On June 25, 1950, while the North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and marched on the South Korean capital of Seoul, six Yak-9Ps of the Korean People’s Armed Forces Air Force crossed the 38th Parallel and made for Kimpo airfield, near Seoul. Unopposed save for desultory ground fire, the Soviet-built fighters strafed the field and destroyed an American Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport before retiring. First blood had been drawn against the United States in a war that would never be officially declared, but that would rage on for three years.
In the months to come, South Korean troops and the growing American contingent committed to their defense were subjected the unpleasant surprise of facing a well-trained, well-equipped, tough and highly motivated enemy who sent them reeling southward to the brink of defeat.
In the air, the story would be different. Very different.
At the end of World War II, Korea was divided between the two rival countries that had liberated it from the Japanese–the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Both powers wasted no time in establishing governments along their own respective political lines. In addition, the Soviet Union provided the Communist government of Kim II-sung with a sizable arsenal of weapons and military advisers to train the North Koreans in their use. Prominent among the land weapons was the superb T-34/85 tank, which was the best medium tank in the world in 1945 and which could still outmatch its best American counterparts in 1950.
The North Korean Air Force (NKAF) also boasted the best of the World War II Soviet weaponry–Yakovlev Yak-9U fighters and Yak-9P interceptors–along with a smaller contingent of the nimble, radial-engined Lavochkin La-7 fighter. Air support for troops and armor would be provided by the cannon-armed, armored Ilyushin Il-10, the ultimate refinement of the Il-2 Shturmovik, which had reached the front just in time to join its more famous forebear on the road to Berlin. Numerous other types supplemented these first-line warplanes, including some unlikely candidates for front-line service that the North Koreans would nonetheless press into combat as they felt necessity demanded. Among the more prominent such second-line aircraft were the Yak-11 trainer, whose twin machine guns would see some use in the ground attack role, and the 1928-vintage Polikarpov Po-2 two-seat biplane, which would reprise its World War II role as a most troublesome night intruder.
While North Korea’s soldiers and tankers were as tough as they were mercilessly cruel, its airmen would prove to be less swift in mastering the subtleties of aerial combat.
Against the 122 aircraft estimated to be in the NKAF, the Southern Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) had 13 Piper L-4 and Stinson L-5 light aircraft and three North American T-6 Texan trainers–none of them armed. But several American air groups were based in Japan at the time of the North Korean invasion and were quickly mobilized for transfer to the Korean mainland. Within 24 hours of the Communist assault, the Far East Air Force (FEAF) had arrived over South Korea as detachments of four North American F-82G Twin Mustangs of the 68th and 339th Fighter (All-Weather) Squadrons patrolled at low- and medium-altitude over Inchon, the two squadrons having flown in from Itazuke and Yokota airfields, respectively. The two-seat, long-range escort fighters, which virtually comprised two F-51H Mustang fuselages joined by a central wing and tailplane, were up to protect refugee ships steaming out of the port when, in the afternoon of June 26, a pair of La-7s were reported to have made firing passes at two of the 68th’s Twin Mustangs. Significantly, the North Americans did not press home their attack, nor did the Americans engage them. It typified the lack of enterprise with which the North Koreans exploited their initial air superiority and gave away their inexperience to the Americans.
By June 27, Lockheed F-80C Shooting Stars–the first operational jet fighters in the USAF–of the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing had also arrived to help cover the continuing evacuation of civilians before the Communist offensive. Two C-54s and 11 Douglas C-47s were flying from Itazuke to Kimpo and Suwon airfields near Seoul and 11 F-82Gs of both the 68th and the 339th squadrons were providing escort, with the F-80Cs flying top cover for the Twin Mustangs at high altitude.
