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MiG-15 FAGOT - Combat Assessment

Despite classified Soviet and Chinese records becoming available, the U.S. Air Force continues to stick with its 1:7/8/9 theory, albeit a comedown from the original 1:14 claim that passed for history up to the 1990s. Take the air battles of April 12, 1951 in which the Americans lost 25 strategic bombers and around 100 airmen. That was called a “Black Day” and a week of mourning was declared in the USAF. And yet the Americans claimed they shot down 11 MiGs that day.

“In reality,” says Kramrenko, “all our fighters made it home safely and only three or four MiGs had holes from the bombers’ machine gun fire. This was based on the fact that the Americans counted shot-down enemy planes based on camera gunshots. I guess the American pilots had counted me as shot down – and no less than two or three times.” The Americans, therefore, seemingly ‘downed’ more MiGs than the number that fought in Korea.

The Soviet side had a more foolproof system of recording kills. Pilots had to provide a clear and distinct camera shot and conformation from a search group, which was supposed to bring the debris of a downed enemy plane. This presented problems. Many shot-up American planes that had retreated towards the sea and fallen into the water didn’t count as Soviet victories. Sometimes enemy aircraft that fell in inaccessible places such as forests and gorges were not retrieved because the search could not find them. These downed aircraft were never recorded as kills.

The fog of war leads to all sorts of claims and counterclaims. Over time as military historians are able to get their hands on declassified war records from all sides involved, we get a more realistic picture of what really happened. The 1950-53 Korean War was unique because most of the aerial combat was between Soviet and American pilots rather than among the Koreans.

In reality the Soviets were thumping the western air forces. In the engagements in the month of September 1951, according to staff documents provided by the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps of the Soviet Air Forces, the pilots of the two Soviet divisions had downed 92 enemy planes, while losing only five of their own planes and two pilots. However, according to the American records, in the same period their losses amounted to six planes. But according to post-Cold War research by Soviet and foreign scholars, the number of western losses during September 1951 currently stands at 21 aircraft in combat against MiGs. Plus a minimum of an additional eight fighters were so severely damaged they may have never flown again. Thus, even taking these conservative figures, the ratio of losses between the two sides in the September battles was 4:1 in favor of the Soviet pilots.

However, western authors, historians and analysts refuse to revise the exaggerated kill numbers of the USAF. In western publications of the 1960s the Americans claimed the ratio between the shot-down American and Russian MiGs was 1:14. That is, for every U.S., British and Australian jet lost in combat, the Russians were said to have lost 14 planes. During the next two decades as the war hysteria ebbed, the ratio was revised down to 1:10 but never below 1:8.

During most of June 1953 the UN Command directed its air power against communist forces attempting to penetrate the UN main line of resistance and against North Korean airfields near the Manchurian border. To quell the communist ground offensives, the UN employed medium bombers, light bombers, and fighter-bombers in close air support missions. Raids on enemy airfields sought to close them to reinforcements of modern jet aircraft that the Chinese Communists might fly into North Korea in days, or even hours, preceding the signing of an armistice. Far East Air Forces employed both B-29s and fighter-bombers to bomb the airfields, even striking nearby dams in an effort to flood the runways or otherwise render them unserviceable. USAF fighters continued their winning streak in MiG Alley. For unknown reasons the MiGs sought combat at altitudes below 40,000 feet, the Sabrejets most effective combat environment. As a consequence, the USAF pilots broke all previous records, sighting 1,268 MiGs, engaging 501, and destroying seventy-seven without suffering a single loss in airto-air combat. This according ot the US Air Force Historical Research Agency.

As a day fighter, the F-86 saw service in Korea in three successive series (F-86A, E and F), where it engaged the Russian-built MiG-15. By the end of hostilities, the USAF reports it had shot down 792 MiGs at a loss of only 76 Sabres, a victory ratio of 10 to 1. If you accept all of the Soviet victory claims, they destroyed twice as many F-86's than were ever committed to Korea. They even claimed three F6F Hellcats! The only F6F's used in Korea were three bomb-laden drones used to attack key bridges. One crashed after launch, and two were successful in attacks.

A similar controversy involved the Australians, who dispatched their 77th Squadron of Gloster Meteors to South Korea. On a cold December day while flying combat patrol, the Soviets led by Kramarenko encountered as many as 20 of these British built aircraft. It turned out to be black day for the Australians as the MiGs tore into the Gloster formations. Within seconds there were a dozen fires on the ground below – the wreckage of these hapless planes. There was a sole survivor who broke out of this hell to head home.

