Back Into the Fire

text: Richard Plos

photo: Author’s Collection

The Mustangs in Korea

The Korean War ushered in a new era of military

aircraft and represented the swansong for another.

Piston engine aircraft said goodbye to their role as

front-line fighters during the course of the conflict,

while new jet aircraft quickly began to dominate the

sky. Nevertheless, aircraft that had proven themselves

in the Second World War made a return to action one

last time. Among these were Mustangs, redesignated in

1948 from the P-51D to the F-51D. They also left a mark

on the history of the Korean War.

on the Republic of Korea (RoK). Until recently,

the country that had just thrown off the shackles of a vicious 35-year Japanese occupation

fell into a third bloody conflict that, according

to the North’s leader, Kim, was to have reunified

the country and placed firmly into the grip of the


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Soviet Block. Calculations based on American

lethargy, almost ignorance, turned out to be flawed, and they had pulled their forces out of the

area a year earlier. The eight-month old United

Nations organization reacted, and thanks in part

to a boycott by the Soviets of discussions. Twen-

ty-one nations to varying degrees ensured that

at least areas south of the 38th Parallel on the

Korean Peninsula would remain a part of the free

world. This would be the basis of the first major

armed conflict since the end of the Second World


July 2022