Mosquito History

Sorties Flown   40324
KIA & MIA later declared dead   76
POW Died in Prison   12
Flight Crew WIA   49
Other WIA (We know this is low because many wounded were treated and returned to duty without any records kept)   9
The following excerpt is reprinted from:

"The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953"

by Robert F. Futrell
Revised, Second Printing, 1983

In order to integrate the effort of air and ground forces, each operating under its own command, official doctrine recognized the requirement for a joint agency which served to exchange battle information, to provide the Army commander with a facility at which he might present his requirements for air support, and to provide the Air Force commander with an agency for timely planning and control of the supporting air effort. This agency was called a "Joint Operations Center." The physical make-up of the center included an Air Force combat operations section and an Army air-ground operations section. Designed to operate in close association with the Joint Operations Center (JOC) was an Air Force activity designated as the Tactical Air Control Center (TACC). Primarily a communications organization, the TACC was the focal point of aircraft control and warning activities for the tactical air force.

Although he could not yet move the advanced echelon of Fifth Air Force headquarters to Korea, General Partridge was anxious to open a Joint Operations Center at Taejon. At Itazuke, on 3 July, General Timberlake accordingly organized a combat operations section, drawing officers from the advanced echelon and airmen from the 8th Communications Squadron, in all; 10 officers and 35 airmen. Lt. Col. John R. Murphy was named officer-in-charge of the operations section, and he moved his personnel and equipment to Taejon on 5 and 6 July, and set up for business at the 24th Division's headquarters in an office adjoining the division G-3. Later on FEAF would say that the JOC opened at Taejon on 5 July, but since the army did not man its side of the establishment, Colonel Murphy's section was something less than a joint operations center. Lacking Army representatives, Air Force intelligence officers in Colonel Murphy's party scouted around the Army headquarters building and picked up such targets as seemed profitable for air attack. The state of the war was so confused that the 24th Division's operations officer was frequently unable to post an accurate location of friendly troops. "At Taejon," said Lt. Col. John McGinn, who was now working with Colonel Murphy's section, "we would get a target, and then pretty soon the Army liaison pilots would come in and say that our troops were in that area and it wouldn't be advisable to go there for a target.'' Even when Colonel Murphy's section obtained worthwhile targets, communicating them back to the advanced echelon of the Fifth Air Force in Itazuke proved to be a difficult to impossible matter. The section had a very high-frequency radio for air-control work and a land-line telephone and teletype to Itazuke, but the wire circuit back to Japan was said to have been out of order approximately 75 percent of the time. Understanding this lack of communications, General Timberlake scheduled F-80 flights from Itazuke and Ashiya at twenty-minute intervals during the daylight hours, and these flights checked in over Taejon with Colonel Murphy's control station "Angelo". When "Angelo" had supporting targets, it gave them to the pilots; when "Angelo" had no targets, the fighter pilots proceeded up the roads between Osan and Seoul and looked for targets of opportunity.

According to the existing doctrine on air-ground operations, the tactical air force furnished tactical aircontrol parties (TACP's) to serve as the most forward element of the tactical control system and to control supporting aircraft strikes from forward observation posts. Each TACP was composed of an experienced pilot officer, who served as forward air controller, and the airmen needed to operate and maintain the party's vehicular-mounted communications equipment. On 28 June, while ADCOM was still at Suwon, General Timberlake had sent two tactical air-control parties there, hoping that they might be useful for controlling air strikes in support of ROK troops. These two parties—headed by Lieutenants Oliver Duerksen and Frank Chermak—retreated back to Taejon with ADCOM, and they were ready to go into the field when the first elements of General Dean's division reached that place. Both parties were from Detachment I, 620th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, and Colonel Murphy brought the other four control parties of this detachment with him from Itazuke. Since Detachment I had been formed for the purpose of cooperative training with Eight Army troops, the control parties had had some maneuver experience in directing close-support strikes. Each of the parties was equipped with an AN/ARC-1 radio jeep and another jeep which served as a personnel carrier. All this equipment was old. Most of it had been in use or in storage in the theater since World War II.

As the forward elements of the 24th Division advanced northward from Taejon to engage the enemy, Lieutenants Chermak and Duerksen joined the advanced command posts on 3 and 4 July. Here they immediately began to run into trouble. "The weather was . . . murky, ceiling was on the ground," recalled Duerksen. Chermak's radio broke down, and he had to go back to Taejon for another jeep. On 8 July, when working with the 21st Infantry Regiment at the little town of Chonui, the weather cleared up enough so that Duerksen finally got a chance to control his first flight of F-80's onto a target. Now the radio jeep revealed another vulnerability. The control jeep had no remoting equipment, which would allow the forward air controller to leave the vehicle in a sheltered spot and advance on foot to a position from which he could see the target. As Duerksen said, "Any time that we would be able to get the jeep in a position where we were able to control, we would be exposed ourselves, and the Communists would start laying artillery in on US."

