information on these small dedicated units is incomplete, it appears that one each was set up in the Pacific and Europe. By the late 1940s-early 1950s, the European and Pacific airborne electronic reconnaissance detachments had settled in at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco and NS Sangley Point, Philippines, respectively. From the limited evidence available, it appears that while the detachments remained in place, the parent squadrons would rotate through the two sites on normal operational deployments. For example, VP-73, VP-63 and VP-26 operated at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco during this post-war period. Similarly, several VP squadrons rotated through the Philippines during this same time. Thus the Navy's dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance capability, although still an orphan, hitchhiking on other folk's aircraft with hand-me-down equipment, was at least beginning to take root at fixed sites in the two major theaters of operations.

(Photo: Neptunes such as this P2-V5F of VP-22 flew special AER missions during the '50s and were favorite targets for ChiCom gunners and MiG pilots. From 1950 until 1969, the Navy lost 79 lives to Communist fire during attacks on its aircraft. The first loss was over the Baltic in Apr 1950. In the Pacific, VP-6 lost a P2V-3W to Soviet MiGs 6 Jun 1951 and VP-22 followed next, losing a P2 V-5 in the Formosa Strait to ChiCom AA.)

A Dangerous Occupation

Both the Navy's dedicated and mission support electronic recce air- craft soon became involved in surveillance missions of the Communist periphery and just as quickly found this to be a dangerous undertaking. In fact, to crewmembers of the Navy's Ferret aircraft, the "cold war" appeared to be a serious misnomer! During this era U.S. airborne electronic reconnaissance missions became involved .in a bloody series of clashes in which they were victims of Soviet, North Korean and Communist Chinese aggression while in international airspace.

This series of incidents lasted from 1950 unti11969, costing the Navy approximately a dozen electronic reconnaissance aircraft and the loss of at least 79 lives. But the Navy was not the only victim of Communist airborne aggression during the post-war period; the U.S. Air Force also was involved in more than a dozen incidents, wherein at least 46 of its airmen were killed between 1949 and 1964. This sequence of deadly incidents clearly indicates the dangers faced by Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance crews on their daily missions, while emphasizing the importance the Communists place on thwarting enemy aerial reconnaissance in any way possible.

During this tense and turbulent inter-war period of increased Communist military preparedness and attempted forceful territorial expansion, it was imperative to maintain U.S. reconnaissance coverage. Electronic reconnaissance was one of the most effective methods of maintaining coverage and most of the operations were done by fixed- wing aircraft of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. These Ferrets operated around the periphery of the Communist states while intercepting, analyzing and recording electromagnetic signals of interest. Such peripheral airborne reconnaissance missions were entirely legal as long as they remained over international waters. At the same time, they were always exceedingly dangerous because the record has shown that Communists do not always observe international law.

In this regard it has been suggested by some that there may have been a trend in international law toward the emergence of a right, especially of Communist states, to proclaim and enforce a contiguous zone for the prevention of "passive" electronic reconnaissance by foreign ships or aircraft during peacetime. An examination of the evidence, however, does not support such a theory. Instead, the seizure or destruction of foreign electronic reconnaissance ships or aircraft by Communist nations has consistently been justified as "legal" by the assertion that such units had penetrated their territorial seas or national airspace. The evidence further indicates that Communist governments do not appear to have ever officially asserted that electronic reconnaissance from international waters is a violation of international law. In summary of this point, international law does not forbid passive electronic reconnaissance from the high seas during peacetime and does not empower the coastal state to interfere. Such reconnaissance is nevertheless likely to be resented and resisted by the coastal state.

Although the Communist states exacted a toll of U.S. electronic reconnaissance flights during this turbulent period, the U.S. has never responded in kind. Despite the fact that Communist electronic reconnaissance aircraft have made hundreds of flights along the borders of Canada, Alaska and the Continental U.S., and have occasionally strayed from international areas, the U.S. has never attempted to shoot one down.

Korea, A New Need for Electronic Reconnaissance

The five short years of peace following WWII were characterized by an unsteady era usually termed the "cold war". During this period tensions between the United States and the Sino-Soviet Bloc increased steadily until June 1950 and the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. Shortly after U.S. forces entered that conflict it became readily apparent their need for airborne electronic reconnaissance would be even greater than during WWII.

Korea was the first in a series of new conflicts called "limited wars", wherein political and military considerations were equally important. In this new limited war each decision was evaluated in terms of diplomatic consequences and such considerations drove the need for intelligence to new highs. With the dramatic rise in electronics and particularly in communications, sensor and navigations systems, the requirements for military electronic reconnaissance rose correspondingly. The Navy satisfied its airborne electronic reconnaissance requirements in the same pattern developed during the closing months of WWII with both mission support and dedicated approaches.

The mission support assets remained primarily in the patrol community. In addition to the routine anti-submarine patrols, weather reconnaissance, coastal and open-ocean surveillance missions, Pacific VP squadrons during the Korean War conducted other "special functions", which apparently included electronic reconnaissance.

Probably while involved in one of these special missions on 6 November 1951 a VP-6 P2V Neptune was lost to hostile fire. The Neptune was operating in international waters in the Sea of Japan off Russia's eastern coast when it reported that it was being fired on by Soviet aircraft. The Neptune and its ten-man crew then disappeared off Vladivostok, 32 miles outside soviet claimed waters.

(Photo: 1951 brought the Navy increased capabilities in the airborne aerial reconnaissance field with the establishment of The Special Projects Division of NS Sangley Point, P.I.'s, Air Operations Department. The unit had four P4M-1Q Mercators assigned. This unit became VW-1 Del Able 13 May 1953, which, in turn, became VQ-1 on I Jun 1955, the Navy's first dedicated AER squadron. The P4M-1Q was modified from the basic Mercator patrol plane airframe. They would serve VQ-1 until 23 Jul 1960, when the last one was retired.)

The Development of a Dedicated Pacific Unit

The XP4M-l Mercator was designed In 1944 and delivered to VP-21 in 1950 as the P4M-l by the Martin Company, Modified as the P4M-IQ (Q for countermeasure). it could carry a heavy payload of electronic reconnaissance equipment and a large crew of intercept operators over extremely long distances. The P4M-1Q had an operating range of 2,000 miles and a ceiling of over 17,000 feet.

About a year later, in June 1954, VW-1 returned to NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii while the electronic recce assets remained as Detachment Able and were reassigned to VW-3. At this time the det had a complement of 22 officers and 110 enlisted men.

The mission support half of the Navy airborne electronic recon- naissance team also continued to collect intelligence to supplement the four Det Able Mercators. On 4 September 1954 a VP-19 P2V-5 flying from NAS Atsugi, Japan flew a routine mission in the Sea of Japan. The mission was flown over international waters off the Russian coast.

There were two engines in each of its twin nacelles; a reciprocating engine in front and a turbojet to the rear and underneath. With this arrangement the Mercator could cruise at 150 kts to monitor target electronic signals but could bring the two jet engines on line if attacked by enemy aircraft, and accelerate up to 340 kts.

In October 1951 a dedicated Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance capability came into focus again for the Pacific Theater. The Special Products Division of the Air Operations Department was established at NS Sangley Point, Philippines. The division, under OinC LCDR J.T. Douglas, employed four of the latest P4M-1Qs and was assigned the primary mission of airborne electronic countermeasures for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The in flight operators assigned to accomplish the "back end" of the aircraft functions were members of Naval Communications Unit 38C, who reported TAD to the Special Projects Division for flight operations. The Special Projects Division continued airborne electronic recce operations throughout 1952, with LCDR A.W. Sweeten assuming OinC duties in December. Some sources refer to this unit as the .'Special Electronic Search Project".

During the Korean War one of the primary Seventh Fleet tasks was to protect Formosa from attack by the Communist Chinese. At the same time the presence of Seventh Fleet was required hundreds of miles to the north in Korean waters to conduct missions in support of the United Nations forces engaged there. Thus, employment of dedicated and mission support electronic reconnaissance to keep watch over Fomosa, freed Seventh Fleet units to conduct the more pressing combat operations in Korean waters. These reconnaissance operations made it impossible for the Chinese Communists to mount a surprise attack on Formosa without a timely recall of the Seventh Fleet.

During such operations on 18 January 1953 a VP-22 P2V-5 was shot down by Red Chinese anti-aircraft fire off Swatow in the Formosa Strait. Rescue operations were hampered by fire from Communist shore batteries and high seas. A U.S. Coast Guard rescue PBM-5 crashed on takeoff in the rough seas after conducting rescue operations for the survivors. Total losses in this incident were eleven; seven from the P2V crew and four from the Coast Guard rescue aircraft.

The Neptune departed its base shortly before 1400 local time, con- ducting a normal mission until shortly after 1812. At that time the aircraft was at 8,000 ft, speed 180 kts, on a heading of 067. The aircraft was over international waters southeast of Cape Ostrovnoi, 33 nautical miles from Soviet territory. Suddenly and without warning two Soviet MiG-15 jet aircraft approached the lumbering Neptune from the rear and opened cannon fire. The P2V pilot immediately went into a sharp right turn away from the Soviet landmass and entered a steep dive of 2,000-3,000 feet per minute in an attempt to evade the attackers. The skilled Navy pilot finally reached a protective cloud bank after suffering at least three more firing passes from the Soviets. After the attacking jets turned back toward land the Neptune, with its port wing burning, was ditched into the sea.

(Photo: Below - In another of the long string of dangerous incidents involving US. Navy/Sino-Soviet aircraft, a VP-19 P2V-5 was attacked 4 Sep 1954 while patrolling over the Sea of Japan. The aircraft was successfully ditched with the loss of one crewmember)


(Photo: Below -P4M-1Q PR 9 collapsed a nose gear at NAS Atsugi, Japan in Jan 1958. This aircraft was attacked 16 Jun 1959 by North Korean MiGs off Wonsan. LCDR Don Mayer managed to bring the aircraft safely to Miho Air Base, Japan, with his wounded tail gunner.



(Photo: Below: a VQ-1 spook at Shemya, Alaska, in VP-9 markings in an attempt to hide among VP-9's deployed P2 Vs)

 


Nine of the ten crewmembers made their way from the doomed aircraft and into a survival raft. Tragically, ENS Roger H. Reid was trapped in the sinking P2V while attempting to put out an additional raft. The nine survivors remained afloat in the area where they had been shot down, while the government of the USSR made no attempt whatsoever to rescue them. As a result of an emergency radio message sent from the Neptune during the attack, U.S. rescue aircraft located the survivors shortly before dawn 5 September. They were immediately rescued and returned to Japan but the body of ENS Reid was never found.

The United States submitted the case, along with a damage claim of $1,355,650.52 against the Soviet government, to the International Court of Justice. The Soviet Union refused to submit the dispute to the court, thus closing out the case.

Another attack on a U.S. Navy electronic reconnaissance mission occurred 22 June 1955. A VP-9 P2V-5 was fired on by two Soviet MiG-15s while operating in the Bering Sea. The MiG cannon attacks set fire to the Neptune's starboard engine and forced it to crash-land on St. Lawrence Island. Seven of the ten crewmen were wounded.

A New Navy Squadron

Three weeks earlier, on 1 June, the Pacific's dedicated airborne electronic reconnaissance capability in VW-1 Detachment Able was reorganized into an independent command. The unit was redesignated Electronic Countermeasures Squadron One, with the alphanumeric designator VQ-1. This marked the first Navy squadron to bear the "overt" electronic countermeasures designation, and the electronic reconnaissance function was now out of the closet. LCDR E.R. Hall, who had been OinC of the detachment, then assumed command as the first commanding officer of VQ-1. At about this same time VQ-1 took receipt of two additional P4M-1Qs, bringing the total complement to six.

In September VQ-1 was directed to relocate to NAS Iwakuni, on the southern end of the Japanese island of Honshu. The move was completed by October and the squadron was soon back to business as usual.

