28th Photo Recon Squadron - 318th Fighter Group - 7th USAAF

LT. Edward Lewis Krum - RECON PILOT

28th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, 318th Fighter Group, 7th USAAF

91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (Korea)     



DICING missions is a term developed by the British meaning that the pilot is taking the same chance for winning that he takes when throwing a pair of dice.  In the air war against the axis forces this meant that the pilot’s chances of being shot down and killed were far greater during a dicing mission than during normal flying operations.

Dicing mission are preformed routinely by pilots attached to photo recognisance squadrons.  Pilots fly their aircraft, usually a Lightning P-38 which has the five forward guns removed and replaced by cameras, and  renamed an F-5, at heights about 50 feet above the ground.  The aircraft fly at very fast speeds and nose mounted cameras attempt to photograph close up details of enemy positions.

A 7th Army Airforce brief states that in training pilots were taught that anything photographed from below 30,000 feet was suicide, however, pilots report that have not flown at that height since their training.

Lt. C. E. Williams a pilot of a F-5 stated: “We don’t get the air medal for dropping bombs or shooting down enemy aircraft, we get them for doing this!”  He then displayed a large photograph of several muzzles from large guns emplaced into the side of a hill.  The officer took the photographs in a 40 minute mission after making three runs at his target under ground fire, one run at 1000 feet and two runs at 50 feet.

After the mission the film is developed and printed as quickly as possible, usually from forward air deployment areas.  In the mission above, the prints taken from the film were loaded into an observation plane and dropped to the deck of the Admiral’s flagship.  A few well placed shots from the naval big guns and the enemy gun battery is blasted out of existence.

Camera pierces camouflage, makes no mistakes and misses no details! 

The recognisance aircraft allows pilots to bring back information about troop concentrations, troop movements, supply dumps, the presence or absence of ships or other key military installations. 

When the intelligence gained from the photographs indicates enemy troop concentrations or a suitable target, a raid is organised.  On completion of the raid the recon aircraft flies back over the area to determine the damage and enemy losses.  This information is reported to upper echelon who use the data in determining future military strategies for the area.

Whether the camera can bring home this vital information depends on three factors: The ability of the pilot-photographer; the ability of the camera maintenance and developing crew; and the ability of the camera.

It is the maintenance men who check that the camera is operational before and after a mission; they must exercise the same care and accuracy that a front line soldier would with regard to his personal weapon and equipment.  Personnel are hand selected for this exacting task and are experts in their particular field.

Lack of firepower makes flying a recognisance aircraft a very dangerous activity.  All weapons are removed from the aircraft to allow it to fly faster with less weight.  Weapons are replaced with cameras and film.  The only weapon carried is the pilot’s personal .45 automatic in a shoulder or hip holster.

The pilot of a recon aircraft is specially trained.  His flying skills are beyond reproach and he usually is the “cream of the crop” with a higher intelligence that fellow pilots.  Not only must he be able to fly an aircraft low and fast, he must also be able to counter aerial flak and fighters, be able to take accurate photographs using his aircraft as a photographic platform and navigate to and from the target.  The pilot must also have the ability and knowledge of atmospherics and weather to be able to determine air moisture and temperature to minimise the chance of an aircraft vapour trail and to be able to avoid adverse weather conditions.  Lastly the pilot must have a mature attitude and realise that, although his job may not be as glamorous as a fighter pilot, the tasks assigned to him are far more important.

Lt. Edward Lewis Krum was trained as a pilot/photographer and served in the Pacific area of operations during the Second World War and then in the Korean conflict.  During the war he accumulated and kept several dozen unpublished photographs which were given to me recently by his next of kin.  Many of the photographs depict scenes that provide an incite into life during this period as a pilot. 

He flew a converted Lightning P-38 (F-5) named “lucky Lu” after his wife Lulu.  During the Korean conflict he served with the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron and flew a F-5 and an RB 45-C both named “Foto Genie”.

To view Lt. Krum's survival maps and read about why maps and chits are important to an aviator, click the link Survival Chits and Maps

Personal Excerpt

On Halloween night in 1935 “Huck” Krum gathered with school friends at the Anderson barn, only two doors from his parent’s residence.  There, the group disassembled Mr. Anderson’s buggy and reassembled it at the end of the block on top of the church 3 stories above ground level.  No one was caught or arrested.  This cocky, dare-devil, risk taking attitude was characteristic of a man who would later become a pilot in the US Army Airforce and serve his country in three wars.

Edward Krum was born in Kansas on July 4th, 1921.  As a small child he was very keen on anything aviation and would ride his bicycle to the local airfield to watch World War One vintage aircraft do circuits around the field.  

On completion of his high school education he attempted to join the fledging US Army Air Corps, however, was refused entry as he did not have the minimum two year college education.  His parents also refused consent to join the Royal Canadian Airforce.  Krum reluctantly entered the University of Kansas in 1939.

World War Two Service

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 provided an immediate opening for Krum who joined the Army Air Corps as a cadet.  Two yeas later he married Lulu Marie, a girl from Arizona.  Lula was to be the first name of his aircraft – a photo converted Lightning P-38 called a F-5.

In March 1942 the then twenty year old Krum graduated from flying school as a 2nd Lieutenant and issued pilot wings and deployed to the central Pacific assigned to the 28th Photo reconnaissance Squadron, 7th USAAF.  Initially not satisfied with his assignment he was dully informed by his superiors that only the best and most steel-like of pilots are assigned to photo reconnaissance squadrons.  

