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Best Shot with a 1911. Ever.

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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 . . .

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.

Comments (86)

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from BuckBoss wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

That is awesome! Great story! Thanks for sharing.

+9 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

i really hope that story is true!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntenthusiest wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Some of the greatest firearms for the greatest generation. What a wonderful story.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I hate to be a killjoy here, but I really doubt the story is true. While in theory it could have happened, the odds are against it. Even slow flying with flaps extended the Zero would have been going over 150mph. Phil, you can figure out yourself what the chance is of hitting a human head at say 40 yds with a pistol while swinging in a parachute. Besides, when the Japanese pilot crashed he would have been strapped into the plane which would have exploded on contact with the ground. If the body had actually been blown clear of the plane, it would have been totally mangled and burned in the impact and explosion, thus it would have taken a modern autopsy to determine cause of death.

-17 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stories like this are part of the "romance of war" stranger things certainly have happened.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I too doubt that story, although I'd like to think it true.

I can't see a Zero getting that close, nor slowing down, nor the pilot opening the cockpit to "get a better look".

But hey, we defeated an evil enemy because of great veterans like Owen Bagget. In my mind, heroes all.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntenthusiest wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Hey Harold, didn't you ever see the one where Bugs steps off the crashing plane unscathed?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from countryboyhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Actually Harold, not all planes explode on contact with the ground. Thats just one of them things people commonly think.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Harold, I'll give you back a point. who cares if it was an unpopular statement, it is unlikely based on the physics which you accurately point out. Regarding explosions, not all did, but Japanese WWII fighters were notoriously fragile, unarmored, and did not have self-sealing gas tanks. Not that I think that last would have mattered in an impact with the ground.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

@Harold - The stall speed of an A6M was about 80 mph. That said, it's unlikely the plane was a Zero. According to Chris Shores et al, A6Ms weren't deployed to the Burma theater, so the plane was probably a (very very similar looking) Ki-43 "Oscar" -- which had an even lower stall speed.

Just the same, your point that a hit on a pilot in a plane moving even 80-90 mph seems germane. But not impossible.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Thats an awesome story! Real or not Mr. Baggett is a hero!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Here's more detail on this story from http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/1996/July%201996/...

Sounds a little more likely (just a little) that it happened.

+9 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I have made a couple of mind-boggling shots. Yeah, I "was" shooting at the target, but had no IDEA I could hit it.
I killed a running coyote pup (5th shot!) at 125 yards with a 6" Mod 19 S&W.
I killed a running gobbler at 150 yards with a scoped .22 Hornet.
Weird stuff CAN happen. Don't say "CAN'T" Harold. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Bubba

+9 Good Comment? | | Report
from bass bomber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yeah it could've been an Oscar or even a Kate torpedo bomber. You never know

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

This story is all part of the 1911 myth; relax and enjoy it, along with the invincibility of a 7 shot antique.

-8 Good Comment? | | Report
from PSU_Bassboss wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Ha, come on, guys! Yeah, the shot is an unlikely one, but Mr. Bourjaily isn't writing about the most believable shot with a 1911, he's talking about the BEST one!

I'd much rather celebrate a war legend that grabs your imagination than attack it with a MythBusters mentality. Stories like this should be valued, I don't see the point of scientific dissection.

+11 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To FirstBubba: I didn't say "CAN'T". Please read my first two sentences again.

I'll stand corrected on Japanese plane's speed. Probably it was more like 80-100mph, which is still blazing fast. Thanks, Mike.

To CBH: I suspect that when the plane's avgas got dashed over the hot engine it exploded. However, even if it didn't, the pilot would have undoubtedly been co-mingled with his engine, making any sort of cause of death impossible to figure out.

If you read Phil's original message carefully you can see that he has some doubts also.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from gandalf wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stranger things in this world have happened many times over the ages. I once shot a crow at about 75 yards from a moving car with a Ruger single action 22mag. Most likely a lucky shot but it still killed the crow.
The 45 story is a good one and I'm not the one to say it ain't so.
God bless all our troops, all the ones who have fallen as to all those still standing.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

When I was in advanced infantry training in the Army, we were taught to shoot at low-flying enemy aircraft with our rifles. A company of riflemen could make a shotgun pattern around an enemy plane, with just a few lucky hits capable of bringing it down.
Call me naive, but I believe the story.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

This story does not in any way match up with Phil's but is about all I can add. My son and I were shooting our 1911's with a new handload back when the kid was about 14. He shot at a small stump twice and left only one hole from about 15 yards. I dug into the wood with my pocket knife and there were two bullets back to back. The second bullet was just a bit offset from the base of the first. I still have the bullets and you can still fit the second one into the dimple in the rear of the first. By the way he was unable to duplicate the shot and I never managed it even once. We all know in shooting almost anything is possible so I would not totally discount the Owen vs Zero story.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Hawg wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

For all you doubters, what you democrats always in deniel. Who gives a flip about the stall speed. Let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt for making an amazing shot. The 1911 was and is still the No.1 pistol of the world. I have the one my dad carried in his B-24 shoulder rig on 25 missions over Germany. Still unfired.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I think it probably is true, unlike "Immaculate Conception"

-9 Good Comment? | | Report
from louis357mag wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

The shot although difficult. Not impossible by any stretch. When growing up I routinely shot clay pigeons out of the air with pistol and .22 shorts. Even though there are many seemingly impossible shots floating around. There is much skill involved in getting the shot close enough for luck to take over. Once shot a squirrel with a pellet gun. From my fence post to the base of the tree he fell out of was 43 measured yards and the limb he was on was approximately 40 feet up a pecan tree you figure the math. I was only 12. My father witnessed the shot and thought the squirrel had died from laughing instead of being shot.

Lou

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom donohue wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

the mitsubishi A5M zero had a stall speed below 69 MPH!
Furthermore the aircraft carried no armor whatsoever.
Im voting for the big blazin 45 held in the hands of a desperate man! 1911 rules.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

great shot i dought anyone could do that now adays with the tiny 9mm and jet planes

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Redbone wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Good he got what he deserved. I believe the story. In a situation like that a person either nails the shot or wildly misses.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Darrell Mora wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

With its low-wing cantilever monoplane layout, retractable, wide-set landing gear and enclosed cockpit, the Zero was was one of the most modern aircraft in the world at the time of its introduction. It had a fairly high-lift, low-speed wing with a very low wing loading. This, combined with its light weight, resulted it a very low stalling speed of well below 60 kn (110 km/h; 69 mph).
-From Wikipedia

That's less than 37.28 MPH, folks, which is definitely within the realm of possible shots, lucky or not.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Muddawg2014 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

if this story is true (which i really hope it is) i think its just awesome how he was able to hit the guy in the plane when both of them were moving. even cooler how he hit the pilot in the head!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

While this story IS within the realm of the possible, it still isn't likely. And since everyone's free to believe what they will, I will choose toremain skeptical. It's like the guy who brags that he shot his deer/elk/pronghorn at 800yds. Yeah. Right.

