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The Eyes of the Fleet
Early Days of Photo Recon
Exhibit at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Contributed by Capt. Adam Miklovis
Squadron Historical Summary
- INTRODUCTION: The restart of Navy Photo Squadrons was at NAS Norfolk, in 1948 and called Fasron 3 Photo Detatchment, long before they moved to Florida. This word from Tom Stallings, one of its original crew. He was in the squadron and I in ships company at NAS Norfolk then. During WWII, the Navy squadrons were VPP or VD.
Later in January 1949 it changed to Composite Squadron VC-62 before going to Florida in 1950. First cruise was to the Persian Gulf in the fall of '48 on the Siboney (a CVL, that was used as a Recon. airfield & a floating photo Lab in "48" right after FASRON 3 photo was organized. They photographed the Persian Gulf).---James E. (STRETCH) Walsh PHCS--USN--Ret.
- Click to see:The History of VC-62 An excellent account of the squadron's early years (1949-1956). Provided by Naval Historical Center and submitted by Marion Swinford
- We had TBMs and F6Fs in the beginning. The Med. cruises in 50s were F8F Bearcats and F4U Corsairs. My knowledge starts in early '56 in Jax. At that time we had F2H-2P's F9F-6P's,F9F-8P's, SNB-5P's and a couple TV-2's. As mentioned before it was a very large squadron. I seem to remember someone saying it was nearly 1000 members with detachments on both coasts. - Tom McGuire (VC-62 '56-'59)
- VC-62 was redesignated VFP-62 on July 2, 1956 and was equipped with F2H-2P Banshees and F9F-6&8P Cougars. In 1958, the F8U-1P (later designated RF-8A) Crusader started replacing the Banshees and Cougars.
- VFP-62 gained national reknown during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. For its part in documenting the Russian missile sites in Cuba. The squadron received a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, the first issued in peacetime and presented by President Kennedy. Sixteen pilots (including four Marine pilots from VMCJ-2) received Distinguished Flying Crosses. [See "Cuban Missile Crisis" this site.--webmaster]
End of an Era...two planes left. June 1967
Photo Courtesy of A. W. Scarborough PHC
Click Photo to enlarge
- The RF-8As were replaced with remanufactured RF-8Gs in late 1965 and the squadron was decommissioned on January 5, 1968.
Before the Jets
Click on underscored text to see photos/h4>
- Korean War. VC-62 (front) and two VF-32 Corsairs Tail Code for Air Group Three was the letter "K". Photo date: 23 Dec. 1950. Contributed by - Ken Walling (www.vf32.info)
- VC-62 1949-50: F8F-2P USS Midway-_photo: www.midwaysailor.com via www.wikimedia.org contributed by JJ McKenna
- (EXTERNAL LINK)A beautiful restoration of a old photo recon plane, with lots of great pictures and comments from former Navy crew members: RC45J Beechcraft
Note: G.E. Obrien and Tom McGuire, former VC-62 members, points out the depiction below does not show the F9F-6P. These are the planes the artist, Mads Bangsų, had enough information on to make good drawings. - webmaster
Above rendition courtesy of Mads Bangsų
Click Picture to enlarge
VC-62 Inspection (NAS Jacksonville) circa 1953
F2H-2P, F9F-6P, SNB-5P in background
Photo by David Duke
Interesting Links on Early VC-62/VFP-62 History
NOTE: .pdf format files - may download slow for dial-ups
Courtesy John McKenna
- INTERNAL Adobe .pdf file "You Name It; We Shoot It" The First Jets Into the Eye of a Hurricane: late VC-62 early VFP-62 article in Naval Aviation News. --Contributed by Ken Walling, webmaster (www.vf32.info)
- VC-62 F2H-2 -landing aboard USS Midway -EXTERNAL LINK to Adobe .pdf file.
- VFP-62 aboard with Panthers First Med Cruise USS Forrestal ; -EXTERNAL LINK to Adobe .pdf file.
- VFP-62 in Naval Aviation News History-EXTERNAL LINK to Adobe .pdf file.
War Stories with the Banshee
I was in VMJ-3 at MCAS Miami for only six months. They had the F9F-5P. We got 100 hours and were sent to VMJ-1 in Korea at K-3. LtCol. Marion E. Carl was the C.O. He was a WW-2 ACE (18 KILLs) and also had tours at PAX and at the USAF base in California, flying the early rockets and more.
We were transferred to NAS Atsugi. carqualled and trained. We were deployed to Taiwan and flew deep over RED CHINA. The objective was to map new fields being built for the MiG-17a. We were shot at over Shanghai and started taking the Banshee up to 40,000 ( much safer).
Carl flew up to Okinawa and found the Fleet Admiral and got four F2H-2 fighters transferrerd to us (that Navy Squadron was going back to the States).
We flew solo missions and were painted but rarely shot at. When the deal was over we got an Air Medal for every 10 sorties. (I got three).
The F2H-2P had two Westinghouse J-34WE2 engines, each consumming avgas as the carriers only had avgas! We later switched them over to JP-4. It was a great little bird, flew up to 52,000 feet in it. One time on a mission over Red China, I lost the left engine at 30,000; I turned back for Formosa and slowly let down as I headed west. I got feet wet at around 20,000 and got home OK. The Banshee's two engines saved my ass!
I made 1st Lt., bought a Rolex, two strings of pearls, and a bag of Nikon stuff!
