Cold War Museum — Volkswagen Constellation

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Volkswagen Constellation

The Cold War Museum

The Beginnings

of the early days of the Navy’s electronic reconnaissance efforts in the area are vague. Through of unit histories, personal and with some speculation, the information has been discerned.

In the same way as in the Pacific, the Navy’s airborne aerial reconnaissance in Europe had its genesis with squadrons in World ,War It appears that one of these squadrons had a secondary task of recce. At the end of the war, VP-1I4 had a detachment of Consolidated PB4Y-I based at NAS Port Lyautey, Morocco. Following the war, June 1950, the squadron designated VP-HL-6 and finally which it carries today) a permanent detachment of PB4Y-2 at Port Lyautey, while the squadron switched between the base and NAS Patuxent River, Md.

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

The primary areas for the electronic reconnaissance of VP-26’s “4Y-2”s were the and Adriatic Seas, with against Soviet radar The squadron’s “electronic” Privateers from Port Lyautcy the guise of acting as courier for US. embassies and missions throughout Scandinavia and Western Asia. one of these Baltic Sea missions the first in a long series of of the “Cold War” involving reconnaissance aircraft and Sino-Soviet

On 8 April 1950, a VP-26 (BuNo 59645) and its ten-man were lost in the Western Sea, apparently after attacked by Soviet aircraft 80 nm southeast of Gotland Island. in April the Privateer had deployed Port Lyautey to the U.S. Air Base at Wiesbaden, Germany. one crewman on the ground, Aviation Technician- Stephen Zakian, the bomber took off at 1031 8 April on a classified mission.

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

At the aircraft reported it was flying Bremerhaven, Germany, and at 1440 its last radio report. At VP-26 headquarters at Port received a dispatch from the officer of the U.S. Naval in Bremerhaven Stating PB4Y-2 number 59645 was declared by USAF Flight Service in According to a later Soviet the Navy aircraft was sighted at on 8 April over Leyaya, Latvia, and mistakenly identified as a bomber. It was then intercepted and to land, whereupon it reportedly fire with the Russian and headed out to sea. The credibility of the report was seriously weakened by the that the Privateer’s only was a .45 cal. pistol carried by one of the crewmen.

According to subsequently VP-26 reports, by 0400 on 9 three PB4Y-2s were from Port Lyautey to to conduct a search for BuNo VP-26 Privateers piloted by LT LTJG Linker and a third by LT with the squadron executive on board, were launched in order. After a short in Wiesbaden, the aircraft moved on to Denmark, and initiated search by the 10th. Before the search a fourth VP-26 Privateer and 25 USAF aircraft would the Baltic for ten days.

A life identified as VP-26 property, was up by a Swedish fishing vessel a few 5fter the search was suspended. the British freighter Beechland an empty aircraft life from the Baltic Sea 45 miles of Stockholm. The raft was positively by the serial and contract numbers as been issued to a PB4Y-2. the incident a stiff note of and a rebuttal of the Soviet report was to the Russian government by the U.S. Department.

Numerous Soviet and air contacts were reported by search aircraft, and in the VP-26 report, at least two PB4Y-2 radar operators reported modulated radar jamming. The obliterated the APS-15 scopes in up to sectors for as long as three The reports varied as to the origin of the but it was believed to have originated a Soviet submarine or from in Latvia.

No trace of the ten-man was ever found and eventually were presumed dead. The were: LTs John H. Fette and W. Skeschaf; LTJG Robert D. ENS Tommy L. Burgess; AD1s Joe H. Jr. and Jack W. Thomas; AT1 Frank L. CT3 Edward J. Purcell; AL3 Joseph J. and AT3 Joseph N. Rinnier Jr.