WWII has spawned its share of "urban legends" so to speak. At least this one is somewhat more believable than, say, the one about P-47s knocking out tiger tanks by ricocheting the 50 cals into the belly of the tank.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yeah. You'd wonder why the P-47s try to do that when the A2G rockets they carried would pretty much rip a PzVIE in half.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quick Draw wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Fantastic story! I've read about a Grizzly being killed with a .22 by an elderly lady in Alaska. Hard to believe,
but true If we're a little skeptical we should do a little research then post our findings!
God bless our troops
QDG

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MEDICINEHORSE wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

THIS IS FOR JOHN HAWG..... DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS HARDER TO BELIEVE??? THAT YOU HAVE YOUR DADS 1911 AND HAVE NOT FIRED IT, TO ME THAT IS VERY UNBELIEVABLE

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Maybe he's got a gun case full of fired 1911's, so he can save this one.

This was a favorite story of Col. Cooper's.

Another was a immensely lucky shot with a single smaller artillery piece, which traveled nearly vertically down a small ventilation shaft, simultaneously igniting a rather large Japanese ammunition dump.

The question he had, was what do you say after such a lucky shot?

My favorite speculation was, "OK. Now it's your turn."

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Well if I can hit a runnin' jackrabbitt from a moving cotton picker with a 9mm, I believe a 1911 can take down a zeke. We have sayin' down South, "even a blind hog can find an acorn ever once in a while"

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

buckstopper, the Northern version of that saying is "The sun even shines on a dog's ass some days."

Gets the point across regardless of the locale.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Wonder how many non-believers would drive past in a car at 100 mph while being shot at by a 1911.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mcmxi wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

@Harold:

Jump on YouTube and type in "extreme long range hunting".

Then tell us people don't routinely make shots at over 800 yds...

Deer hunting in SD with my .308, I have made kill shots at over 600 yds on doe whitetail. It's really not a difficult shot if you know your weapon and know the ballistics.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

After reading the responses I would like to say that I have heard a similar story except it was a Marine and he only needed one shot. Cheers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BarkeyVA wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

When I was 12 or 13, I hit a barn swallow in mid-flight with my Crosman .22 pellet rifle. I tried to duplicate that shot many times that summer, but never hit another one.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from widowmaker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

If he made the shot, incredible!!! If he even tried to make the shot, incredible!!! Suriving in a Japanese prison camp for 2 years, a real hero!!!! Thank you Baggett for your service!!! Thank you to all the men and women that are serving and have served!! Thank you..

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from nc30-06 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

+1 widomaker.
BarkeyVA, when I was about the same age, I shot a dragonfly flying about 20-30 feet out over the water from the bank of a pond with my Daisy Red Ryder.
I don't see how it is so impossible for him (Baggett) to shoot the pilot. Might have been a fluke like my shot on the dragonfly, but it happened.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Jesus, you boys with all the technical information and facts disproving such a great war story. Hell, I grew up on stories like this and others. Superman couldn't be real either, but it made for some great reading and story sharing. I doubt if all of Davy Crockett's or Jim Bowie's exploits were all factual either, but that doesn't make them any less heroes to Texans that grew up in the sixties. By the way, when did you technical boys tell your kids that Santa Claus couldn't be real?

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Back in my Army days (about 35 years back) a 1LT I knew showed me a men's magazine photo of a USAF C-130 just before it crashed killing all on board. The plane flew over a firebase in Nam just as a battery of 105mm Howitzers fired a volley. One shell hit the plane blowing the tail section off. I can't remember the LT's name, the firebase or the name of the magazine. He was a redleg on that firebase and told me he witnessed the event. What are the odds of that happening again?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jeff270 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Some of you guys need to get a life! Of course this is highly unlikely, OTHERWISE IT WOULDN'T MAKE A GOOD STORY!

Impossible, not by any means. Regarding the body being mangled, not all crashes result in unrecognizable corpses.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

The story would be more believable to me if the 1911 were tossed in an overhand throw with a slight curve to compensate for wind drift!

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ferber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I've had a lot of bull'seye match shooting experience as a member of the U.S. Navy pistol team in the 60s--and after, and while I like the pure romance of the story (which I've heard before) I believe the event was more than possible, technically. In rapid-fire match shooting five rounds are shot within five seconds. Even if a plane was buzzing around at near stall speed--dunno the plane or speed, 60? 70? 80?--four shots could be made with ease and even if the shot-down pilot wasn't a great shot...four bullets is a lot of bullets at a moving, close-range target. So I like to believe it happened.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

i'm just gonna believe it and move on.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from speedywalker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

It actually is not that difficult of a shot. This is one of the finest pistols around for accuracy shooting. I shot a hole through a target at 25 yards with a 1911, dead center and could not measure any difference from side to side or top to bottom. Frankly, I tend to think he probably hit more than once, either the plane or the enemy. He was well armed.
Speedywalker

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I believe they call this kind of shot "the Golden BB", highly improbable but still possible. Good to see other folks got it right on the stall speed of the Zero. As a pilot, I'd like to see a Zero land on a carrier deck at 150mph. Don't let the negative comments get you down, Harold. It's happened to me more than once here and I'm still tolerated.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Lots of lift required to have such a low stall speed. The Zero obviously had that characteristic to take off from carriers of the day with a load of ordnance and fuel without aid of a catapult. Any shot would have been a lucky shot with any pistol, so it really could have been made with any weapon and quite possibly had little to do with the seven-shot wonder.

I agree with what 'duckcreekdick' wrote above ^^^^.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

It could have easily happened if the Zero pilot did a vertical stall, seen it done about a million times. They used to hold the Aerobatic Champ. here in Fond du Lac, WI the week after the EAA convention in Oshkosh, twenty miles away.

