Cold War Spyplane Incidents
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Cold War Spyplane Incidents


10/22/49 US Air Force RB-29 Crew N/A
(No injuries}
Aircraft fired upon by Soviet fighters over Sea of Japan

04/08/50: US Navy PB4Y2 Crew: 10

(no survivors or remains recovered)
This aircraft was apparently shot down over the Baltic Sea by Soviet aircraft. The Soviets claimed that the plane had violated Soviet airspace over Latvia and had exchanged fire with Soviet fighters.On July 17, 1950, based on information obtained from German, Austrian, and Japanese POWs repatriated from the Soviet Union, the US Government presented a note to the Soviet Government claiming that:Sometime in 1950 and in October 1953, at least one member of this aircraft's crew had been sighted in Soviet "Camp #20" near Taishet, USSR, and "Collective Farm #25", 54 kilometers from Taishet, "said to be under sentence for allged espionage. This American national was described as having suffered burns on the face and legs in the crash of his aircraft and using crutches or a cane."In September 1950, as many as eight crew members of this aircraft had been seen in the area of Vorkuta, USSR. One of these Americans stated that he was serving a 25 year sentence for espionage and had been a crewmember of a downed US aircraft.The US diplomatic note stated that:The reports concerning such personnel have now become so persistent and detailed, and so credible that, although the United States Government has not been able to identify by name these American nationals now detained by the Soviet Government, it request the Soviet Government to inform the United States Government in detail concerning each American military person who has been detained in the Soviet Union at any time since January 1, 1949, of whom the United States Government has not been heretofor been informed by the Soviet Government, giving in each case the name of the person and the circumstances underlying his detention.The note went on to itemize the missing crewmembers as noted below. In addition, after noting the above case regarding the April 8, 1950 shootdown and that of June 13, 1952 (see below) the note went on to say that:While the foregoing specific cases involve the crew members of two aircraft, it may well be that the Soviet Government has in its custody members of the crews of other United States aircraft, particularly members of aircraft engaged on behalf of the United Nations Command side of the military action in Korea since 1950.The Soviet Government, on August 14, 1956, stated that an 'exhaustive inquiry' into the charges of the US note had been carried out and that no such American military personnel were being held on Soviet territory. A recent newspaper article also contained information about one crewmember possibly having survived, Lieutenant Robert D. Reynolds: Articles placed in a Russian newspaper by ARK (a US based POW/MIA research organization) and others... brought information... A Russian came forward who had heard of Lt. Robert D. Reynolds living in the Soviet Union in teh 1950's, said Jane Reynolds Howard, of Middleton, Wis., who was married to Reynolds. The US government had declared him presumed dead in 1951, a year and a day after his Navy plane was shot down over the Baltic Sea.
Fette, John H LT USNR
Seeschaf, Howard W. LT USN
Reynolds, Robert D LTJG USN
Burgess, Tommy L. ENS USN
Danens, Joe H., Jr AD1 USN
Thomas, Jack W. AD1 USN
Beckman, Frank L AT1 USN
Purcil, Edward J. CT3 USN
Rinniar, Joseph N. Jr AT3 USN
Bourassa, Joseph Jay AL3 USN

07/15/50 US Air Force RB-29 Crew: N/A
(No injuries)
Aircraft attacked by Soviet fighters approximately 40 miles off Soviet east coast near Permskoye Airfield

11/06/51 US Navy P2V Neptune Crew: 10

(no survivors or remains recovered)
This aircraft was apparently shot down by Soviet fighters either over international waters about 20 miles from Vladivostok, USSR (according tot he United States) or over Vladivostok (according to the Soviets). The US did not announce the incident until November 23, 1951. In a protest note dated November 7, but not made public until November 24, the Soviets claimed the aircraft flew over the city and opened fire when 2 Soviet aircraft tried to force it to land, bringing Soviet retaliatory fire. "The Russian pilots were believed to have been two who, Moscow announced Nov. 23, had been given the Order of the Red Banner for exemplary fulfillment of their service duties."
Crewmembers:(partial list)
Hodgton, Judd Clarence LTJG
Rosenfeld, Sam LTJG4.

11/19/51 US Air Force C-47 Crew: 4
This aircraft was apparently shot down by either Hungarian or Romanian antiaircraft fire near the Yugoslav frontier (the plane was en route from Munich to Belgrade.) Hungary and Romania charged on November 21 that the aircraft had violated their airspace. "A traveler reaching Vienna from Bucharest Nov. 22 had said he saw Romanians shoot down the C-47 and that its crewmen were injured but alive." US search efforts were called off November 26. The crew were released shortly thereafter.
Crewmember (partial list):
Swift, John J. CPT5.

