Soviet Involvement in the Korean War

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Soviet Involvement in the Korean War

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-04-10 01:34pm

EDIT: I know this isn't so great right now, and I'll rewrite the tidbits later into something a bit more coherent; but we can at least start a discussion based on these things:

Taken From "Red Wings over the Yalu":
When the armistice was signed on July 27,1953, Moscow had rotated twelve fighter air divisions (twenty-nine fighter air regiments), ranging from 150 to three hundred fighter planes, throughout Korea. More than forty thousand Soviet troops (induding four antiaircraft artillery divisions and other support units), served in Korea, with a peak figure of twenty-six thousand from July, 1952, to August, 1953. The Communist air forces flew more than ninety thousand sorties, of which more than two-thirds were made by the Soviets, and the rest were by Chinese and North Korean pilots. The 64th IAK claimed that its fighter units were responsible for 1,106 enemy planes destroyed, and antiaircraft artillery units were credited with 212 planes downed. In return, it acknowledged the loss of 335 MiGs and 120 pilots, plus sixty-eight antiaircraft gunners killed in action.
Fearing the conflict might escalate into a full-blown war between the Soviet Union and the United States, Moscow placed security restrictions on Soviet pilots in an effort to conceal their participation in the Korean conflict. Soviet planes were disguised with North Korean markings, and Soviet pilots were required to wear Chinese uniforms when they arrived in China. Every Russian pilot had a Chinese pseudonym, and they were expected to speak Chinese on the radio in combat, although few pilots ever did. Moreover, they were prohibited from flying over enemy-held territory or the sea. In me event of capture, they were to say that they were Eurasian Chinese of Soviet extraction. Fortunately, not a single Soviet pilot was taken prisoner by UN forces during the war.
...
Soviet pilots were given the mission of protectig the bridges over the Yalu and the main supply lines running from China into North Korea. Their goal was to try to shoot down as many enemy bombers and fighter-bombers as possible. The aircraft of the 64th IAK were armed with no offensive weapons like bombs, rockets, or napalm tanks, and Soviet pilots were never allowed to engage in ground support activities by attacking U.S./UN forces, ships, or their bases behind the front unes or in Japan. The Russian pilots' air operations were purely defensive, and the Americans held the initiative, choosing the time for every engagement. According to Lobov, Soviet pilots had to sit in their cockpits for hours every day awaiting takeoff, an act that was very demoralizing.
...
The Soviet manning system also contributed to the peculiarities of air operations in Korea. Soviet generals thought it better to deploy smaller, less bulky troop organizations because of the small area of operations and many inherent restrictions. Aviation divisions and regiments were dispatched to Korea with only half of their normal strength. Division had two regiments, and each regiment had some thirty pilots. During one ten-month stretch there were only "two regiments against all of imperialism," according to Kozhedub—a mistake for which the system would pay in pain, blood, and lives as Soviet pilots carried out their combat duties.

Not until the second half of 1951 did the Soviet leadership realize that the shortage of pilots prevented air force units from reacting quickly and effectively to combat situations. Exhausted by the tension of combat flying, many Soviet pilots reached the point when they could no longer take to the air. Losses of pilots and aircraft, as well as injuries and wounds, soon rendered Soviet air force units unable to meet the demands that the war placed on them. By the fall of 1951, the Soviet General Staff had revamped the organization of air regiments, increasing the number of pilots to between sixty and seventy each. At least a third of the additional pilots were reserves, used to replace those who needed rest.

Still, unlike the Americans, Moscow abandoned the practice of rotating individual pilots, a plan that had proven effective in World War II.

Instead, the Soviets rotated entire divisions in and out of combat. Because the Soviets conducted operations in Korea behind a cloak of secrecy, newly arrived units often had little knowledge of jet combat tactics. Moreover, many pilots had not been trained to high combat standards, and the highly uneven performance of Communist pilots proved enigmatic for their American foes. Each time a unit was replaced, the Americans found themselves facing rookie Soviet pilots. Nothing so characterized this situation as the mischief done to Col. A. Shevtsov's 97th IAD, which replaced Kozhedub's veteran units at Andong in early 1952. Within four months, his division was almost decimated. Despite repeated requests from the Soviet field commander that pilots be better trained before sending them to the front, nothing was ever changed. The commander of the 64th IAK believes this was largely due to the opposition of air force and air defense leaders, and to a bureaucracy that found it easier to move divisions around in Korea than individual pilots.

By the second half of 1951, the North Korean skies were crowded with Communist aircraft piloted by Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans. However, there was no single air command system on the Communist side. From the very beginning, Soviet air operations were under highly centralized: control. The commander of the 64th IAK could do nothing but "take orders directly from Moscow." The Chinese and North Koreans formed a joint air command in April, 1951, and invited the Soviets to join and to lead it, but the Soviets refused, continuing to operate alone throughout the war.

