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by Charles Hinton
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|Navigator class 51-27 graduated on the 6th of November in '51. The week before we graduated the entire class came down with a then prevalent social disease. It was called "Gonetokorea." |
|I spent only a short time in Korea but my Korean service stands as an important part of my life. I well remember there were times near sunrise when my crew on the west coast and another crew from the 17th Bb Gp on the east coast were the northernmost Americans and stood symbolically alone between Communism and Democracy. |
I arrived in Korea on Dec. 15th 1951. I was assigned to the 3rd Bomb Group at Kunsan, designated as "K-8", and further assigned to the 13th Bomb Squadron. Our B-26s were trimmed in red and carried our Squadron logo, "Oscar", the Grim Reaper, on the nose. It was a "gung ho" squadron with tremendous esprit de corp.
|During this period of the war the mission of the B-26s was to interdict the flow of communist supply traffic from Manchuria to the front lines near the 38th parallel. We flew almost exclusively at night, low level, through the valleys searching for trucks and trains. |
|The B-26s were generally equipped in one of two ways. The airplanes we called a "soft nose" Plexiglas nose with a bombardier or navigator in the front. || |
"a soft-nosed bomber"
|The other type was called a "hard nose", and these planes were equipped with either 6 or 8 .50 caliber machine guns in the nose. Both types had 3 guns in each wing, plus a gunner who usually had upper and lower turrets with two .50 caliber guns in each. Both types of planes carried a generous bomb load in the belly and on hard points under the wings. It was claimed we carried as heavy a load as a B-17 during WW II. || |
"a hard-nosed bomber"
|I flew my first dollar ride on Dec. 30th 1951. I flew with a pilot known as "Choo Choo Baker" on a flight to Red 19. From takeoff to landing I never knew where we were. I remember the plane diving in to the blackness of an inkwell and the explosion which blew a truck all over N. Korea. The 3rd time I crawled into a B-26 I went north of the bomb line. |
I flew with many pilots and came to know many brave men. I knew others who were said to strafe until they ran out of oxygen. We called them tigers and pussycats.
|I think the gunners were the bravest of them all. They flew cooped up in their compartments, with their only knowledge of the mission what they could see from their periscope and the conversation from the front over the intercom. |
There were many great "Tigers" during my tour. The greatest Tiger of them all was Chuck Wolfe. Then a Captain, Wolfe had 13,400 hours in 70 different aircraft. He flew many of the special missions which no one talked about. On one occasion it was reported that he dropped a load of cigarettes on a POW camp.