The Armed Forces in the Korean War
Royal Australian Airforce in the Korean War
All Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) units serving with the United Nations Command in Korea were administered by 91 Composite Wing...
The largest and best known RAAF unit was 77 Squadron. The Squadron was the sole combat element the RAAF committed to the Korean War. All other RAAF units remained based in Iwakuni in Japan, but they were frequently called upon to serve in Korea. These units were 491 Maintenance Squadron, 391 Base Squadron and 30 Communications Flight which later became 36 Transport Squadron.
77 Squadron 1950–1951
In June 1950, having served on occupation duties in Japan since early 1946, No. 77 Squadron’s personnel and their families were preparing to return to Australia. Instead of a much anticipated homecoming the Squadron found itself thrust into the conflict on the Korean peninsula. Within days of the war’s beginning Australian pilots were in action, escorting United States bombers and hitting ground targets.
Squadron Leader Dick Creswell, who replaced Wing Commander Lou Spence, killed in action 9 September 1950, summed up the nature of the squadron’s early operations;
We were basically doing interdiction work, armed reconnaissance and ground support roles.... We were after troop concentrations, transports, bridges, T34 tanks, self-propelled guns, gun emplacements, trains, railway tunnels and stores. Our main target was transport in the early days. If we could block transport on those very tiny roads coming down from North Korea into South Korea it saved the day, for a time anyway.
As risky as ground attack operations were, the war in Korea became more dangerous when in October 1950, Chinese forces entered the conflict. Having so far faced little aerial opposition, 77 Squadron’s pilots now ran the risk of meeting Chinese MiG-15 jet fighters. As a consequence it was decided that 77 Squadron should be equipped with jets. The Squadron was withdrawn from operations to refit in April 1951 and flew Gloster Meteor jets for the remainder of the war.