by Igor N. GordelianowRecently, a distinguished Soviet airmen has told of his participation in the Korean War from 1952-53. This war started as a conflict between North and South Korean, but in a short time both the USSR and the USA were drawn into the battle. Alexandr Pavlovich Smortzkow was born in 1919. During the Korean War he served as the commander of the 18th Air craft Regiment. He was decorated with the "Gold Star" order for his service in the Korean War. He is also a "Hero of the Soviet Union" and at the present time he is a retired Colonel.
He gave the following interview to a reporter of the Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda: "in June 1950, I was flying MiG-15 out of Moscow when the commander of the Moscow Air Defense (PVO), General Colonel K. Moscalenko, informed me of the arrival of top secret orders concerning the conflict in Korea. The signal to initiate the orders, "Polikarpov Po-2 in Flight" had been received and we were to board a secret train at night to travel to the Far East. When we arrived in the Far East, we found the weather to be very bad; heavy tropical downpours such as I have never experienced in my lifetime. Many ducks were swimming on our airfield. First we operated from Mukdan airbase, but after a few days our 18-aircraft regiment was transferred to Andun airbase. "Our first flights were in formation with MiG - 15s from other regiments: 24 MiG-15 in three groups of eight aircraft. We were dressed in Chinese uniforms and our aircraft carried Chinese insignia. Initially, we were ordered to speak only Korean over the radio. Since most Russian pilots did not know Korean and we had to use Korean dictionaries for even the simplest words necessary for fighting and flying, as you can imagine, this order was soon abolished. "Our attitudes towards the American pilots were complicated. During the Second World War, we had been allies against Hitler. Therefore, in Korea, we did not view the Americans as enemies, but only as opponents. Our motto in the air was 'Competition - with whomever.' "Americans attacking North Korea in our area had two main targets: The bridges across the Yalunczyan River and the Andun power station which was supplying electrical power to North Korea. Our pilots protected these two objectives with great success. Out first aerial victory was scored by Akatow who shot down an F-86 Sabre. This free pilot later died of wounds suffered in combat; he had only one aerial victory. Also killed was my friend Valentin Filimonow who was shot down when two F-86 Sabres attacked his MiG-15. "My opinions about the relative abilities of Soviet and American aircraft and pilots were as follows: I thought the American pilots were very good. This opinion was shared by other Soviet pilots including my friends Vladimir Voistinnych and Pete Chourkin. However, the MiG-15 was a very good aircraft. It had only one big problem - the engine would stop abruptly during a sharp turn. As for the American aircraft: the F-80 Shooting Star was not very good, the F-84 Thunderjet was average, but the F-86 Sabre was very good. "One day we attacked a group of Australian Gloster Meteors. They were a big, easy targets for us. My friend Oskin and I destroyed five Meteors during this one fight. "One night we intercepted B-29 Superfortresses. I was listening to my radio - 'Group of B-29s in front of you!' I dove my MiG-15 with my heart pounding. Soon I saw the B-29s with many protecting fighters. I attacked and destroyed two B-29s and one of the escorting Sabres. Over my radio came the question: 'Alexandr! How are you getting on?' I answered with a furious 'Victory! It's O.K.!' That night our regiment destroyed five B-29s." Alexandr Smortzkow finished the Korean War with 12 victories (5 B-29, 2 F-86, and 5 Meteors.
Ivan Kozedub, the great Soviet ace of the Second World War (62 victories) and "Hero of the Soviet Union" with three "Gold Stars", was the commander of all the Soviet fighter regiments in Korea. He did not fly in Korea, but his regiments accounted for 258 victories.
Other Soviet Aces of the Korean War:
Nikolay Shkodin: 5 victories (4 F-86 and one F-84G). During the war he flew 150 combat missions. He is presently a General-Major retired.
Yevgeny Pepelyaev: with 23 victories, he was the top Soviet ace in the Korean War. He was known as the "Big night boy".
Anatoly Karelin: 9 victories (all B-29s destroyed at night during "Free Hunter" missions.
Other Soviet aces were:
Nikolay Ivanov (6 F-86), Mikhail Mihin (9 F-86), Nick Sutyagin (23 victories), L. Schukin (more than 10 victories), and D. Oskin (more than 10 victories).
Other Soviets with more than 10 victories were: G. Pulov, G. Ohay, S. Veshnyakov, G. Ges, A. Boytzow, and D. Samaoylov.
Alexandr Smortzkow's interview concluded: "Before my last flight of the War, my division commander ordered that we were to attack Sabres and then fly back to the USSR. On this flight, I was wounded in the leg. Back in the USSR, I learned that an American pilot with the Russian name, Makhonin, had been captured along with his brand new F-86. It was interesting to study his aircraft up close. "Thus, the war was finished for us. However, many of my good friends had perished in Korea and they were buried at Port Artur."
Igor M. Gordelianow (SAFCH #1066), ul. Strijskaja 179 kw.68, Lvowskaja obl., g. Drogobych, 293720 Ukraina.
Small Air Forces Observer vol. 17 no. 1 (65) January,