This Infamous Air-To-Air Battle Saw U.S. Fighter Jets Defeated By A Single Unarmed Opponent

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In Cold-War-era America, an aerial battle took place in the sunny skies over California, with disaster an eminent possibility.

Image: USN

In August 1956, interceptor aircraft took off from Oxnard Air Force Base in Southern California in pursuit of a rogue target. In the ensuing aerial battle, rockets were fired which threatened the safety of the unassuming inhabitants below. All the while, a potential tragedy was at real risk of unfolding.

Image: USAF

The aircraft involved were F-89D Scorpions, at that time state-of-the-art fighter jets which were employed by the U.S Air Force. Their very utilization revealed the true extent of the danger at hand. The Scorpions were, after all, contemporaneously described as “the most heavily armed interceptor in the air force”.

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Image: Hank Walker/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

And lest we forget, this was the Cold War era, and also the time of the ‘Second Red Scare’ in America. International tensions were heightened all around the globe, and the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union was particularly fraught. The threat of nuclear war hung in the air.

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