5 Aerial Battles That Put 'Top Gun' To Shame

#2. An Airborne Battle. With Pistols.

During the last days of World War II, it was clear that the allies were soon going to win in Europe. Still, Germany was determined to duke it out to the end.

"I will never go back to wearing normal hats! Ever!"

In the skies on the last day of the war, Lt. Duane M. Francis was flying his L-4 Grasshopper Spotter plane. Now, forget everything you're thinking about military aircraft based on the badass machines we've talked about before. An L-4 was one of these:

Which was fine for what it was intended to do, which is spot targets for American artillery so they could continue pummeling the remains of the German military on the ground.

However, while Lt. Francis was up there in his dinky little sputtering airplane, he saw a German aircraft. That would be terrible, if not fatal, news for someone flying such a ridiculous, flimsy thing that looks like it should have a rubber band behind its propeller. But the enemy plane was one of these:

Somehow, black-and-white is more menacing than yellow.

An F-156 Storch. It was another spotter plane, doing literally the exact same thing the American plane was doing. These two completely unarmed planes, that look like they could not survive an encounter with a particularly angry bird, were about to do battle.

Lt. Francis and his copilot dove in and engaged the enemy plane. Realizing that his aircraft was unarmed, Francis and his copilot proceeded to take out their .45-caliber pistols and, reaching out the windows, laid into the German aircraft.

"I prefer to think of each bullet as a tiny, air-to-air missile."

Keep in mind, shooting anything with a pistol is hard, even on the ground. Shooting a moving object while on the ground is harder. Shooting a moving object while you yourself are moving, like if you're both in cars, is close to impossible.

So shooting a moving object in the air, while you are also in the air, where both of you can move in three dimensions, with a pistol, is the sort of thing that has probably only happened a few times in human history.

Incredibly, their hail of pistol fire brought down the enemy plane. The German pilot had to crash land his plane into the field below, losing a wing in the process. Francis landed in the field nearby to take him and his copilot prisoner, both of the German pilots realizing that we would still be making fun of them 66 years later.

"I'm never going to hear the end of this."

Really, the only way the story could get more ridiculous is if one of them didn't have a plane at all. Well ...

#1. Two Bombers vs. One Guy With a Rifle

In mid-1967 (yes, that's as specific as we can get), the North Vietnamese Air Force sent two An-2 planes to bomb a supposed radar station. These were light, propeller-driven planes, but it wasn't like they were trying to take out NORAD here. They had more than enough ordinance on board to blow up a tiny radar shack.


Unfortunately for the Vietnamese, they were wrong about the target. The building they saw below them wasn't a radar station, but an Air America station (Air America being the CIA-run transport service that operated during the war). The station was guarded by a single helicopter (on the ground), it's pilot, a mechanic and one crazy man with an AK-47.

Top speed: 0 mph. Maximum Altitude: Depends on throwing strength of the user.

The Vietnamese pilots flew in, firing their guns and ripping holes in the building. Then the crazy man with the AK-47 (he was reportedly a Thai mercenary) ran outside. Standing right in the path of the bullets and rockets pouring out of the two bombers, he raised his rifle and opened fire.

"Have at you, plane."

He emptied the magazine into one of the planes. And, to everyone's surprise except his, it went crashing to the ground. The other bomber, probably wondering what kind of new, deadly-yet-invisible anti-aircraft gun they were facing, decided to abandon the mission. The helicopter pilot and mechanic at the base, probably fighting the urge to just let that guy with the AK-47 take care of the fleeing plane, instead took off on their Huey helicopter and gave chase. Keep in mind, helicopters are not made for taking out fixed-wing planes. They're intended to haul troops around and maybe blow up some stuff on the ground. Improvising, the helicopter crew positioned themselves right above the enemy plane and used the wash from the propellers to push the Vietnamese aircraft downwards.

As if that wasn't badass enough, the mechanic on board the helicopter grabbed his gun and crawled down onto the rails of the chopper. Hanging on with one arm and shooting with the other, he sprayed a volley of bullets into the cockpit of the Vietnamese bomber, more than likely killing its pilot and sending the plane spiraling into the ground. His heroic actions were immortalized by this tasteful print.

Military Print Company
So at least one little kid got to live out his secret agent fantasies.

To date, it is the only air-air kill by the CIA, and is also the most awesome air-air kill ever. Even if, had they not intervened, the enemy plane would probably have gotten downed moments later by the crazy Thai mercenary and a well-thrown knife.

For more insane stories from the Armed Forces, check out 7 WTF Military Weapons You Won't Believe They Actually Built and The 10 Most Bizarre Military Experiments.

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