(Lead Photo) The T-6 was used by the SAAF as a trainer for student pilots, weapons training, and weather and air photographic duties. It was originally armed with two .30-caliber machine guns with racks under the wings for 20-pound bombs and 5-inch rockets. The aircraft was sold surplus in 1995. The number on the side of the airplane, LTA-555, represents an LT-6 that was shot down and destroyed in May 1953. The two-man crew was taken prisoner by the Chinese and repatriated after the truce was signed the same year. Both men are alive today and have given their story to the present owners.
World War II. But the smaller prop planes, with their much slower cruising speeds, could find tar- gets of opportunity and then ra- dio for bombers to finish the job. The tactic of using slower observa- tion aircraft to guide bombers and ground-attack aircraft to a target became known as airborne forward air control. Ground-based forward air control had been used in World War II and continued to be of use
in Korea and beyond, but airborne forward air control was something new to the Korean War.
At first, Air Force observers flew with Army close air/ground sup- port pilots in Stinson L-5 Sentinels, but only 14 days into the Korean conflict, Air Force personnel took it upon themselves to create their own squadron. Supporting the 24th Infantry Division with three L-5s and one T-6 Texan trainer, the un-
Stinging the Enemy
By the time the Korean War started in June 1950, the jet age was well on its way. British and Ameri- can aircraft manufacturers had been producing jet-powered fight- ers, bombers, and ground attack aircraft, including such notable craft as the deHavilland Vampire, Gloster Meteor, and Lockheed P- 80 Shooting Star. At the start of the conflict, the U.S. Air Force’s 650- plus mph North American F-86 Sa- brejet had eclipsed P-80 in speed and agility, and it took on the agile Soviet MiG-15 fighter for control of the Korean skies. It seemed that the age of the propeller plane was over.
Triple Nickel still has its original armament control panel in the cockpit.
But while jet bombers loitered overhead at altitude and ground attack aircraft screamed above the jungle canopy, the U.S. Air Force found that the slower propeller- driven aircraft still had a role to play in aerial warfare. Jets simply flew too high or too fast for hu- man eyes to spot the constantly moving enemy targets usually con- cealed under dense Korean foliage. After all, this was a different war than Europe or even the Pacific in
The original interior shows years of use by the South African air force.
the Korean War. Although Grant did not fly with the Mosquitos, his experience as an airborne forward air controller (FAC) in Vietnam nearly 20 years later endeared the Mosquitoes and their efforts in the T-6 to his heart.