In June 1956 CDR William H. Huff relieved Hall as VQ-1's CO. By that time the complement had grown to 28 officers and 220 enlisted men. Some early milestones set in 1956 were: 289 flight hours for the month of June, and the 1,000th P4M-1Q landing since the squadron's commissioning, flown 20 July by LCDR F.E. Struthers.

Also in July a catastrophic P4M-1Q accident was prevented by the flying skills of LT J. Edixion. While in flight one of the Mercator's reciprocating engines fell completely from the aircraft, sending the plane into a flat spin. Through a display of aeronautical skill and determination Edixion was able to recover from the spin at 3,000 ft with the aid of the auxiliary jet engines. He then limped the crippled P4M for 100 miles into Naha AFB at Okinawa. The only crewman injured during the freak incident was LT Edixion-who sprained his ankle as he stepped from the aircraft after making the successful landing.

On the darker side, the squadron suffered its first loss from hostile fire in the Taiwan Strait 22 August 1956. A P4M-1Q on a night mission and its entire crew of 16 men were lost 32 miles off the China coast after reporting an attack by hostile aircraft. Carrier and land based air, along with surface ships, subsequently conducted a search. They found aircraft wreckage, empty life rafts and the bodies of two crewmen. Those losing their lives in this shoot down were: LCDRs Milton Hutchinson and J.W. Ponsford; LTJGs F.A.

Flood and J.B. Dean; PO1/c W. Haskins, H. Lonnsbury and A. Mattin; PO2/c C.E. Messinger, D. Barber, W. Caron and W. Powell; PO3/c J. Curtis, w. Humbert, D. Sprinkle, L. Strykowski and L. Young.

A New Capability Arrives

CDR Harvey Larson assumed command of VQ-1 late in August and shortly afterwards, on 7 November, two Douglas A3D-1Qs were added to the squadron inventory. A Navy news release of 8 November set the tone for the arrival of the all-jet Skywarriors at Iwakuni. The report stated these A3D-1Qs were the first of their type in the Far East and their arrival marked the first time a deceleration chute had been used on the Iwakuni airstrip.

The new aircraft were flown in by LCDRs John H. McIlmoil and Lee T. McHugh; navigators were LTJGs Gary W. Grau and Karle F. Naggs; crew chiefs were ADC Robert J. Tallen and ADl Morris B. Nelson, and the radio-electronics were handled by ATl James G. Luse and AT2 Young W. Rown. The news release described a crowd of 500 station personnel cheering the arrival of the new aircraft and provided excerpts from addresses by the VQ-1 CO and NAS Iwakuni XO CDR C.B. Starkes. CDR Larson noted that he was mighty proud of our new addition and I might add that we are still very proud of our old P4Ms, they have been a reliable and faithful old gal." Since their delivery to the their delivery to the Navy the P4Ms had in fact performed faithfully and many of the pilots had a sentimental feeling toward the Mercator even though it would now be in the fast company of the sleek, modern Skywarrior:

Photo: Carrier capability came to VQ-1 7 Nov 1956 with the delivery on the first Douglas A3D-1Q Skywarrior to the squadron at NAS Iwakuni, Japan)
(Photo: VQ-1 CO CDR R.C. James landed A3D-1Q BuNo 30363 on port main and nose mounts with minimum damage after right main mount failure at Wakuni in January 1959. Electronic Whales" were also modified from basic Skywarrior airframes)

On 27 November 1957 CDR N.P. Byrd Jr. relieved Larson as commanding officer. The VQ-1 aircraft complement at this time was two A3D-1Qs and five P4M-1Qs. In May 1958 a Lockheed TV-2 Shooting Star was acquired as a two-place instrument trainer. During CDR Byrd's tenure as CO, other than the general heating up of the China-Taiwan conflict, the majority of squadron flight operations were logged as routine electronic reconnaissance missions, along with the usual intensive crew training evolutions.

The Year of Bad Luck

CDR R.C. James assumed command of VQ-1 30 November 1958, as the squadron entered a year-long period of misfortune. The series of tragedies began with the crash of an A3D-1Q (BuNo 130352) in the inland sea near Iwakuni 28 May 1959. The Skywarrior was piloted by LCDR Decker, with aircraft commander LTJG Al Dewitt in the right seat. The big jet was on a nighttime practice Tacan approach to Iwakuni when it apparently stalled at about 5,000 ft during the inbound turn. All three aircrew were killed.

Next, on 16 June, a VQ-1 P4M-1Q was on a routine recce mission over the Sea of Japan off the North Korean coast. While the Mercator was at 7,000 ft off Wonsan, North Korea, two MiGs attacked with cannon fire. A few moments later, the tail gunner, 20-year-old PO2/c Eugene Corder, collapsed with more than 40 shrapnel wounds. Now totally unarmed, the Merctlor continued to be attacked by the MiGs as LCDR Donald Mayer dove for the deck in an attempt to escape. By the time Mayer reached 50 ft altitude above the Sea of Japan, the P4M's two starboard engines and rudder had been shot away. On the way down the copilot, LCDR Vince Anania, could see the red stars painted on the fuselages of the North Korean fighters as they made six more passes at the crippled P4M.

The Mercator was barely able to limp back to Japan and make an emergency landing at Miho Air Base. LCDR Anania was a former All-American football player at the Naval Academy and his extraordinary strength was a significant factor in keeping the crippled plane airborne. Petty Officer Corder recovered from his wounds, receiving a Purple Heart. VQ-1 records show DFCs were presented to the pilot and copilot, while Air Medals went to the remainder of the crew.

The 16 June 1959 North Korean attack on the VQ-1 Mercator was the 33rd incident involving United States and Communist aircraft since the early 1950s. This bloody, one-sided air war would continue through the 1960s.

By late summer of 1959 VQ-1 had acquired a P2V-5F and a second TV-2. Then more bad luck plagued the squadron when in November the unit's first A3D-2Q was lost at sea near Wake Island during the trans-Pacific delivery. The pilot of the lost Skywarrior was CDR F.J. .'Frenchy" Surre, who had just reported aboard as operations officer. No trace was ever found of the four crewmen.

CDR W.R. Knopke assumed command of the squadron 20 October 1959 and shortly afterwards Lady Luck again frowned on VQ-1. This time, in December, a severe windstorm struck the squadron detachment at Shemya, Alaska. Heavy damage was caused to the VQ-1 hangar and strike damage was incurred by a P2V-5F. The squadron (lower right) had received two P2V-5Fs in August and September and later acquired a third in January 1960. The pilots of these aircraft were attached to VP-22 and the remainder of the crew were VQ-1 personnel. The P2V-5Fs were transferred from VQ-1 in March 1960.

A New Name and New Aircraft

The new year was begun on a brighter note in 1960 when the official name of the squadron was changed from Electronic Countermeasures Squadron One to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One. The Q designation remained unchanged. As new personnel began reporting aboard to man and maintain the new aircraft that were soon to arrive, they attended schools to obtain the skills that would soon be needed in upgrading the squadron. The squadron's first two A3D-2Qs delivered (BuNos 144855 and 146450) were flown to Iwakuni 22 January 1960, piloted by LT Jack Taylor, a future two-term CO of VQ-2 and LT Chuck Weitrich. The first Grumman F9F-8T Cougar   arrived 12 February, and the first WV-2Q Super Constellation 21 February.

The two-place F9F-8T Cougar was used by VQ-1 only as a trainer, since it had no electronic reconnaissance capabilities. The squadron acquired a second of the swept-wing Grummans before the Cougars were transferred in 1962.

The original design of the Constellation was begun in 1939 to meet the requirements of Trans World Airlines. Modifications for the Navy's WV-2 version were begun in 1949, originally intended as a high-altitude radar early warning aircraft. In the late 1950s eight of these old WV-2s were pulled out of retirement from NAF Litchfield Park, Arizona and modified extensively by the Martin Company of Baltimore to perform the electronic reconnaissance mission. These eight aircraft were designated WV-2Q and fondly known as "Willie Victors" or simply "Willies". Four each of these, redesignated EC-121M in 1962, were assigned to VQ-1 and VQ-2 and remained electronic reconnaissance work-horses for many years.

The progenitor of the A3D-2Q had begun life in the post-WWIl era when naval strategists began to think in terms of carrier-based heavy attack bombers. By 1947 the basic specifications were set forth for the XA3D-l, which first flew in October 1952. After some modifications this new aircraft entered naval service in March 1956 with a nuclear strike capability. In September some of the Skywarrior prototype aircraft were modified to the A3D-1Q for electronic reconnaissance. These were as close to "new aircraft" as the VQ-1/2 community would ever receive. The fourplace1Qs served from 1956 until the arrival of the A3D-2Q in 1960. However, the A3D-1Q was never flown from aircraft carriers by the VQ squadrons.

The A3D-2Q provided a substantial boost in capability with an increase in crew size from four to seven and a corresponding increase in electronic equipment. This added capability was accomplished by sealing off and pressurizing the large bomb bay and converting it into space for four sensor operators. A total of 24 of these aircraft were modified for the two VQ squadrons. The A3D-2Q was redesignated EA-3B in October 1962. The .'Electric Whale", powered by two Pratt and Whitney J57 engines, has a maximum speed of 520 kts at 30,000 ft, a maximum altitude of 43,000 ft and maximum endurance of 5 hours 30 minutes. The normal takeoff weights are 78,000 Ibs ashore and 73,000 Ibs for carrier operations.

(Photos: Spook birds get all kinds of warts and bumps during their careers. LTJG Jack Taylor launches with LT Blackstock, LTJG Kirkpatrick and plane captain PO R.C Taylor from Shemya in A3D-1Q with "barber pole" antenna replacing tailguns. Lower left- WV-2Q "Willie Victors" or "Super Connies" came to VQ-1 in 1960. PR 22 was flown by LTJG "J.D." Meyer in 1964.)

Carrier proficiency qualifications began in late 1962 and the first detachment embarked in USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in May 1964. Records available through September 1966 show VQ-1 dets operating from these other carriers off Vietnam: Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), Constellation (CVA-64), Coral Sea (CVA-43), Enterprise (CVA(N)-65), Hancock (CVA-19) Independence (CVA-62), Midway (CVA-41), Oriskany (CVA-34), Ranger (CVA-61), Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42)

A New Home and the Building Storm

While receiving the new aircraft, VQ-1 began the move to a new homeport at NAS Atsugi, Japan. The move was completed by July 1960 and the last P4M-1Q was retired in ceremonies held at NAS Atsugi, Japan on the 23rd. The squadron now had nine A3D-2Q, four WV-2Q and two F9F-8Ts, with 62 officers and 373 enlisted personnel.

During the last week of CDR Knopfe's command, an A3D-2Q was lost while conducting a routine training mission at NAS Atsugi, Japan. LT H.P. Sams spun in on the runway after wave off during an aircraft commander check ride. The cause of the accident was undetermined. Other fatalities in this crash were LCDR A.R. Hodge, AMI E. Taylor and AO3 O.J. Cladry.

CDR T.E. Moore assumed command of VQ-1 25 January 1961. During his tenure VQ-1 grew to a total complement of 75 officers, 383 enlisted and 10 civilian personnel. Then in 1961 ominous developments began to unfold with a civil war in Vietnam. The crisis there would continue to build with the assassination of President Diem in 1963, the coup in January 1964 and finally the Tonkin Gulf incident in August. This action would prove the beginning of a long-term U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War -one in which VQ-1 would play a major part in the Navy's role. In fact, VQ-1 began flying missions in Southeast Asia as early as the spring of 1962.

With the building storm in Southeast Asia VQ-1 continued electronic reconnaissance missions in support of both Navy and national intelligence collection requirements through the early 1960s. Commanders J.W. Jenkins, W.J. Wacker and A.T. Holt led VQ-1 through the period December 1961-November 1964.