06/13/52 US Air Force RB-29 Crew: 12
(no survivors or remains recovered)
This aircraft was apparently shot down either over the Sea of Japan or near the Kamchatka Peninsula of the USSR. No remains or survivors were recovered by US or allied forces. In the diplomatic note of July 17, 1956, noted above, the US Government states that: An officer, believed by the United States Government to have been a member of this crew, was observed in October 1953, in a Soviet hospital north of Magadan near the crossing of the Kolyma River between Elgen and Debin at a place called Narionburg. This officer stated that he had been wrongfully convicted under Item 6 of Article 58 of the Soviet Penal Code.
Busch, Samuel N MAJ
James A 1LT
Service,Samuel D.
McDonnell, Robert J 1LT
Homer, William B MSG
Moore, David L MSG
Blizzard, William A SSG
Monserrat, Miguel W SSG
Berg, Eddie R SSG
Bonura, Leon F. SSG
Becker, Roscoe G. SSG
Pillsbury, Danny AA1C

10/07/ US Air Force RB-29 Crew: 8

(no survivors or remains recovered)
This aircraft was apparently shot down by Soviet fighters over Yuri Island, claimed by the Soviets as part of the Kurile Islands (occupied by the USSR during World War II and retained since then) - a claim not recognized by the US or Japan. US demands for reparations from the Soviet Union were rejected.

01/18/53 US Navy P2V Crew: 13
(Seven recovered)
Off China.

03/10/53 US Air Force RF-84 Crew: 1
In Europe.

07/29/53 US Air Force RB-50 Crew: 17
(1 killed in action, body not recovered)
1 survivor; 2 remains recovered; 13 unaccounted for)This aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters approximately 40 miles east of the Siberian coast (some sources state it was near the Kamchatka Peninsula, which is, of course, also part of Siberia): Aerial search disclosed a sighting which appeared to be groups of survivors. Also seen in the distance were a dozen small surface craft (presumably Soviet) which were proceeding in the general direction of the group sighting. Fog and darkness obstructed further observation that day. The following morning, search efforts recovered one survivor. His information established that at least one crew member did not leave the RB-50 and died in the crash. The intensive search efforts failed to find any trace of the other personnel. Subsequently, remains of two other crew members washed ashore and were recovered along the coast of Japan. In reply to State Department inquiries, the Soviets denied any knowledge of the fate of any crew member. No word has been received of the fates of the remaining 13 crew members.Soviet claims that the aircraft had violated Soviet sirspace and opened fire on Soviet aircraft were rejected by the United States.
Crewmembers:Unaccounted for (13):
Tejeda, Francisco J MAJ
Stalanker, Robert E CPT
Ward, John C. CPT
Czyz, Edmund J. CPT
Wiggins, Lloyd C. CPT
Beyer, Frank E. CPT
Sanderson, Warren J. CPT
Gabree, Donald W. SSG
Hill, Donald G. SSG
Goulet, Roland E A1C
Radlein, Earl W Jr. A2C
Russell,Charles J J A2C
Woods, James E. A2C
Roche, 1LT
Known Dead :
O'Kelly, S. K. CPT

09/04/54 US Navy P2V Neptune Crew: 10
(1 missing, no remains recovered; 9 survivors)
This aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters approximately 40 miles off the Siberian coast. The aircraft's navigator was missing and presumed dead; the 9 other crewmembers were rescued from the water by US forces. The Soviet Union charged the plane had enetered Soviet airspace and fired on Soviet aircraft, charges rejected by the United States.
Reid, Roger Henry ENS
Wayne, John BoothCDR
Fisher, John Charles ENS
Bedard, William Albert Aviation Machinist's Mate
Petty, Frank Edgar Aviation Electronics Machinist's Mate 3rd Class
Granera, Anthony Peter Aviation Electronics Technician
Stone, Texas Red Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class
Mulmollem, Paul Roger Chief aviation Machinst's Mate
Pinkevich, Ernest Louis Aviation Ordnanceman
Atwell, David Allen Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class

11/07/54 US Air Force B-29 Crew: 11
(1 killed; 10 survivors)
this aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters about 10 miles from the Soviet-controlled Kurile Islands. One crewmember was killed in the attack. The aircraft crash-landed on the northern Japanese major island of Hokkaido; all 10 other crewmembers survived. The Soviets claimed that the US plane had entered Soviet airspace and fired on Soviet aircraft; the US stated that the plane was never in Soviet airspace and did not return fire when attacked. Another RB-29 was sent up, with fighter escorts, to complete the mission of the first plane.

04/17/55 US Air Force RB-47 Crew: 3
(no survivors)
In Sea of Japan. This aircraft may have crashed in a storm.

