The Korean War lasted from June 25, 1950 until the signing of an armistice on July 27, 1953. Although the fighting only lasted three years, the events leading up to the war in Korea go back several decades earlier.
The planes used during the Korean War were quite similar to the WWII and World War I planes, as several of the designs were built upon these blueprints.
All of the following footage and photographs were taken at the USAF National Museum, back in May when I visited for several days.
Douglas B-26C (A-26C) Invader
As seen on many WWI planes, the iconic nose painting on these Korean War planes instantly reminds of us simpler times. This particular plane, the Douglas B-26, played an important part in the U.S. Air Force's interdiction campaign against communist ground forces. Initially, B-26 crews flew during the day, but the introduction of the MiG-15 jet fighter forced them to fly most missions at night.
The actual plane, which arrived at the museum September 1957, is an A-26C, painted to represent a B-26C aircraft used during the Korean War by the 34th Bomb Squadron flying night intruder missions.
B-29 FuselageCommand Decision”, regarded by many as being the best World War II film ever made. The film discusses the difficult decisions and heavy casualties of bomber operations over Europe in World War II.
Tour of the B-29 Fuselage
The B-45 Tornado was the first American production jet bomber; the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb; and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.
Although the B-45 was designed during World War II, it didn’t make its first flight until March 1947. The B-45s were used for high-altitude photo reconnaissance and aerial refueling.
The T-6D on display flew as an early Mosquito with the 6147th Tactical Air Control Group during the first two years of the Korean War. It was then converted into a mosquito spraying aircraft in 1952. Two years later, the USAF transferred it to the fledgling Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
During the Korean War, the T-6 was chosen as the best available airplane because it could operate from small, rough airstrips, was easy to maintain and was faster and more rugged than the light liaison aircraft they initially flew.
Although the T-6 was designed as a training aircraft, it performed well in its role as an airborne "Mosquito" , and 15,495 were built between 1938 and 1945.
The first production model of the F-86A Sabre flew in May 1948. In September, an F-86A set a new world speed record of 670.9 mph. F-86As were day fighters during the Korean War, their primary opponent being the Russian-built MiG-15.
By the end of hostilities, F-86 pilots had shot down 792 MiGs, with a kill ratio of about 8:1. More than 5,500 F-86 day fighters were built in the U.S. and Canada. Air forces of 20 other nations, including West Germany, Japan, Spain, Great Britain and Australia, also operated the Sabre.The F-86 Sabre on display at the museum arrived in 1961 and is marked as the 4th Fighter Group F-86A flown by Lt. Col. Bruce Hinton on Dec. 17, 1950, when he became the first F-86 pilot to shoot down a MiG.
The Soviets began production of the MiG-15bis in 1950. The MiG-15bis was an upgraded version of the MiG-15 and used a more powerful engine and hydraulically boosted ailerons. During the Korean War, both versions of the MiG-15 operated extensively against United Nations forces.
After a North Korean pilot deserted the MiG-15bis on display at Kimpo Air Base in South Korea on Sept. 21, 1953, the Air Force decided to perform advanced flight testing on the plane. The MiG-15bis provided important intelligence data, especially since it was the advanced version of the MiG-15. In 1957, the plane became the official property of the museum, after the “rightful owners” refused its return.
F-82G Twin Mustang
The F-82 Twin Mustang on display, which appears to have two P-51 Mustang fuselages on one wing, was the last propeller-driven fighter acquired by the USAF. The F-82 was able to carry a pilot and navigator, reducing exhaustion on long-range bomber escort missions. Although production of the F-82 aircraft delayed its introduction into World War II, Air Defense Command was able to fly radar-equipped F-82Gs as replacements for the P-61 night fighter.
Consequently, Japan-based F-82Gs were among the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to operate over Korea. On June 27, 1950, all-weather F-82Gs shot down the first three North Korean aircraft destroyed by U.S. forces.
The aircraft on display is an F-82B, modified and marked as the F-82G crewed by Lts. Charles Moran, pilot, and Fred Larkins, radar observer, 68th F(AW)S, when they shot down a North Korean La-7 on June 27, 1950, near Kimpo Air Base, South Korea.
Sikorsky UH-19B Chickasaw
In November 1949, the first helicopter flew and the USAF then decided to order the production of 50 H-19As in 1951. The USAF later acquired 270 H-19Bs with increased engine power, and in 1962 designated it the UH-19.
Many of these helicopters were designated for Air Rescue squadrons. During rescue service, the SH-19 carried a 400-pound capacity crank which was fixed above the door. The SH-19 could also transport a peripheral sling capable of holding 2,000 pounds. During the Korean War, SH-19s became the primary USAF rescue and medical evacuation helicopter.
The UH-19B in the photograph is marked as an H-19A known as Hopalong. The Hopalong was one of two H-19s to make the first transatlantic helicopter flight, traveling during the summer of 1952 from Westover Air Force Base, Mass., to Scotland in five phases.
The F-84 Thunderjet was initially sent to escort B-29s on long-range missions over North Korea. It excelled as a close air support and daytime interdiction strike aircraft. In Korea, F-84 pilots attacked enemy railroads, dams, bridges, supply depots and troop concentrations with bombs, rockets and napalm.
“Early F-84s had several problems, including weak wing spars, excessive weight and shortages of engines and spare parts. The F-84E, however, corrected most of the Thunderjet's shortcomings."
The F-84 Thunderjet served as a long-range escort fighter, fighter-bomber and was the USAF's first tactical nuclear bomber. The F -84s were also used as test-beds for experiments, including power plant trials and aerodynamic research.
The F-84E on display came to the museum in 1963. It is marked to represent the F-84G flown by Col. Joseph Davis Jr., commander of the 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing in 1953. Col. Joseph Davis Jr named this particular Korean war plane the Four Queens, after his wife, Ann, and his three daughters, Scott, Chris, and Jan. As you can see from the picture above, Davis had four queens painted on the side of this F-84G to represent a four-of-a-kind. The right side of the fuselage features a tiger named Olie and represents the 430th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 474th Fighter Bomber Wing.
VB-13 Tarzon Bomb
The VB-13 Tarzon Bomb was based on the VB-3 Razon bomb and it was developed in 1946. The Tarzon Bomb was originally designed like a British 12,000lb “Tall Boy” bomb.
Tarzons were in short supply during the war, and after a B-29 was lost trying to jettison one, the Tarzon was cancelled in 1951. This particular weapon used during the Korean War dropped thirty bombs, and hit eleven targets, destroying 6 bridges and damaging another.
All pictures are © Ancient Digger.