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HomeVP-6 P2V Shootdown of a Soviet MIG off Vladivostok 1950

VP-6 P2V Shootdown of a Soviet MIG off Vladivostok 1950
by Capt Arthur F. Farwell
Transcript of an interview recorded September 2001
by Ron Tinsley

 “It was during the Korean War and North Korea had invaded South Korea and taken over almost all of South Korea. During that time we found out that the Chinese had been helping the North Koreans. Later we found out that the Chinese were the ones who chased our Marines out.
 We were asked to go up and see what the Russians were doing. If they were helping or hurting. That's when the Naval Intelligence Man came down and talked to our Admiral and he said "yes", they could send a reconnaissance plane up

CAPT Arthur Farwell

there and they had a good one that could do that and he (the Admiral) called me and said "Now this is hush, hush. You can't tell anybody about it and you tell your crew that you can't tell anybody. We want you to go up and penetrate the Russian circuits around Vladivostok at night and see what they do about it." They were supposed to be friendly (the Russians) but we wanted to know for sure.

   We briefed our crew. We put a lot of gasoline aboard, and left the Tokyo area and went out and checked out into the Japan Sea. We went down kind of low so the radars along the shore and North Korea wouldn't track us. Then later on, when we came about 15 miles from the outer limit from Vladivostok, we went up to 8000 feet and we found no stars out, and no moon was out. It was perfectly dark and we were darked-out, which is what we wanted.

We kept flying in, and as soon as we hit that outer 15 mile limit, our radar picked up four jets - four aircraft flying out and taking off and coming up in our direction. And we thought "Oh boy". So we went a little, and the MIG kept coming and turned toward us - that's when we turned around and we started back.   We didn't put on any speed; one, we had to save gas,   the other thing, we couldn't have outrun him anyway.

    So we were heading south and I said "Now be on your toes". I told the crew "See what they do - If they're just going to get us out of there, or ask us to move." They knew we were an American plane and what they did was - four fighters had wingtip lights on. Not red and green like we do, but two little white bulbs, one on each wingtip. If they were flying, they had to look out for each other. Our rear gunner could see those pretty plain. Of course our radar could track them all the way. They started closing and came up to our altitude.   By that time we were going towards Tokyo - back down south. And they came up, and they weren't very far - a mile away from us. One of their planes came up to our level and started closing real fast. Well, that meant he had finally picked us up. Their planes had short range radar. They couldn't see us but they could pick us up.

    And this plane started closing pretty fast and we were headed south again, going slow, and I thought "Uh oh." Here's where they always did this. The Russians would shoot somebody down and say "Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do that." So I thought "Oh, here they come, and I'm not going to be a victim of these guys."   So I warned the rear gunner. I said "Stand by" (He's the one who saw this plane coming up pretty fast.) The two little lights, that's all he could see. The same level and closing pretty fast. I said (to the rear gunner) "When you think he gets too close, I want you to give a five-second burst right at them." The rear gun was a 20 mm rapid fire machine gun. But it wasn't this little .30 caliber or .50 caliber, it was the 20 mm gun. And that's what happened, after about 3 seconds of rear gun firing there was a huge explosion behind us and it lit up the sky. We immediately left 8000' because we didn't want to stay there and get caught by...There were three other planes out there see. So I started down and the radar followed this plane that we had evidently shot down and had exploded. He followed this guy down, down and he hit the sea and he and in a short while he looked (the radar operator) and told us that the other three had turned around and gone back to Vladivostok. "Whew" were we glad. Ha,ha. 

    That was the story of finding out if they were friendly or not, which we knew already they weren't (chuckle). It was a real night to behold. And the Naval Intelligence Service told us "Don't say anything about this." The only ones who knew about this was them and our admiral and our crew.”

Arthur Farwell (VP-6 Commanding Officer 1950-1951)

We can only determine the date of the shoot down by using the the dates on the citation for John Dolph's Air Medal. Those dates were for flights between October 1,1950 and December 26,1950. The flight must have been between those dates.
The flight crew may have been as follows, however,Farwell's flight records and flight jacket were lost during Hurricane Frederick in 1979:

PPC: Cdr. Arthur F. Farwell
CoPilot: Lcdr. Perkinson
Navigator: Possibly Ensign Donald Egger
APS-20 Radar Operator: Probably Ensign Donald Egger
ECM Operator: Possibly Walter Diem-AT2
1st Radio: Chief Remington ALC
2nd Radio: John Dolph-AL3
Plane Captain: Possibly P.R. Foster-AD1
Top Turret Gunner: Chief Hartzog AOC
Tail Turret Gunner: Chief S.L. Whitson ADC