The Korean people's Air Force in the fatherland liberation war: Part II.
The NKPAF Moves South
During the first five days of Kim Il-Sunges offensive into South Korea, the North Korean People's Air Force (NKPAF) supported the North Korean People's Army's (NKPA) drive towards Seoul with ground attack missions by Il-10s, fighter sweeps with Yak-9Ps, and airfield attacks using both types of Soviet-supplied warplanes. These attacks wiped out the tiny Republic of Korea (ROK) air arm and destroyed three USAF transports, occasionally disrupting the Far East Air Forces' (FEAF) resupply and evacuation airlift. After personally witnessing NKPAF warplanes battling USAF Mustangs over Suwon, Gen. Douglas MacArthur directed FEAF commander Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer to begin bombing the NKPAF at their bases--something "The Great Leader of the Korean People" had not anticipated, and an escalation that would result in the virtual destruction of his air force. (1)
Meanwhile to continue supporting the NKPA, as its tanks and infantry pushed across the Han River south of Seoul, driving towards Suwon, the NKPAF's 55th Combined Aviation Division deployed seven short-ranged Yak-9P fighters and a similar number of Il-10 assault aircraft to the just-captured Kimpo AB, dispersing and camouflaging them to try and prevent discovery and destruction by FEAF bombers. (2)
Intent on making Kimpo his advanced operating base for the rest of the campaign, NKPAF commander Maj. Gen. Wang Yong moved his command's operational headquarters forward as well. He brought with him two companies of aircraft maintenance technicians (called engineers, these were divided between Yak-9 and Il-10 mechanics) as well as finance and supply companies from the newly-formed 3d Technical Battalion. Totalling some 500 men, the Kimpo detachment was designated the 877th Air Force Unit (AFU). To defend his new base he was provided the newly-formed 107th Security Regiment, numbering 1,000 partially-trained troops. (3)
To deny Kimpo's use to the enemy, General Stratemeyer countered with the war's first airfield attack launching nine B-29As (19th BG) on the morning of June 29 to bomb the airfield from 3,000 ft. Three Yak-9Ps scrambled and intercepted the four-engine bombers, but failed to disrupt the attacks, the results of which, from such low altitude, were reported to be "excellent." One Yak was claimed shot down, and a second one damaged, by B-29 gunners. (4)
The Americans Strike North
At the end of the day--just as the sun was setting in the west and the NKPAF was "putting their planes to bed" at Pyongyang's Heijo airfield--eighteen Douglas B-26 Invaders [3d BG(L)] came roaring in at low altitude, dropping fragmentation bombs on the ramp, hangars, and revetments, and strafing all parked warplanes wherever they were found. Five Yak fighters scrambled out to the rimway; but only two took off--the other three were straddled by fragmentation bombs and shredded by shrapnel. Climbing rapidly, the remaining pair attacked the right wing of the invaders' formation and was driven off by defensive fire. (One was claimed shot down by a B-26 gunner). The Americans got away without damage. Soviet sources report nineteen NKPAF warplanes were destroyed (5) in this, the first USAF attack north of the 38th Parallel--the border between North and South Korea. (6)
The 56th Fighter Aviation Regiment's (FAR) forward-deployed squadron of Yak-9Ps was unaffected by this devastating attack and when the NKPA resumed its offensive, pushing across the Han River on June 30th, they flew a number of close air support and protective air cover missions. Along the river, USAF F-80Cs were flying combat air patrols (CAP) at low altitude, defending Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) units, when two of them were bounced by a pair of Yak-9Ps. The Shooting Stars (36th FBS/8th FBG) quickly accelerated out of range, wheeled around in a fast wide circle and came up behind the Yaks, 1st Lts. Charles Wurster and John Thomas shot them down. Both NKPAF pilots bailed out, but one parachute failed to open. This small victory had no effect on the ground situation and that evening the Americans were forced to abandon Suwon AB, destroying the damaged B-26B and F-82G that had to be left behind. (7)
The next defensive line centered on Chonan, but the badly beaten ROKA's ability to halt the NKPA now depended upon the introduction of American combat troops. U.S. President Harry Truman approved the American escalation and, on July 1st, FEAF's C-54 and C-47 transports (374th TCW) (8) began ferrying the lead elements of the U.S. Army's 24th Division--the headquarters and the
21st Infantry Regiment's two battahons--to Pusan. One of the latter formed the basis of a battalion combat team, called Task Force Smith, which was hastily sent forward to engage the NKPA at Osan, six miles south of Suwon. (9)
