Military Historical Library
"The War in Korea 1950-1953"
Chief Editor N. L. Volkovskiy
Editor I. V. Petrova
OOO Izdatel'stvo Poligon, Saint Petersburg 2000;928 pp.
Chapter 9. Combat Use of Air Forces
1. Air Forces of the Korean Peoples' Army and the Chinese Volunteers
Changes undergone by the Air Forces during the course of the war. In the first days of the war KPA aviation, ignoring its limited size and its lack of combat experience, provided some assistance to its ground forces in carrying out their combat missions.
At the end of October 1950, the aviation of the KPA and CPV, with a goal of guaranteeing the successful implementation of the mission of protecting objects and lines of communication in rear areas, were combined into the Unified Air Army (OVA). (1)
OVA Aviation was only used for protecting important rear area objects in limited areas. Its use was complicated by the constant numerical air superiority of the enemy air forces, the poorly developed airfield network, as well as the mountainous terrain of the country.
During the course of the war new units and formations of fighter aviation were formed.
The number of aircraft in the OVA grew systematically with consideration of the best types of jet fighter aircraft, bombers and ground attack aircraft. (2)
Daylight combat operations by fighter aviation. In the period from November 1950 to January 1952, OVA Aviation covering rear area objects carried out more than 19,000 sorties and became one of the primary means of destroying enemy aviation. During that time they shot down around 500 enemy aircraft in air battles, of which more than 17% were bombers. Due to the significant losses suffered by bomber aviation the Americans were forced to systematically increase the combat power of their fighter aviation (see Appendices 34 and 35).
In order to support operations by bomber and fighter-bomber aviation, the enemy began to more and more frequently turn to the use of "cover" with a goal of preventing OVA fighters from approaching the area of operation of enemy bombers and fighter-bombers, and therefore he allocated groups of fighters to provide close escort. In order to carry out missions to destroy objects in the rear area and to prevent operational interference, the enemy could only make use of the F-84 and F-86 fighter-bombers as his primary means of escort.
Destruction of enemy fighter-bombers was one of the most important and most difficult missions for OVA fighters. The difficulty of combating fighter-bombers was explained by a number of reasons. First, the proximity to the Gulf of Korea, with the majority of the KPA airfields located along its coastline, and the mountainous terrain of the country permitted the surprise approach of American fighter-bombers to their targets, especially when they flew at low altitudes; second, when they flew at high altitude, it was difficult to use radar to discriminate the attack group from the escorts, as they were frequently used as radar screening for the fighter-bombers. Simultaneous operations across a broad front also limited the ability to destroy them. Beside that, the command and flight personnel of the OVA in early 1952 still had not garnered sufficient experience in organizing and correspondingly repulsing mass air raids by American fighter-bombers.
In order to repulse mass American air raids on objects in the rear area, the command of the OVA took a number of measures. First of all OVA fighter aviation units and formations assigned to combat operations to destroy enemy fighter-bombers had to undergo special training. A great deal of attention was paid to organizing cooperation between the KPA and CPV aviation, as well as among subunits and units of fighter aviation divisions. There was an increase in the number of radar posts and visual observation post in the air defense network, which provided more flexible control over fighter aviation during the repulsion of mass air raids by American aviation. Part of the aviation forces was assigned to destroy the fighter-bombers on distant approaches to the protected objects in the rear area and for clearing blockades of friendly airfields. And finally, a powerful reserve was assigned as the destructive force to repulse the surprise approach of enemy fighter-bomber forces and cover the landing of friendly aircraft. Simultaneously measures were taken to disperse and conceal aircraft, to provide material support to sorties, to organize quick takeoffs and landings of aviation units and preparing them for repeat combat sorties.
Sorties from combat standby duty at the OVA airfields was the primary means of operation. This could be carried out with a smaller expenditure of forces and assets to repulse raids, and provide for a sufficiently rapid reaction in concentrating the necessary forces on the required direction or area. Using this method significantly increased the radius of operation of the fighters and the continuing conduct of air combat against the enemy.
Barrier groups of fighter aircraft in the area of protected objects or in the waiting area were only used when the situation was not clear or in extremely difficult situations.
With a goal of establishing the most reliable cover of primary objects in the rear areas of the DPRK, the OVA command paid a great deal of attention to organizing the intercept of enemy fighter-bombers on the distant approaches to these objects. The most successful solution to the task of covering rear area objects was achieved by the use of fighter patrols along the most probable routes of approach by enemy aircraft. Intercept of enemy aircraft on the distant approaches to protected objects significantly increased the effectiveness of OVA fighter combat operations against enemy fighter-bomber aviation, and reduced the depth to which they could penetrate in subsequent and continuing air raids.
When repulsing mass enemy air raids the following assignments were considered: lead group - 1-2 fighter regiments; strike group - 2-3 fighter regiments, immediate cover for the strike group - up to 1 fighter regiment, independent pairs and flights of "free hunters" - up to 2-3 fighter squadrons and command reserve - up to 2 fighter regiments.
The lead group, taking off 4-8 minutes ahead of the rest of the main body, flew into the area of operations by the enemy fighter escort along the axis of the route of the fighter strike group. It had the task of supporting the entry of the strike group in intercepting the enemy fighter-bombers and forcing them to drop their fuel tanks. In a number of cases, individual OVA fighter groups were allocated to isolate the area of combat. These groups normally took off with the lead group and flew to the area of the main body of the fighter cover at an altitude of 14,000 meters. With groups of 4-8 aircraft operating at altitudes of 8,000-12,000 meters, they could interdict the approach of new groups of enemy fighters and fighter-bombers, as well as pick off aircraft exiting the area of operations.
The main body of the strike group flew the same route to the area of operations as the lead group, flying at 6,000-8,000 meters, and were designated for the destruction of the enemy fighter-bombers. The immediate cover group flew above and behind the strike group, supporting them along their route of advance as well as in the area of combat operations.
The fighter reserve was designated as a reinforcing force for air combat, the repulsion of the surprise approach of enemy fighter-bombers, covering the withdrawal of friendly fighters from combat and their subsequent landing at their airfields.
The repulsion of echeloned operations by enemy aviation was conduced according to a strict order. When the enemy aviation groups were acquired north of the 38th Parallel, one aviation regiment would move to meet them, flying into the Pyongyang area by squadrons and carrying out air combat with the escort fighters. 2-3 minutes after the first regiment took off, 4-5 squadrons would take off in sequence to repulse the enemy fighter-bombers. To support the withdrawal from combat of the first two groups, after a set interval of time another 2-3 squadrons would take off. One of them would have the mission of denying the enemy the ability to move in from the Gulf of Korea, and the other two squadrons would repulse the attacks of the fighter-bombers when approaching the area of combat operations from a southerly direction. In order to combat enemy free hunters on the approaches to OVA fighter airfields, 2-3 groups of up to 4 MiG-15 aircraft would be allocated to this task.
