Military Review

The night war in the skies of Korea

The night war in the skies of Korea

27 July 1953, the full-scale hostilities in Korea were completed. According to experts, this conflict of the Cold War period can be viewed as a war between the United States and its allies on the one hand, and the forces of the PRC and the USSR on the other.

After the conclusion of a truce, sixty years have passed, but many details of that war remain hidden.

There are many reasons for this: the American side is not too keen to disclose the extent of its losses and the miscalculations of the military leadership. Even now, the official data mentions the ratio of casualties in 12: 1 air battles, naturally in favor of the “UN forces”.

During violent hostilities, war crimes were often committed, including against civilians. Naturally, the United States does not want to once again remind about it in order not to spoil its “democratic image”.

In turn, in the USSR, the facts of the participation of Soviet soldiers in hostilities were carefully concealed. For a long time, the official point of view denied this fact altogether.

Chinese people's volunteers entered the war in October 1950 of the year. In fact, they saved the DPRK from complete defeat. However, despite the heavy losses, they failed to achieve complete victory in this conflict.

For their part, the North Korean authorities claim that they managed to "defeat the American imperialists" on their own, and assistance from abroad was exclusively material and technical.

In this regard, a lot of facts were widely publicized only now, when the direct participants were almost no longer alive.

One of the most interesting moments of those military operations is aviation collisions at night.

Shortly after the United States entered into full-scale hostilities on the territory of the Korean Peninsula, their air forces achieved complete air supremacy.

In order to prevent the rout of the North Korean allies, 14 in November 1950, JV Stalin ordered the formation of the 64 th Fighter Aviation Corps (IAK). It consisted of 2-3 Fighter Divisions, two anti-aircraft artillery divisions and one aviation-technical division.

American aircraft began to suffer heavy losses from collisions with Soviet jet MiG-15. At that time, the main strike force of the American Air Force in Korea was the bombing units of the Strategic Aviation Command (SAC). They were armed with strategic bombers B-29 and B-50.

After losing about 20 “flying fortresses” during two raids (not counting fighter jets), the US command had to change tactics, significantly reducing the number of day missions. If earlier small groups and B-26 "Invader" single light bombers were sent to night raids, now heavy B-29 have joined them.

In addition, the Americans had a new night-time radar guidance system at the Sharan target, which made it possible to conduct effective bombardment.

The Soviet command, in turn, strengthened the air defense system, both from the air and from the ground.

An 10 searchlight regiment and an 87 anti-aircraft artillery division were deployed to Andun. This made it possible to create a continuous light field. Radar posts of type P-20 radar were located on the hills. Also urgently a night aviation regiment of La-11 fighters was formed.

The latest Soviet piston fighter La 11 with North Korean insignia

The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Andreevich Efimov. And the main task of 351-IAP was to cover important strategic facilities of the DPRK: hydropower stations near the city of Singisyu, a bridge over the Yalu River near the city of Andung, the airfield of Andong and Anshan itself.

The first victory was won in the fall of 1951, when Senior Lieutenant V. Kurganov managed to shoot down the night bomber of the US Air Force B-26 "Invader" at night at low altitude.

La-11 fighters had enough weapon power and speed to successfully fight the main enemy of that time - the B-26 night bomber, which flew at low altitude.

Since there was no radar on the La-11, the pilots had to rely on the moon or searchlight light.

B-26 "Invader"

But it was difficult to cope with the B-29 piston “Lavochkin”. When entering the bombing area, the “flying fortresses” gained a great height, and then went down to the target, picking up speed to 620 km / h, which practically deprived the pilots of La-11 the ability to conduct effective shooting. Because of the long distance, American planes often went unpunished.

The command of 64-IAK had to re-equip one squadron of jet MiG-15bis. This squadron began combat missions in February 1952. The Americans quickly discovered the presence of jet MiGs in the night sky over Korea using radar, so the activity of the B-29 heavy bombers decreased.

In any case, the Soviet night fighters managed to repel several large raids with the help of anti-aircraft gunners, projectors and radar stations.

