As the Bush administration sounds a more dire tone with Chinese leaders still holding 24 U.S. military personnel and an advanced Navy surveillance plane, an examination of Cold War aviation history shows that aerial military encounters involving the downing of “enemy” planes were all too common.

On Wednesday, President Bush told Chinese leaders “it is time” to release the 24 crewmen — one Air Force, one Marine, and 22 Navy personnel, including three women — that have been held by Beijing since the crew’s damaged EP-3E surveillance plane was forced to land at an airbase on China’s southern Hainan Island.

Official reports say the U.S. plane was damaged following a “bumping” incident by one of two Chinese F-8 fighters sent aloft to monitor American surveillance activities.

U.S. officials say China has become increasingly more aggressive in interdicting U.S. surveillance flights for the past several weeks.

In fact, WND reported yesterday that Air Force and Navy officials informed the Clinton administration in December that China’s interdiction tactics had grown increasingly aggressive over the past year.

And, WND reported yesterday that the EP-3E may have been fired upon as it tried to flee the area once it was damaged, according to a report in the Taipei Times newspaper earlier this week.

But history shows that such incidents are much more routine than is commonly known, and what’s more, all sides are equally guilty of targeting the aircraft of other nations — though records seem to indicate that U.S. planes destroyed another nation’s aircraft only after being attacked.

Below is a listing of Cold War-era incidents, according to Russia, Chinese and American historical documents.


  • A Yak-9 damaged and forced to land a USAF B-29 Aug. 29, 1945;

  • A USAF B-26 was attacked and destroyed by an unnamed Soviet plane in April 1950;

  • A USAF F-51 was attacked and shot down in April 1950;

  • Four Soviet La-11s shot down a Navy PB4Y April 8, 1950;

  • A USAF P-38 was shot down April 24, 1950;

  • A USAF U-2 spy plane was shot down by an SA-2 SAM May 1, 1960;

  • A USAF B-24 was shot down May 5, 1950;

  • A USAF RB-29 was shot down by a MiG-15 Dec. 26, 1950;

  • A Navy P2V Neptune was shot down Nov. 6, 1951 by an La-11 aircraft;

  • A Navy PB4Y Catalina was shot down Feb. 16, 1952;

  • A U.S. DC-3 electronics surveillance aircraft was shot down by a MiG-15 near Latvia July 13, 1952;

  • A USAF RB-50 was shot down over the Sea of Japan by a MiG-15 July 29, 1953;

  • A USAF RB-47 was shot down by a MiG-15 near Kamchatka April 18, 1956;

  • A USAF RB-47 was shot down near Kamchatka (Armenia) by a MiG-17P July 27, 1958;

  • A USAF C-130 Hercules was shot down near Yerevan Sept. 2, 1958;

  • A USAF RB-47H was shot down over the Barents Sea July 1, 1960;

  • Soviet aircraft forced to land a Boeing 707 of Seaboard World Airways on Iturul Island, Kurile Islands; it was carrying US troops and entertainers to Vietnam on June 30, 1968;

  • A USAF U-8 was shot down over the USSR Oct. 21, 1970;

  • A Soviet pilot flying an Su-15 shot down KAL Flight 007 near Sakahil Island Sept. 1, 1983.

  • China:

  • A USAF B-29 was shot down at the mouth of the Yangtze River Sept. 20, 1952 [Korea War];

  • A Navy F-4U was shot down at Qianlidao in Qingdao March 6, 1953 [Korean War];

  • A Navy PBM-5A was shot down at Qianlidao in Qingdao Nov. 7, 1953;

  • A USAF F-86 was shot down at Dagushan in Liaoning May 10, 1955;

  • A Navy P4M-1Q Mercator was shot down 32 miles off the coast of China (Shengsi Island near Wenchow) on Aug. 22, 1956;

  • One U.S. drone shot down at Weizhou Island in Guangxi Nov. 15, 1964;

  • One U.S. drone shot down at Nanning in Guangxi Jan. 2, 1965;

  • Shot down one U.S. drone at Wanning in Hainan Island, March 24; 1965;

  • Other drones shot down March 31, 1965; April 3, 1965; April 18, 1965; Aug. 21, 1965;

  • A USAF F-104C shot down at Haikou near Hainan Island Sept. 20, 1965;

  • A USAF RA-3D shot down at Pingxiang in Guangxi Oct. 5, 1965;

  • A Navy KA-3B was shot down over China;

  • A USAF RA-3D shot down at Leizhou Peninsula April 12, 1966;

  • A Navy F-4B was shot down at Dongxing in Guangxi April 14, 1967;

  • A Navy F-4C was shot down at Hainan Island June 26, 1967;

  • Two Navy A-6As were shot down at Ningming in Guangxi Aug. 21, 1967;

  • A Navy A-1H was shot down at Wanning in Hainan Island Feb. 14, 1968.

  • In other incidents:

  • A U.S. military helicopter was shot down over the Korean DMZ May 17, 1963;

  • A U-2C lent to Taiwan by the U.S. was shot down over mainland China Nov. 1, 1963;

  • A USAF T-39 was shot down over East Germany Jan. 24, 1964;

  • A USAF RB-66 was shot down over East Germany March 10, 1964;

  • On July 7, 1964, and Jan. 10, 1964, a pair of Taiwanese U-2Cs — one each incident — were shot down over China;

  • On April 27, 1965, a USAF ERB-47H was damaged by North Korean MiG-17s. It made an emergency landing at Yokota AB, with two engines out;

  • A USAF EC-121M was shot down over or near North Korea April 15, 1969;

  • An Army OH-23 helicopter was shot down over the Korean DMZ Aug. 17, 1969;

  • A USAF CH-47 was shot down over the Korean DMZ June 14, 1977;

  • On April 24, 1992, Peruvian Su-22s attacked a USAF C-130.

  • Documentation shows that only one — Air Force Maj. Gary Powers’ U-2 — was shot down while actually traversing a competitor nation on a spy mission. Most other recorded shoot-downs occurred in border areas or just inside border areas, at most.

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