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Rambler 1-1


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The mission was called a fighter sweep, but we all knew it was really an escort.

"IF ONE OF THOSE F-4S COMES BACK WITH AS MUCH AS A SCRATCH, YOU'LL BE FLYING A DESK FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER!" is what Major Leatherlung screamed to my face on the line before takeoff.


It was my first time flying as lead, after Lunkhead, out usual leader, had to take the week on sick leave. We were based at some god-forsaken airfield in the middle of the desert of who-knows-where. We were to preform a fighter sweep over an airfield about 60 nautical miles away, to "increase out influence in the region". The F-4s were supposed to bomb the crap outa the place at the same time. No prob. briefing at 0700, takeoff at 0815, no rendevous (therefore NOT an escort), no backup. Overfly the airfield at 0930, then take our time back. No expected enemies up today. Bull cr*p.


I got the 2 phoenixes, seeing as I was lead. The plan was to knock off anything trying to take off to clear the way. Everybody else had 4 sparrows and 4 'winders apice. Takeoff was uneventful, and I got contact on the F-4s right away. about 20 minutes from target, we got some other contacts. Two flights of Floggers taking off, we figured. No AWACS today. Then, out of the mountians, we were able to pick up a flight of unidentified bogeys going the other way.


Ten minutes off target, I got a lock on the lead flogger and popped off a phoenix. It fired off, jolting the airframe, flew like mad in a straight line, started to track, and then when it's first stage finished, it went poof and exploded. A dud. I made sure I had a solid lock and fired the other. Same result. Our plan was going to hell in a handbasket.


by now, the F-4s had called shotgun and had taken out all 3 ADF radars in the area. No SAMs today. The Floggers had been vectored to intercept the phantoms, and as soon as thay were within 15NMs, four sparrows, one from each of us, lurched off the pylons. Within 30 seconds 2 floggers, just rolling in on the phantoms, became craters. The other two were hot on the tails of the phantoms. Remembering my C/O, I told everybody to take those two out before they got to their prey.


It was a straight line fight, and the Floggers didn't see us. I lined one up for a 'winder, and fired. It farted off under his right wing. He knew we were there now. He broke off. I told my wingie to take him so I could take the other, which by now was ready to fire guns at one of the phantoms. I fired a fox one as he fired guns, and both the flogger and the phantom went up in flames at the same time. Double damn sh*t fu*k. Now I'm in for it...



"Lead, check six!"


damn. we had been jumped by two fishbeds while we were busy with the floggers.

"He's firing a missile!"

sure enough, in my mirror I saw a white dot followed by a cloudy trail, with my name on it. Without thinking, I dropped 4 chaff and flare and used my 700 knot speed to pull off an immleman. As I completed the loop, a call came from #2. He had gotten the flogger. Then #3 called that he had gotten the other fishbed. This just left me and this fishbed. I bottomed out of my loop and pulled hard up and right, cutting inside the MiG's turn and advancing my throttles. As the burners kicked in, I ruddered behind him. I launched off my last two 'winders. both missed. Now it was guns VS guns. he rolled quick left and continued to climb. I grimmaced as my cat slowly rolled after him, but then grinned when i realised he was done for. I had more power.


he continued to climb and S turn a second time, and I gained on him even more. Then, as he flattened out, I had the perfect shot. Just then, 3 called out "fox two". I wondered what he was shooting at, then a horrible preminition came over me.


Just as I pulled the trigger and filled my opponent with lead, there was a loud "thumpCRACK...POW" as #3's AIM-9P broke off my right vertical stabiliser and exploded.


My MiG was finished and going down. I wasn't mad at 3, I realised it could have been an honest mistake. Then he said over the radio,

"Hey Rambler, don't try to cut in on my kill, or next time, it'll be guns that hit you!"


Now I was mad.


the flight home was bad. My left leg cramped from holding the rudder, becuase my right engine was dead and trim was out. Two informed me that 4 had bought it when the flogger got a lucky gun shot, and there were no chutes. Furthermore, I was leaking hydraulic fluid like a sieve. And 3 wouldn't talk.




I told 2 and 3 to go ahead and land. I lined up so my approach wouldn't be over the city, instead it was over the ocean. The slower I got, the less controll I had. As I approached the runway, about 50 feet off, the cat suddenly started to bank and rudder left, and then it pulled up and stalled. I gave the command for my GIB to punch out. Then, with a pat on the instrument panel and a quiet "sorry", I ejected.


I landed 20 feet from a triple-A gun as the cat made a 10-foot crater with a ground-shaking "whump". Suprisingly, both me and my RIO were unscratched, and after a check-over by the flight surgeon, we were allowed to head for the Officer's club. I walked in to find a crowd around Lieutenant Shalanski, my #3 from today, as he told how I tried to steal his kill so he shot me with a 'winder. Then he went on to explain how he could have landed the cat.


I walked over and punched him twice, breaking his nose and cracking his jaw.



EDIT- awww, it won't let me add the picture. A little long, I guess.

Edited by Rambler 1-1

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I liked the A-7.


it was kind of like a cross between the A-4, the F-8 and the A-6. It was more of a plane for flying than for fighting, though. Too soft for combat. And only 2 'winders.


I had trouble with it at the bombing range, i couldn't hit a tanker with 500 pounders, let alonge 1000s. So they put me on anti-ship missions, using rocket pods, with which my aim was second to none. LAU-10s, 33s and 61s were all we had, but there were plenty. After a couple of practice sorties, I was ready for a real mission. Flying an average distance, fuel was no problem. I was to fly wingman to an F-4J that was going to cover me and act as a "fast FAC" for another two A-7 coming in to strike the docks. New setup. I didn't like it.


flight out was uneventful, my cute little Sluf had little problem keeping up with the big Phantom. The GIB in the '4 wouldn't stop groaning about not having a proper wingman, though. Loser.


about ten minutes to target, with radars off (to keep stealth-yah right!), the Phantom climbed up and sighted the target, a single oil tanker. He told me to take it out. As he said this, his RIO started screaming something about two MiGs at 9 o'clock.