VP-26 in front of old French BOQ at Port ca. 1950. Back Row, left: Ken Lampkin, Harry Ed Tomko, Avn Midn Ken Owen, Rice, Swede Erickson, Kirkland, Ned Hayes, Boyce Walt Marusa, Bill *Bob Reynolds, Dave Avn Midn Jim West and *Jack Front: Mead Massa, Ken Dennis Henderson, Fred Ed Siergiej, CDR Whilener, CDR Johnston, Murphey, Avn Midn Chuck Lew Julian, Chandler Smith, Seeschaff, Bob Stafford, Don Heberling, Doc (*Shot down over the in BuNo 59645)

NAS Parr French Morocco, was base of clandestine operations from

VP-26 Det 214 crew, ca. early Back row, from LTJG Harwood, LTJG Avn Midn Hubbard, ENS Garrison, Ambler; LTJC Schwager, Reed, LTJC Finnegan, Pollard, LTs James and McKinney. McKinnis, Amato, Barber, Marshal and unidentified. Fron Kraus, (?), Zimmerman, Linn, (?), Ryan, (?), (.?), Meehan, Cook, Cassese, Geeding, Michels, Hall, Almori and

Three of VP-26’s special Privateers over the Med 1950.

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

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

The Unit Forms

Although evidence is sparse, it appears concurrent with VP-26’s from Port Lyautey in the of 1950, a new unit was formed utilizing three VP-26 det and some operating personnel the squadron. This organization, NAF Patrol Unit . was manned by 70 personnel and was dedicated to the mission of aerial reconnaissance for the European

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

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

Mr. Dias recalled the had some protection against the present threat of communist in the form of 20mm nose and guns along with a .50 upper fuselage turret. with this protection were, nevertheless, instances of action against the reconnaissance For instance, sketchy information a P4M-1Q shot up badly a mission in late 1951 or 1952. A LT Huddleston was the Mercator during the attempted shootdown where at least one crewman was

Upon VP-26’s 1950 from Port Lyautey, NAF Unit was formed to assume the airborne electronic reconnaissance Initially acquiring VP-26’s PB4Y-2s, they were traded for these three Mercators, modified from the Marlin patrol bomber. By May the unit was redesignated VW2 Det Able, as the toward establishment of VQ-2

Growing out of the resources of VW-2 Det A, was established I Sep 1955 at Port and acquired its “JQ” tailcode. called Electronic Countermeasures Two, The name was changed 1 Jan to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron

By May 1953 NAF Patrol Unit was Detachment Able of Airborne Warning Squadron Two (VW-2). Det Able operated much the as VP-26’s det, a permanent at Port Lyautey under a homeported at NAS Patuxent River. In the a twin unit, VW-I Det conducted reconnaissance from NS Point.

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

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

The Arrival of New Assets

The newer and carrier-capable A3D-1Q Skywarrior arriving at VQ-2 in September During July two VQ-2 had begun familiarization training at River and in September ferried the two Skywarriors to Port Lyautey. on 6 December, the A3D-1Q flew its operational mission with Kalin as the pilot.

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

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

Near the end of Sparks’ an interesting article appeared in El the Naval Base Rota, newspaper on 26 September 1958: of the U.S. Navy’s hottest bombers, a twin-jet Douglas A3D . roared down the runway of the naval complex here morning and was logged as the first jet to make an operational landing at the base. The powerful, near bomber was piloted here her home base at Port by CDR Robert R. Sparks. The copilot was CDR Sigley.“ Although not stated in the the visit to Rota by the VQ-2 CO and XO was in conjunction with the upcoming of the squadron from Morocco to

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

The Move to Rota and More New

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

But operations go on, and on 26 February the squadron received the two Lockheed WV-2Q Super . or, more popularly, “Willie . On 31 March 1960 VQ-2 had an of five A3D-2Q, two WV-2Q, P2V-5F and two P4M-1Qs. The P2V-5F and were soon to be phased Meanwhile, the newer WV-2Q and continued to arrive at the squadron. In 1962 the WV-2Q would be EC-12IM and the A3D-2Q became the Regardless of what designation bore, these Willie . or “Connies” . and Skywarriors, or “Whales“, serve the VQ community for many to come.

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

While under the command of CDR Fitzwater, on 22 May 1962 tragedy struck the squadron when a operating from Furstenfeldbruk, Germany, was lost in a mishap its 26-man crew. For unexplained the tail section of the Connie in flight, resulting in an uncontrollable

As a petty officer second the author, then stationed the Naval Security Group Bremerhaven, was detailed to the crash to assist in recovery of classified In a bizarre incident one of the crewmen to be in the aircraft’s head, which was all the way when the empennage broke off at the cargo door point. The tail section, with its passenger, was reported by several to have “flown” in a wide arc the breakup and made a semi-controlled in a large freshly-plowed farm The crewman, apparently unhurt up to point, was thrown from the section directly into a where he was killed instantly a broken neck.

