The bombing by the B-29s and the surveillance by the 91st SRS had been successful due to one fact. There was a real lack of enemy opposition. This situation was about to change dramatically. After the Migs made their appearance, North Korea suddenly became a dangerous place. Migs were now swarming across the border in groups of 100 or more. Our B-29 losses were mounting, and the 91stSRS was being ripped apart at will. Also being used were Radar controlled anti-aircraft guns. On Oct. 1st the 91st was ordered to suspend operations near “Mig Alley”, and the Sinuiju, Sinanju area. Photo recon missions from then on would be carried out by RF-80s.

  The 91st did receive a few RB-45s, however they had too many narrow escapes and were restricted to night operations after one was shot down. Bomber Command was also forced to order the B-29s to bomb only at night, using Shoran Radar equipment.
B-45 similar to the RB-45 0f the 91st SRS shot down by Mig-15s.
Click here for a larger view of image.
The enemy quickly developed Radar countermeasures against the night strikes. They brought in Radar directed searchlights and Radar controlled anti-aircraft batteries. They also developed an operational night-fighter squadron equipped with airborne interception Radar. They would fly above the bomber formation and direct fighters to the scene. These tactics worked. On June 10, 1952, four B-29s of the 19th Bomb Group were lit up by 24 searchlights. They were instantly attacked by 12 Migs which shot down two and severely damaged a third causing it to crash. This effectively ended our system of “night bombing”. The B-29 for all practical purposes had become a sitting duck. Between Nov. 18, 1952, and Jan. 30, 1953, communist night-fighters shot down five B-29s and severely damaged three more using a combination of Radar directed searchlights and flare dropping “master” night-fighters.


The Soviets claimed a total of 1300 UN aircraft destroyed during the war. They claim 345 Migs lost in combat and accidents. FEAF claims 792 Migs destroyed and 58 Sabres lost. After the war the USAF admitted to 103 Sabres lost, and the Mig kills at 379.

I spent hours researching books, government records, Internet web sites, and Russian reports` trying to finalize the losses. The discrepancies are sizeable. The very best I can come up with is the following:
During the Korean War, June 25, 1950, to July27, 1953, the U.S. suffered 142,091 casualties including 33,665 deaths, 3,275 killed in accidents for a total of 36,940. 92,134 were wounded, 8,176 STILL MISSING IN ACTION. 1,789,000 served during the war. South Korea reports 1,312.836 military casualties with 415,000 dead. Our U.N. Allies report 16,532 casualties and 3,094 dead. Communist losses are reported as an unconfirmed two million. The U.S. at first claimed 792 Migs destroyed, however documented postwar research indicates not 792 but 379. The U.S. reports 34 B-29s destroyed. USAF losses were comparatively light, with 1,841 casualties including 379 killed in action and 821 MISSING IN ACTION and presumed dead. 224 airmen were captured with only four deaths reported, compared with U.S. troop statistics of 2,701 men who died out of 7,140 captured.

The 91st SRS was a frequent target of the Mig-15. The RB-45, RB-50, and
RB-47 did not fare much better, all were vulnerable. The Migs did not stop at the end of the war, and continued the shoot downs.
B-47 similar to two RB-47s shot down by Mig-15s
ctsy Boeing

12 Dec. 1950 Mig-15s shot down an RB-45 of the 91st SRS near the Yalu.

26 Dec. 1950 Mig-15s shot down an RB-29 of the 91st SRS.

13 June, 1952 Mig-15s shot down RB-29 44-61810 of the 91st SRS near Hokkaido, Japan. Soviets reported that the Rb-29 fired first, they returned fire downing the plane.

7 Oct. 1952 an RB-29 of the 91st SRS was shot down by two LA-11 fighters over the Kurile Islands.

12 Jan. 1953 A B-29 was shot down by 12 Migs while dropping leaflets over Manchuria.

29 July 1953 an RB-50 of the 91st SRS was downed by Mig-17s 100 miles SE of Vladivostok.

7 Nov. 1954 an RB-29 of the 91st SRS was shot down by Mig-15s over the Kurile Islands. This was the famous “TIGER LIL”, the aircraft my crew flew 50 missions in during the war. Apparently RB-29 4000 was conducting routine photographic reconnaissance near Hokkaido and the southern most of the disputed Kurile Islands. The plane was attacked and seriously damaged, forcing the crew to bail out. Ten crewmen were successfully rescued after landing in the sea: however the eleventh man drowned when he became tangled in his parachute. The Russian reported the RB fired first, they returned the fire downing the plane.

17 Apr. 1955 an RB-47 of the 4th SRS was shot down by Mig-15s.

1 July 1960 an Rb-47H of the 38th SRS was shot down by Mig-15s.
As you can see the Mig-15 had no fear of the RB-45, the Rb-50, Or the
Rb-47, and did not hesitate to continue the shoot downs after the war.


On July 27, 1953, both sides were ready to sign an armistice. The last plane to fly over was an RB-29 from the 91st SRS which dropped leaflets. The ground war had ceased, all was quiet, the conflict was over. The Korean war had proved absolutely nothing, we were back at the 38th Parallel. To most of the Korea veterans the war is only a fading memory, soon to be completely forgotten. Most never voiced their opinion, never complained, never demonstrated. Most never were asked to tell their stories, and now, their memories are fading as quickly as their photographs. There are very few books about the air war, practically no movies. The Korea Veteran is destined to leave this earth without ever understanding the apathetic attitude shown them by the American People.

COMMENT: All statements are the opinion of Wayland Mayo, web site historian. All photos by Mayo except where noted otherwise.

MIG-15 Performance Story Part 1 | Part2 | Part 3 |

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