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lookatsix
08-05-2004, 07:31 AM
"...The Wildcat was clinging grimly to the tail of a Zero, its tracers chewing up the wings and tail. In despiration, I snapped out a burst. At once the Grumman snapped away in a roll to the right, clawed around in a tight turn, and ended up in a climb straight at my own plane. Never before had I seen an enemy plane move so quickly or gracefully before, and every second his guns were moving closer to the belly of my fighter. I snap-rolled in an effort to throw him off. He would not be shaken. He was using my favorite tactics, coming up from under.

I chopped the trottle back and the Zero shuddered as its speed fell. It worked; his timing off, the enemy pilot pulled back in a turn. I slammed the throttle forward again, rolling to the left. Three times I rolled the Zero, then dropped in a spin, and came out in a left vertical spiral. The Wildcat matched me turn for turn. Our left wings pointed at a right angle to the sea below us, the right wing at the sky.

Neither of us could gain the advantage. We held to the spiral, tremendous G pressures pushing us down in our seats with every passing second. My heart pounded wildly, and my head felt as if it weighed a ton. A grey film seemed to be clouding my eyes. I gritted my teeth; if the enemy pilot could take it, so could I. The man who failed first and turned in any other direction to ease the pressure would be finished.

On the fifth spiral, the Wildcat skidded slightly, I had him, I thought. But the Grumman dropped his nose, gained speed, and the pilot again had his plane in full control. There was a terrific man behind that stick.

He made his error, however, in the next moment. Instead of swinging back to go into a sixth spiral, he fed power to his engine, broke away at an angle, and looped. That was the decisive split second. I went right after him, cutting inside the Grumman's arc, and came out on his tail. I had him. He kept flying loops, trying to narrow the distance of each arc. Every time he went up and around I cut inside his arc and lessened the distance between our two planes. The Zero could outfly any fighter in the world in this kind of manoeuvre.

When I was only fifty yards away, the Wildcat broke out of his loop and astonished me by flying straight and level. At this distance I would not need the cannon; I pumped 200 rounds into the Grumman's cockpit, watching the bullets chewing up the thin metal skin and shattering the glass.

I could not believe what I saw; the Wildcat continued flying almost as if nothing had happened. A Zero which had taken that many bullets into its vital cockpit would have been a ball of fire by now. I could not understand it. I slammed the trottle forward and closed in to the American plane, just as the enemy fighter lost speed. In a moment I was ten yards ahead of the Wildcat, trying to slow down. I hunched my shoulders, prepared for the onslaught of his guns, I was trapped.

No bullets came. The Wildcat's guns remained silent. The entire situation was unbelievable. I dropped my speed until our planes were flying wing-to-wing formation. I opened my cockpit window and stared out. The WIldcat's cockpit canopy was already back, and I could see the pilot clearly. He was a big man, with a round face. He wore a light khaki uniform. He appeared to be middle-aged, not as young as I had expected.

For several seconds, we flew along in our bizarre formation, our eyes meeting across the narrow space between the two planes. The Wildcat was a shambles. Bullet holes had cut the fuselage and wings up from one end to the other. The skin of the rudder was gone, and the metal ribs stuck out like a skeleton. Now I understood his horizontal flight, and also why the pilot had not fired. Blood stained his right shoulder, and I saw the dark patch moving downwards over his chest. It was incredible that his plane was still in the air.

But this was no way to kill a man! Not with him flying helplessly, wounded, his plane a wreck. I raised my left hand and shook my fist at him shouting uselessly, I knew, for him to fight instead of flying along like a clay pigeon. The American looked startled; he raised his right hand weakly and waved.

I had never felt so strange before. I had killed many Americans in the air, but this was the first time a man had weakened in such a fashion directly before my eyes, and from the wounds I had inflicted upon him. I honestly, didn't know whether or not I should try and finish him off. Such thoughts were stupid, of course. Wounded or not, he was the enemy, and he had almost taken three of my own men a few minutes before. However, there was no reason to aim for the pilot again. I wanted the plane, not the man.