As quickly as shipping permitted, the rest of the division arrived at Pusan by sea, to be followed by the 25th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions. In putting soldiers on the ground to face the advancing North Koreans the Americans made the single most significant investment--and the strongest political statement--possible in the defense of South Korea. (10)
The next day, NKPAF's Yonpo airfield near Hungnam on Korea's east coast was raided by FEAF's Superfortresses (19th BG). Ten B-29s attacked, the bomber crews counting sixteen aircraft on the field, but their 500-pound bombs fell wide and caused no damage. To increase FEAF's bomber forces, the following day, USAF's mighty Strategic Air Command (SAC) dispatched two additional B-29 groups (22d and 92d BGs) and assigned the commander (11) of SAC's Fifteenth Air Force to take charge of FEAF's newly established Bomber Command (Provisional). (12)
Simultaneously, the U.S. Navy's Task Force 77 (TF 77) arrived in the Yellow Sea. It consisted of a flotilla centered on the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge (CV-45) and a Royal Navy flotilla built around the HMS Triumph (R16). Aboard the Valley Forge was Carrier Air Group 5--two squadrons of Grumman F9F Panther jets (VF-51 and -52) and three squadrons of propeler-driven Vought F4U Corsairs (VF-53 and -54) and Douglas AD Skyraiders (VF-55)--while the Triumph's 13th CAG operated Supermarine Seafire fighters (NAS 800) and Fairey Firefly patrol and strike aircraft (NAS 827). (13)
Early on July 3, the naval strike fighters hit two NKPAF air bases. Nine rocket-armed Fireflies, escorted by a dozen Seafires, were launched from the Triumph to attack Haeju airfield on the coast.14 No NKPAF aircraft were seen, but several buildings, including hangars were hit. Pyongyang's Heijo air base was attacked by twelve Skyraiders and sixteen Corsairs, with eight F9Fs (VF-51) sweeping in ahead of the strike force. A number of Yak-9Ps were caught scrambling to get airborne, some of them taking off towards each other! One of these was quickly shot down, as was another that attempted to intervene. The rest scattered as the Panthers' strafing destroyed another three--and damaged ten more--aircraft on the ground. (15)
Finally, the F4Us and ADs arrived, bombing four hangars, other buildings and a nearby railroad yard. Soviet sources state that by this time the NKPAF had lost thirty-six aircraft to the enemy bombing attacks and in aerial combat. (16)
The Communist Offensive Continues
Once again, the 56th FAR's forward-deployed Yak-9P fighters--and the n-10s of the 57th Assault Aviation Regiment--were unaffected by American air strikes in the north. On July 6, four Yaks winged south and attacked a communications center at Osan, where the NKPA's armor was destroying Task Force Smith. (17)
As the North Koreans pushed further south, the next elements of the 24th Division (21st and 34th Infantry Regiments) tried to make a stand at Chonan. To support the beleaguered troops on the frontlines, the Fifth Air Force established a forward operating base and its advance headquarters at Taegu, about halfway between Taejon and Pusan. A short, 3,800-foot clay-and-gravel airstrip with only a few, rudimentary former IJAAF facilities, Taegu became home for an ad hoc USAF unit, the 51st Fighter Squadron (Provisional) (18) and what would become the ROKAF 1stt Fighter Squadron, each flying ten F-51Ds. Taegu was also a staging base for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 77 Squadron, flying twenty-six F-51D Mustangs out of Iwakuni AB, Japan. (19)
While the locally-launched and long-loitering American, South Korean, and Australian Mustangs --armed with bombs, rockets and machine grins--provided close air support to the heavily engaged 24th Division, four-ship formations of the less-effective F-80Cs flew in twenty-minute relays from Japan, their attacks largely limited to strafing targets of opportunity on the roadways between Chonan and Suwon. Also flying from Japan, B-26s conducted low altitude interdiction raids along the roads from Pyongtaek to Seoul with bombs, rockets, and their formidable batteries of .50cal machine guns. In three days (from July 7 to 9) the 3d BG(L) was credited with destroying forty-four NKPA tanks and 197 trucks. Finally operating thirty-sixty miles behind the lines, FEAF B-29s bombed fifty-eight road and railway bridges along the NKPA's route of advance--as well as a number of railroad marshaling yards and roadway intersections--attempting to disrupt the flow of enemy troops, equipment, and supplies headed for the front. (20)
