Five O'Clock Charlie - Inept North Korean pilot equipped with a
WWII-era piston-engine aircraft who frequently tried to bomb the
ammo dump near the 4077th and strafe or drop leaflets on the
medical personnel of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
everyday at 5’O’Clock on the military comedy M*A*S*H/CBS/1972-83.
Five O'clock Charlie appeared on episode No. 26 "Five O'clock
Charlie" broadcast 9/22/1973.
Like many of the North Korean
Pilots, he was inexperienced (compared to the US Forces) and
luckily, Charlie never seriously wounded anyone but his bombs were
getting closer and closer. The pilot was so inexperienced that the
personnel at M*A*S*H made a hobby of placing bets on when he might
actually hit the ammunitions dump. Even Father John Mulcahy
(William Christopher) the camp chaplain got in on the activities.
Commenting on Charlie's aerobatic inability's Doctor Benjamin
"Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda) said "He couldn't hit the side of a
Eventually, the fallout from Charlie's attacks began to
threaten the safety and well being of the doctors, nurses patients
and assorted soldiers assigned to the 4077th. To protect them, Lt.
Col. Henry Blake (McClean Stevenson) requested an anti-aircraft
gun to defend from the marauding pilot.
Doubting a need for the
gun, General Crandell Clayton (he, too, is in on the betting) made
a personal visit to the 4077th to investigate for himself if the
need was legitimate. When Charlie blows up the General's Jeep, he
quickly issued the order for the gun.
why Charlie attacked the camp was to blow up a nearby munitions dump.
To end all the folly, Doctors Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and
Trapper John (Wayne Rogers) placed a bull's-eye on top of the dump
to help the pilot "Zero" in on his target, but even that didn't
Ironically, although Charlie continually missed the dump, the
munitions were exploded accidentally by soldiers under the command
of Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) while they tried to shoot
down Charlie. With the munitions dump gone, Charlie flew off into
the wild blue yonder.
TRIVIA NOTE: The North Korean Air Force was relatively old. It was
made up of 62 IL-10's, 70 Yak-3's and Yak-7's and 22 Yak-16's. The"Yak" stands for the plane's Russian designer Aleksandr
Yakovlev. In Fighter Aces of the U.S.A.(1979) by Raymond Toliver,
the author estimates that the entire North Korea Air Force (or
most of it) were really Soviet pilots. The leading Soviet ace was
Captain Nikoloy Pepelyaev with 21 planes shot down. So instead of
"Five O'clock Charlie, maybe we should be calling him "Five
Also, there is a popular children's book written
by Marguerite Henry (1902-97) entitled Five O'clock Charlie about
a work horse forced to retire and put out to pasture at Tulip Hill
Farm after 28 years. Bored, Charlie missed the familiarity of a
daily routine and escaped from his pasture each day at five
o'clock to return to the inn where he used to get treats from
Birdie, the tavern cook. The trips to town teach Charlie that he
can still be useful despite the fact he can not longer pull a
wagon or plow. See also -"Washing
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