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38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Emblem of the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Air Force
38th TRS RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash - 51-17011 in 1955
38th TRS RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash - 51-17011 in 1955
38th TRS McDonnell RF-101C-55-MC Voodoo - 56-214 in 1960
38th TRS McDonnell RF-101C-55-MC Voodoo - 56-214 in 1960
38th TRS McDonnell Douglas RF-4C-41-MC Phantom - 69-0350 in 1975
38th TRS McDonnell Douglas RF-4C-41-MC Phantom - 69-0350 in 1975

The 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, stationed at Zweibrücken Air Base, Germany.

It was inactivated on 31 July 1991.

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World War II

Established in 1944 as a photo-reconnaissance squadron, the unit trained under the Third Air Force in Oklahoma. It deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO), and was assigned to the Thirteenth Air Force in the Central Pacific Area. Using unarmed fighter aircraft (P-38s, later P-51s) and B-25 Mitchell medium bombers fitted with aerial mapping cameras, the squadron performed numerous long distance mapping flights over enemy-held territory, primarily in the Netherlands East Indies and the Philippines. These flights were extremely hazardous, being flown without escort, they obtained intelligence about enemy fortifications, armored units, infantry concentrations and other tactical intelligence.
The squadron was inactivated in January 1946.

United States Air Forces in Europe

Reactivated in 1952 as a NATO tactical reconnaissance squadron, it was designated to be based in France as a result of the United States Cold War military buildup in Europe. The unit was activated as a redesignation of the Alabama Air National Guard 160th TRS, which was federalized and brought to active duty during the Korean War. It was issued with the RF-80A Shooting Star aircraft, and trained for daylight reconnaissance missions. The squadron, however, was stationed at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base in West Germany due to the uncompleted facilities at Toul-Rosières Air Base. Weather conditions in Germany severely restricted the training operations of the assigned RF-80As. The squadron frequently deployed to Nouasseur Air Base, Morocco during the winter of 1952–53 where the photo conditions were far better.

The squadron moved to Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany in May 1953 where all of the elements of the parent 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing were assembled at one base. It was re-equipped in 1955 with the RF-84F Thunderstreak, as the RF-80s were deemed to be no longer mission-capable against the Soviet MiG-15.

In January 1958, the squadron was moved to Phalsbourg-Bourscheid AB, France while the runway at Spangdahlem was under repair and renovation. In March 1958, it was reassigned to the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which was moving to Phalsbourg from Sembach AB also due to poor runway conditions. During May, the Thundersteaks were replaced by McDonnell RF-101C Voodoos, which were the fastest tactical reconnaissance aircraft ever flown by the USAF. The last reconnaissance Voodoos were withdrawn from ANG service in 1979.

Routine training operations were flown from Laon for over seven years. The 38th moved to Ramstein AFB, Germany in 1962 and remained there until it moved to Zweibrucken. In 1965 the squadron was again reassigned to the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which was being formed at Toul Air Base. On 7 March 1966, French President General Charles De Gaulle announced that France would withdraw from NATO's military structure but not leave the political organization. He gave NATO forces one year (until 1 April 1967) to depart France.

As a result, the 26 Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was relocated to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany and upgraded to the RF-4C Phantom II. The 38th operated from Ramstein until 1973, when in a NATO realignment, the 26th was reassigned to Zweibrücken Air Base. It remained at Zweibrücken until being inactivated in 1991 after the end of the Cold War, and the phasing-out of the RF-4C.


  • Constituted as the 38th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron on 29 March 1944
Activated 1 May 1944
Inactivated on 15 January 1946
  • Redesignated the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Photographic) on 25 June 1952
Activated on 10 July 1952 by the redesignation of the Alabama Air National Guard 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Redesignated the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on an undetermined date
Inactivated on 1 April 1991




  • B-25 Mitchell, 1944
  • P-38/F-5 Lightning, 1944, 1945
  • RF-80 Shooting Star, 1952–1956
  • RF-84F Thunderflash, 1955–1958
  • RF-101 Voodoo, 1958–1965
  • RF-4C Phantom II, 1965–1991


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. 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.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 May 2019, at 19:48
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