Takeoff by fighter aviation regiment aircraft only commenced after 60-70% of the regiment's aircraft were on the runway. They took off in pairs at intervals of 12-15 seconds. Generally it required 2.5-3 minutes to get the regiment airborne. From the moment that the first regiment completed its takeoff, the second regiment would move to take off following the same type of order.
The experience of combat operations showed that the time necessary to receive te command, start engines, taxi to the runway and take off from a concrete strip with 24 MiG-15 aircraft at Readiness No. 1 and Readiness No. 2 (when the aircraft were on hardstands next to the runway) averaged 4-5 minutes.
The method used for aircraft assembly depended upon the number of groups taking off, the nature of the combat mission, the operational tactics used by enemy aviation, and the meteorological and air conditions at the moment of takeoff.
Squadrons consisting of 8 eight aircraft formed up after takeoff in clear weather, as is correct, by circling the airfield, making a 90 degree turn, or on course to the area of operations by adjusting their speed. Regimental groups formed up in clear weather conditions by turning 180 degrees or by turning 90-120 degrees from their departure azimuth. Regiments assembled en route in those cases when enemy fighters were no closer than 150-200 kilometers from the airfield. Assembly of the fighter regiments of a division taking off from one airfield was an infrequent occurrence and corresponded with a circle around the airfield or for a departure to a specific assembly point at a designated time. When clouds were present, the group assembled by turning 180 degrees or by circling around the most distant radio station.
Combat order for jet aircraft was somewhat different than that used for piston-engined fighters.
When carrying out missions to repulse enemy fighter-bomber raids subunits and units of the OVA Aviation used the following combat orders.
A flight, as is correct, operated in the formation of a "front" of aircraft ((line abreast)). Pairs in the flight were echeloned in altitude. The trail pair flew some 100-200 meters below the lead pair at low altitude and 100-200 meters above them at medium and high altitude.
The combat order of a squadron consisted of a strike group and a covering group (of one flight). The covering group covered from behind and up to 200 meters below when operating at low altitudes and from 200-400 meters above them when operating at medium and high altitudes.
The combat order of a fighter aviation regiment likewise consisted of a strike group and a covering group. The first two squadrons composed the strike group and flew in a column of flights over a distance of 800-1000 meters. The covering group consisted of one squadron and was behind the strike group and from 600 to 1000 meters above them. They flew in a combat order of a "front" of flights with intervals of 1500-2000 meters between flights and with the trail flight up to 500 meters above the lead flight.
It follows to point out that the combat order of covering groups of aviation squadrons and regiments was more dispersed, especially when searching for the enemy.
When searching for the enemy, in most cases the regiment operated in the "kite" combat order of squadrons. In this two squadrons composed the strike group and one squadron the covering group. The interval between flights and pairs in the strike group was reduced, and at the same time the combat order of the covering group was more widely scattered. In this, in order to ensure free maneuver by the aircraft, the flights in the strike group squadrons were echeloned in altitude by 100-300 meters. Flight by an aviation regiment using this combat order permitted rapid reordering prior to combat, cooperative cover from surprise attack, tight communications within the group, control, and freedom of maneuver.
The "arrowhead" regimental combat order and "column" squadron combat order were used in those cases when the aviation regiment flew as a complete strike group and was used to repulse raids by enemy fighter-bomber or bomber aviation. When the enemy was visually acquired, and in those cases when the regimental commander had precise knowledge of the air situation and concurrent deployment of the enemy air group, the regimental combat order could also be formed up in "column," "arrowhead," or "kite" formation of squadrons, but the depth of the formation was extended by having an interval between squadrons of up to 1000-1500 meters.
Experience showed that these combat formations were the most worthwhile when conducting air combat against enemy aviation at high and low altitudes. But at the same time, group flight in combat order at top speed required outstanding flying skills, careful selection of group leaders, methods to control aerial combat, pilots well-trained in joint aerial gunnery, interaction between leaders and wingmen, and outstanding piloting by the group personnel.
From the spring of 1952 onward, when the enemy began to operate in small groups over a broad front, the combat order of MiG-15 fighters was more widely dispersed in front and in echelonment. The dispersed combat order was better at supporting OVA Aviation units in preventing surprise attack by the enemy, and did not let his fighters get through without combat with a greater number of groups of MiG-15 fighters.
From the end of 1952 onward flights of six aircraft were used for combat with enemy fighters and fighter-bombers. Combat experience showed that a flight of six had tremendous firepower, better maneuverability, more self-sustaining power in combat, was easier to control and equipped to inflict surprising strikes against the enemy even when fighting against superior numbers.
The combat order of the six-plane flight was based on the combat order of pairs. The most frequently used combat order was the "wedge of pairs" or the "kite of pairs" with the trail pairs 300-400 meters higher than the lead.
When searching for the enemy, the "wedge of pairs" permitted the fighters to search a much larger area in the forward hemisphere and provided timely acquisition of the enemy aircraft. This gave them the ability for the first two pairs to make surprise attacks. The third pair was the covering pair for the first two, but under advantageous conditions it could also attack enemy aircraft as they flew out from under the attack of the first two pairs.
In the combat order "kite of pairs" the lead pair was the only one searching for the enemy in the forward hemisphere and was freed from having to search the rear hemisphere. When the enemy was acquired, the attack was carried out by that pair that stood the best chance of making the attack. When they came upon the enemy from behind and above, the first two pairs would attack, and the third pair would cover the attackers; on occasion, they could operating against returning aircraft or aircraft that were withdrawing from an attack at a set altitude. The third pair in the combat order always trailed and flew above the other pairs. Under surprise attack from the enemy on the lead pair, the other two pairs were ready to repulse their attack. Such a combat order provided for good maneuverability and cooperative fire control in combat.
Precise cooperation in six-plane flights was made possible only with good flying skills by pairs and outstanding interaction of the lead pair with the others, who at any moment may have to change positions and become the lead pair.
Air combat as conducted by OVA Aviation was characterized by short, quick attacks, the simultaneous participation of a large number of aircraft in air combat, and a tremendous band of altitudes - from low altitude all the way up to the practical ceiling of the aircraft.
When fighting with the MiG-15, the strike group squadrons attacking a column of bombers strove from the very first to knock down as many aircraft as possible in their initial attack. During the course of the battle the strike and covering groups could exchange places if the conditions were favorable. After the first attack, the combat order of the MiG-15 squadrons, as is correct, broke into individual pairs and flights, who then continued the attack on the bombers from various directions. The B-29 bombers, as is correct, were attacked from the rear hemisphere. They were engaged here by firing at long range and at high speed.
The fight with the enemy escorts, which in 1952-1953 could reach as many as 100 aircraft or more, was one of the most important missions of the OVA fighters. They conducted successful combat by creating advantageous conditions against the bombers and fighter-bombers. The fight with the enemy escorts was carried out by taking a number of different methods of combat operations.