In military speed often means The arrival of A3D-1Q (EA-3A) in Sep 1956 to VQ-2 greatly the survivability of squadron aircrew. VQ-l and -2 Mercator “sitting had several encounters with fighters on both sides of the Union resulting in losses of and crew.

The Series of Peacetime Begins

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

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

the decade of the sixties, VQ-2 took on a more direct fleet support role. role was primarily in response to a growing and modernizing Soviet which had established a continuous in the Mediterranean Sea, concurrent the Cyprus Crisis. In the years to VQ-2 would experience a increase in the number of its electronic missions tasked against the Navy in the Mediterranean and other areas.

WV:2Q (EC-121M) Victors” came to VQ-2 in the ’50s, just prior to the move to NS Rota, Spain, in January 1959.

P2 V:5, similar to this and -5F Neptunes were utilized in the recce role until

A3D-2Q with its advance support vans at Rota in WV:2Q is in background.

CO CDR Art Elder A3D-2Q aboard Independence (C for touch-and-go 25 Jan 1961 to become the VQ pilot to take a VQ airplane a carrier.

Diminutive A-4C of VA-64 refuels Whale the Med during VQ-2 operations America (CVA-66) in Jan 1966. VQ-2 permanent carrier det in Saratoga (CVA-60) in Jan 1965. For the part, VQ-2 operated during late ’50s to ’60s.

Partly because of the of the Soviet Navy as a new factor in the European theater, the first EA-3B detachment went a Mediterranean-based carrier in January under Skipper CDR C.A. Since this initial det embarked in Saratoga (CVA-60), has provided almost continuous reconnaissance support to Sixth carriers. The first loss of a Skywarrior during carrier came 3 November 1966 the squadron was under the command of CDR McConnell. The EA-3B, piloted by “Monty“ Lillebow, impacted the aft of Independence (CVA-62) and was lost its crew of six.

The Vietnam War

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

VQ-2 one aircraft and a portion of a crew in two incidents in Southeast Asia between 1965 and 1968. 1966 an EA-3B in transit Cubi Point to DaNang in probable icing conditions at ft and entered a violent spin. the pilot, LCDR Dave recovered the A-3 at low altitude and landed the four aft crewmen had already out and were presumed drowned in the seas.

In the summer of 1968 an rocket attack against the at DaNang resulted in the partial of a VQ-2 EA-3B (BuNo in its revetment. Although a VQ-l and EA-3B were also in this attack, there no personnel injuries. The VQ-2 although heavily damaged in the section, was subsequently placed an MSTS carrier to be transported to for repairs. On 14 December 1968, the broke loose from its tied owns during weather in Tokyo Bay and was lost This incident signaled the of the end of VQ-2 operations in Southeast as things were again up in the Med.

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

Regrettably, McBurnett was less fortunate. In to disentangle himself from the his chute broke free, in a fall of 50-70 ft and severe injuries. After two hours, was finally located and rescued by a helicopter. Ironically, his father was injured a few kilometers from accident site. He was hit by artillery during the Battle of the Bulge in

“Q” birds often all sorts of weird appendages as the fuselage antennae on this in 1959.

After experiencing problems following a night cat off Independence in Sep 1966, LCDRs Taylor and Joel Graham and diverted to Sigonella, Sicily, severe thunderstorms en route. repairs to some radome they launched for Rota. climbout, the entire radome however, they were to recover safely at Sigonella.

after the crew bailout, Corey recovered the EA-3B the slat became operative, and landed at Ramstein. Corey’s recovery of the aircraft came seconds before the final CPO Sweitzer and LTJG “Shep” were to bailout. The author, who was the Squadron Duty Officer in Rota at the time, can recall the telephone conversation with Smith after he arrived at operations. As Smith was reporting the details of the bailout, the sound of fight boots at a dead run the tile floors could be in the background. Fortunately, these were made by Dave as he arrived, parachute and all, hitchhiking a ride to base with a German civilian in a “Bug”. He brought the good of sighting the other three on his way down.

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

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

“Khyber Pass Det” at Northern Pakistan, in 1961. In with their line of they naturally posed in of a “photography prohibited” sign.

