44th Reconnaissance Squadron
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The 44th Reconnaissance Squadron is an active squadron of the United States Air Force, stationed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, where it operates unmanned aerial vehicles. The squadron is assigned to the 732d Operations Group.
|44th Reconnaissance Squadron
44th Reconnaissance Squadron Martin B-10B
|Active||1917–1919; 1922–1927; 1931–1944; 1944–1946; 2015–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Combat Command|
|Engagements||American Theater of World War II|
Pacific Theater of World War II
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
|44th Reconnaissance Squadron emblem (approved 20 January 1925)|
As the 430th Bombardment Squadron it saw combat with the 502d Bombardment Group in the closing months of World War II, flying from Northwest Field, Guam, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation. It remained in the Pacific until it was inactivated on 15 April 1946.
World War IEdit
The first predecessor of the squadron was established as the 44th Aero Squadron at Camp Kelly, Texas in June 1917, shortly after the United States' entry into World War I. The squadron moved to Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio in August apparently serving as a flying training unit with Standard SJ-1, Curtiss JN-4, and possibly Dayton-Wright DH-4 aircraft. When Air Service training units were reorganized as lettered field squadrons in 1918, the squadron became Squadron K (later Squadron P), Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio. The squadron was demobilized in April 1919.
Inter war yearsEdit
The second predecessor of the squadron was organized in June 1922 as the 44th Squadron (Observation) at Post Field, Oklahoma, where it flew Dayton-Wright DH-4 and evidently Douglas O-2 aircraft conducting training with the Field Artillery School. The two squadrons were consolidated in 1924, with the consolidated unit retaining the name 44th Observation Squadron. In June 1927, the squadron moved to March Field, California, where it was inactivated at the end of July.
Reactivated in the Panama Canal Zone in April 1931. It was the sole reconnaissance unit in the Canal Zone at the time, flying light reconnaissance aircraft over both approaches of the canal. The 44th was the first Air Corps unit to occupy Albrook Field after it opened in 1932-33.
World War IIEdit
It was redesignated as the 44th Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 September 1937, had the suffix designation (Medium Range) added on 6 December 1939 and, on 20 November 1940 this was changed to (Heavy). The status of the unit changed from "assigned" to "attached" to the 16th Pursuit Group from 1 February 1940. Later, on 20 November 1940, the unit was attached to the 9th Bombardment Group.
The Squadron had been among the first Canal Zone-based units to re-equip with the Douglas B-18 Bolo, which joined the unit as early as December 1938, although several veteran Thomas-Morse O-19C biplanes were still rendering good service as well. In June 1941, the Squadron began to receive Boeing B-17B Flying Fortresses from units in the United States upgrading to the C or D models. The Squadron moved from Albrook to Howard Field on 8 July, ending its nine-year stint at Albrook. There, with five B-18s, one B-18A and the B-17B, the Squadron commenced long range reconnaissance training in earnest.
The assignment to Howard Field was short lived and the squadron moved to Atkinson Field, British Guiana on 27 October 1941, the move didn't actually transpire until 4 November, the attachment to the 9th Bomb Group (H) continuing. Unfortunately, conditions at Atkinson were not adequate to support the B-17B, and it was left behind in Panama, being transferred to the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prior to the unit's departure.
From British Guiana, the squadron operated as an element of the infant Trinidad Base Command at Atkinson Field. In late 1941, with the coming of war, the unit immediately commenced far-ranging patrols with its remaining three B-18's and, now, two B-18A's. The attachment to the 9th Bomb Group became a formal assignment on 25 February 1942, and, by mid-February, following an accident to one of its B-18s and severe maintenance problems with the other aircraft (one other B-18 and two B-18As), the Squadron could count only one B-18A as airworthy and ready for action.
The unit commander also reported that he had "no fully combat trained crews," and, considering that this was the only Air Corps unit at Atkinson at the time, things had deteriorated dangerously. Apparently there was a recognition of this dire situation within the squadron for, on 22 April 1942, the unit was reorganized entirely as the 430th Bombardment Squadron.
Later that year, the 430th returned to the United States, being assigned as a B-17 Flying Fortress training unit at the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics in Florida.
At the end of March 1944, with the closing of heavy bomber training, the squadron was redesignated a Very Heavy bomber squadron and assigned to Second Air Force for B-29 Superfortress conversion training at Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas. Initially equipped with B-17 Flying Fortresses for training, due to shortage of B-29s.
