February 20, 2024

“The first time” and “the first person” are usually easier for people to notice or remember. In some cases, people may even magnify the achievements of the first time or the first person, or attribute the achievements of later individuals to the “first time” or the “first” erroneously.

Chen, Huai (陳懷) was the pilot who flew the first U-2 reconnaissance mission for the 35th Squadron (aka the Black Cat). He was also the first pilot from the Black Cat Squadron to die in a combat mission. As a result, he gained much greater personal fame and recognition for his GRC 100 mission compared to other squadron members. The accomplishments of the GRC 100 mission were even magnified. For example, the Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan not only (incorrectly) attributed Gimo Yang’s (楊世駒) sighting of two Russian Tu-16 bombers at the Wugong (武功) Airfield during his GRC 102 mission to Chen, Huai’s GRC 100 mission, but also exaggerated the number of aircraft that were photographed. In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, based on the GRC 102 mission, created a Mission Coverage Index (MCI) and explicitly highlighted the main contribution of this mission in the summary:

Some may question why it says “22 February” here since the GRC 102 mission was executed on 23rd February. This is because the date mentioned here is the so-called Zulu Date (commonly known as Greenwich Mean Time). You can refer to the takeoff and landing times on the Operational Mission Card at the top to calculate the corresponding Taipei time (add 8 hours).

For comparison, I have posted the summary of the GRC 100 Mission Coverage Index below, where you can see that the Wugong Airfield was not mentioned at all:

In addition, I also provide the Mission Coverage Plot of the GRC 102 mission in the Shaanxi (陝西) and Gansu (甘肅) regions for your reference. The original copy provided by the CIA was in black and white, so I used thick red lines to depict the flight route. Gimo Yang’s U-2 aircraft passed directly above the Wugong Airfield!

However, the sighting of the Tu-16 bombers at the Wugong Airfield was not the most important intelligence result of this mission. It was a significant portion that was blacked out in the summary of the GRC 102 Mission Coverage Index by the CIA! Even though it has been fifty years, when the CIA declassifies documents, they still black out intelligence related to China’s nuclear weapons development. Therefore, the Subject Index of the GRC 102 Mission Coverage Index is no exception. However, the person in charge forgot to black out the words “Nuclear Energy,” allowing us to know that Gimo Yang photographed China’s nuclear facilities:

Fortunately, there are occasional oversights in the CIA’s declassification process, and they sometimes forget to black out certain parts that should be redacted. That’s why we can see the significant achievements of Gimo Yang’s mission from another document:

In fact, at that time, the importance of Gimo Yang’s sighting of the Lanzhou (蘭州) Gas Diffusion Plant surpassed that of the Shuangchengzi (雙城子) Missile Test Site. However, because Gimo Yang was not the pilot who executed the first U-2 reconnaissance mission for the Black Cat Squadron, his intelligence contribution has been forgotten by many later generations.

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