The Air Plan
After their New Years’ offensive, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army high command decided to use the People’s Air Force in support of future ground operations. In preparation for this move, an air-ground training conference was held in Mukden.
Fearing UN retaliation on Chinese bases, the People’s Air Force was forbidden to fly attack missions out of Manchuria against UN troops and installations. Airfields for support aircraft were therefore developed in North Korea.
The Chinese air commander Liu Ya-lou planned to:
- establish air superiority over northwestern Korea
- repair and improve air facilities in the protected region
- restore forward airfields near the 38th parallel – Since the MIG-15s and IL-10s were short-range aircraft
After the U.S. the Fifth Air Force demolished its forward fields at Kimpo and Suwon during the New Year’s offensive and redeployed all jet fighters to Japan, U.S. jets’ range was too short to maintain air superiority in the far northwest.
The Chinese People’s Air Force then assumed control of the air between the Yalu and Ch’ongch’on rivers.
By the first week of March 1951, the Suwon airfield was sufficiently repaired to allow jets to stage through it and reenter MIG Alley. By the end of the month, the U.S. Fifth Air Force was back in even competition with the Chinese air force.
Main source: Offensive1951