Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS - The Korean War, 1950-1953

The War Stabilizes, 25 January - 30 June 1951
Overview and Selected Images



After two months of costly attacks, the Chinese army was exhausted. Starting on 25 January 1951, Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway's Eighth Army, assisted by land and sea-based airpower, pushed northward in a sharp series of carefully-planned offensives. By late April, they had recaptured almost all of South Korea and were digging in along a serpentine front line generally well above the old 38th Parallel border. In mid-May, the enemy pushed back, gaining ground across the peninsula, but at such great expense that UN forces quickly recovered most of what had been lost, and more. Only in the west, where terrain was unsuitable for an advanced front line, were the Communists allowed to retain some formerly South Korean territory.

In April President Harry Truman, his patience at an end with General MacArthur's repeated efforts to advance unacceptable war goals, replaced him with General Ridgeway. Riding out the resulting political tempest, the government adhered to a "limited war" policy, containing the Korean conflict and thereby freeing resources for a rapid defense buildup in other strategic parts of the Globe.

At sea, the navies sharpened the focus of their air and gunfire efforts. With three or four big carriers, a battleship, some cruisers and many destroyers on station, the U.S. Navy undertook long campaigns to deconstruct North Korea's eastern railway system and other elements of its transportation and industrial infrastructure. British and smaller U.S. carriers, plus gunfire ships, worked in the Yellow Sea. Minesweepers maintained firing channels for the gunnery ships, and small combatants of many nations enforced a rigorous blockade of the North Korean coast.

The Air Force concentrated on targets in the western side of Korea, used its B-29s for heavy bombing raids, ably kept the MiG-15 threat safely to the north and provided the great bulk of air transport services. The Air Force and planes from other UN nations joined U.S. Marine aviation in directly supporting troops on the ground. USMC and USAF night fighters struggled to counter the only enemy airplanes that dared to approach the front lines, small propeller-driven "night hecklers" that made very challenging targets.

By late June, the most recent Communist ground offensive had been decisively defeated. North Korea was being steadily punished from air and sea. Since the US and UN had decided not to advance further into the North, and with the enemy clearly unable to push South, there seemed little point in continued hostilities. Armistice feelers received favorable responses, and truce talks were in the offing. Most observers expected an early end to the fighting.


This page features a special selection of images related to the Korean War from 25 January through 30 June 1951, and provides links to additional pictorial coverage of that time.

For broader pictorial coverage of the stabilization period of the Korean War, see:

  • Aircraft Carrier Operations, January-June 1951
  • Carrier Air Strikes, January-June 1951
  • Naval Gunfire Activities, January-June 1951
  • Land Operations, January-June 1951
  • Land-Based Air Activities, 1951-1953
  • Other Naval Operations, January-June 1951
  • Command Activities, January-June 1951

  • Logistics and Support Activities
  • Activities in the United States
  • Miscellaneous Shipboard Activities
  • Ships at Sea off Korea
  • A precis of our Korean War images, and links to more comprehensive pictorial coverage of that conflict:

  • The Korean War, June 1950 - July 1953 - Introductory Overview and Special Image Selection

  • Click the photograph to prompt a larger view

    Photo #: SC 357227

    Korean War Ground Combat


    Personnel of Companies A and K, 35th Infantry Regiment, keep a sharp lookout for movement in the Communist-held area in the background, as U.N. forces bombard the vicinity with white phosphorous shells.
    Photograph is dated 1 February 1951.

    Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

    Online Image: 113KB; 740 x 605 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: NH 97281

    USS Boxer (CV-21)


    Four F9F-2 "Panther" jet fighters roar past the carrier, with dive brakes, landing gear and arresting hooks down, preparing to land on board after returning from a mission over North Korea, 23 June 1951.
    The planes and their pilots are from Fighter Squadron 721 (VF-721), a Naval Reserve squadron formerly based at Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 99KB; 740 x 610 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97286

    USS Boxer (CV-21)


    "Deck Launch -- Visible rings of vapor encircle a Corsair fighter as it turns up prior to being launched from the USS Boxer for a strike against communist targets in Korea. Hovering to the stern of the aircraft carrier, the every-present helicopter plane guard stands by to assist if any emergency arises."
    Photograph and caption were released in Washington, D.C., on 20 July 1951.
    Planes are Vought F4U-4s. Helicopter is a Sikorski HO3S.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 97KB; 605 x 765 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-428267

    USS Valley Forge (CV-45)


    Crewmen use flight deck tractors with power brooms to sweep snow from the carrier's flight deck, during operations off Korea, circa early 1951.
    Photo is dated 8 May 1951, but Valley Forge ended her second Korean War deployment in late March of that year.
    Plane parked in the foreground is a F4U-4 "Corsair" fighter. Those on the forward flight deck are an AD "Skyraider" attack plane and a HO3S helicopter.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 128KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: NH 97042

    USS Princeton (CV-37)


    Aviation Ordnanceman Airmen J.V. Lykins and D.F. Jenkins "move two truck loads of bombs onto the bomb elevator ready for the six-deck journey to the flight deck to be loaded on waiting aircraft. Over 100 tons of ammunition are loaded and flown from USS Princeton each operational day."
    Quoted from the original caption released with this photo by Commander, Naval Forces Far East under date of 16 May 1951.
    The inscription over the elevator door reads: "Maximum Load 5500 lbs".

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 119KB; 740 x 615 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-428678

    Hwachon Dam Air Strikes, April-May 1951


    Torpedo attack on the Hwachon Reservoir dam by AD "Skyraiders" of Attack Squadron 195 (VA-195) from USS Princeton (CV-37), 1 May 1951.
    This successful strike, and earlier bomb attacks by Navy and U.S. Air Force planes, were made to deny the enemy the tactical use of controlled flooding on the Pukhan and Han rivers. Torpedoes were used after bombs failed to achieve the desired results. They destroyed one flood gate and partially destroyed another. This was the only Korean War use of torpedoes.
    The Hwachon Reservoir was later recaptured by U.N. forces.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 145KB; 740 x 620 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-432589

    USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852)


    Off the rugged Korean coast, while on a bombardment mission.
    Photograph is dated 5 September 1951, but was taken earlier in the year, as Leonard F. Mason left the Western Pacific for the U.S. in late July 1951.
    Note snowy mountainsides in the background.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 100KB; 615 x 675 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-426954

    USS Missouri (BB-63)


    Fires a three-gun salvo from her number two turret at a Korean Target, circa February 1951.
    Note U.S. flag and the ship's hull number used as identification markings on the forward turret.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 67KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: NH 97104

    Grumman F7F "Tigercat" Night Figher
    ,
    of Marine aircraft squadron VMF-513

    "Marine Corps Night Fighters in Korea -- Mechanics assigned the care of the F7F flown by Long and Woodward as part of Marine Night Fighter Squadron VMF 513 meet the men as dusk sets in and the F7F Tiger Cats prepare to leap on their prey from the black skies over Korea."
    "(left to right) Pilot Long, USMC; Cpl. T.R. Moore, ...; Sgt. T. R. Choate, USMC; ... Warrant Officer Woodworth." Photograph and caption released by Commander Naval Forces, Far East, under date of 26 May 1951.
    Note that the two sentences use different spellings of the last man's name.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 76KB; 740 x 620 pixels

     



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