Thursday, August 25, 2011


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 . . .

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.

I understand this was verified after the war - S.L.

Todays Bird



  1. I don't know if this was verified or not, but I always thought the only air to air kill with a pistol was Lt. Duane Francies (pilot) and Lt. William Martin (artillery observer) who shot down a Fiesler Storch during the battle for Berlin.

  2. Oh, c'mon, Navajo Ace used to do this all the time in DC Comins. How hard can it be? /sarc

  3. Need a better 1911 photo, one from WW2 period, not a crappy Remington recent production repop.

  4. This story is not supported by the facts. In B-24 Liberator vs Ki-43 Oscar by Edward M Young on page 57 it discusses this fight between 13 Ki 43s and around 12 B-24s. There were no Japanese pilot loses. Other factual errors are in Owen Baggett's various accounts. Pistol forums do not seem to let dissenting posts appear in these Baggett threads.