Voir C’est Saviour 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing Patch – Sew On
A 4 1/8″W x 3 13/16″H Voin Cest Covuoin 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing Patch of United States Air Force.
363d Reconnaissance Wing
The 363d Reconnaissance Wing was activated on 15 August 1947 when the Army Air Forces introduced the experimental wing base organization which established a single wing on each base. It was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia in December 1947 by the newly established USAF. It was redesignated the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 27 August 1948. President Truman’s reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number of groups in the Air Force to 48 and the unit was inactivated on 26 April 1949. Once North Korea invaded South Korea, this constraint was removed and the group was again activated on 1 September 1950 at Langley.
Due to the pressing needs of Far East Air Forces in Japan the 162nd TRS, flying RB-26s, and the photo-processing 363rd Reconnaissance Technical Squadron (RTS) were reassigned from Langley to Itazuke Air Base Japan for Korean War service and began operations in August 1950 as part of the 543d Tactical Support Group.
On 1 April 1951, the 363d TRW was transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. The 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing would remain at Shaw, under various designations, for the next 43 years. The wing’s mission was to fly photographic, electronic and electronic intelligence missions to support air and ground operations by American or Allied ground forces through its operational component, the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group. In addition, the 363d provided combat crew training for reconnaissance aircrews.
In July 1954, the wing began to receive Martin RB-57A Canberra aircraft and achieved initial operational capability before the month was over. These were the first operational RB-57As in the Air Force, although the 345th Bombardment Wing had received a handful earlier to conduct transition training for its crews.
In January 1956, the wing’s 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was the first in the Air Force to receive jet powered Douglas RB-66B Destroyers. The RB-66B was the first operational model of the B-66. Although initially, the RB-66B had a limited all weather capability, its arrival permitted the retirement of the obsolescent RB-26s and the early retirement of the problem-ridden RB-57As. Deliveries of the RB-66Bs permitted the activation of two additional squadrons in the wing’s 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, the 41st and 43d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons.
In 1958, the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group was inactivated, and its components were assigned directly to the Wing.
In September 1957, the RF-101C began deliveries to Shaw. The C model combined the strengthened structure of the F-101C with the camera installation of the RF-101A. In addition, the RF-101C differed from the RF-101A in being able to accommodate a centerline nuclear weapon, so that it could carry out a secondary nuclear strike mission if ever called upon to do so. The RF-101Cs served for a brief time alongside the RF-101A, but quickly replaced them by May 1958.
In the autumn of 1962, the pilots of the 363d played a major part in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Utilizing their RF-101s for low-altitude photo-reconnaissance missions, they helped identify and track activities at Cuban missile sites, airfields, and port facilities. In awarding the wing the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its achievements, President John F. Kennedy said, “You gentlemen have contributed as much to the security of the United States as any group of men in our history.”
The last USAF RF-101C was phased out of the 31st TRTS, a replacement training unit at Shaw AFB, on 16 February 1971 and turned over to the Air National Guard.
In 1956, the RB-66 Destroyer was assigned to the 363d TRW. They replaced the obsolescent RB-26 Invader. The USAF RB-66 force in the continental United States was concentrated at Shaw, with the first RB-66C arriving on 1 February 1956, and the aircraft would continue to operate from Shaw until its retirement in 1974.
Twelve RB-66Cs initially flew with the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), and then later with various training squadrons including the 4417th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS), 4411th CCTS, and 39th Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron (TEWTS), as well as the 4416th Test Squadron (TS).
In addition to their training function, Shaw personnel participated in all major exercises and tested and evaluated the RB/EB-B66 and equipment. The wing was also to augment, within 72 hours, either of the overseas tactical air forces (PACAF and USAFE) in case of crisis or war. Most early flying of the RB-66C was devoted to getting the aircraft and crew ready for deployment and operations. It took longer than expected to have the electronic gear on the RB-66C operational, as the equipment was continually being modified. Readiness rates for the RB-66C in the late fifties and early sixties were below average, especially when compared to other new aircraft, such as the RF-101, introduced into the wing at Shaw during that same time. The RB-66 eventually became the primary night photographic reconnaissance weapon system of the Tactical Air Command. 363d TRW RB-66Cs carried out missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
They were first deployed for combat operations in Southeast Asia during April 1965 and shortly thereafter all were transferred to duty in Southeast Asia, where they carried most of the early electronic warfare operations during the early years of the US involvement in the war. Many B-66s were deployed on 90-day rotations to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base and Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base during the Vietnam War. In Southeast Asia, these aircraft retained the Shaw tail code “JN”. During the period 1 April 1969 through 1 January 1973 there was a 39th TEWS flying EB-66’s at Spangdahlem Air Base West Germany which was a separate unit unrelated to the 39th TEWTS.
The McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II (Model 98DF) was the unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the USAF’s F-4C. The first production RF-4Cs went in September 1964 to the 363d TRW’s 33rd Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron. The first operational unit to receive the RF-4C was the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 363rd TRW, achieving initial combat-readiness in August 1965.
The RF-4C became the main USAF tactical reconnaissance aircraft for the next 25 years, before being phased out of active service in the early 1990s at the end of the Cold War.
On 15 July 1971, two EB-57Es were transferred along with the RF-4Cs of the 22d TRS from Bergstrom AFB, Texas, then transferred to the 16th TRS when the 22d TRS was inactivated. These aircraft were highly adapted to carry electronic countermeasures and were frequently deployed to Europe to support USAFE fighter activities. The 363d operated these aircraft until September 1974 then transferring them to the Air National Guard. They were the last B-57s operated by the active-duty USAF.