photo: Imperial War Museum

strafed and then hit with napalm. There was

much activity on the roads, and right after we

had headed back to the south I spotted a huge

haystack in the middle of a field that had tread

marks leading up to it. I made a low-level pass

and could see that it was a tank that had been

hastily covered with hay. Since we had used

up our napalm, we decided to see what our

0.50-cal machine guns could do to it. We couldn’t get through to the tank, but our rounds set

the hay on fire. We made a few low passes right

on top of the haystack in order to fan the flames

with our prop wash. The flames literally cooked

the tank as we circled and then there was

a large explosion. We had destroyed the tank

with our machine guns”. 5)

Tough Service

South African ground crew ply their trade on an F-51D

Mustang during a period of poor weather when rain

and a low ceiling grounded aircraft. Conditions at

Korean bases were often treacherous.

The biggest burden to befall the Mustang pilots ended up being tactical air support at low

altitude. Their weaponry, besides the machine guns, included 2.5 and 5-inch rockets, 500

pound incendiary or fragmentation bombs and

napalm tanks. Targets were tanks, artillery positions, troop concentrations, and storage facilities. Mustang pilots had to overcome several

difficulties over the course of those first operational days. They flew over unfamiliar territory,

lacked proper navigation charts (although, as

it turned out, more detailed army maps were

well suited to the rough, local terrain) and most

importantly, there was a lack of qualified TACP

(Tactical Air Control Party) that would have

aided greatly in vectoring to targets. Personnel

selected for the task lacked experience and the

knowledge needed about aerial tactics, resulting in their efforts usually causing confusion amongst the pilots. This brought about the

formation of the 6147th TCS (Tactical Control

Squadron), known as “the Mosquitoes” which

flew out of Taegu in L-5, L-17 and T-6 aircraft

to mark targets. Some pilots were attached to

ground units at the same time to ensure greater accuracy in guiding aircraft to their targets.

For pilots, this was an unexpected rough bit of


Many credit the Mustang for saving UN forces at the most critical time, when they were

pushed into the Pusan pocket. They were able

to effectively turn the tide against the North Koreans with especially their napalm tanks, often

delivered with unnerving precision.

What napalm dropped from

a Mustang looked like.

photo: U.S. Air Force


INFO Eduard

July 2022