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RB-50 SHOT DOWN

Posted 12/6/2006 Printable Fact Sheet
 
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Boeing RB-50E
Boeing RB-50E (S/N 47-0122, originally B-50B-40-BO) at Jackson Field, Padua, on Jan. 27, 1964. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Two days after the armistice was signed ending the Korean War, a Boeing RB-50 reconnaissance plane assigned to the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, temporarily attached to the 91st SRS based at Yokota Air Base, Japan, was shot down over the Sea of Japan in international waters in an area about 100 miles southeast of Vladivostok, a city just north of North Korea on the east coast of the Soviet Union.

On July 29, 1953, two MiG-15s attacked the USAF plane without warning and shot it down. This act was apparently in retaliation for the loss of a Soviet-built military transport plane that was shot down in the Korean war zone about 10 miles south of the Yalu river several days earlier. (The Soviet plane was shot down before the armistice was signed, making it a legitimate target.) After the USAF plane was shot down, the Soviets announced the loss of their plane in an attempt to divert attention away from the RB-50 shoot down. The lumbering RB-50's tail gunner was able to fire a brief burst at the MiG-15s, but the nimble fighters were able to avoid this fire and quickly downed the plane, shooting its left wing off.

The copilot of the USAF reconnaissance plane, Capt. John E. Roche, was the sole survivor of the 16-man crew. After about 10 hours in a survival raft, Capt. Roche was rescued by the U.S. Navy ship USS Picking (DD 685).

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