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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 86182
Last updated: 16 September 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic B29 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing RB-29A Superfortress
Owner/operator:91st SRSqn /3rd BWg USAF (91st SRSqn /3rd Bomb Wingg United States Air Force)
Registration: 44-62217
MSN: 11690
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 14
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Antung, south of Yalu River -   North Korea
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:Clark AFB, Philppines
Destination airport:
Built as B-29A-70-BN, modified in service to be a Boeing F-13A. One of the most sensational missions of the 581st in Korea occurred on 12 January 1953, when a 581st ARC B-29 (tail number 44-62217, call sign "Stardust Four Zero") on its first leaflet drop mission with the 581st ARC Wing Commander, Col. John Arnold (as well as the operations commander of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Major William (Bill) Baumer) on board, was shot down on their last leaflet target just south of the Yalu River in far northern Korea near the Chinese town of Antung.

At the time, Russian fighter squadrons, some equipped for night flying, were supporting and supplying the Chinese with airpower, including the Russian-made MiG-15 Fagot. Twelve Russian MiG-15s from the 351st (and perhaps the 535th) Fighter Air Regiments (IAP) intercepted a lone Superfortress (Stardust Four Zero) of the 581st ARCW south of the Yalu River, about 15 miles from the Chinese border.

The MiGs were scrambled and vectored to the bomber's location by Russian radar-controlled searchlight units stationed near Antung, China. The searchlights illuminated the unarmed Superfortress and several MiGs engaged the bomber. Russian MiG pilot Senior Lt. Khabiev of the 351st IAP was credited with the intercept and downing of the B-29.

Although US sources believe the B-29 was flying in North Korean airspace at the time of its mayday call, a belief that is strongly disputed by the Chinese and Russian authorities, crew members who bailed and landed believe they were in North Korean territory. Upon capture, the crew was rounded up, blindfolded and put aboard trucks, subsequently transported into China and later charged as CIA spies (the Chinese subsequently learned of the CIA connection with the ARCW units).

During the highly publicized Chinese trial in Peking in October 1954, the surviving crew members, along with captured CIA agents Fecteau and Downey, who were imprisoned two years earlier after they had been shot down while attempting to pick up their Chinese double agent, were given prison sentences ranging from 5 years to life.

Not until 4 August 1955, two years after the Korean War Armistice, were the surviving Stardust Four Zero crew members released from Chinese prison. These crew members held the distinction of being the longest held POW USAF captives of the war.

ARNOLD, Jr., John K. COL USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
BAUMER, William E. MAJ USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
BENJAMIN, JR., Harry M. A2C USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
BROWN, Howard W. TSGT USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
BROWN, Wallace L. 1LT USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
BUCK, John W. CAPT USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
KIBA, Steve E. A1C USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
LLEWELLYN, Elmer F. CAPT USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
SCHMIDT, Daniel C. A1C USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
THOMPSON, III, John W. A2C USAF RMC RMC from China 1955
VAADI, Eugene J. CAPT USAF RMC RMC from China 1955


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Revision history:

14-Apr-2013 23:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Feb-2021 15:40 Pink Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description