The six-week-long Battle of Shangganling (known to the Americans as Operation SHOWDOWN), demonstrated the increasing military effectiveness of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (cpva) in the Korean War. The cpva intervention in October and November 1950 had deprived the American-led United Nations Command (unc) of an almost certain victory and set the outcome of the Korean War in strategic limbo. After five Chinese-led campaigns and several u.s. Eighth Army counteroffensives, the battle lines stabilized with the cpva still exposed to American firepower from the ground and air. Prolonged negotiations to settle the conflict (begun in July 1951) gave Chinese armies the opportunity to rearm, reform, and establish a competitive tactical method. Both sides deadlocked over the issue of prisoner repatriation in the spring of 1952, leading a frustrated unc to seek to inflict enough damage on Chinese armies while seizing key terrain to make them more likely to accept demands for voluntary repatriation. SHOWDOWN’s failure convinced American leaders that the military power then available in the Korean theater could not settle the war. The Chinese experience at Shangganling produced a similar lesson and further validated the cpva’s doctrine and technique that permitted them to resist the unc’s coercive approach.
Xu2006222; Peng 1984 480; Luan 2008 294-95. Mao’s new tactic relied on attrition to eliminate unc troops with less risk. This new plan transformed operations from large-scale offensive campaigns to piecemeal attacks targeting a unc battalion company or even platoon-sized outpost in each battle.
China National Military Museum2008166-67; Du 1989 542-57.
Jager2013242-57; 255-57 links germ propaganda to truce talks while exposing the evidence of fabrication.
Eighth Army Artillery Officer195439-40.
Until January1953Eighth Army had one observation battalion which deployed one battery to each u.s. corps. These batteries relied on visual surveillance sound-ranging devices and the newly deployed (September 1952) AN/MPQ-10 radar. Eighth Army Artillery Officer 1954 13-15.
China National Defense University1992128-30; Zhang 1998 86-94.
Moses1991224; Command Report u.s. ix Corps October 1952 23; Command Report 7th Infantry Division Operation SHOWDOWN 36; ams 616.
Russell1993102; ams 616; kimh 3: 467-469; Command Report u.s. ix Corps October 1952 24. The 2nd Division’s kmag advisor noted that over 1000 artillery and mortar rounds were used to support the Chinese counterattack—ten times the daily enemy average for indirect fire support. Command Report kmag (2nd rok Division) G2/3 Journal Extract October 14 1952.
Johnston200659; Moses Entry October 16 1952.
White2011123-24; Command Report u.s. ix Corps October 1952 25; Command Report 7th Infantry Division Operation SHOWDOWN 42-43 48.
Li2001109-11; Chen 2001 420-22; Peters and Li 2004 173; Gonsalves 2001 79.
Peters and Li2004177; Command Report 7th Infantry Division Operation SHOWDOWN 50; Command Report 7th Infantry Division October 1952 10.
Peters and Li2004179-81.
Clark195479; Ecker 2002 35.
Li2008409-14. Another Chinese participant assessed the 15th Army lost 11400 soldiers on Triangle Hill alone; Peters and Li 2004 184.
Ecker1996227; United Nations Command Report No. 56 16-31 October 1952 5.