Here's how it's done: The stunt pilot gets up some horiz. speed, then goes vertical at full power. Gravity starts winning out and at the top of the vertical climb it stalls vertically. The plane seems hang there for a couple seconds. IT starts dropping tail first, then the pilot quickly flips the tail around, goes in a dive and after getting a little air speed up quickly pulls out of the dive, all at a fraction of the altitude of this incident!! Gotta be the easiest stunt to do and could have been easily accomplished by a light and maneuverable Zero, and at several times the altitude the stunt pilots do it at. Pretty cool to see when plane's hanging there momentarily with the smoke pouring out the exhaust, it keeps getting enveloped in a bigger and bigger cloud of smoke, until it finally starts dropping again.
Anybody have trouble getting a post to submit, it happened to me twice last night. Maybe I got to wordy or something?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tomterrymcphee@... wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Who cares how fast an airplane can or cannot travel. the point is the guy made a damned lucky shot, good for him.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stand next to a freeway and watch some 55 MPH (probably faster...) cars go by, think you could hit a guy in the head on purpose going by at that speed?
Don't know if it happened or not, but it was probably more a case of incredible good luck than skill if it did.

No disrespect to the 1911 intended, just saying that they use machine guns for aerial shooting for a reason.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ferber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

A clearer point to my last: International Rapid Fire matches are 5-second shot strings (one shot at each of five seperate targets) using .22 Short ammo at 25 meters. In .45 (or any Centerfire gun) Bull's-eye competition the distance is 25 yards, five shots in 10 seconds, one target.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Who cares if it is true or not. I never told a story that got kicked around for 60+ years. I will chose to believe it is true. The Japanese pilot just happened to be extremely unlucky, kinda like some of the game I have collected over the years. The facts of the case are that Lt. Baggett fired on the Kate, Oscar, Zero or whatever it was and the plane went down.
Like I said, helluva story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

For all you skeptics....
Imagine walking east along the shoulder of the west bound lane of a major highway with unrestricted traffic hurtling by at....oh, 75 mph.
Make no mistake, moving at 75mph ain't idling along, but an automobile coming at you almost dead on, won't require the lead and correction a dead left to right crossing shot would require.
Were I a pilot wanting to check out something under a slowly descending parachute, I would probably fly almost directly at it.
Just think about it!
@Harold
The "CAN'T" was more of a "think about it" statement rather than a "won't happen" statement.

Bubba

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom343 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

How about as they say in the service, the relative bearing drift? That would tend to negate the speed. An if the Japanese dude was running with his cockpit open, this bodes for a slow speed, too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom343 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

FirstBubba scooped me good and clean. Same answer but his is clearer and more to the point.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Quick draw: Hard to believe a Grizzly was killed with a .22? A .22 will kill most anything with a hit in the right place. If I had to pack a gun in a survival situation I would pick the lowly .22 LR every time! I have killed 3 black bears and many deer with a .22. They are hugely under-rated and deadly. Ditto for a .22 hand gun in a self-defense situation. Great story anyway! If you shoot enough, everyone occasionally makes an impossible shot.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Mike 55: Yeah I always have to submit twice. Never used to have to do this. Annoying.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe Wright wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

What was Baggetts, rate of drift while falling in his chute? His shot is not unbeliveable.
I shot a dove one time, (25 years ago) while ridig in a pickup on a farm rode. The bird was coming directly at me and I shot it left handed, by sticking the shotgun out the window as it flew past the passenger side of the truck .

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Cool Story..true, or not.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To tom warner: I always have to sign in twice, anybody else have that problem? But last night I completely lost two posts, gone, nowhere to be found. I worked for hours on them- I'm such a lousy typist and my brain's fried from Lyme disease, wish I knew that years ago, it's tough to treat if one has had it long term. It's frustrating when you loose a whole post. Also wish you could just speak to these things and they'd do the typing for you !!

I tried posting one more time this morning and it worked. This time I completely shut the computer down before posting and cleared out the memory and cookies and such. We usually put it in sleep mode because it starts up faster, also saves other info that doesn't have to be reloaded. It showed I was signed in both times last night, guess I don't know what happened? I hope this one goes thru, it's been on sleep mode several times today, we'll see.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from iron giant wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I've heard this story before and am pretty sure that it is true. Something like this is like the card game war, no amount of skill matters because it is something purely dependent on chance, but every once in a while it works out.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from speedywalker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Tom Warner: Where did you hit the bears with the 22? Was it 22LR, or other? I'm in Colorado and see black bear quite often so you can understand my interest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from focusfront wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Guys:

It was a lucky shot. You get to have one of those once in a while. His was at a good time.

And like Ben Hogan used to say, "I'd rather be lucky than good. And the more I practice, the luckier I get."

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from micko77 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I have family that owns property in the BWCA, Ontario. The Native Americans pull a boat alongside a swimming bear or moose, whatever, and pop it behind the ear with a single-shot .22. That's part of the "bear killed wih .22" arena. As for unlikely shots, I hit a crow about 60 feet up in an oak at about 150 yards with a 30 mph. left crosswind. I was as surprised as he was after I'd held about 6-7 feet each correction. Stuff sometimes happens. Heck, I split a .38 slug from a 2-inch Smith & Wesson on the edge of a 3/8" piece of steel plate twice in a row at 25 yards, but knew when to quit. I was, again, more surprised than my kids! Put enough rounds downrange, you'll get surprised, too. Kudos to that pilot!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dasmith wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Anything can happen......whether it be luck or skill. I am sure there are many stories of handguns in combat that would amaze people. I remember the Army told us the M16 was our primary weapon, then sent me to DC where all I carried was a .45, didn't even hold a M16 for 18 months. The best weapon to use is the one you have with you. Of The Troops and For The Troops.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ableskeever wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I wouldn't put it past a Japanese pilot in that era to double back to make sure.

If Baggett had just been firing at the enemy with a .50 on the move, is it so far fetched to think that he might hit a pilot with his pistol?

Perhaps if he had only done it with one shot...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yes pulling the canopy off before shooting some more would be the fiscally responsible move.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mexhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

man im getting a 1911 for self protection, they are just awesome

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To speedy walker: Sorry I did not reply sooner. Have been away from my Mac. All three bears were killed with head shots with a .22 LR. Two of the bears were attempting to break into our cabin in backwoods Quebec and would not be discouraged. The other had torn into my tent on a Canadian canoe trip years ago,...this was during black fly-mosquito season and you can imagine what not having the shelter of a tent could be like. The bear had no fear whatsoever of me. Remote wilderness. Probably never seen a human before. This was a very big bear. All three went down instantly. A lung shot on a deer with a .22 LR HP will kill it surprisingly quickly, but obviously cannot be recommended. Always take a head shot. I have also witnessed a large bull Moose killed with a .22 shot to the head.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fordman155 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I saw some wild stuff in Afghanistan, so strange things aren't so strange to me anymore. As wild as it sounds, I still believe this remarkable shot with a .45 pistol. No matter what airplane the unlucky pilot was in, it is still possible for a .45 bullet to connect with a moving target. I heard from a B-24 pilot that Zero pilots would fly over the twin tails of their bombers and toss grenades toward the horizontal stabilizers. The Japanese were trying to deliver fatal blows to the tail sections by skipping their grenade off the stabilizer and then have the greande blow right by the tail rudder. I don't know how successful it was, but the fighter plane had to basically match the speed of the B-24 to attempt this air-to-air attack.