06/22/55 US Navy P2V Neptune Crew: 11
(3 wounded by Soviet fire; 4 injured in crash; all rescued)
This aircraft was attacked by two Soviet fighters in international waters over the Bering Straits between Siberia and Alaska. It crashed on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, where the crew was rescued.The Soviet Government, in response to a US diplomatic protest, was unusually conciliatory, stating that:There was an exchange of shots after a Soviet fighter advised the US plane that it was over Soviet territory and should leave (the US denied that the US plane fired at all).The incident took place under heavy cloud cover and poor visibility, although the alleged violation of Soviet airspace could be the responsibility of US commanders not interested in preventing such violations.The Soviet military was under strict orders to "avoid any action beyond the limits of the Soviet state frontiers."The Soviet Government "expressed regret in regard to the incident."The Soviet Government, "taking into account... conditions which do not exclude the possibility of a mistake from one side or the other," was willing to compensate the US for 50% of damages sustained (this was the first such offer ever made by the Soviets for any Cold War shootdown incident.)The US Government stated that it was satisfied with the Soviet expression of regret and the offer of partial compensation, although it said that the Soviet statement also fell short of what the available information indicated.

04/18/56 US Air Force RB-47 Crew: NA
(all lost and unaccounted for; no remains recovered)
Over Kamchatka Peninsula.15.

08/23/56 US Navy P4M Martin Mercator Crew: 16
(2 remains recovered by US forces; 2 remains recovered by Chinese; 12 totally unaccounted for) This aircraft was shot down by Chinese fighters while 160 miles north of Taiwan and 32 miles from the Chinese coast; before going down the plane radioed that it was under attack by aircraft. The Chinese stated, through British diplomatic sources, that they had fired on the aircraft believing it to be a Chinese Nationalist (Taiwanese) plane.
Crewmember (partial list):
Killed (body recovered)
Curtis, Jack A Seaman Third Class

09/10/56 US Air Force RB-50 Crew: 16
(all lost and unaccounted for; no remains)
This aircraft was lost in the middle of a typhoon (hurricane) in the Sea of Japan. Although "An Air Force spokesman discounted the idea that the B-50 might have been shot down," its operations were in an area where several previous Soviet attacks on US aircraft had taken place warrant its inclusion. Crewmembers (partial list): Kobayashi, Richard T 2LT
Rahaniotis, Peter J 1LT
Trias, Theodorus J. SSG

12/23/57 US Air Force T-33 Crew: 1
In Adriatic Sea, Off Yugoslavia.

ca. 1958 US Air Force RB-50 Crew:
no info.
Mission from Iran or Turkey into Southern USSR

ca. 1958 Unknown AircraftCrew:
no info
Mission from Iran or Turkey into Southern USSR

03/06/58 US Air Force F-86 Crew: 1
Off North Korea

06/27/58 US Air Force C-118 Crew: 9
(all captured by Soviets and eventuallt returned to US custody; some injuries sustained in crash landing and parachute escape from aircraft)
This aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters approximately 30 miles inside Soviet airspace near Yerevan, capital of Soviet Armenia. The US admitted intrusion, asserted it was due to navigational error, and expressed regret. Five of the crewmembers parachuted from the plane and 4 rode it down until it crashed. All 9 were released by the Soviets on July 7, 1958.
Crewmembers: Brannon, Dale D. COL
Lyles, Luther W. MAJ
Crans, Robert E. MAJ
Shupe, Bennie A. MAJ
Kane, James T. CPT
Luther, James N. 1LT
Holman, James G. SSG
Reamer, Earl H. A2C
Sabo, Peter N. A2C

09/02/58 US Air Force RC-130 Crew: 17
(6 killed, bodies returned to US custody; 11 unaccounted for, no remains)
This aircraft was apparently shot down by Soviet fighters 24 miles inside Soviet airspace in Soviet Armenia. At first the Soviets denied any knowledge of the incident; they later stated that the aircraft had simply "crashed." The remains of 6 crewmembers were returned to US custody on September 24, 1958. The Soviets denied any knowledge of the 11 other crew members on October 16, 1958. However, "The Soviet magazine Ogonyok, in a January 15, 1961 article reported that eleven personnel parachuted from the aircraft and were captured in the town of Yerevan... Subsequently Soviet authorities reported the magazine presented incorrect facts." It is possible that this aircraft was "meaconed" into Soviet airspace deliberately by false navigational signals broadcast by the Soviets.Crewmembers: The two lists below are inconsistent with other information available on the numbers of casualties mentioned above. All accounts agree that 11 crewmembers were unaccounted for and 6 remains returned to US custody. However, 13 names, not 11, are on the list of unaccounted for crewmembers for this aircraft presented in January 1992 to the Russian Government by the US Government. The four names listed below under the "known dead" category are those men who were listed in a Spetember 13, 1958, New York Times article containing the names of all 17 crewmembers, but who are not among the 13 in the January 1992 list. Presumably, therefore, two of them in the January 1992 list are actually among those whose remains were returned to US custody.
Unaccounted For:
Duncan, Paul E. CPT
Petrochilos,George P. MSG
Mello, Arthur L. TSG
Price, Leroy SSG
Oshinskie, Robert J. A1C
Bourg, Archie T.Jr A2C
Ferguson,James E.Jr A2C
Fields, Joel H. A2C
Kamps, Harold T. A2C
Maggiacomo, Gerald C.A2C
Mankins, Clement O. A 2C
Medeiros, Gerald H. A2C
Moore, Robert H. A2C
Known Dead (remains returned to US custody)
Simpson, John E. CPT
Swiestra, Rudy J.CPT
Jeruss, Edward J. CPT
Vallareal, Ricardo M 1LT

