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What the Russian MiGs did in the skies over Korea, and How they dispelled the myth about the invulnerability of American bombers
What the Russian MiGs did in the skies over Korea, and How they dispelled the myth about the invulnerability of American bombers

On April 12, 10 years before the Gagarin flight, pilots under the command of three times Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Kozhedub dispelled the myth about invulnerable flying American bombers. On that day, the Russian aces, having entered into battle with the B-29 "Superfortress" in the Korean sky, inflicted the largest defeat on the American aircraft since the Second World War. In a matter of minutes of the air battle, up to a dozen US aircraft were shot down, and a hundred pilots were captured. At the same time, the Soviet MiGs returned without losses.

Soviet aces in Korea

Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Kozhedub, who led the Korean operation

There was a war in Korea. China sent at least 200 thousand volunteers to help the fraternal people, who were armed with Soviet military equipment. The first pilots from the USSR arrived here in November 1950. In the conditions of the highest secrecy, the allied state was overtaken by the latest MiG-15 jet fighters at that time. For a conspiratorial purpose, Soviet servicemen changed their uniforms to Chinese and Korean. Before the advent of Soviet pilots, who had rich experience since the Great Patriotic War, the Americans felt confident and at ease in Korea. The Korean air force did not differ in threatening combat effectiveness, and most of the available weapons were destroyed by the United States and its allies at the very beginning of the war.

Soviet aces were limited in flight by the 38th parallel separating North Korea and South Korea. The task was to avoid the loss of the "fifteenth" in the enemy territory, because the Americans promised a solid reward for the delivered whole MiG.

The first 3 dozen fighter pilots made up 3 squadrons, and the entire air group became known as the 324th Fighter Aviation Division. The brilliant pilot and outstanding ace of the Great Patriotic War Colonel Ivan Kozhedub was appointed commander of the group.

Main characters

American B-29 in the Korean sky

The main characters in the landmark battle were not people, but aircraft. The American four-engine B-29 lifted 9 tons of bombs into the sky. But by 1951, this car was already considered obsolete. The Soviet MiG-15 was the latest jet fighter. The very first serious skirmishes in the sky deprived the Americans of several B-29 bombers at once. Trying to reduce future losses, the Americans urgently deployed F-86 Saber fighters to Korea, which were almost equal in their potential to the Russian "fifteenth". With the arrival of these machines, air victories were no longer so easy for pilots from the USSR. Difficulties with the management of new equipment also played a role. The study and run-in took place immediately in combat conditions.

The main military humanitarian aid from the territory of communist China went to communist Korea via the railway bridge across the Yalu River. From the Chinese side, the bridge was covered by pilots from the Communist USSR. On April 12, 1951, the Americans were tasked with destroying this strategic facility, cutting off the lion's share of aid from the allies.

Black American Thursday

The wreckage of an American bomber

Up to fifty heavy American bombers went on a special operation, accompanied by, according to various sources, from 100 to 200 fighters.Radar stations spotted a large group of enemy aircraft moving towards North Korean positions at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour. 36 Soviet MiG-15s took off on alarm. Before the collision with Soviet aircraft, the Americans acted arrogantly and were fully confident of a potential victory. Pilots from the USSR had to seek control of the winged American aircraft that had destroyed Hiroshima a little earlier. The command decided to use the only tactical technique possible in those circumstances - to pierce the MiGs from top to bottom with the American B-29 armada along with the fighters covering them. The main strike group of Soviet vehicles pursued the leading B-29s, while the remaining fighters attacked the accompanying aircraft, intending to push them back from the bombers.

The ensuing effect exceeded the highest expectations. In a matter of minutes, Russian pilots shot down about 15 B-29s. At least 15 heavy aircraft were decommissioned after returning to the airbase. Over a hundred military personnel were captured. Of all the American planes, none returned without injury or injured crew members. During the attack, the panicked Americans turned to the coastline, beyond which Soviet fighters were forbidden to fly. Otherwise, the losses of US aviation could have been even greater. That day became "Black Thursday" for American aviation.

The attacking Soviet MiGs returned from the mission without losses. Stunned by what happened, the Americans did not fly at all for several days. After some time, another B-29 detachment was sent under powerful cover for reconnaissance. And again they were defeated. After these incidents, the US Air Force command sent its bombers into the sky only at night, and soon their use ceased altogether.

Bug fixes and recovery

In addition to the downed planes, over a hundred American prisoners were among the Soviet pilots

After the Korean incident, the United States announced its version of Black Thursday. According to their information, only 3 bombers were shot down, 7 were slightly injured and returned to the airfield.

Having learned the lesson and prepared for the likely course of events, the US Air Force soon recovered and returned to decisive action. Over the next few years, American B-47 bombers were repeatedly shown over Leningrad, Minsk, Kiev. On April 29, 1954, a US plane flew even in the sky of the Moscow region. Operation Home Run was launched in 1956. Two dozen jet B-47s committed up to 3 violations of Soviet airspace per day for a month and a half. In a month, over 150 invasions of the USSR from the sky were carried out from the northern direction. The unpunished raids of bomber aircraft ended in 1960, when Vasily Polyakov, who was in charge of the MiG-19 supersonic fighter, confidently overtook and fired the American RB-47H with cannons. With the same ease with which the piston "Superfortress" got lost in the Korean sky.

There were also unprecedented incidents in aviation. For example, when the Soviet MiG flew to Europe without a pilot, and how it all ended.

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