MiG Alley: Gunfight Over the Yalu
The Sabre continued the dive through the bottom of the S and immediately rolled and pulled into a climbing left-hand turn. I couldn't match his roll rate so by the time I rolled left I had a lot of energy so I elected to pitch into the vertical and convert my speed into altitude.
I had lost all sight of the other enemy aircraft and my wingman. I still had eyes locked on the Sabre that had eluded me. As he continued his turn I once again pulled down into the inside of his turn and accelerated towards him. Just as I came into guns range he barrel rolled and our separation quickly decreased.
I knew I was going to overshoot with my high speed, but I did manage to get a snap shot off as he banked 90 degrees and pulled to the left. I saw the sparks on the Sabre's fuselage where my shells hit and immediately he began to belch black smoke as I zoomed past him, pulling again into the vertical.
With the smoke trailing from his engine, the Sabre was easy to see. As I pitched over the top I could see that the Sabre had continued to descend to a lower altitude.
Beginning to follow him down, I thought it might be a good idea to look around. To this point at least a minute had passed and I thought that with the black smoke the Sabre should be easy to follow. As I checked over my shoulders I spotted a Sabre closing in on my 4 o'clock.
Before I could react I saw flashes from its nose and felt my aircraft shudder from the hits as my wingman screamed " RATTLER LEAD...BREAK RIGHT." I knew that I had to react but from the rate that the Sabre was closing I thought he would overshoot before he could get another shot off.
Even as all this ran through my mind I pushed the throttle to the wall and rolled right, pulling until my stick shook and the aircraft bucked and groaned for all it was worth. I held this position for a couple of seconds and then continued a right roll until I was in a 45 degree left bank.
Immediately I pulled into the vertical, locking my eyes on the Sabre Lead below and behind me. As he passed below me I watched through the top of my canopy as he rolled right. I continued to pull into him as he continued his turn. Coming out of the top I was inverted but quickly closing to the inside of the Sabre's turn.
I popped out the brakes as I rolled upright and did a high speed rolling yo-yo and got into a lag pursuit on him at about 12,000 feet. Retracting the brakes I was able to gain on him and as he rolled inverted I got a gun solution. As my pipper passed between his nose and right wing (he was inverted) I squeezed the trigger. I saw the tracers sparkle into his fuselage and immediately his aircraft flamed. Yuri zoomed past my port side and to the right of the Sabre as its pilot ejected.
I rolled into a shallow descending right turn and watched what was left of the doomed Sabre fall into the ground near our airfield. I hadn't realized just how far north the fight had taken us.
Looking around I again spotted the first Sabre about 3 miles away and below me. He was no longer smoking but what gave him away was light reflecting from the shiny fuselage. Pushing the throttle to the stops I dove in his direction. As I closed to within a mile I noticed another glint and tracers in the air heading toward the Sabre... it was my wingman shooting at him.
As Yuri overshot the now flaming Sabre, it burst into flame and blew up. There was no chute.
I ordered my wingman to form up and at mach .72 we started back up to altitude. We had descended to about 7000 feet through the fight. I had lost sight of my other element and the other Sabres and I wanted to find them.
Now glancing at the instruments I noticed that my engine temperature was dangerously high and for the first time I realized that the hits I had taken from the Sabre had damaged my engine. Yuri said that I looked like a stick of Swiss cheese with holes along my starboard fuselage and tail.
Throttling back we turned for home base, never seeing any other aircraft. Our airfield didn't look like it had taken any damage so the F84's obviously didn't make it to their target. Getting clearance to land from the tower our touchdown and taxi to the revetments was uneventful."
Final note: My wife walked in just after I landed and asked why I was sweating.......!
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Last Updated August 17th, 1999