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How a Colt M1911-A1 Brought Down a Japanese Zero FighterFrom: http://www.guns.com/2011/09/07/how-a-colt-m1911-a1-brought-down-a-japanese-zero-fighter/It sounds just too incredible to be true and I had to do some checking to verify the accuracy of the account (which still admittedly, after an exhaustive search, has a tinge of gray to it, but with a myriad of print evidence behind it, seems firm enough to put my signature on), but in the middle years of World War II a Colt M1911-A1 semi-automatic pistol actually brought down a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane.
As the story goes, the U.S. Army’s Air Corps’ 7th Bomb Group was stationed outside of Calcutta, India and on March 31st, 1943 a flight of B-24 Liberator bombers from that group was assigned a bombing run against a railroad bridge in Japanese occupied Burma. The bridge in question was situated in Pyinmana between the garden spots of Mandalay and Rangoon, and pretty close to an enemy fighter base loaded with Zeros.
One of the B-24s was piloted by First Lieutenant Lloyd Jensen and Second Lieutenant Owen Baggett. While on their initial bombing run, their B-24 came under fire from a squadron of Zeros and caught fire. The crew fought the flames but unfortunately they spread and the entire crew had to bail out. Baggett was one of the last ones out of the crippled bomber and, as he floated under his parachute canopy, he counted four other parachutes. Apparently everyone made it out of the B-24 in good shape. Within seconds, however, the bomber exploded and the Japanese pilots turned their attention to the parachuting crewmembers. Baggett was grazed by a bullet from one of the enemy fighters and pretended to be dead by hanging limp under his chute. He had his Colt M1911-A1 .45 caliber pistol in his right hand hidden by his leg.
At around 5,000 feet in altitude the Japanese Zero slowed to nearly stall speed and flew right up to Baggett, where he slid his canopy back to get a closer look. At that very instant Baggett raised the M1911 and fired four rounds right at the open cockpit a few feet away from him. The Zero immediately stalled and spun away out of control. Baggett landed safely and hid from the enemy ground forces, but he and his fellow crewmembers were eventually captured and sent to a POW camp near Singapore where they endured extreme hardships for two full years.
While in the POW camp, Baggett befriended another American, Colonel Harry Melton of the 311th Fighter Group. Colonel Melton had also been shot down and captured. Melton had learned from a Japanese colonel in the camp that the Zero pilot who attacked Baggett had crashed, killed by a single .45 round to the head. Colonel Melton unfortunately died when the ship taking him to mainland Japan for internment was torpedoed and sunk.
As it turned out, since their were no friendly fighter aircraft in the vicinity of the incident, there were no other plausible explanations for the death of that Zero pilot. Second Lieutenant Owen Baggett has been credited with the destruction of an enemy fighter over hostile territory by using his service issued Colt M1911-A1. He died at his home in San Antonio, Texas on July 27, 2006.
After I learned about this incident, I had to get Dad’s old 1911 out of the safe and give it yet another cleaning. It never had the incredible provenance of Baggett’s Colt M1911-A1, but it’s still one awesomely fantastic pistol.
 

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I think I saw this in a comic book once somewhere ... I am sorry but this is too fantastic to believe is true ... your are hanging by a chute in the air, you have time to fake death, enemy pilot pulls by your chute at stall speed then you pull a sidearm and shoot the other pilot ... sorry no way, another fantastic tale for WIERD WAR COMICS.

Patrick
 

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Hello Patrick :

Am reading " The Last Battle " by Cornelius Ryan pgs. 310 to 312 regarding the exploits of Lt. Duane Francies flying the Piper Cub " Miss Me " along with artillery observer Lt. William S. Martin and the shootout with their 2 Colt .45 1911s against a German Fieseler Storch artillery spotting airplane on April 12, 1945 over the Ninth US Army near the Elbe river.
The intrepid duo were able to reload a number of times as they shot at the 2 Germans, and those two spun down and crash landed in a field. The Americans landed on the next field and run across to the downed airplane where they were able to capture both German fliers, the superficially wounded observer had a .45 slug in his boot. As Francies bandaged the foot the German kept repeating " Danke, Danke, Danke ".
Later that day Francies and Martin posed happily beside their captured prize. They had fought what was probably the last WW2 dogfight in the European theater and were undoubtedly the only airmen in this war to bring down a German plane with a pistol.
Vicasoto
 

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Hmmm...I have a hard time believing this story. A very hard time. I suppose Baggett also had time to reholster his sidearm before doing a nice PLF and then bandaging his own wound. Very sad that his corroborating witness didn't make it back to the States.