While the conflict in Southeast Asia heated up, VQ-1 began preparations for establishment of EA-3B detachments on board Seventh Fleet aircraft carriers. According to aviation history summaries, aircrew car- and Ticonderoga (CVA-14). During one of these EA-3B dets the seven members of LCDR Cunningham's crew won the Navy Unit Commendation for their part in the U.S. response to North Vietnamese aggression during the Tonkin Gulf incident of August 1964. However, for most of the Vietnam War, the EA-3Bs were primarily land-based at FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam because of the lack of deck space on the war-loaded carriers and better facilities at the South Vietnamese base.

On 25 November 1964 CDR F. Carment Jr. assumed command of VQ-1 as the United States began to enter the Vietnamese War in earnest. During the next nine years VQ-1 would operate its land-based EC-121Ms and EP-3Bs from FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam; NAS Cubi Point, Philippines; Bangkok, Thailand; Tainan, Taiwan; and several other bases, while the EA-3Bs flew primarily from Seventh Fleet carriers and FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam. These missions were flown in support of USN and USAF air strikes, U.S. Army and Marine Corps land campaigns and national intelligence collection requirements.

Specific types of support provided by the VQ-1 aircrews were MiG and SAM warning services, electronic order of battle (EOB) updating and electronic intelligence collection in support of combat contingency planning. The VQ-1 SAM warning services were especially crucial to the survival of Navy carrier aircrews flying over North Vietnam because of the lack of deceptive ECM (DECM) systems on tactical aircraft at that time.

In recognition of these vital electronic reconnaissance missions, VQ-1 aircrews were presented innumerable awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, various campaign medals and two Navy Unit Commendations (NUC). In the citation to the Navy Unit Commendation presented to VQ-1 for the period 1 December 1965 through 30 November 1967 the squadron was cited as "carrying out an extremely broad program of electronic warfare and special intelligence collection of national importance", The citation further stated that VQ-1 "provided invaluable direct tactical support to combat commanders prosecuting the war against communist subversion in Southeast Asia, VQ-1 has won unqualified praise from all branches of the United States Armed Services, and from national intelligence agencies, and is widely considered the unquestioned leader in the field of electronic warfare tactical support under combat conditions". Finally, the citation acknowledged that VQ-1 "has been directly instrumental in saving countless lives of U.S. air combat pilots and crewmen over North Vietnam.

Although no VQ-1 aircraft were shot down in the hostilities in Southeast Asia there were instances of damage to squadron aircraft on the ground during enemy rocket attacks at FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam. Outside the war zone however, in April 1969, a VQ-1 EC-121M and crew of 30 were lost to hostile fire from North Korean MiG fighters. On 14 April the Super Connie, with LCDR James Howard Overstreet as mission commander, took off from NAS Atsugi, Japan and headed northeast for a routine electronic reconnaissance mission off the North Korean coast. The flight plan called for the crew to proceed to a point off Musu Peninsula where they were to fly elliptical orbits, each about l20 miles long.

At 1350, a little less than seven hours after takeoff, a U.S. Air Force tracking station monitoring the flight detected two new blips as a pair of North Korean MiGs rapidly closed on the unarmed VQ-1 aircraft. Although a prearranged message was sent to Overstreet ordering him to abort his mission, as the lumbering EC-121M turned away it was shot down southeast of Chongjin, North Korea, with a loss of all thirty crewmen. Only two bodies were subsequently recovered, those of LTJG Joseph R. Ribar and AT1 Richard E. Sweeney. In addition to Overstreet, Ribar and Sweeney, those lost in the shoot down were: LTs John Dzema, Dennis B. Gleason, Peter P. Perrottet, John H. Singer and Robert F. Taylor; LTJGs Robert J. Sykora and Norman E. Wilkerson; CPOs Laverne A. Greiner, Marshall H. McNamara and Richard E. Smith; PO1s Steven C. Chartier, Bernie J. Colgin, Bailard F. Connors Jr., James L. Roach and John H. Potts; PO2s Louis F. Balderman, Dennis J. Horrigan, Richard H. Kincaid, Frederick A. Randall and Stephen J. Tesmer; PO3s Gene K. Graham, David M. Willis, Gary R. Ducharme, John A. Miller Jr. and Philip D, Sundby; AN Richard T. Prindle and SSGT Hugh M. Lynch. Immediately after the incident President Nixon ordered a halt to reconnaissance missions in the Sea of Japan. The frequency of these missions had been averaging more than 60 per month until this time. President Nixon ordered the electronic reconnaissance resumed three days later, however, but this time with the protection of Task Force 71.

(Photo: VQ-1 EA-3B "Whale"launches from waist cat off Constellation (CVA-64) 16 Nov 1974 during CV~9 operations in the Indian Ocean. VQ-1 det accompanied Constellation and CVW-9 into the Persian Gulf that same month, the only carrier to enter those waters since 1948. VQ-1 provides detachments to each carrier deployed to WestPac to support battle group commanders. With no replacement in sight for their more than 30-year-old aircraft, the squadron's task is formidable).

LCDR " J .D." Meyer, who would later command both VQ-1 and VQ-2, was the senior member of the investigation board for this accident. Those perishing in this crash were: LCDRs Harvey C.K. Aiua and Harry C. Martin; LTs Robin A. Pearce and George L. Morningstar; LTJGs James M. Masters Jr., Charles E. Pressler and Jean P. Souzon; CPO William J. Risse; POls Larry 0. Marchbank, Arthur D. Simmons and Donald W. Wilson; P02s Floyd E. Andrus III, Gregary J. Asbeck, William P. Bletsch, Guy T. Denton, Joseph S. Saukaitis, John S. Schaefer, Stuart J. Scruggs and Barry M. Searby; P03s John M. Birch, Thurle E. Case, Ben A. Hughes and Ralph S. Purdum.

A brighter moment came when, in recognition of superior actions during the 1967-1970 period, the squadron was awarded its third NUC and a Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC).

Growth, Another Change of Homeport and the EP-3E

In June 1971 VQ-1 changed homeport from NAS Atsugi, Japan to NAS Agana, Guam. In addition the squadron was assigned the missions of weather reconnaissance and airborne photography when Airborne Early Warning Squadron One (VW-1) and Heavy Photographic Squadron 61 (VAP-61) were disestablished. For a brief time VQ-1 shouldered the mission of typhoon and general weather reconnaissance from the international dateline to the Malay Peninsula. The weather mission was discontinued at the end of the 1971 typhoon season but the squadron retained the photographic reconnaissance mission and continued worldwide photographic and cartographic mapping capabilities until the RA-3B was retired in July 1974.

CAPT Joe Akins relieved CAPT Chute as CO in July 1971 to continue the series of 0-6 skippers that would last until December 1982. The airborne electronic reconnaissance community was about to receive an improved aircraft capability in the form of the EP-3E Aries. Design of the P3V-l Orion began in 1957-58 to provide an ASW replacement for the widely-used P2V Neptune. The Lockheed Company won the contract and converted its commercial Electra turboprop airliner into the P3V. The name Orion was adopted in late 1960 and the P3V designation changed to P-3 in 1962. The P-3A began arriving in VP squadrons during the summer of 1962. Ten of these older P-3As were converted to EP-3E electronic recce configuration for VQ-1 and VQ-2 in the early 1970s as replacement for the EC-121Ms. The EP-3E carried a special radar, radomes in long fairings above and below the central fuselage and an additional ventral radome forward of the wings. The EP-3E is powered by four turboprop engines, has a maximum speed of 350 kts and a service ceiling of 28,500 ft. With its 28-man crew and a 142,000 Ib maximum takeoff weight, the all-weather Aries has a maximum endurance of 12 hours. VQ-1 received its initial EP-3E in September 1974 and after the delivery of the fourth Aries in the fall of 1976, the last squadron EC-121M was retired. The added capabilities of the EP-3E contributed significantly to the squadron winning another MUC award for the period 1 Apri11972-27 January 1973.

The squadron experienced another aircraft loss when an EA-3B crashed at sea in 1973. Fortunately, in this case there was no loss of life.

The New Capabilities Arrive

During the Vietnam War CDR Carment was followed as commanding officer of VQ-1 by CDR M.E. Klein (Nov 1965-Nov 1966), CDR R.F. Dreesen (Nov 1966-Dec 1967) and CAPT R.M. DeLorenzi (Dec 1967-Feb 1970).

In this era VQ-1 acquired additional aircraft capabilities. In November 1968 a TA-3B was acquired for training and logistics purposes. Shortly afterwards, on 17 March and 21 June 1969, two EP-3Bs converted from P-3A Maritime Patrol Orion airframes, were delivered to supplement the aging EC-121M. These two Batrack aircraft would serve as the "informal" electronic reconnaissance prototypes for ten P-3As that would subsequently be modified to the EP-3E Aries. And finally the first of the EA-3B avionics updates, named Seawing, was received in August 1969.

With the continuing increase in size of VQ-1 and the importance of the squadron's role in Southeast Asia, CAPT DeLorenzi was followed by another 0-6 as commanding officer, CAPT C.L. Chute. Shortly after CAPT Chute's assumption of command in February 1970, VQ-1 lost an EC-121M (BuNo 145927). On 16 March the Super Constellation crashed while landing at FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam, with the loss of 23 EA-3B with five crewmen was on an over water navigational training flight from Guam to the Philippines. At some point en route a combination of navigation equipment malfunctions and human error resulted in total disorientation. Unable to locate land, the crew was forced to bailout at the fuel exhaustion point. The entire crew was picked up by a helicopter from the Japanese destroyer Haruna.

At the end of U.S. combat operations in Vietnam in 1973 VQ-1 began a move back to providing open-ocean tactical electronic support to Seventh Fleet carrier battle groups. The first regular Indian Ocean cruise made by VQ-1 EA-3B Whales occurred in early 1974 with a two-aircraft detachment on board Kitty Hawk. By this time the leadership of VQ-1 had passed from CAPT Akins to CAPT T.W. Connolly. Soon after the Kitty Hawk deployment a single EA-3B detachment embarked in Midway for a three-year cruise throughout WestPac, deploying to the I0 once during that period. This action signaled the start of a regular VQ-1 EA-3B presence on board Seventh Fleet carriers.

CAPT W.V. "pooch" Patterson assumed command of VQ-1 16 August 1976. At that time the squadron had 16 aircraft .(EP-3E, EP-3B, EA-3B, TA-3B and a P-3A for flight training and logistics), with more than 700 personnel assigned.

Two Individuals make VQ History

In November 1978 CAPT D.N. Hagen assumed command, the first person to command both VQ-1 and VQ-2. Additionally, CAPT Hagen was the first Naval Flight Officer to command VQ-1; all preceding COs had been aviators.

In October 1979, CAPT "J.D." Meyer relieved CAPT Hagen. CAPT Meyer was the second and last person to date who had commanded both VQ-1 and VQ-2. Shortly after Meyer's assumption of command, the Iranian crisis of 1979 resulted in an increased U.S. presence in the Indian Ocean. Accordingly, the Navy was committed to maintaining at least one carrier battle group in the vicinity of the northern Arabian Sea. Both VQ-1 and VQ-2 shared this commitment with CV-embarked EA.3B and Diego Garcia EP-3E detachments to provide crucial electronic reconnaissance services to the area. VQ-1 was awarded a fourth MUC for these Indian Ocean contingency operations covering the period 23 January to 1 May 1980. Also, participating aircrews and ground support personnel from both VQ-1 and VQ-2 were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal.

The Death of a Commanding Officer

CDR John T. Mitchell assumed command of VQ-1 in March 1984. Ten months later, on 23 January 1985, he and eight other VQ-1 personnel were killed when the squadron VIP aircraft was lost at sea en route to Guam from NAS Atsugi, Japan. CDR Mitchell was piloting the VA-3B when it disappeared from a radar tracking screen approximately 125 nautical miles north of Guam.

