January 1, 1960:
EMCRON TWO redesignated Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (FAIRECONRON TWO)

On January 1, 1960, EMCRON TWO was re-designated Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (FAIRECONRON TWO) but still with the alphanumeric designation “VQ-2.”  By this time, the Electric Bats had grown to 69 officers and 398 enlisted men.  Between January 10-12, 1960, an Operational Readiness Inspection was conducted by CINCNELM, and the squadron was given an overall grade of Excellent.


VQ-2 crew often rotated between Rota, Spain and Incirlik, Turkey.  On January 19, 1960, the crew of P4M-1Q 124365/JQ16 was transferring to Incirlik to replace the crew on station that was rotating back to Rota Spain.

The aircraft was on final approach to Incirlik when it crashed into a ravine at the top of the snow covered mountains, 41 NM from the end of the runway.  It was a cloudy day with partial visibility.  The search and rescue was immediately launched but the weather and the mountains made it very difficult for the search teams.  On the following morning, the crew of a Royal Air Force Hastings located the crash site at the 9,000 ft. of the 10,155 ft. mountain.  The Turkish villagers and a British Mountain Rescue Team from Nicosia, Cyprus, were able to reach the site.

All 16 crewmembers were reported killed instantly by the impact:
LCDR Franklin B. Moore (Pilot)
LCDR Warren J. Hampton (Copilot)
LT Thomas H. Edgerton (Navigator)
LTjg Donald C. Mcintyre (Evaluators)
LTjg Robert E. Ogden (Evaluators)
AD1 Joseph A. Cote (P/C)
AT1 Marvin A. Radtke (Radio Operator)
ATC John M. Boling (Radio Operator)
EA1 Murphy J. Martinez, Jr. (F/E)
AM3 Rex H. Gregory (Flight Structural Mechanic)
AN Billy C. Sullivan (2nd Flight Structural Mechanic)
AO2 Richard C. Nuzum (Flight Orderly)
AT2 John M Criswell (ECM Operators)
AT3 Francis E. Tomkowski (ECM Operators)
AQ2 Richard D. Crittenden (ECM Operators)
AT2 Harold L. Berg (ECM Operators)

Note: The Electric Bats VQ-2 emblem was redesigned in 1958 by LTjg Bockehauer, was killed in the crash of 130356, on October 16, 1958.

 1958-1974 US ARMY SECURITY AGENCY Special Activities Detachments One (SAD-1) and Two (SAD-2) Operations (page 52)

In early 1960s, the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program was just being deployed, and there was intense interest by the U.S. government in Soviet missile development.  Therefore, the collection of telemetry data on the Soviet anti-missile and ballistic missile development programs became one of the top priorities.

At that time, the Air Force had primary focus on Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface missiles.  The Navy’s primary responsibility was to study Ship-to-Ship missiles. And likewise, the Army had the primary mission to study Surface-to-Surface Missiles.  Overflight reconnaissance was severely restricted, mostly due to the successful introduction of Soviet Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM), and the early U.S. surveillance satellites could not loiter over a particular area.  The Army needed a high altitude platform to collect optical and telemetry information.  However, because of a jurisdictional disagreement between the Army and Air Force, the Army teamed up with the Navy for this type of collection.

The Navy agreed to provide, maintain and fly a high altitude platform, while the Army Security Agency would provide the intelligence gathering, analysis, equipment and back-end crew.  The chosen platform was the A3D-2Q, four of which were modified into the so called SEABRINE joint Army-Navy configuration.  The Soviet ICBM test program involved launching missiles from Plesetsk and Kapustin Yar (both in Russian), and Tyuratam, Baikonur (in Kazakhstan).  Monitoring was required when the missile was launch and when the re-entry vehicle entered the atmosphere at the Kyuchi test range on the Kamchatka peninsula at the far eastern edge of the Soviet Union.  The task of monitoring the launch and recovery was assigned to two special units composed by a mix of Army and Navy specialists.


VQ-1 and VQ-2 were selected to support these top secret missions.  Right after delivery from Douglas Aircraft Company in 1960, two A3D-2Qs (142670 and 142673) went to Bureau of Naval Weapons, Fleet Readiness (BWR FR) at El Segundo the first aircraft (1958-1959) and second to Overhaul and Repair, Bureau of Naval Weapons, Fleet Readiness (O&R BUWEPS FR) at NAS Jacksonville (1960) for installation of Army optical and telemetry gathering equipment.  They became a one-of-a-kind aircraft distinguishable by cheek towel rack antennas installed on the forward fuselage.  After modification, they were delivered to VQ-2 as 142673/JQ10 on October 24, 1960 and to 142670/JQ11 on November 2, 1960. They were flown to NAVSTA Rota, but were soon moved to Incirlik Turkey for the covert Army-Navy collection operation.

Similarly, in March 1963, VQ-1 flew EA3B 146449/PR9 from MCAS Iwakuni to the Continental US and delivered it to Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (BWR RDT&E) at Long Beach, for installation of Army optical and telemetry gathering equipment.  It became another one-of-a-kind aircraft.  In May, 1963, the modification was complete and the aircraft was flown to Shemya Air Force Base in the Aleutian Islands.  Immediately the aircraft started flying missions with mixed Army-Navy crews, snooping Soviet activates off the Kamchatka peninsula.  By then, a second VQ-1 EA-3B aircraft (1448854/PR10) had been fitted with optical and telemetry gathering equipment, although without the sophisticated antenna array as on the PR9.  The two aircraft were known as Sun-1 (146449/PR9) and Sun-1 (144854/PR10).

VQ-2 was tasked to monitor the launch phase, while VQ-1 was in charge of the re-entry of Soviet ICBMs.

Source: From Bats to Rangers