With the goal of preventing the enemy from blockading them from the airfields where the OVA Aviation was based, each airfield had a group of fighters allocated to it. They would take off in accordance with the threat of being blockaded. In those cases when the enemy succeeded in blockading an airfield, the aircraft from a neighboring airfield would come over to support landing operations at the blockaded airfield. The possibility of surprise interception by American fighters coming in from the Gulf of Korea forced a number of these occasions, especially before the main body landed, if the fighters were available and if there was not a threat of blockade to their own airfield.
Active operations by small groups of American fighters in the area of the airfield bases of the OVA Aviation, especially during the landing of aviation units, forced the OVA to take countermeasures. In the OVA this task was carried out by aviation units covering the landings and standby subunits located at the same airfield. During the landing of the fighter regiment it was covered by one or two flights which then landed afterwards. In case it was necessary to cover the landing of subsequent flights 2-4 aircraft from the duty flights remained in the air.
Success in air combat in many cases depended upon the flight technical characteristics of the aircraft. For example, the F-86 was inferior to the MiG-15 in the areas of rate of climb at all altitudes, practical ceiling, firepower, and simplicity of design. Maximum horizontal flight speed of these aircraft was roughly identical. But at the same time the F-86 was superior to the MiG-15 in horizontal maneuver, and therefore the enemy could seek out combat in turns. The superiority of the MiG-15bis gave it the ability to carry out active combat against superior numbers of enemy fighters, but also to break off combat in disadvantageous situations, using its superiority in vertical maneuver to seek a more advantageous position. Together with this the American aircraft would only enter into combat when it had superior numbers and advantageous tactical positions.
Encounters with the F-86 in many cases took place in head-on meeting engagements and in some isolated instances approaches from astern. If they met the enemy head-on in a disadvantageous position for the MiG-15, then they would use high speed to strive to break away from the enemy, followed by a direct climb for altitude to get away from the enemy and a subsequent turn towards friendly territory.
Air combat between the MiG-15 and F-86 strove to make use of the former's better vertical speed and maneuver, which would support combat at altitudes.
The basic flight maneuvers used by the MiG-15 in combat included the combat turn, the tightening spiral, the zoom climb and the split ess. When carrying out these maneuvers in all cases it was necessary to have a reserve of speed. To turn to the attack from above the pilot would carry out a half-roll and dive. In all cases the pilots of MiG-15 fighters strove to use its superiority in altitude over the enemy.
When losing speed and against surprise attacks by the enemy against lone MiG-15 fighters the pilots would carry out violent maneuvers in changing direction and altitude; after achieving the necessary speed they would carry out a split ess or a zoom climb. Attempts to turn away from the attack when losing speed brought about a stall that could not always be overcome. The MiG-15 aircraft, as is correct, would be followed by the F-86 and when it came out of its stall once again find itself under attack.
When encountering superior numbers of enemy fighters it was normal for the regimental strike group to engage first. The squadron that constituted the covering group would take up an advantageous tactical position with a goal of reinforcing the strike group. It would normally enter into combat if the enemy only just had numerical superiority or of it was supporting friendly aircraft breaking off combat.
In air combat, during the attack the leading pair strove to get into the rear hemisphere of the enemy aircraft and close to the minimum possible range from which to destroy him. The wingman of the pair supported the actions of his leader by simultaneously providing him with information on the air situation and the enemy maneuvers, and not permitting the enemy to get into the leader's own rear hemisphere. In case of an attack by the enemy one of the aircraft of another pair would immediately turn to provide assistance in beating off the attack.
Subsequently the regiment would fight the air battle, but in isolated instances the squadrons would get outside of the area of tight communications between the individual groups cooperating with each other to achieve the most active offensive combat in the area of operations of all the groups, as well as systematic information on the air situation and timely cooperation in rescuing crews and groups in combat. Combat could only be broken off by the decision of the regimental commander.
Breaking off combat in the MiG-15 depended upon the difficulty of the situation in the air battle as to whether it was voluntary or essential. Voluntary or free exit from combat took place in those instances when the MiG-15 fighters had advantageous conditions. In those cases where they had the ability to leave without any interference from the enemy they would then gather the groups back together for the flight home or to a designated area where they would then return to the airfield to land. An essential or forced exit from air combat came about in those instances when the air combat situation was leaning in favor of the enemy or when the MiG-15 fighters were low on fuel.
When returning to base after completing a combat mission and in order to ensure the safety of the group against surprise enemy attack, the formation would disperse across a broad front that denied the enemy the ability to make those surprise attacks with fighter aviation. In order to economize on fuel groups of aircraft approached the airfield at altitudes of 10,000-14,000 meters and when they received the command from the regimental command post to land would go into a dive along the landing path at high speed and flare out to land.
Simultaneously with this they would take a number of measures to guarantee the safety of combat operations by the fighters and to avoid having the airfield blockaded. In this area subunits were allocated for providing cover for the airfield and covering the landings. Small groups of MiG-15 fighters would approach the airfield to land at treetop level using the lay of the land for cover, but as is correct would land one at a time with intervals of 10-15 seconds between aircraft.
The sectional landing of fighter aircraft groups was supported by using both directions of the runway for landing, based upon the direction of approach of the groups to the airfield. The groups when lining up for landing would cover one another. Landing was carried out in a strictly determined fashion. By using these measures it increased the effectiveness of combating enemy fighter-bombers and reduced the losses suffered by the MiG-15 during landing and takeoff.
Control in the air by the regimental commander included all of those items including the organization of timely acquisition of an airborne enemy, closing with them in the most advantageous combat order and entering into combat with the most advantageous tactical conditions. Prior to combat the regimental commander would order the squadron commanders to attack using a specific variation of operations.
During the air battle the regimental commander maintained constant communications with the command post, from where he received information on the air situation and the approach or exit of enemy fighters, as well as information on his own aircraft to deploy his forces for air combat. Based on this data, his personal observations on the course of the air battle, and reports from his squadron commanders, based on the situation the regimental commander would assign an additional mission to the subunits, regroup his forces, call in his combat reserves, or take an active part himself to influence the course of the battle.
Control of subunits in air combat demanded especially precise organization of radio exchanges in the air. Personal conversations over the were not only forbidden, but they would actually deny the regimental commander the ability to control the air battle. Therefore only group leaders had the right to transmit over the air: in the regiment, the regimental commander, and if the squadrons were operating independently, the squadron commanders. The rest of the flight crews only transmitted under special circumstances.
Night combat operations by fighter aviation. An aviation regiment was formed to conduct night combat, equipped with the La-11 fighter, which in September 1951 consisted of 28 aircrews ready to carry out night combat operations.
Due to the fact that the La-11 and MiG-15 were not equipped with a radar set for search and aiming, the fighters were only able to operate using searchlight illumination fields (SPP). Therefore the command of the OVA was forced to increase their efforts in supporting these fields in the zone where the fighters created barriers along the SPP. The number of barrier fighters corresponded with the barrier zone.