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from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I had to look up the specs and look at pics of the B-24. There were a lot of browning 50 cal machine guns in turrets facing tailward on those...I wonder if there was a spot that was out of deflection and elevation for the turrets?

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from AJN wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I believe it is possible, lucky but possible. The 1911 is the Best Handgun ever made.

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from Doug Schwartz wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'm notorious among my family for outlandish hand/eye coordination. My favorite was hitting and killing a flying barn swallow from 40' up a fir tree as it circled our house in Oregon. With a tennis ball. One shot.

I did feel badly though. I don't like folks who kill for thrill only. Course I was still a teen then.

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from speedywalker wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Thanks Tom Warner.

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from Thomas1234 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Thats a great story! I hope its true

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from JoeFriday wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

That shot is definitely possible, as much as the odds might be against it. Reminds me of a day when I was 10 years old playing in the yard with my slingshot. A bluejay went flying overhead and I was at an age when I thought killing birds was productive. I missed the bird as it flew over me, but it landed in an apple tree about 30 yards away. I picked up a couple rocks and decided to shoot a rock into the tree to scare it out (I couldn't see the bird in the full foliage). I shot the rock into the leaves from 20 yards out, and instead of having the bird fly out, it fell straight to the ground dead. No lie.

On another occasion I had a cheap Crosman BB gun and shot a starling out of the air, flying about 40 feet above. As with the bluejay, I was totally surprised I connected.

But being an owner of several 1911s, I'm guessing half the naysayers here have never shot one. I can routinely shoot 2" groups at 50 feet off hand. And I don't think I'm a very good shot. I could easily see this being plausible with the given setup.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

The 45 round didn't hit the Japanese Zero, it ran into it! (45ACP 830 fps)

Has anyone every seen what a bird strike does to an aircraft? A pintail makes a hole big enough you can just about crawl into and the stench

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from nchase1924 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Just to throw in some reference, clay pigeons are thrown at 50 to 65 mph dependinng on the rig being used. Plenty of new participants to the shooting sports have hit their first clay. Whitetail can run at 35 mph and plenty have fallen from a hunter with a good eye and trusty irons. Throw all that into the mix along with the shot angle which can improve your odds and a lucky shot with a pistol at a 'slow-moving' aircraft could very possible.

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from BadAim wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I just couldn't help but throw my $.02. I agree that the plane in question was more than likely a KI-43, or possibly a KI-44, what I don't agree with is the off hand assertion that it would necessarily have been a snap to get out of a spin from 3,000 to 4,000 feet in one. The later model Oscars were well known and disliked by IJA pilots for their very nasty spin characteristics. Seems that when they uprated the engine, they also added quite a bit of weight, thereby upsetting the COG of the aircraft. Had Mr. Bagget caused the Japanese pilot to stall his plane, (especially if he was inexperienced, as were many of the Japanese pilots by that time) it is quite possible that he had made his last mistake. Just one more layer of the onion for you.

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from millerized wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

{{{from widowmaker wrote 2 weeks 6 days ago
If he made the shot, incredible!!! If he even tried to make the shot, incredible!!! Suriving in a Japanese prison camp for 2 years, a real hero!!!! Thank you Baggett for your service!!!}}}

He took the shot, knowing he was falling into enemy territory, after being shot out of the air, after being shot AT. Kudos, sir, for never giving up.

Some folks here could take home a lesson from this guy....rather than beating the fact/fiction slant to death. You'll be the first ones with your pants around your ankles and your kneepads on when the next time comes.

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from Taliman wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Since there are a lot of "I doubt this really happened" posts, I'd thought I would add an incident I personally experienced that makes me believe it is very possible.

No, I never bailed out of a plane and shot at enemy pilots before, but when I was a kid of about thirteen I was riding in the back of an old 49 dodge pickup clinging with my feet and one hand to the "cattle racks" mounted around the bed of the truck. As we bounced over the pasture trail with my grandfather driving to feed cattle. I had a pump .22 with me, and as we jostled along through the pasture a cotton tail rabbit jumped up and ran in the opposite direction of where we were headed with the bouncing pickup. I managed to hold on to the cattle rack with my feet wedged in the rack, twisted my upper body around quickly and "pop!" rolled that cottontail head over hills while in a dead run. Yeah I know, shooting from a moving vehicle is a no-no, but back then a 13 years old in a cow pasture does a lot of things that aren't politically correct or necessarily legal now days.

The point is, even in the back of a bouncing pickup, hanging on precariously and firing at a rabbit running full out in the opposite direction of travel, I hit him, one shot, dead as a door nail. Lucky? Yes. But, I suspect the guy in the parachute was probably better prepared than I was at 13 and he certainly had a bigger target. If the plane was coming in very close for a look-see, and in a near stall, and dumped a full magazine,,, well, I for one believe him!

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from Bill Mason wrote 15 weeks 3 days ago

Doing a little research, I have found that this story is very plausible. The stall speed of a jap zero is 70mph (69 to be exact. the falling rate of a parachuting airman in a military rig is about 11-14 MPH. as the pilot descends his stall speed would stay the same but the aircraft to parachute speed would drop. estimating differential speed of 55 mph. the wingspan of a zero is 39 ft. making a wingtip to pilot shot at 19.5 feet. giving 15 feet as a buffer makes the shot a 34.5 ft or 11 yards. A trained shooter with a quality piece (airmen weren't know for overusing their sidearms, but they did practice) could very well do a 55 mph, 11 yard shot. Next time you are in a vehicle, set the cruise at 55 and see if you could keep your finger pointing at a target. Now if the target is coming directly at you the lead time is zero. Very VERY possible.

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from Clint Sharp wrote 15 weeks 3 days ago

Send this story to Mythbusters and let's get it confirmed!!!

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from PSU_Bassboss wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Ha, come on, guys! Yeah, the shot is an unlikely one, but Mr. Bourjaily isn't writing about the most believable shot with a 1911, he's talking about the BEST one!

