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by John G. Bishop
John G. Bishop  2003
190 pages
Index, photos
ISBN: 0972635106
Cover Price: $30 + $5 shipping
Language: English

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Cameras Over The Pacific
Marine Photographic Squadron 254

While Marine Corps aviation is famous for its fighter pilots and ground support roles, it is not widely known that the USMC had a photographic reconnaissance squadrons during WWII. Their story is an important part of history, but until now has been overlooked.

The book begins with a forward by Major General Louis J. Conti USMC (Retired), then begins the story with the formation of the VMD-1 photographic reconnaissance squadron April 1, 1942.  Details about training in southern california and the west in B-24s. 

Chapters include, making aerial maps which is fascinating both for its explanations of these techniques - including cameras used, developing and layout, and also the photographic examples presented in full page format. In combat, the unit was based at Bomber 1, Koli Point, Piva North, and Emirau to perform mapping over New Ireland, Momote, Yap and Ponape.

One of the unit's most important missions was photographing Truk Lagoon. Taking off from Stirling in the early morning of February 3, 1944, Marine B-24s heavily overloaded made the 12 hour, 2,000 mile flight to Truk.  Although they arrived with surprise they were soon met by anti-aircraft fire and chased by fighters. Their first photographs off this important enemy base were used to create detailed surveys of its airfields, islands, and even the construction of a scale, 3-dementional map. At the end of the war, the unit had rotated home and was transitioning into F7 Tigercats.

It is not surprising that the book on photo reconnaissance would include spectacular photos.  The images reproduced in the book are richly illustrated with large, full sized photos of people, locations and aircraft.  Simply for the photos alone, this book is an excellent addition to your Pacific aviation library.

The book also includes detailed appendixes with copies of all the units citations and records, details on their airplanes markings, and chart with complete serial number and nose number data, even a muster roll for the unit listing all crew members and personnel, and complete index.

Review by  Justin Taylan

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Last Updated
May 23, 2017

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