Excerpt from Richard Haines' Advanced Aerial Devices During the Korean War (pp 33-37)
Jan 29, 1952 2300 and 2324 Korean Time Wonson & Sunchon
Three crewmembers (tail, left, and top gunner) of a B-29 reported a five-minute encounter with a light orange colored sphere which shot away at an angle. (Newsweek, March 3, 1952; LIFE Magazine, April 7, 1952). This public information came from an Air Force press release. The more complete official Air Force Air Intelligence Information Report IR-2-52 dated 10 February 1952 was prepared by 2nd. Lt Mario Perez, Intelligence Officer, 98th. Bomb Wing Intelligence Office. It states:
"1. Observed one globe shaped object with a slight tear drop effect noted on lower side, estimated size to be three feet across when at its nearest point to B-29. The size was not definitely established as the distance from the observer was not known. The color of the object resembled the sun, a light orange, and it occasionally changed to a bluish tint (note 1). The outer edge of the object appeared to be fuzzy and it seemed to have an internal churning movement like flames or fiery gases when it was at its nearest point to the B-29. The object was first observed parallel on course at eight o'clock level, where it seemed to be about the size of a saucer, gradually becoming larger as it approached the B-29. It came in on the same level as the B-29 and remained in the same relative position to the B-29 for approximately one minute and then receded on the same path, fading away in the distance."
"2. Sighted on January 291324Z for a period of approximately one minute. The left Gunner and Tail Gunner observed the object without the use of any optical or electronic equipment. The B-29 was at 22,250 feet, and ground speed (of) 125 knots.
"3. The two observers were airborne in the B-29 in the crew positions of Left Gunner and Tail Gunner. Object was observed at 3926N 12555E and level with the B-29."
Other Air Force files provide additional information. The orange object flew beside the first B-29 for about five minutes during its encounter at 2300 Korean time and beside a second B-29 for one minute at 2324 Korean time. Its location was approximately 39 deg 03 min N and 127 deg E. The military
coordinate position was cited as CU-4020 or about 50 miles off the south coast during the first sighting and at YD-5459 or about 5 miles SSE of Sunchon. The second aircraft received flak shortly after sighting the object. The B-29 was flying at an altitude of 22,500 feet on a heading of 274 deg. The light was seen "shortly before receiving flak. The object approached the B-29 from between 8 and 9 o'clock level then withdrew and disappeared at the same clock position." It was said to be a shimmering (assumed to be spinning)" globular" object with a color that resembled the sun with "an occasional bluish tint" and appeared to be about three feet diameter (at its nearest position). All witnesses had had extensive flight combat experience in WW2 and stated "emphatically that the sightings noted above bore no resemblance whatsoever to anything they had previously experienced."
"It is the opinion of this officer that these sightings represent another example of new technique in warfare under test by the enemy. Comment by D/I, FEAF Bomcom; it is assumed that there is still a very real possibility that these phenomena may very well indicate the presence of new enemy flare devices, despite the unit intelligence officer filing (sic) that such possibilities are ruled out. Aside from that, it is worth mentioning that the 98 wing commander was present during one of the subject interrogations, and warned the crew members as to their responsibilities in reporting such observations. Special report of unidentified flying objects W/B submitted. (In) view of utter lack (of) similar observation requires your comments regarding (the) above."
In yet another Air Force report on this case (T52-3047-2, ID. 310956Z) from the Commanding Officer of ATIC, it is learned that the exhaust stack flame from aircraft engine running rich (is) considered doubtful because no known Soviet aircraft have exhaust stack arrangement that would produce this illusion. It was also considered doubtful that the light could have been produced by a jet aircraft engine, afterburner exhaust, ramjet helicopter air-to-air weapon, fireballs, or trailed bombs (also used by Germans in 1942 (WW-2) as a defense by bombers against pursuing fighters. It was a 20-25 kg bomb attached to a wire about 100 to 250 meters long behind the bomber which flew in wide circles and could be exploded at will by a crew member. Such an object might appear to be spinning and to fly parallel with the enemy bomber. Of course in this case there were no enemy airplanes anywhere near the observers' B-29!