In all my 135 static line jumps, I was a bit too concerned with steering my 'chute towards a nice soft place to land. Or away from water or trees. Must have taken nerves of steel to do all that heroic acting and shooting while making his first jump from a crashing bomber. Also it sure was accommodating of that Japanese pilot to slow to stall speed, open his canopy, and present himself at just the right altitude. Plus I guess he circled around and leveled off to be sure the American pilot would get a good shot.

My first jump was a little more, well, civilized than that and frankly I don't think I would have had the presence of mind to do even one thing mentioned in the story above. I was just concerned with the landing part. Going up is optional. Coming down - mandatory.
 

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Doby, in my 46 static line jumps, I to, often did not have excessive time to take in the scenery, however that didn't stop me from shooting some video a time or 2
on my 68 sport freefall, well, I can tell you, you have PLENTY of time riding down from ~3k

there is a BIG difference, in a big brown round, at 5K, you would have plenty of time, can't say you'd have time to brew a cup and drink it, but you'd have time for a shoot out and a toast...
 

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Legends like this are told on many occasions. Some may even have a grain of truth with them, but most are stories which had already been told on numerous occasions and grown bigger with each of them. I still remember quite well one of my teachers at school who at least twice or three times per year told that story about the Russian assault plane he had downed in WW II simply by throwing in panic his entrenching tool up into the air and the flight path of that aircraft...
 

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Hoax

The original post's tale is not supported by Japanese records.

The air battle which occurred on March 31, 1943 over Burma was between elements of the 7th Bomber Group and 13 Ki-43s of the JAAF 64th Sentai. The Ki-43 Oscar looked like a Zero but its armament was significantly lighter - being 2 12.7 mm MGs with 300 rpg. It was unsuited for bomber hunting.

In "Ki-43 'Oscar' Aces of World War 2" on page 31 it states:

That same day, the 64th Sentai managed to shoot down a B-24 of the 9th BS, but return fire badly damaged the Ki-43 of new 2nd Chutai leader (and future ten-kill ace) Capt Hideo Miyabe and he was forced to make a crash-landing - his engine had been hit by the B-24's intense defensive fire. Picked up by a JAAF truck, Miyabe found a B-24 crewman surrounded by excited Burmese civilians upon his return to Magwe airfield. A Japanese groundcrew sergeant major confiscated the American's pistol and took him to Magwe with Miyabe. (The next paragraph discusses something occurring on April 1st, 1943 - occurring the day after this event - so the above must reference March 31, 1943.)

Edward M. Young wrote the book - "B-24 Liberator Vs Ki-43 Oscar: China and Burma 1943" On page 57 he writes:

On March 31, Capt. Kuroe was leading 13 Ki-43s to Chittagong when they came across a formation of around 12 B-24s. That day the 7th BG had sent out 24 bombers from all four of the group's squadrons to attack a railway bridge at Pynmina, in central Burma, but the formation had to separate when it encountered bad weather. The 9th and 493rd BSs were flying together toward the target when they ran into the Ki-43s. Kuroe immediately attacked a 9th BS B-24 from the rear, although his own fighter was hit by fire from other bombers. He and his wingman managed to shoot down the Liberator which was flown by Lt. Lloyd Jensen.

The book goes on to state the other Japanese pilots attacked the 493rd aircraft and damaged a few of them. Four Oscars were forced to crash land.

No pilot loses are noted. On page 74 there are stats on the battles and March 31, 1943 has one B-24 lost for one Oscar - so I guess one of the crash landed aircraft was written off. This must have been Miyabe's plane as he had to be trucked back to his airbase. The other Oscars that crash landed were said to have done so at several different bases.

