Not one of our Primary Mission Areas. We will never be asked to do that. If we did that, it would take away from the job that we think in most important. There are more important things we will have to do. That is a distraction. Our platform isn't optimized for that. We think other platforms can do that better. My boss won't let us talk about that.
You hear lots of that sometimes. Nonetheless, warfare asks a lot of people and machines. You often have to do the mission that is most needed, not the one that you like doing, the one your peacetime theorizing told you would be important - or the one that you are told you are supposed to push.
No, in the end - everything you do is, and should be, focused on the most important warfighter in any war. The man with his foot, sandal, or boot is on the ground with a weapons saying "this is ours."
Our friends in the VP Navy found themselves in this very spot in 1951 - and in every other war since - even though they don't like it.
Welcome to Lamp Lighter.
Patrol squadrons (VP) were among the first from the Naval Air Reserve to deploy overseas. Recalled to
active duty on 20 July 1950, VP-892 reported to NAS San Diego the following month, and on 18 December logged its first mission, the first by a reserve squadron during the Korean War. Eventually, seven recalled patrol squadrons served during the conflict, flying PBM-5 Mariners, PB4Y/P4Y-2 Privateers and P2V-2/3 Neptunes. The crews flew a variety of missions, including long-range antisubmarine warfare and reconnaissance flights in the Sea of Japan and along the coasts of China and North Korea. This could get dangerous, as evidenced by the experiences of a VP-731 crew operating over the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea. On 31 July 1952, two Chinese MiG-15 jets attacked a squadron PBM-5S2, killing two crewmen and wounding two others. The plane's pilot, Lieutenant E. E. Bartlett, Jr., descended to low altitude, weaving in an effort to avoid further attack, and limped to Paengyong, South Korea, where he made an emergency landing. Two squadrons, VPs 772 and 871, harkened back to the days of the famous "Black Cat" patrol squadrons by operating at night over Korea, dropping flares to support night interdiction and close air support missions by Marine Corps aircraft.
Privateers from VP-28, VP-772, and VP-871 flew flare missions in support of Marine Corps F7F Tigercat and F4U-5N Corsair night fighters. They carried up to 250 high-intensity parachute flares, enough to provide target illumination for several teams of attack aircraft during a single night sortie.
In 1951 VP squadrons were pressed into another role, this time over land, dropping illumination flares in support of air strikes. Known as Firefly missions, they helped deny the night to enemy supply movements. Admiral Arthur W. Radford suggested the use of P4Y-2 Privateers as flare ships to replace the more vulnerable R4D Skytrains in illuminating targets for Marine Corps F4U-5N Corsair and F7F-3N Tigercat night hecklers. One P4Y from VP-772 was modified For the mission and proved highly successful, and three more P4Ys from VP-772 and VP-28 were assigned as "Lamp Lighters" (later operated by successive squadrons). During a typical mission, the P4Y would rendezvous with four attack aircraft, search for truck convoys and illuminate the targets for the attack aircraft.
Although United Nations forces were successful in maintaining air superiority over most of the Korean peninsula, lumbering patrol aircraft had a few encounters with enemy aircraft. A VP-42 Mariner was damaged on 11 May 1952 by a MiG-15 fighter over the Yellow Sea, and on 31 July 1952 a VP-731 PBM was seriously damaged by gunfire from a MiG-15, which killed two crewmen and injured two others.
Low level. At night. Large, slow plane. Not trained for it. Do it anyway. 2/3 initially done by Reserve Squadrons. Great success. Almost forgotten. Enemy killed. Americans saved.
D@mn Reservists. Fullbore.
First posted in 2007 and every 5-yrs or so since.
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