The Phantom told me to get the tanker while he held off the MiGs. There was a flight of four F-4Bs coming in on CAP in a minute ot two. What we didn't know was that there were also four more MiG-21s along with the ones the Phantom had engaged, and there was a flight of MiG-19s coming in from the east.


I had a feeling there was trouble on the way, so I decided to get out before this whole operation went to hell in a handbasket. The Phantom got one MiG with a 'winder, but I knew he couldn't hold them off for too long. I made a quick one-pass, salvoing off eight rockets, blowing the tanker (BIG explosion) and then I made a quick check for other ships before dumping the pods and tanks and immlemaning at full throttle to get some altitude. What I saw wasn't pretty.


About 5 miles away was a white dot with a smole trail, the Phantom I assumed. Behind (read: around) him were four little silver dots, long and skinny. MiG-21s (F-13s, as I was later to find out). Without thought, i knew he couldn't make radio calls, either he's been hit or he was too pre-occupied. I told AWACS we needed backup, and, engine roaring (read: whirring), I dove into the thick of the fight to save my leader.


right away, I was able to get behind the MiG that was right on my lead's six. The A-7 was a steady dogfighter, it took Gs well, but the lack of a burner was annoying. I popped off a 'winder just as the MiG lined itself up, and I forced him to break off. Thank God the missile didn't track on the Phantom. I saw a prime oppritunity to knock off this MiG, he was high and slow, and in burner. I had a tone. At first I wanted to go in for guns, but I remembered that I was only supposed to be keeping my lead alive untill the cavalry arrived. I fired off my second, last, 'winder, and it went off just behind his tailpipe.


great, I thought. It didn't finish him. Then I saw a spurt of orange as he flamed out and started to spin. No time of confirm that kill, I've got bigger fish to fry. I pulled up to get some altitude, and I saw my lead flash past, followed by three MiGs. Three Migs. Three Migs? where's the other--- oh crud.


I tried to look behind, and i was suprised by the rear visibility, or lack thereof. I knew he was back there. I had to think fast. I can't out-manuver a MiG-21 or outpower it. The only thing i could thing of was scissors. If anything, I could out-slow him.


I cut the throttle and pulled up sharply, putting on AoA. my airspeed dropped, but not enough. I could feel the MiG's pipper on my fuselage. Thinking of my flight instructor and Area 88 at the same time, I crossed my fingers and pulled the airbrake. No sudden deceleration, but it was enough. I looked straight up to see the belly of a fishbed, full burner, with it's airbrakes out, not 30 feet away. I pulled back, hoping that the Sluf still had a little "up" left, and pulled the trigger.


I had a fleeting glimpse of tracer going into belly and right wing root of fishbed. Then it was gone, and I head a muffled "whumph" over the shrill sound of the stall warning. Two down. I flipped over back, and as I was diving down, regaining speed, I saw a MiG-21 off to my left and below me, going the same direction as I. I ruddered in behind, and as he saw me I let off a long burst which blew his wing off. He spiralled in. No chute.


I did some quick math. 5 Migs, he got one, I got three, that leaves one. now where is he...?


"I'm hit, ejecti- WE'RE TAKING DAMAGE!!! OH GOD!!! WE'RE GOING DO- (*whoooooshhh*)"


the Phantom had bought it, that stupid RIO had started screaming just as the pilot pulled the "uh-oh" handle. Two good 'cutes. good. Now where was the one who had gotten them?




I was in a dive, still picking up speed from my stall kill. I saw the fishbed flash overtop of me, going the other direction. Gently pushing the throttle into full military, I pulled a lazy left turn, building speed, and went after my lead's killer. He was RTBing, in a slow climb. there was a hairball was about 7 miles away, with the F-4Bs taking on a group of newcoming MiG-19s. This MiG was trying to get away unnoticed. Must be low on gas or ammo. Or courage. I was closing steadily, suprised by the power the A-7's Allison had at this altitude in a climb like this. I took lazy aim, fired a round over the cockpit and then put ten rounds into the MiG's engine. It suddenly exploded right in my face. No chute.


now up at angels 16, I swung around to take a look at the remainder of the battle. The hairball had split up, both sides out of ammo or gas or both. then i saw a fighter pilot's dream, a lone Mig-19 scudding away along the water. I had enough gas. Diving down from 16 grand, I pulled out about 500 yards behind him, closing fast. I punched the trigger and my guns roared, firing about ten rounds. They all slammed into the body of the hapless MiG, and the pilot punched out as his plane nosed over and went sploosh. Hah. Splash one.


I swung up over the battlefield, looking for american pilots treading waster. As if on que, a Jolly Green Giant lumbred under me and began the work of plucking the pilots from the sea. There were four american dinghies and four soviet. that means we lost one other phantom.


Later, I learned that we had lost three F-4s, one J and two Bs. The second B had gone straight in, no chutes. However, we had 9 soviet planes taken down, 4 MiG-19s and 5 MiG-21s. The only soviet survivor was a single fishbed that had come in late. The other A-7s had RTB'd as soon as the dogfight broke out. I got chewed out by my CAG for letting my lead auger in, but then he went and bought me a whole lot of beer.

Edited by Rambler 1-1

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sorry it took me 3 months to reply, It takes place somewhere over the middle east and I'm fighting against the Russian-supported middle easteren empire of Paran (see "burning sands" campaign). It's not during a set period in time, but it's in the desert against the russians.

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What the hell is "Expect Resistance" supposed to mean?


"Expect Resistance". Those were the last words out of CAG's mouth after we left the brief. Headwinds? Extra AAA? Jamming airbrakes? I wish he wasn't so damn brief. As I trundled down the runway I was still contemplating the meaning. It was a simple strike mission on some oil tanks just across the line of battle. In over the water at 350 knots, out over friendly land as fast as possible. The MiG bases would see us coming, so in the wake of the scooters was to be a 4-plane escort flight of old F-100s to scare off the inevitable MiG 19s, now tired and battle-worn and likely near the ends of their short operational lives.