10 On June, the B-29 group made a night raid on the bridges near Kvansan. Near the target they were met by a light field, and from darkness the Soviet pilots struck. Two B-29s were shot down, another was severely damaged and fell in South Korea. One heavily damaged bomber managed to make an emergency landing on the territory of the airfield in Daegu. In this battle, the deputy commander of 351-IAP, Captain A. M. Karelin, showed himself down, who shot down two and damaged one B-29.

The next time, A. M. Karelin, at that time already a major, managed to distinguish himself 3 July1952. In the light field, a reconnaissance aircraft RB-50 was shot down, which was part of the US NAC 91 th reconnaissance squadron.

From June to September 1952, the Soviet pilots shot down at least seven American aircraft.

The American command had to change tactics. Now before the bombers flew outfits night interceptors, which cleared the way to the goal. In addition, electronic warfare planes appeared in the strike group, which were supposed to suppress the radar targeting fighters and antiaircraft artillery.

Several night squadrons arrived at the air bases in South Korea, which were manned with all-weather fighter jets with radar. Among them were the 513-th night IAE of the American Marine Corps, armed with the Skyknight F3D aircraft and the 319-I EIT (interceptor fighter squadron) armed with the F-94B Starflre aircraft.

Starting in the fall of 1952, American fighters carried out interceptions of MiGs before approaching the target or after a combat mission. November 2 was the first collision with the participation of jet aircraft of the two sides. According to Western sources, in this battle, one MiG-15 was shot down by a US infantry pilot on F3D-2.

F3D-2 "Skyknight" Night Interceptor

According to Soviet data, the pilots of the 351-IAP shot down 15 American planes in night clashes. Among them: 5 B-26, 9 B-29 and reconnaissance RB-50. The losses of the Soviet military were 2 La-11 and 2 MiG-15. One pilot died - 8 August 1951, Senior Lieutenant I. V. Gurilov hit a tropical typhoon on La 11 and crashed. In November 1952, the second La-11 crashed on takeoff, but the pilot, Senior Lieutenant IA Alekseev, managed to escape. MiGs shot down Senior Lieutenant I. P. Kovalev (8 November 1952 of the year, survived) and Major P. F. Sychev from the corps board (November 19 1952 of the year, died).

In March 1953, the 351-th IAP was sent to the Soviet Union. He was replaced by the 298 th IAP.

In March, 1953, the Americans became more active again. On the night from 5 to 6, a group of 17 B-29 raided the city of Onjong. In total, five such raids were carried out this month, involving at least 10 B-29, which were covered by F3D-2N and F-94.

In April, the Americans decided to change the tactics of night raids on targets that covered MiGs. Groups of bombers were sent only in bad weather or on moonless and cloudy nights so as not to fall into the light fields of searchlights.

Despite the increasing complexity of combat conditions and opposition from night interceptors, the pilots of the 298-IAP still managed to achieve good results.

2 F-84 and 2 F-94 were destroyed, 4 B-29, 1 B-26 and 1 F3D-2N were destroyed. It is worth noting that, according to the American side, the Soviet pilots won 8 victories, knocking 3 F-84, 1 F-94 and 1 B-26, and knocking out 2 B-29 and 1 F3D-2N. Regiment losses amounted to 2 MiG-15bis, one pilot was killed.

Recently it was reported that a special reconnaissance aviation group, commanded by Hero of the Soviet Union, Lieutenant Colonel N. L. Arsenyev, participated in the conflict. She was armed with the latest at that time IL-28. The group was transferred to the territory of China in the summer of 1950 of the year. The pilots made almost half of the sorties at night, participating in combat operations until the end of the war. It is worth noting that in the 1953 year (perhaps earlier), the pilots carried out not only reconnaissance missions, but also bombed. According to unconfirmed information, during the night raids two IL-28 was lost.

