Matthews files, lot 53 D 413: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, Far East (Clark) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff

top secret

CX 61172. Ref msg CX 61157.1

There is a strong possibility that any enemy offensive will be covered by large scale air action.
My est of the enemy air capabilities if atk is limited to Korea fol:
The enemy has a broad air capability which he has not yet exploited. He can launch a major air atk in Korea. This atk could be launched purely as an air effort or in coordination with a ground offensive. It is assumed that only China and Manchuria based acft would be used in an atk limited to Korea, and that the major threat would be from Manchurian based acft. It is not believed that the enemy will operate from Russian bases.
As presently disposed, the Communists have 830 jet ftrs, 250 piston ftrs, 220 piston light bombers, and an est 100 jet bombers which have the range capability of atking UNC Korean bases or could be easily [Page 759] staged into such a range. In addition, there are 105 ground atk acft which could be utililized if more fwd flds became serviceable. It is est that the enemy in an initial atk could launch 90 percent of these acft—aprx 750 jet ftrs, 225 piston ftrs, 200 piston light bombers, and aprx 90 jet light bombers. However, with a max effort the percentage maintained in com should fall to 50 percent within one week, by which time the Communists would have either gained air superiority over Korea, or retired to rear bases in China and Manchuria.
Possibly the most dangerous employment, and therefore, that which the UNC must be prep to withstand or counter is as fol:
A low level night or first light atk by a limited nr IL–28 jet bombers attempting to obtain surprise at intcpr bases, thereby immobilizing the F–86’s. This might be fol by an atk by at least 50 IL–28’s and 400 escorting and strafing MIGs to destroy the immobilized F–86’s and any other UNC craft abn at this time. The enemy would then attempt to repair a suf nr of North Korean bases under protection of a MIG screen to extend their opns into the Pyongyang area, from which they could bring all South Korean Bases under atk.
Piston ftr bombers and ground atk planes would then be used to support a ground offensive, atk UNC bases, sup lines, concentrations, ports, shipping, etc. Some of these piston planes could be based at Tsingtao or Shanghai areas. This type of atk, in which the enemy risks only a portion of his forces and from which he can withdraw at any stage, is more in consonance with his past policy than an all-out fight which might end in the destruction of his forces.
To counter such an enemy offensive, it is mandatory that, prior to its launching, action be taken towards reducing the enemy capabilities to atk UNC forces or psn as well as his ability to protect his own installations. To accomplish this max effort atk would be required against air bases in Manchuria.
Accordingly, I recm that I be auth to atk Chinese Communist air bases in Manchuria with US Air Forces when in my judgment the scale of enemy air opn threatens the scty of UNC forces in Korea.2
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 4 p. 743.
  2. The JCS on Feb. 18, 1953, in telegram JCS 931744 informed CINCFE as follows: “JCS agree with ur evaluation of threat posed by CCAF but desire to be informed of facts of immed sit prior to authorizing attack Chi air bases in Manchuria. Accordingly the fol directive will apply: ‘When Chi Commie scale of air opns threatens security of UN Forces in Korea, and in ur judgment this threat should be eliminated by immed air attacks against CCAF bases outside Korea, you will report immediately facts, together with ur recommended action, to JCS.’ “ (JCS records, CCS 383.21 Korea (3–14–45))