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How the P-51 Mustang Made a Korean War Comeback

War Is Boring
By Goshimini - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42171554

War Is Boring

Security, Asia

You just can't stop the best fighter of World War II.

How the P-51 Mustang Made a Korean War Comeback

The public mostly remembers the North American P-51 Mustang as the fighter plane that protected Allied bombers over Germany and Japan during World War II. Overshadowed by newer jet fighters by the time war broke out in Korea in 1950, the re-designated F-51’s relative technological backwardness became a qualified blessing for close air support and battlefield interdiction sorties against the Korean People’s Army.

Warren Thompson’s new book F-51 Mustang Units of the Korean Warfocuses on the veteran fighter’s role in Korea, and also exposes the plane’s little-known history with Australia, South Africa and the Republic of Korea.

North Korea’s invasion of the South on June 25, 1950 startled the U.S. military in the Far East, which was enfeebled by post-World War II demobilization. The only U.S. warplanes in the region were F-82G Twin Mustangs and F-80C Shooting Stars operating from Japan.

While these aircraft did a commendable job conducting reconnaissance and ground attack and covering the evacuation of U.S. nationals from the war zone, there were not enough of them to go around. Additionally, the F-80Cs’ high fuel consumption, limited bomb pylon slots and the long flight transit from Japan to Korea constrained their loiter time over the battlefield to mere minutes.

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