1st Photographic Group (USAAF)

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The 1st Photographic Group was formed in June 1941 to expand photographic mapping in the USAAF and to provide long-range photographic reconnaissance similar to the British model.

Prior to 1941 the USAAF had two types of reconnaissance units - Observation groups, equipped with old light aircraft and designed to operate with the army (similar to British Army Co-operation Squadrons) and reconnaissance squadrons, which were allocated directly to Bombardment Groups and used the same type of aircraft.

The 1st Photographic Group succeeded in its first aim, but was less significant in its second. The initial four squadrons were allocated to the four Continental Air Forces (First to Fourth Air Forces) and were used to map the United States and surrounding areas in case of enemy attack. The group also sent attachments out to Alaska, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, India, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South American and the Kuril Islands (just about every theatre of war apart from western Europe and the Pacific). As a result the long range reconnaissance role was rather neglected.

The group survived for just over three years and was disbanded in October 1944, by which time the USAAF had developed a successful model for reconnaissance units, similar to British PR squadrons and equipped with the fastest aircraft available.


To Follow


Beechcraft F-2 Expeditor
Douglas F-3 Havoc
Consolidated F-7 Liberator
Lockheed A-29 Hudson
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Douglas B-18 Bolo
Consolidated B-24 Liberator
North American B-25 Mitchell


15 May 1941 Constituted at 1st Photographic Group
10 June 1941 Activated
January 1942 Redesignated as 1st Mapping Group
August 1943 Redesignated as 1st Photographic Charting Group
5 October 1944 Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Minton W Kaye: 10 Jun 1941
Lt Col George G Northrup: c.1 Feb 1942
Col Paul T Cullen: 8 Jul 1942
Col Minton W Kaye: c. 1 Jul 1943
Col George G Northrup: c. 18 Nov 1943
Lt Col Frank N Graves, c. I Dec 1943- unkn.

Main Bases

Bolling Field, DC: 10 Jun 1941
Peterson Field, Colo: Dec 1943
Buckley Field, Colo: Jul-5 Oct 1944

Component Units

1st Photographic Squadron: 1941-43
2nd Photographic Squadron: 1941-43
3rd Photographic Squadron: 1941-43
4th Photographic Squadron: 1941-44
6th Photographic Squadron: 1943-44
19th Photographic Squadron: 1943
91st Photographic Squadron: 1943-44

Assigned To

1941-44: US Based, starts with one squadron allocated to each US based Air Force (First Air Force in the North East, Second Air Force in the North West, Third Air Force in the south-east, Fourth Air Force in the south-west).

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 October 2014), 1st Photographic Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/1st_Photographic_Group.html

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