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The First United Nations War: Korea

Updated on June 8, 2016
By August, only the Pusan perimeter remained in South Korean hands.
By August, only the Pusan perimeter remained in South Korean hands.
America's first jet fighter F-80
America's first jet fighter F-80
The Pershing Tank
The Pershing Tank

In 1950, just five years after the great WW2, North Korea, using mostly Chinese troops with Russian arms, invaded South Korea. It was a near disaster for them until the timely arrival of American troops stemmed off the invasion, but just barely in August 1950. This was the first real United Nations war, much like today in Iraq and Afghanistan, where nations from around the world sent their own soldiers to help South Korea.

The technological superiority of the defeated Germans in WW2 (heavy armor, jet aircraft, rockets) was seen in US equipment for the first time in their super heavy tank, the Pershing M-26 and their F-86A Sabre jets, F-80C Shooting Star, F-84E Thunderjet, and F9F Panther. German technology captured five years ago and improved\adapted. Such is the spoils of war. Most of the aircraft could also carry small rockets under their wings for ground support. Still, despite these advances, the aircraft carriers still flew WW2 era propeller aircraft such as F9F-2 Panther, F4U-4 Corsairs, and AD-4 Skyraiders. The infantry soldier remained as it was in WW2.

The usual allies were initially there to save the collapse: American, British, Australian, New Zealand. These would be the bulk of the fighting forces, but soon, the French, Netherlands, Greek, Turkish, Thai, battalions would arrive to help with the international war.

The war would end up using 11 American and 1 British tank battalions, 9 American and 3 British aircraft carriers, 7 USAF Bomber Groups, 7 USAF Fighter Groups.

The following is a list of the units from 1950-51:

Non-US Troops

  • 27th British Brigade- 4400 men (1st Bn, Argyll and Southerland Bn (600), 1st Bn, Middlesex Regiment (600), 1 US artillery btty, 1 company of M24 tanks
  • 28th British Brigade (1800 men) (1st Bn, King’s Own Scott (750 men), 1st Bn, King’s Shrop. Inf. (750 men)
  • 29th British Brigade (5000 men)(1st Bn, Royal Northumberland (800 men), 1st Bn, Glouscester (800 men), 1st Bn, Royal Ulster (800 men),
  • 8th Irish Hussars Tank Reg with three companies of heavy Centurian tanks.
  • C company, 7th British Tank Reg, with Centurian tanks
  • 45th RFA Regiment with 25 pdr batteries.
  • 3rd Bn, Royal Australian Regiment (960 men)
  • 16th NZ Artillery Reg (1017 men), 48 25pdr in six batteries
  • 2nd Bn, Canadian Lt. Inf. (918 men)
  • French Battalion (738 men)
  • Netherlands Battalion (636 men)
  • Greek Battalion (850 men)
  • Thai Battalion (1057 men)
  • 1st Turkish Brigade (4600 men)

American Armor

  • Battalions with M-24 Chaffee tanks were: 71st, 77th, 78th, 79th
  • Battalions with M-4 tanks: 64th, 70th, 72nd,73rd, 89th,.
  • Battalions with M-46: 6th
  • Battalions with M-26 Pershing: 1st Marine

The M-24 tanks proved to be useless against the old WW2 T-34 that the North Koreans were using. The Pershing was akin to the famous German King Tiger tank of WW2.

Aircraft Carriers

American: CVA -45 Valley Forge, -47 Philippine Sea, -21 Boxer, -32 Leyte, -37 Princeton, -29 Bataan, -31 Bon Homme, CVE Sicily. These usually had two squadrons of F9F-2 Panther and F4U-4 Corsairs, 1 Squadron of AD-4 Skyraider.

British: HMS Triumph, Theseus, Glory. These usually had 40 Fireflies, Seafires, Sea Furies.

USAF Units

  • Groups contained 2-3 squadrons, each with 10 aircraft.
  • Bombardment Groups: 3rd (B-26B), 19th (B-29), 22nd (B-29), 92nd (B-29), 98th (B-29), 307 (B-29), 452 (B-26)
  • Fighter Groups: 51st (F-80C), 49th (F-80C), 35th (F-51), 27th (F-84E), 8th (F-80C), 4th (F-86A)


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