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ATG-1 - AIR TASK GROUP ONE

AIR TASK GROUP ONE (ATG-1)

ATG-1 was the first of several air task groups that were formed when North Korean troops invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. U.S military forces had been severely reduced between 1945 and 1950. The Congress had put strict limits on the number of Navy commissioned carriers and air groups. For example, carriers had been reduced from 28 CV/CVLs to 11 CVB/CV/CVLs. To provide additional forces quickly, and still comply with the Congressional constraints, Navy planners: (1) established (but did not commission) air task groups, and (2) formed each one with individual squadrons drawn from four different commissioned air groups, three regular and one reserve.

 Thus ATG-1 was formed with VF-194 from CVG-19, VF-52 from CVG-5 and VF-111 from CVG-11. The recalled Ready Reserve squadron, VF-653, was from CVG-65 at NAS Akron. Specialized detachments (night attack, antisub, photo, helo rescue, etc.) comprised the rest of ATG-1. It was formed in October 1951 and disestablished in February 1959. The ATG-1 insignia, designed by one of the recalled pilots, a commercial illustrator, depicts the ATG winged ONE decimating the red star of the evil empire.

 Deployments in USS: VALLEY FORGE (CV-45) 1951-52   BOXER (CVA-21) 1953

WASP (CVA-18) 1954-55   LEXINGTON (CVA-16) 1956   BENNINGTON (CVA-20) 1958

TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) 1958-59

 Squadrons: VF-111   VF-52   VF-653   VF-194   VF-151   VF-44   VA-196   VF-112

 Detachments of: VC-3   VC-11   VC-35   VC-61   HU-1   VAH-6   VAW-111   VA(AW)-35

VFP-61   VX-4   GMGRU-4   VAH-2

 Type aircraft flown: AD-2/3/1Q/4NA/4Q/6/4W/4NL/2Q/6/5W/5Q/5N   F4U-4/4B/5N/5NL

F9F-2/2B/5/6/8/2P/8P   F2H-2P/3    HO3S-1   HUP-2/3   AJ-2   A3D-2    F7U-3/3M   FJ-4B

 On its first deployment in USS Valley Forge, it initiated combat operations on 11 Dec. 1951. Its assigned mission was to conduct aerial interdiction against enemy lines of communication, transportation, industrial and supply facilities, through strikes in the northeastern Korean rail network and selected targets, and by means of jet armed reconnaissance flights over enemy supply routes During this 6-month combat tour, ATG-1s total bomb tonnage dropped had exceeded that of all carrier air groups combined during the most intense six-month period of the recent war in the Pacific, attributable largely to the superior bomb carrying capability of the post-WWII AD Skyraider. The ATG-1 ADs dropped 114 2,000 lb bombs; ADs and F4Us dropped 3,507 1000 lb bombs and 370 napalm; and ADs, F4Us and F9Fs dropped 1,607 500 lb, 15,395 250 lb and 10,679 100 lb bombs; and fired 861,840 rounds of 20mm and 860,493 rounds of .50 cal. gun ammo.

Details about many of the ATG-1 operations are described in the seven references below. Some of those operations inspired two Hollywood movies.  One was Men of the Fighting Lady, about a pilot blinded by antiaircraft fire, being guided by radio from another pilot, out of enemy territory and on to a safe landing. The other movie, The Bridges at Toko-ri, from the James Michener novel, is about a recalled naval reserve pilot, shot down over North Korea, and the failed rescue attempt when the helicopter was also shot down. Michener patterned his main character after two VF-194 Skyraider pilots that he had met and interviewed during his visit aboard Valley Forge as a war correspondent.

 During that deployment, there were 23 pilots and two air crewmen lost. In the POW exchange in 1953, four of the pilots and the two air crewmen were returned. Korean combat operations ceased during the second ATG-1 deployment in USS Boxer. The other four deployments were also to WestPac until ATG-1 was disestablished in 1959. 

References

Air Task Groups by VADM D.W. Cooper, The Hook Spring 1983.

 Air Task Group ONE by Bob Lawson, The Hook Spring 1983.

 Behind the Bridges at Toko-ri by Richard F. Kaufman, Naval Aviation News March-April 2002.

 Where Are They Now? Harry Ettinger by Barrett Tillman, The Hook Winter 1999.

 Blind and Alone over North Korea by Ken Schechter, in Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul: Stories to Stir the Pride and Honor the Courage of our Veterans by Jack Canfield et al. 2001.

 Down in the Dirt by Warren Thompson, Combat Aircraft December 1999.

 Clipper One and the Flying Circus by Dave Robertson, The Hook Summer 2009.



Based on code developed by Richards Consulting Group