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Steadfast and Courageous: FEAF Bomber Command and the Air War in Korea, 1950-1953

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For 3 years, beginning in June 1950, air and ground crews of the U.S. Air Force USAF conducted bombing operations with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses in support of the United Nations UN forces engaged on the peninsula of Korea. Powered by four large radial piston engines, the propeller-driven Superfortress had been the most advanced very long-range heavy bomber developed during World War II, but it was now considered just a medium bomber outclassed by early jet aircraft. Manned principally by officers and men from the Strategic Air Command SAC, the B-29 units carried out missions very different from the task for which SAC was trained. Instead of striking at the homeland of a major industrial power with atomic weapons, the crews attacked targets of many types, showing the variety of functions that air power could perform. The bombers carried out battlefield support, interdiction, and counter airfield missions. They hit industrial targets of the type normally classified as strategic and also took part in an effort to utilize air power to pressure the enemy to agree to a cease-fire. This study traces the war fought by the Far East Air Forces FEAF Bomber Command Provisional, the B-29 force created to attack targets in Korea from bases in Okinawa and Japan. Consisting of units belonging to FEAF and others from SAC assigned on temporary duty, Bomber Command cooperated with other USAF organizations to support operations in the Korean peninsula. The B-29 crews earned credit in all 10 of the recognized campaigns of the Korean War. Following a brief but intensive air campaign in the summer of 1950, North Korea posed negligible air opposition, but when the Chinese entered the war in November, assisted by Soviet fighter pilots flying MiG-15 jet fighters, the limitations of the obsolescent B-29s became apparent. By Oct 1951, the B-29s had switched to a night campaign that went on for 1 12 years. By 1953, SAC was well on the way to removing the B-29s from its inventor7

Subject Categories:

  • Bombers
  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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