It was a boring flight in, as usual. The A-4F's quiet engine almost put me to sleep. Number three of the second flight of A-4s had to RTB, his ground crew hadn't armed the bombs. Other than that, the flight was going as planned, with rendevous with the Huns at the planned time. All was looking up untill we were about 8 minutes off target.


"Ford lead (me), Watchtower (mission controll). Multiple bandits, 5 O'clock, 7 miles."

crap. I nosed over and the two flights of scooters silently followed. The Huns broke off silently as well. I don't see the point of silent defence, if the enemy already knows that they're attacking, but that's not my problem. However, radio silence didn't last long.



"We're boned"

"Jesus! those are -21s!"


That's not good. The squads must have been re-equipped. I pushed the throttle into full military, wanting to put as much space between me and those MiGs, and longing for the kick-in-the-butt of afterburners. I told my group to carpet the tanks with their 1000 pounders and then get the hell out, while my wingie and I would clean up after with our rockets.


"Roger, lead. Holding bacCRACK"


"shutthehellup, three. Slick, you there? do you copy?"


"Ford lead, Whatchtower. Multiple bandits, 12 O'clock, 8 miles."


I looked back where my wingman should have been. Nothing. Musta been a radar guider. Then I saw them just as my flight unloaded. 8 shiny MiG-21s, coming striaght at us. 12 O'clock high.


"Ford flight, break, break! Mig's inbound! drop your load!"

"Watchtower, Anvil (the F-100s) lead, requesting assistance!"

"watch it! check six, four!" "missile inbound!" "Goin' for guns! hot-" "I GOT 'IM!"

"lookout!" "s**t!" "dammit, anvil, get off our channel!"

"I'm hit! I'm hit!" "good 'chute"


great, two scooters down, an escort flight in trouble and a bomber flight in a hairball. If a scoot runs from a fishbed, the fish will pick it off. What's a scoot's advantage?


"Ford flight, engage MiGs in low-speed turning fight."


"low speed, we're lighter. get turning! defensive circle!"


The scoots started circling and the fast fishbeds, for the most part, overshot their targets or stalled trying to match them. I switched to 'winders and told my #3 to form up.

"Negative, lead, no way I'CRACK......"


I called in #4 just as I managed to spot a couple of MiGs in slot formation turing in for another attack. I pulled up and looped over the MiGs, then dove just inside their turn. as I completed my yoyo I slipped in behind the #2 MiG and 'windered him to hell. Just as I did, the lead MiG fired a volley of green tracer that tore apart an A-4. I kicked in rudder and, just as he saw me, fired my MK.12s. The bullets were slow and innacurate, and he had time to try to dodge, but one lucky round cought his rudder and he slipped below the fight, no longer a problem.


#4 was now on my wing, but then he broke off. I was busy trying to figure out how I was going to get behind a persistantly looping fishbed when I heard the glorious cry of "I GOT ONE!" over the radio, shortly followed by another from a Hun pilot. The MiGs had the element of suprise at first, but we were fighting back. I was coming head-on with a MiG who was determined to desrtoy me with head-on spray-and-pray volleys. I swooped under him and hauled back, forgetting I was in a scoot.


I came up through the top of my loop at full throttle doing barely 180 knots. The nose kicked down pleasantly, though, and I got a visual on my quarry. I dove down as far as I dared to build up speed, and then once again overwhelmed the little skyhawk's deltas.

HoOoOoOoOlLlLlLyYyYyY ShHhIiIiTtTtTt!

I bumped like crazy through a stall that made my flight instructor back in my hometown wince, but pulled up, got a tone and fired off my last 'winder. It fizzled out not 4 seconds from launch. Oh well, I was in gun range anyway. 6 sequential rounds peppered the shiny fish's body right where the right wing and fuselage meet. Oh yeah.


By now the fight had more or less broken up. A flight of F-4Bs coming back from a fighter sweep scared away most of the MiGs, while Anvil flight had got 5 kills, despite 2 losses, and our very own Ford flight had lost three and taken down five. The F-4s valiantly covered our tails while we RTB'd. I had neglected to watch my fuel state, and it's a good thing I landed first because I ran out of gas on the taxiway.


I tried to track down the CAG to tell him what really went on in the mission. I got to his desk and found a note in neat handwriting sitting right in the middle. it read "That's what 'Expect Resistance' means".

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Rambler you are one of a kind!


good thing too, otherwise I'd probably feel jealous of the other me. :biggrin:


Thanks for the compliment, but no ammount of ass-kissing could convince me to write more often. Only when I complete a good flight do I write about it.

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It felt good to be back in my usual spot, the cockpit of a sluf sitting right behind my usual flight lead, Lunkhead. As much as I'm a better pilot, he's a better commander, especially in battle. Our mission was to take out some little enemy runway way hell and gone by the very edge of the map, and it required a fuel top-up both there and back. This marked the first time Lunk has had to tank it, but my third.


Takeoff and the first hour of flight were normal. Our Corsairs were heavy laden with bombs and rockets and lumbered through the air like a flock of fat ducks. We went high over enemy positions, and one group of CAPing MiG-17s tried with all their hearts to catch us, but we were too high and they must have been low on fuel. Once we were past the worst of the Paranians, we made contact with the tankers.


We all had basic tanker training, but for Lunk's first time in real life, it was not the best conditions. Fat planes and low fuel was not ideal. the tankers could fill us two at a time, so our tail-end charlie and Lunk went first. The operator, er, critic in the tanker made his usual comment about "Hey, I think your planes like us" when the probes came out, and it seemed to calm the situation a bit. Charlie hooked up second try, he had done this lots before. Lunk wasn't so lucky.