Barrier zones, as is correct, are denoted by lighted reference points created from neon lighthouses or bonfires. During the barrier period control corresponds to the flight of each aircraft. The flightpath is continually plotted on the guidance map table. In the case that an enemy aircraft approaches the borders of the searchlight illumination field the barrier fighter will be provided with the altitude and course of the bomber and his distance to it. This gives him the ability to make a timely approach to close with the bomber and attack it.
With the use of the MiG-15 in 1953 for night operations, American bombers began to change over to operations against rear area objectives in poor weather conditions. For covering their bombers the American command selected the F-94 and F-80 fighters which flew barrier patrols in the area of combat operations. This respectively demanded the most precise organization of night fighter combat operations and training of MiG-15 crews to carry out missions under difficult weather conditions. Beside that, measures had to be taken to support the secrecy of the takeoffs and landings of friendly night fighters.
Takeoffs took place with all aerial navigation lights extinguished, but on moonlight nights and without landing lights. The coverage of night fighter airfields received reinforced coverage by antiaircraft artillery in order to unblockade the airfield by repulsing enemy fighters. During takeoffs and landings they would simultaneously switch on their landing lights and periodically the runway lights would be cut off and on at some airfields (at that time only one airfield was so equipped) and finally, the departure from the combat area back to the airfield was via previously identified zones that were well covered by radar so that they could track the fighters and prevent cases of surprise attack by enemy night fighters.
All of these measures served to increase the combat capability of OVA fighters at night, which for their entire period of operation suffered no losses from enemy fighters blockading their airfields.
The primary means of combat operations for MiG-15 fighters was to intercept the enemy target from their position in the "barrier" zone by waiting for them or by search, flying out to intercept the bomber based on radar information from a status of "airfield duty standby" as well as "free hunt" along the distant approaches to the objects covered in the rear area and the most probable directions of approach for enemy aircraft.
The waiting zones were located next to the primary covered objects in consideration of the direction of approach of enemy bombers using the SHORAN radio navigation system and, as is correct, over characteristic orientation points. Each zone had an identifying illuminated or radio navigation beacon point. These were designated for use in establishing the barrier for friendly fighters in case of an unclear aerial situation, or when it was difficult to determine the direction of flight and the object of enemy bomber operations. Each zone normally had three fighters in it, echeloned by altitude.
The nature of maneuver within the waiting zone was determined by the probable direction and altitude of enemy bomber flights. The most worthwhile maneuver was a "figure 8" circuit perpendicular to the probable direction of approach of enemy bombers.
After determining the direction of flight and the area of probable enemy air operations the MiG-15 fighters would individually move out of the waiting zone and head off to close with the target at intervals of 1 to 1.5 minutes between aircraft or into the search zone. In both cases the fighters were echeloned by altitudes of 300-400 meters.
The fighters entering into one or more waiting zones and when tracking off to close with the enemy maintained a combat order of the "single file" or "assembly line" type. This combat order provided the most reliable control of the fighters when repulsing group bomber raids as they came at them one after the other in varying time intervals.
When approaching the enemy bombers' course through the barrier illuminated searchlight field in the search zone the OVA fighters would simultaneously break into two groups. One of them would operate near the edge of the searchlight field and the other would remain 40-50 kilometers distant on the far side of the illuminated searchlight field.
Fighters flying in the barrier zone deployed around the edge of the searchlight illumination field so that the pilots would be able to carry out continuous observation of the actions of the searchlights as they searched for the target. The barrier aircraft flew at speeds of 600-700 kph. The flight altitude was selected such that the fighter was 400-500 meters below the probable altitude of the enemy aircraft.
Fighters flying in the barrier search zone some 40-50 kilometers from the edge of the searchlight illuminated field had the task of acquiring and destroying enemy bombers as they moved into the illuminated field. The barrier patrol was flown in the figure of an elongated ellipse that had its long axis perpendicular to the direction of flight of the bomber.
Takeoffs by fighters to intercept enemy aircraft from the "alert duty status" position were carried out by single pilots. Each fighter would subsequently then try to get into the rear hemisphere of the bomber and once acquired immediately attack it, after which they would break off combat to return to the airfield or proceed to a waiting area.
The experience of combat operations showed that the first approach at the target was usually the most successful. This requirement meant that, as is correct, only one single pass against the target could be executed, after which the fighter, regardless of the results, would return to its airfield or to the waiting area.
Only the best trained crews were permitted to carry out search and destroy missions against enemy aircraft in the "free hunt" mode of operations. In this case the fighters would fly out up to 200 kilometers from the protected object and search and attack the enemy aircraft along their route to their targets. Getting into the bomber's flight path at that range gave them the ability to carry out the most effective guidance of the fighter up to the point that the enemy began to turn on his radar jamming equipment, which the enemy normally began to use 70-100 kilometers from his intended target. Beside that, flying the fighter out to that range had long-term effects on the enemy, as it increased the chances of acquiring and attacking him.
In most cases enemy aircraft were intercepted as a result of combining the above listed methods of combat operations by night fighters.
The consequences of combing various methods of operations by OVA Aviation against American bombers provided for affecting them both close to their targets as well as far out on their approach routes to a protected object, as well as over the object itself and upon exiting it. Thus, when repulsing enemy night bombing raids in 1953, up to 60% of the fighters were active along the enemy flight path both near and far from the protected object, 20% were active over the object, and 20% on the exit routes from the object. These continuous operations by fighters were reasonably effective.
The search for enemy aircraft at night without a target acquisition and aiming radar was a very difficult task for a fighter pilot. Success depended upon the skill of the pilot in using the weather conditions, uncovering the indicators of the enemy aircraft, and using his means of destruction, as well as the accuracy of the data provided by the ground radar station and target guidance.
Guiding fighters to enemy aircraft was carried out by means of information of their location or by the course method. With the entry of the fighter into the rear hemisphere of the enemy bomber they provided him the speed and altitude of the target, after which the pilot would begin an independent search. The result of the search for the most part depended upon the experience of the pilot, the phases of the moon, and the meteorological conditions. The pilot had to be especially alert in those cases when during the search process he came closer and closer to the enemy, and the blip from his aircraft began to merge with the blip of the target aircraft. When the blips began to merge according to ground information, the pilot would cut his speed so that he was closing at a speed of no more than 50 kph faster than the target.
The target designator searchlight was used for acquisition of enemy aircraft in flight. In the process of combat operations OVA Aviation pilots made maximum use of everything available to them at the time of the search and acquired a considerable amount of experience in repulsing enemy air raids at night.
In their conduct of night air combat, OVA Aviation pilots showed a high degree of composure, courage and steadiness. These qualities were especially necessary for the fighter pilots conducting "free hunt" operations on the distant approaches to the protected objects or along the main lines of communication of the ground forces.