I'd much rather celebrate a war legend that grabs your imagination than attack it with a MythBusters mentality. Stories like this should be valued, I don't see the point of scientific dissection.

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from BuckBoss wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

That is awesome! Great story! Thanks for sharing.

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from NHshtr wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Here's more detail on this story from http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/1996/July%201996/...

Sounds a little more likely (just a little) that it happened.

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from FirstBubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I have made a couple of mind-boggling shots. Yeah, I "was" shooting at the target, but had no IDEA I could hit it.
I killed a running coyote pup (5th shot!) at 125 yards with a 6" Mod 19 S&W.
I killed a running gobbler at 150 yards with a scoped .22 Hornet.
Weird stuff CAN happen. Don't say "CAN'T" Harold. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Bubba

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

This story does not in any way match up with Phil's but is about all I can add. My son and I were shooting our 1911's with a new handload back when the kid was about 14. He shot at a small stump twice and left only one hole from about 15 yards. I dug into the wood with my pocket knife and there were two bullets back to back. The second bullet was just a bit offset from the base of the first. I still have the bullets and you can still fit the second one into the dimple in the rear of the first. By the way he was unable to duplicate the shot and I never managed it even once. We all know in shooting almost anything is possible so I would not totally discount the Owen vs Zero story.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

@Harold - The stall speed of an A6M was about 80 mph. That said, it's unlikely the plane was a Zero. According to Chris Shores et al, A6Ms weren't deployed to the Burma theater, so the plane was probably a (very very similar looking) Ki-43 "Oscar" -- which had an even lower stall speed.

Just the same, your point that a hit on a pilot in a plane moving even 80-90 mph seems germane. But not impossible.

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from tom donohue wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

the mitsubishi A5M zero had a stall speed below 69 MPH!
Furthermore the aircraft carried no armor whatsoever.
Im voting for the big blazin 45 held in the hands of a desperate man! 1911 rules.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

i really hope that story is true!

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from 99explorer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

When I was in advanced infantry training in the Army, we were taught to shoot at low-flying enemy aircraft with our rifles. A company of riflemen could make a shotgun pattern around an enemy plane, with just a few lucky hits capable of bringing it down.
Call me naive, but I believe the story.

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from louis357mag wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

The shot although difficult. Not impossible by any stretch. When growing up I routinely shot clay pigeons out of the air with pistol and .22 shorts. Even though there are many seemingly impossible shots floating around. There is much skill involved in getting the shot close enough for luck to take over. Once shot a squirrel with a pellet gun. From my fence post to the base of the tree he fell out of was 43 measured yards and the limb he was on was approximately 40 feet up a pecan tree you figure the math. I was only 12. My father witnessed the shot and thought the squirrel had died from laughing instead of being shot.

Lou

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from huntenthusiest wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Some of the greatest firearms for the greatest generation. What a wonderful story.

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from Beekeeper wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stories like this are part of the "romance of war" stranger things certainly have happened.

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from NHshtr wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I too doubt that story, although I'd like to think it true.

I can't see a Zero getting that close, nor slowing down, nor the pilot opening the cockpit to "get a better look".

But hey, we defeated an evil enemy because of great veterans like Owen Bagget. In my mind, heroes all.

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from huntenthusiest wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Hey Harold, didn't you ever see the one where Bugs steps off the crashing plane unscathed?

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from countryboyhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Actually Harold, not all planes explode on contact with the ground. Thats just one of them things people commonly think.

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from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Thats an awesome story! Real or not Mr. Baggett is a hero!

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from gandalf wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stranger things in this world have happened many times over the ages. I once shot a crow at about 75 yards from a moving car with a Ruger single action 22mag. Most likely a lucky shot but it still killed the crow.
The 45 story is a good one and I'm not the one to say it ain't so.
God bless all our troops, all the ones who have fallen as to all those still standing.

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from buckstopper wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Well if I can hit a runnin' jackrabbitt from a moving cotton picker with a 9mm, I believe a 1911 can take down a zeke. We have sayin' down South, "even a blind hog can find an acorn ever once in a while"

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from Ferber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I've had a lot of bull'seye match shooting experience as a member of the U.S. Navy pistol team in the 60s--and after, and while I like the pure romance of the story (which I've heard before) I believe the event was more than possible, technically. In rapid-fire match shooting five rounds are shot within five seconds. Even if a plane was buzzing around at near stall speed--dunno the plane or speed, 60? 70? 80?--four shots could be made with ease and even if the shot-down pilot wasn't a great shot...four bullets is a lot of bullets at a moving, close-range target. So I like to believe it happened.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I believe they call this kind of shot "the Golden BB", highly improbable but still possible. Good to see other folks got it right on the stall speed of the Zero. As a pilot, I'd like to see a Zero land on a carrier deck at 150mph. Don't let the negative comments get you down, Harold. It's happened to me more than once here and I'm still tolerated.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Lots of lift required to have such a low stall speed. The Zero obviously had that characteristic to take off from carriers of the day with a load of ordnance and fuel without aid of a catapult. Any shot would have been a lucky shot with any pistol, so it really could have been made with any weapon and quite possibly had little to do with the seven-shot wonder.

I agree with what 'duckcreekdick' wrote above ^^^^.

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from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Quick draw: Hard to believe a Grizzly was killed with a .22? A .22 will kill most anything with a hit in the right place. If I had to pack a gun in a survival situation I would pick the lowly .22 LR every time! I have killed 3 black bears and many deer with a .22. They are hugely under-rated and deadly. Ditto for a .22 hand gun in a self-defense situation. Great story anyway! If you shoot enough, everyone occasionally makes an impossible shot.

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from mexhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

man im getting a 1911 for self protection, they are just awesome

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from bass bomber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yeah it could've been an Oscar or even a Kate torpedo bomber. You never know

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from Redbone wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Good he got what he deserved. I believe the story. In a situation like that a person either nails the shot or wildly misses.

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from Darrell Mora wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

With its low-wing cantilever monoplane layout, retractable, wide-set landing gear and enclosed cockpit, the Zero was was one of the most modern aircraft in the world at the time of its introduction. It had a fairly high-lift, low-speed wing with a very low wing loading. This, combined with its light weight, resulted it a very low stalling speed of well below 60 kn (110 km/h; 69 mph).
-From Wikipedia

That's less than 37.28 MPH, folks, which is definitely within the realm of possible shots, lucky or not.