"up a bit, keep it coming.... whoa, not that much!"

"shut the hell up!"

"easy on the throttle there, buddy. That's it. now..."

"I mean it!"

"you don't do this much, do ya?"

"Don't make me come in there!"

"I doubt you could."


Eventually, he got hooked up, much to the dismay of the operator. The pilots laughing over the radio didn't help.


I got in third try as did our #3, and just for good measure I kicked some left rudder in while unhooking and made the bloody critic wet himself.


Once the refueling episode was over, we had to focus on our target. It was a 1200 foot dirt strip not far from the coast, and according to our charts it was lightly defended. Milk run. Lunk and I would strafe the grounded planes with our rockets while the other two holed up the runway with their combined 24 500 pound slicks, and then we'd finish the job with our 6 750 pound high-drags each. we also had an air force F-4D fighter sweep coming through to help with top cover. Piece of cake.


about 10 minutes off target, things started to happen. we saw the F-4s, and as soon as we made contact, they broke off to distract a flight of 4 MiG-21s that were on the way. We dropped to a lower altitude and built up speed when we were told of another flight of 2 MiGs coming our way. We slid underneath, but then a ground gunner must have raised the alarm, because all of the sudden we had flak and SAMs like crazy and those MiGs dove in on us.


"Lunk to flight 2. drop load and engage those MiGs so we can get that runway."

"roger, lead. your mud-movers are going up."


we each had our guns and 2 'winders apiece, but our 24 500s were gone.


"Ram, you hole up the runway. I'll distract the ground fire."



I climbed up and did a wing-over to line up with the target runway. It had a taxiway making a T right in the middle, so I plunked all 6 draggies in that area. No time for an assessment. I cought a glimpse of Lunk twirling his sluf through the air, dropping 750s and dodging 3 lines of green. What a lunatic.


"2's off."

"ok, let's see what we can do about those MiGs."


there was a hell of a racket coming from the F-4s and our guys who were taking on the MiGs. It sounded like an even fight.


"Two, check six!" "Watch it!" "Fox Two!"

"lookout, he's firing" "Guns! Guns!" "Get him offf!"

"Break, three! watch it! Missile!" "I GAT 'IM! I GAT 'IM!" "holy s-"

"dangit, I'm hit!" "hold on- I've got him- hold..."

"Nice shooting!" "Ah!" "FOD" "Jesus- Watch it!"


We climbed up and spotted an A-7 behind a MiG-21, but before we could dive in to help, there was a glint in my mirror.



"what th-"


Two MiG-17s were right behind us, a random glint off their polished finish had revealed them.


"lead, break! they're fast! forcceeeeeee----an overshoot"

I stretched the word as my vision greyed in a tight 7-G turn. Sure enough, the MiGs overshot. Well, me at least.


"Rammmmmbler, get thissssss guy of meEeEeEeEeE!"


I saw lunk bumping through a turn, binders out, MiG in hot prisuit. No time to see where the other one is, I gotta save my lead. I rolled and split-Sed down about 200 feet below and a ways behind the pair, and I fingered the 'winder as I got a tone. Then I realised the risk.


"Lunk, hold on. I'm going in for guns."

"Boy am Iyyyyy glad to hear thattttt!" more g-force strained speech.


I throttled in behind the pair and slid the sluf up behind the MiG. He broke off his attack, but it was too late. I had the pipper right in his path.


A one-second burst of yellow tore his Fresco into two.


"thank God, ram- WHOA!"


A MiG-21 whizzed right in front of him and he tore off, eager to make his mark. I Checked my mirror and found an unpleasant suprise. A fishbed had somehow got in behind. I was fast, so I pulled up and over while he had to roll to get level and follow me. I completed the loop and was in the process of swinging around to carch him high and slow, when there was a boom and a fireball where he was supposed to be.


"Wahoo! I got one! I got one!"

"nice, three"

"chalk up one for me too."


Lunk and #3 had both gotten theirs. I scanned the sky and didn't see much.


"I think we're done."

"ok, sound off, guys"




"crap, where's charlie?"



"think he bought it?"

"I saw wun sluf go in" slurred an F-4 pilot.

"how'd you guys do?"

"uhhh, got 3, lost 2"

"s**t. We're RTB."

"Gaddit, slufs"


Lunk and #3 climbed out while I circled to see if I could see anything else. Aside from smoking heaps on the ground, nothing. Then I saw it. The MiG-17 that snuck up on us and we didn't get. And he was behind lunk.


"f***! BREAK! BREAK!"


the two Corsairs peeled off in different directions, and the MiG followed Lunk.


"Rammmmm, I'n gonna need some hellllllllp again!"

"I'm on it!"

"s**ttttt!! hurry, he's firin'!"


sure enough, the little bugger was blazing away, throwing caution to the wind, determined to get his kill. They were both low and slow, turning tight. I dove in from above, popped the bimders and cut inside the MiG, who wasn't 100 yards from Lunk.


Then it happened.


Lunk made a bad turn, stalled, pulled out to catch it, and the MiG saw his chance. The green tracer tore through the sluf like a hot knife through butter.



he didn't have time. The plane exploded.




The MiG pulled up, happy of his victory, and saw me close behind. I pinned the throttle, closing the gap.




He was climbing and turning, obviously panicing. I was within 100 yards.




He pulled up in an attempt to use his lighter weight to get away. Not this time.




I jammed the trigger and sent round after round after round into the cockpit. I continued spraying intill a wing came off, then it blew up in my face. I got through the FOD cloud somehow, and I got a bearing for the tanker. I don't remember much else of the flight.


two weeks later, I sat in my BOQ room. I was on leave, but I had nothing to do. Nobody to see. Nowhere I wanted to go. In my hand I held the DFC I had recieved for the mission that killed my lead. It hurt just to look at it. I looked out the window to the shore below and I threw the medal as far as I could.





