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Night Fighters over Korea

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Night Fighters over Korea

Author: G. G. O'Rourke, E. T. Wooldridge
288 pages (October 1998)
United States Naval Inst.;
ISBN: 1557506531 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.85 x 9.27 x 6.29




by G. G. O'Rourke, with E. T Wooldridge


The Korean War is well known for its daytime battles between the American Sabrejets and Communist MiGs over North Korea, yet few Americans have heard of the wild night skirmishes between the U.S. Navy-Marine Skvknights and their Chinese and Soviet adversaries. Readers of Y this riveting story will soon come to realize that in that air war the foe was more often the blackness of night and Mother Nature than enemy airmen.

The navy night fighters-jet-powered F3Ds-chronicled here were a detachment of the VC-4 squadron known as "The Nightcappers." Lt. Gerald G. O'Rourke lead the small team of Skyknights on board the USS Lake Champlain in the Korean War. With no ground attack capability, O'Rourke's intrepid band of frustrated night fighters found themselves unloved, unwanted, and exiled ashore to a forward air base in South Korea. There, they lived and fought by the side of Marine night fighter squadron VMF(N)-513, and became the U.S. Navy's only jet night fighter squadron to see combat in the war.

Filling a glaring hole in the literature of naval aviation, this colorful, landmark contribution describes in detail the development and training of navy night fighters after World War II, their deployment to Korea, and their nightly encounters with MiGs and monsoon weather. Of particular interest are O'Rourke's rousing descriptions of his own encounters with enemy MiGs where it becomes clear that in his desperate fight for survival, he learned to use the night as his ally.

To write this book O'Rourke teamed up with his former squadronmate and naval aviation historian E. T. Wooldridge. It is an inspiring tale of the tragedies as well as the lighter moments of night fighting with the offbeat Nightcappers of VC-4 and some eccentric Marines. Humor, pathos, heroism, and excitement abound.


Gerald O'Rourke served thirty years in the U.S. Navy as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and commanding officer of fighter squadrons and a carrier. In 1978 he received the Naval Institute Award of Merit. He died in December 1997.


E. T. Wooldridge, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, has served in numerous capacities at the National Air and Space Museum for the past twenty years. A resident of Annapolis, Maryland he is the author of several books on aviation subjects, including The Golden Age Remembered and Into the Jet Age.


288 pages. 20 photographs. Appendix. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

6 x 9

ISBN: 1557506531



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