The 6th Reconnaissance Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit, which is currently assigned to the 49th Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The 6th RS is the USAF's only Formal Training Unit for crews learning to operate the MQ-1 Predator. On 23 October 2009, the 6th was reactivated as the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron at Holloman AFB, and assumed its mission of providing Initial Qualification Training for pilots and sensor operators learning to operate the MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft.
Established in 1943 as one of the initial B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bombardment squadrons. Trained in Kansas with early model B-29s, with frequent delays in training due to modifications of the aircraft correcting production deficiencies.
Deployed to India in early 1944; several aircraft breaking down en route via South Atlantic Transport route from Florida to Brazil then to Liberia; across central Africa and Arabia, arriving in Karachi, India in March 1944. Arrived at converted B-24 airfield in eastern India in mid-April 1944. Aircraft still undergoing modifications while transporting munitions and fuel to forward airfield in central China; staging first attacks on Japanese Home Islands since the 1942 Doolittle Raid. Lack of logistical support limited number of attacks on Japan from Chinese staging airfields; squadron also attacked strategic enemy targets in Thailand; Indochina and Malay Peninsula.
Reassigned to Mariana Islands when island airfields became available after Battle of Tinian; moved to West Field, Tinian the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.
When training was completed moved to North Field Guam in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area in January 1945 and assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. Its mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.
Flew "shakedown" missions against Japanese targets on Moen Island, Truk, and other points in the Carolines and Marianas. The squadron began combat missions over Japan on 25 February 1945 with a firebombing mission over Northeast Tokyo. The squadron continued to participate in wide area firebombing attack, but the first ten-day blitz resulting in the Army Air Forces running out of incendiary bombs. Until then the squadron flew conventional strategic bombing missions using high explosive bombs.
The squadron continued attacking urban areas with incendiary raids until the end of the war in August 1945, attacking major Japanese cities, causing massive destruction of urbanized areas. Also conducted raids against strategic objectives, bombing aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other targets in Japan. The squadron flew its last combat missions on 14 August when hostilities ended. Afterwards, its B 29s carried relief supplies to Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan and Manchuria
Reassigned to the United States as part of Continental Air Forces (later Strategic Air Command). Designated as a RB-29 very long range reconnaissance squadron; inactivated in 1946 due to budget restrictions.
Reactivated in 1955 as a Strategic Air Command Reconnaissance Squadron, operating RB-47 Stratojet swept-wing reconnaissance bombers, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. Flew many long-range clandestine missions with the RB-47, flying many ferret missions around the periphery of Soviet territory, and sometimes inside on penetration flights to map planned routes for B-52s if combat missions over the Soviet Union ever became necessary. Missions also included intelligence gathering flying missions off the coasts of North Korea, Communist China and other areas. Inactivated in 1962 with the phaseout of the B-47 from the inventory.
Reactivated in 1963 as a B-52E Stratofortress squadron, receiving aircraft and personnel from the inactivating 98th Bombardment Squadron. Performed nuclear alert duties and flew numerous training missions and in SAC exercises until 1968 with the retirement of the B-52E. Re-equipped with the B-52D and deployed personnel and aircraft to the Western Pacific for combat missions over Indochina as part of Operation Arc Light. Squadron was inactivated in 1969 with the closing of Clinton-Sherman AFB and the inactivation of the parent 70th Bomb Wing due to budget reductions on 31 December 1969.Combat Operations: Flew supply missions from India into China over the Himalaya Mountains and bombed enemy targets in Southeast Asia and Japan during Operation MATTERHORN, Oct 1944 to May 1945; after relocation to the Mariana Islands, flew long range missions to bomb targets in Japan from May to Aug 1945; After reactivation in 1963, operated the B-52 to deter nuclear war and, if necessary, conduct global offensive bombing missions. Several squadron aircraft and aircrews deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, on a rotating basis from summer 1968 to Dec 1969 to participate in Operation ARC LIGHT, the bombing of enemy concentrations in South Vietnam by B-52s.
Campaigns: India-Burma; Air Offensive, Japan; China Defensive; Western Pacific: Central Burma.
Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citations: Yawata, Japan, 20 Aug 1944; Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan, 23–29 May 1945; Takazuka, Japan, 24 Jul 1945. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 15 Feb-30 Dec 1957; 15 Apr-1 Oct 1968.
Constituted 794th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
Activated on 1 August 1943
Redesignated: 794th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy)
on 20 November 1943
Redesignated: 6th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long Range, Photographic-RCM)
on 17 December 1945
Inactivated on 31 March 1946.
Redesignated as 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron and activated on 24 June 1955
Redesignated as 6th Bombardment Squadron
on 25 October 1961
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 June 1962
Redesignated: 6th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, and activated, on 15 November 1962
Organized on 1 February 1963; receiving personnel/aircraft/equipment from 98th Bombardment Squadron (Inactivated)
Inactivated on 31 December 1969
Re-designated as 6th Reconnaissance Squadron on 20 Oct 2009
Activated on 23 Oct 2009.
29th Bombardment Group, 1 Feb 1940
468th Bombardment Group, 1 August 1943
29th Bombardment Group, 1 Apr 1944 – 20 May 1946
Attached to: 311th Reconnaissance Wing, 7–31 March 1946.
70th Strategic Reconnaissance (later Bombardment) Wing: 24 June 1955 – 25 October 1961; 15 November 1962 – 31 December 1969
49th Operations Group, 23 October 2009
B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943
B-29 Superfortress, 1943–1946
RB-47 Stratojet 1955–1962
B-52 Stratofortress, 1963–1969
MQ-1 Predator, 2009 – present