The subsequent JAG investigation, completed in September, reported the Skywarrior took off from NAS Atsugi, Japan at about 1000 Guam time. Twenty minutes later the crew contacted the VQ-1 detachment at NAS Atsugi, Japan and reported an air turbine motor (ATM) was malfunctioning. The VA-3B continued on its course and stayed in radio contact with Navy officials, first on Iwo lima, and then on Guam. At 1230 Guam time the navigator reported the starboard ATM was shut down and the port one was heating up. Seventeen minutes later the aircrew requested permission to descend from 33,000 to 20,000 ft. Four minutes later, at 1251, radar contact was lost with the stricken aircraft.

A massive air and sea search and rescue effort failed to locate any trace of the VA-3B or its crew and passengers. Presumed dead were CAPT Jim Brightman relieved CAPT Meyer in August 1981. A year later, on 4 August 1982, the squadron suffered its first fatal aircraft accident in more than a decade and its first EA-3B loss while operating from an aircraft carrier. The Skywarrior, piloted by LT Frank N. Kercher, disappeared over the Indian Ocean near Diego Garcia, while operating from Ranger. The subsequent rescue and debrief of a single surviving crewmember. P02 Robert Lee Huff. indicated the EA-3B may have broken up in flight after control failure. The remaining crewmen were LTs Michael F. Brown and David A. Pies; POs William B. Snider, Brian S. Watson and Airman Terry D. Smith. They were presumed killed or lost at sea. A subsequent JAG investigation blamed the accident on a zero-gravity maneuver.

After CAPT Brightman held command from August 1981 until December 1982 the squadron reverted to an 0-5 skipper for the first time since 1967. CDR Ivan E. Hughes resumed this 0-5 series which holds true at this writing.

During CDR Hughes' tour, Arabian Sea contingency operations. the KAL 007 airliner shoot down and the large-scale FleetEx 83 exercise occupied center stage for the squadron. VQ-1 received another MUC for 1983 for superior airborne reconnaissance operations, and the CNO Safety Award for 1983 during Hughes. tour. CDR Mitchell; LCDR Robert E. Delateur; LTs Marshall M. Laird and Carlos A. Miller, LTJG Richard A. Thomson; Senior Chief John T. Clark; Chief David K. Nichols; POs Thomas J. Jorgensen and Thomas J. Degryse. Thus, CDR Mitchell became the first incumbent VQ-1 commanding officer to be killed in the line of duty.

An endorsement to the accident investigation by VADM James E. Service, Commander Naval Air Pacific, summed up by saying: "Although the exact cause of the mishap cannot be determined from available information, dual ATM failure with resultant flight control problems is the conclusion best supported by the circumstantial evidence." The ATMs provide power for the hydraulic pumps, which in turn power the flight control surfaces.

CDR R.E. .'Bob" Claytor, the executive officer at the time of CDR Mitchell's tragic death, became the new CO and led the squadron through the next 16 months until relieved in May 1986 by CDR Earl Smith. At this writing, CDR Smith is scheduled to relinquish command to CDR Marcus Williams in August 1987.

Thus began the U.S. Navy's airborne electronic reconnaissance efforts in the Pacific, which resulted in the establishment of VQ1, the Navy's first dedicated squadron for the mission. Part two will examine the European Theater missions and VQ-2.

USN


The Beginnings

Records of the early days of the Navy's aerial electronic reconnaissance efforts in the European area are vague. Through research of unit histories, personal interviews, and with some speculation, the following information has been discerned.

In much the same way as in the Pacific, the Navy's dedicated airborne aerial reconnaissance program in Europe had its genesis with patrol squadrons in World ,War Two. It appears that one of these European-based squadrons had a secondary task of electronic recce. At the end of the war, VP-114 had a three-plane detachment of Consolidated PBY-I Liberators based at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. Following the war, until June 1950, the squadron (variously designated VP-HL-6 and finally VP-26, which it carries today) maintained a permanent detachment of PBY-2 Privateers at Port Lyautey, while the parent squadron switched between the NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

During this period, the Port Lyautey detachment aircraft were specially configured for the electronic reconnaissance mission, and thus present the earliest traceable origins of VQ-2.

The primary operating areas for the electronic reconnaissance versions of VP-26's "4Y-2"s were the Baltic and Adriatic Seas, with tasking against Soviet radar facilities. The squadron's "electronic" Privateers operated from Port Lyautcy under the guise of acting as courier aircraft for US. embassies and missions throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Western Asia. During one of these Baltic Sea missions occurred the first in a long series of incidents of the "Cold War" involving U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and Sino-Soviet fighters.

On 8 April 1950, a VP-26 PBY-2 (BuNo 59645) and its ten-man crew were lost in the Western Baltic Sea, apparently after being attacked by Soviet aircraft approximately 80 nm southeast of Gotland Island. Earlier in April the Privateer had deployed from Port Lyautey to the U.S. Air Force Base at Wiesbaden, Germany. Leaving one crewman on the ground, Aviation Electronic Technician- Stephen Zakian, the patrol bomber took off at 1031 Saturday, 8 April on a classified mission.
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At 1330 the aircraft reported it was flying over Bremerhaven, Germany, and at 1440 made its last radio report. At 2330 VP-26 headquarters at Port Lyautey received a dispatch from the commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Base in Bremerhaven Stating PBY-2 bureau number 59645 was declared overdue by USAF Flight Service in Frankfurt. According to a later Soviet report, the Navy aircraft was sighted at 1739 on 8 April over Leyaya, Soviet Latvia, and mistakenly identified as a B-29 bomber. It was then intercepted and ordered to land, whereupon it reportedly exchanged fire with the Russian fighters and headed out to sea. The credibility of the Soviet report was seriously weakened by the fact that the Privateer’s only armament was a .45 cal. pistol carried by one of the officer crewmen.

According to subsequently declassified VP-26 reports, by 0400 on 9 April three PBY-2s were ordered from Port Lyautey to Wiesbaden to conduct a search for BuNo 59645. VP-26 Privateers piloted by LT Rice, LTJG Linker and a third by LT Cobb, with the squadron executive officer on board, were launched in quick order. After a short stay in Wiesbaden, the aircraft moved on to Copenhagen, Denmark, and initiated search operations by the 10th. Before the search concluded, a fourth VP-26 Privateer and approximately 25 USAF aircraft would scour the Baltic for ten days.

(Photo - PB4 Y-2 BuNo 59645, seen here at Gibraltar 9 Nov /949, was shot down 8 Apr 1950 over the Baltic by Soviet fighters to became the first victim of the "Cold War." The fate of its ten-man crew was never confirmed, but it is suspected they were imprisoned in Russia ).

A life raft, identified as VP-26 property, was picked up by a Swedish fishing vessel a few days 5fter the search was suspended. Similarly, the British freighter Beechland pulled an empty aircraft life raft from the Baltic Sea 45 miles southeast of Stockholm. The raft was positively identified by the serial and contract numbers as having been issued to a PBY-2. After the incident a stiff note of protest and a rebuttal of the Soviet report was sent to the Russian government by the U.S. State Department.

Numerous Soviet naval and air contacts were reported by U.S. search aircraft, and in the VP-26 squadron report, at least two PBY-2 APS-15 radar operators reported noise- modulated radar jamming. The jamming obliterated the APS-15 scopes in up to 30-degree sectors for as long as three hours. The reports varied as to the origin of the jamming, but it was believed to have originated from a Soviet submarine or from ashore in Latvia..

No trace of the ten-man crew was ever found and eventually they were presumed dead. The crewmembers were: LTs John H. Fette and Howard W. Skeschaf; LTJG Robert D. Reynolds; ENS Tommy L. Burgess; AD1s Joe H. Danens Jr. and Jack W. Thomas; AT1 Frank L. Beckman; CT3 Edward J. Purcell; AL3 Joseph J. Bourassa; and AT3 Joseph N. Rinnier Jr.
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(Photo - VP-26 officers in front of old French BOQ at Port Lyawey ca. 1950. Back Row, from left: Ken Lampkin, Harry Farmer, Ed Tomko, Avn Midn Ken Owen, Gene Rice, Swede Erickson, Dick Kirkland, Ned Hayes, Boyce Webb, Walt Marusa, Bill Cobb, *Bob Reynolds, Dave Prior, Avn Midn Jim West and *Jack Felle. Front: Mead Massa, Ken Horn, Dennis Henderson, Fred Daley, Ed Siergiej, CDR Whilener, CDR Johnston, LCDR Murphey, Avn Midn Chuck Clarke, Lew Julian, Chandler Smith, *Howie Seeschaff, Bob Stafford, Don Heberling, Doc Linker. (*Shot down over the Baltic in BuNo 59645)
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(Photo - NAS Parr Lyautey, French Morocco, was base of VP-26's clandestine operations from 1945-50.)
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(Photo - VP-26 Det 214 crew, ca. early 1948. Back row, from left: LTJG Harwood, LTJG Hoerr, Avn Midn Hubbard, ENS Garrison, LTJC Ambler; LTJC Schwager, LCDR Reed, LTJC Finnegan, LCDR Pollard, LTs James and McKinney. CPOs McKinnis, Amato, Barber, Kroto, Marshal and unidentified. Fron tEMs Kraus, (?), Zimmerman, Suttlies, Linn, (?), Ryan, (?), (?), (.?), Meehan, (?), Cook, Cassese, Geeding, Carlon, Michels, Hall, Almori and unidentified.)
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Three of VP-26's special mission Privateers over the Med 1950..


In January 1955, two Americans were repatriated from Russian prison camps where they had been held since the end of WWII. They reported hearing of American prisoners who had been shot down over the Baltic Sea. Actual sighting of the Americans was reported by a third repatriate, a Yugoslav, who had served time in the infamous Soviet prison coal mine of Vorkuta, above the Arctic Circle. He alleged that one of his fellow prisoners had been a U.S. Navy officer from the lost Privateer. However, this claim was never confirmed.

A series of investigations by Naval Intelligence and demands to the Soviets by the State Department were to no avail. The fate of the VP-26 crew was never determined positively.

The First Unit Forms

Although definitive evidence is sparse, it appears that concurrent with VP-26's departure from Port Lyautey in the summer of 1950, a new unit was formed there utilizing three VP-26 det PBY-2s and some operating personnel from the squadron. This organization, designated NAF Patrol Unit, was manned by approximately 70 personnel and was dedicated to the mission of airborne aerial reconnaissance for the European theater.

By 1951 the new unit had replaced its Privateers with four Martin P4M-1Q Mercators, and later added a stripped Lockheed P2V-2 Neptune for pilot training. As covered in part one of this history, the P4M-1Q was a specially configured modified version of the basic P4M-l patrol bomber with two reciprocating and two auxiliary jet engines.

Heading the new unit as OinC was a CDR Larson, with LCDR Peeler as his assistant. An interview with a former P4M-1Q tail gunner, Freeman Dias of Bristol, R.I., indicated CDR Robert R. Sparks, who later served as a commanding officer of VQ-2, relieved CDR Larson as OinC about mid-1953.

Mr. Dias recalled the P4M-IQ had some protection against the ever present threat of communist shootdown in the form of 20mm nose and tail guns along with a .50 cal. upper fuselage turret. Even with this protection there were, nevertheless, instances of hostile action against the reconnaissance aircraft. For instance, sketchy information shows a P4M-1Q shot up badly during a mission in late 1951 or early 1952. A LT Huddleston was the Mercator pilot during the attempted shootdown incident, where at least one crewman was killed.
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Upon VP-26's 1950 departure from NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco Patrol Unit was formed to assume the European airborne electronic reconnaissance mission. Initially acquiring VP-26's special PBY-2s, they were soon traded for these three P4M-1Q Mercators, modified from the standard Marlin patrol bomber. By May 1953 the unit was redesignated VW-2 Det Able, as the evolution toward establishment of VQ-2 continued.

