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Ruff stuff – Memories of an early War South Pacific fighter pilot

Kevin Eldridge piloted “Ruff Stuff,” owned by Ron Fagen, while photographer Paul Bowen was shooting from a Beechcraft Baron with the doors removed. He lit the target with a portable Canon strobe. (Photo by Paul Bowen)
By the time newly minted U.S. fighter pilots entered WW II in late 1941, they faced a Japanese adversary whose pilots had been flying combat since 1937. Not only were these “flying Samurai” pilots old hats, but they also flew a trump card in the form of the Zero. As the rays of the Rising Sun extended over the vastness of the South Pacific, the two things that stood in their way of reaching the...


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