USAF F-84 Service in Korea

The definitive use of the Thunderjet in wartime was as an attack fighter in Korea. The unexpected invasion of the southern peninsula of Korea by communist forces on June 25, 1950, caught the "allied" nations unprepared, and they, under the umberella of the United Nations, had to scramble to answer the invasion. One part of the UN countries lack of preparation was shortage of combat ready aircraft, so remnants of WWII air fleets from several countries along with Air National Guard aircraft from the United States were hurriedly transported to Japan and Korea to help stem -- and, hopefully, turn -- the tide of the communist invasion. Most of these aircraft were propeller driven, such as the P/F-51, P/F-82, Skyraider, Corsair, etc.

Very quickly, it became apparent to the UN forces that more modern aircraft were needed, and the intent was that some of the new but range-limited and still troublesome jet fighter and attack planes would replace the outdated propeller driven planes. The F-80 was the first USAF jet to see duty in Korea, and E-model Thunderjets soon followed. Again, especially after the MiG 15 entered the war, it became apparent that the F-80 and the F-84 were serverely outlclassed as fighters by the MiG. Accelerated efforts to counter the MiG lead to the F-86 taking on the brunt of fighter duties, while the F-80 took on mainly a reconnaisance role, and the Thunderjet, a very stable gun and bomb platform, was used primarily in the attack role.

The E-model Thunderjet was slated to be replaced by Republic's swept wing variant, originally assigned as F-96, then changed to F-84F. However, teething problems with the intended engine and lack of production capacity to forge the central wing spar, along with pitch stability problems traced to the horizonal stabilizer, caused considerable production delays and the F-model, designated Thunderstreak, never entered a combat role in Korea. Absent the F-84F, as an alternative, the US requisitioned the marginial but serviceable F-84D from several ANG and other service units, and transferred them to Japan and Korea to fill the gap. Meanwhile, Republic and the USAF had agreed to an upgrade to the F-84E, which despite objections form Republic, as assigned the designation F-84G. As quickly as possible, G-models were sent to Korea and the D-models were retired from Korea.

Although the Thunderjet was not the recipient of the glamour and media attention attended upon the Sabre, and despite its "ground hog" nickname, it gained a well deserved reputation for being a sturdy and reliable attack workhorse that could deliver the ordinance then bring its pilot home despite considerable combat damage. And, when necessary, the Thunderjet could make an accounting for itself in a dogfight, as several MiG pilots found out the hard way.

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Quonset huts and flightline.

Bomb carts at flightline.

Art by Doc Savage.

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Service to FS-153-A.

Service to FS-114-A.

Tail damage to FS-406.

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FS-163-A and FS-287.

FS-153-A and FS-480-A.

FS-121-A in JATO smoke.

Photos by Al Cocks via Jim Cocks.
See also Photos section for more photos by Al Cocks via Jim Cocks.

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27th FEW Thunderjets being loaded onto a carrier.

Night repairs to F-84 at Taegu.

F-84 battle damage.

Photos from 27 FEW Yearbook via Gary Asher.
See also Photos section for more photos from 27 FEW Yearbook via Gary Asher.

Contents Copyright 1997-2000 Bruce Craig -- All Rights Reserved