Home' Air Force News : December 8th 2011 Contents 29
December 8, 2011
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A10-MINUTE air battle over
North Korea 60 years ago
resulted in the RAAF losing
three new jet fighters for the
On December 1, 1951, 40-50 MiG
15 fighters ambushed 12 77SQN
Meteors and shot down three of them.
77SQN claimed one MiG shot down
and another damaged.
The battle came just one month
after the squadron received a
Presidential Unit Citation from the
President of the Republic of Korea
(Syngman Rhee) for its "exception-
ally meritorious service and hero-
ism" during the Korean War -- and it
seems likely the ambush was possi-
bly planned as a propaganda victory
so soon after it received its award.
77SQN was based at Iwakuni in
Japan, flying Mustangs when the war
The Mustangs were replaced by
the British Meteor fighter in April
1951 and it was while flying the
new jets that 77SQN fought the bat-
tle.The Meteors were on a sweep
at 19,000 feet when the MiGs of
the Soviet 176th Guards Fighter
Air Regiment, led by COL Sergey
Vishnyakov, attacked them from out of
As 77SQN approaches its 70th anniversary, one of
its darkest days is remembered. FLTLT Skye Smith
and SGT Dave Morley report.
Two of the pilots, SGT Vance
Drummond and SGT Bruce Thomson,
ejected and became POWs after being
captured by North Korean soldiers.
The third pilot, FSGT Don Armit,
was reported missing, presumed killed.
Although 77SQN would shoot
down some MiGs during the war, it
was quickly apparent that the Meteor
was no match for the agile little
Russian fighter and in January 1952,
77SQN was officially reassigned to
area defence/ground attack roles,
which it performed with extraordi-
nary determination in the face of both
fighter and anti-aircraft weapons.
By the war's end it had flown
almost 19,000 sorties and destroyed
3700 buildings, 1500 vehicles, 16
bridges, 20 locomotives and 65 rail-
The cost to the squadron was also
heavy -- 54 aircraft, with 41 pilots lost
(six RAF) and seven POWs.
77SQN will commemorate 70
years on March 16. Since its forma-
tion in 1942, it has been in action in
many theatres of operations.
Initially based in Darwin and
equipped with Kittyhawk fighters, it
scored its first victory on November
23, 1942, when squadron CO
SQNLDR Dick Creswell shot down a
Ambush 60 years on
After Korea, in December 1958, it
moved to RAAF (now RMAF) Base
Butterworth where it flew ground
attack missions against Communist
guerrillas during the Malayan
Emergency and later provided air
defence there during the Indonesian
Between December 2001 and
February 2002, a detachment of
77SQN Hornets deployed to Diego
Garcia during Operation Falconer.
CO WGCDR Glen Beck said
77SQN had a long and distinguished
history. "Every airman posted to
77SQN should be proud of its heritage
and take on the honoured responsibil-
ity of continuing its strong traditions
embodied by our motto -- Swift to
Destroy," he said.
to form the
one of two
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