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10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group
North American P-51C-5-NT Mustang (F-6C) Serial 42-103368 of the 15th TRS at St. Dizler Airfield (ALG A-64), France, Autumn 1944. This aircraft was flown by Captain John H. Hoefler, who used it to shoot down three enemy aircraft in June 1944. He became the 10th Group's most successful combatant with credits of 8½ air victories.
Active 1941–1949; 1952–1957
Country United States United States
Branch Flag of the United States Air Force.png United States Air Force
Type Combat Group
Role Tactical Reconnaissance
Part of 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
United States Air Forces in Europe
Motto(s) ARGUS – Ceaseless Watch

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
World War II (EAME Theater)

  • Air Offensive, Europe
  • Normandy Campaign
  • Northern France Campaign
  • Rhineland Campaign
  • Ardennes-Alsace Campaign
  • Central Europe Campaign
Decorations Streamer PUC Army.PNG
Distinguished Unit Citation: France, 6–20 May 1944
10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group Emblem 10thtacticalrecongroup-patch.jpg

The 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was to the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany. It was inactivated on 8 December 1957.


World War II

The 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group's origins begin as the 73rd Observation Group, being Constituted on 21 August 1941. The 73d was activated on 1 September 1941 and assigned to First Air Force. Engaged in training activities, participating in the Tennessee Maneuvers at Camp Campbell, Kentucky in 1943. Underwent several re-designations as Reconnaissance group, then Tactical Reconnaissance Group. Equipped variously with A-20 Havocs; P-40 Warhawks; P-51 Mustangs as well as L-1 and L-4 light observation aircraft. After the end of the maneuvers, conducted movement to Key Field, Mississippi in preparation for overseas movement.

Reassigned to Third Air Force in December 1943 and re-designated as 10th Photographic Group (Reconnaissance) in December 1943.

The group deployed overseas to the European theater, January–February 1944, for duty with Ninth Air Force at RAF Chalgrove, England. At Chalgrove, the group consisted of six photographic squadrons flying a variety of reconnaissance aircraft. These were the photographic versions of the P-38 Lightning (F-5) and P-51 Mustang (F-6). In addition the unit also flew the Stinson L-1 Vigilant and L-5 Sentinel along with the Piper L-4 Grasshopper light observation aircraft. It photographed airfields, coastal defenses, ports, and made bomb-damage assessment photographs of airfields, marshaling yards, bridges, and other targets in preparation for the Normandy invasion. The 10th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for flying at low altitude to photograph the English Channel coast from Blankenberge to Dunkirk and from Le Touquet to Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue prior to the D-Day invasion during 6–20 May 1944.

31st Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron Lockheed P-38J-20-LO Lightning (F-5E) 44-23450 Sexy Sail over Saint-Dizier Airfield (A-64), France, October 1944.

In May 1944 the 30th PRS moved to RAF Middle Wallop and it was replaced by the 423rd Night Fighter Squadron with A-20 Havocs (F-3A) from RAF Charmy Down which was used for night photo reconnaissance.

The group supported the Normandy invasion in June by making visual and photographic reconnaissance of bridges, artillery, road and railway junctions, traffic centres, airfields, and other targets. A deployment re-appraisal in June 1944 led to the decision to assign a tactical recon squadron to support the needs of the ground forces on the continent. To this end, the group's 15th Tactical Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (15th TPRS) was transferred in from RAF Middle Wallop on 27 June flying F-6/P-51B Mustangs. The mission of the 15th TPRS was to fly low level missions whereas the F-5 Lightnings would fly at higher altitudes.

After the invasion the 15th TPRS moved into France first, to the Advanced Landing Ground at Rennes - St-Jacques, France (ALG A-27) on 10 August. The other squadrons of the 10th moved over the next few weeks, the last being the 155th which moved to France in mid-August.

On the continent, the 10th RG aided the US Third Army and other Allied organizations in the battle to breach the Siegfried Line, September–December 1944. The group participated in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945, by flying reconnaissance missions in the combat zone. From February 1945 to V-E Day, the 10th RG assisted the advance of Third Army across the Rhine, to Czechoslovakia and into Austria, eventually being stationed at Fürth, Germany (ALG R-30) when hostilities ended.

