Only confirmed RAAF victory over MiG-15 in the Korean War

Picture: 1952. 032542 Pilot Officer Bill Simmonds of No. 77 Squadron RAAF, in his Gloster Meteor aircraft

On the historic date of May 8, 1952, Pilot Officer W.H. (‘Bill’) Simmonds etched his name into the annals of aviation history by achieving the sole fully confirmed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) victory over a Communist MiG-15 during the Korean War. Engaged in a pivotal mission, Simmonds, part of a formidable flight comprising four Meteors from No 77 Squadron, found themselves tasked with safeguarding US bombers executing the largest single attack of the conflict thus far. The target: a strategically significant supply depot situated at Sunan, which has since transformed into the modern site of Pyongyang airport.

The intense battle unfolded when a squadron of MiG-15s, the formidable adversary of the Korean War skies, ambushed the formation from the rear. Amidst the chaos and the thunderous roar of jet engines, Simmonds demonstrated exceptional skill and composure as he swiftly positioned his Meteor onto the tail of one of the MiGs, the enemy aircraft passing perilously close—less than 10 meters below. In a daring and precise manoeuvre, Simmonds unleashed a sustained burst of cannon fire upon his target, the deafening roar of the weaponry echoing through the skies.

The dramatic engagement culminated in a spectacular result, as two other RAAF pilots in the flight attested to witnessing the enemy pilot ejecting from his spiralling MiG just before it crashed into the earth below. This triumphant encounter marked a significant milestone for the Australian contingent, adding to the tally of five MiGs reported downed by Australian pilots during the entirety of the war. Notably, this particular event stood out as the singular occasion where no doubt lingered regarding the validity of the claim—Simmonds had unequivocally secured a victory for the RAAF against the formidable MiG-15, exemplifying courage and skill in the tumultuous skies over Korea.

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