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from MEDICINEHORSE wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

THIS IS FOR JOHN HAWG..... DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS HARDER TO BELIEVE??? THAT YOU HAVE YOUR DADS 1911 AND HAVE NOT FIRED IT, TO ME THAT IS VERY UNBELIEVABLE

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from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Maybe he's got a gun case full of fired 1911's, so he can save this one.

This was a favorite story of Col. Cooper's.

Another was a immensely lucky shot with a single smaller artillery piece, which traveled nearly vertically down a small ventilation shaft, simultaneously igniting a rather large Japanese ammunition dump.

The question he had, was what do you say after such a lucky shot?

My favorite speculation was, "OK. Now it's your turn."

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from buckhunter wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Wonder how many non-believers would drive past in a car at 100 mph while being shot at by a 1911.

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from mcmxi wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

@Harold:

Jump on YouTube and type in "extreme long range hunting".

Then tell us people don't routinely make shots at over 800 yds...

Deer hunting in SD with my .308, I have made kill shots at over 600 yds on doe whitetail. It's really not a difficult shot if you know your weapon and know the ballistics.

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from BarkeyVA wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

When I was 12 or 13, I hit a barn swallow in mid-flight with my Crosman .22 pellet rifle. I tried to duplicate that shot many times that summer, but never hit another one.

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from widowmaker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

If he made the shot, incredible!!! If he even tried to make the shot, incredible!!! Suriving in a Japanese prison camp for 2 years, a real hero!!!! Thank you Baggett for your service!!! Thank you to all the men and women that are serving and have served!! Thank you..

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from Del in KS wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Back in my Army days (about 35 years back) a 1LT I knew showed me a men's magazine photo of a USAF C-130 just before it crashed killing all on board. The plane flew over a firebase in Nam just as a battery of 105mm Howitzers fired a volley. One shell hit the plane blowing the tail section off. I can't remember the LT's name, the firebase or the name of the magazine. He was a redleg on that firebase and told me he witnessed the event. What are the odds of that happening again?

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

i'm just gonna believe it and move on.

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from speedywalker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

It actually is not that difficult of a shot. This is one of the finest pistols around for accuracy shooting. I shot a hole through a target at 25 yards with a 1911, dead center and could not measure any difference from side to side or top to bottom. Frankly, I tend to think he probably hit more than once, either the plane or the enemy. He was well armed.
Speedywalker

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from mike55 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

It could have easily happened if the Zero pilot did a vertical stall, seen it done about a million times. They used to hold the Aerobatic Champ. here in Fond du Lac, WI the week after the EAA convention in Oshkosh, twenty miles away.

Here's how it's done: The stunt pilot gets up some horiz. speed, then goes vertical at full power. Gravity starts winning out and at the top of the vertical climb it stalls vertically. The plane seems hang there for a couple seconds. IT starts dropping tail first, then the pilot quickly flips the tail around, goes in a dive and after getting a little air speed up quickly pulls out of the dive, all at a fraction of the altitude of this incident!! Gotta be the easiest stunt to do and could have been easily accomplished by a light and maneuverable Zero, and at several times the altitude the stunt pilots do it at. Pretty cool to see when plane's hanging there momentarily with the smoke pouring out the exhaust, it keeps getting enveloped in a bigger and bigger cloud of smoke, until it finally starts dropping again.
Anybody have trouble getting a post to submit, it happened to me twice last night. Maybe I got to wordy or something?

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from Zermoid wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Stand next to a freeway and watch some 55 MPH (probably faster...) cars go by, think you could hit a guy in the head on purpose going by at that speed?
Don't know if it happened or not, but it was probably more a case of incredible good luck than skill if it did.

No disrespect to the 1911 intended, just saying that they use machine guns for aerial shooting for a reason.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Cool Story..true, or not.

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from mike55 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To tom warner: I always have to sign in twice, anybody else have that problem? But last night I completely lost two posts, gone, nowhere to be found. I worked for hours on them- I'm such a lousy typist and my brain's fried from Lyme disease, wish I knew that years ago, it's tough to treat if one has had it long term. It's frustrating when you loose a whole post. Also wish you could just speak to these things and they'd do the typing for you !!

I tried posting one more time this morning and it worked. This time I completely shut the computer down before posting and cleared out the memory and cookies and such. We usually put it in sleep mode because it starts up faster, also saves other info that doesn't have to be reloaded. It showed I was signed in both times last night, guess I don't know what happened? I hope this one goes thru, it's been on sleep mode several times today, we'll see.

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from focusfront wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Guys:

It was a lucky shot. You get to have one of those once in a while. His was at a good time.

And like Ben Hogan used to say, "I'd rather be lucky than good. And the more I practice, the luckier I get."

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from micko77 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I have family that owns property in the BWCA, Ontario. The Native Americans pull a boat alongside a swimming bear or moose, whatever, and pop it behind the ear with a single-shot .22. That's part of the "bear killed wih .22" arena. As for unlikely shots, I hit a crow about 60 feet up in an oak at about 150 yards with a 30 mph. left crosswind. I was as surprised as he was after I'd held about 6-7 feet each correction. Stuff sometimes happens. Heck, I split a .38 slug from a 2-inch Smith & Wesson on the edge of a 3/8" piece of steel plate twice in a row at 25 yards, but knew when to quit. I was, again, more surprised than my kids! Put enough rounds downrange, you'll get surprised, too. Kudos to that pilot!

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from dasmith wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Anything can happen......whether it be luck or skill. I am sure there are many stories of handguns in combat that would amaze people. I remember the Army told us the M16 was our primary weapon, then sent me to DC where all I carried was a .45, didn't even hold a M16 for 18 months. The best weapon to use is the one you have with you. Of The Troops and For The Troops.

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from ableskeever wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I wouldn't put it past a Japanese pilot in that era to double back to make sure.

If Baggett had just been firing at the enemy with a .50 on the move, is it so far fetched to think that he might hit a pilot with his pistol?

Perhaps if he had only done it with one shot...

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from JoeFriday wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

That shot is definitely possible, as much as the odds might be against it. Reminds me of a day when I was 10 years old playing in the yard with my slingshot. A bluejay went flying overhead and I was at an age when I thought killing birds was productive. I missed the bird as it flew over me, but it landed in an apple tree about 30 yards away. I picked up a couple rocks and decided to shoot a rock into the tree to scare it out (I couldn't see the bird in the full foliage). I shot the rock into the leaves from 20 yards out, and instead of having the bird fly out, it fell straight to the ground dead. No lie.

On another occasion I had a cheap Crosman BB gun and shot a starling out of the air, flying about 40 feet above. As with the bluejay, I was totally surprised I connected.

