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Tunnel Busters - CDR T. Atkinson, USN (RFet.) Charles Schleininger corsair schleini@lemoorenet.com "During the Korean War CAG-19 ... kept
busy knocking out railroad & highway
bridges. They strafed & rocketed truck
convoys & trains loaded with supplies
that moved along confined roads &
rail-lines through narrow snow covered
mountains & frozen valleys.

The North Koreans moved mostly at night
& remained hidden as much as possible
in daylight. While supplies were
transported under the cover of darkness,
hundreds of North Koreans & Chinese
workers laid rail-lines over frozen river
beds where large steel bridges had been
bombed the day before.

VC-35 was tasked with night interdiction.
Using the naked eye & helped by radar ...
pilots sought targets & when they found
them they lit the sky with tracers, rockets
& exploding bombs.

At first light one morning VC-35 pilots,
flying AD-4Ns, spotted several trains in
succession making a dash for the mouth
of the nearest tunnel into a mountainside.
... the trains did not emerge from the other
side. ... Why not drop a large bomb with
a delayed fuse into the mouth of a
railroad tunnel?

... admiral was skeptical because the
bombing aircraft would have to approach
the target low & slow, susceptible to
ground fire. ... the largest of the North
Korean tunnels were only 17 feet wide so
the bombers would have to be extremely
accurate. It was decided that a division of
F-4U Corsairs ... would roll-in & strafe the
area surrounding a tunnel to suppress
enemy fire as the Skyraiders followed
shortly ... carrying up to three 2,000-pound
bombs which they would release one at a
time.

...On our first hops some of us dropped
too soon & too fast. The bombs hit short,
tumbled into the air & exploded without
any damage. Thereafter we slowed our
run-ins, sometimes using partial flaps &
in effect, made wheels-up carrier landing
approaches to tunnels.

From March to May 1951, VC-35 & VA-195
flew many tunnel strikes. LT A. Clapp ...
was the first to put a 2,000 pounder
directly inside a mountain tunnel. The
explosion drove dirt & debris out the other
side so far that from our ringside seat it
looked like the world's longest cannon
shot. ...

One day ... we spotted a locomotive,
seemingly out of control, speeding out the
end of a tunnel after we had exploded a
bomb inside. We chased & strafed it until
someone in the flight radioed, 'Hold up!
Check ahead!' The runway locomotive
was heading into a railyard. We gained
altitude & watched the locomotive ram
into parked box cars, sending twisted
metal & debris in all directions.

After a time we were able to place nearly
half our bombs into the mouths of the
tunnels & since we flew in four-plane
divisions with three bombs each, that
meant six 2,000-pounders found their
mark ... knocking out two to three tunnels
per four-hour mission. ...

WINGS OF GOLD, Winter 1999



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