More on Flt Lt Roy French
Roy’s son sent me these photos he’s found. The airplane is Roy’s F-86E. The picture of the Sabre is interesting because it’s one of the few color photos I have seen of the enlarged “Misawa tanks”, which were painted yellow to remind the pilot they couldn’t just be punched off like the standard tanks. The helmet is the one Roy painted, which Joe McConnell was wearing and lost on April 12, 1953, when he shot down his eighth MiG-15, but was then shot down himself moments later by Captain Semen Alexeievich Fedorets of the 913rd IAP, 32nd IAD. Fedorets had just scored his fifth victory against another Sabre when he spotted McConnell, who was chasing another MiG. Fedorets gained position just below and behind McConnell. When McConnell’s wingman (French) told him to break, he couldn’t see Fedorets, who opened fire. The lethal burst of heavy cannon shells smashed the Sabre, nearly taking the wing off at the root and leaving a big hole where the main gear had been. Fedorets was sure of his victory when McConnell fell away. Despite the near-fatal damage, McConnell managed to force the F-86 into a high-G barrel roll that put him behind Fedorets. With the tables turned, McConnell shot up Fedorets’ MiG-15 so badly the Russian was forced to eject. Both had shot each other down.
By this point, McConnell’s Sabre had lost half its power as well as the radio. Smoking, but not burning, he headed south, toward the China Sea. His element leader, 1st Lt. Harold Chitwood called the helicopter base on Cho-Do Island for air-sea rescue. Once over the water, McConnell ejected and was picked up by the waiting helicopter after only a few minutes in the water, but unfortunately. Roy’s helmet was lost.
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.