VICTIMS OF UNDECLARED WAR
It is not a secret that military opposition of two great super powers - USA and Russia, that has begun without any declarations, and continued till recently, was not opposition of two nations but a struggle of two political systems. The struggle that swallowed huge amounts of money - taxpayers money, brought grief to numerous families on the both sides of the ocean...Thank goodness, the politicians in both countries managed to come round and stop this madness.
This story is based on documents and eyewitnesses testimony. It is dedicated to all those who fell at battlegrounds of that unofficial war. The author is not intended to blame any of the sides, he just covers a fragment of that war.
That was a hot July day in Port Arthur. The second month of summer 1953 was slowly coming to conclusion, "taking along" war in Korea. The crew of IL-12 passenger plane was getting ready for a usual flight. Beautiful weather, fine weather forecast, the route they knew like a take-off stripe of their airport.
After a short delay caused by waiting for a late passenger, IL soared to the sky. A dark spot in was still showing the destination of the flight a few minutes later...
But they never got to Vladivostok. Two and a half hour later, when the plane was above Chinese city Khaudiyang, four "Sabres" suddenly appeared near it and started to shoot a passenger plane...
Six crew and 14 passengers were on the board of that IL. The first official reports mentioned the number of 15 passengers, but later on they found a list of passengers among the remains of the IL, which indicated that one man did not make it to the plane. He quarrelled with his wife and was late. Sometimes life depends on nonsense.
There also was one sailor who was supposed to be on board, but he got replaced by an officer who had to go on a business trip. This man lives in Vladivostok.
So, two stayed alive, twenty-died. Their remains were found in a few days (notice extremely hot weather) and buried in Port Arthur. Four months later, December 1953, their remains got cremated and transported to Vladivostok. A small monument in one of the city parks was built, too. The navigator Ivan Mulin had three kids. The older one - Lyuda - was just seven years old. Today she is a chief scientist at History Institute. Every day going to work she passes by a place where her father is buried.
-The authorities did not tell us the plane got hit, although everybody knew it on a military base where we lived. I remember I was playing in the yard, and some boy came up to me and told me: "Ya know, your dad died..."
The first thing I saw when I hurried up to our house - lots of people in it. And a women's cry: "Mulin crashed!!!"
IL-12 that got shot down above China was a war plane, but the planes of that type were used for freight and passengers carrying, as well as "Douglases" we got by lend-lease.
The circumstances of that incident are not very clear. The report of fighter planes commander Ralph Parr says that Russian plane got hit above... North Korea. That was the primary version of American side. Although, they had to dismiss it after Russian brought a UN representatives group to the place where the IL fell down.
The investigation ( most part of its documents has been secret) showed that Chinese peasants saw several "Sabres" a hour before the execution. Does it mean that IL-12 was not just a victim of tough guys who wanted to have fun the last day of the Korean military conflict.
The radius of action of F-86 "Sabre" is 1600 kilometers. The distance from the frontier of China and North Korea to the place of the tragedy is 300 km. Add a little more than that to the flight from their airport which must have been below 38th parallel. You see it is hard to imagine that the fighters were just travelling so far away from their base.
Were they waiting for our plane? Or they were waiting for someone else.
Some officer who refused to call his name came to the widow of Ivan Mulin a few years later. He told that another IL with highest commanders of Pacific Fleet was supposed to fly the very same route that time. Once Soviet intelligence found out that Americans had known about the flight is was postponed. A passenger plane replaced it to keep valuable source of information safe.
According to another version, Americans were expecting Marshal Malinovsky who had to return from Port Arthur to Vladivostok.
Once again, it is hard to judge what is truth and what is lies in the story that occurred 42 years ago. Two years later the incident there was a fight of between American and Soviet fighter planes somewhere in Nakhodka area. One B-50 got shot down. Officers who served together with the crew of IL-12 supposed the American was simply shot down above the neutral area. A revenge?
HERE IS THE LIST OF THE CASES WHERE RUSSIAN PLANES ARE STILL CONSIDERED MISSING IN ACTION. WE SINCERELY HOPE OUR READERS MIGHT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE THIS LIST.
September 4, 1950. 12:44 p.m. A soviet plane A-20 got attacked by 11 American fighter planes and fell down to he sea in Khaion-do Island. Crew of 3 people is missing in action.
July 15, 1964. 200 km. Eastwards from Japan. TU-16R reported about large group of ships with aircraft carriers. That was its last report. Crew of 7 people.
May 25, 1968. Sea of Norway. Another Soviet TU-16R reported detecting American aircraft carrier "Essex". After this report the plane caught fire and fell down. Crew of seven people. A helicopter from the aircraft carrier gathered the remains of three men and forwarded them to Russian destroyer.
August 4, 1976. 8:15 p.m. Newfoundland Island area. A supporting aircraft TU-95RC observed falling of the leader without any without apparent cause. The crew members were not found.
January 10, 1978. 9:38 p.m. 700 km eastwards the Kuril Islands. TU-95RC stopped sending signals to its base and never came back.
To make all these cases clear, a special commission led by Dmitry Volkogonov appealed to the US government requesting copies of all documents concerning these cases. American side forwarded the documents pretty soon.
Co-chairman of a joint committee on missing in action servicemen Mr. Malcolm Toon briefly wrote in a letter addressed to Presidential Advisor of Security: "We have detected 12 cases that led to destroying of Soviet planes. However, no one of them was caused by military interference with American armed forces.
A two-motor bomber got hit by Navy fighter planes on September 4, 1950. Lieutenant Gennady Mishin died. His remains were returned to Russia in 1956.
TU-16 wrecked on May 25, 1968 near Newfoundland Island on the beam of USS "Essex". The remains of the plane gathered during rescue operation were forwarded to Russian destroyer No. 311.
The research of joint staff did not give us any factual results of shooting down Soviet planes. If you could give us more detailed information concerning these incidents we would be able to continue our research..."
Thus, the mystery gets uncovered very slowly. We have just one more or less complete story of a missing air plane.
A two-motor Soviet bomber. Patrolling the designated area, a USS "Herbert Thomas" detected an unidentified aircraft flying from Soviet base. They forwarded the information to a squad of "Corsairs" from "Valley Rouge" aircraft carrier. The fighter planes got order to intercept the unknown unit, that was flying at 4 thousand meters with a speed of 325 km per hour.
American planes started the interception in 6 minutes, having encircled it. According to the commander of the squad, Russian plane made several mistakes. It hurried up towards Korea, while it was supposed to fly to China and stay safe. Flying above the unidentified plane they saw red stars on the wings. That time the crew of the bomber made one more mistake, initiating the fire at the interceptors. American base permitted to fire back. Lieutenant Downs shot and missed, then his supporting aircraft fired and hit the soviet bomber. The whole fight was observed by sailors at "Herbert Thomas" destroyer. They came close to a place where Soviet plane fell down and found just one body of a pilot. He was dead.
Materials collected by Konstantin Andreev.
Picture No. 1: a place in Vladivostok, where the crew and passengers of IL-12 have been buried.
Picture No. 2: a daughter of IL-12 navigator Ludmila Inanovna Proskurina.