Already before the end of hostilities, a group of 10 Chinese pilots (on MiG-15), commanded by Senior Lieutenant Howe Soo Kyun, was prepared for night sorties. They were based at the airport Miaogou, not far from the 3-th AE 298-th IAP. Soviet pilots transferred their experience to their colleagues by teaching them how to fly in difficult meteorological conditions and at night. The Chinese started combat sorties at the end of June, but they rarely met opponents, only the commander managed to distinguish himself, who seriously damaged the F-94 in the Aneu region in July. The American plane had to make an emergency landing on the coast of the DPRK.

Night Interceptor F-94B "Starfire"

At the end of 1950, shortly after the start of the fighting, all the DPRK aircraft were either destroyed or blocked at the airfields.

Taking into account the experience that the Soviet military received during the Great Patriotic War, it was decided to create a separate night aviation unit of the DPRK Air Force. Subsequently, it turned into a night air regiment of light night bombers, commanded by Pak Den Sik. At the end of 1951, he was awarded the title Hero of the DPRK. Initially, this unit consisted of several squadrons, which were armed with the Soviet Po-2 light bombers.

Starting in the summer of 1951, the pilots of the night aviation regiment made night combat missions, attacking targets behind the front line. 17 June was bombed at an airfield in Suwon, during which the X-NUMX of the F-9 Saber was destroyed. Also, Po-86 attacked fuel depots and facilities in the port of Incheon and Yondypho airfield.

June 21 aircraft regiment bombed the Seoul-Yongsan railway station. 24 June was attacked by an airfield in Suwon (destroyed 10 aircraft). Another squadron of the units on the same night attacked an enemy convoy near the villages of Namsuri and Bouvalri, destroying some 30 vehicles. June 28 squadron regiment bombed enemy troops in Yondypha, Inchon, Yongsan and around Munsan.

1 January 1953, the air force of night bombers, commanded by Pak Den Siq, destroyed a large tanker in the port of Incheon, as well as several military warehouses.

In 1952, the night divisions of the DPRK air forces received Soviet Yak-11 and Yak-18 aircraft, which could carry not only small bombs, but also missiles. Several squadrons of the North Korean Air Force were also transferred to night sorties, armed with piston fighters La-9 and La-11. They conducted raids on the territory of South Korea. And although by that time these planes were already outdated, the North Korean pilots were able to deliver a lot of problems to the enemy.

Night flights Po-2 caused not only material damage, they also had a moral impact on the enemy soldiers who could not feel safe even at night. The American soldiers Po-2 got the nickname - "Nutty Chinese alarm clocks".

To counter the Po-2, the Fifth Air Force Command of the United States used the Twin Mustang piston aircraft F-82G, F4U-5N Corsair, F7F-5N Tigercat and AT-6 Texan. The F-82G was in service with the 339 th air squadron, and the F7F-5N - the 513 th US Navy night fighter squadron.

Night fighter F-82G "Twin Mustang"

American F7F-5N "Tigercat" were able to shoot down several Po-2 aircraft. Also, F7F-5N "Tigercat" was used in night attacks of ground targets in North Korea. 23 July 1951, one of F7F-5N "Tigercat" (pilot Marion Crawford and cameraman Gordon Barnett) was seriously damaged and crashed while landing. The operator managed to escape, but the pilot was never found. It is worth noting that more than half of the night flights were performed with the participation of F7F-5N "Tigercat".

Night Interceptor F7F-3N "Tigercat"

In the summer of 1952, the 513-I AE received FXknumX SkyNight jet fighter-interceptors. The first night victory with the use of radars was won by the crew of such an aircraft as part of the pilot S. A. Covey and the radar operator D. R. George.

On the night of November 2, they shot down the first MiG-15bis jet. During the fighting, the pilots F3D-2 "Skyknight" shot down seven enemy aircraft.

In March 1952, the 319-I interceptor squadron, armed with Starfire fighter jets, arrived in South Korea. The pilots immediately proceeded to combat sorties. True, the first interception turned into a tragedy: the pilot did not take into account the difference in speed and crashed right into the tail of the pursued Po-2. Both planes fell. The next night the squadron lost another fighter: the pilot took into account the mistake of his colleague and released the flaps and chassis to reduce speed, but as a result also lost height. The plane crashed, crashing into one of the hills, and its crew was killed.