10/31/58 US Air Force RB-47 Crew: 3(?)
(No injuries)
Attacked by Soviet fighters over the Black Sea

11/07/58 US Air Force RB-47 Crew: 3(?)
(No injuries)
Attacked by Soviet fighters, east of Gotland Island in Baltic Sea

11/17/58 US Air Force RB-47s Crew: 3(?)
(No injuries)
in either incident Soviet fighters attacked one RB-47 in the Baltic Sea and another in the Sea of Japan.

06/16/59 US Navy P2VCrew: NA
(1 crewmember wounded)
This aircraft was attacked by a "Soviet-type" MIG over the Sea of Japan, 85 miles east of Wonsan, North Korea. One crewmember was seriously wounded, but the plane returned to its base in Japan with all crewmembers aboard.

05/01/60 C.I.A.U-2 Crew: 1
(captured by Soviets, later returned to US custody)
This was the widely-publicized shootdown of a CIA-controlled U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, well inside Soviet airspace, by a Soviet antiaircraft missile. Powers was returned to US custody in February 1962, in exchange for the US return of convicted spy Colonel Rudolf Abel to the Soviets.

05/25/69 US Air Force C-47 Crew: Nine
(All recovered)
In Europe.

07/01/60 US Air Force RB-47 Crew: 6
This aircraft was apparently shot down by Soviet fighters about 130 miles off the coast of the Kola Peninsula, USSR, and northern Norway.  On July 4, 1960, US aircraft sighted a "raft-like" object near the missing plane's last known position.

In fact two crewmembers survived that shootdown which took place about 40-50 miles off the Kola peninsula coastline, not 130. Copilot Freeman B."Bruce" Olmstead and navigator John R. McKone both survived and were taken ashore by the Russians. They were taken to Moscow and put in Lubyanka Prison where they were held under harsh conditionjs until January 1961. Premier Khrsuchev then had them released as an "inaugaration" present for President John F. Kennedy. Both Olmstead and McKone were awarded the Silver Star over 40 years later for resisting Soviet interrogation while imprisoned. Aircraft commander Willard Palm died during the bailouyt. His remains were returned to the U.S. on July 25th, 1960. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
It was revealed during a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s that the head of the KGB had written a letter to Premiwer Khruschev in October 1960 notifying him that some wreckage of the RB-47 had been located at the bottom of the Barents Sea and that remains of Gene Posa were present. Since that time there has been an intensive U.S. effort (with the assistance of Rear Admiral Boris Novyy, Russian Navy, Retired) to determine the final disposition of those remains within the former Soviet Union to no avail.

Bruce Olmstead and John McKone still attend our 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SRW)  Reunions, and I thought you would appreciate an opportunity to set the record straight.


Robb Hoover
13412 Tregaron Circle
Bellevue NE 68123-3466
55th SRW Historian
former 55th SRW Raven, RB-47s, RC-135s

P.S. An additional official source for information on shootdowns is at:
click on 'Cold War'
POW/MIA list
Description of incidents and associated crews

You will also notice that the crewmembers are all listed on the DOD website at one rank higher than in your listing. This is because their spot promotions became effective as they entered the sensitive area on that first mission (i.e. July 1st) of that deployment.

Palm, William A.CPT
Posa, Eugene CPT
Phillips, Dean B. 1LT
Goforth, Oscar L. 1LT
Olmstead, Freeman 1LT
McKon, John R. 1LT

10/27/62 US Air Force U-2 Crew: 1
Over Cuba31.

08/06/63 Unknown A/C Crew: 6
(All killed)
Off North Korea

01/24/64 US Air Force T-39 Crew: 3
In Europe
03/10/64 US Air Force RB-66 Crew: 3
(All recovered)
In Europe
12/14/65 US Air Force RB-57 Crew: 2
Mission from Iran or Turkey into Southern USSR

06/30/68 NSA/CIA (?) DC-8 Crew: 17
(All recovered)
Barents Sea

04/15/69 US Navy EC-121 Crew: 30
(All Killed)
Shot down by North Korean fighters
10/21/70 US Army(?) R(?)U-8 Crew: 4
(All recovered)
Mission from Iran or Turkey into Southern USSR