|Country United States|
Engagements World War II
|Role Weather Reconnaissance|
|Active 1944–1947; 1951–1961; 1962–1993; 1997–2002|
Branch United States Air Force
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
The 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 50th Operations Group at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, where it was inactivated on 16 July 2002.
Established in mid-1944 as a weather reconnaissance squadron; trained under Third Air Force using Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft. Deployed to XXI Bomber Command on Guam in April 1945. Equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortress very long range aircraft and provided weather reconnaissance for Twentieth Air Force B-29 raids on Japan in the Western Pacific theater. Returned to the United States in 1946, where it trained and conducted weather reconnaissance. Between July and Oct 1947, when it inactivated, the squadron flew daily missions over the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Reactivated as part of Air Weather Service in 1951, assigned to McClellan Air Force Base, California. The squadron flew weather reconnaissance missions over the northern Pacific using WB-29s. Upgraded to Boeing WB-50 Superfortresses in 1954. Tested WB-50 aircraft flying long-duration missions over 24 hours in length and trained crews for other weather squadrons.
During the 1950s, supported atomic tests by monitoring radioactive clouds and taking atmospheric samples. Provided weather reconnaissance data for northeast Pacific Ocean, parts of Arctic Ocean, and northwestern Atlantic Ocean in late 1950s. Tracked Hurricanes Dot and Donna in 1959 and 1960. Provided weather data for transoceanic fighter deployments, photographic reconnaissance for testing experimental Corona reconnaissance satellite imagery, and surveillance for space flight recoveries. Operated detachments in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington until inactivation in 1961 due to budget reductions.
Reactivated in late 1961 and reorganized and equipped with new Martin RB-57F Canberra aircraft modified for high altitude, long range intelligence gathering, assigned to the meteorological role. Part of their duties involved high-altitude atmospheric sampling and radiation detection work in support of nuclear test monitoring. Replaced Canberras in 1964 with Boeing WB-47 Stratojets and flew weather reconnaissance and atmospheric sampling missions over the Pacific and Arctic. Between 1965 and 1993, used WB-47s to test air for radiation from possible nuclear tests to verify treaty limitations, flying missions worldwide.
Retired RB-47s in 1969; re-equipped with Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft. In 1986, monitored atmospheric radiation in Europe after Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union. In 1988 and 1989, tested special photographic equipment for Strategic Defense Initiative research. Inactivated in 1993 with the end of the Cold War. Reactivated under Space Command in 1997; inactivated in 2002 due to budget reductions.