The first victory was won only in April. The crew of the pilot - captain Ben Phyton, and the operator - Lieutenant R. Lyson, managed to shoot down the enemy Po-2. The last victory of the pilots of this squadron won 30 January 1953, knocking another Po-2. During the fighting, the 319 EIT pilots made 4694 night sorties, shooting down Korean 4 aircraft: 3 Po-2 and 1 La-9 and dropping 1108 tons of aerial bombs.

Fighter F4U-5N "Corsair"

In June 1953, the F4U-5N Corsair night fighter squadron, which was part of fleet - VC-3, which was based on the American aircraft carrier Princeton. Her main task was to intercept North Korean aircraft at night in the Seoul area. During the fighting, Lieutenant Bordelon distinguished himself, who shot down 29 Yak-16s and 3 La-18s of the Korean military from June 2 to July 9. This is the only fleet pilot who managed to achieve such a high result.

In general, the success of the US night interceptors was not very impressive. And, oddly enough, the most difficult goal was the hopelessly outdated "old man" Po-2.

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  1. Fox
    Fox 30 July 2013 07: 23
    The cost of destroying the Po-2 is huge. And the damage from the Po-2 is not comparable to the cost of the machine. A wonderful aircraft in good hands.
    1. carbofo
      carbofo 31 July 2013 11: 22
      The most unpleasant thing for Americans is not only that it was effective.
      It really was hard to knock it down, it could be knocked down only in the engine or controls, and this is only a few percent of the target’s area, the rest is fabric!
      The second point is the high speed difference that worked here specifically for PO-2, the fighter pilot had only a few seconds to aim because he just instantly caught up with PO-2 and had to turn it away.
      Let's not forget the psychological effect, who heard the "Corn" volume will understand me, the annoying sound in the night in the heat, literally took out the brain, and it is not clear where it is, or maybe it is already throwing a bomb at you!
  2. creak
    creak 30 July 2013 09: 21
    Interesting facts about the participation of Soviet pilots in the Korean War are contained in the memoirs of S. Kramarenko: "Against Messers and Sabers", published by the EKSMO publishing house in 2007. The denial of the participation of Soviet servicemen in local wars in the post-war period was generally characteristic of our information policy. such facts were a secret only for our citizens, and not for a potential adversary ... Yes, even today there are many blank spots in this area, and this concerns the fate of many of our servicemen. In this regard, we can only welcome the publication of materials on this topic by Military Review.
  3. MilaPhone
    MilaPhone 30 July 2013 13: 12
    F-82G "Twin Mustang"! It happened! And it flew!
  4. Djozz
    Djozz 30 July 2013 13: 27
    I have some, but in my opinion, correct data on the losses of aircraft in Korea. According to the data ("Encyclopedia of Aviation", New York, 1977), their pilots killed 2 commercial aircraft, and the losses of Amers and their allies were 2300 aircraft. Ratio 114: 20 But lying to everyone at the same time is technically impossible. For example, the rescue service of the 1th American Air Force reports that it managed to snatch more than 5 years of the Air Force from North Korea, and how many died in captivity, this is from 1000 aircraft ! (Air war in Korea-114 (Through the eyes of the Americans) Penza; Rainbow, 2, p. 1997)
    1. 7ydmco
      7ydmco 30 July 2013 19: 19
      Lying dogs smile And the memories of our veterans are worth reading.
  5. ed65b
    ed65b 30 July 2013 13: 47
    Yes, the good old days of piston machines. I was very pleased with the very interesting article by 2, I didn’t even know that they were and successfully participated in the battles.
  6. So_o_tozh
    So_o_tozh 30 July 2013 14: 30
    The division under the command of Kozhedub there has especially distinguished itself, at least about him
  7. Kapdva
    Kapdva 30 July 2013 17: 24
    I don’t remember the name of the book where it was written. Kozhedub was forbidden to fly into the air, but nevertheless he flew and threw several (I won’t lie, I don’t remember exactly) ov. But in one of the battles he was hit, landed on a neutral strip. Remained intact only thanks to the attack of the Chinese volunteers, who, seeing a crashed plane, rushed to the attack
    1. 7ydmco
      7ydmco 30 July 2013 19: 20
      Yes, Kozhedub’s memoirs about Korean and Patriotic are very interesting, it is worth reading them.
  8. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 08: 45
    Even now, the official data mentions the ratio of losses in air battles 12: 1, of course, in favor of the "UN forces". - laughing laughing laughing

