The Western Pacific D+12 (21 July, 1987) Part I


Fighting on the Korean peninsula intensified throughout the day. The strategy for the North Korean offensive was quite apparent, and the same held true for the defensive plans of the Combined Forces Command (CFC). There was little room for subterfuge, or deceit on the ground. South Korea’s geography shaped the respective battle plans, and was affecting every aspect of their execution thus far. The main North Korean thrusts were barreling down the Uijongbu and Munsan corridors, both traditional invasion routes to Seoul. CFC ground forces, primarily ROK formations at this point, were defending and attempting to hold the NKs north of Seoul for as long as possible.

NK pressure was increasing in hopes of achieving a breakthrough and penetrating CFC lines. ROK forces continued to stubbornly defend ground, aided by ROK/US airpower until being forced to pull back. They were trading space for time, and so far it was working. Tongduchon was now entirely in NK hands and the push to Uijongbu was underway. In the west, NK forces had crossed the Imjin River, captured Munsan, and pushed south. In the afternoon and evening a massive battle developed north of Goyang that ultimately involved two ROK and five NK divisions. The North Koreans managed three brief penetrations of the ROK lines before vicious ROK counterattacks filled the gaps and restored the lines. By late in the evening two additional NK divisions positioned just north of the DMZ were moving south to spearhead the next wave of attacks, expected to begin early the following day. CFC recognized the danger if the ROK lines broke and ordered two brigades from its diminishing reserves forward to support the defenses.

Airpower was playing a major role in keeping the North Koreans from breaking through. US and ROK fighters achieved air superiority over the whole southern half of the peninsula by midday. This increased the number of close air sorties flown in support of friendly ground forces. And with MiGs no longer a significant threat, some fighter squadrons were shifting from the air defense mission to close air support, and interdiction.  7th Air Force, the USAF component of CFC, was growing anxious to take the war to the North Koreans. US and ROK warplanes were already attacking supply lines, airbases, and other valuable targets north of the DMZ but 7th Air Force’s commanding general, as well as the commander of Pacific Air Forces, were both keen to increase the ops tempo considerably in the coming days. F-4E Phantoms moved from Clark Airbase in the Philippines to South Korea on D+12 and they would help with missions up north.

As far as reinforcements went, these Phantoms would be all Korea was going to receive for some time. Europe remained the first priority meaning that the majority of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons in the pipeline were already spoken for. Those stateside squadrons tagged for PACAF were going to take some time to generate. Until then, 7th Air Force had to make do with what US squadrons were on hand in and around Korea, and the ROK Air Force. This wasn’t good enough for PACAF’s commander. With the blessing of his immediate superior, Admiral Ron Hays, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Command, he directly contacted the US Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch and made a personal request for immediate reinforcements.

PACAF’s sales pitch was short but direct. “Listen, Larry. We’re getting intel reports that the North Korean leadership is holed up in underground bunkers outside of Pyongyang. I want to go after them but I do not have the aircraft or ordnance here right now.”

“What do you need?” Welch asked suspiciously.

“A squadron of F-111s would do just fine. Along with enough LGBs to turn those bunkers into Swiss Cheese. And if,” he added in a softer voice. “There aren’t any ‘Varks available I’ll take any other kind of aircraft that can do the job.”

“Now just what the hell does that mean?” Welch growled, trying hard to hold in his temper. It was after 4 AM in Washington and he had been asleep when the call came in. Rest came sparingly for general officers anywhere these days.

“Larry, I was briefed on the great job that the stealth fighters are doing in Europe. I know it’s a long shot but if there are any left unspoken for, I could put them to work in Korea and it might  end up shortening the war out there.”

After nearly a minute of contemplative silence, the Chief of Staff replied. “I’ll see what I can do. No promises, but we just might have a couple squirreled away that I can send your way. Keep this line open,” Welch ordered. “I’ll get back to you with an answer within the hour.”

9 Replies to “The Western Pacific D+12 (21 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. “squirreled away…..”

    Yeah. Considering how behind the NK’s were with AAA radars then, the 117’s could have a field day.

    two -15 or -16 squadrons running protection on -111’s could do it. Or a diversion strike to let the -117’s go in completely un-noticed. And given the mole-men mentality of the NKs, I am certain such a strike is believed to be not-feasible.

    This thinking…. would be wrong, if my knowledge of the bird and capabilities of all parties is what I think it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hands up, who here thinks of M*A*S*H 4077 every time you see “Uijongbu”.

    Also Kim il Sung is about to get bungholed, and it’s going to be hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Couple of fun facts. It’s my understanding that a deep penetration bomb will sit for about one second before it goes off, maybe a little less. If it lands close enough to grandpa Kim, he’ll literally have time to consider what’s about to happen. Then he’s going to get turned to jelly because at a distance of ten feet, the air rushing outward from a 2000lb bomb explosion is as dense as steel.


      1. I would think so. In early 1992 I watched a firepower demonstration where an RAAF F-111 simultaneously toss bombed 2 laser-guided bombs onto two separate (but fairly close) targets using Pave-track. It was spectacular!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The Pave Tack was an excellent pod for its time. Really made its mark first over Libya, and then Desert Storm.


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