But being an owner of several 1911s, I'm guessing half the naysayers here have never shot one. I can routinely shoot 2" groups at 50 feet off hand. And I don't think I'm a very good shot. I could easily see this being plausible with the given setup.

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from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To FirstBubba: I didn't say "CAN'T". Please read my first two sentences again.

I'll stand corrected on Japanese plane's speed. Probably it was more like 80-100mph, which is still blazing fast. Thanks, Mike.

To CBH: I suspect that when the plane's avgas got dashed over the hot engine it exploded. However, even if it didn't, the pilot would have undoubtedly been co-mingled with his engine, making any sort of cause of death impossible to figure out.

If you read Phil's original message carefully you can see that he has some doubts also.

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from John Hawg wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

For all you doubters, what you democrats always in deniel. Who gives a flip about the stall speed. Let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt for making an amazing shot. The 1911 was and is still the No.1 pistol of the world. I have the one my dad carried in his B-24 shoulder rig on 25 missions over Germany. Still unfired.

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from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

great shot i dought anyone could do that now adays with the tiny 9mm and jet planes

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from Muddawg2014 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

if this story is true (which i really hope it is) i think its just awesome how he was able to hit the guy in the plane when both of them were moving. even cooler how he hit the pilot in the head!

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from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

After reading the responses I would like to say that I have heard a similar story except it was a Marine and he only needed one shot. Cheers.

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from nc30-06 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

+1 widomaker.
BarkeyVA, when I was about the same age, I shot a dragonfly flying about 20-30 feet out over the water from the bank of a pond with my Daisy Red Ryder.
I don't see how it is so impossible for him (Baggett) to shoot the pilot. Might have been a fluke like my shot on the dragonfly, but it happened.

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from Jeff270 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Some of you guys need to get a life! Of course this is highly unlikely, OTHERWISE IT WOULDN'T MAKE A GOOD STORY!

Impossible, not by any means. Regarding the body being mangled, not all crashes result in unrecognizable corpses.

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from tomterrymcphee@... wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Who cares how fast an airplane can or cannot travel. the point is the guy made a damned lucky shot, good for him.

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from Ferber wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

A clearer point to my last: International Rapid Fire matches are 5-second shot strings (one shot at each of five seperate targets) using .22 Short ammo at 25 meters. In .45 (or any Centerfire gun) Bull's-eye competition the distance is 25 yards, five shots in 10 seconds, one target.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Who cares if it is true or not. I never told a story that got kicked around for 60+ years. I will chose to believe it is true. The Japanese pilot just happened to be extremely unlucky, kinda like some of the game I have collected over the years. The facts of the case are that Lt. Baggett fired on the Kate, Oscar, Zero or whatever it was and the plane went down.
Like I said, helluva story.

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from FirstBubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

For all you skeptics....
Imagine walking east along the shoulder of the west bound lane of a major highway with unrestricted traffic hurtling by at....oh, 75 mph.
Make no mistake, moving at 75mph ain't idling along, but an automobile coming at you almost dead on, won't require the lead and correction a dead left to right crossing shot would require.
Were I a pilot wanting to check out something under a slowly descending parachute, I would probably fly almost directly at it.
Just think about it!
@Harold
The "CAN'T" was more of a "think about it" statement rather than a "won't happen" statement.

Bubba

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from tom343 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

How about as they say in the service, the relative bearing drift? That would tend to negate the speed. An if the Japanese dude was running with his cockpit open, this bodes for a slow speed, too.

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from tom343 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

FirstBubba scooped me good and clean. Same answer but his is clearer and more to the point.

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from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Mike 55: Yeah I always have to submit twice. Never used to have to do this. Annoying.

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from iron giant wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I've heard this story before and am pretty sure that it is true. Something like this is like the card game war, no amount of skill matters because it is something purely dependent on chance, but every once in a while it works out.

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from speedywalker wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Tom Warner: Where did you hit the bears with the 22? Was it 22LR, or other? I'm in Colorado and see black bear quite often so you can understand my interest.

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from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yes pulling the canopy off before shooting some more would be the fiscally responsible move.

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from tom warner wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

To speedy walker: Sorry I did not reply sooner. Have been away from my Mac. All three bears were killed with head shots with a .22 LR. Two of the bears were attempting to break into our cabin in backwoods Quebec and would not be discouraged. The other had torn into my tent on a Canadian canoe trip years ago,...this was during black fly-mosquito season and you can imagine what not having the shelter of a tent could be like. The bear had no fear whatsoever of me. Remote wilderness. Probably never seen a human before. This was a very big bear. All three went down instantly. A lung shot on a deer with a .22 LR HP will kill it surprisingly quickly, but obviously cannot be recommended. Always take a head shot. I have also witnessed a large bull Moose killed with a .22 shot to the head.

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from BadAim wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I just couldn't help but throw my $.02. I agree that the plane in question was more than likely a KI-43, or possibly a KI-44, what I don't agree with is the off hand assertion that it would necessarily have been a snap to get out of a spin from 3,000 to 4,000 feet in one. The later model Oscars were well known and disliked by IJA pilots for their very nasty spin characteristics. Seems that when they uprated the engine, they also added quite a bit of weight, thereby upsetting the COG of the aircraft. Had Mr. Bagget caused the Japanese pilot to stall his plane, (especially if he was inexperienced, as were many of the Japanese pilots by that time) it is quite possible that he had made his last mistake. Just one more layer of the onion for you.

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from millerized wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

{{{from widowmaker wrote 2 weeks 6 days ago
If he made the shot, incredible!!! If he even tried to make the shot, incredible!!! Suriving in a Japanese prison camp for 2 years, a real hero!!!! Thank you Baggett for your service!!!}}}

He took the shot, knowing he was falling into enemy territory, after being shot out of the air, after being shot AT. Kudos, sir, for never giving up.

Some folks here could take home a lesson from this guy....rather than beating the fact/fiction slant to death. You'll be the first ones with your pants around your ankles and your kneepads on when the next time comes.

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from Taliman wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Since there are a lot of "I doubt this really happened" posts, I'd thought I would add an incident I personally experienced that makes me believe it is very possible.