I dropped back and came again in on his tail. Somehow the American called upon a reserve of strength and the Wildcat jerked into a loop. That was it. His nose started up. I aimed carefully at the engine, and barely touched the cannon trigger. A burst of flame and smoke exploded outward from the engine. The Wildcat rolled and the pilot bailed out. Far below me, almost directly over the Guadalcanal coast, his parachute opened. The pilot did not grasp the shroud lines, but hung limply in his chute. The last I saw of him he was drifting in towards the beach..."


Sakai was then attacked by a Douglas Dauntless, dive bomber. The Dauntless pilot used his forward firing .50 calibres against Sakai, but it was an uneven contest; the Japanese Navy ace quickly gained the upper hand and shot him down.


S

lookatsix
08-05-2004, 07:31 AM
"...The Wildcat was clinging grimly to the tail of a Zero, its tracers chewing up the wings and tail. In despiration, I snapped out a burst. At once the Grumman snapped away in a roll to the right, clawed around in a tight turn, and ended up in a climb straight at my own plane. Never before had I seen an enemy plane move so quickly or gracefully before, and every second his guns were moving closer to the belly of my fighter. I snap-rolled in an effort to throw him off. He would not be shaken. He was using my favorite tactics, coming up from under.

I chopped the trottle back and the Zero shuddered as its speed fell. It worked; his timing off, the enemy pilot pulled back in a turn. I slammed the throttle forward again, rolling to the left. Three times I rolled the Zero, then dropped in a spin, and came out in a left vertical spiral. The Wildcat matched me turn for turn. Our left wings pointed at a right angle to the sea below us, the right wing at the sky.

Neither of us could gain the advantage. We held to the spiral, tremendous G pressures pushing us down in our seats with every passing second. My heart pounded wildly, and my head felt as if it weighed a ton. A grey film seemed to be clouding my eyes. I gritted my teeth; if the enemy pilot could take it, so could I. The man who failed first and turned in any other direction to ease the pressure would be finished.

On the fifth spiral, the Wildcat skidded slightly, I had him, I thought. But the Grumman dropped his nose, gained speed, and the pilot again had his plane in full control. There was a terrific man behind that stick.

He made his error, however, in the next moment. Instead of swinging back to go into a sixth spiral, he fed power to his engine, broke away at an angle, and looped. That was the decisive split second. I went right after him, cutting inside the Grumman's arc, and came out on his tail. I had him. He kept flying loops, trying to narrow the distance of each arc. Every time he went up and around I cut inside his arc and lessened the distance between our two planes. The Zero could outfly any fighter in the world in this kind of manoeuvre.

When I was only fifty yards away, the Wildcat broke out of his loop and astonished me by flying straight and level. At this distance I would not need the cannon; I pumped 200 rounds into the Grumman's cockpit, watching the bullets chewing up the thin metal skin and shattering the glass.

I could not believe what I saw; the Wildcat continued flying almost as if nothing had happened. A Zero which had taken that many bullets into its vital cockpit would have been a ball of fire by now. I could not understand it. I slammed the trottle forward and closed in to the American plane, just as the enemy fighter lost speed. In a moment I was ten yards ahead of the Wildcat, trying to slow down. I hunched my shoulders, prepared for the onslaught of his guns, I was trapped.

No bullets came. The Wildcat's guns remained silent. The entire situation was unbelievable. I dropped my speed until our planes were flying wing-to-wing formation. I opened my cockpit window and stared out. The WIldcat's cockpit canopy was already back, and I could see the pilot clearly. He was a big man, with a round face. He wore a light khaki uniform. He appeared to be middle-aged, not as young as I had expected.

For several seconds, we flew along in our bizarre formation, our eyes meeting across the narrow space between the two planes. The Wildcat was a shambles. Bullet holes had cut the fuselage and wings up from one end to the other. The skin of the rudder was gone, and the metal ribs stuck out like a skeleton. Now I understood his horizontal flight, and also why the pilot had not fired. Blood stained his right shoulder, and I saw the dark patch moving downwards over his chest. It was incredible that his plane was still in the air.

But this was no way to kill a man! Not with him flying helplessly, wounded, his plane a wreck. I raised my left hand and shook my fist at him shouting uselessly, I knew, for him to fight instead of flying along like a clay pigeon. The American looked startled; he raised his right hand weakly and waved.