In spite of the FEAF's best efforts, the NKPA's 105th Tank Division and its 4th Infantry Division ousted the U.S. 24th Division from its defensive positions on July 8, the battered Americans regrouping along the Kum River from Chongju to Chochiwon. In the only example of Soviet-style combined arms offensive, Russian advisors reported that the Kimpo-based Il-10s flew a number of ground attack missions supporting "North Korean tankers attempting to penetrate the defenses of the American 24th Infantry Division." (21) These were augmented by the Yak-9Ps, four of them bombing and strafing the U.S. 19th Infantry Regiment at Chongju on July 10. (22)
The "Guards of Taejong"
However, the heavy American air attacks against the advancing NKPA columns soon forced the 56th FAR to fly defensive missions to cover their own forces, and five Yak-9Ps deployed forward to Suwon to do so. On July 11th, three of them attacked a flight of four F-80Cs strafing NKPA troops near Chongju but failed to get any hits before the faster jets vacated the scene. The following day a pair jumped another formation of Shooting Stars strafing enemy frontlines, this time near Chochiwon, and again the jets got away undamaged. Not so lucky was an L-4 Grasshopper shot down by a pair of Yak-9Ps, followed by a U.S. Army L-5 Sentinel the next day. (23)
More significant was the first combat loss of a Boeing B-29. On July 12th FEAF's Superforts were dispatched to roam the NKPA's lines of communications" dropping their thirty-five 500-pound bombs individually on bridges, tunnel entrances, and road junctions--as well as any observed troop concentrations, supply dumps, truck convoys, and even individual tanks. Three Yak-9Ps--probably scrambling from Suwon--intercepted one of these B-29s (28th BS/19th BG) near Seoul, NKPAF pilot Kim Gi-Ok (or less likely, Lee Dopn-Gyu--both claimed B-29 kills that day) shooting out the number three engine with his cannon. (24) Ablaze, the B-29 escaped out to sea where the crew bailed out; two of the crew were captured by the North Koreans, but the remaining eleven men were rescued by the British frigate HMS Alacrity. (25)
One week later, three Yak-9Ps intercepted one often B-29s (30th BS/19th BG) dispatched to bomb bridges spanning the Han River. Catching the bomber near Seoul, the Yaks riddled it with more than 100 shell holes, causing severe damage and wounding the pilot. (26)
Avoiding the repeated UN air attacks by moving and massing at night, the NKPA resumed their assaults on July 14, forcing the U.S. 24th Division from the Kum River line; the Americans fell back to Taejon. By this time the severely mauled, under-strength unit could not stop two NKPA divisions, each led by a regiment of tanks, from swinging around their left flank, threatening to encircle them. FEAF called for a "maximum effort" to save them. The 56th FAR fighters sporadically attempted to intervene, the most successful mission occurred on July 14, when two Yak-9Ps attacked a flight of four B-26s [13th BS/3d BG(L)]. (27) NKPAF pilot Kim Gi-Ok damaged one so badly--shooting out one engine--it force-landed at Taejon's small dirt airfield. (28)
The next day fighters from both sides began clashing in a far more decisive fashion. On July 15 and July 17 chance encounters between NKPAF Yaks and USAF jets (39th FIS/35th FIW and 35th FBS/8th FBG) resulted in two Yak-9Ps being claimed destroyed by 1st Lt. Robert A. Coffin and Capt. Francis B. Clark, respectively. (29)
Two days later, the 56th FAR sent four Yak-9Ps to raid Taejon airfield. As they egressed northwards at 6,000 feet a ground Forward Air Controller informed a flight of four F-80Cs (36th FBS/8th FBG) about the fleeing enemy fighters. The speedy Shooting Stars jettisoned their air-to-ground rockets and tip tanks, accelerated and quickly caught the Yaks. One pair broke left and down, the other right and up and a real four-versus-four "furball" ensued. The Shooting Stars split as well, 1st Lts. Robert D. McKee and Charles A. Wurster quickly destroying one from each pair, and as the dogfight continued 2d Lt. Elwood A. Kees shot down a third Yak. Two of the NKPAF pilots bailed out and survived the engagement. However, the slower, lighter Yaks could turn tighter and one of them severely damaged the lead F-80C. This Shooting Star crashed and its pilot perished attempting a forced landing at Taejon. (30)
The next day about eight miles north of Taejon, another pair of Yak-9Ps tried to bounce a flight of Shooting Stars (35th FBS/8th FBG). The Americans spotted the attacking Yaks and quickly split. As one of the Yaks followed one of the accelerating jets, Capt. Robert L. Lee, flying the lead F-80C, pulled in behind him and opened fire: "The Yak started to fall apart, turned over on its back and went straight in." (31) Meanwhile the second NKPAF fighter tried to flee to the east, but the other pair of American jets quickly closed and 1st Lt. David H. Goodenough riddied it. When it burst into flames the North Korean pilot bailed out. (32)
In six days the 56th FAR lost seven aircraft and four pilots, virtually wiping out the regiment's only operational squadron, and from that day on NKPAF fighters no longer engaged in frontline combat.