Edited by Rambler 1-1

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I'm so impressed by the real men that choose to do this kind of work. Rambler that was a great account of a milk run turned sour, Lunkhead RIP. :salute:

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I'm so impressed by the real men that choose to do this kind of work. Rambler that was a great account of a milk run turned sour, Lunkhead RIP. :salute:


Lol thanks

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trying to find a topic for another one, but right now in SF I'm re-enacting the battle of britain, and that doesn't tie in too well.

Edited by Rambler 1-1

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Good stories Rambler. Couldnt sleep this morning so came to CA and found your thread. I went thru them all and didnt even need a cup of coffee... :good:

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There's been missions that were supposed to be easy and were. There's been missions that were supposed to be easy and were not. There has even been missions that were supposed to be suicide and ended up as milk runs. This mission was none of the aforementioned. It seemed that this mission was created for the sole purpose of killing aviators and losing planes. Fortunately, we were not the ones directly in harm's way.




It was at first just an Air Force mission. A simple exchange of prisoners smack in the middle of this wasteland, surrounded by minefields. Our 23 Parani prisoners were to be flown in on 2 C-130s, to be exchanged for 31 NATO prisoners taken by the enemy. The prisoners would be marched off both planes under heavy guard, and then would march on to the planes to take them back behind their lines. Sounds foolproof.


However, both sides agreed on no additional support, aka no fighters for cover and no attack planes for backup. We had other plans, though, and that's where Phantom flight came in.


the exchange was taken care of by the Air Force, so the enemy wouldn't be expecting air cover from the navy. Furthermore, Phantom flight's F-14s would be at maximum service ceiling, which, combined with strategically placed jammers, would make us all but undetectable. We were to circle above until we were needed, and if all goes as planned we wouldn't be needed at all. But we knew the enemy, and we knew that if we have a trick up our sleeve, they must have their shirts full.


The first thing we learned on this mission was that it would be unbearably long. It called for two refueling stops, one just before our loiter and one after. And with an F-14, two refuelings means a lot of time in the air. The jets were loaded out with four sparrows and 'winders each, along with EFTs, an even with this load, maintaining "48,000 to 50,000 feet" was a real pain. above 45 grand, the cat is a real bear. There were also only two of us, me and Squid in Phantom 1 and Rusty and Tex in Phantom 2. God knows why they cut the other two cats, but we've learned not to ask questions.


From angels 50, it's suprising how much radio chatter you can hear. Despite an overcast down at 19,000, we could still tell what was going on down there just from radio quips.


"I see the patch"

"put 'er down there"

"here come the cubs"

"if they ram us..."

"ok, ok, drop the gates"

"s**t, look at those poor bastards..."

"Ok, start e'm up. Let's get outa here."

"Two's up"


After that the chatter stopped for a while, and we were pretty sure that they had gotten off clean. Then, just as we were heading for home...


"what's that"

"It- it-s not... wha"

"Jesus christ!" "Phatom Strike! PHANTOM STRIKE!!!!!!"


That was our que.


"Rust, I'm rollin' in. Wait 15, then drop in too."


"Phantom flight, we've been jumped! get the f*** down here!"

"Ram, I got a fix. roll starboard 30 degrees and then up about 15"

"got a lock yet?"

Airspeed was rocketing as fast as altitude was plummeting. We were already at mach 2, and it wasn't even in burner, coming through 24,000

"No lock, too many weeds"

"s**t! We're hit! We're hit! Herc two took rounds through the cockpit! Pilot's- s**t"

Poof, through the overcast, mach 2.6. Sure enough, right ahead of us was a trail of thin smoke and some little camo dots whizzing arond.


"Herc 2, engine two out, pilot kiled, copilot's out. I'm taking controll."

Jesus. That voice sounds familliar...

"Christ, Lunk, Is that you?"



dropping through 6,000, ground coming up faster then I had expected. Mach 2.9 and the cat was shaking apart.

"Squid, brace!"


"Where the hell are you?"


Pulling out of a straight dive, holding 7Gs, 8Gs, ground still coming up fast, GIB praying, Cat shaking



We were out of the dive, altitude less then 150 feet above the trees, bolting along at mach 2.4 with one hell of a battle up ahead. It looked like there was 6 MiG.... 23s. Oh boy.

"Goddammit, do we have a lock yet?!?!?!"

"yeah, I think praying helps"


I launched off a sparrow at whatever Squid had locked, and I hoped it wasnt a herc. The sparrow squiffed off in front a lot slower then usual.


the Mig that got locked couldn't have been 3 miles in front of us, but the FOD came up so fast that I feared for my plane. Then in a flash, it all was past. We had blown through the battle at mach 2.3, and the MiG didn't know what hit him.


"Rambler? you copy?"

"Lunk. gotchya."

"What the hell wa-"

I heard a second snic boom over the radio.

"What were those?"


I was pulling up and around maintaining as much speed as I could for another pass.

"Yeah, two... things just flashed through, and each one took down a MiG!"

"Well, I was the first one."

"En I was the second"

"Rusty, you got one?"

"Yoo bet!"

"I'm rolling in again"

"Ram, I got a MiG on my six. One engine's out, and he's trying to finish the job."

"Tallyho. Rusty, you clear off the other herc."

"Will do."


I saw Lunk's C-130, it was smoking bad from the port inboard engine, and there was a green and sand camo flogger right behind him, trying to line up. Lunk wasn't making it easy for him, though. I had never seen a herc wiggle like that.


"Squid, can you get a lock?"

I was coming in behind, closing fast from about four miles.

"No, too risky."

"How about a 'winder?"

Two miles, and I didn't want to waste my speed.

"His engine's flaming."


"Going guns."

I popped the binders and slowed to 400 knots, bumping all the way. Then I switched to caged, popped up so I was above him, and fired off a short burst. It flew just in front of him. He must have freaked, 'cause then he lit the burner and tore off the the left, but I rolled in and fired another short burst, which found it's mark and drew a neat line from the tip of the nose to right between the wings. Three down.


