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True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero wit

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by bunk22, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. bunk22

    bunk22 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting....

    http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nuts/2011/06/best-shot-1911-ever


    June 03, 2011
    Best Shot with a 1911. Ever.
    by Phil Bourjaily

    While compiling the timeline for “Pistol of the Century,” our tribute to the 1911 in the June issue of Field & Stream, I read through many accounts of the 1911 in combat. The most unusual shot,(and possibly the best ever) made in wartime with a 1911 pistol had to be the one fired by a USAAF B-24 co-pilot named Owen J. Baggett in March, 1943 in the skies over Burma. Of course, I am biased toward this one as it involves a flying target . . .
    [​IMG]
    On a mission to destroy a railroad bridge, Baggett’s bomber squadron was intercepted by Japanese Zero fighters and his plane was badly damaged. After holding off the enemy with the top turret .50s while the gunner tried to put out onboard fires, Baggett bailed out with the rest of the crew. He and four others escaped the burning bomber before it exploded.

    The Zero pilots circled back to strafe the parachuting crewmen, killing two and lightly wounding Baggett, who played dead in his harness, hoping the Japanese would leave him alone. Though playing dead, Baggett still drew his .45 and hid it alongside his leg...just in case. A Zero approached within a few feet of Baggett at near stall speeds. The pilot opened the canopy for a better look at his victim.

    Baggett raised his pistol and fired four shots into the cockpit. The Zero spun out of sight. Although Baggett could never believe he had shot down a fighter plane with his pistol, at least one credible report said the plane was found crashed, the pilot thrown clear of the wreckage with a single bullet in his head.
    If Baggett really did shoot down a fighter with his 1911, it has to count as one of the greatest feats ever accomplished with a .45.

    Baggett survived two years in a Japanese prison camp in Singapore and eventually retired from the Air Force as a colonel.
     
  2. TFaudree_ERAU

    TFaudree_ERAU Mashin' dem buttons

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Seeing as how the 1911 is one of the most badass handguns of all time...I'd say it's true.
     
  3. Hacker15e

    Hacker15e Member Of Extraordinary Magnitude

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    As someone who has spent a LOT of time practicing to shoot other aircraft down, I'm having a tough time believing this one, especially the "single bullet in his head" part.

    Hanging in a parachute harness, having just jumped out of your burning B-24 (and scared to death or in shock), up at altitude over Burma (so freezing your ass off at -30C), wearing the big mittens that gunners in B-24s wore (Google them and see...), and "lightly wounded" by having been strafed in your chute by a Zero (not sure if you've seen the size of bullets they were shooting, but 'lightly wounded' does not seem the logical result of having been hit by one)....

    ...through all of that, he was able to get out his 1911, and have the fine motor skills to aim a pistol at the cockpit and hit absolutely anything at all besides air.

    Riiight.
     
  4. poser765

    poser765 Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    having spent ZERO time in my life practicing how to shoot people in the air (wait! does falcon 4.0 count??) I have to say stranger things have happened. It may have been mere coincidence that the zero pilot's head was right where the bullet was going to pass right when the bullet was there.
     
  5. USMCmech

    USMCmech Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Don't forget pure blind dumb luck. If you empty a magazine in the general direction of a target, once in a while the golden BB hits the target.

    Nobody believes this was an actual feat of skill. But it's still an awesome story.
     
  6. Vector4Food

    Vector4Food This job would be easier without all the airplanes

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    No different than a lot of dogfight stories with only one witness...
     
  7. RDoug

    RDoug Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    This. How does one receive only a "slight" wound from one of the canon/guns (designed for dogfighting, mind you) on a Zero? Even a "flesh wound" would be major trauma from a 7.7mm bullet traveling at close to 2,000fpm, and a 13.2mm gun or 20mm canon would probably blow off a limb no matter how "slightly" it hit you.

    Too unbelievable even for Mythbusters to take on. But it makes a great Tall Tale.
     
  8. Boris Badenov

    Boris Badenov I think you overestimate their chances.

