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5th Bombardment Squadron

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Title: 5th Bombardment Squadron  
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Subject: McCoy Air Force Base, List of B-29 Superfortress operators, 313th Air Division, Río Hato Airport, Brooksville Army Airfield
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5th Bombardment Squadron

5th Reconnaissance Squadron

5th Reconnaissance Squadron Patch
Active 5 May 1917 – 11 November 1918
24 October 1919 – 20 October 1948
1 May 1949 – 25 June 1966
1 July 1986 – 30 June 1990
1 October 1994 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Reconnaissance and Surveillance
Part of Air Combat Command
8th Air Force
9th Reconnaissance Wing
9th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Osan Air Base
Nickname Blackcats
Engagements World War I
World War II
Decorations AFOUA
For other uses, see 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (disambiguation).

The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (5 RS) is part of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California but is geographically separated.


The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron conducts operations from Osan Air Base, South Korea. It operates U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions.


The 5th was a flying training unit in 1917 and 1918. The squadron participated in Billy Mitchell's demonstrations of effectiveness of aerial bombardment on warships, June–September 1921.

World War II

Sixth Air Force

A unit of the 9th Bombardment Group, this unit deployed to Rio Hato Army Air Base, Panama with that Group on 13 November 1940, at which time it was designated as the 5th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), this being changed to (Heavy) five days later.

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

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

In May 1942, the Squadron was formally assigned to the Antilles Air Task Force/Antilles Air Command, still at Beane Field, and, in October 1942, was ordered back to the United States at Orlando Army Airbase, Florida where the unit converted to B-24 Liberators and was assigned to the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, training aircrews in advanced combat tactics.

B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan

It was re-designated in March 1944 as a B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron. When training was completed, moved to North Field Tinian in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.

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

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

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

Strategic Air Command

It maintained alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 and conducted reconnaissance pilot training from, 1986–1990.[1]

On 1 October 1994, the 5 RS was reactivated as a subordinate unit to the 9th Operations Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing, at Beale Air Force Base, California. It is tasked with a real-world reconnaissance mission reportable to the U.S. Forces Korea, United States Pacific Command, Air Combat Command, along with other national authorities through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There are approximately 200 personnel assigned to the 5 RS.[2]

Since 1976, the unit has flown more than 7,000 operational sorties, utilizing an integrated suite of all-weather multi-spectral sensors. The unit has maintained a 98 percent mission effectiveness rating, despite challenging weather and a long logistics trail. Significant past events include the 1976 DMZ "tree cutting" incident in which two U.S. officers lost their lives. The unit provided continuous coverage of the area during the tense period that followed. Since 1976, surge operations have been conducted many times due to heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. In 1987, President Chun Doo-hwan visited the detachment to honor the unit for its outstanding contribution to the security of the country. In addition to its real world mission, the unit has flown humanitarian sorties to assess ROK environmental concerns, such as flood damage, and assist the Philippines in surveying the devastation caused by the Mount Pinatubo eruption.[2]

Modern era

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

Operations and Decorations

  • Combat Operations: Flying training unit, 1917–1918. Antisubmarine patrols, and reconnaissance of Vichy French fleet at Martinique, Dec 1941 – Oct 1942. Combat in Western Pacific, 25 Jan-15 Aug 1945. Maintained alert during Cuban missile crisis, Oct 1962. Conducted U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance, 1994–.
  • Campaigns: World War II: Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Offensive, Japan; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific.


  • Organized as 5th Aero Squadron on 5 May 1917
Redesignated Squadron A, Souther Field, GA, on 15 July 1918
Demobilized on 11 November 1918
  • Reconstituted, and consolidated (1924) with 5th Aero Squadron, which was organized on 24 October 1919.
Redesignated: 5th Squadron (Observation) on 14 March 1921
Redesignated: 5th Observation Squadron on 25 January 1923
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron on 1 March 1935
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 6 December 1939
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on 28 March 1944
Inactivated on 20 October 1948
  • Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic, and activated, on 1 May 1949.
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 1 April 1950
Redesignated: 5th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, on 2 October 1950
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 June 1966
  • Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Training Squadron on 12 February 1986
Activated on 1 July 1986
Inactivated on 30 June 1990
  • Redesignated 5th Reconnaissance Squadron on 21 September 1994
Activated on 1 October 1994.

Note: There is no relationship to the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long Range, Photographic) which was inactivated on 20 October 1947 [1]


  • Unknown, 1917–1918
  • 3d Observation Group
Attached to Eastern Department 24 October 1919
  • Eastern Department, 24 March 1920
  • Second Corps Area, 20 August 1920
Attached to 1 Provisional Air Brigade for operations, 6 May-3 October 1921
  • 9th Observation Group, 1 August 1922
  • 1 Division, Air Service (later, 1 Division, Air Corps; 1 Division, Aviation), 30 June 1923
Attached to 9th Observation Group, 30 June 1923-15 February 1929
Attached to 9th Bombardment Wing, 10 February 1951-15 June 1952






See also


  • 5th Reconnaissance Squadron History
  • 5th Reconnaissance Squadron Fact Sheet

External links

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