MiG Alley at 70

Original Caption July 1953: “Fifth Air Force, Korea; As a bright mid-day sun beams its warm rays upon a forward UN airstrip in Korea, two sleek U.S. Air Force F-86 ‘Sabre’ jets of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing become airborne, landing gear going up, fuel tanks filled to capacity and gun chambers filly loaded, bound for MIG-Alley in search of more Russian-built MIG-15s. Protecting Fifth Air Force fighter bomber operation from enemy swept-wing aircraft, MIG-killing ‘Sabre’ pilots daily patrol the skies over North Korea. Since shooting down their first MIG in December 1950, ‘Sabre’ jet pilots have destroyed 765 of the enemy interceptors.”

Photo 342-FH-4A-26483-91482AC via NARA https://catalog.archives.gov/id/148728240

The first Air Force F-86 MiG “kill” over Korea occurred 70 years ago today, 17 December 1950, when Lt. Col. Bruce Hinton, “commander of the 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, led a flight of four F-86s over northwestern North Korea. To trick the communists, the Sabre pilots flew at the same altitude and speed as F-80s typically did on missions, and they used F-80 call signs. Hinton spotted four MiGs at a lower altitude, and he led his flight in an attack. After pouring a burst of machine gun fire into one of the MiGs, it went down in flames.”

DAYTON, Ohio – Lt. Col. Bruce Hinton stands beside the North American F-86A Sabre in the Modern Flight Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The museum’s F-86 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. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-86 would chalk up an impressive 10.15-to-1 kill ratio over the MiG-15 in “MiG Alley,” downing 792 (another 118 were scored as “probables”) against a loss of 78 Sabres.

To be fair, however, it should be noted that Navy LCDR William T. Amen, in a VF-111 “Sun Downers” F9F-2B Panther from the deck of USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), splashed a MiG-15 piloted by Soviet Air Force KPT. Mikhail F. Grachev (139th GIAP, 28th IAD) over the Yalu River on 9 November 1950, to claim the first jet-on-jet Navy “kill” in the conflict.

4 comments

  • “gun chambers filly loaded”??

  • “gun chambers filly loaded” ?????

  • There was another one to, which wasn’t mentioned in the press, because the MiG-15’s being flown weren’t in North Korean livery, but rather in Soviet Air Force livery. Incident occurred on 15 November 1952, when three F9F Panthers from CVA-34, USS “Oriskany” intercepted seven MiG-15 flying out of Vladivostok flying in contested Korean Airspace. Four MiG-15 were shot down by Lt. E. Royce Williams and a fifth badly mauled, which crashed only after returning into Russian Airspace. Williams received the Silver Star (unoffically) because the State Department pressed the point because were in Soviet Markings and not that of North Korea, the incident never happened. E. Royce Williams later received the Medal of Honor for the incident when the story of his exploits were made printed in the press in the late ’80’s after the Berlin Wall came down and one of the surviving MiG Pilots told the story about his MiG-US Navy encounter over Korea…

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