I had never felt so strange before. I had killed many Americans in the air, but this was the first time a man had weakened in such a fashion directly before my eyes, and from the wounds I had inflicted upon him. I honestly, didn't know whether or not I should try and finish him off. Such thoughts were stupid, of course. Wounded or not, he was the enemy, and he had almost taken three of my own men a few minutes before. However, there was no reason to aim for the pilot again. I wanted the plane, not the man.

I dropped back and came again in on his tail. Somehow the American called upon a reserve of strength and the Wildcat jerked into a loop. That was it. His nose started up. I aimed carefully at the engine, and barely touched the cannon trigger. A burst of flame and smoke exploded outward from the engine. The Wildcat rolled and the pilot bailed out. Far below me, almost directly over the Guadalcanal coast, his parachute opened. The pilot did not grasp the shroud lines, but hung limply in his chute. The last I saw of him he was drifting in towards the beach..."


Sakai was then attacked by a Douglas Dauntless, dive bomber. The Dauntless pilot used his forward firing .50 calibres against Sakai, but it was an uneven contest; the Japanese Navy ace quickly gained the upper hand and shot him down.


S

Zyzbot
08-05-2004, 07:42 AM
The American pilot was named "Pug" Southerland and he survived this encounter.

His crashed Wildcat was found a few years back and a piece of it was sent to Sakai.

http://www.pacificghosts.com/history/history_wildcat.html

zombie-9
08-05-2004, 07:55 AM
Thank you for such a fantastic story! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif I needed that to jump start my morning. Cheers zombie

Rab03
08-05-2004, 07:58 AM
Beautiful story! I was just about to ask whether US pilot survived, when I saw Zyzbot's post.

This story clearly illustrates weaknesses of Zero and sturdiness of Grumman's SteelWorks.

See my skins at
http://server6.uploadit.org/files/JohnnyRab-SIG.jpg (http://www.il2skins.com/?action=list&authoridfilter=Rab&ts=1069857387&comefrom=credits)

lookatsix
08-05-2004, 08:10 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rab03:
Beautiful story! I was just about to ask whether US pilot survived, when I saw Zyzbot's post.

This story clearly illustrates weaknesses of Zero and sturdiness of Grumman's SteelWorks.

See my skins at
http://www.il2skins.com/?action=list&authoridfilter=Rab&ts=1069857387&comefrom=credits
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


and also weaknesses of the Grumman 'dont forget that too

Zyzbot
08-05-2004, 08:32 AM
This is a bit of a long read but it contains another recounting of the same events with more details form Southerland's side of the action:

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/history/tainan-ku.html

h009291
08-05-2004, 08:52 AM
This kinda stuff gives me goosebumps. Old battlefields or lost and forgotten WW2 plane wrecks etc.

Anyone know of any other sites that specialize in stories or pics of old battlefields or salvage of WW2 artifacts (any theatre)? http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

http://www.medals.org.uk/united-kingdom/images/uk654.jpg

BRASSTURTLE
08-05-2004, 09:11 AM
I just finished reading Samurai! last week. It was by far one of the most interesting stories i have read about WWII. For this man to fly back to Rabul half dead & then land is astounding. Nevermind coming back to battle newer, better planes & pilots with only one eye http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/11.gif

horseback
08-05-2004, 02:54 PM
First read 'Samurai!' over twenty years ago, while still in the USN. Two things fascinated me; the intense training IJN aviators went through just to qualify to fly a plane, and their assumption that once they dished out sufficient damage to destroy a Zero, every other aircraft should naturally fall apart.

Don't get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly that the Japanese fighter pilot was about as good as could be found anywhere, but there are a lot of early war accounts by Americans who'd get their aircraft raked from stem to stern, badly damaged, but not disabled, and have their attacker cheerfully fly over right in front of their guns, assuming that the fight was over, and the pilot surely dead.

Had Southerland's guns been operable, he could have had another 2 or 3 kills that afternoon. He clearly outflew those Zeros with a damaged airplane, at least part of that time while wounded. Postwar records indicate that the Wildcat's pilots maintained a better than 1:1 kill ratio against the Zero for the overall war, and after the initial reverses, did considerably more than hold it's own.

