Many of the Squadrons had their own insignias,
oftentimes created by the men themselves.
We have a few of the Photo Recon Squadron
insignia products available in our CafePress
CHECK IT OUT
P-38 Photo Reconnaissance planes (called F-4s
and F-5s) and their pilots were the eyes of the AAF. Their only
weapon was a camera.
The F-4 was the first version of the unarmed
Lightning, and the F-5 was an extension of that design (based on the P-38E). The F-5 carried from 3 to 5 precision cameras in their nose,
which could be operated by remote control from the cockpit.
Because it has no armament, the F-5 was much lighter and, therefore,
faster than the standard P-38s, a definite plus in the unfriendly skies
over enemy territory.
have said that photo reconnaissance pilots did everything the combat
pilots did -- but they did it without any guns (other than the .45 they
carried in the cockpit). Speed and altitude were the only protection
the Photo Joe's had.
into enemy territory (without guns)
They had to
participate in dog fights (without guns) -- basically by evading enemy
aircraft who had spotted them.
They were valued for pre-strike
intelligence gathering and post-strike damage assessment.
Association Member, Jude BK Pao, was
a part of the Chinese Air Force Reconnaissance, and he has an interesting story
to tell here.
A poem written for and dedicated to "Photo Joes"
By Tom McGuire
Of all the Air
Force pilots that I most deeply admire,
I give my top-notch vote to Photo-Recon Joe
Who goes it alone, unarmed, and braves the enemy's fire
By taking crucial photos which spell doom to the Axis foe.
Ahead of his
Lightning's sound, his F-5 zips in at tree-top level;
Too late they hear him coming, now he's already gone past
A flashing form, a blast of wind, the Fork-Tail Devil,
His photos taken, speeds home, no higher than a mast.
On lists of
fighter aces, his name is never placed,
And sadly, he's soon forgotten after the war has ended,
But war historians know that priceless F-5 photos based
The Normandy invasion so air, sea, and land attacks all blended.
unarmed, and unafraid" Joe wings his gutsy way
Into the lethal Axis Reich, where death waits in that murky air.
But he presses on, he shoots his films, and dearly earns his pay
By these "dicing," flack-filled missions that only he would dare.
So now I raise a
grateful toast to Photo-Recon Joe,
And, Joe, I also bow to you-and believe me, I bow low.
BACK TO PERSONNEL