The experience of combat operations showed that the most advantageous starting position for attacking a B-29 bomber was to the rear, below, to the side and at a distance of up to 1000 meters from the target, with an angle of view to the target of around 30 degrees and about 200-400 meters lower in altitude. The subsequent small size of the searchlight illumination field frequently did not give the pilot enough time to get into an advantageous starting position and attack the enemy from the run.
Organization of command and control and guidance. During the course of the war the OVA command paid a great deal of attention to the problems of organizing command and control of aircraft. The systematic growth in the size and quality of the technical means used, combined with the acquisition by the command, gave them the ability to continuously improve command and control of aviation formations under difficult conditions during day and night operations. This permitted the successful execution of missions to repulse American air raids against objects in the rear area of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea. From the time that the OVA was organized to the conclusion of the ceasefire in Korea, command and control of combat operations of the air forces belonged to the command post (KP) of the Commanding General of the Unified Air Army. Beside that, independent command posts were organized for the air forces of the KPA and CPV. During the course of combat operations these command posts maintained tight liaison between them.
With a goal of providing command and control of aviation operating on the distant approaches to protected objects, four auxiliary command posts (VPU) were set up in the areas of Supungdong, Hichen, Pyongyang, and Anju, as well as eight visual information posts and one associated radio technical post. Communications from the KP OVA to the VPU and the visual information posts were provided by HF radio sets.
The network of VPU and visual information posts deployed on the territory of the DPRK provided for the acquisition of enemy aircraft at a range of 250-300 kilometers from the KP OVA, the conduct of continuous observation of the enemy, the receipt of information on flights by enemy and friendly aircraft over the DPRK, and the commensurate guiding of fighters to the enemy aircraft in various areas.
For command and control of fighters, the command post of the OVA commander was equipped with the following items: a combat control table, a night guidance table and a second echelon control table. Beside that, the KP was equipped with a portable PO-03 indicator from a P-20 radar station. Combat operations by fighter aviation, as is correct, were supported by 4-5 radar stations that were included, based on their ability to provide a solid air situation picture.
The work of the fighter command posts and aviation formation command posts when repulsing enemy raids could be divided into three stages.
In the first stage, the staffs of the aviation units and formations reported the results of combat operations by their fighters and enemy aviation from the previous day and also pilot reports, corrected the day's combat roster, gave the names of the group leaders, their callsigns and missions for the day. When preparing new options for repulsing enemy raids, regimental commanders would fly to the division KP to present them for study and organize cooperation between units.
On the basis of the combat mission received and orders from their division commanders, regimental commanders would present the combat mission to their flight crews, amend the order and methods for carrying out the combat mission by the subunits, establish the takeoff order for the subunits, flight altitudes, the order for cooperation in the combat area, and amend communications data.
Via their staffs, division commanders would check on the readiness of their regiments, the means of combat command and control, and the readiness of their command post to carry out combat operations.
During the second stage the commanders, staffs and combat crews at the command posts would receive, develop and enter data on the enemy air situation on their map sheets on the combat control table; they would assess the situation and make the decisions on how to repulse the enemy raids; order the fighters into the air and guide them to the enemy aircraft. Guidance of their own fighters towards the enemy aircraft corresponded with information on the enemy placed on coded map sectors and the designated flight mode.
When repulsing a mass enemy air raid in daylight and clear weather conditions, when a large number of small groups of aircraft were operating across a broad front, guidance of fighter aircraft corresponded with the zones on the coded map in combination with the method of information. The fighter group leader was ordered into a zone of combat operations according to the coded map as he was simultaneously given the information about the enemy. Guidance corresponded with those assessments made to give the OVA fighters superiority in speed and altitude prior to contacting the enemy. Several minutes prior to contact, the command "drop tanks" was given to the fighters, after which the speed of the MiG-15bis fighters was increased to 930-950 kph.
During the third stage the results of combat operations during the first flight were reported, and the units and formations prepared to make their next flight.
Division commanders, either personally or through their staffs, took the reports of the group leaders and individual pilots on the results of the battle conducted and reported them to their higher commander. Division commanders, regimental commanders and group leaders held after-action discussions about combat operations with the flight crews, and informed them about the nature of air combat with the enemy as reported from other formations (units).
The combat crew at the KP OVA in that period would take reports from the formations about aircraft landings, the results of the combat sorties, and the readiness of the units for another mission. Reporting of the results of the combat mission went to the OVA Commanding General. It follows to particularly stress the promising role of after-action discussions of combat operations by KPA and CPV fighters, which systematically were conducted not only by the subunit, unit and formation commanders, but by the OVA Commanding General as well.
Centralized control of aviation in 1950-1951 from the KP OVA, even though it only had small numbers, took away division commanders' initiative, prevented them from leading their subordinates in combat, and that limited the overall results achieved in aerial combat.
In 1952, due to the increase in the size of OVA Aviation and the switch by the USA to operations by small groups of aircraft over a broad front, it caused partial decentralization of command and control of aviation combat operations. This increased the responsibility of the formation commanders for leading combat operations. The decision by the OVA Commanding General to use fighter aviation in repulsing enemy air raids was the basis for the organization of command and control of combat operations. The missions of combat operations by aviation formations were normally established per the combat order of the OVA Commanding General for a set period of time. His order gave the area of combat operations and which echelons of a division would be operating there, the order for cooperation between echelons, allocation of forces and allocation of reserves. Beside that, every day the aviation formations sent him their combat dispositions, which were then used to amend the combat missions.
The OVA staff, at the order of the Commanding General, and based upon the air situation and tactical operations by enemy aviation, periodically developed variations on combat operations in order to repel enemy air raids. During the course of combat operations these variations were systematically amended and studied by the flight personnel. In this the greatest amount of attention was paid to organizing cooperation between units in their actions and synchronizing the operations of the aviation formations.
Command and control and guidance of night fighters prior to December 1952 corresponded with the actions taken at the night guidance combat control table, but from December 1952 onward it used the primary indicators of an indicator machine and the portable indicator screen from the P-20 radar station. From March 1953 onward to the end of hostilities the indicator from a second P-20 was used as well. All of these means supported simultaneous guidance of up to 10-12 fighters against the bombers.
Based on the primary command of the OVA Commanding General, the individual on duty at the KP OVA (normally the deputy or assistant commanding general of the OVA) together with the duty navigator developed a plan for combat use of fighters every night. This plan covered the commands to specific airfields where the standby fighter aircraft subunits were based, crews, which airfields had to be at Readiness No. 1, which ones would carry out barrier patrols and which would carry out "free hunt" operations, what communications means and radar stations would be used for guidance, radio communications frequency allocations and identification codes on the guidance net, as well as fighters and the combat crew at the KP for guidance points, order of takeoff of the standby aircraft, redundancy of acquisition and guidance assets, cooperation signals with antiaircraft artillery and searchlight units, approach lines and intersection lines for each fighter, and the order of transmission to the fighter for guidance from the VPU and the methods used to avoid surprise attack on friendly fighters by enemy night fighters.