Suddenly, a Yak-9 attacked a formation of five F-82s from the 68th, trying to pick off the Number 4 aircraft, crew by 1st Lt. Charles "Chalky" Moran and radar observer (R-O) Fred Larkins. Although the North Korean’s attack was somewhat more determined than that of the day before, it did no more good, as 10 aroused Twin Mustangs pounced on him. Understandably unnerved, the communist pilot broke off his attack and tied to escape the hail of lead that he had brought upon himself while a mixed bag of two more Yak-9s, an La-7 and a Yak-11 trainer joined the melee in an attempt to help their comrade out. According to one of his squadron mates, Lieutenant Keith Bobo, it was the Yaks’ intended victim, Moran, who finally got in the decisive burst of six .50-caliber machine guns that shot down his attacker. A few minutes later, the F-82 team of 1st Lt. William G."Skeeter" Hudson and R-O Carl Fraser downed the Yak-11. The 339th had also joined the dogfight, and Major James W. Little of that unit shot down the La-7, while Lieutenant Walt Hayhurst came away with credit for a "damaged probable." It might be noted that Major Little typified the disparity in training that made the principal difference in evaluating the performance of the FEAF versus the NKAF. What for the North Korean airmen was their first war was Little’s second; flying P-51 Mustangs in the 75th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group, 14th Air Force, during World War II, he had already accounted for six Japanese aircraft over China. Most of the American Squadrons had the benefit of the cadre of veterans with similar experience.
After the victorious Twin Mustangs returned, official Air Force credit for the first American aerial victory of the Korean conflict was given to Hudson. Keith Bobo later explained that apparent injustice: "Moran failed to come back from a night mission a few weeks later and since Hudson survived, the decisions seems to have been made to give credit to the living. The media was partly responsible for the confusion, too, since reporters were trying to interview everyone at the same time at the end of the mission and it got printed, I think, incorrectly.
An hour later, eight Il-10s tried to slip in and hit the transport aircraft on the ground, only to find four F-80Cs of the 35th Fighter Bomber Squadron waiting to streak down on them. In minutes, four of the Il-10s were shot down–one each to Captain Ray Schillereff and Lieutenant Robert Dewald, while Lieutenant Robert E. Wayne scored a double kill. The remaining four turned for home and survived only because the Shooting Star pilots had no orders authorizing pursuit–only defense of the evacuation. The F-80 jockeys had the satisfaction of chalking up a second "first" for the day: the first aerial victories for the American jets.
On June 29, the first arrivals of a soon-to-be sizable contingent of F-51D Mustangs made their first contribution to the struggle. The aircraft had been delivered to ROKAF, but their pilots were American, Prior to delivery, the Mustangs became embroiled in engagements with North Korean aircraft, during which 1st Lt. Harry T. Sandlin and 2nd Lt. Orrin R. Fox of the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron shot down an La-7 and two Yak-9s, respectively, while 1st Lt. Richard J. Burns of the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron accounted for an Il-10.
For all intents and purposes, the aerial combats of June 27 had decided who controlled the sky over Korea. The FEAF had established a moral ascendency that would go virtually unchallenged for the next four months. Although the Yak-9U and Yak-9P were roughly comparable in performance to their main piston-engine FEAF adversaries, the F-51 Mustang and F-82 Twin Mustang, they were clearly outclassed by the American jet fighters, which could fly 200 mph faster. More important was the disparity in training and experience. If the North Korean pilots’ tentative aggressiveness betrayed an unpromising degree of uncertainty as to their abilities, their attitude in the months to come suggested that their self-confidence had been effectively shattered.
There were a few exceptions, all the more noteworthy for their outstanding audacity. On June 30, Yak-9 fighters managed to catch the Americans napping at Suwon, strafed the field and destroyed an F-82G of the 68th squadron on the ground–the first U.S. fighter loss of the war. Even that modest success did not go unpunished. First Lieutenant Charles Wurster of the 36th squadron, flying an F-80C, caught one of the Yaks over Suwon, and made short work of it. He would add another to his score on July 17.
For sheer nerve, no North Korean airmen could match the crews of the Po-2 biplanes who periodically overflew American lines at night to drop bombs and grenades on troops and installations. Damage was seldom serious, but "Bedcheck Charlie"–one of the more printable nicknames bestowed on the Po-2 by the GIs–managed to remain a persistent nocturnal pest for most of the war, regularly disturbing sleep in areas where aircraft two generations its junior feared to fly.
Such annoying exceptions aside, the FEAF had complete air superiority and, in contrast to the desultory way in which the NKAF had used its two days’ worth, the American airmen turned their energies almost entirely to canceling out the North Korean People’s Army’s advantages on the ground.