That same day, despite valiant efforts by UN air forces, NKPA troops and tanks finally overwhelmed the U.S. 24th Division at Taejon. In the four-day battle the Americans suffered 3,602 killed and wounded and another 2,962 men captured, including the commander, Maj. Gen. William F. Dean. Because the 56th FAR was considered instrumental in this victory the unit was awarded the honorific (33) of Guards Taejon, becoming the only Guards Regiment in the NKPAF order of battle. Additionally, Kim Gi-Ok became the only Yak-9 pilot to be awarded the Hero of the DPRK reportedly having claimed six of his eventual seventeen victories during this period. (34)
Real Air Power Makes the Difference
Meanwhile, as Fifth Air Force jet fighters were wiping out the single operational squadron of the 56th "Guards Taejon" FAR in dogfights, FEAF Bomber Command was aggressively targeting NKPAF airfields, three Superfortresses striking Kimpo AB on July 15th, effectively cratering the runway while F-80 (35th FBS/8th FBG) strafers destroyed two dispersed Yak-9Ps. (35)
Calling upon TF 77 to repeat their earlier success, on July 18 two carrier strikes were flown against the Pyongyang airfields, reportedly destroying another fourteen enemy warplanes and damaging thirteen more that were dispersed and camouflaged around the bases. The next day, TF 77 air groups attacked Yonpo airfield, reporting fifteen NKPAF aircraft destroyed there and another three at the nearby Sondok auxiliary field. (36)
The most dramatic counter-air strike was also flown that day when seven Shooting Stars (8th were launched after a FEAF RF-80A (8th TRS) discovered the small dirt airfield at Pyonggang, just north of the 38th Parallel. Parked along the western edge of the airstrip were some two dozen NKPAF aircraft--most likely Il-10s--camouflaged with tree branches. The Shooting Stars arrived in mid-afternoon, making repeated strafing runs on the undefended airfield. Fourteen enemy warplanes--along with one twin-engine aircraft fancifully reported as a bomber probably a Yak-6 light transport)--burst into flames and were destroyed; another seven were hit but did not burn and were listed as damagedy.
This attack virtually eliminated the Il-10 as a threat to American and South Korean ground forces. At this stage, according to Russian archives, the 57th AAR had only two dozen Shturmovik operational and, for survival, these were dispersed in groups of four to six aircraft to various auxiliary airfields. From this point on, Soviet advisors reported that NKPAF assault aviation could "only carry out reconnaissance missions on behalf of the ground forces." Most importantly, after this attack the Il-10s were no longer seen over the battlefront. (38)
A week later, fourteen Superfortresses made another major attack against Pyongyang's Heijo and Onjong-ni airfields. Two Yaks rose to defend their bases, but were able to only to inflict minor damage on one B-29. The Boeings badly cratered the runway and dispersal areas, knocking out the NKPAF's main base for some time. (39)
Despite the nearly complete absence of NKPAF aerial activity, their bases continued to be the targets of FEAF offensive counter-air strikes anytime aircraft were observed. On August 4, Fifth Air Force F-51Ds (67th FBS/18th FBG) raided Kimpo after a formation of B-29s (19th BG) bombing Seoul's railway yards reported seeing enemy fighters taking off. The marauding Mustangs strafed and bombed, claiming nine aircraft destroyed and another nine damaged. Two days later, Pyongyang was raided by the same unit, its pilots reporting another nine destroyed, plus three more damaged at Kimpo when they attacked it on the way home. (40)
Badly beaten, the North Korean air force made only a few sporadic, desultory appearances in August, most notably when a fighter (reported as an "La-5") attempted to attack a B-29 (307th BG) on August 15th and was driven off by two bursts from the bomber's tail guns. Additionally, on the 23d two Il-10s attacked and damaged the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Comus, eighty-five miles west of Kunsan, South Korea, killing one sailor and wounding another. (41)
By the end of August FEAF Intelligence assessed that the repeated USAF, USN, and RN/FAA airfield attacks had destroyed 110 NKPAF aircraft--thirty-four of them (42) confirmed destroyed by strafing--and damaged forty=two more (undoubtedly there is considerable overlap within these two groups). Additionally, Fifth Air Force and USN pilots were credited with destroying twenty-four NKPAF aircraft in aerial combat, plus two kills claimed by bomber gunners. (43)
Soviet archive sources confirm that by August 10, the NKPAF was "Practically not flying, and were virtually wiped out on 22 August after a successful strike by naval aircraft." The NKPAF had been systematically destroyed by the combined might of UN air power. (44)
The End of the Beginning
While the NKPAF's role in the initial success of the North Korean invasion was not significant, it demonstrated a persistent presence and until late July it remained an important consideration in FEAF's combat operations. With its Il-10s, the 57th AAR flew forty-four ground attack sorties during the last week of June and forty-six more in the first few days of July before the Americans' devastating airfield attacks eliminated them. (15)
From June 25 through August, the 56th FAR flew 222 Yak-9P sorties and claimed to have shot down eighteen USAF fighters and twenty-nine bombers. Actually, only one F-80C, one B-29 and two liaison aircraft are known to have been lost to Yak-9Ps in the air, with three USAF transports and seven ROKAF trainers destroyed on the ground by their strafing. Additionally, one F-82G and two B-26s damaged by Yak-9Ps were eventually lost, having been destroyed to prevent capture by advancing NKPA forces. (46)
His air force nearly completely destroyed during the last week in August, Gen. Wang "threw in the towel," withdrawing almost all of his surviving warplanes--reported by Soviet sources as twenty Il-10s and a single Yak-9P--to the small primitive airfield near Yanji, China, approximately twenty miles beyond the northeast corner of North Korea. (47)
More critical to the NKPAF was the fact that only six fighter pilots and seventeen assault aircraft pilots survived their initial combat experience. The air arm had begun the campaign with ten combat qualified Yak-9P and twenty-two Il-10 pilots. During the summer, thirty new pilots graduated from the NKPAF's flying training program to fill these depleted ranks. To continue training its remaining 120 student pilots, the North Koreans also withdrew some thirty Yak-Ils, eighteen trainers, and fifteen Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes to Yanji. (48)
While the NKPAF was "down," it was not "out," not as long as it had the support of the Soviet Union. On August 28, Joseph Stalin informed Kim Il-Sung that he was willing to "throw in additional assault aircraft and fighter aircraft for the Korean air force." (49)
With the Russians' support, the 56th GFAR would be reconsitituted as a two-squadron Yak-9P unit while the 57th AR was rebuilt with fresh
Il-10s, the two units returning to combat at Sinuiju airfield (on the south bank of the Yalu River) in November 1950 and January 1951, respectively. Additionally, the first seventy graduates of the renewed NKPAF pilot training program at Yanji, seasoned with a few surviving Yak-9P pilots, were trained by the Soviets to man North Korea's first two MiG--15 air divisions, the first of which would join the air battles in "MiG Alley" in November 1951.