"Got him, lunk"

"It's about time."

"Shove it, bus driver."

"I got wun! 'winder! woo!"

two left.


"SHEEE-IT! I'm waxed! Sheet!"

"hold him off, rusty, I'm comin'"


he was in a turning climb after getting his MiG, and this one had come from below and was popping off shots while rusty jinked. I was coming from the side and selected a 'winder. I got tone and fired two off. The first didn't track, but the second blew just behind the MiG. He had to kick off his attack as I flashed underneath him. Rusty rolled over and got behind him.


"Herc 1, Phantom, where are you?"

it was the other herc.

"I picked u p a MiG, and I took some cannon. Get him off m-" "-me!"


I climbed up a bit to find the herc and saw him off to the right, trailing smoke and with a MiG right behind. I put the Cat into zone 5 and flash climbed up, then nosed down to attack from above and behind.


"Got a lock"


even though we were too close, I fired a sparrow. it went straight down, but the MiG still tore off to break the lock. I switched to 'winders as he lit his burner, and that flogger was no more.


"I think that's it"

"Ram, we cleared 'em out. That damaged guy pancaked."

"Roger. Lunk, how you doing?"

"Umm, well, we lost the pilot and copilot, the whole cockpit is full of blood and I'm in dire need of some clean pants, but otherwise, just peachy."

"Okay, Phantom flight is bingo. Lunk, just follow the other herc home."

"Got it."


We didn't make it back to the carrier, but we landed at an AF base and got news that we had a week's leave while some navy guys checked out our Tomcats. I guess that a mach 3 8g pullout was a bit much. I got on a commuter flight the next day to go see my "dead" flight lead in hospital, where he was making a full recovery.

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Flying DACT was loads of fun. It's just like dogfighting, except you can't get killed. The best part, though, was the planes you fly. I was assigned to flying F-21s and Aggressor A-4s against F-15 and 16 squads that were cycled through every couple weeks, and the odd navy squad of F-18s, or even 14s. It was great work, but it felt a little uneasy flying with such a carefree attitude over a country that we had just liberated.


It all started with the alarm, which we had been fortunate not to hear for over 5 months. I was in the mess hall with a couple other guys, none of them pilots. We took off into the dugout while we heard the booms and bangs of a CBU attack. It was a good thing that they attacked now, because just the day before there had been a squadron of Eagles on the tarmac.


After the attack, there was bad news at the ops shack. Despite the fact that most of our planes escaped damage-free, Paran had declared war on us. Again. There was a counterattack in the works, and we'd be flying the agressors.


After a couple doays of careful planning, the mission came together. We wouldn't have the element of suprise that the enemy MiGs and SUs enjoyed, but we did have more experienced pilots. I was to be heading a flight of F-21s.


"Okay guys, you all here?"

"Two's up"

"Three's up"

"Four's up"

"great. Now takeoff is at 06:53, rendevous with the attack flight at 07:14 and we'll be over the target to clear the MiGs out at 07:37. Got it?"


We were one of two flights of four Kfirs, callsign aptly "Lion", each with four AIM-9Js (because we didn't have 32 of anything else) and a big drop tank from an Eagle jury-rigged to fit properly. We were decoys to lure the MiGs up and keep them busy while the elderly A-4s and F-4s struck the airfield. I was a bit worried because of scattered cloud and the Kfir's lack of radar, but at least it had ECM and (a couple) chaff and flare. Cruising along at angels 10, I continued to be impressed with the delta's stability. It was like halfway between a scooter and a starfighter.


We got a couple sams launched on the way, but none of them really tracked, thanks in part to the clouds I guess. About 30 miles off AWACS informed us about an incoming flight of MiGs, so we climbed up a couple thousand feet to get above the cloud. Not long after, we saw more then "a couple" MiGs. MiG 23s, to be exact.


"Dammit. Watchtower, requesting assistance, about 16 floggers coming our way." "Lunk, where the f*** are you?"


"Ah, I'm coming ram. 16, you say?"


I rolled in above them and my flight followed. They hadn't seen us yet.

"Well, they've been trying to lock us for some time now, and we're running out of chaff."

"Missile Inbound!"

"Lunk, they just launched one off. it's headed your way. Engaging." "Lion flight, engage. Fridge, cover me."


we were above and behind the MiGs, and me and Fridge got tones.

"Fox Two"

"Fax Too"


While his hit the last guy in the formation, mine miracuously snaked through the MiG cloud and nailed the fourth guy from the front.




In the split second of silence after he blew up, I could have sworn that I heard the Weapons master swith click on in all 14 remaining cockpits. Then, MiGs darted every which way, wings swung foreward and the s**t hit the fan.


I hauled the lion cub up and around on a wing and dove down after a split-Sing Flogger. as he pulled out and I followed, the RWR started blaring. Knowing that there were a half dozen floggers trying to hunt this lion, I broke off my attack and pulled a quick 6G turn, forgetting I was in a delta. My speed bled off faster then I have the pride to admit. Instantly, a pair of MiGs took advantage of my plight. One overshot right away, but the other stuck.


"Fridge! I'm lowandslowandwaxed!"

"On it"


through the top of my canopy I saw one lion split-S down and behind the advancing flogger.


"too eazy" fridge drawled.


I had the J-79 firewalled and I was zig-zagging and barrel-rolling for my life, and I was slowly putting some distance between me and my attacker.


"I can't get no tone"

"Then gun him! Jesus!"


just then, the MiG kicked in the burner and before he knew it, he had an american missile shoved up his tailpipe.


"there 'e goes"

"Nice shot"


I glance at my fuel gauge and saw that my external tank was empty but still there. I punched it off and climbed back up to see a thick trail of smoke, but there were no victory calls over the radio. I expected the worst as I climbed behind another flogger.


"Four's got one but his radio's out," said three.