Combat in the PacificEdit
After completion of training the squadron deployed to the Central Pacific Area, where it became part of XXI Bomber Command at Northwest Field (Guam) for operational missions. B-29Bs were standard production aircraft stripped of most defensive guns to increase speed and bomb load, The tail gun was aimed and fired automatically by the new AN/APG-15B radar fire control system that detected the approaching enemy plane and made all the necessary calculations.
The mission of the squadron was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. Entered combat on 16 June 1945 with a bombing raid against an airfield on Moen. Flew first mission against the Japanese home islands on 26 June 1945 and afterwards operated principally against the enemy's petroleum industry. Flew primarily low-level, fast attacks at night using a mixture of high-explosive and incendary bombs to attack targets.
Flew last combat mission on 15 August 1945, later flew in "Show of Force" mission on 2 September 1945 over Tokyo Bay during formal Japanese Surrender. Inactivated on Guam 15 April 1946, personnel returned to the United States and aircraft sent to storage in Southwest United States.
Unmanned vehicle operationsEdit
The squadron returned to its designation of 44th Reconnaissance Squadron when it was activated at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada on 1 April 2015 to fly unmanned aerial vehicles in the reconnaissance role.
- 44th Aero Squadron
- Organized as the 44th Aero Squadron on 30 June 1917
- Redesignated Squadron K, Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio in October 1918
- Redesignated Squadron P, Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio in November 1918
- Demobilized on 30 April 1919
- Reconstituted and consolidated with the 44th Observation Squadron as the 44th Observation Squadron on 8 April 1924
- 430th Bombardment Squadron
- Authorized as the 44th Squadron (Observation) on 10 June 1922
- Organized on 26 June 1922
- Redesignated 44th Observation Squadron on 25 January 1923
- Consolidated with Squadron P, Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio on 8 April 1924
- Inactivated on 31 July 1927
- Activated on 1 April 1931
- Redesignated 44th Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 September 1937
- Redesignated 44th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium Range) on 6 December 1939
- Redesignated 44th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940
- Redesignated 430th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 April 1942
- Redesignated 430th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 28 March 1944
- Inactivated on 10 May 1944
- Activated on 1 June 1944
- Inactivated on 15 April 1946
- Redesignated 44th Reconnaissance Squadron on 19 February 2015
- Activated on 1 April 2015.
- Unknown, 1917–1919
- Eighth Corps Area, 26 June 1922 (attached to Field Artillery School, c. August 1922)
- Air Corps Training Center, c. 25 June – 31 July 1927
- 6th Composite Group, 1 April 1931 (attached to 16th Pursuit Group, c. December 1932)
- 16th Pursuit Group, 1 September 1937
- Probably assigned to 19th Wing (later 19th Bombardment Wing), 1 February 1940 (attached to 16th Pursuit Group)
- Probably assigned to Panama Canal Air Force, 20 November 1940 (attached to 9th Bombardment Group)
- 9th Bombardment Group, 25 February 1942 – 10 May 1944
- 502d Bombardment Group, 1 June 1944 – 15 April 1946
- 732d Operations Group, 1 April 2015 – present
- Standard SJ-1, 1917–1919
- Curtiss JN-4, 1917–1919
- Possibly Dayton-Wright DH-4, 1917–1919
- Dayton-Wright DH-4, 1922–1927
- Evidently Douglas O-2, 1922–1927
- Douglas OA-4 Dolphin, 1931–1939
- Thomas-Morse O-19, 1932–1937
- Martin B-10, 1936–1939
- Douglas B-18 Bolo, 1938–1942
- Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943–1944
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1943–1944
- North American B-25 Mitchell, 1943–1944
- Martin B-26 Marauder, 1943–1944
- Boeing C-73, 1943–1944
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 1944–1946
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 529-530
- Bailey, Carl E. (4 December 2015). "Factsheet 44 Reconnaissance Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
- Conaway, William. "430th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)". VI Bomber Command In Defense Of The Panama Canal 1941 - 45.
- Clay, p. 1408
- Lineage in Bailey, except as noted.
- Probably assigned to Post Headquarters, Kelly Field and Wilbur Wright Field.
- Clay indicates assigned to 3d Cavalry Division on 28 February 1927. Clay, p. 1408
- Conaway, William. "9th Bombardment Group (Heavy)". VI Bomber Command In Defense Of The Panama Canal 1941 - 45.
- Assignments in Bailey, except as noted.
- Clay, Steven E. (2011). US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 (PDF). Vol. 3 The Services: Air Service, Engineers, and Special Troops 1919-1941. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-98419-014-0. LCCN 2010022326. OCLC 637712205. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Conaway, William. "VI Bomber Command In Defense Of The Panama Canal 1941 - 45". Planes and Pilots Of World War Two.