Meanwhile, General Wang--along with his 877th AFU and a handful of Il-10s and Yak-9Ps--remained at Kimpo AB (50) attempting to defend the Inchon-Seoul area from the Americans and UN forces. As subsequent history relates, he was singularly unsuccessful in that attempt. (51)
(1.) Washington's approval for this escalation was received the following morning, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorizing MacArthur's air force component to attack "air bases, depots, tank farms, troop columns and other purely military targets" throughout the Korean Peninsula. Robert Frank Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953, (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1981), pp. 32, 36;
(2.) Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 84, 99; O. V. Rastrenin, "Il-10 Ground Attack Aircraft (Part 2)", Aviakollektsiya No. 1-2005, Modelist-Konstruktor Magazine, Moscow, 2005, translated by Stephen L. Sewell, p. 29; and N. L. Volkovskiy, ed., The War in Korea, trans. Stephen L. Sewell (St. Petersburg: Izdatel'stvo Poligon, 2000), p. 66.
(3.) Gordon L. Rottman, Inch'on 1950: The last great amphibious assault (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2006), p. 38.
(4.) Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, p. 29; and Robert Jackson, Air War over Korea, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973), p. 18.
(5.) FEAF Intell's "battle damage assessment" (BDA) estimated 25 NKPAF warplanes destroyed in this raid. Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 32.
(6.) Brian Cull and Dennis Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, Volume One (London: Grub Street, 2000), p. 14; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 32; John E. Home, "Douglas B-26s in Korea," Air Enthusiast, No. 24, April-July 1984, p. 51; Jackson, Air War over Korea, p. 19; Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, p. 61.
(7.) Robert F. Dorr, Jon Lake, and Warren Thompson, Korean War Aces, (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1995), p. 11; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 33, 34; Warren E. Thompson, "Fighter Combat over Korea, Part 1: First Kills", Wings of Fame, Vol. 1, 1995, p. 13; Warren Thompson, "Shooting Stars over Korea", Air Power, March 1985, Vol. 15, No. 23, 55; Warren Thompson, F-80 Shooting Star Units Over Korea, (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2001), pp. 36-38, 40; Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, 64; Charles Wurster, "1Lt Charles A. Wurster, Pilot, 36th Tactical Fighter Bomber Squadron, Combat Operations in Korea, 1950", unpublished manuscript provided by Warren E. Thompson, pp. 2, 3.
(8.) By this time the two-squadron wing of C-54s had been reinforced with a squadron (21st TCS) of venerable Douglas C--47 Skytrains because the unimproved condition of ROK airfields required the slower, lighter transport aircraft. Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 70.
(9.) Futrell, United StatesAir Force in Korea, pp. 37, 77, 84.
(11.) This was Maj. Gen. Emmett "Rosie" O'Donnell, Jr. Ibid., p. 47.
(12.) Ibid., pp. 46, 47 and Robert F. Dorr, B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War Aces, (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2003), p. 12.
(13.) Ibid., p. 49; Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, p. 259; Richard P. Hallion, The Naval Air War in Korea, (Baltimore: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, Inc., 1986) pp. 30, 32; and Jackson, Air War over Korea, p.26.
(14.) These numbers are from the HMS Triumph's logbook. Unaccountably these numbers have been reversed in all American accounts of this operation. James Paul and Martin Spirit, "HMS Triumph: Tour 25/6/1950--29/9/1950", 2008, posted on website: http://www.britainssmallwars.com/carriers/Triumph.html#tour.
(15.) Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, pp. 259, 260; Hallion, Naval Air War in Korea, pp. 34, 35; Jackson, Air War over Korea, p. 26; James Paul and Martin Spirit, "HMS Triumph: Tour 25/6/1950--29/9/1950", 1; Thompson, "Fighter Combat over Korea, Part 1: First Kills," pp. 14, 15.