    - Yeah! What were the fighters of the "UN forces" - we know very well :) Draped like the Fritzes in Soviet films! It is enough to read the memoirs of the hero of the air war in Korea, our ace Sergei Makarovich Kramarenko, who shot down 13 vultures.
    According to our pilot, the Soviet pilots, having behind their backs invaluable experience of the Great Patriotic War in combat training and experience, far exceeded their opponents from Penosia. "Another memorable battle. We saw how the Americans attacked the railway station. We flew higher, found ourselves in an advantageous position. I shot down two. The Americans crumbled. I saw one fly away, so defenseless. And I did not shoot him down - I realized that it was young boys, they don't know how to fight at all. Let them fly, tell how they were beaten ... "S.M. Kramarenko.
    If we talk about the rest of the "UN", then I will say nothing gravely about the Australian squadron (77th RAAF) on Meteora, how it was uncovered there and what was left of it ...

    In the photo: Hero of the Soviet Union S. Kramarenko (13 confirmed victories in the sky of Korea)
  9. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 09: 32
    And now on the topic. Once upon a time, this forum had a topic about the Korean War - a topic very interesting, undeservedly forgotten by us and naturally forgotten by enemies across the ocean - since the pin-up air forces of the whole world praised and spread by Huliwood to the whole world were not just thoroughly beaten, and uncovered by Our Soviet pilots in full!

    I have already written about the B-29 flying sheds, which, due to their complete helplessness against the Soviet MiG-15 and 10 years without standing in the ranks, were finally and irrevocably removed from service and unconditionally decommissioned. Having shown excellent results in World War II against cowardly Germans and decisive, but helpless and technically far behind Japanese, the B-29 "super fortress" turned out to be a dense naphthalene shed against jet aircraft operated by experienced Soviet pilots. And it's not about some super sophistication of the MiG-15, but precisely those who sat at their controls. And I will give a correct example of this statement of mine below.

    After the presumptuous pin-dosnya got horned in the world-famous daytime raids on Black Thursday - April 12, 1951 and Black Tuesday - October 23, 1951, when more than a dozen of these were uncovered in each of these flights cargo carriers, the enemies began to fly at night, completely abandoning daytime bombing. All these "Black Calendar Days" marked the complete collapse and defeat of US strategic aviation in the skies of Korea.
    Nevertheless, our pilots began to beat them successfully at night.

    The best night ace of the Korean War was our compatriot, Soviet pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union, Anatoly Mikhailovich KARELIN, which destroyed 6 enemy aircraft in air attacks - and what they all turned out to be exactly B-29 flying sheds. Moreover, all the B-29s brought down by him were counted by the enemy, which is a rare occurrence for wartime.

    Further, I would very much like to return to my posts previously published here, and once again show the lists of downed enemy bombers. Moreover, this information for me personally turned out to be very informative and I am sure that someone else will be interested.

    In the photo: Hero of the Soviet Union, the best night ace of the Korean War (6 victories) Karelin A.M.
  10. The comment was deleted.
  11. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 09: 43
    And here is the list of vultures, on the account of A. Karelin:
    And the first and second were shot down in the same battle on June 10, 1952 in a night sortie.
    I indicate their side numbers and, if there is, my own so-called "name" - that is, the name of a nude "rock painting" on the fuselage.

