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Weather Reconnaissance
Unit Photos

655 BS during training at Tinker Field

Members of the 655th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, Weather Reconnaissance

This photo was taken during training at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma in 1944
Official USAF Photo, courtesy of the Air Force Weather History Office

Our subject this month a bit different.  Looking back through the archives of weather reconnaissance veterans and the Air Force Weather History Office, we find many photos taken of individual weather reconnaissance units.  Going back to the WW II Army Air Corps, and later the USAF, there was an effort to document their squadrons.  Sometimes these photos were done by standard camera, but often the pictures were shot using special panoramic cameras that scaned across the formation from one side to the other.  The photo of the 655th (above) is from the archives of the Air Force Weather History Office.  AWRA obtained it in digital form and did not see the original print.  From the dimentions of the image, it appears to be a regular large format image take with one shot.  We had to brighten the image quite a bit to see uniforms and faces.  Not enough detail to identify indivduals.

The 514th Reconnaissance Squadron (VLR) Weather taken in May 1949

courtesy of John Lassiter

Above is an example of a panoramic photo.  It was taken of the 514th in May 1949.  At the time, Major Paul Fackler was the commander and he is seated in the center of the photo in front of the RB-29 nose wheel.  The picture is annotated as being taken by O.C.C. Studio, and that does not mean Orange County Choppers. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find out any other information about O.C.C. Studio.

John Lassiter and Gaylen Carnehl identified several of the people in the picture and the original founders of PAWS, the Pacific Air Weather Squadrons, also tried to ID as many members as possible.

For more information about Paul Fackler, see our  tribute page from Feb 2007.

The 58th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium, Weather taken in 1951

courtesy of John Priestle

The photo above is a classic example of a unit panoramic taken during the 1940's and 50's.  The 58th at the time was commanded by Lt Col Karl Rauk, seen standing in the very front.  John Priestle has kept this photo all these years mounted and (unfortunately) laminated.  The laminated film has turned a bit milky with age.  The original print was about 3 feet wide and we scanned it with a HP 4670 "see through" scanner.  This allowed us to keep the vertical alignment of the picture as we scanned the photo in 5 sections.  We try to use 600 dpi resolution, and the reconstructed image was over 9000 pixels wide - reduced here to 1000 for online viewing.  Luckily the scanner saw though the laminate and the resulting digital image was better in many ways than John's original.

This is a Goldbeck photo by the National Photo and News Service of San Antonio, Texas.  Eugene Omar Goldbeck speciallized in these really wide shots.  Before his death in 1986, Goldbeck donated much of
the image collection to the University of Texas Library.  AWRA is hoping to visit the library and see if there are other weather reconnaissance unit photos there.

Here we see E.O. Goldbeck setting up a shot.
Special gears rotated the camera across the
subject group as another gear moved the film.
To read more about Mr Goldbeck, go here.

Here is another Goldbeck photo, this one depicts Det 1, 55th WRS at Ladd AFB in 1958
An original print is on display in the Heritage Hall of the Air Force Weather History Office

And one more Goldbeck photo, this one depicts Det 1, 55th WRS at Ladd AFB in 1962
An original print is in the AWRA files, Courtesy of Dale Bailey, who was an airborne radio repairman in 1962-63
(If you click on the image, it will take you to a larger version)

This undated photo is from the AFWA Image Collection.  It is ID'd as being the 56th WRS at Yokota AB, Japan
It appears to b an example of an official unit photo taken by a standard wide format camera.

Official USAF Photo,
courtesy of the Air Force Weather History Office

The practice of a annual photo of a military unit seems to have greatly declined by 1960. We have found few examples of whole unit pictures after this time.  Perhaps it is not a coincidence that this is also when Mr Goldberg stopped traveling the world taking his "kidnap" photos, so-named because he would shoot large groups of people with no promise of sales.  He knew that most, if not all, of the subjects would want a copy.

Detachment 3, 1st Weather Wing, Andersen AFB, Guam

Official USAF Photo,
courtesy of the Air Force Weather History Office

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