(16.) Anatoliy Demin, "In the Skies of Korea: The 'Eagles' of Mao Zedong Against the 'Hawks' of Uncle Sam," a series of articles published in Mir Aviatsii magazine, 2004, translated by Stephen L. Sewell, 2010, 2.
(17.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 84, 99; Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, p.66.
(18.) Organized on July 10th, the 51st Fighter Squadron (Provisional) married the "most apt personnel" (meaning available F-80C pilots with recent/extensive F-51D flying time) from the Philippines-based 18th FBG with 30 former 8th FBG F-51Ds withdrawn from FEAF storage at Itazuki AB. After five days of training at Johnson AB they flew to Taegu to begin combat operations. The 51st FS(P) was redesignated the 12th FBS on August 4th. Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 68, 94, 95; Warren Thompson, "Mustangs in Korea", Air Enthusiast, No. 15, April-July 1981, pp. 50, 51; Warren Thompson, F-51 Mustang Units Over Korea, (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1999), pp. 10, 12, 18, 19, 42, 111, 112.
(19.) Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, p. 13; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 51, 65, 68, 89, pp. 90, 91, 95, 99; Jackson, Air War over Korea, p. 26; Warren Thompson, "Mustangs in Korea", p. 50; Volkovsldy, The War in Korea, p. 67.
(20.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 85-88, 90, 91, 99: Jackson, Air War over Korea, p. 28; Warren Thompson, F-80 Shooting Star Units Over Korea, p. 18; Warren Thompson, "The (Shooting) Stars of Korea", Air Enthusiast, No. 21, April-July 1983. 22; Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, p. 68.
(21.) Rastrenin, "Il-10 Ground Attack Aircraft", p. 29.
(22.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 90, 91, 99; Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, p.68.
(23.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 81, 99; "Korean War Aircraft Loss Database (KORWALD): Date of Aircraft Loss Report," (Washington, D.C.: Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office) as posted on Department of Defense, Defense Technical Information Center website: www.dtic.mil/dpmo/korea/reports/air/korwald_date.htm, 1.
(24.) DPRK propaganda maintains that pilot Kim Gi-Ok destroyed a second B-29 by ramming. ACIG Team, "Far East Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953", p. 1.
(25.) Air Combat Information Group (ACIG) Korean War Team (Diego Fernando Zampini, Saso Knez, and Joe L. Brennan), "Chinese Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953", as posted on http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_311.shtml, updated 28 April 2004, 1; ACIG Team, "Far East Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953", 1; Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, pp. 20, 21; Dorr, B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War, pp. 13-15; and Futrell, United States AirForce in Korea, pp. 81, 83, 90, 91.
(26.) Dorr, B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War, p. 15; and Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 99.
(27.) This B-26B [S/N 44-34263 from the 13th BS(L)] was destroyed by U.S. forces when they were forced to evacuate Taejon on July 20. ACIG Team, "Far East Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953", p. 2; "KORWALD Date of Aircraft Loss Report", p. 2; and Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 99.
(28.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 91, 92, 97 and Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, pp. 68, 69. Additionally, according to DPRK propaganda, an unnamed NKPAF pilot is said to have shot down an F-80C on July 15, however, USAF records show that no F-80Cs were lost that day, or even during this week. ACIG Team, "Far East Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953," 1; "KORWALD Date of Aircraft Loss Report", p. 2.
(29.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 91, 92, 97 and "USAF Korean War Victories by Date," (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Force Historical Research Agency) as posted on National Museum of the U.S. Air Force website: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-051209-004.pdf, 1.
(30.) The two surviving NKPAF pilots were Kim Hi-Gyung and Tae Guk-Sung. The F-80C pilot was Capt. Howard E. Odell. ACIG Team, "Far East Air-to-Air Victories during the Korean War, 1950-1953", 1; "KORWALD Date of Aircraft Loss Report", p. 2. Also see Dorr, Lake, and Thompson, Korean War Aces, p. 12; Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 33, 34; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 101; Thompson,"Fighter Combat over Korea: First Kills," pp. 15, 16,18 and "Shooting Stars over Korea", pp. 24, 55; Wurster, "Combat Operations in Korea, 1950", p. 5; and "USAF Korean War Victories by Date," p. 1.
(31.) Thompson, "The (Shooting) Stars of Korea", p. 22.
(32.) Dorr, Lake, and Thompson, Korean War Aces, p. 12; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 101; Thompson, "Fighter Combat over Korea: First Kills," p. 18, "The (Shooting) Stars of Korea", p. 22, and "Shooting Stars over Korea", p. 25; "USAF Korean War Victories by Date," p. 2.
(33.) After this politically significant victory over the Americans, Kim Il-Sung awarded the prestigious "Guards" title to the 105th Tank Division, four infantry brigades, four artillery regiments and two AAA regiments. Morozov and Uskov, "On Guard for Peace and Labor", p. 31.
(34.) Demin, "In the Skies of Korea," p. 3; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 97; Morozov and Uskov, "On Guard for Peace and Labor", pp. 31, 32.
(35.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 99.
(36.) Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, pp. 21, 261.
