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

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Image: USN

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

Image: USAF

The aircraft involved were F-89D Scorpions, which at the time were state-of-the-art fighter jets employed by the U.S. Air Force. And the very utilization of the jets revealed the true extent of the danger at hand. The Scorpion was, 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 therefore 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 heavy in the air.

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