A giant C–124 Globemaster tests its ability to land on a
Korean runway in October 1951.
The U.S. Air Force in Korea
Combat Cargo in the
William M. Leary
A I R F O R C E H I S T O R Y A N D M U S E U M S P R O G R A M
We now know, as we never knew it in the
Air Force before, that we can fly
anything, anywhere, any time. Climate,
mountains, oceans—those can’t stop us.
William H. Tunner, 1948
Permission to reproduce the 1950 Time cover was obtained from Time Inc.
Futrell, United States Air Force in Korea
AT 0330 ON SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 1950, the powerful North Korean Peo-
ple’s Army (NKPA) crossed the 38th parallel and smashed into the poorly
equipped South Korean units that guarded the border between the two Asian
nations. For a brief time, it appeared that the army of the Republic of Korea
(ROK) might be able to withstand the assault. But resistance soon collapsed.
Shortly after midnight on June 27, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Com-
mander for the Allied Powers in Japan (SCAP), ordered the Far East Air
Forces (FEAF) to assist in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from the South Ko-
rean capital of Seoul.
The airlift began at dawn, when seven C–54s from the 374th Troop Carrier
Wing and four C–46s and ten C–47s from various units in Japan flew into
Seoul’s Kimpo Airfield. Twice during the day, North Korean fighters attempt-
ed to interfere with the evacuation. U.S. Air Force F–82s and F–80s shot down
seven of the attackers and forced the remainder to flee northward. By mid-
night, the transports had carried 748 people to safety in Japan.
It quickly became clear that air transport would be necessary to deliver ur-
gently needed supplies to the retreating ROK army. Unfortunately, airlift assets
in the Far East were meager. FEAF’s major transport unit, the 374th Troop
Carrier Wing, had two squadrons of C–54s at Tachikawa Air Base, near Tokyo,
and one squadron at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. In addition, FEAF
could call upon the 13 C–46s and 22 C–47s that were