As while ago, we’ve encountered excellent low altitude aerial beach photographs taken by a P-38 “Lightning” pilot during his World War II service. Although trying to contact the author, TripleCrowner on Reddit, we’ve failed to get in touch to gain more information on his grandfather. However, we still wanted to show off these stunning aerial photographs with our readers and begin our own research with your help.
The P-38 “Lighting” is likely a F5E or a P-38J-25-LO (reconnaissance version) bearing the USAAF serial number “423605”. Most likely, he may have belonged to the 10th Photographic Group. Going more specific into a can be troublesome without more information, however the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron could be a unit that match his service. One of the most interesting notes on the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron is that they earned a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for flying low altitude missions over Normandy beaches, such as Utah Beach.
Earned DUC for participation with 10th Photographic Group, 7–20 May 1944, in photo reconnaissance of Utah beach for Normandy invasion. The citation read, in part: “Employing specially modified equipment installed in unarmed P-38 type aircraft, the intrepid pilots of the 10th Photographic Reconnaissance Group undertook the most hazardous missions. Flying unarmed and unescorted and at altitudes as low as twenty-five feet, they fearlessly piloted their aircraft over the difficult photographic runs in the face of intense fire from some of the strongest anti-aircraft installations in western Europe.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Although some photographs indicate that they were printed by the 325th Photographic Reconnaissance Wing, since this unit was only active after Operation Overlord started, making it more unlikely that he belonged to this particular unit due his aerial photographs were taken prior to this period.
All help and information that may lead to a more specific unit, identification of personnel, aircraft and location(s) is most appreciated. The photographs are numbered to make referencing easier. I’ve split the Low Altitude Normandy Beach Photographs into two parts.
See Part 2 of the Operation Overlord: Low Altitude Beach Photographs! Another complimentary series on the subject for those interested is: 12 Stunning Aerial Photographs of D-Day including aerial photographs of the Normandy beaches on D-Day.