Peter A. Stranges, staff member of the Reaction Power Plants Group, Propulsion Branch at the Air Force's Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB responded to an information request from Lt. Ruppelt at
Project Blue Book office concerning the possibility that this UFO was a number of conventional objects (viz., jet engine, afterburner, ramjet, pulsejet, rocket engine). His ATIAA memo dated 20 February 1952 stated:
"2. This group concurs that the objects appear to be propelled but from the descriptions and the time durations cited it is not considered that the objects are conventional jet engine, conventional jet engine with afterburner, pulse jet or rocket propelled. Slight credence, however, is given to the possibility of a ramjet powered helicopter or a modification thereof, with provisions incorporated for exhausting along a section of the trailing edge of the rotor blade, creating the fuzzy edged, internal churning of flames and gases, globe shaped phenomena observed recently by the B-29 crews in Korea."
A memo by Lt. Col. Hundt, AFOIN-V/TC, prepared on 29 February 1952 identified the Soviet fighter aircraft of possible interest as the La-9 or La-11. Both have a cluster of exhaust stacks on each side of the fuselage. There is virtually no correspondence between such an engine exhaust configuration seen at night and the orange globe reported by these witnesses.
In a memorandum prepared by Capt. Fournet for Air Force public relations use he states, "The sightings mentioned, although of a different nature, as is usual, are not abnormal occurrences in the combat theatre. During World War II over both Germany and Japan, combat crews reported sightings of a multitude of these types of objects which could not be identified or explained. These very often were reported as "fireballs," particularly from combat crewmen participating in flights over Japan. Very often these unidentified objects were reported to have performed violent maneuvers, travel at very high speeds, travel at very low speeds to the point of hovering, followed or flew formation with friendly aircraft, disappeared or disintegrated while in flight, etc. During the whole of World War II and subsequent thereto, intelligence was never able to prove the existence of such unconventional phenomena nor was it able to determine the characteristics of these objects, if indeed they did exist. A summary of all such related incidents was made essentially as follows. (Italics mine)
Note: The text which follows was (apparently) suggested to Air Force Public Relations for release to interested parties rather than the detailed
information contained within the original witness report.
"The sightings were the result of natural normal occurrences while in combat, e.g., flak, flaming and exploding aircraft, reflections on canopies, searchlight reflections, engine exhaust trails, air-to-air bombs, etc., and sometimes a result of combat fatigue, particularly on the long missions required to bomb Japan."
"3. There have been numerous reports of objects which crews have been unable to identify, while on combat missions over Korea during the present conflict. In general, these sightings have assumed a pattern which parallels the overall pattern of World War II reports. The latest reports from Korea have mentioned the employment by the Communist Forces of an airborne searchlight, possibly attached beneath the fuselage of a conventional aircraft and used in conjunction with antiaircraft and/or fighters. The evaluation of this branch of the sightings outlined in the subject above is that these unidentified objects probably are such airborne searchlights which because of combat fatigue, conditions of sightings, weather factors, etc., were assumed to be objects unattached to anything else. Such a report would appear reasonable in view of the fact that an object of this type would naturally become a center of interest, so to speak, and would tend to cause the observers to concentrate on its details rather than to look for anything else in conjunction with it." (note 2)
An Associated Press wire story dated February 20, 1952 from Tokyo concerning these sightings stated: "Far East Air Force Headquarters in Tokyo, which directs B-29 bomber operations in Korea, would issue no statement on the latest version of flying saucers. Asked if pilots of night fighters or B-26 light bombers had seen the objects, a Fifth Air Force spokesman in Korea said: "To affirm or deny it would put us in the position of discussing it and we cannot discuss it." (note 3)
1. Chapter 2 presents a ground eye witness account of a relatively small round orange object which also changed to blue as seen from a ground artillery position overlooking Chorwon.
2. This explanation seems to better fit the sighting of February 23, 1952 (below) than it does to this case.
3. Aircrew members were already under a lot of combat related stress. It is likely that one reason USAF officials did not want to openly admit the existence of an actual aerial phenomenon not of enemy origin was to try to help reduce this stress.