Page Updated 10/25/07
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

-Volume 2-
Third VP-51


Established as Air Early Warning Squadron ONE (VPW-1) on 1 April 1948.

Redesignated Patrol Squadron FIFTY ONE (VP-51) on 1 September 1948, the third squadron to be assigned the VP-51 designation.

Disestablished on 1 February 1950

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

On 9 September 1949, the commanding officer of VP-51 responded to a CNO request of 10 May 1949 that the squadron submit a design for an insignia.

The old Navy The squadron's cartoon insignia.

The submission was the motif of an early bird catching a worm, alluding to a snorkeling submarine. The bird, snatching the worm from the depths of the ocean, stands astride the North American continent, with the sun peeping up over the rim of the globe. In the bird's hands are clutched two signal flags attached to lightning bolts. Colors: bird, brown with coral stomach; bird feet, yellow; cap, red with number 51 on front; flags, one yellow with blue cross, second flag red with yellow stripes; earth, blue and brown; sun, orange; worm, pale green; background, pale blue and white.

Nickname: None on record.

Chronology of Significant Events

  • 1 Apr 1948: VPW-1 was established at NAS Quonset Point, R.I., as an Air Early Warning squadron flying the PB-1 Flying Fortress. Some of the personnel identified for assignment to VPW-1 had been ordered to VX-4 for training on the PB-1W aircraft prior to their unit being established as a separate squadron. Another group of personnel for VPW-1 was located at Kwajalein Atoll participating in Operation Sandstone when the squadron was established on 1 April. This detachment consisted of 17 officers and 29 enlisted personnel. The detachment's mission during this operation was to patrol a designated danger area during hours of darkness to ensure no unauthorized craft entered the atomic experimental test area.
  • 1 Apr 1948: Immediately following the squadron's establishment at NAS Quonset Point it was assigned a new home port at NAAS Ream Field, Imperial Beach, Calif.
  • 2-3 Apr 1948: The squadron received its first four PB-1Ws on 2 April. These aircraft had been B-17G's, held by the U.S. Army Air Force in reserve storage, and released to the Navy for modification by the NAMU Johnsville, Pa. The APS-20 search radar was installed, with a distinctive large fairing projecting from the chin of the aircraft for the scanning unit. The bomb bays were sealed since no weapons were carried and extra fuel tanks were installed to increase range. On 3 April the squadron began the move to its new home port at NAAS Ream Field.
  • Apr-May 1948: The squadron participated in various fleet radar relay and search and rescue exercises.
  • 29 May 1948: The squadron's Kwajalein Detachment return to NAAS Ream Field.
  • 7 Jul 1948: VPW-1 was relocated to NAAS Miramar, north of San Diego, Calif.
  • July 1948: The squadron established a detachment at NAS Agana, Guam. The detachment operated under the control of FAW-1. The primary mission of the detachment was typhoon reconnaissance.
  • 1 Sep 1948: The squadron was redesignated VP-51. VP-51 was the first operational land-based AEW squadron. The primary mission of the squadron was ASW but it was also responsible for developing, improving and evaluating all aspects relating to the operational use of AEW.
  • May 1949: VP-51 received the PB4Y-2 Privateer to replace the PB-1W aircraft being taken out of service.
  • Jul-Aug 1949: The squadron participated in AEW intercept exercises in July and August and ASW hunter/killer exercises in August.
  • 1 Feb 1950: VP-51 was disestablished at NAAS Miramar, Calif. Personnel from the disestablished squadron were used to form a detachment of VX-4.

Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
PB-1W 2 Apr 1948
PB4Y-2 Jun 1949

Home Port Assignments Commanding Officers
Location Date of Assignment   Date Assumed Command
NAS Quonset Point, R.I 1 Apr 1948 CDR Harold W. McDonald 1 Apr 1948
NAS Ream Field, Calif. 3 Apr 1948 CDR F. P. Anderson (actg.) 29 Jun 1949
NAAS Miramar, Calif. 1 Aug 1948 CDR Harold W. McDonald 16 Dec 1949

Major Overseas Deployments

Date of
Date of
Wing Base of
Type of
Area of
Apr 1948* May 1948 CTG 7.3 Kwajalein PB-1W WestPac
Jul 1948* Dec 1948 FAW-1 Agana PB-1W WestPac
* Deployments are for squadron detachments,
not the full squadron.

Wing Assignments Unit Awards Received
Date of
Tail Code Assignment Date Unit Award Unit Award Inclusive Date
Covering Unit Award
COMFAIR Quonset* EW 1 Apr 1948 None on record.  
FAW-14 EW 1 Apr 1948    
* The squadron was established at NAS Quonset Point under
Commander Fleet Air Quonset and, on the same day, reassigned
to FAW-14 on the West Coast.

vx-4_pb-1w.jpg A PB-1W in flight. This aircraft was assigned to VX-4 and was used to train VPW-1 personnel.