Growing out of the resources of VW-2 Det A, VQ-2 was established I Sep 1955 at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco and acquired its "JQ" tailcode. Originally called Electronic Countermeasures Squadron Two, The name was changed 1 Jan 1960 to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two.
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By May 1953 NAF Patrol Unit was redesignated Detachment Able of Airborne Early Warning Squadron Two (VW-2). VW-2 Det Able operated much the same as VP-26's det, a permanent unit at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco under a squadron homeported at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. In the Pacific, a twin unit, VW-1 Det Able, conducted reconnaissance from NS Sangley Point, Philippines.

Growing out of VW-2 Det Able resources, the airborne electronic reconnaissance assets of that unit were established as Electronic Countermeasures Squadron Two (ECMRon 2) on 1 Sep 1955. ECMRon2, assigned the alpha-numeric designation VQ-2, was homeported at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, with a total complement of 24 officers and 78 enlisted men and CDR Kalin as the first CO.

The squadron initially used the P4M-1Q, and later, the P2V Neptune as mission aircraft. Two models of the Neptune appear in available records, the P2V-3 and the P2V-5F. The single "dash three" was used only for pilot training and logistics. The P2V-5Fs would serve the squadron faithfully in the electronic recce role until the spring of 1960 when they began a phase-out period.

The Arrival of New Assets

The newer and faster carrier-capable A3D-1Q Skywarrior began arriving at VQ-2 in September 1956. During July two VQ-2 pilots had begun familiarization training at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and in September ferried the first two Skywarriors to NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco. Later, on 6 December, the A3D-1Q flew its first operational mission with Skipper Kalin as the pilot.

Several major aircraft accidents occurred during VQ-2 operations while based at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco, two of which resulted in loss of life. On 6 January 1958 a P4M-1Q crashed at Ocean View, Va. Four crewmen were killed, two received major injuries and the aircraft was destroyed. Then, on 16 October, an A3D-1Q crashed in the landing pattern at night while operating out of Incirilik AFB near Adana, Turkey. All four crewmen perished in the mishap.

Indicating the limited number of qualified personnel available for the VQ mission, CDR Sparks returned to the squadron as CO. He served from I July 1957 until 6 October 1958, by which time the squadron had grown to 48 officers and 281 enlisted.

Near the end of Sparks' tenure an interesting article appeared in El Rotando, the NS Rota, Spain, newspaper on 26 September 1958: "One of the U.S. Navy's hottest attack bombers, a twin-jet Douglas A3D Skywarrior, roared down the runway of the Spanish-American naval complex here yesterday morning and was logged as the first jet aircraft to make an operational landing at the growing base. The powerful, near supersonic bomber was piloted here from her home base at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco by CDR Robert R. Sparks. The copilot was CDR Clarendon Sigley." Although not stated in the article, the visit to Rota by the VQ-2 CO and XO was probably in conjunction with the upcoming relocation of the squadron from Morocco to NS Rota, Spain.

CDR Sparks was relieved by CDR Sigley in October 1958. After his selection to captain in later years, Robert Sparks was killed in a helicopter accident in Iceland.

The Move to NS Rota, Spain and More New Aircraft

CDR Sigley was at VQ-2's helm during its move to Rota from late 1958 through the first few days of 1959. The move was officially completed 14 January. During the squadron's relocation, five A3D-2Qs were received to replace the less-capable A3D-1Qs. It was not until 14 January 1960, with CDR P.D. Halpin as skipper, that VQ-2 was officially transferred to the joint U.S.-Spanish base. Earlier, on 1 January, the official name of the squadron was changed to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2). Just two days after the move, on 16 January, a VQ-2 Mercator crashed during daylight hours while operating out of Incirilik AFB. The aircraft was destroyed and all 16 crewmen killed.

But operations must go on, and on 26 February the squadron received the first two Lockheed WV-2Q Super Constellations, or, more popularly, "Willie Victors". On 31 March 1960 VQ-2 had an inventory of five A3D-2Q, two WV-2Q, three P2V-5F and two P4M-1Qs. The P2V-5F and P4M-1Q were soon to be phased out. Meanwhile, the newer WV-2Q and A3D-2Q continued to arrive at the squadron. In October 1962 the WV-2Q would be designated EC-121M and the A3D-2Q became the EA-3B. Regardless of what designation they bore, these Willie Victors, or "Connies", and Skywarriors, or "Whales", would serve the VQ community for many years to come.

VQ-2, now under the command of CDR Arthur G. Elder, soon settled down at its new location and quickly adapted to its replacement aircraft. Meanwhile, the squadron continued its business of airborne electronic reconnaissance in support of the Sixth Fleet and national intelligence collection programs.

While under the command of CDR H.E. Fitzwater, on 22 May 1962 tragedy again struck the squadron when a WV-2Q, operating from Furstenfeldbruk, West Germany, was lost in a mishap with its 26-man crew. For unexplained reasons, the tail section of the Connie separated in flight, resulting in an uncontrollable crash.

As a petty officer second class, the author, then stationed with the Naval Security Group Activity Bremerhaven, was detailed to the crash scene to assist in recovery of classified material. In a bizarre incident one of the crewmen happened to be in the aircraft's head, which was all the way aft, when the empennage broke off at the main cargo door point. The intact tail section, with its single passenger, was reported by several witnesses to have "flown" in a wide arc after the breakup and made a semi-controlled "landing" in a large freshly-plowed farm field. The crewman, apparently unhurt up to this point, was thrown from the tail section directly into a tree, where he was killed instantly from a broken neck.
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In military aviation, speed often means life. The arrival of A3D-1Q (EA-3A) Skywarriors in Sep 1956 to VQ-2 greatly enhanced the survivability of squadron aircrew. Slow-moving VQ-1 and -2 Mercator "sitting ducks" had several encounters with communist fighters on both sides of the Soviet Union resulting in losses of aircraft and crew.

The Series of Peacetime Crises Begins

In October 1962, VQ-2 deployed a detachment of aircraft and men to operate from NAS Key West, Florida in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The electronic intelligence collected by VQ-2 was used to integrate the photography acquired by RF-8s, U-2s and RF-101s into a coherent set of intelligence information to assist in resolving this major superpower confrontation.

An accepted fact of an international crisis is the political and military decision-makers' need for a greater quantity of near real-time intelligence. This important factor lay at the heart of VQ operations in its early days, and continues to do so today. Following the Cuban missile confrontation in 1962 was the Cyprus Crisis of 1964. At the time, CDR R.M. Davis was in command of VQ-2. Afterwards, a series of eastern Mediterranean crises provided ample opportunities for the squadron to collect and provide timely intelligence information to top-level decision-makers.

During the decade of the sixties, VQ-2 operations took on a more direct tactical fleet support role. This role was primarily in response to a rapidly growing and modernizing Soviet Navy which had established a continuous presence in the Mediterranean Sea, concurrent with the Cyprus Crisis. In the years to come, VQ-2 would experience a steady increase in the number of its electronic reconnaissance missions tasked against the Soviet Navy in the Mediterranean and other oceanic areas.
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WV:2Q (EC-121M) "Willie Victors" came to VQ-2 in the late '50s, just prior to the squadron's move to NS Rota, Spain, completed in January 1959.
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P2 V:5, similar to this one, and -5F Neptunes were utilized in the electronic recce role until 1960.
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A3D-2Q with its advance base support vans at Rota in 1960. WV:2Q is in background.
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CO CDR Art Elder brings A3D-2Q aboard Independence (C VA-62) for touch-and-go 25 Jan 1961 to become the first VQ pilot to take a VQ airplane aboard a carrier.
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Diminutive A-4C Skyhawk of VA-64 refuels Whale over the Med during VQ-2 operations supporting America (CVA-66) in Jan 1966. First VQ-2 permanent carrier det deployed in Saratoga (CVA-60) in Jan 1965. For the most part, VQ-2 operated incognito during late '50s to late '60s.

Partly because of the growth of the Soviet Navy as a new factor in the Southern European theater, the first VQ-2 EA-3B detachment went aboard a Mediterranean-based carrier in January 1965, under Skipper CDR C.A. Kiser. Since this initial Whale det embarked in Saratoga (CVA-60), VQ-2 has provided almost continuous electronic reconnaissance support to Sixth Fleet carriers. The first loss of a VQ-2 Skywarrior during carrier operations came 3 November 1966 while the squadron was under the command of CDR J.H. McConnell. The EA-3B, piloted by LCDR "Monty" Lillebow, impacted the water aft of Independence (CVA-62) and was lost with its crew of six.

The Vietnam War

It was not only in routine recce operations and in peacetime crisis situations that VQ-2 saw action. There was also a war to be fought. The conflict had heated up in Southeast Asia, and by the autumn of 1965 the U.S. Navy required a degree of electronic recce capacity beyond that available in VQ-1. Consequently, beginning under the tenures of CDRs A.D. Burkett and E.Y. Laney, detachments of VQ-2 EA-3Bs and EC-121Ms were provided to the Pacific theater to conduct electronic reconnaissance in support of Navy combat operations in Vietnam. VQ-2 aircraft initially operated from NAS Cubi Point, Philippines, the Gulf of Tonkin carriers, and FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam. After detachment facilities were established at FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam, VQ-2 EA-3Bs operated almost exclusively from that site with VQ-1 aircraft. VQ-2 provided surface-to-air missile (SAM) and MiG threat warning services, which significantly contributed to the survivability of Navy strike aircraft. These VQ-2 assets also provided signals intelligence (Sigint) collection for electronic order of battle (EOB) updating and combat contingency planning.

VQ-2 lost one aircraft and a portion of a crew in two separate incidents in Southeast Asia operations between 1965 and 1968. During 1966 an EA-3B in transit from NAS Cubi Point, Philippines to FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam stalled in probable icing conditions at 45,000 ft and entered a violent spin. Although the pilot, LCDR Dave Caswell, recovered the A-3 at low altitude and landed safely, the four aft crewmen had already bailed out and were presumed drowned in the heavy seas.

In the summer of 1968 an enemy rocket attack against the base at FASU/NSA DaNang, Republic of Vietnam resulted in the partial destruction of a VQ-2 EA-3B (BuNo 144848) in its revetment. Although a VQ-1 EC-121M and EA-3B were also damaged in this attack, there were no personnel injuries. The VQ-2 Whale, although heavily damaged in the nose/cockpit section, was subsequently placed aboard an MSTS carrier to be transported to ConUS for repairs. On 14 December 1968, the EA-3B broke loose from its deck tied owns during rough weather in Tokyo Bay and was lost overboard. This incident signaled the beginning of the end of VQ-2 operations in Southeast Asia, as things were again heating up in the Med.

During the remainder of the Vietnam War VQ-2 had continued airborne electronic reconnaissance operations at a high pace in the crisis prone Mediterranean. While operating from Ramstein AFB, Germany, in the spring of 1968, another EA-3B bailout occurred. The aircraft, piloted by LCDR "Stu" Corey, was entering the Ramstein landing pattern near the town of Landstuhl on 16 March, when an inboard slat malfunction occurred at approximately 1,200 ft. With the EA-3B apparently entering a stall in a nose-up port turn, the pilot signalled for crew bailout. (EA-3B crews do not have the luxury of ejection seats!) The "back end" crew, consisting of LTJG "Dick" McBurnett, CPOs "Obie" O'Brien and Bob Johnson, and PO1 Dave Barlag, quickly "hit the silk" as they had practiced numerous times in squadron ditch and bailout drills. Because of the low altitude, the crew had only one or two swings in their chutes before landing in a heavily wooded area. Only Barlag landed on firm ground, while the other three chutes were caught in tall fir trees. Chief O'Brien was removed from his tree by the local fire department, while Johnson managed to free himself, suffering minor injuries.