The of a Skipper

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

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

CDRs RW. Arn and H.G. Hatch led through the remainder of the busy when Soviet naval and Arab-Israeli tensions in the Mediterranean, as as the Vietnam War, tugged at the limited assets.

A Period of Crisis

The decade of the 1970s was punctuated by international crises in theater of operations, especially in the Notable among these the 1970 Jordanian Crisis, the Yom Kippur War, the 1974 in Cyprus and the continuing unrest in These and other situations resulted in the presence of the Sixth offshore, which in turn the services of VQ-2 in providing needed tactical intelligence. skipper CDR Al Gallotta, VQ-2 its second Meritorious Unit for superior electronic reconnaissance during the Jordanian Crisis 9 to 31 October 1970. In part the stated: “These units VQ-2) contributed significantly to the mobility and success of fleet which were vital maintaining peace in the Mediterranean.”

the presence of the Sixth Fleet at crisis situations, came the presence of the Soviet Navy in ADM new peacetime instrument of foreign role. VQ-2 had to split its assets to monitor the actions and those of the nearby Soviet units in an eyeball-to-eyeball stance our own Sixth Fleet ships.

days things just go your way. Waterspouts in of carrier forced this flown by LCDR Mall Navigator LT “Shep” Smith, LT Don East and four enlisted to divert to Sigonella only to Moore with a 50-kt landing with near-predictable Only minor crew resulted, but the same aircraft got a cat shot” off Roosevelt (CVA-42) 26 Feb with the loss of entire

On their way to the “bird farm” in are (from left) AT1 Dave (later bailed out of EA-3B in LTJG Tom Wallis (killed in an accident); AD2 Speck; LT Don East; CDR Hatch, XO; and two unidentified crewmen.

crews in Norway during (from left) LTs Dick Larry McGlothlin, Norwegian officer, LT Tom Fritz (later CO) and LT Kelly. right-EP-3E Aries for duty 31 Jul 1971.

Arrival of the

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

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

VQ-2 was under the of CDR Jack Taylor from 1971 to July 1972. a relative calm was ongoing in the theater at the time, the significant hardware buildup in Soviet states such as Libya, and Egypt drew the majority of the attention. This buildup soon erupt into a of open hostilities between the and Israelis.

CDR J.D. Meyer the 18th skipper of VQ-2 on 6 1973 and would soon be with a period of extremely operations associated with the Yom War that October. For the extremely electronic reconnaissance operations by VQ-2 during that the squadron was awarded the Navy Commendation.

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

again struck VQ-2 9 1974, when the squadron’s aircraft crashed shortly takeoff from Naples, The TA-3B was transporting maintenance back to Rota, where had been involved in repairing squadron aircraft. Killed in the were the pilot, LCDR L. Worrell, navigator LTJG N. Davis and six enlisted aircrewmen/ground personnel: AMN2 Robert F. ADJ2 Robert S. Charrington, AE2 P. Beuler, AQ2 John G. Pauljohn, Orval T. May and AE3 Carl F. Schwartz. 1974 also brought the of the squadron’s last EC-121M.

and EA-3Bs are the mainstay of VQ operations 1974 retirement of last Both aircraft serve and well but are aging and aged, having been designed than 30 years ago. plans have an ES-3 of the Viking to replace the EA-3B.

Ranger 15 taxis out of the gear on Saratoga (CV-60) in the fall of Right: Ranger 15 over the Med in markings used in late and early ’70s.

Some Firsts

Five more officers led VQ-2 through the of the ’70s: CDRs D.J. D.N. Hagen, T.A. G.J. Hopkins and CAPT Taylor.

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

The author can still recall the frustration experienced as an NFO officer in VQ-2 from until 1970. In those days, before the “enlightenment”, an NFO was not to lead a detachment as officer-in-charge, if senior to the pilot. Fortunately, the recognized the morale and other of such a policy, and by the mid-1970s had begun to garner a few command in Naval Aviation. Since CDR RADM) Dale Hagen’s five other NFOs commanded VQ-2 and a sixth, CDR Tom at this writing, awaits in the as the XO at Rota.

