With tribute to:

Martin Spirit

James Paul

Co-written by:

David Carter

Britain's Small Wars

The preservation of British Military History

Korea 1950 - 1953

"A Police Action?"

The Air War

Sunderland aircraft

When North Korea invaded South Korea on 25th June 1950, the United Nations condemned the action and UN troops were ordered into action. The United Nations forces would be commanded by United States General MacArthur, with only limited air support the UN troops lost Seoul and were driven back into the extreme south of the country. However, the US Far East Air Force held the North Korean air force at bay until USN carriers arrived in Korean waters. Whereas the Royal Navy carriers and Fleet Air Arm were heavily involved in the air fighting and ground attack sorties, the RAF had no actual fighter forces in Korea.

Although RAF, RAAF and RCAF pilots flew with the USAF during the war, the RAF aircraft were mainly bombers, flying boats and transports. Although, RAF Sunderlands of No.205 Squadron had given air cover to United Nations naval forces bombarding Communist coastal towns in February. Aircraft of the Seletar Sunderland wing, made up of Nos 88, 205 and 209 Squadrons were based at Iwakuni in southern Japan on four-week deployments.

RAF pilots also served with No.77 Squadron RAAF, they joined the squadron when it re-equipped with Gloster Meteors from P-51 Mustangs and flew the first sorties from Kimpo on 30th July 1951. Two of the pilots were later lost. The MIG soon appeared and the Meteor was easily out-classed by this more powerful and more agile machine and was relegated to ground-attack missions.

Air war

No.77 Squadron flew its first Meteor ground attack sortie to Chongdan on 8th January, followed by no less than 1,773 sorties by the end of February, but lost two pilots in the process. Meanwhile the Sunderlands had continued to fly long maritime reconnaissance missions in all weathers alongside the US Navy PBM-5 Mariners also based at Iwakuni as part of Fleet Air Wing 6. Two other RAF units were now operating over Korea. Nos 1903 and 1913 Flights equipped with Auster AOP6, army co-operation aircraft, flying an average of 500 sorties a month spotting for UN artillery and flying reconnaissance missions, operating from primitive forward airstrips and spending as much as three hours flying over enemy positions. Although no fighter opposition was encountered, two Austers were lost to ground fire. The first MiG-15 fell to an RAF pilot when Flight Lieutenant John Nicholls completed 100 missions in six months with No.335 Fighter Interception Squadron USAF at Seoul, shooting down a MiG on his last but one mission in Korea in December 1952, having previously damaged three others. Other RAF pilots who flew with USAF units in Korea included:

Flight Lieutenant Lovell from No.43 Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Daniel who flew with 334 FIS at Kimpo and was credited with damaging two MiGs during his six-month tour during 1952.

Wing Commander Johnnie Baldwin, Sabre was shot down in 1952 and he was posted missing.

Flight Lieutenant RTF Dickinson, shooting down One MiG-15

Flight Lieutenant John Granville-White, One MiG 15 kill

Flight Lieutenant Graham S Hulse, Three MiG 15 kills

As well as the RAF pilots, Lieutenant Peter Carmichael RN (802 Squadron, on HMS Ocean) who was given credit for shooting down a MiG-15 on the 9th of August 1952. He was in fact, one of four pilots who engaged and shot at the MiG but was given the credit as Flight leader. Several RCAF pilots also flew with the USAF and obtained kills in the F86 Sabre.

Along with the RAF pilots some RCAF Pilots were seconded to the 5th USAF among these were: