The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 23

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Air Artillery, Italy. American Piper Cub observation plane flying over Allied territory in the Cassino corridor of battle as it searches for German gun emplacements & enemy troops so that the Allies can adjust their gun fire on them. Location: Italy, Date taken: February 1944 (Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White)

Planes such as the one above were used in World War Two and Korea to correct artillery fires. It was a highly effective system. No less effective was the ground to air system with forward air control officers controlling US fighter bombers.

In a battle with the Chinese in the Korean War, recounted in David Halberstan’s The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, a well-trained US Army regiment with re-enforced with combat units of the French Foreign Legion, were surrounded by tens of thousands of Chinese troops. During a massive human wave attack the Chinese were held off by machine gun fire but more critically by a large number of US ground attack aircraft vectored onto the Chinese by US forward air control officers.

Vought F4U-4B “Corsair” Fighter (Bureau # 62924) Landing on USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) after attacking targets in Korea, circa 7 December 1950. This plane belongs to Fighter Squadron 113 (VF-113). (Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives)

[Source: The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam. Image courtesy of Life Magazine and the US Naval History & Heritage Command.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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