Within a few days attrition began to take a toll of the men and equipment of Detachment 1. The AN/ACR-1 was at once heavy and fragile, and it was quickly jolted out of operation by normal travel over the rough roads. Because of the lack of replacement parts and test equipment, only three radio-control jeeps were operational on 11 July. On this day Lt. Arnold Rivedal—a young officer who was described as "very willing and eager . . . a very fine example"—was hit by a burst of hostile fire while reconnoitering along the front lines. His radio operator and mechanic survived and evaded capture, but Lieutenant Rivedal was lost in action, with his radio jeep. Later that day, while moving north from a regimental command post at Chochiwon toward the front lines, Lt. Philip J. Pugliese and his party were cut off by a North Korean road block. They destroyed their equipment and dispersed to walk out, but two of the airmen—S/Sgt. Bird Hensley and Pfc. Edward R. Logston—never returned to friendly territory.

As the first week of American air-ground operations ended, certain facts were becoming evident. The rough roads of Korea were quickly battering the old AN/ARC1 jeeps out of commission. The unarmored jeeps, moreover, could not be exposed to enemy fire, and thus the TACP's could seldom get far enough forward for maximum effectiveness. Under normal circumstances, Army units were supposed to request air-support missions against specific targets through the air-ground operations section of the JOC. But the 24th Division was retreating, and, more often than not, its battalions were unable to identify points of enemy strength on their front lines. American ground troops badly needed close support, yet the jet fighters, limited to short time at lower altitudes over the front lines, had to have an immediate target for air attack in order to give effective ground support.

Who first thought of the solution to all of these problems—the employment of airborne tactical air coordinators—was not recorded, but the use of airborne controllers was not new in the Air Force. In mountainous Italy, during World War II, "Horsefly" liaison pilots had led fighter-bombers to obscure close-supported targets. Shortly after he reached Tacjon Colonel Murphy apparently asked the Fifth Air Force to provide an operations officer and five pilots who could fly reconnaissance and control missions for his section. On 9 July Lts. James A. Bryant and Frank G. Mitchell brought to Taejon two L-5G liaison planes, modified with four-channel very high frequency radios. Bryant and Mitchell were unable to get their radio equipment to work in the field, but they borrowed rides in two 24th Division L-17's during their first day in Taejon. Although Bryant was bounced by two Yaks over the road between Ichon and Umsong, the two airborne controllers—calling themselves "Angelo Fox" and "Angelo George"—each hailed down and managed about ten flights of F-80's during the day. There was some confusion, for the fighter pilots had not been briefed to expect airborne control, but the results of the missions brought Colonel Murphy's comment that it was "the best day in Fifth Air Force history.''

Some continued efforts were made to use liaison planes, but on 10 July Lt. Harold E. Morris brought a T-6 trainer aircraft to Taejon, and in flights during the day he demonstrated that this plane was best able to perform airborne control. One thought at this time was that the T-6 was fast enough to survive enemy air attacks whereas liaison aircraft did not have enough speed to evade the enemy. North Korean Yaks had shot down several liaison-type aircraft in the early stages of the war. Maj. Merrill H. Carlton, who arrived in Taejon on 11 July to undertake direction of the airborne control detachment, appealed strongly for more of the unarmed but speedy T-6's, each to be equipped with eight-channel AN/ARC-3 radio sets. During their first few days of operations the airborne controllers demonstrated their value. Given permission briefings by Colonel Murphy's combat operations section in Taejon* City, the airborne controllers reconnoitered the front lines, located worthwhile targets, and "talked" fighter-bomber pilots to successful attacks against the enemy objectives. "There was no definite system," said one of the early airborne controllers, "the only thing we had was an aeronautical chart and a radio .... We went into the back of the enemy lines and reconnoitered the roads . . . . We saw some tanks, got on each radio channel until we got fighters in the Chochiwon area, and any fighter who heard us would give us a call and we would give them the target."

Immediately after concluding their missions, the airborne controllers went into Taejon City and were interrogated by the combat operations section. The information which they furnished permitted the combat operations officers to keep their situation maps up to date with current locations of friendly and hostile troops. Enemy pressure against Taejon forced Major Carlton to move the airborne control function back to Taegu Airfield on the morning of 13 July. Here he received additional T-6 aircraft and pilots, and, although the organizational status of the airborne controllers remained anomalous, they soon gained a popular name. In a Fifth Air Force fragmentary operations order issued on 15 July the airborne controllers were given radio call signs as "Mosquito Able," "Mosquito Baker," and "Mosquito How." The call sign was catching and appropriate, and thereafter the unit was commonly called the "Mosquito" squadron and the airborne controllers and their planes were called "Mosquitos. "

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