The website has been super busy lately, to the extent that the Friday lists have been on a little hiatus. But they are back with a vengeance now. The idea for this one struck me as I was reading about the carrier battles of the Pacific war, as I so often do...
So, prepare yourself for the grand list of the best, most accurate shots in military history.
1.) Harold Godwinson - Hastings
Ok, so we don't know for sure that this is what happened, but recent historians think it more than likely that Harold, King of the English, was struck in the eye by an arrow at the height of the Battle of Hastings. Whether or not he was finished off by a charging Knight afterward is kind of immaterial - as an archer, you'd be pretty pleased with yourself hitting the enemy general, who happens to be the enemy King, dead in the eye, in such an important battle! Top, top candidate for the most accurate strike ever.
Here's an image of Harold's demise from the magnificent Bayeux tapestry. Note the aforementioned projectile, in gold stitching (left).
2.) Craig Harrison (Sniper) - Afghanistan
You might be familiar with this one, as it is a record-breaker. In November 2009 Craig Harrison, a Corporal of Horse (CoH) in the Blues and Royals RHG/D of the British Army, killed two Taliban machine gunners at a staggering distance of 2,475 m (2,707 yd), using . It is the longest recorded sniper kill in history, beating the 2002 record held by Rob Furlong, whose shot was also, incidentally, conducted in Afghanistan.
Schmidt & Bender 5-25x56 PM II LP telescopic sight and its adjustment controls, attached to the L115A3 Long Range Rifle.
3.) Schwerer Gustav - Severnaya
The biggest, baddest and probably most impractical gun in history has now made two appearances on the Friday list. But if any weapon deserves to, it's this one. During the siege of Sevastopol, Gustav made one of the most devastating shots in the history of warfare. Targeting "White Cliff" AKA "Ammunition Mountain" which was an undersea ammunition magazine in Severnaya, it was able to completely destroy the arsenal, despite it being at least 30 metres under the sea with at least 10 metres of concrete protection.
The size of the shell alone ought to give you an idea of the frightening destruction the 80cm behemoth.
4.) Kinashi Takakazu, I-19 - Guadalcanal campaign
The Guadalcanal campaign saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Pacific war. It was also its most decisive campaign too, with intense action and heavy losses incurred by both sides on land, in the air and at sea. On September 15 1942, the Japanese submarine I-19, commanded by lieutenant-Commander Takakazu Kinashi, spotted the American carrier USS Wasp and attacked her. The salvo of six torpedoes was surely the most destructive ever - three struck the Wasp, dooming her, the others proceeding further into a separate US task force and hitting the destroyer USS O'Brien, sinking her too, and finally the Battleship USS North Carolina, which was forced to retire to Pearl Harbour for repairs. An incredible shot!
The spectacular destruction of the USS Wasp
5.) Admiral Yamamoto shot down
This isn't a single shot, and isn't necessarily the highest in the accuracy stakes compared to some of the other strikes (yet hitting a moving plane at high speed in another moving plane is hardly a walk in the park) but this one for planning, location and execution has to go down as one of the most precise and damaging military missions in history. On April 18 1943, First Lieutenant Rex T. Barber intercepted the Japanese Admiral in his P-38 Lightning, after his squadron had overwhelmed the thin Zero escort. The Americans had learned every precise detail about the itinery of Yamamoto's inspection of the South Pafcific. When his G4M 'Betty' bomber crashed into the jungle, Japan had lost another asset it could not afford to replace.
This is the last known photo of Yamamoto alive, on the morning before his fateful mission
Get in touch and tell us what you think - do you have any stories of superlative marksmanship you'd like to share? See you next Friday as the grand lists continue!