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Battle Over Sunchon

1 DEC 1951: Korea and today sees the Air battle over Sunchon, North Korea. In the largest air-to-air battle fought by the RAAF during the Korean war, twelve 77 Squadron Meteors met between 40-50 Chinese Mig-15s. The fight precipitated a change from an air interception to a ground attack role for No. 77 Squadron.

The Battle of Sunchon was an air battle fought near the city of Sunchon during the Korean War. On 1 December 1951, 12 Gloster Meteor jets of the RAAF’s 77 Squadron were on a sweep at 19,000 feet over Sunchon when they were attacked by 40-50 Soviet and Chinese MiG-15s.

During the ensuing ten-minute action the battle ranged across North Korean airspace at altitudes between 20,000 to 33,000 feet (6,100 to 10,000 m).

The Australian pilots managed to score the first victories—destroying one MiG and probably another—but later lost three Meteors to the far superior MiG aircraft.

Two Australian pilots, Sergeant (later Wing Commander) Vance Drummond and Flying Officer Bruce Thompson, managed to eject and landed in North Korea where they became prisoners of war, while the third pilot—Flying Officer Ernest Donald Armit—was reported missing in action, presumed killed.

This encounter, along with previous actions between the Meteors and MiGs, highlighted the inferiority of the Meteor in aerial combat against the newer Soviet aircraft and No. 77 Squadron was subsequently re-assigned to ground attack. Pictured; A Royal Australian Air Force Gloster Meteor F 8 fighter (serial A-77-570) from No. 77 Squadron at K-14 Kimpo air base during the Korean War. 77 Squadron received the Meteor in May 1951. Originally it was used against the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. As the Meteors proved to be no match for the MiGs, the squadron switched to ground-attack in September 1951. A77-570 was deliverd to the Royal Air Force on 3 June 1951 (serial WE890), and came to the RAAF on 28 December 1951. It was written off on 18 March 1954. More;

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