According to the Soviet air force commander in Korea, it was a good idea to have a single joint command from a military standpoint, but for political reasons, the Soviets could not accept such an offer. Nevertheless, both sides assigned liaison officers to each other's headquarters for close coordination. Chinese military leaders even required the air force to make reports of its own accord to the Soviet air force command for instructions and solutions. The lack of a single command system and poor coordination between Soviet air units and Sino-Korean forces caused confusion. On occasion, Chinese and North Korean antiaircraft batteries blasted away at Soviet MiGs, and Russian pilots shot down Chinese MiGs mistaken as enemy Sabres
...
Despite American claims that they were forbidden from crossing the Yalu, beginning in early 1952, MiG pilots found themselves subject to attack during takeoff and landing from their airfields in China. Many Soviet pilots died before they had a real opportunity to engage their opponents. One Korean air war historian pointed out that U.S. attacks on bases in China "put the Soviet-American 'kill' ratio in air-to-air combat in a somewhat different light."
...
According to one unofficial Soviet source, thirty-two Soviet pilots became jet aces in Korea. Captain N. V. Sutyagin emerged as the top Soviet ace with twenty-one kills. The runner-up was Evgeniy Pepelyaev with twenty kills. Only twenty-two pilots were awarded the distinction of being Heroes of the Soviet Union.
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-04-10 03:03pm

That was interesting. Some, like Soviet pilots pretending to be Chinese, I already knew about. Others, like the Soviet military's refusal to coordinate operations with their Chinese and Korean allies, are news to me. By the way, what do IAK and IAD stand for? (I'm guessing IAK is the Russian acronym for Expeditionary Force to Korea.)
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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-04-10 03:08pm

Others, like the Soviet military's refusal to coordinate operations with their Chinese and Korean allies, are news to me.
Read "Uncertain Partners: Kim, Mao Stalin" or something. Neither of the three was completely supporting the other. And the USSR wasn't so keen on it's asian allies either; later the maoists fully proved that they aren't good at realpolitik at all.
IAK and IAD stand for? (I'm guessing IAK is the Russian acronym for Expeditionary Force to Korea.)
No, IAK is "Interceptor corpse" and IAD "interceptor division" IIRC.
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Post by Rogue 9 » 2008-04-10 03:29pm

Stas Bush wrote:No, IAK is "Interceptor corpse" and IAD "interceptor division" IIRC.
I hope the word you're searching for is "corps," because otherwise that's quite a disturbing image. :lol:
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Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-04-10 06:49pm

^ sorry. It's very late night here. :lol: that's hilarious.
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Post by PeZook » 2008-04-11 02:35pm

Waitwaitwait.

The Soviet's had entire air defence divisions?

What was the OOB of something so monstrous? Was it supposed to shield an entire army from air attacks or something?
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Post by KlavoHunter » 2008-04-11 06:39pm

PeZook wrote:Waitwaitwait.

The Soviet's had entire air defence divisions?

What was the OOB of something so monstrous? Was it supposed to shield an entire army from air attacks or something?
Of course the Soviets had air defense divisions.

Air defense was an entire independent branch of the Soviet military.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-04-11 07:07pm

PeZook wrote:The Soviet's had entire air divisions What was the OOB of something so monstrous? Was it supposed to shield an entire army from air attacks or something?
Nothing very monstrous; Usually four regiments, each of which had four battalions of 15 pilots per battalion. That puts 12 planes in the air per battalion. That's pretty standard. The USAAF had air divisions as well. The Bomb Divisions had 27 aircraft per bomb group and up to 10 groups per Air Division. That's up to 270 B-17s with more than 2,700 aircrew.
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Post by Vympel » 2008-04-11 11:23pm

PeZook wrote:Waitwaitwait.

The Soviet's had entire air defence divisions?

What was the OOB of something so monstrous? Was it supposed to shield an entire army from air attacks or something?
It's called the PVO, as noted, an independent branch of the military, separate from the VVS.

The VVS - Frontal Aviation - takes part in warfare over the battlefield (with its MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-29s, Su-27s, Su-17s, Su-24s, Su-25s etc etc etc etc) - the PVO defended the motherland with it's interceptors (Su-15, MiG-25, MiG-31, Su-27 etc etc etc) and air defence missiles (SA-1/SA-2/SA-3/SA-5/SA-10).
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Post by PeZook » 2008-04-12 04:59am

Stuart wrote: Nothing very monstrous; Usually four regiments, each of which had four battalions of 15 pilots per battalion. That puts 12 planes in the air per battalion. That's pretty standard. The USAAF had air divisions as well. The Bomb Divisions had 27 aircraft per bomb group and up to 10 groups per Air Division. That's up to 270 B-17s with more than 2,700 aircrew.
Ah. For some reason I thought of a huge monstrous tactical formation of 10+ thousand men with hundreds of anti-air vehicles, all concentrated in a single unit :D

Learn something every day, I guess.
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Re: Soviet Involvement in the Korean War

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-04-12 07:33pm

These text blocks are a bit unclear, did the antiaircraft artillery divisions actually serve inside of North Korea, or did they merely serve as defense of the MiG bases in China?

Despite American claims that they were forbidden from crossing the Yalu, beginning in early 1952, MiG pilots found themselves subject to attack during takeoff and landing from their airfields in China. Many Soviet pilots died before they had a real opportunity to engage their opponents. One Korean air war historian pointed out that U.S. attacks on bases in China "put the Soviet-American 'kill' ratio in air-to-air combat in a somewhat different light."
Whoever wrote this seems to not have fully understood what the American rules of engagement amounted too. Hot pursuit of MiGs into Chinese territory was always allowed, latter in the war pilots just became more lax at what constituted ‘hot pursuit’. The fact that many MiG airfield lay within clear sight of the Yalu river sure didn’t act as a deterrent.
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