Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM), which is also known as a dogfight is the tactical art of moving a fighter aircraft to a position of attack against an enemy aircraft. The real-life Maverick took on seven Soviet jets in a classified Korean War dogfight. But who was the pilot flying the plane against seven MiG-15s?
In 1952, Royce Williams, a naval aviator for the US Navy, was engaged in a one-man dogfight with seven MiG-15s that lasted for 35 minutes.
Ace Pilot Royce Williams
Elmer Royce Williams joined the Navy as an aviation cadet in August 1943 and rose through the ranks to become a Naval Aviator by the end of WWII. He also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, flying more than 220 combat missions before retiring as a Captain in 1980.
Williams is best known for participating in a 35-minute dogfight against seven Soviet MIG-15s on November 18, 1952. He was serving aboard the USS Oriskany off the coast of Korea when an NSA team aboard the cruiser USS Helena reported that a flight of Soviet MIGs had departed Vladivostok and was heading toward Oriskany in possible retaliation for a US strike against a North Korean target near the Soviet border. Williams flew an F9F-5 Panther fighter that took off from Oriskany with two other F9Fs to meet the MIGs.
Williams was soon engaged in combat with seven MIGs after intercepting them, and he stated that his F9F was vastly inferior to the MIGs in speed, maneuverability, acceleration, and firepower. The only thing he could do was out-turn them. Williams claimed he fired at every MIG that passed within gun range as they passed, and he spent no time flying straight and level
I went after the section leader. He pulled up into the sun and I lost him, then I saw the leader and his wingman come around for a diving attack. I turned into them and fired at the leader. He turned away and the wingman rolled down on me and we went past belly-to-belly as I raked him with a long burst. He caught fire and went down. The section leader then came around and I turned into him and fired at him practically point blank and he went down.Royce Williams, Naval Aviator, US Navy
Source: Navy Memorial)
Royce Williams on Turning Down the Leader
Williams fought to keep the F9F under control when the battle was over, only to discover it was uncontrollable below 170 knots. When he returned to Oriskany, the ship’s stern rose and fell through a 20-foot arc, but he successfully caught the three-wire upon landing, well above the normal landing speed of 105 knots, thanks to the assistance of the Landing Signal Officer. The crew counted 263 holes in the aircraft, which was pushed over the side into the sea due to extensive damage. Throughout the battle, Williams fired all 760 rounds of 20mm shells from his plane.
The leader then came around again and I fired, and parts came off him as he dove away. I maneuvered to avoid the wreckage and I proposed to try and clear my tail. I was tracking another wounded MIG when I suddenly spotted one of the other two as he slid in on my six. He fired a burst with his cannon and hit me in the wing. The shell went into the engine area and messed up the hydraulic unit in the accessory section. I suddenly lost the rudder and flaps, and only had partial aileron control. The only thing that really worked were the elevators. I dove toward the cloud deck below at 13,000 feet, and he was 500 feet behind me and still shooting all the way down. It seemed like it was taking forever to drop that 10,000 feet! My wingman finally got back in the fight and came in on the MiG and he pulled away as I went into the clouds.Royce Williams, Naval Aviator, US Navy
(Source: Navy Memorial)
Image from WarHistoryOnline