I was closing on the flogger when he punched in the burner and climbed off. I couldn't match his climb rate, and just as I was about to turn away my RWR started blaring again. I looked back to see a little dot at my 7, and I immlemaned up and over. Just then the blare got worse and I saw a white snake of smoke coming twards me. Fast.


"One! Missile inbound!"


I rolled left and popped off a volley of chaff and flare while I bled off speed and turned twards the snake. then I firewalled the J-79 and pulled the tail around. The missile flashed by to my right with not much room to spare. Too close.


"Fax too"


I pulled up and cut out of burner as the MiG that launched the radar guider was hit by my wingie's sidewinder. The plane started to roll over, and the pilot ejected as flame started to come from the tail. I pulled around in an ascending right turn as I saw a MiG dive in on my wingie. I quickly rolled over on my back and the big MiG filled my windscreen. I fired a quick burst of guns and I was met by the strange "WHUMPWHUMPWHUMPWHUMP" of twin 30mm cannon instead of the usual "VRRRRRRRRRPP" of a vulcan. Nonetheless, I still got the kill.


"Nice shot!"

"much obliged"


I pulled around in a climbing turn looking for everybody. I picked up 3 circling above and 2 was on my wing.


"Where's four?"


I looked down and to the left and saw him chasing after a lone MiG-23. He must be out of missiles. Without word I rolled in and dove. The MiG was in burner, wings back, and was outrunning the Kifir. I got in behind and above him, but I had no tone, I silently cursed the stores guys for not just giving us mixed armments, but then the MiG turned just enough that a tone came up. I fired off two 'winders. Their relative speed was fairly low, and one slipped under the flogger's wingtip, and before he could turn to evade, the other cought his tail and sent him into a nose-down powerdive.


"Lunk, you there?"

"Rambler? You won't believe what happened."

"How many did you guys get?"




I saw three contrails above us headed the other way, but we didn't have the gas to engage, and the high-flying MiGs must have been in the same situation.


After getting back to base, we learned that Lunk's flight had lost two kfirs, but that the strike had been sucessful. Dhimar and Paran were undergoing negotiations and Isreal was not happy that we used and lost two of their planes. A wing of F-16s came to replace the Kfirs, and i was amazed at how lucky we were, to take on 16 Floggers without taking any damage. Then my crew chief walked up and walked me over to my plane, where he showed me two neat holes, about an inch and a half wide, through the left elevator.


Too close.



Edited by Rambler 1-1

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time for a blast from the past...


I was a meek new Ensign assigned to the VF-111 Sundowners on the USS Coral Sea. I was lucky to get a chance flying in this legendary squadron while still an Ensign, and I was eager to prove that I had what it took to be a US Navy fighter pilot. On my first cruise, we were deployed to support some sort of uprising in the middle east over oil fields or something, but i didn't really care because I was just a kid, waiting for my first combat mission, or more specifically, my first chance to go up against some MiGs in the Phantom.


Unfortunately, my first couple missions were uneventful, and always from the same mold. Four phantoms would be scrambled to "Interdict undisclosed enemy flights". The first contact turned out to be a lowly civil transport, and the next missions we didn't see mutch at all, despite the fact that there was supposed to be flights of MiGs sighted in the area. It all changed, however, on mission number 6, all that changed.


We had started to take two Phantoms at a time out on patrol, and the COs were determined to mix the leads and wingmen around. I found myself as #2 to another young guy, but he was already a lieutenant. We catted at about 0800, each carrying a 600 gallon centerline, 4 'winders and 4 sparrows. it was a nice day, broken cloud at about 5000 and reasonable temperatures. We kept radio silence on the way out. My RIO was a reliable guy, and he ran the set well. We scanned the skies, alert for anything. Anything at all.


- "we got a possible contact about 75 miles off."

Lead signaled to turn about 20 degrees port, homing in on the bogey.


"Sundowner, possible bandits, 70 miles. Turn 275, climb to Angels twenty."

two clicks of the mike acknowledged the message.


we droned on for a couple more minutes, and I was hoping that we would not be dissapointed. then we got the fateful call.


"Sundowner. Clear to engage."

I wanted to take in the moment, but i was snapped back to reality when Lunkhead broke radio silence.

"Ok Rambler. got a lock?"

-"do we got a lock?"

- "Now we do."


"Good. We don't. What's the distance?"

- "about thirty miles closing 700 knots"

"thirty, coming straight at us."

"Fire when you're locked."

Those were the words I had been waiting for.

-"you hear that?

- "We're locked. Fire away."


I flipped the master arm switch, selected sparrows, made sure the lock was good, and popped one off, then waited and fired another.


A tense minute passed as we bashed through cloud, and I was hoping that I had just got my first kill.

- "Lost the lock.

-"do ya think I got 'im?

- "who knows?"

"Fox one"

- "got a lock again."

I fired again, thinking that another sparrow gone can't do any harm. To us, at least.


"They're inside 5 miles, below us. Keep your eyes open."


Just then, a flight of two shiny MiG-17s and one MiG-19 came out of the cloud below us, and miraculously didn't see us.


"Hot s**t! Stay high, I'm goin' in!"

Lead dove down, coming behind the second MiG-17 high and fast. I circled and stayed above the MiGs, not sure what to do.


"Fox two!"


A sidewinder jumped off Lead's Phantom, shortly followed by another. The first one didn't track, but the second did, and the MiG pulled up too late. The missile nicked the tail and the Fresco began to arc forward while yawing into a spin. The Pilot punched out.


"Jesus! RAMBLER!"


I looked back to see Lead climbing away, burners full, with the MiG-19 in hot prisuit. The other -17 had dissapeared. I thought about it for a second, and then I nosed over to 0G and firewalled the throttles. The Phantom accelerated like it had been shot out of a cannon, and I rolled over and pulled up gently to get behind the offending Farmer. I switched to winders.