LEFT:  Lt. Krum (standing back right with hands on hips) with other photo recon pilots.

One of Krum’s most amusing incidents occurred when he landed on a runway recently captured from the Japanese on Guam during the Marianas Campaign.  After touch down and taxing to the revetment area, he was met by a wide-eyed native boy.  Krum, not knowing the local language wondered how he was to communicate with the child.  The little boy trotted up to the plane and stretched out his hand in greeting as Krum climbed down from the cockpit.  “Shake Pal”, said the boy.  “Ya know that’s the first P-38 I’ve ever seen – is this ship stacked for picture taking or what”.

Krum flew the first low level combat photographic mission after the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast.  For his outstanding performance, Lt. Krum was awarded the Air Medal (AM) and promoted to Captain.

Korea Service

After the close of World War Two Krum remained in the newly named US Air Force and qualified to fly jet aircraft in the photo reconnaissance role.  In 1951 Communist China invaded North Korea and the newly promoted Major Krum was deployed to Japan to fly the RB-45C.  He was assigned to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron.

Krum experienced several encounters with enemy MIG-15 jet fighters, and after receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for extraordinary achievement while participating as aircraft commander, was recalled back the United States. 

Back in the states, Major Krum became qualified to fly the B-47 jet bomber and became heavily involved in training Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombardment crews.  He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for outstanding airmanship as a professional instructor pilot for his participation in this role and was duly promoted to Lt. Colonel and then Colonel (Bird Colonel).

Untarnished Record - Awards and Decorations

At 39 years old Colonel Krum has accomplished what many other airforce pilots only dream about.  He had logged 2000 hours in propeller driven aircraft, 3000 hours in jet aircraft and had crossed the Atlantic Ocean 11 times.  

LEFT: Commendation given to Capt. Krum and other personnel of the 318th Fighter Group USAAF.  The 28th Photo Recon was part of this fighter group.

He began training in the new B-52 aircraft, however, while Squadron Commander at a SAC air base, flying 24 hour missions, working 12 hour days and sleeping less than 5 hours per night his health finally caught up with him and he suffered a major heart attack.  Once medically recovered he requested flight duty as a navigator or bombardier but the request was denied.  Colonel Krum was not satisfied in a desk position and coupled with a cut in pay and unable to fly he retired from the Air Force.

During his service Colonel Krum was qualified as: pilot, senior pilot, command pilot, navigator and bombardier.  He retired from the US Air Force with the rank of Brigadier General.

He was the recipient of the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Asiatic Pacific Medal with four battle stars; the Korean Service Medal; the United Nations Service Medal; the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

LEFT: Command Pilot wings. These are the wings that Krum wore during his Korea Service. The star and wreath distinguish him as a seasoned pilot with over 1500 flight hours and 5 years service.

The wings are made by a well known wing manufacturer NS Meyer and are marked on the rear accordingly

Krum's wife's obituary - Lula Marie Beach KRUM




BELOW: Selection of photographs taken by Lt. E. Krum during his Pacific service (I have over 500 photographs). Rather than list every image, I have strived to select those which tell a picture story of life in a photo recon squadron.


Ambulance on the flight line - many recon pilots did not return

Pilots on 5 day leave pass climb aboard DC3 "Sydney bound" - recreation, alcohol and girls await....

F5 and DC3 collision. Many accidents occur close to home

Specialists determine targets on aerial photographs using paper maps and aerial photographs. A very keen eye for detail was required

Loading camera into F5 nose cone. technician worked tirelessly to keep aircraft operational and in the air

Intelligence officer Capt, Moody debriefs Lt. Hall after photo operations. Note aircraft and ship identification charts on the wall. Photo recon pilots had to have the ability to fly, recognise appropriate camera targets, and have a good memory to report what they had seen

"Busted landing gear on F5" (as written on rear of photograph)

Lt. Krum (2nd from your right) with pilots in front of F5

Pilots eat lunch

"Lt. Malley calling ops for photo strike" (as written on rear of photograph)

"Operations officer calling photo mission" (as written on rear of photograph)

Pilots check and recheck final route to target before deployment

F 5 "Photo Genie"One of Krum's aircraft

Lt. F. R.  Martin waits on flight line

Pilots and crew chief beside F5. The crew chiefs did all the mechanical work on the aircraft ensuring serviceability

Nose art - "Missouri Outlaw". Nose art was at the discretion of the pilot and crew chief. This artwork has been applied to a F5 (converted P-38 for photo recon work)

Nose art - "Fire Power". Nose art usually involved large-breasted females scantly clad. This artwork is applied to a B-24 Liberator medium bomber

Pilots stand by in ready room for quick deployment on photo mission

Specialist checks film for initial problems before passing along to target acquisition section

Pilots on leave. Note the blonde gal in the centre named "Dotty"



Checking aerial photographs using bi-focal stereographic machine

Capt. Krum advises 2 star general on accuracy of photo run

F5 maintenance

Mission return. Despite operating the tropical conditions, aerial photographs were often taken at high altitudes requiring pilots to wear protective clothing such as jumpers and A2 jackets

Equipment shack (note A2 leather jackets on racks)


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