Little Bits of History

Operation Moolah

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2014
Operation Moolah

Operation Moolah

April 27, 1953: US General Mark W Clark makes an unusual offer. The hope behind Operation Moolah was to have a fully functional Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter brought over by a defecting pilot. The new plane had been introduced to Korea on November 1, 1950. US Air Force pilots had declared the new plane was superior to all United Nations planes, including the USAF’s newest plane, the F-86 Sabre. The plan was to offer a financial incentive for a pilot to bring a plane to South Korea for examination by US engineers. The MiG-15 could outperform at initial acceleration and outdistance the US plane in a dive. It was also more maneuverable at high altitudes.

The appearance of the plane over North Korea was not just about the plane, but also was a concern as to whether or not the USSR was helping North Korea’s war effort. Some United Nations prisoners of war had reported talking to Soviet pilots while in captivity and this along with other intelligence led those in power to believe Soviets were covertly supplying pilots to train North Korean forces. This was corroborated after the war was over by a defector. It was felt that if the US or the UN could get their hands on one of these planes, it would help immeasurably. So Operation Moolah was produced out of the office of the Army’s Psychological Warfare Branch in Washington, D.C.  If a disgruntled pilot could be induced to bring over a plane, he would receive $100,000 and political asylum.

The plan was approved on March 30 but the reward was dropped to $50,000 for any undamaged planes. The first to bring one over would receive a bonus of an extra $50,000. On April 26, armistice negotiations between Communist forces and the UN began. Operation Little Switch was due to be undertaken the next day and so Gen. Clark included Operation Moolah, as well. The first operation was to exchange sick and wounded POWs between the two sides and Clark hoped to persuade some Communists to stay and defect. On the night of April 26, two B-29 Superfortress bombers dropped 1.2 million leaflets over Communist bases. These were written in Russian, Chinese, and Korean and made the same offer as that broadcast the next day.

The sales pitch offered via shortwave radio transmission was sent out in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Russian. It was broadcast by fourteen radio stations situated in Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and China. The message that went out said, “. . . To all brave pilots who wish to free themselves from the Communist yoke and start a new, better life with proper honor . . . you are guaranteed refuge, protection, humane care and attention. If pilots so desire, their names will be kept secret forever . . .” This ploy was unsuccessful as no Communist pilot brought over a plane prior to the armistice signed on July 27, 1953. However, later that year, North Korean pilot No Kum-Suk landed his MiG-15 at Kimpo Air Base in South Korea – unaware of Operation Moolah. He received the cash anyway.

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else. – Leonardo da Vinci

Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straightforward and simple integrity in another. – Charles Caleb Colton

Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Human intelligence may not be the best trick nature has to offer. – Bryant H. McGill

Also on this day: Sultana – In 1865, the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
John Milton – In 1667, Paradise Lost was purchased for £5.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.
Expo 67 – In 1967, the Expo held official opening ceremonies.

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