Regrettably, LTJG McBurnett was less fortunate. In trying to disentangle himself from the tree, his chute broke free, resulting in a fall of 50-70 ft and severe back injuries. After two hours, McBurnett was finally located and rescued by a USAF helicopter. Ironically, his father also was injured a few kilometers from this accident site. He was hit by artillery fragments during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
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"Q" birds often sport all sorts of weird appendages such as the fuselage antennae on this A3D-1Q in 1959.

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After experiencing hydraulic problems following a night cat shot off Independence in Sep 1966, LCDRs Jack Taylor and Joel Graham and crew diverted to Sigonella, Sicily, encountering severe thunderstorms en route. Following repairs to some radome damage they launched for Rota. During climbout, the entire radome disintegrated; however, they were able to recover safely at NAS Sigonella, Sicily.

Meanwhile, after the crew bailout, LCDR Corey recovered the EA-3B when the slat became operative, and successfully landed at Ramstein. Corey's skillful recovery of the aircraft came only seconds before the final crewmembers, CPO Sweitzer and LTJG "Shep" Smith, were to bailout. The author, who was standing the Squadron Duty Officer watch in Rota at the time, can recall the initial telephone conversation with LTJG Smith after he arrived at Ramstein operations. As Smith was reporting the grim details of the bailout, the sound of heavy fight boots at a dead run over the tile floors could be heard in the background. Fortunately, these sounds were made by Dave Barlag as he arrived, parachute and all, after hitchhiking a ride to base operations with a German civilian in a Volkswagen "Bug". He brought the good news of sighting the other three chutes on his way down.

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Left to Right - CDR H.E. Firzwarer (Ieft) receives Command at Sea device from CDR Art Elder during VQ-2 change of command at Rota in Apr 1962. (From left) CDR VE. Savage, AOCA P.S. Risley, LTJG J.A. Gandio, LCDR J.V. Pruitt, LTJG R.J. Sanse and CO CDR A.G. Elder, honor Jim Pruitt's, 1,000 A3D hours. LT Don East receives Navy Achievement Medal from CO CDR Glen Hatch in 1970.

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VAH-1 hosted VQ-2 det in CVA-62 during Jan 1961 CQ. (From left) LTs H.P. Hosey; W Cretsinger; CDR C.B. Smith, VAH-1 XO; CDR A.G. Elder; LT Jack Rinn and AM1 Phillips.

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VQ-2 "Khyber Pass Det" at Peshawar, Northern Pakistan, in 1961. In keeping with their line of work, they naturally posed in front of a "photography prohibited" sign.


The Loss of a Skipper

Several other accidents occurred during the 1960s resulting in the loss of 56 additional lives. In a 4 June 1968 EA-3B accident, the new squadron CO, CDR T.E. Daum, was killed with his electronic warfare department head, LCDR Bruce Ford; the special security officer, LCDR Jim Frazee; and the squadron navigation officer, LCDR Charlie Best. Two petty officer crewmen, Jim Henderson and Jack Snowdy, miraculously survived, but were hospitalized for several months. CDR Ted Daum had been CO of VQ-2 only 33 days at the time of his death.

Apparently the Skywarrior lost an engine just after takeoff and slowly lost altitude until it struck the ground in a sugar beet field approximately one mile east of the Rota airbase. The tail probably touched down first on the downslope of a small hill, which pitched the nose downward to begin a violent tumble. As the aircraft disintegrated, Petty Officers Henderson and Snowdy were thrown clear. LTs "Gus" Littlefield andTom Fritz were on their way to work at the squadron when they saw the aircraft go down. After parking their cars and making their way across the field on foot to the accident site, they initially found no signs of life. Shortly thereafter, a weak voice from a clump of grass asked, "Hey Gus, you got a cigarette?" It was then that Littlefield and Fritz found Henderson, and a few moments later, Snowdy, alive but very badly injured.

CDRs RW. Arn and H.G. Hatch led VQ-2 through the remainder of the busy 1960s when Soviet naval activity and Arab-Israeli tensions in the Mediterranean, as well as the Vietnam War, tugged at the squadron's limited assets.

A Period of Continued Crisis

The decade of the 1970s was frequently punctuated by international crises in VQ-2's theater of operations, especially in the Mediterranean. Notable among these were the 1970 Jordanian Crisis, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1974 crisis in Cyprus and the continuing unrest in Lebanon. These and other situations invariably resulted in the presence of the Sixth Fleet offshore, which in turn required the services of VQ-2 in providing urgently needed tactical intelligence. Under skipper CDR Al Gallotta, VQ-2 received its second Meritorious Unit Commendation for superior electronic reconnaissance operations during the Jordanian Crisis 9 September to 31 October 1970. In part the citation stated: "These units (including VQ-2) contributed significantly to the effectiveness, mobility and success of fleet operations which were vital toward maintaining peace in the Mediterranean."

With the presence of the Sixth Fleet at these crisis situations, came the ever-increasing presence of the Soviet Navy in ADM Gorshkov's new peacetime instrument of foreign policy role. VQ-2 had to split its collection assets to monitor the actions ashore and those of the nearby Soviet naval units in an eyeball-to-eyeball stance with our own Sixth Fleet ships.
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Some days things just don't go your way. Waterspouts in front of carrier forced this A3D-2Q flown by LCDR Mall Moore, Navigator LT "Shep" Smith, EVAL LT Don East and four enlisted operators, to divert to Sigonella only to confront Moore with a 50-kt crosswind landing with near-predictable results. Only minor crew injuries resulted, but the same aircraft got a "cold cat shot" off Roosevelt (CVA-42) 26 Feb 1970 with the loss of entire crew.
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On their way to the "bird farm" in 1968 are (from left) AT1 Dave Barlag (later bailed out of EA-3B in Germany); LTJG Tom Wallis (killed in an EA-3B accident); AD2 Speck; LT Don East; CDR Glen Hatch, XO; and two unidentified crewmen.
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VQ-2 crews in Norway during 1968 (from left) LTs Dick Moser, Larry McGlothlin, Norwegian host officer, LT Tom Fritz (later VQ-2 CO) and LT Kelly. right-EP-3E Aries reported for duty 31 Jul 1971.


Arrival of the EP-3E

The 1970s also brought a vastly improved electronic reconnaissance platform to the VQ squadrons. The aging EC-121M was no longer able to meet the demands of high-tempo fleet reconnaissance missions in the dynamic environment of superpower competition. Consequently, on 31 July 1971 while under CDR J.E. Taylor, VQ-2 received its first Lockheed EP-3E Aries. By 1976 the sixth and final EP-3E had arrived in the squadron, for a total complement of six EA-3Bs, six EP-3Es, a TA-3B which had been acquired in May 1972, and a UP-3A acquired shortly afterwards. The TA-3B and UP-3A were valuable for pilot training and logistics purposes.

Although the very high fatality count of the 1960s was not repeated, mishaps nevertheless continued with the deaths of 12 VQ-2 flyers. On 26 February 1970 an EA-3B was lost while operating from Roosevelt (CVA-42) in the Mediterranean. The catapult system malfunctioned in mid-stroke, resulting in the Skywarrior "dribbling" off the bow and being run over by the carrier. Four of the crewmembers made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the accident, as LCDR Blaine Thrasher, LT Tom Walls, AEI Bond and an unidentified passenger were lost at sea. A fifth VQ-2 crewmember, the plane captain, Petty Officer "Rosey" Rozier, miraculously survived to be picked up by the plane guard.

VQ-2 was under the command of CDR Jack Taylor from June 1971 to July 1972. While a relative calm was ongoing in the European theater at the time, the significant military hardware buildup in Soviet client states such as Libya, Syria and Egypt drew the majority of the squadron's attention. This buildup would soon erupt into a period of open hostilities between the Arabs and Israelis.

CDR J.D. Meyer became the 18th skipper of VQ-2 on 6 July 1973 and would soon be faced with a period of extremely high-tempo operations associated with the Yom Kippur War that October. For the extremely valuable electronic reconnaissance operations performed by VQ-2 during that conflict, the squadron was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

On 8 March 1974 another EA-3B was lost at sea while recovering on board America (CYA-66). Fortunately no deaths or injuries were associated with the incident, largely due to the superior airman ship of the pilot. LT Dave Longeway kept the Whale in the best possible attitude when ditching became inevitable. Cause of the accident was determined to be the parting of the purchase cable, which is connected to the arresting gear below decks, inside the coupling which attaches to the cross-deck pendant. All seven crewmen exited the aircraft before the Whale, true to its nautical nature, finally sounded, approximately five minutes after water entry. America's rescue helicopter picked up the crew, and LT Longeway was awarded the Air Medal for his superior airmanship.

Tragedy again struck VQ-2 9 July 1974, when the squadron's trainer/logistics aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Naples, Italy. The TA-3B was transporting maintenance personnel back to Rota, where they had been involved in repairing another squadron aircraft. Killed in the crash were the pilot, LCDR Dwight L. Worrell, navigator LTJG Douglas N. Davis and six enlisted aircrewmen/ground maintenance personnel: AMN2 Robert F. Carney, ADJ2 Robert S. Charrington, AE2 William P. Beuler, AQ2 John G. Pauljohn, ADJ3 Orval T. May and AE3 Carl F. Schwartz. July 1974 also brought the retirement of the squadron's last EC-121M.
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EP-3Es and EA-3Bs are the mainstay of VQ operations since 1974 retirement of last EC-121M. Both aircraft serve faithfully and well but are aging and aged, each having been designed more than 30 years ago. Current plans have an ES-3 version of the Viking to replace the EA-3B.
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Ranger 15 taxis out of the gear on board Saratoga (CV-60) in the fall of 1977. right - Ranger 15 over the Med in "Sandeman" markings used in late '60s and early '70s.


Some Historic Firsts

Five more commanding officers led VQ-2 through the decade of the '70s: CDRs D.J. Alberg, D.N. Hagen, T.A. Peltz, G.J. Hopkins and CAPT J.E. Taylor.

One of these COs recorded a "first" when CDR Dale Hagen became the first Naval Flight Officer to command a VQ squadron. The "nonpilot" aviation officer came into being 16 October 1956 when the first five graduates of the Navigator/Bombardier School at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, received their Naval Observer wings. Later, in the 1960s, the Naval Aviation Observer (NAO) was created when naval aircraft began to take on missions sufficiently complex to require the fulltime services of an aviation officer other than the pilot. In 1969 the NAOs were redesignated Naval Flight Officers (NFO), given a new style set of wings, and promises of more "positions of responsibility," which translated to commands. The command opportunities for NFOs came slowly, however, as the traditional "pilot as a crew leader" philosophy prevailed.

The author can still vividly recall the frustration experienced as an NFO junior officer in VQ-2 from 1967 until 1970. In those early days, before the "enlightenment", an NFO was not allowed to lead a detachment as officer-in-charge, even if senior to the pilot. Fortunately, the Navy recognized the morale and other implications of such a policy, and by the mid-1970s NFOs had begun to garner a few command positions in Naval Aviation. Since CDR (now RADM) Dale Hagen's tenure, five other NFOs have commanded VQ-2 and a sixth, CDR Tom Quigley, at this writing, awaits in the wings as the XO at NS Rota, Spain.

CAPT J .E. Taylor, who had commanded VQ-2 June 1971-July 1972, bears the distinction of having commanded VQ-2 on two occasions. CAPT Taylor's second command tour came during October 1978-June 1980. The repeat performance occurred as a direct result of an overall deterioration in the quality of squadron operations and a corresponding need for strong, experienced leadership to overcome a difficult period in VQ-2's history. As an individual who had accumulated a total of four previous tours in the two VQ squadrons, as well as 10,000 flight hours, "CAPT Jack" was the logical choice to put VQ-2 back on track. For the three-week unscheduled turnover period until CAPT Taylor was able to return to Rota, CDR Robert L. Prehn came from CTF-67 staff to fill in as interim commanding officer.