Lt.Col. Matthew B. Peck USMC(Ret)
Pictures of VFP-62 F9F-8P (Photo Cougar)
F9F-6P Rendition provided by Marion Swinford. Courtesy of www.wings.de.ms
The F9F Cougar was built by Grumman Aircraft Company. Marion Swinford provides: "The best I can remember we had only 8P Cougars when I was with VFP-62. The 6Ps were used by two marine and two navy squadrons from 1954 -early 56. "
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE: Nice formation of F8, F9F-8P, A4D, & F3H.--contributed by JJ McKenna
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE: 137537 AM-406 AD-6 Skyraider VA-42 refueling 141688 GA-903 F9F-8P Cougar VFP-62.--contributed by JJ McKenna
- Installing cameras in F9F-8P -source: US Navy Naval Aviation News Nov 1958, via www.wikimedia.org, & contributed by JJ McKenna
- F9F-8P on cat-Courtesy Dave Olson (Swede)
- FDR CVA 42 April 1958 F9F-8P ready to launch-Courtesy Larry Blumenthal, webmaster for: www.usnavyphotos.com
- USS Saratoga Newsletter highlighting early VFP-62 Detatchment 43 Courtesy Marion Swinford
- VFP-62 F9F-8P over Malta -Courtesy Marion Swinford
- F8 Crusader, F9F-8P Photo Cougar, A4D Skyhawk, F3H Demon - Courtesy Marion Swinford
- VFP-62 F9F-8P 1958 -Courtesy Marion Swinford
- F9F-8P USS Saratoga landing-Courtesy Marion Swinford
- F9F-8P & AD6 formation -Courtesy Marion Swinford
- F9F-8P preparing to launch-1958 -courtesy Marion Swinford
- Marine F9F-6P -1958 -courtesy Marion Swinford
- VFP-62 F9F-8P NAS Jax 1957-Marion Swinford
- Jim Taylor comments that "The F9F-6P was powered by a J42 and the 8P was the J46, just an upgraded engine; it looked the same. (Marion Swinford disagrees and provides: "The J-42 was last used in the F9F 2 Panther. The J 48 was in both the F9F 6P and the F9F 8P. I just checked it out on the Pratt and Whitney site for both enines."). By 1956 all the squadron had was F2H-2P, F9F-8P, 2ea SNJ-5P and 2 TV-2s. We took 906/8/10 to sea on the Forrestal (Det 42-58). The OIC was LCDR Sam Murphy."
- Tom McGuire adds: "If memory serves me correctly, the F9F-6P's that we had were painted blue, there were probably no more than six or eight of them when I was there. The picture (above) looks ok except for the color. I don't remember any fueling probes either. We left on cruise to Far East on Bennington in Oct of 56 and returned in May of 57 and don't remember there being any -6s when we returned. One of my early jobs as an AMAN was to get to the flight line real early and service the emergency air bottles in every airplane. Had a tow tractor and a compressor that had to be hand cranked to start it. Seems like there were four bottles in the nose wheel well of the -8, probably a similar number in the -6 but only one or two in the Banshee. The Banshees never seemed to leak either, but the cougars and panthers sure did. We also stood post watches at night and carried 45's until one night one of our shipmates killed himself with the gun. No more 45's after that. Never was real sure what we were expected to shoot anyway.
VFP-62 1956 - 1968
Click on underscored text to go to link
F8U-1P (RF-8A) and F9F-8P (7-13-59) - Photo: Bruce Nason
- Many wonderful pictures of VFP-62 (1957-58): Capt. Edwin Kiem's VFP-62 Scrapbook-Capt. Ed Kiem, was the first CO VFP-62.
- A rare VFP-62 photo of a Photo Crusader, Cougar, and Banshee in one photo - Courtesy Lonnie Simmons & Marion Swinford
- Hanger picture RF-8 and F9F-8P -Photo: Jim Taylor
- Circa 1961 VFP-62 was threatened by a hurricane. The attached photo is amazing. Many of the RF8's were packed into the hanger for protection. The hurricane bypassed Cecil Field. Photo - Vinnie Zabicki.
- EXTERNAL LINK: A link to a website with pictures of VFP-62 crew and planes circa 1958 Dave Stokes Collection
- For more pictures and information on the RF-8 (F8U-1P) photo Crusader, go to: "We Love Crusaders" this site. Use the navigation button on left-hand menu above.
Courtesy Jim Taylor
The text reads: For the first time a detatchment of photo F8U-1P Crusaders will board ship this summer. Light Photographic Squadron 62 (VFP-62) of Cecil Field Fla., under the command of Captain Edwin L. Kiem, will claim the honor.
VFP-62 also believes they have the only Ensign in the fleet who flys the photo Crusader. Ens. Julian Epstein came to the squadron from the 21 week Photo School course at Pensacola Fla., after being graduated from flight training in February 1957.
The "Eyes of the Fleet" aeronautical photo bugs have a new type of glamour in their photo reconnaissance job..the "hot" 1000-miles-per-hour Chance Vought F8U-1P Crusader.
Text under top photo: Captain Edwin L. Kiem, commanding officer of Light Photographic Squadron 62, congratulates Ens. Epstein on becoming a fellow member of the "1000 miles per hour" Club. To become elligible, one must fly the Crusader at 1000-miles-per-hour or better. Other members of the Club stand by, left to right: Lt. Richard Green, Lt. Don Howard, Ltjg Ted Mendenhall, Capt. Liem, Ens. Epstein, Lt. Ted Newark, Lt. Erklens.
Text under bottom photo: G.G. Fowler, plain captain, Ens. Epstein, and Robert A. Sullivan ADJ2 check the afterburner exhaust nozzle flaps in the tail section of the F8U-1P during pre-flight inspection of the aircraft. (circa Spring 1958)
Click to go to Top of Squadron History Page