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Author Topic: MATS SA-16 Albatros  (Read 7897 times)

Offline Oiseau_canari

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MATS SA-16 Albatros
« on: October 12, 2007, 09:31:19 PM »
Hi !

I'm looking for details (picture ?) about the SA-16 Albatros of 3rd ARS (?) with Lt John Najarian at controls.
This plane performed by night a rescue mission on the Taedong river to pick up a down F-51 pilot.

Others F-51 provide fire cover then illuminated with their landing lights a low hanging high-tension power lines
(fall 1950)

full date ; others names ; S/N ; citation/commendation linked to this rescue (if exist); etc... will be welcome !

[story read in "aircraft of the US MATS" by Nicholas M Williams (Midland Publishing)]

Many thanks in advance !

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Re: MATS SA-16 Albatros
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 01:49:07 AM »
Hi Welcome to the MILAVIA Forum,

Full date is:
June 11, 1951,
June 11: An SA-16 of the 3rd ARS made a pickup at dusk of a downed F-51 pilot from the Taedong River near Kyomipo, North Korea. The SA-16, although receiving fire from both sides of the river, made a landing approach without lights, avoiding low electrical transmission lines and rocks and debris on the river's surface. The pilot earned the Distinguished Service Cross for the rescue.

That last link also reports 3rd ARS, and that the pilot received the Distinguished Service Cross for the rescue.

which led me to:

Compiled & Edited By C. Douglas Sterner,, 2006 <- picture of John J. Najarian
First Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force
3d Air Rescue Squadron,
Date of Action:   June 11, 1951
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John J. Najarian, First Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as the Pilot of an SA-16 rescue aircraft with the 3d Air Rescue Squadron, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 11 June 1951. Lieutenant Najarian was informed that a fighter pilot had been forced to abandon his aircraft near Kyomipo, Korea, deep in enemy territory, and he was directed to proceed to that location and determine if the rescue could be effected. The distance involved prevented Lieutenant Najarian from arriving before dark. Arriving at the scene, fighters circling the area told him that the downed pilot was in the river but that his exact position could not be determined because of darkness. In spite of the fact that the landing would have to be made on an unknown river, at night under enemy fire, and without knowing the depth of the river or the location of rocks and sandbars, Lieutenant Najarian decided to attempt the rescue. Disregarding intense enemy antiaircraft and small-arms fire which precluded the use of landing lights, he lined his aircraft up with the course of the river and made an instrument letdown and landing, descending at the rate of two hundred feet a minute until impact with the water. Since the landing had been made above the estimated position of the pilot, he turned his plane around and taxied downstream searching for the downed airman. During this turn the aircraft came close to the bank of the river from which enemy troops were firing. The pilot flashed a small light to enable his rescuers to find him and was picked up. Intense enemy fire prevented the use of lights, so Lieutenant Najarian made a hurried take-off on instruments and returned the pilot to a United Nations base in Korea.
General Headquarters Far East Command:   General Orders No. 221 (August 31, 1951) reports:
74959 (18th FBG, 39th FIS) crashed 8 mi NW of Kaesong, Korea Jun 11, 1951 as the only Mustang crashed on that day, but this is way more to the south.

Darrel Whitcomb, Combat Search and Rescue: A Longer Look
Aerospace Power Journal,  Summer, 2000, 3
In June 1951, a pilot ditched his flak-damaged Mustang fighter in the Taedong River, 50 miles northeast of Pyongyang. His flight mates saw him swimming in the river and called for a rescue aircraft. An SA-16 Albatross flown by 1st Lt John Najarian responded and flew to their position. The covering Mustangs, joined by other flights, suppressed the enemy guns along both shores as Najarian landed in the cold waters and picked up the pilot. But the sun had gone down, and the current swept the Albatross toward high-power lines across the river. To help Najarian see the wires, the Mustang pilots turned on their landing lights and flew-just above him as he made his takeoff under the wires.  [9]

[9] Robert F. Futrell. The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953
(Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History. 1983), 578-579.

I don't think there are pictures of the event, as it was at night...what kind of picture are you looking for?

U.S. Air Force photo of a 38th ARS SA-16
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 02:12:38 AM by Webmaster »
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Offline Oiseau_canari

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Re: MATS SA-16 Albatros
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 01:35:58 PM »
Many, many thanks for all these data.

I have an Albatros in my stock pile of model kits and this unusual rescue could be a nice start for a project.
Pictures of aircrafts of the same unit and listing of c/n of planes used could be suffcient to make profile with a high rate of probability to represent the Grumman involved int this action.

Again, BRAVO for your quick reply : this is a giant step !


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