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The Korean Kid

A young Australian pilot's baptism of fire in the jet fighter age

(1 customer review)
Authors: Rochelle Nicholls
Korean War, Military History
C Format

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In 1950, with the shadow of World War II still heavy across the world, a vicious civil conflict erupted on the Korean peninsula and sucked 24 nations, including Australia, into a new round of fighting. The world’s two atomic superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union – menaced each other across an arbitrary border as Korea became the proving ground for a new Cold War.

The odds faced by Australia’s young pilots were one in three, that they’d not come back. Most had no combat experience.
Their planes were obsolete. Their orders were to dive upon a well-armed enemy with their bellies exposed, where one bullet to a fuel-tank meant an inescapable fireball.

The Korean Kid is the story of Jim Kichenside and the Australian pilots who took to the skies in the ‘forgotten war’
on the Korean peninsula. Within a week of the North Korean invasion of the South on June 25, 1950, No.77 Fighter
Squadron RAAF were in the air: the first United Nations air unit committed to the defence of the overrun South. Of
the 340 Australians who perished in Korea, 41 were from 77 Squadron.

In 1952, Jim Kichenside was the youngest pilot in 77 Squadron, at just 21 years of age. He entered the Korean theatre with just 8 hours of training on his Meteor jet. Dubbed ‘The Korean Kid’, Jim’s is a story of youth and resilience, of luck and loss, of young men thrust into a war against impossible odds – the first war of the jet age.

Rochelle Nicholls

Rochelle Nicholls

Rochelle holds a Ph.D. in Sports Science and has worked with some of Australia’s leading elite athletes. She has also worked as a journalist and medical researcher, and represented Australia in women’s fencing. This is her second biography of an Australian sportsman. This is Rochelle’s second published biography.

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1 review for The Korean Kid

  1. The Korean War began in June 1950 – it was the first military action post World War II. Australia was part of a United Nations multinational force, defending South Korea from the Communist North. The Korean Kid narrates the life of Jim Kichenside growing up in Marrickville, Sydney, during the Great Depression. His dream of flying, fuelled by observing aircraft at Mascot Airport near his home. At age 19, Jim traded his accountancy traineeship to join the RAAF. After 8 hours of instruction on the Gloster Meteor, he would fly with 77 Squadron in Korea against an enemy of superior air power. Jim came to be known as The Korean Kid, acknowledging 50 successful missions and his status as the youngest pilot in the Squadron. He would later command the RAAF Antarctic Flight and do service in South East Asia. The Korean Kid is a well written, engaging and inspirational account of the life of Jim Kichenside. Add this to your reading list.

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