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

CAPT Taylor and his XO, Tom Fritz, had hands full re-establishing the performance. However, through leadership and the dedication of the men and women of the squadron excelled, and was awarded a Unit Commendation for the period I 1979 to 1 April 1980. In the citation accompanying the MUC read: this period, Fleet Air Squadron Two consistently displayed leadership, unparalleled expertise, and dedication in ensuring the success of airborne reconnaissance endeavors.”

The 1980s Begin

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

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

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

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

CDR turned over command of to CDR E.A. Caldwell as the situation in the remained intense through the Terrorism continued to show its head in the Achille Lauro incident and the follow-on U.S. force-down of the Egyptian airliner the Arab hijackers to freedom. In order, these incidents followed by the Rome and Vienna slaughters perpetrated by Arab and the resulting U.S./Libya confrontation. And so, the for VQ-2’s quick-reaction airborne reconnaissance capabilities continued the spiral while the now 26-year-old and 22-year-old EP-3Es struggled to the fast-paced demands.

Bringing Up to Date

Volkswagen Constellation

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

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

It was operations during crisis such as those in the Central as well as overall superior that led to a second Battle award during this

The January 1986 operations in the Med would not be the Navy’s last with the “Crazy Colonel”, as two other clashes occurred in March and mid-April. The first of began when Sixth aircraft operating in .international of the Gulf of Sidra were upon by Libyan SA-5 During the next 24-hour at least two Libyan missile boats were destroyed by tactical air and surface combatants, as was the SA-5 site guidance by AGM-88 (HARM) anti-radiation There were no U.S.

The second period of hostilities in the wake of Libyan terrorist of a Berlin nightclub and a TWA airliner, U.S. citizens were in each case. These terrorist activities drew the response promised by President involving both Sixth and USAF F-111 assets in a strike against Al Azziziyah Barracks, Tripoli’s airport, the of Sidi Bilal, Al Jumahiriya and Benina Airfield.


The People

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although the aircrew personnel to receive the primary focus of and publicity, they could not their vital mission and safely without the dedicated of the ground personnel. The VQ squadrons an extremely diverse spectrum of support personnel who are involved in areas as aircraft and equipment administration, training, intelligence, signals analysis and reporting, public affairs, and a variety of comfort” functions. These are equally as proficient and dedicated as the in their performance of mission.

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

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

Christman began the VQ-l/REWSON in 1955, and was paired with Ackerberg, who arrived in the mid-1960s. remained with VQ-l 1979 when he was replaced by Sharp. Winton Lowery and Nickelson began the VQ-2 in 1967, and were replaced in the by “Pete” Petersen and Max Richardson. Boyd and “Mark” Franklin the REWSON billets in VQ-2

Other civilians supporting the VQ over the years have the technical representatives (Tech of the Lockheed and Douglas Aircraft as well as intermittent support by computer and electronics companies. of these individuals, such as the “Danny” King, have ardent supporters of the VQ community, on and off duty.

EW Training for VQ-1/2

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

The VQ Today (1987)

Today at NAS Guam, VQ-l operates EP-3E Aries . two EP-3B . seven EA-3B Skywarrior . two and one UP-3A Orion aircraft. At the of this writing, VQ-l was command of CDR Earl R. Smith a total complement of 120 officers, 950 and 6 civilian personnel. The squadron committed to providing airborne reconnaissance support to Pacific commanders, under the operational of Commander Task Force 72 located in Kami Seya,

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

VQ-l plays a major in fleet exercises, acting as Blue and Orange electronic assets. The squadron not only the opposing commanders with the real-time intelligence required for decisions, but also gains an opportunity for squadron aircrew

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

In November VQ-2 celebrated the significant of surpassing 10 1/2 years and a total of major mishap-free flight The clock for this record 5 June 1975, after the wing box incident. Attaining hours of major mishap-free is acknowledged as a significant event in any Naval Aviation community, but it is noteworthy considering the 20-year age of the squadron’s aircraft.

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

of the geographic and political nature of the VQ-2 is constantly stretched to its operational limits. With the tempo of Soviet naval from the Black Sea, Sea and Northern Fleets in recent VQ-2 has spent a considerable of time “over the high More importantly, VQ-2’s of operation has been the scene of one international crisis after For example, since 1980, operations have provided information on the Gulf of Sidra the Polish Worker Crisis, the War, the continuing East crisis including the evacuations of civilians and the PLO, the Marine bombing and the TWA Flight 847 hijacking.

