On 27 March 1953 two Gloster Meteor Mk 8 jets of No 77 Squadron, flown by Sergeants George Hale and David Irlam, were conducting a road reconnaissance over North Korea near Sinmak when Hale saw what he thought was a lone MiG-15. It was only as he dived into the attack that he realised he was opposed by three enemy aircraft.
In the ensuing dogfight, Hale’s cannon fire sent one MiG down on its back, belching black smoke and shedding bits of fuselage as it dropped from view. Immediately confronted by another pair of MiGs, he scored hits on one of these also and saw it trailing white smoke as it climbed away from him. Having expended all his ammunition, Hale broke off contact.
This was the last time that a No 77 Squadron aircraft engaged in aerial combat in Korea, and indeed the last time that any RAAF unit has been involved in air-to-air combat since.
RAAF History and Heritage is continuing work to restore the aircraft flown by SGT Hale, Gloster Meteor 851 (aka ‘Halestorm’) for display at Fighter World RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre later in 2023. The cockpit/forward fuselage was gifted to Air Force in 2022 by the South Australian Aviation Museum.
‘Halestorm’ not only had a distinguished service career in Korea but was also a pioneer aircraft for emerging technologies: following the war, Air Force converted Halestorm into a drone and used it to conduct aviation trials at Woomera.
Main Image: Sergeant George Hale with his Meteor Mk 8 after a brush with MiG-15s over North Korea in March 1953.