Guidance of night fighters used all four available VHF frequencies and 5-6 officers, who were primarily working off of the P-20 search radar indicator screen. For identification of friendly aircraft they also made simultaneous use of all four codes used by the SRO aircraft signal responder and the emergency signal.
Each navigator-director, in accordance with the plan of combat assignment of standby subunits and the assigned duty officer, prepared an individual plan that significantly simplified his work in the guidance process.
After acquisition of aerial targets, the duty navigator of the combat crew determined the flight mode (altitude, course, speed) and the most probable area where the strike was headed, estimated the time to get his fighters into position, and reported his calculations to the assigned duty officer. The assigned duty officer, assessing the situation, would make his decisions in accordance with the combat assignment plan to select the duty subunits to repel the air raid, as well as amend the task of the navigator-director. After the fighters took off, and when they were operating on the distant approaches, the assigned duty officer would bring up the fighters designated for barrier duty on the near approaches to the object that it was assumed the enemy bombers were going to strike. The combat control table displayed all of the friendly and enemy aircraft in accordance with radar data and the main aerial observation warning and communications post (VNOS).
As the target approached the computed lines, the assigned duty officer ordered the fighter to move in, and the navigator-director guided the fighter to the target. In order to simplify the job of the navigator to guide two fighters to the target simultaneously, the aircraft approached with an interval of 1-1.5 minutes between them. After takeoff the fighters flew to the initial guidance point, which was established by using a single searchlight beam. At this time the navigator established communications with them and provided them with speed, course, altitude, time of flight, and the zone where they would temporarily hold. The flight altitude was given to the pilots in consideration of the methodical errors of the barometric altimeter. Ultimately the duty navigator at the KP would check up on the flight of his fighters, track enemy fighters on the radar screen, and take measures to avoid his fighters suffering a surprise attack from enemy night fighters.
After studying the most effective means to get the initial guidance of a fighter to an enemy aircraft, it was considered necessary to keep a "chain" of reserve fighter aircraft on their approach to the bombers. Guidance from the "chain" was easier, more reliable, and most important, significantly faster than repeatedly having to guide in one fighter after another.
If the guidance of the first fighter in the "chain" was unsuccessful, the pilot was given a command to hold in a turn over the protected object or to carry out circuit flight along the combat route of the enemy bombers. Searching for the enemy bombers using the turning method over the object corresponded with enemy operations near the coastline, when OVA fighters had to prepare for another combat operating order and were forced to fly out over the water. Search from a circuit flight along the orbit of the bombers corresponded with bomber operations operating off coastal charts.
For identifying their own fighters, use was made of the "Kremniy-1" system or by giving the pilots commands to make specific changes in their flight paths. Once the friendly aircraft was identified, the navigator directed him to the nearest bomber from its rear hemisphere. Operating in one of the limited areas with 4 or more fighters using their identification equipment switched to "on" was very difficult. In these cases, identification of friendly aircraft was made by giving them a specific course to follow that differed from the aircraft being observed. On occasion, with the goal of identification, a pilot was given a command to remain in a turn. For identification of aircraft sending the same SRO identification code, the emergency signal was used. In some cases, one or another pilot was told to turn off his SRO equipment.
For guidance of aircraft directly from the radar station, the PO-01 search indicator was used along with the VO-02 azimuth/range indicator. In order to control aircraft in the air from this indicator machine, it was provided with an RAS VHF radio set.
In those cases when the enemy created jamming against the P-3A and P-8 radar stations, guidance of fighter aircraft was carried out using the P-20 radar station. On occasion, the SON-4 artillery radar station was used, and even some captured enemy radar sets were put to use. When it was impossible to use radar data, or when its use was limited, fighters carried out searches for the enemy bombers from orbiting the bomb release point.
Repelling enemy bombers at night from a protection object corresponded with fighter aviation cooperating with antiaircraft artillery. In the main cooperation between fighters and antiaircraft artillery was laid out to use their strengths by zones. Fighter aviation was normally used on the distant and near approaches to the protected object, and the antiaircraft artillery destroyed the enemy when he was immediately over the object. Simultaneously it was proposed that fighters could operate within the antiaircraft operating zone if they stayed above 7,000 meters. When the enemy was operating above cloud cover (with thick layers) the searchlights would illuminate them to create a screen against which the fighter could search for their targets.
Command and control of fighters operating in the illuminated searchlight fields could either be carried out by the KP OVA, which contained responsible officers from both the antiaircraft artillery and searchlight units, as well as from the auxiliary control posts.
Specifics of radar support to combat operations by fighter aircraft. Radar support to combat operations by fighter aircraft of the KPA and CPV was introduced and developed during the course of the war.
The task of radar support was carried out with the help of ground search and guidance radar stations including the meter band stations P-3, P-3A, P-8, Lida-4, Lida-313 and the centimeter band stations RC-127A and NRZ-1; the target tracking and weapons guidance stations SCR-584, SON-3k, SON-2 and the radar guided searchlight RAP-150.
During the course of the war the OVA radar service acquired a tremendous amount of experience in the selection of positions and grouping of radar stations, control of radar assets and in the organization of operations by radar station operators under conditions of jamming.
The mountainous terrain of the DPRK limited the zones of radar visibility and created significant difficulties in selecting positions for the radar stations. Therefore, in order to provide a normal zone of radar visibility under these conditions, meter band stations were deployed in pairs; one station was used for acquiring distant and low-flyign targets, and the other for acquiring and observing close-in targets, as well as for guiding fighters to the enemy aircraft.
In order to support long range target acquisition and acquisition of low-flying aircraft radar stations were situated on peaks that dominated the surrounding terrain, or on hills 50-120 meters high. When selecting a position on the slopes of peaks study was made of where the best place would be to provide the necessary coverage of sector most likely to be used for enemy air operations. The range of the station was therefore increased, and as is correct, the range of target acquisition was also increased, given the deployment of these stations on relatively level terrain and in consideration of their tactical and technical characteristics.
Work experience showed that meter band radar stations like the P-3 deployed on a level spot on the side of a peak 50-60 meters above the surrounding terrain could provide acquisition of enemy targets flying at 8,000-10,000 meters at a range of 200-240 kilometers. Stations deployed on the peaks or on hills 80-100 meters high had good observation of low-flying targets out to a range of 150 kilometers. The shortcomings of stations deployed in this manner related to the fact that they could not precisely determine the altitude of the target and had significant gaps in their coverage that could not be solved even with the help of a goniometric station. In this case determination of the enemy's altitude was carried out by stations located in the valleys.
To observe targets at close range and to provide for guidance of fighter aviation to the target, radar stations were deployed on peaks below the crests of the mountains. In this position the stations operating in mountainous terrain had a large number of blind spots that prevented them from acquiring targets at medium and low altitudes, as well as at long range.
