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From Bats to Rangers

A Pictorial History of Electronic Countermeasures Squadron Two (ECMRON-2) and Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2)

By Angelo Romano and John D. Herndon
Comments:  Softcover, 240 pages, 180 black-and-white and 444 color photos



Ginter Books, from Specialty Press

From the publisher:
“U.S. Navy Squadron Histories No. 302” is the second of a new series from Ginter Books. Coverage of the history of the Electric Bats, also known as the Rangers, is comprehensive in terms of photography and historical content.

Much of the squadron’s mission was top secret, but the authors were able to utilize official (declassified) documents and first-hand accounts to write this book. It also chronicles U.S. Navy Electronic Intelligence gathering activities going back to World War II, beginning with the creation of the Cast Mike (Counter Measures) Project in 1942 and the deployment of early XARD receivers aboard aircraft like the Consolidated PBY Catalina, PB4Y-1 Liberator, and PB4Y-2 Privateer.

After WWII, the Navy started to use the Privateers as dedicated ELINT platforms and assigned them to two special units operating jointly with the National Security Group. One of these units, Port Lyautey Patrol Unit (NPU), was based at Naval Air Activities Port Lyautey in French Morocco. It was first assigned modified PB4Y-1s and, later, the Martin P4M-1Q Mercator. The NPU teamed with the Naval Security Group's Naval Communications Unit 32 George (NCU32G), which provided the ELINT equipment installed on board and the crew to operate them, mostly for covert operations around Europe and the Mediterranean.

When the NPU reached its full complement of four P4M-1Qs, the unit and NCU32G needed to have an administrative identity for budgetary and logistics purposes.

Airborne Early Warning Squadron Two (VW-2), based at NAS Patuxent River, was selected to be its “mother” squadron. On May 1, 1953, NPU Port Lyautey became VW-2 Detachment A (or DET ABLE).

In 1955, the Navy decided to establish a dedicated squadron for the unique mission rather than continue with a detachment: Electronic Countermeasures Squadron TWO (ECMRON TWO) was established on Sept. 1, 1955. ECMRON-TWO was designated “VQ-2.” Its mission was to conduct electronic search in support of fleet operations to obtain adequate and timely information on enemy radar, communications, and other emissions in support of fleet operations. The Squadron inherited the P4M-1Qs from VW-2 DET A and acquired a Lockheed P2V Neptune for utility purposes.

On Jan 1, 1960, EMCRON TWO was redesignated Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (FAIRECONRON TWO) but still retained the VQ-2 designation.

In 1956, VQ-2 received its first Douglas A3D-1Q Skywarrior, followed in 1957 by one A3D-1. In 1958, the Squadron received the Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune to augment the P4M-1Qs. The more capable A3D-2Q/EA-3B arrived in 1959 followed by the big Lockheed WV-2Q/EC-121M Constellation in 1960. The first Lockheed EP-3E ARIES arrived in 1971 and the squadron continued to fly this aircraft until disestablishment in 2012.

The VQ-2 history and all worldwide events surrounding it are documented in photos. In addition, 37 detailed aircraft color profiles show the evolution of color schemes and markings and the different aircraft types and subtypes.

FSM says: What amounts to a 75-year-long photo walkaround will benefit both modelers and aviation historians. Details of the above-mentioned aircraft and others are seen inside and out; color profiles provide a guide to markings and schemes. Shows aircraft in action based on land and aboard carriers.


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