RAAF IN KOREA 1950-1951 – 77SQN / P-51 MUSTANG PHOTOSHOOTS

JUNE 2012  – In a tribute to 77Sqn RAAF operations which started in June 1950 over the Korean peninsula during the outbreak of the war, i am showcasing a flightgear heritage photo shoot I did in late 2008 with an Australian Mustang which is marked up in 77Sqn Korean era war markings.

I drove for 9hrs in 1 day to attend an airshow on north coast of NSW at Coffs Harbour in to display alongside the Caboolture Mustang VH -MFT. This aircraft was the 2nd photo shoot i ever did and some reasonably realistic 1950s era photos were obtained on a primitive digital camera.

CAC MUSTANG AND RARE FLIGHT GEAR DISPLAYED

Since the late 1950s, there has never been a RAAF CAC Mustang and Korean War era flightgear on display in Australia that i was aware of, due to the withdrawal and scrapping of the CAC Mustang fleet.

In September 2008 that changed.

I was able to organise a meeting and photo shoot at the Coffs Harbour airshow…..

The flightgear I wore is authentic for the early Korean War era of 77Sqn operations comprising RAAF E type flight helmet, H type oxygen mask, WW2 era Mae West life preserver, K-1 flight suit, pilot boots, backpack harness parachute and B-3 gloves. All of these were either standard RAAF issued or acquired from USAF stock in 1950.

The flightgear used by 77 Sqn in Japan and Korea in mid  to late 1950, was a massive mix and match of different flight helmets, flight suits and boots. So this display is an example of a “typical” setup as best as can be recreated for the time frame.

The airshow day was extremely warm and very humid… and wearing this flightgear was sure an experience i wont forget anytime soon in tropical north NSW.

A few lucky photographers were allowed rampside to capture this historic event.
Many of the public would have not been aware of the effort i went to achieve this display  but it did make a few people amazed to see that someone would do this to honour the 77Sqn operations.

This Mustang wore special noseart in Japan –

Another photo shoot was done at the HARS museum in 2010 with the same Mustang and flightgear. Some people were amazed at the detail i went to and asked me if i had come from some timewarp jokingly…and was I going to fly the Mustang …..( i wish i could)…

The map i hold is a USAF 1950 printed era pilot map covering the entire Korean peninsula.

All flightgear photos taken by my airshow organiser mate, Christian D Smith.

When i do photo shoots around warbird aircraft such as this Mustang, i spend considerable time researching not only the aircraft, the war , the pilots but try and find as many flightgear photos as possible to enable a correct reenactment setup is obtained prior to photoing.

With my vast – and possibly one of the largest outside USA and Europe – flightgear collection that is taken to airshows and special military events across Australia, i am able to strive for the high level of detail to ensure it is realistic and conveys the look of the era. It is fortunate i able to cover from WW2, Korea, Vietnam to modern times for such services as RAAF, RAF, USAF, US Navy, USAAF.

The purpose of me spending my time, traveling to events, buying flightgear, restoring it and putting on shows is to  enable and allow modern day airshow viewers and defence personnel – an insight to the past and a chance for them to understand what their fathers, grandfather, uncles or friends may of wore in combat and peacetime. Some people dont realise until they see such displays as mine that flightgear is in some cases quite heavy, bulky and tight fitting in a small cockpit.

For the remaining 6months of 2012, I am examining several exciting new photo shoots for reenacting with a host of warbirds in NSW and maybe possibly extending to VIC and SA all going well.

More information on 77 Sqn in Korea can be found in the superb book “The Forgotten Few” a well written indepth book which has various interviews with  members of the squadron and chilling insights to the hell they faced over Korea from 1950-1953.

Also my other story has the transition from Mustang to Meteor – RAAF 77 Sqn Meteor F.8 era in Korean War photos on show – https://heritageflightgeardisplays.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/raaf-flightgear-77-sqn-in-action-korean-war/

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