(37.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 99, 100; Thompson, "The (Shooting) Stars of Korea", p.24; and Wurster, "Combat Operations in Korea, 1950," pp. 5, 6.
(38.) Rastrenin, "Il-10 Ground Attack Aircraft," p. 30.
(39.) Dorr, B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War, p. 15; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 101.
(40.) Dorr, B-29 Superfortress Units of the Korean War, p. 17; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 102. It is not known of course how many of the NNKPAF aircraft claimed as destroyed in these attacks had already been damaged or destroyed during previous raids. The USAF 1963 tabulation awarded three pilots credit for destroying five Yak fighters during this period. See "USAF Historical Study No. 81: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft Korean War," (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: USAF Historical Division Aerospace Studies Institute, June 1963), pp. 7-36.
(41.) Cull and Newton, With the Yanks in Korea, p. 265; Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 102; Paul and Spirit, "HMS Triumph: Tour 25/6/1950-29/9/1950," p. 5; and Jackson, Air War over Korea, p. 28. The attack on HMS Comus was led by An Hon-Zun, who was considered the NKPAF's most successful Il-10 pilot having been credited with destroying two enemy aircraft and sinking the destroyer. Rastrenin,"Il-10 Ground Attack Aircraft," p. 30.
(42.) Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea, p. 102. Claims by strafing fighters included one "Il-2" (Il-10), 10 Yak fighters and 23 unidentified propeller-driven aircraft. "USAF Historical Study No. 81," pp. 7-36.
(43.) One Yak-Il, 13 Yak-9Ps and ten Il-10s. "USAF Korean War Victories by Date," (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Force Historical Research Agency), p. 1.
(44.) Demin, "In the Skies of Korea," p. 3.
(45.) Volkovskiy, The War in Korea, p. 80.
(46.) Ibid., and Dentin, "In the Skies of Korea," p. 3.
(47.) Morozov and Uskov, "On Guard for Peace and Labor," pp. 31, 32, 38 and No Kum-Sok, A MiG-15 to Freedom: Memoir of the Wartime North Korean Defector Who First Delivered the Secret Fighter Jet to the Americans in 1953 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1996), pp. 70, 71.
(49.) Weathersby, "New Russian Documents on the Korean War," p. 45.
(50.) This very small detachment consisted of a two to four operational Il-10s and one or two serviceable Yak-9Ps. During the American counter-invasion at Inchon in mid-September, the Il-10s flew four sorties attacking ships and the Yak-9(s) flew two missions against ground troops. Edwin P. Hoyt, On to the Yalu, NY: Stein and Day, Inc., 1984), pp. 67, 68, 70 and Rottman Inch'on 1950, p. 38.
(51.) In USAF records there is listed the loss of an F-51D (44-73255 from 39th FBS/18th FBW) on September 28, 1950, attributed by the unit's monthly history report to a Yak fighter. However, examination of the actual combat report shows that the loss--and the death of 1st Lt Donald L. Pitchford--was probably due to ground fire and that no enemy fighters were in the vicinity. Apparently between the mission report and the unit history "flak" mutated into "Yak". Supporting this contention is the fact that unlike virtually all other instances of a KPAF-caused UN aircraft loss--and many claimed that were not lost--there was no DPRK propaganda addressing this event. Daniel Nole, "KPAFAC Victories in Korea," posted on website:http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=22361, Sep. 16, 2010, p. ???. Gi-Ok became the only Yak-9 pilot to be awarded the pilot 2.
Col. Douglas C. Dildy retired from the US.Air Force after twenty-six years, during which he commanded the 32d Fighter Squadron and was the vice commander of the 33d Fighter Wing. Graduating from the USAF Academy as a history major, Dildy earned his master's degree in International Affairs from Oklahoma State University, and attended Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. He is the co-author of F-15 Eagle Engaged! and F-16 Units in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the author of Dambuster Raid, 1943, as well as two joint campaign analyses for Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK He is a feature writer for Aviation Classics, Logbook, and Small Air Forces Observer magazines. This article is a compilation of a series researched for, and first published by, the last mentioned journal.
