The 5 Most Badass Movie Scenes That Happened in Real Life

#2. Ramming an Enemy Ship Out of Desperation (and Winning)


This happens often enough in movies that it has its own TV Tropes page. If you're in a wounded warship, either on the sea, below the sea, or in outer space, your last resort is always just to crash your ass crazily into the enemy vessel. It's one of those heroic and spectacular acts of self-sacrifice that's perfect for the big screen and nowhere else.

If you like old-timey war movies, you can see this at the climax of The Enemy Below, a 1957 Academy Award-winning film about a battle between a U.S. Navy ship and a German U-boat, which culminates in the American ship ramming the sub in desperation (and winning the battle, as the good guys get rescued shortly after). In The Abyss, they acted this out with a couple of mini-submarines.

It's like Bullitt on Valium.

When you take the ships into outer space, this happens seemingly once per movie -- the Star Trek reboot featured two ship-on-ship rammings, and there was another in Star Trek: Nemesis. It also happened in Prometheus, which would probably be considered a spoiler if it hadn't been shown in the trailer.

The Reality:

... is much, much crazier than anything you've seen in a movie.

The USS Borie, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Charles Hutchins, was an aging destroyer dating back to the World War I era. Yet she still found herself in frontline service during World War II participating in the Battle of the Atlantic, also known as the world's most elaborate game of "depth charge slalom" ever seen.

"Hah, miss! All you did was blow out our eardrums."

On November 1, 1943, the Borie and her crew found themselves facing off against the German U-boat U-405. Hutchins casually ordered some depth charges dropped on top of it, forcing U-405 to the surface. And that's when the fun began. It turned out U-405 was a special type of U-boat that happened to have a whole mess of surface guns on it as well. It was well-enough armed that when it reached the surface, rather than try to make a run for it, it decided to duke it out with the American destroyer, toe to toe.

For an hour, the two ships fired salvo after salvo, shot after shot, and insult after insult. After both ships were good and damaged, Hutchins decided to take things to the next level by giving the order most of us can only dream about: "GIVE ME RAMMING SPEED!" The USS Borie slammed into U-405 at 25 knots, slicing through the submarine ... and causing the two vessels to become stuck together like conjoined twins.

"Well? What is ze plan now, dummkopf?"

With both crews close enough to spit on each other, the ridiculousness of the battle was upped about 30 notches. Both captains decided to continue fighting, and since the ship's guns couldn't angle downward far enough to hit the submarine, the Borie's crew grabbed anything and everything they could and just lobbed them at the German crew, who responded in kind.

For ten minutes, the two crews flung empty shells, knives, and flares back and forth. Eventually the two ships were separated again, whereupon both sank, with the Americans getting rescued shortly after. Which we guess makes them the winners?

But it still didn't stop them from telling everyone in the bar how it was a total blowout.

We'll stop there, but remember when we said that this happens so often in fiction that TV Tropes has a whole list of them? Well, ship ramming has happened so often in real life that Wikipedia has a whole list of those, too.

#1. Rafe and Danny's Ridiculous Heroics in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor

OK, wait a minute. After we made fun of Michael Bay in the article's intro, it's going to turn out that a particularly ridiculous scene from a Michael Bay movie actually happened?

Yes. And it happened almost exactly as it was portrayed.

In Pearl Harbor, Danny and Rafe spend the night of December 6 at a bar getting drunk and then passing out early in the morning. The next day, they are awakened by what they think are U.S. Navy drills, but are actually the sounds of incoming Japanese aircraft bombing the hell out of the harbor. Quickly realizing what's going on, they make a call and order two aircraft loaded up.

"Get up! We need to protect Kate Beckinsale's amazing rack!"

They then jump into their car and race toward the airfield at full speed, being shot at by Japanese planes the whole way because, hey, it's a Michael Bay movie. Once at the field, they rapidly take off (without permission) as the airfield is attacked around them. Once in the air, they proceed to kick some serious ass, shooting down Japanese aircraft left and right, before landing.

It has all of the classic elements of a Michael Bay masculine fantasy: heroism while grossly defying authority, ridiculous badassery in the face of overwhelming odds, all while battling a hangover from a night of manly drinking with the dudes. Hell, he probably just copied the scene from Bad Boys or The Rock.

The Reality:

That whole story is true, almost verbatim. Except in real life, their names were George Welch and Kenneth Taylor.

"Rock Paper Scissors, best out of three. Loser gets played by Ben Affleck."

After spending the night of December 6 getting drunk and having fun, the two men passed out early in the morning. The next day, they were awakened by the sounds of what they thought were U.S. Navy drills, but turned out to be Japanese aircraft swooping in and destroying everything in sight.

Quickly realizing that they didn't want to sit there and do nothing, they called the small, relatively unknown Haleiwa Fighter Strip and ordered two aircraft readied for a fight.

"Yeah, two planes, ammo, fuel, and ... what? Who else would be calling?!"

The two then hopped into a car and sped all the way to the airfield. And they were totally shot at by the Japanese planes, just like in the movie.

Once they arrived at the airfield, they jumped into their aircraft and took off, without permission. From there they proceeded to take on any Japanese planes they happened across, despite being outnumbered a mind-blowing 175 to 1.

And the AI was on "brutal."

After shooting down a few Japanese, the two landed back at Wheeler Airfield to re-arm, where they were ordered not to take off again because their superiors feared that it was a suicide mission. However, when the second wave of Japanese fighters came in, their superiors ran for cover. While Welch and Taylor took off by driving through the grass. Just like in the damn movie.

At the end of the day, the two had shot down between four and six Japanese planes before finally landing themselves back on the ground, where they were promptly yelled at for not doing anything by an officer who was completely unaware of what they had just done.

So there you have it. When we said even Michael Bay can't outdo reality, we fucking meant it.

You can follow Xavier on Facebook or email him at

For more instances of real life outdoing Hollywood, check out 6 Insane Prison Escapes That Actually Happened and 7 Real World Heists That Put 'Ocean's 11' to Shame.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 7 Hilarious Ways Badass Movie Lines Got Ruined by TV Censors.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to supe up your explosives to be like Michael Bay's.

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