Secrets of the Dead: Dogfight Over Guadalcanal (2006)

PBS

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Date Added: 8 years ago.

Documentary Description

Deep in the jungle of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, scattered among tall trees and thick, razor-sharp grasses, are the rusting remains of a World War II-era fighter plane. A fragment of the tail still bears traces of the light blue paint of U.S. Navy aircraft of the period, and the number 5192. Research confirms that the plane is the doomed Wildcat flown by James “Pug” Southerland in one of the most heroic and legendary dogfights in aviation history. Now, on the heels of this important discovery, Secrets of the Dead: Dogfight Over Guadalcanal examines and recreates every dramatic moment of the showdown between 30-year-old Southerland in his Wildcat, and Saburo Sakai, 25, in his Mitsubishi Zero.

In the summer of 1942 an American and a Japanese ace fighter pilot faced off during a dramatic dogfight over Guadalcanal. Eventually the Japanese pilot shot down the American, who crashed behind enemy lines but escaped before being captured. Using both pilots' memoirs, and following a forensic expedition to the recently-found American plane, Dogfight Over Guadalcanal examines and recreates every anxious second of this showdown over the Pacific.

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