CAPT Taylor and his XO, Tom Fritz, had their hands full re-establishing the unit's performance. However, through strong leadership and the dedication of the men and women of VQ-2, the squadron excelled, and was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period I March 1979 to 1 April 1980. In part, the citation accompanying the MUC read: "During this period, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two consistently displayed outstanding leadership, unparalleled expertise, and untiring dedication in ensuring the success of vital airborne reconnaissance endeavors."

The Frantic 1980s Begin

Satisfied that VQ-2 was back on course, CAPT Taylor relinquished command of the squadron to CDR Tom Fritz, who led VQ-2 from June 1980 until June 1981. As VQ-2 entered the 1980s, with the usual high standards of excellence restored, the squadron would face perhaps its most dynamic and productive period during peacetime operations. The Arab-Israeli situation, the "Crazy Colonel" Gadhafi in the Gulf of Sidra, a crisis in the Baltic involving Poland and the Soviet Union, and the ever-increasing activity level and modernization of the Soviet Navy, all kept the squadron's assets stretched very thin through CDR John Flynn's command tour. In addition to heavy tasking within the European theater, the Iranian Hostage Crisis and increasing tensions in Nicaragua pulled some of VQ-2's already scarce electronic reconnaissance assets out of their primary theater of operations.

As VQ-2 entered the mid-1980s, the frenzied pace of operations did not let up. The Arab-Israeli Bekka War, the continuing Beirut Crisis with the U.S. Marine barracks bombing, and the Sixth Fleet December 1983 air strike into Lebanon, allowed little leisure time for the squadron.

VQ-2's high op tempo and extreme professionalism from 1 June 1982 till 31 December 1983 did not go unnoticed. During this period VQ-2 won more unit awards than ever before in its history, including the first ever Battle "E" for a fleet air reconnaissance squadron. Under skipper Don East VQ-2 was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 1 June 1982-31 May 1983 "for meritorious service in connection with airborne reconnaissance in support of Second, Sixth and Seventh Fleet operations." The award citation went on to say: "Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two demonstrated an unprecedented capability to react to contingency requirements in the Atlantic, European and Indian Ocean Theaters. This outstanding performance, during a period of difficult and complex tasking, displayed aggressive enthusiasm and the highest degree of professionalism which made Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two the leader in battle group support and signals intelligence collection."

The second award won by VQ-2 during this 18-month period was the Navy Expeditionary Medal for its crucial role in the 1982 Lebanon Crisis. The squadron was awarded the NEM for the period August-November 1982. Finally, on 29 February 1984, VQ-2 was notified that it was recipient of the Battle "E" for 1983. This period spanned six months each of CDR East and CDR John Draper's CO tours. For this award, VQ-2 competed in the Special Mission category for NavAirLant squadrons.

CDR Draper turned over command of VQ-2 to CDR E.A. Caldwell as the situation in the Mediterranean remained intense through the mid-1980s. Terrorism continued to show its ugly head in the Achille Lauro hijacking incident and the follow-on U.S. Navy force-down of the Egyptian airliner carrying the Arab hijackers to freedom. In short order, these incidents were followed by the Rome and Vienna airport slaughters perpetrated by Arab terrorists and the resulting U.S./Libya confrontation. And so, the need for VQ-2's quick-reaction airborne electronic reconnaissance capabilities continued the ever-increasing spiral while the now 26-year-old EA-3B and 22-year-old EP-3Es struggled to meet the fast-paced demands.

Bringing VQ-2 Up to Date

Although one squadron lineman was killed in a ground accident 17 August 1980, VQ-2 experienced a period of no major aircraft accidents or flight casualties during the first seven years of the 1980s. After substantial damage from a bleed air leak in the center wing box to an EA-3B at Rota 5 June 1975 (no injuries), the squadron began a long series of major mishap-free flight hours.

CDR T.L. Hanson assumed command of VQ-2 in January 1986, with CDR Jay R. Kistler as XO, while activity in the Mediterranean remained at a high level. His command tenure began in the midst of the large-scale U.S. Navy operations in the Central Mediterranean off Libya. These operations were a strong message to Gadhafi and his state-sponsored terrorism. During these operations, a muscle-tensing situation developed as a VQ-2 EA-3B, operating from Coral Sea (CV-43), was intercepted by two Libyan MiG-25s 120 miles north of Tripoli. After coming close to the Whale and passing underneath it, the Foxbats left without incident. Interception of U.S. intelligence aircraft is not uncommon and usually passes without incident these days_ But it is never a comfortable situation and the recce crews are always faced with that great uncertainty.

It was VQ-2's operations during crisis situations such as those in the Central Mediterranean, as well as overall superior performance, that led to a second Battle "E" award during this period.

The January 1986 operations in the Central Med would not be the Navy's last encounter with the "Crazy Colonel", however, as two other clashes occurred in late March and mid-April. The first of these began when Sixth Fleet aircraft operating in .international waters of the Gulf of Sidra were fired upon by Libyan SA-5 missiles- During the next 24-hour period at least two Libyan missile patrol boats were destroyed by Navy tactical air and surface combatants, as was the Sirte SA-5 site guidance radar by AGM-88 (HARM) anti-radiation missiles. There were no U.S. losses.

The second period of hostilities occurred in the wake of Libyan terrorist bombings of a Berlin nightclub and a TWA airliner, where U.S. citizens were killed in each case. These Libyan-sponsored terrorist activities drew the military response promised by President Reagan, involving both Sixth Fleet and USAF F-111 assets in a major strike against Al Azziziyah Army Barracks, Tripoli's airport, the port of Sidi Bilal, Al Jumahiriya barracks and Benina Airfield.
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U.S. NAVY AIRBORNE ELECTRONIC RECONNAISSANCE TODAY AND TOMORROW


The People

Today VQ-1 and VQ-2 continue to produce top quality intelligence collection, while flying some of the oldest aircraft and employing some of the most motivated and professional personnel in the fleet. Like any military organization, the fleet air reconnaissance squadrons recognize people as their principal asset. To identify the unique talents of its officer and enlisted aircrewmen, the VQ squadrons employ the following personnel designation descriptions:

1.  Mission Commander- The MC designation is reserved for select pilots and NFOs, who by virtue of their extensive knowledge of the principles of electronic warfare, squadron aircraft operations and crew coordination, have been designated by their commanding officer as the individual ultimately responsible for conduct of the mission. This responsibility makes it imperative that the MC maintain full awareness of every aspect of the intelligence collection mission.

2.  Electronic Warfare Aircraft Commander- the EWAC is a pilot with a high degree of maturity, experience, aeronautical skill, ability to perform under stress and a knowledge of electronic warfare. His primary responsibility is to ensure the in flight safety of his aircraft and crew.

3.  Electronic Warfare Tactical Evaluator - The EVAL is a Naval Flight Officer tasked to manage the planning, collection and reporting requirements of the mission. The political sensitivities inherent in the various areas of VQ operations require the EVAL to be completely knowledgeable in areas of U.S. and foreign national objectives as well as military strategy and tactics.

4.  Electronic Warfare Navigator-the EWAN is an NFO with a complete understanding of several navigation systems as well as a thorough knowledge of the airborne electronic reconnaissance mission.

5.  Electronic Warfare Aircrewmen- The backbone of the VQ electronic warfare crew is made up of highly professional enlisted naval aircrewmen. The flight engineers on the EP-3E are usually drawn from the AD, AM and AE ratings. They are responsible for overall airworthiness of the airframe, from preflight through completion of postflight. In the EP-3E, the radioman's position is usually manned by an AT who must be fully knowledgeable of the aircraft communication/navigation systems. The EP-3E Airborne Electronic Supervisor, or "tech", is a senior AT who is responsible for ensuring all the sophisticated electronic warfare equipment is in optimum operating condition. The laboratory or "lab" operator is an airborne electronic warfare analyst whose tasks require a detailed knowledge of the complex analysis and recording systems of the aircraft. The bulk of the VQ naval aircrewmen aboard the EP-3E and EA-3B are designated Electronic Warfare Operators (EWOP). These highly trained technicians master the operations of complex electronic reconnaissance equipment as well as the myriad details of electromagnetic signals of interest.

Although the aircrew personnel seem to receive the primary focus of attention and publicity, they could not perform their vital mission effectively and safely without the dedicated efforts of the ground personnel. The VQ squadrons employ an extremely diverse spectrum of ground support personnel who are involved in such areas as aircraft and equipment maintenance, administration, training, intelligence, safety, signals analysis and reporting, legal, public affairs, and a variety of "creature comfort" functions. These personnel are equally as proficient and dedicated as the aircrews in their performance of mission.

In addition to the men and women in uniform, the VQ squadrons also employ a variety of DoD and industry contractor civilian personnel to perform certain highly-specialized functions. These VQ civilian personnel are fondly referred to as "the Q-Crabs".

One group of these civilians is furnished to the VQ squadrons by the Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare and Space Operations, Navy (REWSON) Division of the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. These individuals, operating in technical/operational pairs, act as special assistants to the VQ squadron CO as well as performing specified engineering functions in the squadron special projects "Bicycle Shop".

"Chuck" Christman began the VQ-1/REWSON association in 1955, and was paired with "Elmer" Ackerberg, who arrived in the mid-1960s. Christman remained with VQ-1 until 1979 when he was replaced by Larry Sharp. Winton Lowery and "Nick" Nickelson began the VQ-2 association in 1967, and were replaced in the 1970s by "Pete" Petersen and Max Richardson. John Boyd and "Mark" Franklin occupy the REWSON billets in VQ-2 today.

Other civilians supporting the VQ squadrons over the years have been the technical representatives (Tech Reps) of the Lockheed and Douglas Aircraft Corporations, as well as intermittent support by various computer and electronics companies. Some of these individuals, such as the late "Danny" King, have been ardent supporters of the VQ community, both on and off duty.

EW Training for VQ-1/VQ-2 Personnel

Part One of this history documented the establishment of the Special Projects School for Air at NAAS San Clemente Island, Calif., on 1 July 1944. Since then the training site for airborne electronic reconnaissance crewmen has relocated on several occasions. At various times the officer and enlisted training could be found in Washington, D.C.; at NAS Glynco, Georgia; or at NAAS Corry Field, Pensacola, Florida. The training for airborne electronic reconnaissance finally settled at Pensacola, at the Naval Technical Training Center Corry Field in 1974 as the Consolidated Navy Electronic Warfare School (CNEWS). The CNEWS facility remains there today, operating several courses structured for the individual needs of the electronic warfare evaluator, electronic warfare aircraft commander, and the various enlisted electronic warfare operators.

The VQ Squadrons Today (1987)

Today at NAS Agana, Guam, VQ-1 operates four EP-3E Aries, two EP-3B Batrack, seven EA-3B Skywarrior, two P-3A and one UP-3A Orion aircraft. At the time of this writing, VQ-1 was under command of CDR Earl R. Smith with a total complement of 120 officers, 950 enlisted and 6 civilian personnel. The squadron remains committed to providing airborne electronic reconnaissance support to Pacific area commanders, under the operational control of Commander Task Force 72 (CTF-72) located in Kami Seya, Japan.

In the past seven years, VQ-1 has monitored the dramatic buildup of the Soviet Pacific Fleet as considerable Kremlin emphasis was shifted to the Far East region. VQ-1 reconnaissance missions provide theater commanders and the national authorities with vital information relating the technical and operational capabilities of this growing Soviet Pacific Fleet. Pacific littoral conflict and crises also have drawn a considerable share of VQ-1 reconnaissance missions in recent years. Such occurrences as the KAL airliner shootdown, frequent flareups in Korea, the Chinese-Vietnamese conflict and the various Persian Gulf crises have kept the squadron on the move.