Cold War

Lockheed RF-80A-5-LO Shooting Star Serial 45-8330 of the 38th TRS at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, West Germany, 1952.

The 10th remained in Germany after the war as part of the army of occupation, being assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. It was transferred without personnel or equipment back to the United States in June 1947, becoming part of Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia.

The unit was re-manned and assigned to Lawson Field in Georgia where it was assigned F-6 (P-51) Mustangs in September to its 1st and 15th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadrons. It was redesignated as the l0th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in June 1947 and reassigned to Pope Field, North Carolina in September.

The Air Force started a “wing-base” service test in 1947. Under this program the 10th Reconnaissance Wing was organized 3 December 1947, at Pope Field. The new wing was assigned the 10th Reconnaissance Group as its operational flying component. On 25 August 1948, the 10th Reconnaissance Wing was redesignated the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (10 TRW), with its component group also being redesignated.

The 10th conducted training at Pope, primarily with army units at Fort Bragg until 1 April 1949 when, due to budget restrictions, the unit was inactivated.

Republic RF-84F-25-RE Thunderflash 52-7294 of the 10th Reconnaissance Group, 1955

On 10 July 1952 as a result of the United States Cold War military buildup in Europe, the 10 TRG was reactivated and assigned to NATO at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, absorbing the mission and equipment of the inactivating federalized Air National Guard 117th TRG.

However, the base was not yet ready for jet aircraft, so only the 10th TRW Wing Headquarters was sent to Toul. The 10th TRG's propeller-driven RB-26 Invaders of the former 112th TRS were absorbed by the 1st TRS at Toul (which was deemed acceptable for propeller-driven aircraft), while the two jet RF-80A squadrons assigned to the 32d and 38th TRS were located at Neubiberg and Fürstenfeldbruck Air Bases near Munich, West Germany. Group Headquarters was initially assigned to Furstenfeldbruck, then later moved to Toul in November.

Ongoing construction delays in France forced the 10th TRW's transfer on 9 May 1953 to the newly completed Spangdahlem AB in West Germany where all the squadrons of the Wing and its component groups were finally united.

The Republic RF-84F Thunderflash began to arrive in the fall of 1955, and the RF-80As were returned to the United States for Air National Guard use. Martin RB-57A Canberras replaced the World War II vintage RB-26s in 1954 to perform night Reconnaissance missions. In 1956, the 10th TRG began to transition to the RB-66 and WB-66 Destroyers, and the RF-84Fs were transferred to the 66th TRG at Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base, France.

On 8 December 1957 the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group was inactivated with its component squadrons, personnel and equipment being assigned directly to the wing.


  • Constituted as 73d Observation Group on 21 August 1941
Activated on 1 September 1941.
Re-designated: 73d Reconnaissance Group in April 1943
Re-designated: 73d Tactical Reconnaissance Group in August 1943
Re-designated: 10th Photographic Group (Reconnaissance) in December 1943
Re-designated: 10th Reconnaissance Group in June 1945*
Re-designated 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in June 1948
Inactivated on 1 April 1949.
  • Activated on 10 July 1952
Inactivated on 8 December 1957

* Note: Became subordinate unit of 10th Reconnaissance Wing on 14 November 1947



World War II

20th Photographic Interpretaion Division (dates unsure)

Cold War


  • Olmsted Field, Pennsylvania 1 September 1941 – 6 November 1941
  • Godman AAF, Kentucky 7 November 1941 – 22 June 1943
  • Campbell AAF, Kentucky 23 June 1943 – November 1943
  • Key Field, Mississippi, November 1943 – January 1944
  • RAF Chalgrove (USAAF Station 465), England, February 1944 – 10 August 1944
  • Rennes/St-Jacques Airfield (A-27), France, 11 August 1944 – September 1944
  • St-Dizier Airfield (A-64), France, September 1944 – November 1944
  • Chateaudun Airfield (A-39), France, November 1944
  • Conflans/Doncourt Airfield, France (A-94) November 1944 – March 1945



 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Ivie, Tom. Patton's Eyes in the Sky: USAAF Combat Reconnaissance Missions North-West Europe 1944-45. Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-903223-26-1.
  • Ivie, Tom. Aerial Reconnaissance: 10th Photo Recon Group in World War II. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-8168-8900-7.
  • Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

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