Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cold War Shoot Down Revisited

Every time I read somewhere that the Cold War was not a shooting war, I cringe.

It is the first indication that the writer of the article did not serve during the Cold War or they did not do their research. Those of us that served know of these types of incidents I present to you today.

Today's post is one of the drastic incidents where an actual shoot down took place but there were many other lethal and non-lethal ones also. And not just in the early reconnaissance flights either.

There were shootings at guard post around the world where we stood eye to eye with the communist, at sea, like in my Navy world, with "brush" up alongside near collisions with surface ships, numerous submarine collisions actually happened as well, or with Air Force or Navy jets scrambling to deter a Bear as they push the overflight boundaries.

This story stands out in that, it is an incident where the Soviet Union accepted responsibility and paid restitution for the loss of the aircraft. There was no warning shots, no attempt to deter the Neptune away from the border by getting close to it, no radio communications, the Soviet fighters appeared and unleashed at volley of cannon fire directly at the patrol plane.

Navy Neptune P2V


In my research I found an incident where the Soviets shot down a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer in April 1950, then we shot down a Soviet A-20 patrol plane in September 1950, a year before the Neptune shoot down in November 1951. Things were definitely getting heated in the sky when the Soviet Air Defense Forces and our aircraft shared the same airspace.

Soviet Union A-20 which was probably provided during the WW2 lend Lease program

Serving during the Cold War was not all training and boredom. It was dangerous duty when near the Soviets, no matter which branch of the service you were a member of.

Read the whole story here. It is very well done with a full account of what happened during and after the shoot down.

On a personal note, my father, AO3 John E. Kairis, served on Navy PB4Y-2 aircraft during WW2 as a gunner.


Thank you to the Alaska Dispatch News for allowing me to link to their article. Images obtained through Google Image search in the public domain.

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