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    To be fair, 24s were used at low alt fairly often in the Pacific, especially over Burma (to the point that I've read they just took the superchargers off). So the freezing temps and mittons may not have been a factor. And the Zero's wing loading (and thus stall speed) was quite low, like 60mph, so, say he's coming into the wind, the closure speed might be 40mph or so. Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Eh. Maybe! ;)
     
  9. N18040

    N18040 Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Um, wouldn't the guy in the parachute be traveling at the same speed as the wind? I'm pretty sure wind would have no affect on closure speed.
     
  10. bunk22

    bunk22 Well-Known Member

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  11. Itchy

    Itchy Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Don't they do drive by shooting at 69mph once in a while?
     
  12. USMCmech

    USMCmech Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    When you start researching aviation history, you learn that almost no story is too bizarre to be true.

    Also just because Mythbuters couldn't replicate it doesn't mean it's false. The rifle shot through a scope is a good example
     
  13. I_Money

    I_Money Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Wouldn't the crash of the zero make the body a bloody pile of mince meat?
     
  14. Boris Badenov

    Boris Badenov I think you overestimate their chances.

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Obviously! That was, uh, a test. Erm, congratulations, you passed!
     
  15. Derg

    Derg Major Domo Staff Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    More of a compote!
     
  16. RDoug

    RDoug Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Yeah. And, if they're shooting into a crowd, they sometimes manage to hit somebody. Or, if they're using a full-automatic weapon, sometimes they even manage to hit their intended target. In both cases you're either firing a few bullets into a lot of targets or a lot of bullets at one target. Seldom do you see a successful 69mph drive-by where the shooter is firing a few bullets at one target.

    Could it happen? Sure, through an incredible stroke of fantastical luck. Did it? I'm inclined to bet no.
     
  17. USMCmech

    USMCmech Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Not as often as you would think. Many times dead bodies after an airplane crash are intact and may not have any obvious injuries.


    I'm inclined to believe this may have happened, but it was clearly pure chance. The article that Bunk22 referenced sounds plausible, and comes from a reputable source.
     
  18. Bandit_Driver

    Bandit_Driver Gold Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Very interesting and probably a 1:1,000,000 shot. But if it did happen at least he got some payback for dead crewmembers. There no freaking reason to shoot a guy in parachute. That is inexcuseable..

    I read a store in AOPA or Flying sometime back where a bomber was badly wounded and lost and totally SOL and heading deeper into the enemy territory. As the story a goes a german fighter pulled up along side and saw all the damange and didn't have the heart to finish the plane off and turned them around toward friendly territory, saluted them and turned away.
     
  19. Boris Badenov

    Boris Badenov I think you overestimate their chances.

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    This sort of story was not at all uncommon, from my reading, which, while not exhaustive, is fairly substantial. The mistake is in thinking that it reflects a better sort of "soul" in people of the Western European tradition. It's simply an extention of the Western ethos, which puts a high value on personal valor and (at the same time, weirdly), the sanctity of life. The Japanese prosecuted their war in the manner that their ethos dictated...Victory was the determinant of who was righteous and who was not, there were no fine lines of "saluting a brave foe", etc. In the end, one is forced to wonder whether they weren't in the right of it. There is no honor in killing, except insofar as killing provides greater amounts of resources and soforth for the victors. To the Victors go the Spoils, etc. Now, obviously, that's a murderous and dark way to live one's life, but at least it's honest about what it's for. We in the Western World have elevated institutional killing to an exalted profession. We honor Soldiers and Marines by accosting them with our thanks for doing things we can't possibly understand. In airports. On streets. I submit to you that the reason that we do this is that we're secretly ashamed that we can't or won't do those things for ourselves, knowing that in the end they're really all about Resources and Power. We're not thanking them for killing, we're thanking them for doing our dirty work so that we don't have to try to reconcile it with our convenient notions of "right" and "wrong". And God knows, they deserve that thanks, and more. Because what they do is indelible, whereas we can just change the channel and pretend everything is ok.
     
  20. gliderboy

    gliderboy Well-Known Member

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    Re: True story??? A WWII airman shoots down a Japanese Zero

    Very well written. We are also attempting to justify our aggression by masking it in patriotism.
     

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