Also on June 30, 10 operational F-51D Mustangs out of the 30 being kept in storage in Japan moved to Taegu. With them came a contingent of ROK pilots who were then in training in Japan, along with nine of their U.S. instructor pilots to form the 51st Provisional Fighter Squadron under the command of Major Dean E. Hess. At the same time, Maj. Gen. Frank E. Everest convinced General Hoyt S. Vandenburg to move as many Air Force Mustangs to Korea as he could muster. To the 51st Provisional would soon be added the 40th Fighter Squadron, whose personnel were ordered to make the retrograde step from F-80s to F-51s. On July 16, the 40th arrived at Pohang airfield and a few days later it was flying in support of a heavily outnumbered ROK regiment threatened by 1,500 North Koreans advancing down the east coast, south of Yonghae, with the intention of taking the 40th’s new base. Despite miserable weather and a ceiling that seldom exceeded 150 feet, the Mustangs flew 35 bombing and strafing missions a day for a week. After the Communist drive ground to a halt, captured North Koreans testified that the Mustangs had been primarily responsible for breaking their offensive.
Joining the 40th at Pohang were 26 more Mustangs of No. 77 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), signaling the start of the Australia’s commitment to South Korea’s defense. On August 3, the 67th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group, arrived at Taegu and wasted no time in getting down to business. Before the day was out, Captain Ed Hoagland downed a Yak, as did Captain Howard I. Price. The next day, The 51st Provisional Squadron reverted to its original designation of 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron and joined its sister unit, the 67th, in attacking North Korean ground targets.
On August 5, the 67th Squadron’s commander, Major Louis J. Sebille, was on a close support mission near Hamchang when one of its 500-pound bombs failed to release. He went in again, guns blazing and vainly trying to make his bomb drop while enemy ground fired zeroed in on his plane and scored numerous hits. Forsaking the chance to limp home, Sebille made yet another strafing pass and took further hits. His wingman stated that Sebille never pulled up, but flew directly into a mass of enemy equipment. Sebille became one of only four Air Force officers to be awarded the medal of Honor in Korea. All four would be awarded posthumously.
On August 10th, Sebille’s successor in command of the 67th, Major Arnold "Moon" Mullins, racked up another distinction for the squadron by shooting down three Yaks in one day–the greater achievement at that point being to have found that many.
While the Shooting Stars, Mustangs, Twin Mustangs, Douglas B-26 Invader bombers and others lent their firepower toward halting the North Korean onslaught and toward supporting a counteroffensive, Naval Task Force 77–comprising the aircraft carriers USS Valley Forge and HMS Triumph–arrived in Korean waters, and on July 3, it made its presence known by launching a bombing raid on the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang. The attack was carried out by the aircraft of American Air Group 5, consisting of the Vought F4U-4 Corsairs of squadrons VF-53 and VF-54, Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders of VA-55 and Grumman F9F-3 Panther jet fighters of VF-51 and VF-52. The raiders struck at lines of communications such as railroad bridges, rail yards, airfields and roads. A handful of NKAF Yak-9s rose to intercept, only to lose two of their number to Lieutenant (J.G) L.H. Plog and Ensign E.W. Brown of VF-51, who then went on to destroy two more Yaks on the ground. Plog returned to Valley Forge to be congratulated by his comrades on two firsts–the first Navy aerial victory of the war, and the first to be scored by a carrier-based jet airplane.
Valley Forge‘s aircraft paid Pyongyang a return visit on July 18, also striking at Onjong-ni. The next day, the Navy planes hit Yonpo and claimed a total of 32 NKAF aircraft destroyed on the ground and another 13 damaged in the course of their three raids.
Unable to defend their air bases in and around their own capital, the North Koreans withdrew their surviving aircraft across the Yalu into Manchuria. Meanwhile, the escort carrier USS Sicily launched the first strike by U.S. Marine aircraft as F4U-4B Corsairs of VMF-214 ("Black Sheep") attacked Communist facilities at Chinju and Sinban-ni on August 3. As the besieged American and ROK forces in Pusan counterattacked to enlarge their perimeter, the Marines joined their FEAF colleagues in providing air support against North Korean ground targets. As the Allied troops–now including a Marine brigade–slowly regained the initiative, the Marine pilots of VMF-214 and VMF-323 off USS Badoeng Strait were flying as many as 45 ground attack sorties a day.
On September, 1 the North Korean 4th and 5th Divisions made a final, all-out attack to break through the Pusan perimeter. The FEAF’s Fifth Air Force, whose command now encompassed the Marine squadrons, threw all its aircraft against the Communists thrust, which was finally blunted on September 5. On September 11, the U.S. Eighth Army began a general counterattack, pushing the exhausted North Koreans back along the entire front.
