Guided missiles on Corsairs

Originally designed as a carrier-based gun dogfighter, the F4U Corsair, and it’s later attack variant, the AU-1, was used heavily as a ground attack plane during WWII, and almost exclusively in that role during the Korean War.

corsairprototype

(The first prototype Vought Corsair during WWII.)

A wide variety of weapons not originally envisioned were successfully used by the Corsair: air-to-ground rockets, napalm tanks, radar, depth charges, cluster munitions, and so on.

Easily the most unusual was something that could have never been envisioned by Vought’s engineers when they designed the plane; a guided missile.

F4U7SS-11

(French navy Corsair with SS.11 guided missiles aboard.)

Read More »

WWII CVEs into AKVs: Korean & Vietnam wars

cover2card

(USS Card departs San Francisco, CA with a load of F-102 Delta Dagger fighters on the wooden WWII flight deck. The supersonic F-102 was based at home, at overseas airbases in Japan, West Germany, and the Philippines; and during the Vietnam War in South Vietnam. It was also exported to Greece and Turkey.)

After WWII, some of the US Navy’s escort carriers were converted for aircraft ferry use. While not the most glamorous mission, they filled an important niche in the use of American airpower during the Cold War.

Read More »

The last Peashooters

Not all WWII fighter planes remained in use after WWII, and even fewer pre-WWII designs. One surprising exception was the 1930s-vintage P-26 Peashooter which was still in use in Guatemala as late as 1957.

peashooter1

190_1_a1

(The P-26 Peashooter fighter in the colors of the 1930s US Army, and the 1950s Guatemalan air force.)

Read More »

The Mustang in the ANG after WWII

The P-51 Mustang was one of the best, if not the best, single-engine fighter of WWII. It’s performance during WWII was legendary and is well-known even today in the general public. Less well known was the type’s use during the Korean War, and less known still, it’s overseas use after WWII.

Perhaps the least studied era of the Mustang was it’s use in Air National Guard (ANG) squadrons after WWII. These Mustang units filled an important niche in the American military system until sufficient jets were available. The Mustang’s service in the ANG was the last of it’s use in the USA, and was the end of the era overall for piston-engined fighters in American skies.

NMang

(A P-51 Mustang of the New Mexico National Guard after WWII, prior to the 1947 Army-Air Force split. The New Mexico state emblem is in place of the national insignia on the fuselage. In the mid-to-late 1940s, before peacetime organizational standards were made rigid, many state NG squadrons had unofficial emblems like this on the fuselage. The wing markings were left as the national insignia.)

Read More »

WWII Japanese weapons in the Korean War

Japan ruled Korea between 1905-1945. In August 1945, during the closing days of WWII, the USSR invaded the peninsula and the Soviet 25th Army advanced as far south as Seoul, before pulling back to the 38th Parallel, which was the pre-agreed division point with the USA. On 8 September 1945 (six days after the surrender had been signed aboard USS Missouri), an advance guard of the US Army’s 40th Infantry Division landed in southern Korea and began to disarm the Japanese there. This split of the peninsula set the stage for the Korean War which lasted from June 1950 – July 1953.

The Japanese garrison in Korea had been relatively untouched by WWII until the final few weeks. As such, both the Soviets and the Americans captured vast quantities of equipment intact, which was then passed on to their respective North / South Korean client governments. The communists in the north were further aided by ex-Japanese weapons captured from the Japanese Kwangtung army and the puppet Manchukuo army during the short Soviet operation at the close of the war. Unwanted by the USSR, these weapons were transferred to either the North Koreans or Mao’s communist Chinese forces. The Chinese in turn re-transferred some Japanese equipment to the North Koreans, besides using it themselves.

Ki51SoniaSeoul1945(Abandoned Ki-51 “Sonia” dive bombers at the former Imperial Japanese Army’s Pyeongtayk airbase in the autumn of 1945. This was one of the first Japanese army airfields in Korea, opening in 1919. During the Korean War, this airbase was refurbished and was codenamed K-6. After the war it was renamed Camp Humphreys and today it is home of the 6th Air Cavalry Brigade. As for the “Sonia”, this was an obsolete design and none of the planes above were ever restored.)

Ki9atK1in1951

(A Tachikawa Ki-9 “Spruce” of the South Korean air force at airbase K-1 near Busan, South Korea, in 1951. This obsolete biplane had been an intermediate trainer of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force during WWII. A large number were recovered intact by both the North and South Koreans and both air forces used the “Spruce” during the Korean War.)

Read More »

Rearming Austria: WWII weapons

It is often forgotten today that, like defeated Germany, Austria was split up into four occupation zones after WWII. Just like Berlin in Germany, the capital Vienna was split up four ways as well. When the country reunified in 1955, it’s new army was equipped with an interesting mix of WWII weapons; both Allied and Axis, and both Soviet and American.

austriazones(A 1945 US Army map showing the four occupation zones, with the American zone highlighted.)

M4(A WWII-veteran M3 half-track of the Austrian army. The bumper plate states that it is a driver instructional vehicle.)

Read More »