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4th Pilots Describe Their MIG Kills

Typical of the debriefing comments made by 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing pilots during the Korean Ware are those following made on May 16, 1953, a banner day for 5th AF Sabrejets when they knocked 11 MIGs out of the sky while damaging six more.

Capt. Manual J. Fernandez, Jr. "I closed in and overshot. One MIG broke right and I followed and got good hits in the tailpipe. The MIG began spinning, then the canopy came off and the pilot bailed out. This was not the easiest or the toughest fight, but one of the quickest."

1st Lt. Bruno A. Giordano. "The number two MIG in a flight of four left hard. I followed and started firing from 1,000 feet. I closed to 500 feet, let go another burst and hit him in his tailpipe. Fire and smoke poured out as he swept up and left. I hit him again and he turned down and right, and went to the deck."

1st Lt. Forrest G. Dupree. "I closed on the number four man and fired from 500 feet. I had to break then because another MIG was firing on me. I leveled out and caught my MIG again and let go a long and short burst.  All ammo went home. The plane caught on fire and as it rolled over, the pilot bailed out."

1st Lt. Walter W. Fellman, Jr. "I turned into the MIGs as they headed for the Yalu river. Two went high and I pulled up and got on one. I started to chase him and we went through the speed of sound before I came into range. I fired and got good hits in his tail and wing root. Pieces began to come off his tail. Then I fired again and the canopy came off. He went over on his left wing and then into a flat spin. My last burst knocked his tail off and it came flying past me. The MIG spun in and exploded in a sheet of flame."

Major James W. Jabara – the first jet ace of the Korean War. "Four MIGs saw us and began a left turn to evade us. I took the number two man and fired one burst into his fuselage. I fired at him again and by now his nose section was a ball of fire. The second burst hit his tail and parts began stripping off. The canopy came off and the pilot bailed out. As he blew back past his plane, I saw him hit the tail."

1st Lt. Merton E. Ricker. "As I started after two MIGs that were out of range, I saw two more headed north under us. I dove on them and picked one out. Then I just closed, fired and raked him from tailpipe to nose. The canopy came off and the pilot ejected. After the pilot had left the plane, though, it kept flying straight and level, and still burning."

2nd Lt. Phillip A. Redpath. "I was wingman for Lieutenant Ricker and I watched his MIG disappear in smoke. Just then another MIG came through the two of us. I got on his tail but he must’ve seen me, because he went into violent evasive action. Then he suddenly snapped into a spin and never recovered from it. Never did see the pilot eject before it hit and exploded."

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Rickenbacker and Fernandez Compare Air Combat Notes

When two air aces get together there’s bound to be a bull session, but when the aces are Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker and Capt. Manuel Ferandez, then the session takes on added interest.

Such a meeting took place last year just after Fernandez, from the Fourth FIW and with 14 MIG-15s to his credit, returned to the States.

Here’s how the United Press reported the meeting:

"How fast is that Sabrejet?" asked Captain Rickenbcker, America’s No. 1 ace of World War I who shot down 21 German planes and four balloons.

"More than 640 miles an hour," answered Captain Fernandez.

"The Spad we flew would do all of 120, and maybe when somebody was on my tail I could get 250, going downhill a little, " Rickenbacker recalled.

Fernandez said his jet was armed with six .50 cal. machine guns that fired about 1,000 rounds a minute. Rickenbacker said "we had a couple of .30 cals."

"Did you have much trouble with guns jamming?" the WWI ace asked.

"I had only one or two guns jam, " Fernandez replied.

"We didn’t have anything but… we carried a hammer tied to our wrists and when a gun jammed you just slapped it a few times," Rickenbacker said.

Rickenbacker asked Fernandez: "With the MIG against the Sabrejet, did they have any advantage over you?"

"About the same as a Fokker did over you, as I understand it, " Said Fernandez. "A MIG can get up there and we tried to engage them before they engaged us."

"How far away were you when you started shooting?"

Fernandez said he hit a MIG at 3,500 feet.

"Lord, it was 35 feet with me," said Rickenbacker, "Maybe I was a poor shot but I wasted a lot of ammunition unless I put the nose of my plane right up to his tail."

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