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JJ-2 (Jiaolianji Jian-2 Trainer Fighter aircraft 2)

The appearance of the MiG-15 jet fighter in November 1950 threatened UN air superiority over Korea becausethe MiG outperformed available U.S. aircraft. By June 1951 Communist China possessed some 445 modern MIG-l5 fighters, while the US Far East AI Force [FEAF] possessed 89 F-86’s in theater inventory. There was little doubt that the Reds recognized that they had a numerical superiority in swept-wing fighters, for Communist agents apprehended in South Korea as early as April 1951 had begun to display a predominant interest in air order of battle intelligence. By June 1951, moreover, the Red pilots were displaying a growing familiarity with the planes they flew. Using wing tanks, the MIG pilots penetrated as far southward as Pyong-yang.

The Red pilots had also learned that at altitudes above 35,000 feet their MIG’s possessed flight-performance advantages over the heavier Sabres. When flown by experienced pilots, the MIG’s were excellent aircraft. After returning from aerial combat on 8 July, Colonel Francis S. (“Gabby”) Gabreski, America’s leading ace, credited the MIG-15 with “excellent performance.”

By 1950 China was starting to build a modern aircraft industry. To construct jet-powered fighters, China employed Soviet technology under the guidance of Soviet experts. By October 1951, with the Korean War underway for the past year, the Soviet Union sent nearly a thousand MiG-15 engineers and specialists to China to begin construction of fighters. The Chinese Shenyang aircraft factory built two-seat trainer versions of the MiG-15UTI, known as JJ-2s, but never constructed any single-seat fighter versions of the aircraft. Instead, the facilities repaired and maintained Soviet-built airplanes. The Chinese designation for the MiG-15 is uncertain, with some sources suggesting F-2 or less plausibly J-2.

On 08 November 1950 American aircraft bombed the city of Sinuiju, the gateway from Korea to Manchuria on the Yalu River. Chinese MiG-15 jet aircraft engaged the F-80 jets flying cover for the US bombers, and in the first all-jet aerial combat, an American pilot scored a victory against a MiG.

American references to the “Chinese Communist Air Force” were euphemistic, for US intelligence had well-substantiated evidence that powers other than China had begun to crew many of the MIG-15 fighters and probably to direct the Red side of the air war in Korea. In Mukden a “Supreme Joint Headquarters” of Chinese and North Korean forces apparently served policy-making and administrative functions for the Communist air forces, but an “Allied Joint Headquarters” at Antung exercised day-by-day control of Red air activities over North Korea. The Antung center appeared to be managed by Chinese Communist officers, but an intelligence informant reported that it was actually run by Russian advisers who were present in the control room at all times.

Some of the MIG’s were also flown by Soviet or Soviet-satellite pilots. Such was reported by covert intelligence, and on occasion US Sabre pilots saw blond Caucasians parachute from stricken MIG’s. A Polish air force pilot who defected in Europe stated that many Russian flight instructors in his country had previously fought in Korea. The Soviets withdrew their pilots early in the war, and most of the Sabre's victims were piloted by Chinese and North Korean pilots who were very inexperienced.

During the summer of 1952 the air war over Korea intensified. In addition to striking at supply centers, troop concentrations, power plants, factories, and rail and road networks, U.N. aircraft rendered valuable assistance to frontline troops by bombing, or searing with napalm, enemy bunkers, trenches, gun positions, and communications lines. On 29 August the largest U.N. air raid of the Korean War was carried out on Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. During the month of September alone the U.S. Fifth Air Force shot down 64 MIG-15's at a cost of seven Sabrejets.

The military stalemate continued throughout the winter of1952-1953. Allied Sabrejet pilots, meantime, persisted in destroying MiGs at a decidedly favorable ratio. MiG pilots at this time generally sought the advantages of altitude, speed, position, and numbers before engaging in aerial combat. The UN pilots, on the other hand, relied on their skills to achieve aerial victories, even though they were outnumbered and flying aircraft that did not quite match the flight capabilities of the MiG-15s. One memorable battle occurred on February l8, 1953, near the Sui-ho Reservoir on the Yalu River, 110 miles north of Pyongyang; 4 F-86Fs attacked 48 MiGs, shot down 2, and caused 2 others to crash while taking evasive action. All 4 U.S. aircraft returned safely to their base.

The first Chinese-built jet fighter to enter service were license-built copies of the MiG-15’s successor, the MiG-17 Fresco. Designated the J-5, the Chinese version of the MiG-17 first flew on August 2, 1956. Trainer aircraft, designated JJ-5s, appeared nearly ten years later. In all, 767 J-5 fighters and 1,061 JJ-5 trainers were built in China.

Some sources use the designation J-4, which is often associated with the Chinese MiG-15 or the Chinese MiG-17F. However, several authors say that this is actually a western invention, and that the MiG was never called the J-4 in China.

Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:09:38 ZULU