The SPDC Air Force (1948-1999)


Shortly after the Burman Union became independent, on 4 January 1948 – parallel to India and Pakistan – a civil war between the communists and the conservative government broke out in the country. This conflict could not even properly develop when in August of the same year also the powerful Karen tribe revolted against the federal government, initiating another civil war that was to last for the following 50 years. Finally, only a year later also the civil war in China reached its high point, with a large number of Chinese nationalists fleeing over the border into Burma. As if all of this would not be sufficient, the Americans started to mix in the situation and the CIA started to organize both, an anti-Communist opposition in Burma and the Chinese Nationalists. With the help of the American secret service from former members of the nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) the National Salvation Army (NSA) was created and became active in the north of the Burmese Union. The units of the NSA were regularly supplied a fleet of un-marked C-46 transports belonging to the CIA front companies, foremost the “Civil Air Transport” (CAT) operating from Formosa and Thailand.

The first NSA offensive began in April 1950, with some 4,000 soldiers attacking into the Chinese Province Juan. When the operation failed to provoke the expected rebellion against the Communists, the NSA units were swiftly dealt with by the People’s Army of China. A second, slightly smaller, invasion undertaken only few weeks later failed likewise. The CIA was not discouraged, however, and it organized some 700 former KMT members on the Myitkyina airfield, left behind from the WWII. In the following two years Myitkyina was developed into a large base, with a huge stockpile of supplies flown in by CAT aircraft, and additional troops were recruited. After intensive preparations, in July 1952 a new invasion armed force of 12.000 soldiers advanced over the border into the Juan Province. The Chinese mobilized their Army and Air Force (People’s Army Air Force, or PLAAF) and put the NSA troops soon under a heavy pressure. Again experiencing the lack of support from the local population, this invasion was doomed to failure as well.
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