    1. BuNo 44-61967 - "MISS JACKIE THE REBEL". Shot down by Anatoly Karelin at night on June 10, 1952. The crew died completely.
  12. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 09: 45
    2. BuNo 44-62183 "HOT TO GO". The name played a cruel joke. The crew, with the exception of only 1 pilot, died completely. The survivor was captured and returned after the war.

    - By the way, in the same battle, another B-29, BuNo 44-61902 "APACHE", was seriously damaged by our other pilot, Zhakhman Ikhsangaliev. The crew was badly damaged, and according to surviving pilots, there were many wounded and killed on it. This would-be "Apache" no longer rose into the air, remained under repair for a long time and was eventually written off as not subject to restoration. Consequently, this fact allows us to say that this vulture was nevertheless destroyed.
  13. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 09: 52
    The next "Saray" was destroyed on July 4, 1952:

    3. BuNo 44-61727 - "SO TIRED (Seven to Seven)". It was a reconnaissance version of the RB-29, carrying out a night mission. Shot down by Anatoly Karelin on July 4, 1952. The crew ejected, two were killed, the rest were captured and were returned after the war.

    By the way, I want to note that the RB-29 - a reconnaissance variation of this aircraft was a very expensive contraption, because the most modern and expensive electronics and radar equipment were installed on these aircraft, the most experienced crews flew on them and the most dangerous and responsible missions trusted them, therefore the loss of such an aircraft was very painful for the enemies.
  14. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 10: 03
    4. The next vulture was destroyed in the same night, November 7, 1952. BuNo 44-62073, had a "standard" usual "color" and did not have any shades of light "por-but". Of the 12 crew members, only three survived, who were captured and returned only after the war.
    Unfortunately, we could not find a photo of this aircraft.

    5. The fifth shed was presumably BuNo 44-62011. He was also standard in “color, and did not have a“ rock painting. ”Of the 12 crew members, only five survived, who were captured and were returned after the war. The remaining seven died.
    Unfortunately, there is no photo of this aircraft.

    6. The last on the list of our night ace is another spit-out bandit who was also shot down on the night of January 28, 1953: BuNo 42-65357 "DOUBLE OR NUTHIN '" (On the picture). This is the former "SHADY LADY". There was confusion with the definition of this aircraft, since there were two aircraft with the name "SHADY LADY", one of which later became "DOUBLE OR NUTHIN '". However, this nominal castling still did not save him. Of the crew, only 5 people survived, who were captured. The rest 9 died. It remains unclear why there were as many as 14 (!) People on this plane.

    This was the last "barn" in the list of Anatoly Karelin. However, in the track record of the Soviet pilot, another aircraft sometimes appears instead of this - BuNo 44-27262. Nevertheless, it is known that our ace won all the victories at night, and the Americans, alas, do not provide data on when and under what conditions BuNo 44-27262 was shot down. Therefore, it is most reliable that the previously mentioned BuNo 42-65357 "DOUBLE OR NUTHIN '" became Karelin's victim.
  15. rodevaan
    rodevaan 1 August 2013 10: 19
    Like this. I would also like to say that in addition to Anatoly Karelin, many of our pilots distinguished themselves in the bombing, among whom Alexander Smorchkov, Dmitry Oskin, Yuri Dobrovichan, I.P. also achieved great success. Galyshevsky.

    I would also like to note that our pilots had to act in this war, unlike the enemies, in extremely difficult and conspiratorial conditions of constant disguise, anonymity. The participation of Soviet pilots in the battles was not advertised, the pilots were given the task of communicating in an alien Korean language, the possibility of being captured was excluded, etc.

    And despite this, the Russian Soldier came out victorious even in these conditions. And these glorious heroic pages of the victories of our weapons to preserve our national spirit for future military success must be remembered and instilled in the young generation!
  16. xomaNN
    xomaNN 2 August 2013 20: 04
    During the time :)) At the same time, the linen-plywood Po-2 and MIG-15 fought! And according to the losses, you look at the archives, all sides will open slightly and arrange reconciliation.