How low did he go? F-14 Pilots who helped filming "The Final Countdown" on how low the Tomcat pulled out during the Zero dogfight scene

How low did he go? F-14 Pilots who helped filming “The Final Countdown” on how low the Tomcat pulled out during the Zero dogfight scene

By Dario Leone
Sep 2 2020
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The motion picture featured a unique dogfight which saw two A6M Zeros flying against two F-14 Tomcats.

The interesting video in this post features F-14 Pilots from VF-84 Jolly Rogers discuss filming The Final Countdown and how low the F-14 pulled out during the Zero dogfight scene.

Three Mitsubishi A6M Zero replicas, originally built for the film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), were flown in order to film the aerial sequences by pilots from the Confederate Air Force now (Commemorative Air Force).

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The Final Countdown featured a unique dogfight which saw two A6M Zeros flying against two F-14 Tomcats. Noteworthy, as explained by the then Jolly Rogers aircrews in the documentary featurette that accompanies The Final Countdown DVD, this “dissimilar engagement” was the first time that “the match-up of fighters with totally different speeds, totally different environments and weaponry had ever been done in film.”

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In one scene where an F-14 “thumps” a Zero by flying under and streaking upward in front of the slower aircraft, the resultant “jet blast” of turbulent air was so intense that the yokes of both of the Zeros in the scene were violently wrenched out of the pilots’ hands and caused both aircraft to momentarily tumble out of control. The lead pilot’s headset, along with his watch, were ripped off and out of the open canopy of his Zero, resulting in a few anxious moments as the F-14 pilots were unable to establish contact.


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  1. Ollie Gavin says:

    100 feet isn’t exactly a huge margin for error when you’re heading downhill at 250 kts (or more) and the folks in the camera aircraft really did believe they were about to see an F14 splash – even without “zooming in on the water”.

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