JG: You certainly do have respect for your opponent in any fight like that, any aerial dog fight. I think any pilot that does not respect his opponent is probably not going to be in the air very long, he's probably going to be a dead pilot before very long, because when you go in, you must assume going into any aerial fight that your opponent is the most capable person around and you have to do your utmost if you're going to survive. The fact that we were better trained in Korea though, I think, became evident and was evident after the war, because the kill ratios on the Migs as opposed to the 86 was about twelve to one in aerial combat. Now a lot of that was not the difference in equipment, a lot of it was in the difference... in fact most of it was in the training, the difference in training of the pilots in being able to work together and our tactics, where you always stayed with the wing man so that you could protect each other and the tactics that were used and the coming in, just well a lot of things, always trying to make your attack out of the sun, just a dozen different things that gave you an edge in aerial combat were the things that we were very skilled in and they were not that good and they didn't work together as formations to protect each other as... as well as we did. And I think we probably knew our equipment better than most of them did. Maybe we had more flight time, I don't know, I never did know. But sometimes you'd see pilots on the other side who you wondered how they were at flying the airplane, because they made gentle turns and so on and they'd be strung out in a long string sometimes, where you knew that they were not in any protective formation at all. So I think much of the superiority we had was not just the superiority of an airplane, but it was a superiority of the training and the pilots.
INT: With regard though to the planes themselves, you flew Panthers most of the time, but you said you did fly F-86s as well, the usual comparison is between the Mig-15 and the F-86. What were strengths and weaknesses of those two planes as combat aircraft?
JG: FA-6 was a little heavier airplane, little heavier built. As a result, it would not climb quite as fast, particularly at low speeds, as the Mig could. It did not have the same maximum altitude capability as the Mig, it was probably maybe a couple of thousand feet less altitude capability. The Mig was lighter, had a better thrust weight ratio, so it'd climb a little bit faster. If a Mig pilot wanted to get away from an 86, the best way he could do that [inaudible] a very tight climbing turn, full power turn. On the other hand, if an F-86 wanted to get away from Mig, if the Mig was shooting at him and he wanted to get away, if he went into a very tight high speed diving turn, he could probably outdo the Mig. So you used different tactics like that, depending on the aircraft capabilities.
INT: What sort of weaponry did you have? What was the strike potential of the aircraft that you were flying?
JG: Well, the major strength of the airplanes that I flew in Korea for ground attack we were flying the F-9F, the Panthers, and they would carry a large bomb load and we could carry a couple of thousand pound bombs on that airplane and six high velocity aircraft rockets, five inch rockets, and on some flights napalm tanks, hundred gallon napalm tanks with the white phosphorous grenade cap on there, so that when it hit the ground and impact, it would burst into flame and ignite the napalm. And so we used all of those things from time to time on ground attack. Sometimes we'd be on interdiction missions where you went back not just along the front lines, but back deep behind enemy lines and hit bridges or railroad abutments at a bridge or things like that with bombs. Or you'd go into troop staging areas with napalm and most of these were very low level attacks. Some were higher, coming in on a steeper, on a dive bombing type run, but we also did a lot of very low level, right above tree tops or right above the ground type attacks, where your armament was... you practically flew into your target and released just before you would hit the target with your own airplane, as you just put the bomb into a railroad abutment or with napalm you came in as low as you could and dropped right where you wanted it and then pulled out. So that was type of ordnance we were using there, plus the aircraft rockets for trucks and things like that. Now, in the Sabre, those were fifty calibre machine guns and that's all we ever used, because the Sabre, while there were some ground attack Sabres where they carried bombs, the squadron I was in was an air superiority squadron, fighter interceptor squadron, and we were flying against the Migs and the only thing we carried were the six fifty calibre machine guns.
INT: Right. I believe that US pilots were told that they couldn't cross the Yallu River, except in hot pursuit. Was that a source of frustration to you as a pilot?