Table 1 USAF and ROKAF Aircraft Lost to Actions of the Korean People's Air Force in 1950 Date Service Tyne Serial No. Unit 25 June ROKAF Seven L-4 and T-6 Trainers Training Unit 25 June USAF C-54D Unknown MATS 28 June USAF B-26B 44-34379 13th BS(L)/ 3rd BG 28 June USAF F-82G 46-364 68th F(AW)S 28 June USAF C-54D 42-72648 22nd TCS/ 374th TCW 29 June USAF C-54D Unknown 6th TCS/ 374th TCW 12 July USAF B-29 44-69866 28th BS/ 19th BW 12 July USA L-4 Unknown US Army 13 July USA L-5 Unknown US Army 14 July USAF B-26B 44-34263 13th BS(L)/ 3rd BG 19 July USAF F-80C 49-698 36th FBS/ 8th FBG Date Service Location Remarks 25 June ROKAF Kimpo AB Strafed by Yak-9Ps 25 June USAF Suwon AB Strafed by Yak-9Ps 28 June USAF Suwon AB Strafed by Yak-9Ps Destroyed during evac. 28 June USAF Suwon AB Strafed by Yak-9Ps Destroyed during evac. 28 June USAF Suwon AB Strafed by Yak-9Ps 29 June USAF Suwon AB Bombed by 11-10s 12 July USAF near Seoul Shot down by Yak-9Ps 12 July USA near Taejon Shot down by Yak-9Ps 13 July USA near Taejon Shot down by Yak-9Ps 14 July USAF near Taejon Damaged by Yak-9Ps; Landed at Taejon airfield; Destroyed during evac. 19 July USAF near Taejon Damaged by Yak-9Ps; Crashed during landing attempt at Taejon airfield; pilot killed Table 2 USAF and USN Aerial Victory Claims against Korean People's Air Force Aircraft in 1950 1950 Date Type Claimed as US Unit Tune A/c 27 June Yak-11 Yak-7U 68th F(AW)S F-82G 27 June Yak-9P La-7 68th F(AW)S F-82G 27 June Yak-9P La-7 339th F(AW)S F-82G 27 June 2 x Il-10 2x Il-10 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 27 June Il-10 Il-10 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 27 June Il-10 Il-10 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 29 June Il-10 La-7 9th FBS/49th FBW F-80C 29 June Il-10 Il-10 80th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 29 June 2 x Il-10 2 x Il-10 80th FBS/8th FBW F-51D 29 June Il-10 La-7 80th FBS/8th FBW F-51D 29 June Il-10 Il-10 35th FBS/8th FBW F-51D 30 June Yak-9P Yak-9 36th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 30 June Yak-9P Yak-9 36th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 3 July Yak-9P Yak-9 VF-51/CAG 5 F9F-2 3 July Yak-9P Yak-9 VF-51/CAG 5 F9F-2 15 July Yak-9P Yak-9 39th FIS/51st FIW F-80C 17 July Yak-9P Yak-9 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 19 July Yak-9P Yak-9 36th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 19 July Yak-9P Yak-9 36th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 19 July Yak-9P Yak-9 36th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 20 July Yak-9P Yak-9 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 20 July Yak-9P Yak-9 35th FBS/8th FBW F-80C 1 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-3 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 1 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-3 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 2 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-9 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 2 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-9 12th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 6 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-9 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 6 Nov. Yak-9P Yak-9 67th FBS/18th FBW F-51D 1950 Date Type Pilot Name Remarks 27 June Yak-11 1Lt William G. Hudson 27 June Yak-9P 1Lt Charles B. Moran 27 June Yak-9P Maj James W Little 27 June 2 x Il-10 1Lt Robert E. Wayne 27 June Il-10 Capt Raymond E. Schillereff 27 June Il-10 1Lt Robert H. Dewald 29 June Il-10 1Lt William T Norris Not credited; Note 1 29 June Il-10 1Lt Roy W Marsh 29 June 2 x Il-10 2Lt Orrin R. Fox Note 2 29 June Il-10 1Lt Harry T Sandlin Note 2 29 June Il-10 1Lt Richard J. Burns Note 2 30 June Yak-9P 1Lt Charles A. Wurster 30 June Yak-9P 1Lt John B. Thomas 3 July Yak-9P Lt (jg) Leonard H. Plog 3 July Yak-9P Ens Eldon W Brown, Jr. 15 July Yak-9P 1Lt Robert A. Coffin 17 July Yak-9P Capt Francis B. Clark 19 July Yak-9P 1Lt Robert D. McKee 19 July Yak-9P 1Lt Charles A. Wurster 19 July Yak-9P 2Lt Elwood A. Kees 20 July Yak-9P Capt Robert L. Lee 20 July Yak-9P 1Lt David H. Goodenough 1 Nov. Yak-9P Capt Alma R. Flake 1 Nov. Yak-9P Capt Robert D. Thresher 2 Nov. Yak-9P Capt Alma R. Flake 2 Nov. Yak-9P 1Lt James J. Glessner, Jr. 6 Nov. Yak-9P Capt Howard I. Price 6 Nov. Yak-9P 1Lt Henry S. Reynolds Notes: 1. This victory credit was not awarded because Lt Norris was one of four pilots scoring hits on the target and FEAF policy precluded "dividing credit among more than two persons". Additionally there were no La 7s in the KFAF inventory, so this was either a Yak-9P or an Il- 10. Since another member of this formation shot down was an Il-10, this aircraft was most probably of the same type. 2. While described in Fuller (pg 31) as "Yaks", the USAF Korean War Aerial Victory Credits has always listed the victims as three Il-10s and one La-7. Since there were no La-7s in the KPAF inventory, this was either a Yak-9P or an Il-10. Because other members of this formation shot down were Il-10s, this aircraft was most probably that same type.
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|Author:||Dildy, Douglas C.|
|Publication:||Air Power History|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2012|
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