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8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron | "The Eight Ballers" | 6th Reconnaissance Group | 5th AAF

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8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron | "the Eight Ballers" | 6th Reconnaissance Group | 5th AAF


LINEAGE. Constituted 8th Photographic Squadron on ig Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Feb 1942. Redesignated: 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron on g Jun 1942; 8th Photographic Squadron (Light) on 6 Feb 1943; 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron on 13 Nov 1943.

ASSIGNMENTS. IV Air Support Command, 1 Feb 1942; Fifth Air Force, 29 Mar 1942 (attached to Allied Air Forces, Apr-Sep 1942); V Bomber Command, 5 Sep 1942; 6th Photographic (later Reconnaissance Group, 13 Nov 1943 (attached to V Bomber Command after c. 10 Dec 1945).

STATIONS. March Field, Calif, 1 Feb-14 Mar 1942 (two flights at March Field, Calif, until 16 Jun 1942); Melbourne, Australia, 7 Apr 1942; Brisbane, Australia, 24 Apr 1942; Townsville, Australia, 2 May 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, g Sep 1942; Nadzab, New Guinea, 16 Mar 1944 (operated from Biak after c. 11 Aug 1944); Biak, 10 Sep-20 Oct 1944; Dulag, Leyte, 4 Nov 1944 (air echelon at Clark Field, Luzon, ig May-12 Aug 1945); Okinawa, 21 Jul 1945; Chofu, Japan, 28 Sep 1945

AIRCRAFT. In addition to P-38/F-4, included B-17, 1942-1943, B-26, 1943-1944.

OPERATIONS. Combat in Southwest Pacific and Western Pacific, 16 Apr 1942-15 Feb 1944, 16 Mar-31 May 1944, 2-4 Ju1 1944, 13 Aug-10 Oct 1944, 26 Nov 1944-30 Apr 1945, 12-20 Jun 1945, 14-25 Aug 1945.

CAMPAIGNS. World War II: East Indies; Air offensive, Japan; China Defensive; Papua; Guadalcanal; New Guinea; Northern Solomons; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; Southern Philippines; China Offensive; Air Combat, Asiatic-Pacific Theater.


Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II.



Source: Lockheed File


Apparently the first insignia for the squadron was the Hawkeyes logo on white wool. See my post for the 6th Reconnaissance Group.





Theater made. Hand-painted on leather.





"The Indian represents the first reconnaissance squadron to leave the US after the outbreak of WWII. (A Flight of the 8th PRS departed for Australia in April 1942.) The Camera represents the squadron's photo mission. The Hatchet is for the Japs and the Lightning Bolt represents the P-38 (F-4). The Palm Trees are for the Pacific Islands. The 8 ball is for the squadron's number." A. L. Fishman told me that the original emblem designed by Sgt. Anthony L. (Tony) Cartwright of 8PRS, due to security restrictions did not include the numeral 8 in the ball. Fishman indicated that the correct description of the Emblem as intended by Tony Cartwright is as follows:-

"The clouds in the background represent the Air Corps. (Now Air Force). The lightning bolt superimposed on the cloud represents the type of airplane our squadron flew, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. The Young Indian Brave is representative all of the men in the squadron. The hatchet that the Brave holds describes our mission, war. The Indian Brave standing on an island with Palm trees denotes the area in which we served." OZ at war


Another version of this insignia exists, in Australian embroidery on wool, also without the squadron number for security reasons.



Source: Flyingtigerantiques



Decal on leather.






Theater-made. Australian embroidery on wool.






8th Photo Recon Squadron jeep, displaying the Eight Ball and Hawkeyes logos.





The 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron were flying out of the Stock Route airfield while they were in Townsville. Jim McEwan described it as "a little dirt field that was located down a short road leading from the front of Garbutt field. It was farm land but later when I came down to Townsville from Port Moresby to have our B-17 repaired there were a few large hangars on that little road." The 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron set up their photographic laboratory in a high set house at 630 Sturt Street, Townsville. Bud Sowers was the officer in charge of the photo lab. Source: OZ at War.


F-4 Lightning 41-2125 under camouflage netting at Townsville. It is likely that this image was taken not long after 27 July 1942 when the Squadron moved from Brisbane to Townsville.






A book on the unit.






An article with many photos: WWII Photography in the PTO: The 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron



Criticalpast.com has four films of this squadron digitized to video, showing the unglamorous side of the photo recon squadron in action, the processing and analysis of film returned from a recon flight. Free previews are here:


1 - An A-2 Intelligence officer looks at the prints gives by 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in the South Pacific. U.S. 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in the South Pacific during World War II. A personnel drives a jeep up to the operations hut. An A-2 intelligence officer seated at a desk as a messenger enters the 5th Bomber Command. He hands over the finished prints to the A-2 Intelligence officer at desk. The officer examines the Rabaul prints as he looks through a lens. Here.


2 - U.S. 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron personnel wash and dry prints of photographs in South Pacific. Here.


3 - U.S. 8th Photo Recon Squadron preparing photos of Japanese positions in Rabaul, New Guinea, during World War II. Here.


4 - Operations and Engineering Officers select aircraft for 8th Photo Recon Squadron mission in World War 2. Here.



8th PRS 6th RG 5th AAF



Long-time collector of WWII Aviation: AAF, USN and USMC.




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"Whoever stood in front of the corn field at Antietam needs no praise." . . . . . Rufus R. Dawes, 6th Wisconsin.



Seeking the unit history of Company D, 321st Machine Gun Battalion, 82nd Division.



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