During the first few years of hurricane reconnaissance, the Navy
used aircraft from various naval activities in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean areas. The
first aircraft used was the PBM Mariner seaplane. In 1945, Navy Patrol Bomber Squadron 114
(VPB-114), stationed at Masters Field, Miami, was assigned the task of making the
reconnaissance flights, using the famous World War II patrol bomber, the PB4Y Privateer.
From 1946 to 1949 the Privateers continued the hurricane flight while the squadron's
designation was changed to Weather Squadron Three (VPW-3), Meteorological Squadron THREE
(VPM-3), and Heavy Land Based Patrol Bomber Squadron THREE (VPHL-3). In 1949 Patrol
Squadron TWENTY-THREE (VP-23) was commissioned at the Naval Air Station, Miami, for the
The forerunner of VW-4 was Navy Weather Squadron TWO (VJ-2),
commissioned during the 1952 Hurricane season at NAS, Jacksonville, Florida. The following
year, the Hurricane Hunters replaced the Privateers with P2V Neptune, and in that same
year the squadron's designation was changed to Airborne Early Warning Squadron FOUR.
With the advent of powerful long range airborne radar, a new
aircraft was added to the long list of planes making storm flights. In 1955 the Hurricane
Hunters received the first of the WC-121N Lockheed Super Constellations and by 1958 the
Neptunes were replaced by the "Connies". New techniques were devised and weather
reconnaissance under went a radical change. Weather information which once took days to
acquire could now be gathered on one meteorological flight. Conditions in an area of
200,000 square miles could be observed with one sweep of the powerful airborne radar. One
Navy weather flight could provide information of an area encompassing 1,500,00 square
miles. Needless to say, electronics had revolutionized weather reconnaissance as well as
every phase of tropical meteorology.
VW4 was flying P3 aircraft at the time it decommissioned. There were 4 P3 modified with
heavier landing gear and the electronics were upgraded for weather work with an onboard
weather station and the infamous APS 20 search radar. The radome was installed in the bomb
bay and was capable of being lowered and raised.