This US Navy F9F Panther Pilot’s Victory Against 7 MiG-15s Remained Classified For Decades
In 1950 when the Korean war was in full swing, a new fighter aircraft entered the battle in the skies, the MiG-15. Since the beginning of the Korean war, the Soviet Union has been helping the North Korean Air Force in their war against the South and the US. The Soviet Union did this by sending special aircraft units and pilots to China. Soviet aircraft or pilots were not officially in Korea, because it could start world war III if others get to know that Russia is participating in this war.
The MiG-15 is a jet fighter aircraft that was developed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich for the Soviet Union. MiG-15 was one of the first successful fighter jets to incorporate swept wings and because of it, this jet could fly at transonic speeds. This single-seat fighter aircraft definitely outclassed the American types by that time. The MiG-15 was armed with a single 37 mm and two 20 mm canons. This aircraft was tough to deal with for Americans and it was highly maneuverable too.
On the 18th of November 1952 US Navy pilot, Lieutenant Royce Williams and his wingman were appointed to the task of combat air patrol above the sea of Japan while a B-29 fleet conducted an attack on an industrial complex near the North Korea and USSR border. The aircraft US pilots flew were Grumman F9F Panther which was a carrier-based fighter aircraft used by the US Navy and Marine corps. The Panther was a weaker aircraft when compared to the Soviet MiG-15 in many aspects.
While Williams and the team were flying at about 12,000 feet they discovered a group of enemy aircraft flying at about 50,000 feet. 7 Soviet MiGs were heading to their home base at Vladivostok. Eventhough Williams and his team was weak, he decided to intercept. The Americans climbed to 26,000 feet while the Soviets decided to break in to 2 groups. One soviet fighter aircraft came right at the Americans firing, while the other 3 MiGs tried to surround them.
The 4 MiGs shot at Williams and they missed. Williams pulled hard left and could line up on the 4th MiG. He fired a short burst an the MiG went down. Soon after Williams saw that his wingman also going down and now William is alone in this dogfight against six MiGs. Williams used his all skills in dogfighting to avoid any of the MiGs come behind him. But the 3 of the MiGs broke contact and moved away. The Panther was too slow to follow the MiGs. One MiG turned and made an attackk on Williams and other 2 MiGs also have turned and were coming at him.
Williams turned towards them and fired at the second attacking MiG. The MiG was hit and it disappeared out of sight on fire. Williams saw another MiG coming around and he managed to destroy it too. The MiG blew up and Williams closely avoided the fireball of the destroyed MiG. Seconds later he saw another MiG is smoking and decided to finish it. But he saw another MiG coming at him. Eventhough he tried to dodge the fire of the MiG, burst of fire found the Panther and damaged a wing and the engine. He managed to pull up hard and and disappeared in cloud cover. Then he headed back to his aircraft carrier.
It was very dangerous to land this damaged F9F Panther and Williams could do it successfully. Lieteunant Williams was credited with 4 confirmed Soviet MiG-15 kills. Although he did great despite the odds against the 7 MiGs, he was never allowed talk about it in the fear of this could trigger the Korean war in to a world war III.
After the Cold war ended in 1991, the Russian government confirmed that Williams had downed 4 of their MiGs-15 fighters. It was a mind blowing achievement by Williams to dogfight against powerful MiGs with a weaker aircraft such as F9F Panther and win.