SOUTH AFRICA IN THE KOREAN WAR
The Korean War (1950 - 1953)
Just a year after the SAAF's notable contribution towards beating the blockade of West Berlin, the SAAF's services were once again called upon to assist the Western and UN powers. This time the scene of operations was Asia, where North Korean forces had invaded the Republic of South Korea in 25 June 1950.
The United Nations acceded to the request of the United States to intervene militarily on the side of South Korea. The Union Government offered the services of the SAAF's 2 Sqn to the UN forces. The offer was gratefully accepted, and on 26 September 49 officers and 157 other ranks of 2 Sqn, all volunteers, left for Johnson Base in Tokyo prior to their deployment in Korea. The first flight of four F-51D Mustangs departed for Korea on 16 November and the first operational sortie was flown three days later.
2 Sqn had a long and distinguished record of service in Korea flying F-51D Mustangs and later F-86F Sabres. Their role was mainly flying ground attack and interdiction missions as one of the squadrons making up the USAF's 18th Fighter Bomber Wing.
The first operational sortie was flown at a stage when the United Nations forces were retreating in front of the advancing enemy. In freezing cold and poor weather, the aircraft had to continue operating and be maintained and armed in the open, moving from K-24 (P'yongyang East Air Field) to K-13 (Suwon Airbase), K-10 (Chinhae Airbase) and finally K-55 Airbase at Osan in January 1953, Here the squadron immediately started to convert to the F-86F Sabre jet fighter. On 11 March 1953 the squadron flew it first operational sortie with the F-86F Sabre.
During the Korean conflict the squadron flew a grand total of 12 067 sorties for a loss of 34 pilots and two other ranks. Aircraft losses amounted to 74 out of 97 Mustangs and four out of 22 Sabres. Pilots and men of the squadron received a total of 797 medals including 2 Silver Stars - the highest award to non-American nationals - 3 Legions of Merit, 55 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 40 Bronze Stars. 8 pilots became POW's
Casualties 20 KIA 16 WIA
A complete history of the South Africa Air Force can be found at:
Back to Korean War Homepage