What exactly was the 'weakness' of the Grumman, anyway? I forget.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

BaldieJr
08-05-2004, 03:02 PM
Ol Pug should have bunny hopped untill the dude gave up trying to down him.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">
##############################
I'm not saying you have to visit my site, I'm just saying your a schmuck if you don't.</pre>
http://www.fighterjerks.com

Red_Russian13
08-05-2004, 09:10 PM
Great story. Thanks. It's amazing that these guys (both sides) did what they did. I couldn't imagine...

Red Russian

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v256/Red_Russian13/RedRussian.jpg

SKIDRO_79FS
08-06-2004, 02:18 AM
h009291..
Though you probably are looking for sites containing aviation related items I have been watching this site grow for years with much amazement....

http://www.lerenfort.fsnet.co.uk/

And I recently found these others...
http://home.hetnet.nl/~supersmit/ww1/phototour1.html

and

http://www.504th.freeserve.co.uk/battle.htm

the last one is sparse but the pics of the recovered Waco glider items caught my attention.



http://server6.uploadit.org/files/SKIDRO-signatureimg.jpg
VICTORY BY VALOR, GENTLEMEN TO THE END

Zayets
08-06-2004, 02:26 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by horseback:
What exactly was the 'weakness' of the Grumman, anyway? I forget.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Well,was not good to fly alone in that bird.But you know that,I'm sure.Of course zero was more maneuvrable at low speed.
The only weakness I can remember now about the wildcat is the very narrow landing gear base.Pilots had a hard time landing the crate.Lot of gear was destroyed in landings on the carrier deck,or at least damanged.

Zayets out

http://server5.uploadit.org/files/Zayets-sigIAR.jpg

Cippacometa
08-06-2004, 07:49 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>What exactly was the 'weakness' of the Grumman, anyway? I forget.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The Wildcat was a good aircraft. The "weakness" consisted mainly in the fact that the F4-F was not a true "aerobatic" performer, while it was stable and easy to fly, displayed excellent deck-handling qualities and it was very rugged.
Another problem that remained with the F4F throughout its life was its manual landing gear retraction mechanism: the gear required 30 turns with a hand crank to retract, and a slip of the hand off the crank could result in a serious wrist injury. Moreover, the landing gear was rather narrow and this caused several landing accidents (as already reported by Zayets).

Compared to a Zero, consiering the plus and the minus of both aircraft, I'd rather fly with the Cat!

horseback
08-06-2004, 10:07 AM
Regarding the 'aerobatic' qualities of the Wildcat, constant comparison with the Zero (as for the P-40) has obscured the fact that it was a very maneauverable aircraft for a monoplane, very close to the P-36/Hawk 75 in that respect, and that aircraft was more than a match for the Spitfire Mk I in most regards (speed, dive, and sustained climb were where the Spit excelled it).

Even Spitfires and Hurricanes had to resort to zoom and boom tactics against the Japanese fighters, so to characterize any Allied fighter as being a poor turner compared to Zeros or Oscars is hardly informative.

As to the narrow track landing gear, it was a legacy of the original design having been a conversion from a biplane. It was no different from its USN predecessor (the F3F)in that respect, and saved quite a bit of weight required for powered retraction systems of the time (and was more reliable).

It was considerably stronger than the gear on the Seafire or Bf 109, and since it was used from mid war on as an advanced trainer, I would submit that the overwhelming number of crashes resulting in loss of the gear was in training commands after the gearing up of the Naval Aviator training programs. Prewar and early war trained pilots had relatively little trouble with it, and rarely commented about it unless asked.

The weakness of the Wildcat was its speed, climb and range. It was underpowered from the start, and as the added weight of folding wings was incorporated, it got even slower until the introduction of the more powerful and lighter FM-2(F4F-8 design built by GM) in late '43. The Zero was always faster, but since their emphasis was usually maneauver combat, it wasn't that much of a factor.

As always, the main factor, as long as the contenders are both in the same general performance envelope, is the man in the cockpit. Navy and Marine aviators took on the cream of the IJN's air forces, and decimated them long before they had a numerical advantage or the Hellcat made it to combat.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944