Although another pilot, Captain Martin Johnson,
warned him against another attack, Sebille proclaimed: “I'll never be able to make it back. I'm
going back to get that bastard.” He then really
did return to the enemy concentration instead
of returning to base and in a suicidal attack, and
absorbing more hits in the process, he fired at
the communist troops with his machine guns,
ending the attack by impacting the artillery position. For this act, he was the first American in
Korea to be awarded the Congressional Medal of
Honor, the highest of American medals.
Similar acts of heroism by American Mustang
pilots in Korea are many. Many of them didn’t
take the loss of fighter status in comparison
to modern jets, nor being relegated to ground
attack duties in obsolete World War Two aircraft,
very well. But their determination to fulfill the
tasks asked of them was in no way degraded,
nor did any technical issues with the equipment.
One such problem was the lack of A-2 Ground
Power Sources, essential for starting the engines. There was also a shortage of A-13A oxygen
systems, or P-1 helmets. Some pilots even flew
with football helmets and headsets!
Mustangs flew direct air support missions all
the way to February, 1953, when the last unit
finally converted onto the Sabre. This was the
South African No. 2 Squadron, under the 18th
FBS. Up to the end of hostilities, both the 10th
Air Combat Squadron and the 1st Fighter Wing
ROKAF flew them, and they were used for reconnaissance by the 45th TRS in the USAF.
Mustang Units in Korea
July 3 – 15, 1950
Then to December 1, 1950
Special Group operating with ROKAF markings, commanded by Major Hess. In connection with Project Dallas
Squadron formed the 51st FBS(P). After being divided, the unit continued to serve as a ROKAF unit right up to the
beginning of December, and after that, a portion of its personnel formed the combined Korean-American unit
Baekgu (April 3 – May 31, 1951
July 10-15, 1950
The unit was formed using mostly pilots and personnel from the 12th FBS. After uniting with Bout One, they formed
the 51st FBS(P). After the disbanding of Bout One, the unit returned to the 18th FBG as the 12th FBS.
July 15 – August 5, 1950
The merger of Bout One and the Dallas Project created the 51st FBS(P), a provisional unit, from which aircraft and
a portion of the personnel of the original Bout One returned to service in the ROKAF. Subsequently, the entire unit
was disbanded on August 5, and again became the 12th FBS, falling under the 18th FBG.
August – December, 1950
All five units, the 35th FBS, 36th FBS and the 80th FBS, re-converted onto the F-51D and moved to Korea in October. By December, they were returned to Japan where their pilots moved onto Shooting Stars.
August 1950 – January, 1953
This unit held on to their Mustangs the longest in the USAF (with the exception of the reconnaissance unit 45th
TRS). It was made up of the 12th FBS, 67th FBS, and No. 2 Squadron, SAAF, the latter being integrated into the unit
on November 18, 1950. In February, 1953, it was the last 18th FBG unit to exchange its Mustangs for Sabres. As of
May, 1951, the 39th FIS from the 35th FIG also operated under its jurisdiction.
July 27, 1950 – October 6, 1952
This was the first unit to be moved to Korea to begin operations. The 39th FIS and the 40th FIS converted to the
Mustang, while the 41st FIS remained in Japan with their F-80s, and their duties within the Group were handled by
No. 77 Squadron, RAAF (remaining until July 30, 1951, when it rearmed with the Meteor and was integrated into the
4th FIW). From May 7, 1951, the 39th FIS fell under the command of the 18th FBG. Remaining units of the 35th FIG
were withdrawn to Japan on May 25, where these was a recycling of personnel and equipment and the F-51D only
remained with the 40th FIS, serving as an Operational Training Unit (OTU).
July – September, 1950
The Mustang saw only a short service career with this unit. Its component units were the 7th FBS, 8th FBS and 9th
FBS. Although operations were initiated by July, by the end of September, their pilots were again flying F-80s.
45th TRS/67th TRW
1) Dean Rusk became U.S. Secretary of State in the John
F. Kennedy and subsequently Lyndon B. Johnson cabinets. He was instrumental in the diplomatic resolving of
the Cuban Missile Crisis.
3. 12. 1950 – 10. 1. 1953
This reconnaissance unit, falling under the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, was activated as early as September 3, but didn’t receive its Mustangs until December 3. It flew with standard F-51Ds, as well as the camera
equipped RF-51D. On July 1, 1951, the 67th TRG lost its Commanding Officer in action, Karl F. Polifka, a renowned
USAF expert on aerial reconnaissance.
2) After the end of hostilities, Charles H. Bonesteel III served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary
of State. It was his idea to split Korea along the 38th
Parallel. During the Korean War, he commanded American Armed Forces in Korea and between 1966 and
1969 he commanded the 8th Army stationed in Korea,
a function he fulfilled during several smaller conflicts
known as “the Second Korean War” that occurred in the
demilitarized zone (Korean DMZ Conflict).
4) Determining the exact number of available F-51D
Mustangs in Japan at the beginning of the Korean War
was difficult. Sources differ considerably. The official
figure is placed at 47 and comes from official USAF documentation.
5) Several articles have claimed that there were ten Mustangs in Korea when the
war began, there to train Korean pilots.
In fact, on June 25, 1950, no Mustangs in Korea could
By the end of the war, ROKAF Mustang units
6) F-51 Mustang Units of the Korean War, Warren
Thompson, Osprey Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing
partners of the Allies.
were able to operate independently as equal
photo: Republic of Korea Armed Forces
3) Interest in the command over Bout One was shown
by Major Charles Bowers and Major Dean Hess. The decision was finally made basically a coin toss, in Hess’s