JG: Yeah, not being permitted to cross the Yallu when you thought you were... you had people in sight on the other side was a little vexing sometimes. But they were afraid that China was going to be enticed into the war if we went across the Yallu and he rules were that if you had been engaged in aerial combat and you were just south of the Yallu and they were trying to get back over to their sanctuaries, their airfields that were over on the north side of the Yallu in China, in Manchuria, that you could continue in hot pursuit if you already had engaged that particular airplane. I suppose there were times out there when that rule was bent somewhat, but for the most part, I think pilots observed that and stayed on their own side of the Yallu. When we would go up and set up, we'd set up a screen, for instance, when you went up and you didn't go up just to look for Migs. What you did, you went up when there was going to be a ground attack on in North Korea, aerial ground attacks supporting our troops and we didn't want the Migs coming down and shooting up our troops. So we would set up a screen and you would set up maybe two different levels and you would have up along the Yallu and you would have planes making a big long figure eight pattern and always making your turn toward the river so you could see any Migs that might be coming toward you from North Korea. And you'd do a very long figure eight with your formation in general terms, and looking for Migs coming down. In other words, we were setting up a screen. And you would have a screen like that then set at maybe two different altitudes, one above the other, and maybe at two different positions along the Yallu. So there were different kinds of screens and that was to keep thMigs on their side when our ground attack planes were workback behind us. And then if they tried to come across and get down toward the front, where the ground attack airplanes were, that's when we were there to stop them, that's what a screen was all about and that's where the aerial combat occurred then. But our screens were always set up on our side of the Yallu, on the south side of the Yallu, you never were permitted to go across to set up a screen over Chinese territory up in Manchuria.
INT: In reality, though, did pilots cross the Yallu at times?
JG: Well, they crossed the Yallu at times, but I think almost always it was only when they were in hot pursuit and I'm sure there were times when people went across on expeditions of their own, but they were subject to court martial if they did that and they knew that. And radar, of course, back at that time, could not pinpoint them quite as accurately as it would now if the same war was being conducted now, but they were pilots. They stayed where they were supposed to stay most of the time, but the times they got into hot pursuit, then you went across right after the person that you were fighting with.
INT: You said that you shot down three Migs in the period that you were there. Do you have any vivid descriptive memories of those moments of combat...
JG: [Interrupts] Oh, it's hard to describe... it's hard to describe combat in words. I can remember very, very vividly every aerial scrap I was in and you just remember those things, they're impressed on your memory pretty well. It's hard to describe them, because it's better when you see some of these pictures of aerial combat sometimes, although there are not very many good aerial pictures of the Korean War. We have far better photographic capability today, as witness the Gulf War, where we saw so many things via the camera, but then we didn't have those kinds of cameras and photographic equipment out there, so it's hard to describe. But if you think of a World War Two type aerial flights that we've seen in movies and you think about that at going six or seven hundred miles an hour and closing speeds of over a thousand miles an hour as you go by another airplane and things are happening very, very rapidly, and... But it's hard... it really is hard to put into words. fighter pilots are famous for using their hands to describe how things happen and I think maybe that's the only descriptive way you can do it really. In a screen if you saw a... you'd see a sun glint, maybe, and that got your attention on a certain spot and the Mig and the F-86 were very similar in appearance and there were times when people got a sun glint, thought they had an enemy aircraft in sight, made an approach on it and actually it was another F-86. So you had to be very careful on identification. But once you got a sun glint or thought you saw an airplane, you just kept your eyes on that spot, you didn't even look back into the cockpit at all, you just kept your eyes on that spot. And in fact to help identify airplanes, most of the pilots - I certainly was one of them - carried a little set of binoculars with me and if you actually saw a plane and you could pull the binoculars up and spot the airplane and we used to practice that sitting on the flight line, taking a pair of binoculars and putting them up and trying to hit a spot on the top of a telephone pole or something so you got accustomed to putting it on the right spot. And if you could get the enemy aircraft or the aircraft where there was a sun reflection or something, sometimes you could identify it without making a false run on the airplane. You could identify it way out and then when you went into combat, you'd tuck it back under your shoulder straps, so it wasn't flopping around the cockpit. But you'd make your approach on an enemy aircraft, you tried to make it from an angle that the other... the enemy aircraft would not see you coming in. If you had any choice, you'd try and make your run out of the sun, because that's the most difficult area for a pilot to see another aircraft approaching, but you usually did not have any luxury like being able to set up a run specifically the way you wanted it out of the sun. If you saw them, you went for 'em and that was sort of it. But our planes would stick together and we had tactics and when we would hit enemy aircraft or come into a formation of them, usually they would break up and go different directions, where our people would tend to stay together with a wing man and work together. And it was very hard, tough flying and high Gs and gravity forces and manuevering and it was very hard work, but it was exhilarating and when your life is on the line, it's very exhilarating, I can guarantee you.