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).
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.”
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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