The combination disposition of radar stations meant that the shortcomings of one radar station could be overcome due to the location of other stations, and it showed promising results. Beside that, the gaps in the coverage were frequently compensated for by tracking large groups of enemy aircraft, but the influence of these on tracking the targets was reduced due to the high speed of the targets. But at the same time, in these cases it did not support continuous tracking of the enemy. Therefore, a continuous radar coverage field was created by means of cooperation among the antiaircraft radar stations and the VNOS.
When deploying radar stations concealment, safety and security, and possible exit routes were taken into consideration. Just as each had a primary position, each station had a reserve position selected for it as well. Preparation of the primary and reserve position were carried out simultaneously.
In order to conceal radar stations in their positions from visual detection the antennas were normally placed among trees or tall bushes. In open terrain, the antenna mast structure was concealed by the use of trees, which were specifically deployed around the antenna and when necessary were replaced.
Control of the operation of search and guidance radar stations was centralized by the KP OVA. For coordinating the operation by radar station and crews of the command post, duty officer for radar service positions were created, which were subordinated to the assigned duty officer (commander) at the command post, and in special situations, the chief of radio technical services. The duty officer directed the combat operations of all radar stations subordinate to the KP, the work of the map plotters and was responsible for timely acquisition of enemy aircraft.
When enemy aircraft were acquired, the duty officer for radio technical services would take measures to identify them and coordinate maneuver work by the radar station in various frequency bands.
The use of access to the radio identification system increased the operation of the radar station support to a significant degree. It gave them the ability to simultaneously determine the disposition of friendly aircraft in any weather conditions, day or night, as well as to give them assistance in orienting friendly aircraft. This system, as well as its design purpose, also led to more successful completion of missions of guiding fighters to enemy aircraft at night.
Use of various code settings for each aviation division and regiment also provided for increased effectiveness in the combat operations of OVA fighter aviation. The setting of the codes, especially in the aircraft operating at night, provided for separate control of each individual aircraft as well as correspondingly check on the implementation of established missions for aviation units.
In order to avoid discreditation of codes they were territorially limited, e.g. lines were established where aircraft with their responders turned on where not permitted to cross.
The quality of work by the radar stations, even when working in optimal mode, was to a great degree determined by the training the operators had received and the harmony of operation with combat crews of the radar stations as a whole.
At the beginning of the war the majority of radar station operators were poorly trained. Subsequently they acquired some experience in tracking targets under conditions of the varying terrain of the country and under jamming, determining the identification and types of groups of aircraft, as well as determining the time for the fighters to drop tanks. According to the measures of the level of experience acquired, the quality of operations by the operators continuously grew and improved.
During the implementation of radar support operations to combat operations by aircraft the greatest amount of attention was paid to determining the exact number of aircraft in a group and the type of aircraft. When determining the type of aircraft the operators were governed by the shape of the blip, the nature of its pulse values, direction and speed of flight.
One of the most vital achievements of operators came from their studying the radar screen in order to determine the precise moment for friendly and enemy fighters to drop their tanks. The precise moment of determining when to drop tanks gave the aviation commander the timely determination of the enemy's thinking and when to take measures to successfully repel his raid. For example, where the American fighters dropped their tanks on their way into the area of combat operations determined if they were functioning as bombers or preparing to engage the OVA fighters.
Experience by the combat operation of radar operators showed that they were able to systematically improve their level of qualification based upon acquisition of experience in supporting combat operations by aviation, the knowledge of the tactics of enemy aviation operations, and the corresponding work by the flight personnel of friendly aviation units.
In 1951, in concert with the increased activity and effectiveness of combat operations by OVA fighter aviation, the Americans began to use active and passive jamming measures to suppress radar stations.
The primary type of active jamming used by the enemy was noise jamming. This came from specially developed jamming transmitters mounted in their bombers. These aircraft were also equipped with intelligence receivers that were used to assist in controlling the jamming and then for retuning the jamming transmitters. Noise jamming stations in the meter band simultaneously created a wide blanket of noise 3-6 megahertz in width, and therefore this jamming could be fixed by all operating stations using the 4-meter band.
Noise jamming on the indicator screen of an amplitude modulated station operating in the 4-meter band had an pulse spike several times larger than the normal background noise on the receiver. Due to its greater intensity, it tended to illuminate the screen throughout its area of coverage. If the jamming amplitude was greater than the amplitude of the radar signal, then it was impossible to see the target through the jamming. When there was an insignificant increase in the reflected amplitude from the target of the signal under the noise then observation of the target was possible only at the peaks of the reflected pulses from the target, and when there was a brighter spot on the indicator scope where the actual pulse reflected from the target indicated it to be.
On the search radar indicator scopes these jamming stations appeared as illuminated sectors. The width of the sector being jammed changed based upon the distance (from the station to the aircraft carrying the jamming station) but on occasion they were able to fully blot out the screen with jamming.
Subsequently, the side lobes from the antenna, based on its angle of orientation towards the jamming source, could frequently be used to observe in several directions simultaneously. But work experience showed that if the jamming amplitude was 4 times the amplitude of background noise, then observation of the target in that sector was not possible.
The use of special technical means that could change the frequency of the meter-band radar station transmitter by +/- 2 megahertz in many cases were still not sufficient to get out from under the effect of the jamming. There were no cases observed of active jamming in the centimeter band.
Passive jamming work against the radar stations was accomplished by the use of dropping strips of metallic ribbon of two types: long metallic ribbons and short sections of chaff.
The long ribbons were dropped in packets of 10-12 ribbons (each ribbon was around 25-30 meters long and 1.3 centimeters wide). When dropping ribbons, they were normally dropped in packets of mixed length. The short chaff sections were around 6-16 centimeters long and 1.5 to 2 centimeters wide. The long ribbons would create a screen lasting 25-30 minutes, but the short sections of chaff would last much longer. Passive jamming appeared on the amplitude display of the indicator scope of the 4-meter band stations as blips that were the same as a large group of aircraft. The difference from a group of aircraft was that they had very slow speed and caused much deeper pulsations and more frequently.
Experienced operators could easily detect passive jamming on their indicator screens using amplitude adjustment. The target track against the background of insignificant passive jamming could occasionally be continued, but on the other hand precise location of the target was very difficult. On the search radar indicator scopes passive jamming created a bright and solid blip where there was a large concentration of ribbon dropped, and against that background there was no chance of tracking a target.
The indicator screens of the centimeter-band radar stations gave an analogous presentation to that of the meter-band stations, but of a smaller size. During the fourth stage of the war the enemy frequently created a huge density of passive jamming against the centimeter-band radar stations. In these cases observation of the target was completely impossible at ranges of less than 30-40 kilometers.
The experience of work under jamming conditions showed that the most effective form of jamming against meter-band stations was active noise jamming, but the most effective against the centimeter-band radar stations was a combination jamming method.
