A Study On The Korean War History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The Korean War was a military confrontment of the two Korea´s today. South Korea was supported by the United Nations, while DPR Korea was supported by China and also by Russia. This war marked a period of time where some advancement was made in the warfare. Many different ways of warfare were used, including the armored warfare, naval warfare, aerial warfare and the psychological warfare. Advancements in these characteristics were vital and key to win this war.
At the beginning of the Korean War, the North Korean army dominated the battlefield with the Soviet T-34-85 medium sized tanks designed during World War II. The North Korean army, denominated as KPA (Korean People’s Army), confronted the South Korean army (ROK) who had no tanks and were armed with only some modern anti-tank weapons, including the 2.36-inch M9 bazooka used also in the Second World War, which was only effective against the 45mm side armor of the KPA T-34-85 tank. Later on, US forces arriving in Korea, after being on duty in Japan, were equipped with the light M34 Chaffee tank, but was also proved ineffective against the larger KPA tanks.
To counter this initial combat imbalance, the UN incorporated the heavier and larger US M4 Sherman, M46 Patton, M26 Pershing, Centurion and British Cromwell tanks, all of these were proved effective against the North Korean tanks, ending their battlefield dominance. Unlike World War II, in which the tank had been and proved a decisive weapon, the Korean War had had few large tank battles. This is because of the Mountainous and heavily forested terrain prevented the large tanks to maneuver and move from place to place. In this war, tanks served more as an infantry support, than a decisive weapon.
Much more than tanks, jet aircrafts were widely used in the Korean War. It was the first war in which the jet aircraft had played a central role. The P-51 Mustang, the Hawker Sea Fury and the F4U Corsair, all piston-engine, propeller-driven and design during the Second World War, were once formidable fighters, until the arrival of a new generation of faster, jet-powered fighters in the Korean War. Unlike the armored warfare, in the aerial warfare, the F-80 Shooting star, F9F Panther and other jets carrying the UN flag, dominated the aerial battlefield. North Korean air force would include the Soviet Yakovlev Yak-9 and Lavochkin La-9s, which were inferior to the South Korean air force. But this balance would later change with the arrival of the Soviet MiG-15.
The MiG-15 Fagot was introduced to the Korean People’s Air Force by late October 1950, due to the Chinese intervention. This was one of the fastest and most advanced piece of jet fighter the world had seen in that time. The MiG was fast and heavily armed, and was able to dominate the first generation UN jets, like the American F-80 and the British Gloster Meteors, and pose a great threat to the B-29 Superfortress bombers. While this was happening Soviet Air Force pilots flew over the North to learn about the western aerial techniques and strategies. This Soviet participation was a justification for war, and as the war was expanding in the Korean peninsula, the US had feared that the three communist countries, North Korea, the Soviet Union, and China, would join and therefore escalate to an atomic warfare.
With the MiG-15 being superior to the other UN jet aircrafts, the US Air Force moved quickly to counter the MiG. In December 1950 the US F-86 Sabre arrived. Although the MiG had a higher service ceiling of 50,000 feet, and could be advantageous at the start of fight, both swept-wing designs had maximum speeds of around 660 mph. Both of the jet aircrafts had advantages and disadvantages over each other. The MiG could rise faster, but the Sabre turned and dove better than the MiG. The MiG was equipped with a 37mm and two 23mm cannons, while on the other hand, the Sabre was equipped with six 12.7mm machine guns which were aimed with radar ranged gunsights. By early 1951 the battle lines were set and didn’t change much until 1953, but for the next year and a half, the aerial warfare would continue.
The UN forces slowly gained air dominance in the Korean War. This was a decisive point for the UN, so they could attack into the peninsular north, and because they could resist the Chinese intervention. Even though North Korea and China had jet-powered aircrafts, their limited training and little experience made it difficult for them to be superior to the better-trained UN air forces. At the end of the war, the US air force had reported that the F-86 Sabre’s kill ratio was of 10:1. This was calculated to be 792 MiG-15’s and 108 other jets shot down by the Sabres, while only 78 of the same were lost, and post war data calculates that a total of only 379 Sabre’s were killed.
The Korean War wasn’t only a major time of usage of jet aircrafts, but the rotorcraft was majorly used. This first major class deployment of the helicopter was for medical evacuations, also called medvac. In World War II, the YR-4 helicopter had a limited duty in the war, but in Korea, as the rough terrain was seen difficult for the jeep to make a medvac, the helicopter helped reduce the number of dead people. The Sikorsky H-19 helped reduce the number of casualties because this same helicopter was also combined with some complementary medical innovations like the mobile army surgical hospitals. The limitation of the jet aircraft for air support at a close range highlighted the helicopter’s big potential role, leading to the creating of the AH-1 Cobra and others which would later be used in the Vietnam War.
The Korean War had few naval battles. Due to the fact that the North Korean navy was not large, the combatant navies that were in duty served primarily as naval artillery for their in-land armies. Although there were few naval battles, there was a skirmish between North Korea and the UN, which occurred on 2 July 1950. The US Navy cruiser Jeneau, the frigate Black Swan and the Royal Navy cruiser Jamaica fought some North Korean torpedo boats and two mortar gunboats, sinking them down.
The UN navies sank North Korean ships with supply and ammunitions, to deny the sea to North Korea. The Juneau had sunken ammunition ships in the previous naval battle. And the last sea battle occurred at Incheon, sometime befor the Battle of Incheon. A South Korean ship, the PC 703, sank a North Korean mine layer in the battle of Haeju Island. Three other cargo ships were sunk by the PC 703 in the Yellow Sea.
Psychological warfare was extensively used during the Korean War. Specially for the missions directed against the North Korean troops and army. It was essential to work with the South Korean army to develop effective propanda with the most cultural context and effectiveness in order to convince people to help win the war.
Since the UN had been involved in the Korean War, political sensitivities were very high. The UN propaganda had lost many opportunities due to the rule that was against mentioning the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China. These lost opportunities started because there was a fear that if propaganda was fully used, the UN’s intervention in the Korean War would increase extensively. One of the reasons why propaganda was not completely used was because the UN feared that the propaganda would later demoralize the South Korean civilians.
Various ways were used to deliver the propaganda, with limitations by the exceptionally rough terrain and the radios were not very common among the North Korean army and the Chinese army. Loudspeaker teams often had to get close enough to the enemy positions, where their lives were at risk. Artillery and light aircrafts delivered brochures to the front lines, while heavy bombers dropped these brochures at the end of the lines. But the brochures were a bit different. Rather than being different on the message, the brochures delivered in the first 40 miles of the lines, were tactical messages. While on the back of the lines, strategic brochures were delivered.
In the three year course of the Korean War, the UN air forces bombed the cities and villages of the North Korean territory. On the 12th of August of 1950, the US Air Force dropped about 625 tons of bombs in North Korean territory. As a result, eighteen of the North Korean cities were more than 50% destroyed. It was reported that most of the North Korean villages and cities were in ruins or were already wastelands covered in snow.
The Korean War was not only another war. It was a war where warfare characteristics developed a lot. From a military science perspective, the Korean War combined different techniques and strategies of the First and the Second World War, leading to many new technologies and many new ways to beat the opponent. Not only were new technologies in the boom, but different strategies were used to win in a more effective way. As the war progressed, both countries progressed in weapons and strategies. Until fighting ended at the 38th parallel and the Korean Demilitarized Zone(DMZ), a strip of land 248x4km that now divides the two countries. Even so, skirmishes, incursions, and incidents between the combatants have continued since the Armistice was signed.
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