While this was going on, General Douglas MacArthur set in motion his daring amphibious assault on Inchon, designed to bisect Korea, cut North Korean supply lines and trap the North Korean People’s Army between two United Nations forces. Operation chromite, supported by aircraft from the U.S. carriers Philippine Sea, Valley Forge, Boxer, Sicily and Bodoeng Strait, and the British carrier Triumph, achieved complete surprise, the landing on September 15 meeting with little resistance. The only appearance made by the NKAF consisting of two Yak-9s which made a hit-and-run bombing attack on the cruiser line, They scored no hits and one was shot down by anti-aircraft gunfire from the ships, the other Yak managing to retire undamaged. Two days later, the Marines fought their way to Kimpo airfield, only to find it completely evacuated by the retreating North Koreans. Only three aircraft, two Il-10s and a Yak-9, remained behind to suggest that the Communist had ever occupied the field.
On September 28, Mustang pilot 1st Lt. Ralph Hall of the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron downed a Yak. More significantly, by that date the North Korean People’s Army had been driven back across the 38th Parallel and was still in full retreat. South Korea was free again and General MacArthur proposed to go on to eliminate Pyongyang’s Communist government as well. By the end of October, it appeared unlikely that anything would prevent him from doing so.
That measure of success had not been achieved without sacrifice. Even without air opposition, the Allied squadrons were taking heavy losses to ground fire. By the middle of October, the 8th Fighter Group had lost 26 pilots, including the commanders of all three of the squadrons–the Mustang-equipped 35th and 36th and the F-80-equipped 80th.
On October 9th, HMS Theseus relieved HMS Triumph and commenced operations with her two squadrons of Fireflies and, in place of the Seafires, Hawker Sea Fury FB-11 fighters.
Late October 1950 found U.N. forces at the Yalu River and American squadrons able to operate out of Pyongyang, less than 250 miles from the Yalu. The Mustang outfits of the 18th Wing were being joined by South African unit, No. 2 Squadron, SAAF. But ominous reports were coming in of scattered but growing numbers of Chinese troops massing along the border. The Chinese government declared them to be "volunteers" sent to assist their North Korean comrades; be that as it may, Peking had no intention of tolerating a hostile American army on her border.
On November 1, Yak-3 fighters–nimble, wooden lightweight relatives of the Yak-9–flew over the Yalu to have a go at the Mustangs of the 67th Squadron, only to lose two of their number to Captains Robert D. Thresher and A.R. Flake.
On that same day, four Mustangs from the 18th Wing were working with a T-6 that was engaged in forward air control duties a few miles north of Sinanju when, without warning, they were jumped by six swept-wing jet fighters. It was immediately apparent that the Mustangs would have no chance of outrunning such aircraft, so they wisely limited their response to evasive action. The enemy aircraft soon concluded that they could not turn inside the Mustangs, broke off, and returned to their Manchurian air base.
The bloodless encounter near Sinanju was the harbinger of a turning point in aerial combat. The Communist aircraft were Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s, the latest addition to the Soviet arsenal. If such modern fighters were being committed to the fighting in Korea, they represented a threat to U.N. air superiority that could not be ignored. Certainly the four Mustang pilots, fortunate though they had been to emerge unscathed from their first encounter with the MiGs, were not about to dismiss the potential of the new enemy jets.
Over the next few days, Communist piston-engined fighters began to cross the Yalu with greater aggressiveness. The arrival of the MiGs may have inspired their pilots to such a renewed effort, but they could not give them greater skill. On November 2, Captain Flake of the 67th downed a Yak-9–his second kill in as many days–as did 1st Lt. James L. Glessner of the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. On November 6, Mustangs of the 67th had yet another run-in with Yak-9s, during which Captain Howard Price downed one and teamed up with 1st Lt. Harry S. Reynolds to get another.
In the days that followed, reports of massive Chinese infiltration across the Yalu River became cause for concern. MacArthur ordered bombing attacks against the Yalu bridges.