No, I never bailed out of a plane and shot at enemy pilots before, but when I was a kid of about thirteen I was riding in the back of an old 49 dodge pickup clinging with my feet and one hand to the "cattle racks" mounted around the bed of the truck. As we bounced over the pasture trail with my grandfather driving to feed cattle. I had a pump .22 with me, and as we jostled along through the pasture a cotton tail rabbit jumped up and ran in the opposite direction of where we were headed with the bouncing pickup. I managed to hold on to the cattle rack with my feet wedged in the rack, twisted my upper body around quickly and "pop!" rolled that cottontail head over hills while in a dead run. Yeah I know, shooting from a moving vehicle is a no-no, but back then a 13 years old in a cow pasture does a lot of things that aren't politically correct or necessarily legal now days.

The point is, even in the back of a bouncing pickup, hanging on precariously and firing at a rabbit running full out in the opposite direction of travel, I hit him, one shot, dead as a door nail. Lucky? Yes. But, I suspect the guy in the parachute was probably better prepared than I was at 13 and he certainly had a bigger target. If the plane was coming in very close for a look-see, and in a near stall, and dumped a full magazine,,, well, I for one believe him!

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from Bill Mason wrote 15 weeks 3 days ago

Doing a little research, I have found that this story is very plausible. The stall speed of a jap zero is 70mph (69 to be exact. the falling rate of a parachuting airman in a military rig is about 11-14 MPH. as the pilot descends his stall speed would stay the same but the aircraft to parachute speed would drop. estimating differential speed of 55 mph. the wingspan of a zero is 39 ft. making a wingtip to pilot shot at 19.5 feet. giving 15 feet as a buffer makes the shot a 34.5 ft or 11 yards. A trained shooter with a quality piece (airmen weren't know for overusing their sidearms, but they did practice) could very well do a 55 mph, 11 yard shot. Next time you are in a vehicle, set the cruise at 55 and see if you could keep your finger pointing at a target. Now if the target is coming directly at you the lead time is zero. Very VERY possible.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Harold, I'll give you back a point. who cares if it was an unpopular statement, it is unlikely based on the physics which you accurately point out. Regarding explosions, not all did, but Japanese WWII fighters were notoriously fragile, unarmored, and did not have self-sealing gas tanks. Not that I think that last would have mattered in an impact with the ground.

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from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

While this story IS within the realm of the possible, it still isn't likely. And since everyone's free to believe what they will, I will choose toremain skeptical. It's like the guy who brags that he shot his deer/elk/pronghorn at 800yds. Yeah. Right.

WWII has spawned its share of "urban legends" so to speak. At least this one is somewhat more believable than, say, the one about P-47s knocking out tiger tanks by ricocheting the 50 cals into the belly of the tank.

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from Quick Draw wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Fantastic story! I've read about a Grizzly being killed with a .22 by an elderly lady in Alaska. Hard to believe,
but true If we're a little skeptical we should do a little research then post our findings!
God bless our troops
QDG

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from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

buckstopper, the Northern version of that saying is "The sun even shines on a dog's ass some days."

Gets the point across regardless of the locale.

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from Joe Wright wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

What was Baggetts, rate of drift while falling in his chute? His shot is not unbeliveable.
I shot a dove one time, (25 years ago) while ridig in a pickup on a farm rode. The bird was coming directly at me and I shot it left handed, by sticking the shotgun out the window as it flew past the passenger side of the truck .

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from fordman155 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I saw some wild stuff in Afghanistan, so strange things aren't so strange to me anymore. As wild as it sounds, I still believe this remarkable shot with a .45 pistol. No matter what airplane the unlucky pilot was in, it is still possible for a .45 bullet to connect with a moving target. I heard from a B-24 pilot that Zero pilots would fly over the twin tails of their bombers and toss grenades toward the horizontal stabilizers. The Japanese were trying to deliver fatal blows to the tail sections by skipping their grenade off the stabilizer and then have the greande blow right by the tail rudder. I don't know how successful it was, but the fighter plane had to basically match the speed of the B-24 to attempt this air-to-air attack.

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from Amflyer wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I had to look up the specs and look at pics of the B-24. There were a lot of browning 50 cal machine guns in turrets facing tailward on those...I wonder if there was a spot that was out of deflection and elevation for the turrets?

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from AJN wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I believe it is possible, lucky but possible. The 1911 is the Best Handgun ever made.

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from Doug Schwartz wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'm notorious among my family for outlandish hand/eye coordination. My favorite was hitting and killing a flying barn swallow from 40' up a fir tree as it circled our house in Oregon. With a tennis ball. One shot.

I did feel badly though. I don't like folks who kill for thrill only. Course I was still a teen then.

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from speedywalker wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Thanks Tom Warner.

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from Thomas1234 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Thats a great story! I hope its true

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from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

The 45 round didn't hit the Japanese Zero, it ran into it! (45ACP 830 fps)

Has anyone every seen what a bird strike does to an aircraft? A pintail makes a hole big enough you can just about crawl into and the stench

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from nchase1924 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Just to throw in some reference, clay pigeons are thrown at 50 to 65 mph dependinng on the rig being used. Plenty of new participants to the shooting sports have hit their first clay. Whitetail can run at 35 mph and plenty have fallen from a hunter with a good eye and trusty irons. Throw all that into the mix along with the shot angle which can improve your odds and a lucky shot with a pistol at a 'slow-moving' aircraft could very possible.

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from Clint Sharp wrote 15 weeks 3 days ago

Send this story to Mythbusters and let's get it confirmed!!!

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from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Yeah. You'd wonder why the P-47s try to do that when the A2G rockets they carried would pretty much rip a PzVIE in half.

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from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

Jesus, you boys with all the technical information and facts disproving such a great war story. Hell, I grew up on stories like this and others. Superman couldn't be real either, but it made for some great reading and story sharing. I doubt if all of Davy Crockett's or Jim Bowie's exploits were all factual either, but that doesn't make them any less heroes to Texans that grew up in the sixties. By the way, when did you technical boys tell your kids that Santa Claus couldn't be real?

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from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

The story would be more believable to me if the 1911 were tossed in an overhand throw with a slight curve to compensate for wind drift!

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from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

This story is all part of the 1911 myth; relax and enjoy it, along with the invincibility of a 7 shot antique.

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from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I think it probably is true, unlike "Immaculate Conception"

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from Harold wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I hate to be a killjoy here, but I really doubt the story is true. While in theory it could have happened, the odds are against it. Even slow flying with flaps extended the Zero would have been going over 150mph. Phil, you can figure out yourself what the chance is of hitting a human head at say 40 yds with a pistol while swinging in a parachute. Besides, when the Japanese pilot crashed he would have been strapped into the plane which would have exploded on contact with the ground. If the body had actually been blown clear of the plane, it would have been totally mangled and burned in the impact and explosion, thus it would have taken a modern autopsy to determine cause of death.

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