Air Force Headquarters is today putting on display a B-26 light bomber, the type of airplane flown by the “Black Bat” squadron of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) during the Cold War era, giving visitors a chance to learn more of the air force’s history.
The Black Bats, the call sign of the former 34th Squadron, were formed in 1958 to fly nighttime low-altitude reconnaissance missions to assist CIA intelligence-gathering over China.
The squadron flew a total of 838 reconnaissance missions before it was disbanded in 1974. All told, 15 of the bombers were shot down or lost in accidents, killing many of the crew.
The exhibition was made possible when US Premier International Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum director Roger Kelsay exchanged letters with Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) in 2010 proposing an exchange — the Aviation Museum’s B-26 light bomber for a decommissioned F-5 jet and a J-85 engine.
The B-26 arrived late last month and was reassembled by a team of US technicians.
The formal handover was scheduled to take place at the ROCAF Academy in Greater Kaohsiung’s Gangshan district (岡山) this morning. Kelsay along with former Black Bat squadron members were due to attend the event.
In addition, the ROCAF Academy is building an “Aviation Education Exhibition Hall,” scheduled to open next year, which will include sections on various themes, such as the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Second Chinese Civil War and the founding of the ROCAF.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer