8 Story Battles within the Air

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Welcome to a combination of some of our best plane videos. Some may say our earlier animation lack’s finesse but we think planes doing impossible maneuvers, masks with no air hoses and strange looking eyes adds a certain uniqueness of character. Now settle back and enjoy Yarnhub's best plane videos… and if you see the cat, please let us know in the comments. It’s February the 1st, 1943 At the controls of his B-17F, The All American sits Lt Ken Bragg Jr and his co-pilot Godfrey Engle Jr. Their target is at the sea port of Tunisia which is controlled by the Germans. On route the B-17s were repeatedly harassed by Bf 109s.

Putting up a brave defense they manage to make it through to the target. And the German fighters peel off just before the flak starts up. The bombardier, Ralph Burbridge, takes control. The flak is very thick and the crew are shook repeatedly. Burbridge though does his job and over Tunis releases the load of bombs. The All American and the rest of the B-17s turn for home. On their return, once out of the flak.

The formation is targeted again by German fighters. Tenaciously they hang on to the formation doing repeated passes and taking chunks out of the B-17s. That is until their maximum range is reached and the Germans are forced to turn back home. Thankfully, the All American is still in good shape and all the crews breathe a sigh of relief as they are almost out of German range. But any celebrations are too early when suddenly the cry goes up,.

“Bandits!” as 2 Bf 109s are spotted. At the controls of the fighters are 2 very experienced German pilots. One of the Bf 109s targets the lead plane in the squadron. The gunners on the All American try and defend the lead bomber. The right side gun pumps lead into the Bf 109 and it’s a critical hit. The 109 slipped under the formation streaming smoke and oil and went down in the desert below. Meanwhile the second 109 “Yellow 1” piloted by Eric Paczia.

Gets the all American in its sights. Paczia is an experienced pilot with 16 victories to his name. His plan is to take the All American head on and roll underneath it. The nose gunner has other plans and gets to work. The All American is hit repeatedly but the plucky crew continue their defense, peppering Yellow 1 with lead… all the time it's flying closer to the point it's filling the gun sights.

In the Bf 109 his attack run done, Paczia starts to roll and line up for another attack, but the hail of fire from the B-17 has done its job, incapacitating the pilot. Whether through injury or mechanical problems he is unable to complete his maneuver, and the plane heads straight for the All American. The crew hear a “WHOOMPH” and a shudder as the out of control 109 plowed into the All American.

The alarming noise of the 2 birds colliding coincides with a storm of twisted tangled razor sharp metal flying about, stunning the crew. The plane lurched and writhed at the controls with Bragg struggling to keep her straight and level. Picking themselves off the ground the crew were amazed to see a huge gaping hole in the fuselage. The 109 had completely disintegrated but it had left its mark on the now seemingly critically injured warbird.

The crew were also astounded to find bits of the 109 lying around inside the fuselage… or what was left of the fuselage. The B-17 had been almost entirely torn in two. The tail end of the plane was connected to the main fuselage by just 2 small parts of the air frame. Despite their reputation as tough and hard to bring down this B-17 should have been critically damaged. The melee had left its mark.

None of the right hand engines were now running. Only one engine on the left was fully operational. The rudder had been damaged and the vertical fin looked like it would give way at any moment. Unbelievably, the entire crew was still alive. They tightened their parachutes ready to jump as soon as the tail gave up its tenuous connection to the aircraft, but again unbelievably, the All American kept on flying.

Other B-17s in the formation were amazed to see the plane almost torn in 2 pitch up, recover and continue flying, it seemed to everyone like a miracle. Lieutenant Charles Cutforth in an accompanying bomber, the Flying Flit Gun, snapped an image of the stricken bomber that would become famous: “The All American cruising over the desert landscape, with a ragged slice through its fuselage” Bragg later recalled:.

“As I opened the door of the radio compartment and looked back into the fuselage I was stunned. A torn mass of metal greeted my eyes. Wires were dangling and sheets of metal were flapping as the air rushed through the torn wreckage. Three-fourths of the plane had been cut completely through by the enemy fighter and a large piece of the wing of the Me 109 was still lodged in the tail of our plane. It left our tail section hanging on by a few slender spars and a narrow strip of metallic skin.”.

Sgt Sam Sarpolus, the tail gunner, decided it was time to escape his position in the most fragile part of the plane and crawled along the spars to make it back into the main fuselage bringing with him four gun brushes, his parachute, and Bragg's jacket. The formation slowed and stayed with the plane until they were safely over American controlled airspace then went ahead to land. The brave pilots of the All American.

Managed to ease the plane down on a straight landing trajectory at Biskra. Without a rear wheel now, the incredibly resilient B-17 held together as it came skidding to a halt. The crew exited the plane and apart from minor injuries were unhurt. Even the All American was not critically injured. The bird that wouldn’t be put down, was patched up and continued to the end of the war.

Eventually having to be scrapped. It’s the 26th of June 1943. Three squadrons of P-47C Thunderbolts fly across the skies of occupied France. Towards the rear of the formation is 2nd Lieutenant Robert S. Johnson. He looks up over his right shoulder coming down from above are 16 Focke-Wulf 190s barreling towards them. Johnson takes his radio and shouts “Bandits 5 o’clock!” but to his horror there is no response and the planes around him don’t react at all.

“Bandits 5 o’clock!!” he shouts again to the same result. In a panic now he tries to adjust the radio but it’s already too late. A bullet punches through his plexiglass cockpit from above, barely missing him and piercing the floor. In a blur a shower of lead rips through his machine. Shells impact the body and small caliber bullets tear through his canopy and engine, punching through the oxygen tube and a hydraulic line, as well as sending shrapnel into his thigh.

He tries to maneuver but the punctured hydraulic line sprays fluid at him, blinding him. Meanwhile hot oil pours out the engine and enters the cockpit through the bullet holes in the canopy, where it mixes with the pure oxygen spilling out of his tube and ignites. A flash fire lights inside the cabin for a split second, it singes him and causes him to fully lose control. His plane enters a death spiral and falls towards the French countryside far below. Johnson fights with the machine, his eyes are stinging from the hydraulic fluid he pulls hard on the stick and wrestles with the rudder, miraculously he stops the spin and brings the machine back to level flight.

Even as his plane appears to be shaking itself to pieces around him. He is bleeding, burnt, and lacking oxygen. He wipes the fluid off his eyes and attempts to bail out, but to his horror the canopy gets stuck. He’s now In the verge of panic, one of the plexiglass panels has been blown out. He swiftly attempts to jump through the opening, but gets stuck, his parachute isn’t making it through. He fights with the parachute, trying to squeeze it through as he’s lambasted by the wind, but he quickly realizes he isn’t making it out and he’s forced back inside.

Johnson takes a deep breath. The plane’s drop in altitude has brought him to safer oxygen levels and the mental haze clouding his judgment slowly evaporates. He realizes that despite all his damage the plane is actually flying quite well, he pulls back on the throttle and the shaking clears itself out. Maybe, just maybe, he can nurse the machine back to Britain. Making for home he looks up to see the desperate dogfight taking place far above. He watches with a heavy heart, praying for the safety of his fellows, there is nothing he can do now to help.

But then, as he looks at the swarm of dots, he spots a single yellow nosed Focke-Wulf 190 coming straight towards him. A sense of dread washes over Johnson, he can almost see the enemy fighter in slow motion as it lines up his shot and opens fire. 20mm cannon fire strikes the wounded Thunderbolt for the second time that day. Desperate, Johnson kills the throttle and repeatedly shoves the rudder left and right, bleeding speed as quickly as he can. The German pilot overshoots and Johnson sees an opportunity to fight back. He tries to aim a burst at the 190 speeding past,.

But the oil-covered canopy spoils the attempt. But then the German pilot stops his assault, instead of turning around for another attack the 190 pulls up on his wing and flies in close formation. The two pilots look at each other in the eye and the German gives Johnson a military salute. Johnson is stunned and gives back an unsteady wave of his own. The 190 pulls away, leaving the American to his fate. Johnson breathes, thinking he had just been spared. He watches the German machine depart, deeply thankful.

But then he realizes something is wrong. The 190 doesn’t head back to where he came from, instead he continues his turnaround towards the P-47’s tail. Shivers travel down Johnson’s spine. He isn’t being spared. He drops the seat and ducks behind the Thunderbolt’s rear cockpit armor as the 190 cruelly opens fire. The limping P-47 is once again littered with lead. Thankfully the 190 is out of 20mm ammunition but still tears through the P-47 with its machineguns, dumping hundreds of 7.92mm rounds into its body and striking nearly everything under the fuselage.

The 190 once again pulls out alongside the P-47 and Johnson watches as the German pilot salutes him one more time. Johnson isn’t amused and curses at the pilot who dares fire at a done aircraft and mock its defenseless operator. But of course, his words go unheard and the 190 once again turns back for yet another run. He hides one more time as the 190 litters the P-47 with its machineguns, this time using the rudder to pepper the Thunderbolt from wingtip to wingtip, trying to shred absolutely everything. Johnson is bracing for the worst, just waiting for a bullet to land the killing blow.

And suddenly, it stops. He opens his eyes, he’s still flying. In a state of shock, he looks to the right and yet again sees the German pilot flying alongside him. They stare at each other for an eternal moment. The German rocks his plane side to side and flies away, out of ammunition. Johnson keeps his eyes on the 190 the entire way, part of him expecting it to come again to finish him off, but this time it's leaving for good and the 190 disappears into the distance. He slumps into his seat wondering how on earth he is still alive.

Reaching Manston air base a few minutes later. He fears the landing gear hadn’t survived the onslaught, but to his surprise it successfully deploys and locks into place, the tires even remain inflated. Johnson makes a perfect landing and is greeted on the ground by a team of medics. They help him out through the blown window and immediately rush him to the hospital. He had suffered burns across his body, swollen eyes from the oil and hydraulic fluid that covered his face, shrapnel injuries on his hands and thigh, and a piece of his nose had been nicked away by a bullet.

He would though make a full recovery and return to the skies just 5 days later. During his recovery he got a chance to see his destroyed plane, he stood by its tail and began counting the bullet holes. He gave up after reaching 200 without taking a single step. The pilot who attacked Johnson is rumored to have been German ace Egon Mayer, he would be killed in action on March the following year. Johnson went on to become an excellent pilot, achieving 27 confirmed victories in his trusty Thunderbolt which makes him the 2nd highest American ace in the European theater. He would earn the Purple Heart for the incident.

But would also earn the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross nine times over, and many more decorations throughout his service. Robert Samuel Johnson would pass away at the age of 78 in Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 27th, 1998. It's March the 24th, 1945, and high over Germany, P-51D Mustangs piloted by Tuskegee Airmen from the 332nd Fighter Group escort heavy bombers that are en route to Berlin. Scanning the sky for unfriendly company,.

23-year-old flight leader Captain Roscoe Brown sees telltale contrail plumes above and to his left, alerting him that enemy aircraft are approaching. Instinctively he barks a command to the airmen around him: “Drop your tanks and follow me!” On cue, 2nd Lt. Charles Brantley and 1st Lt. Earl Lane jettison the 110-gallon fuel tanks affixed to the hard points under their wings. After jettisoning the tanks, the Mustangs are lighter and nimbler, they’ll need these advantages.

If there to have any chance of surviving the impending encounter with the more than two dozen Messerschmitt ME 262s streaming toward them. Moments later in a chaotic mishmash of hissing jets and roaring Mustangs, aviators maneuver for clean shots at their adversaries. Early on the engagement it's a stalemate, until 10-kill Luftwaffe ace Lieutenant Colonel Franz Kulp singles Brown’s Mustang out of the crowd and accelerates towards him. When he sees Kulp Brown is just more than half a mile away,.

And he knows that outrunning the 262 is impossible. Instead, he quickly shoves the throttle forward sending fuel into each of the Packard Merlin’s 12 cylinders. Powered up, Brown turns into Kulp’s aircraft to negate its speed advantage. Now he’s at eight o’clock to Kulp’s twelve, and the unlikely opponents are hurtling towards one another at a combined speed of over 1,000 mph. Brown squeezes off three long bursts from the six.50 caliber machine guns in his wings,.

Peppering the starboard side of Kulp’s jet. Almost immediately flames burst from the stricken 262 and large chunks of fuselage fly into the air. Inside, his cockpit filling with smoke and the flight controls unresponsive to his commands, the wounded ace pops the canopy and bails out. Next it’s 2nd Lt. Brantley’s turn to make history. Not one to be outdone, he circles the periphery of the melee waiting for a lone 262 to wander into his path,.

And it’s not long before one piloted by another ace, Oberleutnant Ernst Wörner does just that. But this engagement is over even quicker than Brown’s. Outmaneuvering the more experienced pilot flying the technically superior aircraft, Brantley fills the jet with 50 caliber rounds killing Wörner and becoming the second Black pilot of the day to engage and shoot down a vaunted ME 262 – and the skirmish is far from over. Using his exceptional eyesight,.

1st Lt. Lane spots a single 262 that’s broken from the pack 2,000 yards away. At its controls is Lieutenant Alfred Ambs with seven confirmed kills under his belt. Instinctively, Lane yanks the Mustang’s stick to the left then back tugging the machine into a tight turn. Straining to keep the faster German plane in view as it speeds away, both man and machine are nearing their limits. In addition to sheer strength and the Mustang’s maneuverability, Lane relies on a new K-14 lead-computing gunsight to get his bullets on-target.

At such speed and range he’ll have to fire well ahead of the shark-shaped jet rocketing through the sky. The 262’s distinct silhouette is barely in his gunsight, but hoping the spanking new gadget works as promised he squeezes the trigger unleashing three short bursts. Tracer rounds stream through the sky in great sweeping arcs, and fractions of a second later slam into the 262. Again there’s smoke and damage as bits of airframe break off, and though he can’t be sure, Lane thinks he sees the pilot bail out.

What is certain is that the 262 is going down, and fast. Diving, Lane watches it crash into the Fatherland before being engulfed in a puff of coal grey smoke. Ambs having escaped the 262 floats down to earth in his parachute and comes to rest entangled in tree branches. He’s rescued, but never takes to the skies again. On that day the 3 “Red Tails” served their country well by shooting down three German jets on just one mission and in doing so also chalked up a victory against discrimination.

Brown is largely credited with being the first pilot to ever shoot down a jet, and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. It’s April the 10th, 1945 over 1,200 bombers and 900 fighters from the 8th air force were over Germany, Leutnant Walter Hagenah was in one of two Me 262s from JG7 sent to intercept. He describes the engagement as follows: “We received no instructions from the ground when airborne – our task was merely to “engage bombers over Berlin.”.

Once above cloud at about 5,000 m, I could see the bomber formation clearly at about 6,000 m. I was flying about 550 km/h in a slight climb after them. Everything seemed to be going fine – in three to four minutes we would be with the bombers. Then, as an experienced fighter pilot, I had the old “tingling in the back of the neck” feeling that perhaps enemy fighters were about.

I had a good look around, and in front and above, I saw six Mustangs passing above me from almost head-on. At first I thought they had not seen me, and so I continued on. But, just to be on the safe side, I glanced back one more – and it was a good thing for me that I did, because at that moment I saw the Mustangs diving down and curving round on to the pair of us.

With the speed of their dive, and the speed we had lost because of our climb, they stood a good chance catching us. Then they opened fire and tracer began to flash disconcertingly close to our aircraft. I opened my throttle fully and put my nose down a little to increase my own speed, and resolved outrun the enemy fighters. I did not attempt to throw them off their aim –.

I knew the moment I turned my speed would fall, and then they would have me. I told the Feldwebel on my left to keep going, but obviously he became scared because I noticed him weaving from side to side, then he turned away to the left. It was just what the Mustang pilots wanted, and in no time they had broken off from me and were on to him.

His aircraft received several hits and I saw it go down and crash – my companion was unable to bail out. I kept an eye on the enemy fighters at 4,000 m and watched them reform and turn around to fly westwards for home. Feeling vengeful, I decided to have a go at them. I rapidly closed in on them from behind, but at a range of about 500 m,.

The Mustang leader started rocking his wings and I knew that I had been seen. If I continued I knew that the enemy fighters would probably split up into two and curve round from either side onto my tail, so I resolved to strike first. I loosed off all 24 of the R4M rockets under my wings straight at the enemy fighters and I was very lucky – I hit two of them and they went down out of control.

This time I had plenty of speed, and had little trouble in avoiding the fire from their companions.” Almost out of fuel coming into land at Köthen airfield, he was targeted again by P-51s. Forced to put his plane in a tight curving approach the Mustangs scattered assuming he was coming in for an attack. He managed to quickly put the bird down before the Mustangs started strafing the airfield. The end of his account on that day states:.

“Fortunately for me, the flak defenses were still on their toes and I was not hit.” By early May 1945 the Allies owned the skies. And the last few Me 262s sat waiting on the runways, awaiting capture from the allied ground troops, their technology to be studied and used in the upcoming cold war. We recommend the excellent book “Me 262 vs P-51 Mustang” by Robert Forsyth to find out more on these incredible duels and clashes of technology.

In 1951 in the skies over North Korea a clash of political ideologies has turned into a clash of cutting edge weapons. A battle of MiG-15s vs F-86 Sabres. In particular, in the skies over the communist held territory lay the main aerial battleground. Here the 2 sides battled not only for air superiority, but also for the chance to pit Communist forces against the American and UN forces.

This famed battleground would become known by another name. A name of one of the main weapons in the duels of life and death that regularly played out here. This place would become known as MiG Alley! Pilots from the Soviet Union had secretly been performing active roles since the middle of 1951. They had to wear Chinese uniforms while flying and were banned from speaking Russian on the radio. Instead they had phonetically spelled out Korean words on their knee boards….

The use of these did not last long though when they found themselves in combat, the Soviet Union pilots quickly switched to Russian. The Americans quickly came to realize that some pilots in the Chinese and Korean Air Forces were at a much greater skill level. They started to call these legendary MiG pilots, “Honchos”. The head Honcho they gave a special name to. He was “Casey Jones”. Flying a MiG-15bis this exceptionally talented pilot had a striking plane.

With a red nose and fuselage stripes. ‘Ol Casey would sit up high, often as it seemed to the Americans on his own without a wingman. He would keep an eye out for a lone Sabre and swoop down on it, guns blazing. In actual fact the pilot was Sergei Kramarenko, a veteran pilot from WW2. On June the 17th, 1951 Kramarenko noticed that 3 Sabres were flying below him. He said, “Without not even losing a second, I jumped them….

But somehow they spotted me and immediately they split – the wingmen performed a diving turn to the left, and the leader – a climbing right turn. This tactic was a trap, for whichever one I attacked, I would be forced to turn my tail to the others and then they would get me under fire. I had to decide fast. Who shall I attack? Should I attack the pair which was diving, or the Sabre which was climbing?.

If I jumped the first ones, the latter would dive after me and he would shoot me down. That’s why I chose the latter. So, I dived and soon I put myself behind him. I aimed, and at a distance of about 500m I opened up.” In one of the Sabres Lt Col Hinton had spotted the Sabre of Lt Col Glenn Eagleston, a WW2 ace, and he wasn’t alone! On Eagleston’s tail was the legendary Casey Jones, and he was pounding the Sabre with cannon fire.

“I could see the MiG fire, and see its shells hitting the Sabre, he said with flame and sparks marking the strikes on the fuselage.” Smoke started to pour from Eagleston’s Sabre and it looked bad. Quickly 2 American Sabres managed to get behind ‘Ol Casey realizing that he had 2 Sabres on his tail, he suddenly broke off his attack and dove towards the Yalu River, taking advantage of the MiG's speed he easily pulled away from the Sabres. Ground fire from the Korean Dam shook the lagging Sabres off his tail.

Incredibly, escorted by Hinton, Eagleston managed to get his shot up Sabre down safely. Although it had to be scratched shortly afterwards. A few months later Kramarenko was flying on a defensive operation over Anju when he and other flyers in his regiment were jumped by 2 groups of F-86 Sabres. He later said, “We repulsed the first attack of the Sabres and maneuvered to an altitude of about 9,000 meters.

At this point, another group of Sabres came up and attacked the regimental commander's group from above. Although I was almost without speed, I had to increase the climbing angle and open fire at the leader of the Sabres from a distance of 600 meters. His plane passed through my track and I saw several shells explode on it. After my rounds hit, the leading Sabre increased its dive angle and went down.

But when I turned around, I saw that my group was also being attacked from above – it was a new group of Sabres. I gave the command, “U-turn everyone!” “I felt a sharp impact, and my MiG suddenly started spinning rapidly. I was pinned against the port side, and the rudders were inoperative. It felt as if a wing had come off! I decided to leave the unguided plane, which was spinning and falling down vertically. Pressed against my port side,.

I reached the ejection handle with great difficulty and pressed it. My eyes darkened from the sharp impact, and I did not feel at all how I flew out of the plane.” In total, in and around MiG Alley, 224 Sabres were lost for 566 MiG-15s although against Soviet pilots the kill rate is estimated to be 1.4 MiGs lost for every 1 Sabre. Kramarenko was rescued. Receiving the Hero of the Soviet Union for his action in Korea he lived a long life and died in just May 2020.

It’s September the 10th, 1952. And a pair of F4U-4B Corsair’s make their way across a clear North Korean skies. On board the lead plane is Captain Jesse Folmar of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron number 312, also known as the “Checkerboards” Him and his wingman, 1st Lieutenant Willie Daniels, are on a bombing mission with the old WW2 fighters. Up high and in the distance there are two MiG-15’s that have noticed the pair of blue aircraft. Folmar and Daniels fly back towards the sea, but as he turns, Captain Folmar spots the glimmering form of two enemy MiG-15’s preparing to dive upon them. “Bandits!”.

The Corsairs immediately release all of their payload upon the uttering of the word, the thousands of pounds of bombs and external fuel tanks fall away to the sea and the pilots feel the aircraft come alive. Folmar slams the throttle to full and tightens his turn towards the MiGs, racing to pass underneath them. Up above the MiGs dive straight down towards them, barreling for their prey with the blazing speed of modern fighter jets. But the Corsair is closing in too much, and the dive angle is becoming far too steep. Folmar watches as the MiGs level out of their dive and roar past overhead. He catches his breath; his maneuver had worked but its only gained him some time. He orders Daniels into a defensive weave as he looks back over his shoulder desperately searching for the enemy jets, but instead he see something much worse: this two more MiG 15’s approaching in from his left.

His heart races, the already stacked deck suddenly is becoming all but unwinnable. The two proud Marines are going to back down easy though, he can only hope the old fighter-bomber underneath him can stay the course. Full of determination he turns his Corsair hard towards the two incoming enemies hoping to meet their assault head on, but they’re closing in too fast. Mid-turn the pair of MiG’s unleash their cannons upon the Corsairs, their 23 mm shells streaking past right in front of Folmar’s windshield, but miraculously they miss. Realizing his opponents are about to overshoot, Folmar turns his aircraft back towards the right as the MiGs race past at blistering speed.

The enemy gives him their backs and he quickly brings his sights onto the closest MiG. Folmar pulls the trigger and unleashes a barrage from his quad 20mm cannons. The shells fly across the Korean sky, guided by Folmar’s impeccable aim. They explode into the rear of the jet and tear right through its fuselage. Folmar can see the flashes of the impact, it’s the hit and the MiG starts to pour a gray trail of fuel. It banks away from Folmar’s sights and speeds off for a couple of seconds before the gray trail turns a deep black. The Marine watches as the pilot loses control of the burning machine and ejects over the North Korean fields. Now pumping with adrenaline the pair resume their defensive weave with 3 MiGs still circling around them, but they don’t make any move. Folmar wonders why until he spots 4 more jets in the distance coming to join the fray.

Dread grips him, if the situation was near unwinnable before, now it’s absolutely impossible. In a last-ditch attempt he orders to dive and flee for the sea, the two Corsairs race away as fast as they can, the Yellow Sea is so frustratingly close but the bandits are coming in fast. The two aviators can feel it, they aren’t going to make it. The lead MiG is coming right in on their tail with its sight square on Folmar. Daniels sees it coming and slows his Corsair to let the enemy overshoot. The MiG flies past him and Daniels tries to bring his sights onto its fuselage but the bandit knows the Marine’s intentions and pulls away from the attack run barely escaping his crosshairs. With Daniels focused on the first MiG.

The second bandit in line finds itself with a clear line of sight to Folmar’s straight flying Corsair and it pulls the trigger. Folmar sees the tracers of 23mm fire streaking past his canopy but has no time to react before an explosion rocks his airframe. The aircraft shakes violently and pulls hard to the left. He fights it hard as his assailant flies past, Folmar wants to shoot back but the Corsair is critically wounded, still pulling left despite holding the stick full right. He turns his eyes towards his wing and he sees the entire left aileron is missing, a section of wing near the root is completely torn open, and 4 feet has been shaven off the wingtip. He can tell he won’t land this bird. Thinking quickly, he takes his radio and broadcasts a distress signal along with his position.

As a third MiG opens fire and its tracers fly past. Finishing the transmission, he hurriedly opens his canopy and jumps out of the stricken aircraft. The wind crashes into him like a wall, sending him tumbling through the air. Folmar gathers his senses and opens his chute just as the ear-piercing roar of a jet engine sounds right past him, MiGs swarming his pilot-less Corsair. Meanwhile, Daniels seizes the distraction of his flight leader’s troubled plane and bolts out to sea, diving for speed and escaping as fast as he can. His chasers have instructions not to venture towards the waters or separate from their comrades, so with many focusing on the crippled Corsair, the planes chasing Daniels let him go and he manages to escape.

Folmar watches his plane get torn apart by MiG fire and fall like a rock into the ground, slamming into the sea in a monumental splash. The bandits disperse almost immediately afterwards, by the time Folmar falls into the rolling waves below the shore has already largely fallen back to its natural silence. Thankfully the rescue wouldn’t take long, allied forces heard his transmission and an Albatross sea plane was dispatched to his location. He would be picked off from the water not 10 minutes later without a scratch. Jesse Folmar would be awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day and would earn the distinction of being the first Marine Corp pilot to shoot down a MiG-15.

He would survive the war and return home with his Silver Star and a Purple Heart. He passed away in 2004, aged 83. It’s March the 10th, 1967. 4 F-4 Phantom IIs from the 8th tactical fighter wing, 433rd tactical fighter squadron are taking off from an airbase in Thailand. The weather’s good and the 4 planes take a heading for Hanoi in North Vietnam. The element leader is Captain Bob Pardo. In the rear seat is his Weapon Systems Officer, Lt Steve Wayne.

Their mission is to take out steel mills nearby the city. The Vietnamese are very much prepared. The area surrounding Hanoi has some of the best air defenses in aviation history. Approaching Hanoi still under clear skies, the F-4s are at 13,000 feet. They can see the path to the target as it’s like a pathway of anti-aircraft fire. Plane number 4 has Captain Earl Aman in the front.

And Lt Bob Houghton behind. Aman’s plane is hit. Fortunately it’s not a critical hit this time and Aman manages to keep his place in the formation. Going into a steep dive the F-4s release their bombs. But under the heavy fire, disaster strikes as Aman’s plane is hit again by anti aircraft fire. Then Pardo’s plane is hit too. Both planes are now streaming fuel.

And they need to decide what to do next. They turn for Laos where they can rendezvous with a KC-135 tanker before pushing on to Thailand. With the 2 planes now ascending to 20,000 feet, Aman radios to Pardo. There’s bad news. The F-4 is now leaking so much fuel that he’s not going to make it… the tanks are almost empty. Pardo checks his fuel.

Even though they have lost a lot, Pardo can just make it to Laos for the rendezvous with the Tanker. Aman and Pardo talk on the radio and Aman relays his plan. His best bet is to fly as long as he can and then he and Houghton will eject over North Vietnam. All the men know it’s a dire situation. Ejecting over North Vietnam meant almost certain capture and a long stay in a Vietnamese POW camp….

If they were lucky. Pardo had the fuel to make it to the tanker, but just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Radioing back he told Aman he was going to stay with him as long as he could… maybe he could come up with an idea? To make it worse, Aman’s engines were spluttering and losing power. Pardo didn’t have much time to think. A flash of inspiration hit him and he maneuvered behind Houghton’s plane and carefully approached from the rear.

Lining up the nose of his F-4 with the rear of the other, he tried to give it a push! He was going to use his high tech $2.4m plane to give a boost to the other Phantom! With Aman’s spluttering engines running the turbulence was causing issues. Pardo told Aman to eject his drag chute from the back of the plane. That left open a small hatch which for a while gave Pardo’s F-4 a bit more purchase.

The turbulence wasn’t helping the plan so he told Aman to shut down his engines just in case he needed those final drops of fuel. Despite Pardo’s skill as a pilot, the Phantom’s nose cone that was ideal for slipping through the air also made it ineffective as a ram, to push another plane. Trying again and again and failing, he had another flash of inspiration. Originally the F-4 was designed as a fighter bomber for the Navy.

As such it had a rear hook that allowed it to land on aircraft carriers. Getting on the radio once more, Bob Pardo told Earl Aman to lower his tail hook! Lining up again and coming in close, Bob maneuvered to get the tail hook smack in the middle of his windscreen. The strength of the glass in front of his face took the full weight of the injured F-4 and pushed it through the heavens. It worked! That is until turbulence shook the two planes causing the tail hook to slide off.

Getting the hook back on the glass, the glass started to crack under the pressure forming a spider web immediately in front of Bob’s face. If the glass gave way it would mean certain death. Again and again Bob kept on like this with every 15 seconds or so, the tail hook slipping off the windscreen. Incredibly it slowed the descent of the stricken F-4 to just 1,500 feet per minute. Alarms went off inside Pardo’s plane. The left engine was on fire.

He immediately shut it down. Needing 2 engines for the push, he went through the startup procedure. The fire started up again. Pardo’s left engine was critically damaged. Carrying on with just 1 engine keeping the 2 F-4s in the air, he realized that his fuel had finally been spent. The 2 planes had travelled 88 miles under the power of 1 crippled F-4. They had just made it across the border to Laos. Pardo watched as Aman and Houghton ejected from their bird.

Immediately after Wayne and Pardo followed suit, shooting up into the heavens before descending into the jungle below. Laos was also a war zone at the time and the natives, conducted a search for the downed pilots. Hearing shouting and shooting in the jungle the 4 men managed to avoid the locals. After just 45 minutes on the ground, all the men were whisked away by a rescue helicopter. Incredibly, despite his heroic act,.

There was talk of charges against Pardo for not getting his expensive plane home. But thankfully, reason prevailed and the charges were dropped. 20 years later, the events of that day were revisited and finally Major John R Pardo and his man in back, 1st Lt Steve Wayne, received the Silver Star for their actions on that day. It’s August 18th, 1981. Off the coast of Libya. Two MiG-25s from the Libyan Air Force race out to sea. An American carrier group.

Has just entered their national waters and launched dozens of fighter jets into the sky. War, it seems, has dawned upon these waters. The Libyan pilot steels himself, laser focused on the battle ahead when he sees something out of the corner of his eye. He turns his head in shock; to his left is an American F-14 Tomcat flying alongside him. He stares at the enemy pilot in complete disbelief as he gives him back a mocking wave.

And, to add further insult, the man on the back seat takes a picture. The Libyan pilot finds himself completely outclassed. He knows the Americans operate in pairs; the second jet must be already behind him with his missiles at the ready. Pilot Lawrence Muczynski and Radio Intercept Officer James Anderson watch amused as the Libyan MiG-25s turn back to base. They joke and laugh, joined by their Commander Henry Kleeman and his RIO David Venlet as they return back to the Nimitz.

In reality the American forces have no intention of war or bloodshed, even if they know they’re flirting with the possibility. The Libyan government had declared the Gulf of Sidra to be part of their territory, while the United States and many others considered it to be international waters. Because of this disagreement, the US has decided to sail through the disputed territory, challenging the Libyan claim. The first day had gone swimmingly for the Americans, with their fighters turning away 70 Libyan aircraft without a single shot being fired. Kleeman particularly enjoyed interacting with the Libyan pilots,.

Later describing the day as “all fun and games.” Little did he know that things would become much more serious. Kleeman and Muczynski are back in the sky very early in the morning the following day. Call-sign Fast Eagle 102 and 107 respectively, they’ve been patrolling for over an hour when an unidentified contact headed straight towards them appears on their screens. The experience of the prior day has them quiet comfortable, so Kleeman in Fast Eagle 102 calmly reports the contact before heading to meet it.

The two planes adopt an intercept formation, with Muczynski in Fast Eagle 107 putting some distance from his flight leader. Kleeman is the first to get visual with the enemy, spotting not one but two Libyan Su-22 “Fitters” flying wingtip to wingtip straight towards him. At that very moment Muczynski’s radar malfunctions and he loses the ping of the enemy fighters, but he’s undeterred, he can intercept with visual only. But then the maneuver turns from routine to horror when he sees an orange flash from under one of the Su-22’s wings.

And a smoke trail streaking out towards Kleeman. They’ve just fired a missile. In a state of disbelief, he reports “Two fitters have shot at my leader.” Kleeman sees the missile coming and instantly pulls hard to the left. The missile flies right past him followed moments later by the pair of enemy fighters. “This is 102, we've been fired on!” Thinking on his feet he orders 107 to get after the one who shot. Muczynski instantly races into the fray,.

Turning around 180 degrees and ending up right on the 6 of the two Libyans. The enemy pilots scatter in separate directions, but Muczynski has his eyes locked on the lead Fitter. He chases him across the sky, matching the Libyan through every twist and turn. He selects his Aim-9L Sidewinder Missiles and pulls the trigger… But nothing happens. An alert flashes on his screen, the missile is faulty and won't fire. Meanwhile, Kleeman has already turned around and is catching up to the second enemy. He’s about to fire when the Libyan fighter makes a turn towards the sunrise.

Kleeman realizes in a split second that the heat-seeking Sidewinder could lock onto the heat of the sun, so he patiently waits for the enemy fighter to change direction. Its 10 long seconds until the Libyan pilot finally makes a turn and his fate is sealed. The missile lights up and rockets off from under 102’s wing, he can see the smoke trail as it tracks to perfection and slams straight into the engine of the SU-22, shredding its tail and starting a fire. The burning wreckage falls from the sky and the pilot ejects. On board Muczynski’s Tomcat,.

The Radar Intercept Officer spots Kleeman’s target falling in the distance and shouts “Someone’s been hit, someone’s been shot!” Muczynski turns his head to see the column of black smoke falling into the sea below. Worry fills him for a second as he cannot tell who it is, but to his immediate relief he hears the voice of Kleeman over the radio reporting his victory. “Affimative. …shot one of them down” With the Su-22 still ahead and with the gravity of their actions heavy in his mind.

Muczynski asks on the radio, “want me to shoot my guy down?” “That's affirm, shoot him… shoot him down!” Muczynski doesn’t need to be told twice, he’s chasing the Libyan through a right hand turn when he pulls the trigger. His second and last Sidewinder rockets away, but goes dead straight, exiting stage left from Muczynski’s field of view. Frustrated but without time to think,.

He switches to guns and resolves to shoot the Fitter out of the sky, but before he can even try, the missile zips past his field of view and it chases down the Libyan jet and detonates into its fuselage. Fire and shrapnel fill the sky ahead and Muczynski yanks back on the stick, he’s squished into his seat as he pulls an enormous 10Gs, barely avoiding the cloud of debris. Both pilots are recovering from the adrenaline when the news of their peril finally reaches command at the Nimitz,.

They hear through the radio. “102 107, you are clear to defend yourself.” Kleeman proudly responds “And this is 102 107, two enemy kills” Fortunately, both Libyan pilots, Captain Belkacem Emsik al-Zintani and 1st Lieutenant Mokhtar el-Arabi al-Jaafari, ejected and survived the encounter. They were picked up by Libyan rescue helicopters an hour after the events. Further escalation was avoided and the takedown of the two SU-22’s.

Remained the only combat in the entirety of the operation, which remained bloodless. Kleeman and Muczynski returned to much fanfare among their peers but received no awards. The incident would go on to have little political impact, it further strained the already terrible US-Libyan relations but brought about little action from either government. The events of that day would be studied by the writers of Top Gun, who used that and other engagements as inspiration for the movie’s combat scenes. Fast Eagle 102 went on to be restored by a group of veterans in 2016,.

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