Those operations brought the MiGs out in force. On November 7, five different flights of Mustangs flying close to the Yalu were attacked. As one 4-plane flight from the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was on routine patrol, four MiGs were seen to take off from their base at Antung and bank south. Almost before the Americans knew it the MiGs were upon them, shooting at them in a series of looping passes. Maneuvering for their lives, the Mustang pilots instinctively tried to catch the jets at the bottom of their loops and begin scoring hits. Major Ken Carlson scored several hits on a MiG, and his men reported an explosion on the ground during the wild dogfight, after which only three MiGs were seen retiring over the Yalu. No one had been able to witness an actual crash, so Carlson was given a "probable." Despite the ineffectiveness of their fighting passes, Lieutenant Lee Gomes noted ominously that the flying skills of the MiG pilots were much better than those of the Yaks encountered earlier.
Another encounter was reported by the 1st Lt. Harris Boyce of the 35th Squadron. Two MiGs overflew his 3-plane patrol and seconds later they were streaking down the Mustangs from behind. The F-51s broke right, Boyce yanking his machine around in the tightest 180 degree turn he could manage to come around behind one of the MiGs. He reported numerous hits before the jet streaked north, out of control, over the Yalu. The entire encounter lasted three minutes. Again, no crash or explosion was observed and Boyce had to content himself with a "probable"–and his life.
The next day, November 8, two flights of F-80Cs from the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing watched as six MiG-15s took off from Antung, crossed the Yalu at high altitude and began diving on them in pairs. Since the first reports of MiG attacks a week earlier, the Shooting Star pilots had been itching to match their mettle with the new Soviet fighters and eagerly turned into their attackers, causing them to break wildly. Five of the MiGs streaked for home, but a sixth dived away and 1st Lt. Russell J. Brown of the 16th Squadron discovered that his straight-winged F-80 could not only keep up, but that he was gaining on the MiG. Realizing his error, the MiG pilot pulled his plane out of the dive and into a climb, but Brown did not give him a chance to bring his superior climbing speed (10,100 feet-per-minute) into play. Lining the Mig up, Brown peppered it with a five-second burst and saw his riddled adversary dive out of control, smoking and flaming, into the ground. Brown had been victorious in the first jet-versus-jet combat in history.
The next day, Task Force 77’s carrier air groups were ordered to bomb rail and highway bridges at Sinuiju and highway bridges near Hyesanjin, 200 miles upstream. The attack was carried out by a F4U Corsairs and AD Skyraiders. with a top cover of F9F Panther jets. The force detailed to hit Sinuiju was attacked by Chinese MiG-15s from Antung air base, which then were themselves jumped by the F9Fs. During the engagement, one of the Communist jets fell to an F9F flown by the commander of VF-111 from the carrier Philippine Sea, Lt. Cmdr. W.T. Amen–first blood for the Navy.
It was clear that the only effective counter to the MiG jet fighter threat would be another jet but despite their initial successes, the F-80 and F9F both lacked the speed and climb to do the job. The MiG-15 was 100 mph faster than the F-80 and a full 300 mph faster than the prop-driven F-51. Although six MiGs were credited to Shooting Stars in the course of the war, 14 F-80s would be lost to the swept-wing jets.
Fortunately, the MiG’s match would not be long in coming. On the same day Brown scored his historic victory, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff made their decision to commit the best American jet fighter operational to the Korean front–the North American F-86A Sabre. Salt water damage in transit delayed the arrival of the Sabre-equipped 4th Fighter Interceptor Group at Kimpo until December 13, but the unit flew its first training flight–actually an operational patrol–on December 15 and, on December 17, Lt. Col. Bruce H. Hinton led four F-86As on a sweep of the Yalu, using F-80 radio call signs and flying F-80 patterns to ensure that any MiGs would not be shy about coming up to play. Four did intercept the formation near Sinuiju and were as surprised as Hinton had hoped they would be as the Sabres tore into them at a speed approximating the MiGs’ own. A brief fight ensued before the MiGs retired in haste, short one of their number, and Hinton returned to Kimpo to do the first of hundreds of victory rolls that Sabre pilots would perform over the next two-and-a-half-years.
Meanwhile, new events had taken place to further alter the course of the war. After three days of continuous bombing and rocket attacks, all bridges across the Yalu were down except one–the tough railroad bridge at Sinuiji. A week later, the entire effort was nullified when the river itself froze over. By the first week of December, the ice was thick enough to lay railroad tracks on and support supply trains.
