JED - October 2016 - 65

SIGINT History

SELF-HELP
By Martin Streetly

The Journal of Electronic Defense | October 2016

W

hen what was then
the US Army Air Force
(USAAF) formed its
Fifteenth Air Force
(15th AF) on November
1, 1943, the chief
obstacle to the daylight strategic bombing
of Axis targets was still held to be enemy
fighters. As the new year progressed,
the threat switched to radar-directed
heavy anti-aircraft artillery (the
dreaded "Flak") against which, increasing numbers of "radio countermeasures"
(RCM) were ranged. To be effective, such
measures required a priori intelligence,
which in the case of the Service's Britishbased Eighth Air Force, was primarily
provided by the British Y-Service. Such
a luxury was not available to the 15th AF
due to a lack of resources and the nature
of the areas of Italy and southern and
central Europe over which it was operating. Accordingly, the Command put in
place a "self-help" program to provide
electronic intelligence that would assist
its countermeasures campaign.
In the first instance, the Command
could call on the limited ELINT resources provided by the oddly named
16th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy)
(Special) - 16th RS(H)(S) in short form
- which had its origins in the USAAF's
deployment of a B-17F "ferret" aircraft
(officially, "Ferret III," tail number 4229644) to the Mediterranean theater
during the spring of 1943. Equipped
with Hallicrafters S-27, SCR-587 and AN/
APR-3 receivers, Archangel, as the aircraft was nicknamed, began operations
in May 1943 as part of the build-up to
the forthcoming Allied invasion of Sic-

65

Oil facilities were a major target for the 15th AF. Shown here is a raid by 15th AF B-24 Liberator
bombers on the Ploesti oil refinery complex in Romania. (USAAF)

ily. By the following autumn, "Ferret
III's" operators had become known as
the "General Reconnaissance Squadron"
(GRS) and had acquired two more B-17s
that were designated as "Ferrets IV" (4229881) and "V" (42-3055). Of these, "Ferret V" was equipped with S-27, SCR-587
and AN/APR-4 receivers, an HP 200C audio oscillator and at least one AN/APT-3
Mandrel radar jamming transmitter.
As might be expected, bureaucratic
tolerance of the GRS's irregular status
was not infinite, and on September 27,
1943, it was re-designated as the USAAF
Twelfth Air Force's (12th AF) 16th Reconnaissance Squadron (Bomber), with Maj
Norman McGowan as its commanding
officer. So configured, the "new" unit
was home ported at Foch Field in Tunisia and operated a number of detachments from airfields in Italy and on its

adjacent islands between October 1943
and March 1944. On May 3, 1944, the
16th Reconnaissance Squadron left Tunisia for Foggia in south eastern Italy,
and on the 12th of the month it became
the 16th RS(H)(S). Operating from Foggia and (until September 1944) Borgo
on Corsica, the unit remained under
12th AF control until January 1, 1944,
when it was transferred to the 15th AF.
Although assigned to the 15th, in reality (and like many of its type have done
over the years), it actually "served other
higher headquarters in the MTO (Mediterranean Theatre-of-Operations)" prior
to its return to the continental US in
November 1944.
During the latter part of its existence,
the 16th RS(H)(S) appears to have had a
role in overseeing the 15th AF's RCM capability in addition its core ELINT role.



JED - October 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - October 2016

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
Bait in the Trap: Trainable Soft-Kill Systems Proliferate for ASMD
2017 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
SIGINT History
EW 101
AOC News
Index to Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - October 2016 - cover1
JED - October 2016 - cover2
JED - October 2016 - 3
JED - October 2016 - 4
JED - October 2016 - 5
JED - October 2016 - The View From Here
JED - October 2016 - 7
JED - October 2016 - Conferences Calendar
JED - October 2016 - 9
JED - October 2016 - Courses Calendar
JED - October 2016 - 11
JED - October 2016 - From the President
JED - October 2016 - 13
JED - October 2016 - 14
JED - October 2016 - The Monitor
JED - October 2016 - insert1
JED - October 2016 - insert2
JED - October 2016 - 16
JED - October 2016 - 17
JED - October 2016 - 18
JED - October 2016 - 19
JED - October 2016 - 20
JED - October 2016 - 21
JED - October 2016 - World Report
JED - October 2016 - 23
JED - October 2016 - Bait in the Trap: Trainable Soft-Kill Systems Proliferate for ASMD
JED - October 2016 - 25
JED - October 2016 - 26
JED - October 2016 - 27
JED - October 2016 - 28
JED - October 2016 - 29
JED - October 2016 - 30
JED - October 2016 - 31
JED - October 2016 - 32
JED - October 2016 - 33
JED - October 2016 - 34
JED - October 2016 - 35
JED - October 2016 - 36
JED - October 2016 - 37
JED - October 2016 - 38
JED - October 2016 - 39
JED - October 2016 - 2017 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
JED - October 2016 - 41
JED - October 2016 - 42
JED - October 2016 - 43
JED - October 2016 - 44
JED - October 2016 - 45
JED - October 2016 - 46
JED - October 2016 - 47
JED - October 2016 - 48
JED - October 2016 - 49
JED - October 2016 - 50
JED - October 2016 - 51
JED - October 2016 - 52
JED - October 2016 - 53
JED - October 2016 - 54
JED - October 2016 - 55
JED - October 2016 - 56
JED - October 2016 - 57
JED - October 2016 - 58
JED - October 2016 - 59
JED - October 2016 - 60
JED - October 2016 - 61
JED - October 2016 - 62
JED - October 2016 - 63
JED - October 2016 - 64
JED - October 2016 - SIGINT History
JED - October 2016 - 66
JED - October 2016 - 67
JED - October 2016 - EW 101
JED - October 2016 - 69
JED - October 2016 - AOC News
JED - October 2016 - 71
JED - October 2016 - Index to Advertisers
JED - October 2016 - 73
JED - October 2016 - JED Quick Look
JED - October 2016 - cover3
JED - October 2016 - cover4
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