VQ-2 remains heavily in support of the Sixth Fleet . operations in the Central Mediterranean off in connection with America’s stance. In addition to a heavily operational schedule, VQ-2 to provide electronic reconnaissance for both Blue and Orange commanders in regional fleet

The VQ-2 squadron insignia best sums up what electronic reconnaissance is all about. The was designed in 1959 by LT Buckenhauer, who was shortly afterward in an aircraft The black bat originally symbolized the employed by the squadron in its earlier Today it represents the EP-3E and The lightning bolts are representative of reconnaissance. The blue field and stars represent the night sky is the natural environment of the bat. The represent high altitude and the use of cover, symbolizing undetected The outer red border represents the red field of the squadron flag, when VQ-2 was at Port

The Future

The future of the Navy’s electronic reconnaissance program be viewed with a mix of pessimism and Had this research effort completed before late a view of the future for VQ-I and -2 have been entirely The current holders of the VQ legacy to face only more old aircraft and “band aid” for both carrier- and land assets.

After more 26 years of faithful service as the VQ aircraft, the aging EA-3B is to be gradually retired by 1992. there was to be no organic carrier replacement dedicated to airborne reconnaissance. Instead, the replacement named Battle Group Horizon Extension System was to be a “black box” installed in carrier-based S-3 Vikings. In its primary the BGPHES would receive and data link signals to the carrier where they be “processed” by non-aircrew personnel.

from an A-7 in the Whale is, in the opinion of one VQ “a waste of both times.” It proved too much for a VQ-2 pilot in Jan 1987, at and under extreme conditions, in his death and those of his six crewmen in a engagement on board Nimitz

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

In late 1986, fleet to the BGPHES concept as a replacement for the capability finally resulted in a new This plan involves of a replacement airframe that be organic to the carrier, dedicated to the mission of airborne electronic and operated by the fleet experts in field the VQ-1 and -2 “Batmen” . The initiative is being processed for the budget, providing for 16 low-time S-3 This concept must strong and immediate Navy, DoD and approval if a viable airborne reconnaissance capability is to continue the carrier battle group/force

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

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

feel this benign of the VQ capability was primarily due to the age-old promise by the “national sensors” to tactical commanders with real-time operational and technical data. Others feel it was reluctance on the part of the “hard advocates to recognize the electronic “soft kill” as an integral of their sensor and weapon In other words, they specifically to understand and/or the force multiplier effect of electronic reconnaissance. Without the support of the “hard kill” droppers and missile shooters in the Navy, the miniscule VQ community separately garner the support to obtain and maintain state-of-the-art platforms and sensors. If the old Navy “community size translates to the and well being of the capability” is then it is no wonder the very VQ program appears terminally

At the moment, the Navy has a nucleus of trained and motivated personnel which to conduct the airborne reconnaissance mission. These fully understand the significance of Jefferson’s words “eternal is the price of liberty.” Specifically, as of 1987, 210 airborne electronic personnel had died in the line of Without strong and immediate for the VQ community, 44 years of history, and urgently required operational will rapidly cease to in the U.S. Navy.

This is dedicated to those two hundred men who their lives under fire and in aircraft accidents involved in airborne electronic in the service of their country. of their ultimate sacrifice and will bear the VQ community the lean years.

“Greater hath no man, that he up his life for others.”


The is grateful to CAPTs Jack and “J.D.” Meyer who took the to make corrections to the first and to provide photographs, newspaper and their personal remembrances to effort. Other individuals who significant data inputs photographs were: MCPO Dickson, USN(Ret); Winton Pete Petersen and Chuck who were with VQ-1/2 as employees; LT George Phillips; Rex LCDR Dick McBurnett; Bob Christman; CAPT Ivan Bob Phillips; CDR Don Hubbard, USN(Ret); Dias; Roy Grossnick, Naval Historian; and Mike Walker of the Operational Archives. Also, my Lou contributed significantly to this with her patient proofreading and encouragement during severe of Rhode Island wintertime fever”.

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

Bamfort, James. The Palace. Houghton Mifflin Boston, 1982.

Carroll, M. Secrets of Electronic Espionage. Dutton and Company: New York,

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

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