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August 11, 2010

Airshow: Wildcat and Zero!

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I spent this past weekend at Naval Air Station Ventura County, where my California State Military Reserve unit was recruiting next to the C-130 transport. I was parked next to a B-25 Mitchell bomber, the plane Jimmy Doolittle and his men used to hit Tokyo shortly after Pearl Harbor.

Sitting in my 1945 Willys Jeep, dressed head to toe in WWII gear, I had a great view of the mock dogfight in the skies above between a Japanese Zero -- the plane that dominated the skies during the early days of the war -- and an American F6F Wildcat, a plane that more than made up for its less-than-graceful lines (especially when compared to the lithe Zero) with gobs of power, lots of firepower, and enough armor to keep the pilot protected.

Here, the Zero maneuvers to get on the Wildcat's six.

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The Wildcat presented a big target for the Japanese pilot (actually a white guy from Camarillo).

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The Wildcat used its massive engine to pull away from the pursuing Zero, the sound of the big radial's exhausts music to my ears.

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The maneuverable -- but lightly-armored Zero -- soon found itself in the sights of the massive Wildcat and it's array of .50 caliber machine guns, capable of putting pounds of lead on target with the press of a finger.

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The Wildcat and the Zero flew in formation after they finished their mock dogfight, providing the crowd a nice view of the birds during a photo fly-by. The Zero is one of three still flying; the only one with the original -- and extremely rare Japanese engine -- is based at Chino, CA. This bird has an American Wright Cyclone radial engine under the cowling.

Posted by Mike Lief at August 11, 2010 10:16 PM


great shots Mike...know what you mean--there's nothing in the world like the sound of them engines!

Posted by: Dave Gosse at August 13, 2010 07:52 PM