Aviation Historian 34
M.Napier - The pale blue line
A busy scene at Kimpo circa late 1951, with Gloster Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force’s No 77 Sqn in the distance and glass-nosed all-black Douglas B-26 Invaders to the right. The Australians began the Korean conflict with P-51 Mustangs, but acquired the Meteor F.8s from the UK and deployed 22 at Kimpo from July 1951.
Flying Officer Roy Watson poses beside an F-84 of the 311th FBS in late 1952.
With an RAF roundel on his “bone dome”, Flt Lt John Granville-White poses for a photograph in the cockpit of a USAF F-86. One of 77 RAF pilots who flew combat missions in Korea, Granville-White scored a MiG-15 kill while flying the F-86 with the 51st FIG on June 29, 1953.
F-86Es 51-2784 and 50-648 of the 336th FIS, 4th FIW, come in to land at Kimpo after another interception sortie. By mid-1951 the original black-and-white identification stripes applied to USAF Sabres in Korea had been replaced with a solid yellow band around the mid-fuselage; 4th FIW aircraft also had yellow bands around the fin.
A member of the third CFE team to arrive in Korea, Flt Lt “Jock” Maitland scored a probable MiG-15 kill during his tour.
The conflict in Korea was to a great extent a proxy war between East and West, with both Cold War adversaries testing their cutting-edge technological capabilities against the other. The USA’s most advanced frontline fighter at the time was the North American F-86 Sabre, two 4th Fighter Interceptor Group (FIG) examples of which are seen here taking off in early 1951.
Conspicuous in his blue RAF uniform (sixth from left, standing), Sqn Ldr the Hon Michael Adderley poses in front of a Republic F-84E Thunderjet with personnel of the 523rd Fighter Escort Squadron (FES), 27th Fighter Escort Group (FEG), with which he served from the spring of 1951, ultimately earning several American medals.
A Douglas F3D Skyknight of US Marine Corps unit VMF(N)-513 over Korea. The first operational Skyknight mission by the unit in Korea was flown by RAF pilot Sqn Ldr J.R. Gard ner in August 1952. Although lacking the glamour of the USAF’s F-86, the Skyknight shot down more enemy aircraft in Korea than any other naval type.
Looking none the worse for wear, Fg Off John Coleman disembarks from the Sikorsky H-5/HO3S-1 helicopter that rescued him when he was forced to eject from his No 77 Sqn Meteor near Seoul on June 22, 1953, after being hit by anti-aircraft fire.
In early 1951 Flt Lt Max Scannell AFC (left) was one of four RAF pilots sent to oversee the conversion of RAAF pilots from the P-51 to the Meteor. Here Scannell meets Hollywood film star Errol Flynn in front of a No 77 Sqn RAAF Meteor. On his return to the UK in July 1953, Scannell was appointed CO of Meteor-equipped No 41 Sqn.
About to clamber aboard No 77 Sqn Meteor A77-853, Fg Off Keith Williamson later rose to become Chief of the Air Staff during 1982-85. Note the “No Sweat!” artwork on the nose of the Meteor, which crashed at Kimpo in late 1953.
At least seven RAF pilots are readily identifiable by their lighter-coloured uniforms in this group photo of No 77 Sqn RAAF aircrew in front of a Meteor at Kimpo. Although No 77 Sqn had focused primarily on ground-attack duties with its P-51s initially, the arrival of the Meteor meant the unit could return to its pure fighter role.