58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
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|58th Reconnaissance Squadron|
Emblem of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron
|Branch||United States Air Force|
The 58th Reconnaissance Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force Reserve squadron. Its last was assigned to the 4900th Test Group, stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. It was inactivated in 1974.
Activated in early 1943 under Fourth Air Force; spent World War II in the United States as an Operational Training Unit (OTU), initially equipped with P-39 Aircobras for advanced fighter training. Reassigned to Third Air Force in 1944, becoming a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) for A-36 Apache fighter-dive bomber ground attack aircraft.
Reassigned to Stuttgart AAB, Arkansas in 1945 and realigned into a long-range strategic weather reconnaissance squadron, training with B-25 Mitchells and long-ranger P-61C Black Widow Night Fighters modified for weather reconnaissance missions. Reassigned to Rapid City AAB, South Dakota in late 1945, using P-61Cs as part of a NACA/Air Weather Service Thunderstorm Project to learn more about thunderstorms and to use this knowledge to better protect civil and military airplanes that operated in their vicinity. The P-61's radar and particular flight characteristics enabled it to find and penetrate the most turbulent regions of a storm, and return crew and instruments intact for detailed study. Inactivated in 1946 as part of the general demobilization of the AAF.
Reactivated as part of Strategic Air Command in 1951 in Alaska, Equipped with very long range WB-29 Superfortresses 1951, upgrading to extended long-range WB-50D Superfortresses in 1956. Conducted long-range weather flights over the Arctic and along the northern periphery of the Soviet Union; the aircraft being equipped with sensors for detecting radioactive debris to gather evidence when the Soviets tested nuclear devices. Inactivated in 1958 as part of the phaseout of the WB-50s from SAC and development of faster jet aircraft for the long-range intelligence mission.
Reactivated in 1964 at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico with RB-57F Canberra reconnaissance aircraft. Most of the RB-57Fs were converted from B-57B airframes, modified for high altitude, long range intelligence gathering, assigned to the meteorological role. Part of their duties involved high-altitude atmospheric sampling and radiation detection work in support of nuclear test monitoring. Over the next decade the RB-57Fs were flown on a worldwide basis at very high altitudes at high speeds. Stress cracks began appearing in the wing spars and ribs of the RB-57Fs after a few years of service. Some were sent to General Dynamics for repairs. Due to the excessive cost of repairing all the aircraft, nine were placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in 1972.
The 58th WRS was the last squadron in the Air Force to use the WB-57F Canberra, was deactivated on July 1, 1974 after placing its planes in storage at Davis-Monthan.
- Constituted 400th Fighter Squadron on May 26, 1943
- Activated on August 1, 1943
- Redesignated: 400th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on April 5, 1944
- Redesignated: 400th Fighter Squadron on June 5, 1944
- Redesignated: 58th Reconnaissance Squadron (Weather) on July 7, 1945
- Inactivated on May 31, 1946
- Redesignated: 58th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather, and activated February 20, 1951
- Redesignated: 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, February 15, 1954
- Inactivated August 8, 1958
- Reactivated on 1 February 1964, assuming assets of inactivated 1211th Test Squadron
- Inactivated on 1 July 1974
- 369th Fighter Group, August 1, 1943
- Continental Air Forces
- Third Air Force, July 7, 1945
- III Reconnaissance Command, July 21, 1945
- Fifteenth Air Force, March 31 – May 31, 1946
- Air Weather Service
- 4900th Test Group, 1 February 1964 - 1 July 1974.
- Hamilton AAF, California, August 1, 1943
- Oroville AAF, California, November 2, 1943
- Hamilton AAF, California, March 16, 1944
- DeRidder Army Airbase Louisiana, March 28, 1944
- Stuttgart AAF, Arkansas, February 8, 1945
- Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, July 21, 1945
- Rapid City AAF, South Dakota, July 28, 1945 – May 31, 1946
- Eielson AFB, Alaska, February 21, 1951 – August 8, 1958
- Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, 1 February 1964-1 July 1974
- P-39 Airacobra, 1943–1944
- A-36 Apache, 1944
- Curtiss P-40, 1944–1945
- B-25 Mitchell, 1945–1946
- P-61 Black Widow, 1945–1946
- WB-29 Superfortress, 1951–1956
- WB-50 Superfortress, 1956–1958
- WB-57F Canberra, 1964–1974
Crash and notable events
- 25 September 1953 – A 58 WRS WB-29-100BW (45-21872A) crashed just after takeoff two miles north of Eielson AFB. Captain Charles F. Baker, a weather observer assigned to the unit, was the only fatality.
- 31 August 1956 – A 58th Reconnaissance Squadron WB-50D (49-315), recently dubbed the "Golden Heart" in honor of the city of Fairbanks, crashed into the Susitna River near Willow. All eleven aboard died.
- 17 January 1957 – A WB-50D (48-093) assigned to the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron crashed shortly after takeoff approximately three miles north of Eielson AFB. All 12 crewmembers were killed.
- Northrop P-61 Black Widow—The Complete History and Combat Record, Garry R. Pape, John M. Campbell and Donna Campbell, Motorbooks International, 1991.
- Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0-89201-097-5
- 59 Weather Reconnaissance Squadron - Lineage and History