On November 20, fighting broke out between the 1st Marine Division and a large force of Chinese troops in the region of Hagaru-ri and Yudam-ni. On November 28, the Chinese launched an all-out attack against the U.S. Army X Corps, cutting the 5th and 7th Marines from the rest of their division near the Chosin reservoir and sending the rest of the U.N. forces reeling back in a disorderly rout. For the second time in less than half a year, the course of the war in Korea had entered a new phase.
The complexion of the air war had also undergone a radical change. From December 1950 on, the swept-wing jet became the key factor in the fight for air supremacy. Although the prop-driven planes and the older generation of jets would continue to play a vital role throughout the fighting, their efforts would be largely eclipsed in the public eye by the duel for the sky taking place at the threshold of the speed of sound over "MiG Alley." Also forgotten would be those first five crucial months of the war, when the straight-winged birds were all the air power that was available and the hoary old veterans of another war and another era had their last hurrah.
TWO WARS AT ONCE
While the outbreak of the Korean Conflict left most Americans confused as to its importance and even its location, it had no such effect on the British. They were already in the process of withdrawing from their colonial holdings in the Far East as gracefully as possible and, in the interests of leaving behind independent governments that would remain friendly to them, they were already engaged in a low-intensity guerrilla war with Chinese-backed Communist insurgents in Malaya. For the British, the only novel touch to Korea in 1950 was that it was an open, conventional conflict.
The first British aircraft available to assist Korea were the Supermarine Seafires and Fairey Fireflies of the aircraft carrier HMS Triumph, which took station off the Korean coast within days of the outbreak of hostilities. From then until the end of the fighting, at least one British or Commonwealth carrier operated in Korean waters on a rotating basis.
The more effective carrier plane of the two initially fielded by the Royal Navy was the Firefly two-seat fighter, whose Mark 4 and 5 models, endowed with an excess of power from their 2,100 hp Rolls-Royce Grifon 74 engines, could carry up to a ton of bombs and rockets per aircraft for ground attack missions. Moreover, the Firefly crews already had practice in such operations. In October 1949, Fireflies of No. 827 Squadron from HMS Triumph had been deployed at Sembawang to provide air support for Operation Leo, an offensive conducted against "bandits" in the Malayan jungle.
On July 3, Triumph‘s aircraft provided top cover for the carriers of Task Force 77 while American carrier planes flew airstrikes against Pyongyang. Other Commonwealth carriers that would serve in Korea included HMS Theseus (October 1950,May 1951), HMS Glory (May 1951,May 1952), HMS Ocean (May,October 1952), and HMAS Sydney (October 1952,July 1953).
Ocean‘s tour of duty typified the British carrier effort, with a few unique distinctions. As with most of the others, her aircraft flew strikes against Malayan insurgents prior to turning their rocket, bombing and strafing attacks against the North Korean forces in May 1952. On May 17, her aircraft flew 123 sorties–a record number for a single carrier during the conflict. Several planes were lost to the intense Communist ground fire, a common consequence of making more than one run against the same target. At the end of July, Mikoyan-Gurevich-15s attacked Fireflies of Ocean‘s No. 825 Squadron for the first time, one shot-up Firefly having to go down for a forced landing in the engagement. Given their technical differences, the British were grateful to have gotten off that lightly. On August 9, however, four Hawker Sea Fury FB-11s of Ocean‘s No. 802 Squadron were jumped by eight MiG-15s. Wisely staying to dogfight it out rather than attempt a futile flight, the skillful Brits again survived and Lieutenant Peter Carmichael scored the first confirmed aerial victory of a piston-engined aircraft over a jet.
By the time Ocean left in October 1952, her aircraft had totaled 1,907 sorties totaling 3,243 flying hours. In the 1,948 landings made on Ocean‘s deck, there were only four accidents.Ocean‘s aircraft fired 16,868 rockets and dropped 96,500 pounds of bombs, and 825 Squadron’s overall performance won it the Boyd Trophy for 1952.
After the armistice at Panmunjon, the British kept at least one carrier on patrol in Korean waters as part of the United Nations peace-keeping force, while others continued to play their part in the ultimately successful campaigns against the Malayan insurgency, which had been going on when the Korean conflict began.
Ricardo Bonalume Neto is a Brazilian journalist writing for the daily newspaper Fulha de S’o Paulo of S’o Paulo, as a science reporter. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!