Finally, VQ-1 plays a major role in fleet exercises, acting as both Blue and Orange electronic reconnaissance assets. The squadron not only provides the opposing commanders with the near real-time intelligence required for tactical decisions, but also gains an excellent opportunity for squadron aircrew training.

At NS Rota, Spain, VQ-2 operates 14 aircraft: six EP-3E, six EA-3B, one P-3A, and one UA-3B. As of this writing, VQ-2 was under command of CDR Jay Kistler and had a total complement of 100 officers, 580 enlisted and 3 civilian personnel. VQ-2 continues its electronic reconnaissance support to European and Atlantic area commanders, under the operational control of Commander Task Force 67 (CTF-67) in NAF Naples, Italy.

In November 1985, VQ-2 celebrated the significant milestone of surpassing 10 1/2 years and a total of 70,000 major mishap-free flight hours. The clock for this record began 5 June 1975, after the EA-3B wing box incident. Attaining 70,000 hours of major mishap-free flying is acknowledged as a significant event in any U.S. Naval Aviation community, but it is especially noteworthy considering the 20-year plus age of the squadron's aircraft.

VQ-2 extended its safety record for more than another year. But on 25 January 1987, as' this history was being prepared, a tragic footnote was written when an EA-3B was lost at sea taking the lives of seven VQ-2 crewmen. The aircraft crashed while embarked in Nimitz (CVN-68), conducting operations in the Central Mediterranean. The Skywarrior, piloted by LTJG Alvin A. Levine, crashed into the water off the port side of Nimitz after an unsuccessful attempt at a night barricade arrestment. The EA-3B, BuNo 144850, broke up upon water impact and sank with no survivors. Subsequent SAR efforts located only debris. The pilot reportedly attempted the barricade arrestment after several unsuccessful tries at conventional arrestments and an aerial refueling. In addition to LTJG Levine, lost in the incident were navigator LCDR Ronald R. Callender, EW evaluators LTs Steven H. Batchelder and James D. Richards; aircrewmen AT3 Richard A. Hertzing, CT3 Patrick R. Price and CT3 Craig R. Rudolph. This incident marked the fifth loss of a VQ EA-3B aircraft while operating from carriers over a span of 23 years.

Because of the geographic and political nature of the region, VQ-2 is constantly stretched to its maximum operational limits. With the high tempo of Soviet naval operations from the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Northern Fleets in recent years, VQ-2 has spent a considerable amount of time "over the high seas". More importantly, VQ-2's theater of operation has been the scene of one major international crisis after another. For example, since 1980, VQ-2 operations have provided vital information on the Gulf of Sidra clashes, the Polish Worker Crisis, the Bekka War, the continuing East Mediterranean crisis including the evacuations of international civilians and the PLO, the Marine Barracks bombing and the TWA Flight 847 hijacking.

Today, VQ-2 remains heavily involved in support of the Sixth Fleet, conducting operations in the Central Mediterranean off Libya in connection with America's anti-terrorist stance. In addition to a heavily packed operational schedule, VQ-2 continues to provide electronic reconnaissance assets for both Blue and Orange force commanders in regional fleet exercises.

The VQ-2 squadron insignia probably best sums up what airborne electronic reconnaissance is all about. The emblem was designed in 1959 by LT Buckenhauer, who was killed shortly afterward in an aircraft accident. The black bat originally symbolized the P4M-1Q employed by the squadron in its earlier days. Today it represents the EP-3E and EA-3B. The lightning bolts are representative of electronic reconnaissance. The blue field and white stars represent the night sky which is the natural environment of the bat. The clouds represent high altitude flying and the use of cover, symbolizing undetected presence. The outer red border represents the original red field of the squadron flag, flown when VQ-2 was at NAF Port Lyautey, Morocco.

The Future

The future of the Navy's airborne electronic reconnaissance program must be viewed with a mix of pessimism and optimism. Had this research effort been completed before late 1986, a view of the future for VQ-I and -2 would have been entirely pessimistic! The current holders of the VQ legacy appeared to face only more old hand-me-down aircraft and "band aid" fixes for both carrier- and land based assets.

After more than 26 years of faithful service as the VQ carrier-based aircraft, the aging EA-3B is scheduled to be gradually retired by 1992. Tragically, there was to be no organic carrier capability replacement dedicated to airborne electronic reconnaissance. Instead, the replacement capability, named Battle Group Passive Horizon Extension System (BGPHES), was to be a "black box" installed in standard carrier-based S-3 Vikings. In its primary mode, the BGPHES would receive and automatically data link signals back to the carrier where they would be "processed" by non-aircrew personnel.
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Refueling from an A-7 in the Whale is, in the opinion of one VQ NFO, "a waste of both your times." It proved too much for a young VQ-2 pilot in Jan 1987, at night and under extreme conditions, resulting in his death and those of his six crewmen in a missed-barrier engagement on board Nimitz (CVN-68).

The disadvantages of such a system were immediately and intuitively obvious. Not only was the S-3 on a short, tight tether to the carrier because of transmission path limitations, but while flying this black box in the electronic reconnaissance role, the S-3 would be effectively taken out of its primary ASW mission. Most importantly, however, there would be no trained and experienced VQ "team in the sky" to provide the all-important operational flexibility and the immediate distillation of information for use by battle group commanders. Instead, there would be a flow of unevaluated information back to the carrier for subsequent evaluation and distillation. Such an operation removed the VQ aircrew talent from the carrier where it has always provided a synergistic interaction with specialized command spaces such as CIC. Perhaps the ultimate flaw in this program was the effective severing of the carrier experience carried back to the VQ squadrons by the EA-3 B detachments. Without this personal fleet input to the VQ squadrons from the tailhook community, the ability of the squadrons to understand and fulfill the information needs of the battle group decision makers would be dramatically diminished.

In late 1986, fleet opposition to the BGPHES concept as a replacement for the EA-3B capability finally resulted in a new approach. This plan involves acquisition of a replacement airframe that will be organic to the carrier, dedicated solely to the mission of airborne electronic reconnaissance, and operated by the fleet experts in this field the VQ-1 and -2 "Batmen". The latest initiative is being processed for the current budget, providing for 16 low-time S-3 airframes. This concept must receive strong and immediate Navy, DoD and Congressional approval if a viable airborne electronic reconnaissance capability is to continue within the carrier battle group/force structure!

The land-based VQ assets also are in a perilous position. The current EP-3E airframes are 21-23 years old and the "backend" sensor equipment is largely of 1960s technology. The EP-3Es are the oldest P-3A airframes currently being operated by the Navy. The only Navy program on the books to upgrade the land-based portion of the VQ capability is called CILOP (Conversion in Lieu of Procurement). This program is another in a historic series of "band aid" fixes to Navy airborne electronic reconnaissance. CILOP involves the conversion of 12 P-3C baseline (original model) Orions as replacements for the ancient EP-3Es. True to tradition, these aircraft are already an average of 10 years old and will be turning 12 or 13 before they enter operational service with VQ-1 and VQ-2. Even worse, the "backend" electronic reconnaissance equipment will initially be mostly the same 1960 technology, simply refurbished and cross-decked from the current EP-3E to the CILOP P-3C.

A researcher will find messages and open public statements where battle group commanders and other Navy leaders have lauded the virtues of the VQ capability. Battle group deployment debriefs and crisis after-action reports have consistently stated that the VQ capability, both carrier- and land-based, was totally indispensable to the conduct of operations. These same commanders have continually stated the operational need for significant improvements and updates to the electronic reconnaissance capability. Amazingly and indescribably, however, until late 1986 these repeated requests had fallen upon deaf ears. Somehow, the lucidly-demonstrated need for modern organic battle group and theater airborne electronic reconnaissance capabilities consistently failed to be translated into actual assets.

Some feel this benign neglect of the VQ capability was primarily due to the age-old unkept promise by the "national sensors" to provide tactical commanders with near real-time operational and technical intelligence data. Others feel it was primarily reluctance on the part of the "hard kill" advocates to recognize the electronic warfare "soft kill" as an integral part of their sensor and weapon suite. In other words, they failed specifically to understand and/or appreciate the force multiplier effect of airborne electronic reconnaissance. Without the explicit support of the "hard kill" bomb, droppers and missile shooters in the U.S. Navy, the miniscule VQ community cannot separately garner the support necessary to obtain and maintain state-of-the-art aircraft platforms and sensors. If the old Navy saying "community size translates to the health and well being of the capability" is true, then it is no wonder the very small VQ program appears terminally ill!

At the moment, the Navy has a nucleus of well trained and motivated personnel with which to conduct the airborne electronic reconnaissance mission. These individuals fully understand the significance of Thomas Jefferson's words "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Specifically, as of February 1987, 210 airborne electronic reconnaissance personnel had died in the line of duty. Without strong and immediate support for the VQ community, 44 years of history, tradition and urgently required operational capability will rapidly cease to exist in the U.S. Navy

This history is dedicated to those two hundred men who gave their lives under hostile fire and in aircraft accidents while involved in airborne electronic reconnaissance in the service of their country. Memories of their ultimate sacrifice and dedication will bear the VQ community through the lean years.
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"Greater love hath no man, that he give up his life for others."


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author is grateful to CAPTs Jack Taylor and "J.D." Meyer who took the time to make corrections to the first draft, and to provide photographs, newspaper clippings and their personal remembrances to this effort. Other individuals who provided significant data inputs and/or photographs were: MCPO Bill Dickson, USN(Ret); Winton Lowery, Pete Petersen and Chuck Christman, who were with VQ-1/2 as REWSON employees; LT George Phillips; Rex Glasby; LCDR Dick McBurnett; CAPT Bob Christman; CAPT Ivan Hughes; Bob Phillips; CDR Don Hubbard, USN(Ret); Freeman Dias; Roy Grossnick, Naval Aviation Historian; and Mike Walker of the Navy Operational Archives. Also, my wife Lou contributed significantly to this project with her patient proofreading expertise and encouragement during severe periods of Rhode Island wintertime "cabin fever".

Additionally, the author wishes to cite the following publications as sources for his research:

Bamfort, James. The Puzzle Palace. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1982.

Carroll, John M. Secrets of Electronic Espionage. E.P. Dutton and Company: New York, 1966.

Infield, Glenn B. Unarmed and Unafraid. The MacMillan Company: London, 1970.

Price, Alfred. The History of U.S. Electronic Warfare, Volume I. The Murray
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UPDATE "...I'm trying to get in contact with Don C. East IRT the VQ-1 and VQ-2 History Circa 1951 - 1987 History Summary Pages. I'm trying to identify some folks in a picture that I believe was taken at the same CoC ceremony he has posted on the website. I've attached the two photos however the one from the website is not as clear as I had hoped. If I could get any information about where his original came from it may help me find out more about mine. Thanks in advance..." Contributed by Vincent Hadus vincent.hadus@navy.mil [11SEP2012]
History - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail History - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail

Circa 1950

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VQ-1 and VQ-2, commissioned in the mid 1950s, were preceded by specially equipped aircraft and trained crews in small detachments with an Officer in Charge (OIC) administratively attached to other squadrons and units under operational control of the local theatre commanders, CINCNELM and CINCPAC, and responsible to the Special Project Division OP-922Y in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Some of these squadrons were VC-11, VP-26, VW-1 Detachment A, VW-2 Detachment A, NCU-32G, and NCU-38N. Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons One and Two (FAIRECONRON) are VQ-1 and VQ-2, initially designated Electronic Countermeasures Squadrons (ECMRON) until re-designated in 1960. I have compiled a list of the personnel who died in VQ aircraft accidents, and will provide it upon an email request...Chuck Huber cerebralhush@gmail.com..." [16JAN2003]


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