The Soviets saw the fleeing Australian pilot, who seemed resigned to his fate and refused to offer combat. “It awoke pity in me,” Kramarenko writes. “The Gloster ceased to be the enemy and I decided to let him go in peace. Let him go home to his aerodrome and tell of the fate of the rest of his comrades who had wanted to wipe out a Korean town, and whose planes were burning on the slopes near this town and its railway station!” Kramarenko adds: “I’m still perplexed why the Americans had allowed these greenhorns to fight in obsolete planes without covering them with Sabres.”

Despite receiving such a mauling, the Australians believed they had shot down a MiG in this dogfight while losing only three of their aircraft. The Soviets never encountered any more Glosters over the skies of Korea. In reality, the Australians were kept out of harm’s way by the Americans.

The kill ratio of the Korean War would have been even greater in favor of the MiGs but for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s hare-brained decision to rotate entire fighter crews. Stalin, who did not understand air power, initially did not allow MiG-15s to take part in air combat over Korea. As a result of Stalin’s order, the the Great Patriotic War Soviet aces, who were notching up big kills in 1951, were replaced by young rookie pilots with little or no combat experience. This allowed the demoralized USAF back into the game and the Americans shot down dozens of Soviet aircraft.

Another factor was the G-suit, which allowed American pilots to fly without exposing their body to the extreme forces that combat pilots were exposed to. The Red Air Force lacked this vital accessory and consequently many Soviets pilots had to stop flying for weeks or months in order to recover from combat stress.

The MiG-15 and MiG-15bis showed their apparent advantage over American fighter aircraft. During the Korean war MiG-15bis proved to be reliable, its machine. As technology such as aircraft remembered was neither before nor after it. In air battles of the Korean war MiG-15 won the right to be called one of the best mass-produced fighter early 50 's. It brought world fame construction Bureau. For the creation and development of the MiG-15 series, designing his systems and units of the Group of employees in the DESIGN were awarded Stalin Prize of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees.

Initial encounters with American aircraft led to the development of the MiG-15bis (improved). In 1950, MIG-15bis succeeded in assembling shops mass-produced plants MiG-15. It was designed and built by serially modified as escort fighter MiG-15Sbis (SD-UPB) and aircraft MiG-15Rbis ("CP"). Its VK-1 engine had 1,000 lbs more thrust than the RD-45 engine of the earlier version, and had hydraulic ailerons. Although the MiG-15bis could climb faster and higher than the F-86, poor turning performance and high mach instability limited its dogfight performance. In aerial combat against the F-86, the MiG-15 suffered high losses, but against the B-29 it was very effective and prevented the heavy bombers from operating in daylight.

Fighter MiG-15bis also became the base for testing the first domestic radar stations. The prototype aircraft PO-1 in the 1949-1950. RADAR the refinement was the thorium-a, but SP-5 in 1951-1952. "Izumrud". Emerald station for the first time allowed to fully apply the single-seat fighter to intercept enemy aircraft and conduct aimed fire on them, regardless of visibility. In addition, many experienced aircraft based on MiG-15, MIG-15bis and MiG-15 UTI, were testing different samples of aviation equipment and armament.

Even prior to the creation of Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) in 1951, USAF technical intelligence analysts in Dayton OH had begun examining Soviet military systems and had developed estimated performance characteristics for the new Soviet fighter. Early in 1951, ATIC analysts obtained engine parts and the tail section of a crashed MiG-15 from the Korean theater. Later, in July, the center received a complete, though crashed, MiG-15. In addition to conducting its own assessment, ATIC invited fourteen major aircraft companies to view the MiG-15, to offer technical assessments, and to become more familiar with the Soviet aircraft. ATIC provided the Far East Air Force (FEAF) with the performance characteristics of Soviet aircraft in theater and charts depicting the combat radius of the MiG-15. This support allowed FEAF to more effectively develop engagement tactics for its F-86 fighters.

That the MiG-15 was a brilliant accomplishment became apparent in Korea. It had put Soviet aviation ahead of European rivals and nearly equal with the United States. It out-climbed, out-maneuvered, outaccelerated, and flew higher than its principal opponent, the North American Sabre. It maintained a speed advantage until the F model of the Sabre appeared late in the Korean war. Its record was marred by poor guns and bad pilots.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2019 18:37:09 ZULU