This video includes three films produced during the Korean War by the Navy.
CARRIER ACTION OFF KOREA
This film produced by the Navy in 1954 starts with scenes of United Nations and North Korean delegates arriving at Panmunjon on July 23, 1953 to sign the armistice agreement ending the fighting in Korea. Pictured signing the agreement are Lieutenant General William K. Harrison, USA, for the United Nations and General Nam II for North Korea and China.
The first carrier strike of the Korean War occurred when the USS Valley Forge CV-45 steamed from the Philippines to a launching point off of Korea, where on July 3 the Valley Forge and the British carrier HMS Triumph sent the first strikes against the North Korean communist capital of Pyongyang.
Following is footage of the carrier Boxer CV-21 launching F9F Panther jets. The mission at this initial point in the war was to provide air support for Army and Marine Corps forces defending a shrinking perimeter. On the ground, troops are pictured advancing along a dusty road with tank support. Air support was to provide strikes to within 50 yards of friendly forces.
Panther jets and F4U Corsairs are seen attacking North Korean forces. Troops, trucks, tanks, ships, aircraft are seen being hit as North Korean forces advance on the Naktong River where U.N. forces are holding a tight perimeter. Harbors, factories, refineries and mines, all sources of enemy war material, are seen being struck also.
With a view of the naval bombardment of Inchon, the Valley Forge is seen from the air ready to support the amphibious assault of the 1st Marine Division on September 15, 1950. Beaches are seen being assaulted. Panther jets are pictured providing air support. Carrier planes are next viewed hitting the Yalu River bridges connecting North Korea with China. North Korean aircraft are pictured attacking Navy aircraft in the skies over North Korea. In early November 1950 Panther jets from the Philippine Sea CV-47 tangle with MIGs over the Yalu. In high-altitude battles, these planes made the first Navy jet kills of the war. Also pictured in this sequence are AD-6 Skyraiders.
On the ground 8th Army forces are pictured moving southward after the intervention of Chinese forces into the war. Desperately they need air support. And Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces Far East, who is pictured throws every available aircraft carrier into the fight.
Panther jets are seen being launched. While the effects of the Korean winter are seen graphically as men work on aircraft on a snow covered flight deck. One aircraft scene belongs to squadron VF-114.
Pictured in the next sequence is Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgeway, who took command of 8th Army in late December 1950 and would later replace General MacArthur in April 1951 upon his relief by President Harry S. Truman. Ridgeway ordered Operation Killer, the destruction of enemy troops and equipment where ever found. In sequence various air attacks are pictured. And B-29 bombers are pictured attacking enemy targets. This sequence contains footage of the carriers Valley Forge and Boxer. It also contains action footage of continuous interdiction actions of carrier-based aircraft.
In April 1951 when the communist launch their spring offensive United Nations forces digging behind the Pukhan River waiting for the communist to attack. Instead the communists close the gates of the Hwachon Reservoir to lower the river level before they launch their attack across the river. In response the carrier Princeton CV-37's Skyraiders are loaded with torpedoes for the first time since World War 2. This sequence contains good torpedo attack footage as the skyraiders press their attacks on the reservoirs gates. It also shows the damage inflicted on them causing the Pukhan River to flood and checking the communist attackers.
In 1952 carrier based aircraft teamed up with shore based Marine Corps and 5th Air Force aircraft to target communist power plants near the Yalu River. In two days in June 1952 carrier planes mounted a total of 556 bombing sorties resulting in 90 percent of North Korea's power potential being knocked out. Throughout this sequence there is excellent action footage. These were the largest raids mounted since World War II. As the film nears a conclusion there is a description of the various missions conducted by carrier aviation.
During the Korean War naval aviation accomplished the following in Korea. Over 1,119 days of sustained combat operations. Navy and Marine Corps squadrons launched a total of 183,000 aircraft. And these planes flew more than 1/3 of the combat sorties flown by the United States during the Korean War. On strikes against the enemy the carrier-based aircraft delivered more tons of high explosives than carrier-based aircraft dropped in all of World War II.
CHOSIN RESERVOIR TO HUNGNAM
This film, the second on the video, was produced in 1954 by the Navy and examines the struggle of the Marines in their retreat from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam in the freezing Autumn of 1950 and how the Navy's carriers supported them. It is told from the perspective of a sergeant serving in a small 1st Marine Division unit.
Starting, there is a clip of a forward Marine Corps camp in the windy snowing North Korean environment. There is a good aerial view of the Chosin Reservoir. Fighter aircraft are seen attacking an enemy target.
Next enemy prisoners are seen being captured. One who is fighting barefooted with frozen feet is pictured. Another group is seen moving down a ridge line and surrendering. Marines are seen carrying their wounded while a chaplain administers the last rights to the dead.
From their tent camp Marines start their march south on the main supply route. At this critical point in the film there is a map view of the tactical situation now facing the Ist Marine Division with the entry of the Chinese into the war. Marching southward through mountainous terrain both foot troops and a vehicle convoy are pictured as Navy and Marine aircraft attack enemy forces along the Marines line of march. At sesa F9F Panther jets are seen being launched from the aircraft carrier Leyte CV-32.
As the division moves southward snow is seen blowing. Infantrymen supported by tanks are pictured as an F4U Corsair attacks a hillside target with napalm. Finally the Marines reach Hagaru where the temperature is minus-15 degrees. An Air Force C-119 Flying Boxcar drops supplies. Wounded are pictured being loaded onto all types of aircraft for evacuation.
At Koto-Ri Marines are seen packing up and burning other items to keep them from falling into enemy hands. On the main supply route, an Army half-track mounting quad-50s is seen. At this point in the film there is a graphic depiction of the perimeter being established around Hungnam and how it would be constricted inwardly as the forces reached the port for evacuation. An American battleship is pictured hammering the shore as rocket firing LCIs let go with a salvo. While in the air are seen B-29 bombers.
Arriving at the port Marines are pictured being shuttled out to waiting ships for evacuation. Korean refugees climb up cargo nets for evacuation on other ships.
Army troops who had held the beach head are seen being transported out to the ships also, while members of Underwater Demolition Team 3 are pictured setting their explosives at the port. And there's a massive explosion the port of Hangman blows up.
When the 193 Navy ships sailed from Hungnam the most successful evacuation in history was completed: 105,000 troops, 17,500 vehicles, 350,000 tons of cargo, plus 91,000 Korean refugees had all been safely evacuated.
This film is an absolute must addition to any military film collection in that it shows how close the 1st Marine Division came to disaster in those freezing days at the Chosin Reservoir and its successful retrograded movement back to Hungnam.
Reviews by military historian Jim Hinds
A FIGHTING LADY SPEAKS
This third, short film, on the video, is subtitled Report from Aircraft Carriers Off Korea. It focuses on carrier action and airstrikes.
FIGHTER PHOTO PILOT
Produced by the navy in 1953, this video documents the important role played by the fighter photo recon pilot. Video traces a pilot through school at Naval Air Station, Miramar (includes excellent scenes of the air sation in the 1950s) to his assignment as a F9F Panther pilot aboard a carrier (USS Essex CV-9) off the coast of Korea during the war.
Includes a lot of action (VF-24) on the flight deck of Essex. Pilot uses K17 camera.