Lt. Jensen flew the B-24 that Baggett was in. From this book which looked at Japanese and American records, there is no confirmation of Baggett's claim. The author apparently didn't interview Baggett.

Various articles about this occurrence state that the pilot Lloyd K Jensen was "summarily executed." http://www.amazon.com/GUESTS-OF-THE-EMPEROR-RANGOON/dp/1477281134#reader_1477281134 Baggett's Guest of the Emperor comments on page 187 say both survived - no mention of him shooting at the Oscar. His comment regarding Arimura being hanged is also wrong - died in Soviet prison in 1949. http://www.generals.dk/general/Arimura/Tsunemichi/Japan.html

http://wwii-pows.mooseroots.com/l/97632/Lloyd-K-Jensen This states Jensen survived the war, must be the same guy since the capture date is March 31, 1943. One can only speculate as to why Baggett wanted you to believe Jensen was executed.

I note I tried to post this information on a site dedicated to the 1911 pistol, but they have not let it be added to their threads on this "event". They won't even correct the fact that the opposition aircraft were Oscars instead of Zeros. They did allow someone to post that Baggett's obituary stated that he used a revolver to down the Zero.
 

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this original story seems alittle far fetched. I use to fly a cessna 150 its stall speed was about 45-50 mph, im sure the japanese fighter (although a light plane?) stall speed was at least this or probably faster. You have to do a quick draw to get 4 shots on a fly by and hit a moving target less than a ft. in diameter. Another thing is distance. A few feet away to fly by parachute is dangerously close for the plane and pilot, in the air thats unreasonably close.
 

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The stall speed of a Ki43 Oscar is approximately 55-60 mph...Not all that fast and it could have even been a bit slower depending on the angle the plane was flying at the time...Especially if the pilot wanted a good view of the 'victim'. Also, a 4-5 seconds is a long period of time, just ask anyone that's been on a firing line the first time...Also, that's what "Good Luck" and your Higher Power is for, wonderful events in your life. :thumbsup:
 

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Agreed . They make good stories but there is too much factual information available today, for any of them to last. I too have received those silly emails about Rogers , and Marvin . Marvin did fight and got a purple heart ,not the MOH as stated. Sterling Hayden was the real deal. He was parachuted into Yugoslavia and spread mayhem until extracted. He never wanted to talk about it. P
Great story. I'd love to find the guys that made up the story of Mr. Rodgers being a sniper in Viet Nam and Captain Kangaroo with Lee Marvin in the Pacific. I'm tired of receiving those fake emails.
 

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The original post's tale is not supported by Japanese records.

The air battle which occurred on March 31, 1943 over Burma was between elements of the 7th Bomber Group and 13 Ki-43s of the JAAF 64th Sentai. The Ki-43 Oscar looked like a Zero but its armament was significantly lighter - being 2 12.7 mm MGs with 300 rpg. It was unsuited for bomber hunting.

In "Ki-43 'Oscar' Aces of World War 2" on page 31 it states:

That same day, the 64th Sentai managed to shoot down a B-24 of the 9th BS, but return fire badly damaged the Ki-43 of new 2nd Chutai leader (and future ten-kill ace) Capt Hideo Miyabe and he was forced to make a crash-landing - his engine had been hit by the B-24's intense defensive fire. Picked up by a JAAF truck, Miyabe found a B-24 crewman surrounded by excited Burmese civilians upon his return to Magwe airfield. A Japanese groundcrew sergeant major confiscated the American's pistol and took him to Magwe with Miyabe. (The next paragraph discusses something occurring on April 1st, 1943 - occurring the day after this event - so the above must reference March 31, 1943.)

Edward M. Young wrote the book - "B-24 Liberator Vs Ki-43 Oscar: China and Burma 1943" On page 57 he writes:

On March 31, Capt. Kuroe was leading 13 Ki-43s to Chittagong when they came across a formation of around 12 B-24s. That day the 7th BG had sent out 24 bombers from all four of the group's squadrons to attack a railway bridge at Pynmina, in central Burma, but the formation had to separate when it encountered bad weather. The 9th and 493rd BSs were flying together toward the target when they ran into the Ki-43s. Kuroe immediately attacked a 9th BS B-24 from the rear, although his own fighter was hit by fire from other bombers. He and his wingman managed to shoot down the Liberator which was flown by Lt. Lloyd Jensen.