Organization for intercept of US air forces radio transmissions. During the course of the war the KPA and CPV air forces organized a service to intercept radio transmissions in the units and formations of the US air forces. The missions of these services included acquisition of preparations of enemy aircraft for combat flight (determination of their size, disposition, types of aircraft and nature of their mission), observation of the US air forces aircraft from their moment of takeoff and up to their entry into the area of combat operations, and during air combat. Along with those tasks the intercept service tracked the deployment of aircraft from the combat area, the results of combat and rescue work taken by the enemy, as well as intercept of those reports send by enemy reconnaissance aircraft and uncovering the enemy system of aircraft command and control.
The radio intercept service consisted of independent radio intercept service subunits that were located at the subordinate staffs of the OVA, the KPA and CPV air forces staffs, and the staff of aviation formations. Each of the subunits consisted of a primary, a forward and an independent radio intercept post (see Figure 17).
The primary radio intercept post was deployed in buildings, bunkers, tents or specially equipped trucks in the immediate proximity of the command post. Its equipment consisted of 10-20 HF and VHF radio receivers, several tape recorders (the number depended upon the size of the enemy aviation force groupings) and an air situation map table, where the data taken from the radar stations was plotted.
The forward radio intercept post was deployed along the front lines. It carried out radio intercepts against US air forces aircraft when preparing for flight and taking off from their airfields. The experience of radio intercept showed that the forward intercept post was most worthwhile when mounted in a truck equipped with 5-7 VHF receivers and an air situation plotting board. This provided mobility that permitted it to move quickly to the most advantageous position for deployment.
The independent radio intercept post (independent point) was deployed immediately inside the command post. It was designated for use in intercepting the most important US air forces radio transmissions, whose VHF intercepts from the area of combat operations by the enemy were sent directly to the OVA fighter aviation formations, as well as transmissions sent via HF. It was equipped with 1-2 VHF and 1 HF receivers, and had direct telephone communications with the duty intelligence officer, who was sent all data intercepted during the time the crews of the US air forces aircraft were transmitting on the radio.
Communications between the radio intercept posts was carried out by radio and landline. Direct landline communications was organized between the primary post and the command post, the primary post and the independent post, and between the KP and the independent post on two lines. Beside that, a direct landline channel was established between the primary post and the independent post for transmission of intercepted radio transmissions. Radio communications were established between the primary post and the forward post. It provided for transmission of data on enemy at any time of the day or night. This was achieved in accordance with the selection of a radio frequency that was free of radio jamming and had good range.
The command of the KPA and CPV paid special attention to the selection of personnel for manning the radio intercept posts from personnel who spoke English.
As a whole the organization of radio intercept posts permitted the aviation command of the KPA and CPV the ability to receive vital data about combat operations by US air forces and to take the most effective measures in supporting repelling of enemy air raids. The data received from radio intercepts was the most valuable when it was combined with the data from radar reconnaissance.
Brief conclusions. During the course of the war the KPA and CPV aviation grew and prospered under the most difficult conditions, and its flight personnel coped with the practice of combat operations day or night. OVA Aviation was used only to solve mission tasks regarding the cover of important rear area objects in limited areas. Its combat operations corresponded with conditions of absolute air superiority by the enemy. The advances of jet-equipped units and formations of the KPA and CPV during the war and their ultimate increase in the skills of the flight personnel permitted them to display the most active opposition to air raids by American aviation.
The practice of combat operations shows that it is particularly important for a fighter pilot to think when he is opposing the enemy in the air, as he must simultaneously acquire the enemy at the same time his own flight track is discovered. The disposition of the combat order along the front, depth and altitude shows the best results when searching for the enemy. The use of modern radar means in many cases simplified the search for the enemy, especially when operating at great altitude and in difficult weather conditions. Correct organization of forces was the means to successful conduct of air combat.
It follows to stress that the difficulty of maneuver in modern combat does not permit the fighter group to retain its normal combat formations and therefore it is normally deployed in flights and pairs. Together with this it is important to give the subunit (flight, pair) commanders the ability to organize and conduct combat in the interests of carrying out the mission of the entire group. The complexity of maneuvers in group air combat and the significant increase in their zone of combat leads to the fact that the commander of such a group as a squadron or regiment cannot visually see all of his subunit, and therefore he is obligated to make complete use of the radio means in his possession to continuously control the air battle.
The combat use of flights of six aircraft increases their effectiveness in air combat both against enemy fighters as well as enemy fighter-bombers. A flight of six aircraft, having increased firepower, good maneuverability, and ease of command and control, has the ability to inflict the most surprising damage to the enemy, even in the face of superior enemy numbers. In order to support repelling enemy bomber air raids it is necessary to get the main body of fighters into combat at the greatest possible distance from the object being protected.
Well-trained MiG-15bis crews, with precise organization of command and control and guidance with the use of radar assets, successfully carried out missions in both clear and heavy weather conditions.
The guidance of friendly fighters to the enemy, and especially the first groups of aircraft, must indicate the superiority of the course method. This method gives them the ability to create advantageous tactical conditions to attack the enemy from his rear hemisphere. The guidance of subsequent groups of fighters is most worthwhile in accordance with the combined course method and orientation on the zone of combat operations.
The creation of auxiliary command posts was called for by the necessity of radar observation of the enemy in the air and control of friendly fighters on the distant approaches to the primary protected objects. But at the same time these posts in many cases were busied sending information on the air situation to higher command posts and were unable to make sufficient use of their own abilities to control combat operations by fighter aviation.
The experience of combat operations showed that centralized command and control when repelling mass enemy air raids, or operations by small groups of enemy aircraft active across a broad front, was not always worthwhile. When repelling these raids it was necessary to delegate much broader initiative to the aviation formation commanders, especially when guiding groups of fighters and controlling the air battle.
The allocation of a separate radio communications channel and aircraft identification code to each aviation formation increased reliability and the operational capability of command and control of the OVA Aviation. The reliability of aviation command and control, especially under conditions of jamming, in many cases depended upon the correct allocation and maneuver of radar assets, as well as the training of crews at command posts and radar stations. The destruction of the aircraft creating the jamming was one of the most important measures to ensure continuous command and control of aviation during the course of combat operations. The experience of work by the radio intercept service against American aviation showed that its existence provided immeasurable help to the aviation command in the successful completion of their assigned missions and increased the effectiveness of combat operations by the air forces.
The use of radar assets for reconnaissance of the air situation in combination with data provided by the radio intercept service showed very good results. These assets supported the OVA command with data on the enemy both day and night. They gave them the ability to more accurately assess the situation and make decisions in repelling every American air raid, and in the course of combat operations make changes with the goal of supporting successful execution of established tasks.
1.1 For the rest of this chapter the Aviation of the Korean Peoples' Army and the Chinese Volunteers will be referred to as the aviation of the Unified Air Army or OVA.
2.2 The tactical and technical parameters of these aircraft and their numerical strength of fighter aviation in the OVA can be found in Appendices 12 and 32.
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