The book goes on to state the other Japanese pilots attacked the 493rd aircraft and damaged a few of them. Four Oscars were forced to crash land.

No pilot loses are noted. On page 74 there are stats on the battles and March 31, 1943 has one B-24 lost for one Oscar - so I guess one of the crash landed aircraft was written off. This must have been Miyabe's plane as he had to be trucked back to his airbase. The other Oscars that crash landed were said to have done so at several different bases.

Lt. Jensen flew the B-24 that Baggett was in. From this book which looked at Japanese and American records, there is no confirmation of Baggett's claim. The author apparently didn't interview Baggett.

Various articles about this occurrence state that the pilot Lloyd K Jensen was "summarily executed." http://www.amazon.com/GUESTS-OF-THE-EMPEROR-RANGOON/dp/1477281134#reader_1477281134 Baggett's Guest of the Emperor comments on page 187 say both survived - no mention of him shooting at the Oscar. His comment regarding Arimura being hanged is also wrong - died in Soviet prison in 1949. http://www.generals.dk/general/Arimura/Tsunemichi/Japan.html

http://wwii-pows.mooseroots.com/l/97632/Lloyd-K-Jensen This states Jensen survived the war, must be the same guy since the capture date is March 31, 1943. One can only speculate as to why Baggett wanted you to believe Jensen was executed.

I note I tried to post this information on a site dedicated to the 1911 pistol, but they have not let it be added to their threads on this "event". They won't even correct the fact that the opposition aircraft were Oscars instead of Zeros. They did allow someone to post that Baggett's obituary stated that he used a revolver to down the Zero.
If you are referring to the recent post on the 1911 forum, it showed an obviously photo shopped pic of Hiroyoshi Nishizawas zero, not a ki43. Nishizawa was shot down as a passenger on a transport, not in some fancible combat.
 

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I am referring to the fact that at some sites, there is no mention of the opposition being Ki-43s, that there is only discussion of the opposition as Zeros. The apparent belief that the pictures of a specific Zero in the thread mean that Baggett also took a pic of the fighter as he parachuted was not worth commenting on.
 

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Hello Patrick :

Am reading " The Last Battle " by Cornelius Ryan pgs. 310 to 312 regarding the exploits of Lt. Duane Francies flying the Piper Cub " Miss Me " along with artillery observer Lt. William S. Martin and the shootout with their 2 Colt .45 1911s against a German Fieseler Storch artillery spotting airplane on April 12, 1945 over the Ninth US Army near the Elbe river.
The intrepid duo were able to reload a number of times as they shot at the 2 Germans, and those two spun down and crash landed in a field. The Americans landed on the next field and run across to the downed airplane where they were able to capture both German fliers, the superficially wounded observer had a .45 slug in his boot. As Francies bandaged the foot the German kept repeating " Danke, Danke, Danke ".
Later that day Francies and Martin posed happily beside their captured prize. They had fought what was probably the last WW2 dogfight in the European theater and were undoubtedly the only airmen in this war to bring down a German plane with a pistol.
Vicasoto[/QU
There was an article on that combat in the Aug. 2008 issue of Flight Journal with the photo of Martin & Francies standing by their kill and a contemporary photo of William Martin holding the souvenir tail number ( 1364 ) of the Stotch.
The article states that the combat took place on April 11th near Vesbeck Germany.
Guadalcanal the Carrier Battles , Eric Hammel 1987, relates the story of the USSS Enterprise under dive bombing attack on Aug. 12,1942 and Ensign Ross Glassman. His duty Station was Sky Lookout Forward ( top of the mainmast ).
Japanese Vals were recovering from their dives close enough for him to see "....one pilot was growing a beard.." He drew his .45 and emptied 2 clips in about 3 minutes. He saw a hole appear in the glass in front of one pilot whose aircraft then banked away and crashed. In spite of witnesses right by him claiming he'd shot it down he refused to take any credit saying that the ships AA was more likely the cause.
 
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