Lead was still climbing, but somehow the MiG was still right there, lining up for a cannon shot. I was about a mile back, behind and to the right of the MiG, when I got tone. I was about to fire when I realised that the Phantom's flaming tailpipes were pointing straight at me, and that was too good a target for an AIM-9 to pass up.


"Lead! Break left! Outa burners!"

"f*** no! I'm waxed!"

"Trust me!"


there was a slight pause, and then the Phantom's burners cut out and it rolled left and nosed over. My tone went quiet, then the MiG turned left to follow the Phantom, and I got tone back.


I fired two winders in quick sucession, forgetting to say "fox two". Both tracked and the MiG, high, slow, and with it's twin engines in full burner, was like a fish in a barrell. My first kill.


"You get him?"


the words snapped me out of my trance and I realised that Lead had no idea his tail was clear.


"yeah, two 'winders up the ass. Uhh,, I mean, ass sir. well, I got him."

"I owe you."

- "Rambler! nice play!"

"there's one more."


- "what?"

"there were two seventeens."

"well, he's gone now. Keep an eye on your six, and let's head home."

-"see if you can find it. Musta lost the fight in the clouds."


We turned on a heading back to the carrier, and it wasn't long before my GIB piped up.

- "got a contact about 40 miles off, between here and the carrier, closing rate about 200 knots."

"Lead, bogey at twelve, heading for the carrier. Sounds like a Fresco going our direction."

"He must be trying to find the carrier."

there was a squack while lunk changed channels.


"Home plate, bogey coming from our direction, suspect bandit scout."

"Roger Sundowner. Squack IFF."


there was a pause while the scope dopes on the Coral Sea identified the inbound MiG.


"Sundowner, clear to engage. Bandit 70 miles off carrier."

"Roger. Engaging."

"Ram, I can't get a lock, my radar's on the fritz."


- "yep. In range."

"Fox One."


I fired my last sparrow with the good lock.

A long minute passed.


"Sundowner, splash one. Nice shot. Radar contact."


Landing went okay, I got the last wire, and my crew chief was overjoyed to hear the his plane had blood to it's credit.


Lead walked over to me after debrief.


"thanks for that call. Any other wingman would have shot first, worried about me later."

"Well, I wasn't about to have my first kill be my flight lead."

"Anyway, I'd just like to say that I'd be glad to have you on my flight anytime."

"if it means gotting easy MiGs off your tail then it sounds good."

As we were going off to our foxholes, he called back,

"By the way, you can call me Lunkhead."

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"Where the heck are we?"

"On course."


It was the first radio call since we formed up and turned south-east. It was a long strike mission, and my first 8-plane flight in a long time. It was a strike mission, disguised as a CAP, because we took off from a base far from the front lines. Flight one was the strike force, with 500 pounders and rocket pods (in addition to sparrows, 'winders and a gun pod), while flight two was escort, with 450 gallon tanks and rocket pods (and the above A-A stores).


There was an other flight airborne, callsign "Zipper", made up of F-104s. Their job was to divert any MiGs while our wing flew in under a cloud of ECM jamming. We knew as well as they did that if we engaged anything other than bombers, our Phantoms were going to be much more useful than their Starfighters.


"Lead, bogies, 100 miles off, eleven O'clock"


We couldn't get them on our scope.


"Okay three, track 'em, but no lock."



We flew on for a couple of minutes, then my RIO (conveniently callsigned "rio") piped up.

"Ram, I see 'em."


"the bogies. I got a return."

"how far?"

"75-80 miles"



The MiGs were a ways off, and they didn't know where we were. As we drew closer to the DMZ and our target, not much farther beyond, the MiGs traced from left to right across the top of the radar screen. They had picked up the starfighters.


"Rambler lead, Nash lead. we have contact on bogies, almost in range. Should Nash flight engage?"

"Negative, Nash lead. Don't let 'em know we're here."

"Rambler lead, Zipper flight. Engaging MiGs. You've got the front door."

"Roger Zipper. good luck."


"Ram, we got one... oh sh*t two more flights inbound!"

"how far?"

"50 miles, closing fast"


"They're going for Zipper"


Our flight hadn't been seen yet, but these next two flights would see us for sure. I decided to take my flight in for the strike as fast as possible.


"Nash Flight, break and engage air after visual contact ONLY."

"Roger Rambler, engage with vis."

"Rambler flight, stick with me. We're gonna hit that comm building."

"two, copy."

"three, copy."

"four, copy."


we located the target and turned twards the communications building.


"Lead, Nash one. Engaging air."

"Rambler flight, bandit at your six!"

"Three and four, break off and cover us."




My wingman and I streaked forward towards our target while the rest of our flight engaged the MiGs. There were calls all over the radio, and so far it didn't sound good. All but one of the F-104s had been downed, with only one MiG accounted for. Just as we popped up before our bombing run, the last zipper called out a kill.


"One Fishbed down!"

"Tallyho. Confirm it."


We were bearing down on our target. There were two AAA sites on either side, and their shots were good. A couple of bright green tracers flashed by my canopy, not far from a hit.


My speed is high, put out the binders a little rudder to keep on target select 3 bomb pickle setting 450knotstargetlineduppickle... NOW!


"Bombs gone"

"Bombs gone"


6000 pounds of bombs dropped off their pylons and fell along an invisible curve towards their target. Mine hit first.


"Shack! right on target!"


without even a second though, I jettisoned all stores and went to full military throttle. The fight was behind and above us, and we had to help as much as we could.


"Two, cover me."


my RIO was trying desperately to distinguish a target from the pandemonium ensuing ahead. I didn't plan on using sparrows unless I had noting else left.


"Watch it, three! you've got one on your six!"

"Jeezus! GETIMOFFME!" "I see 'em!"

"break off, I got a tone!" "Don't fire! It'll track me!"


I looked up ahead to see a Phantom break hard left, and then I saw the MiG at his tail and the last starfighter behind the MiG, unable to get a 'winder off. I put my Phantom into full burner and lined up for a high-deflection shot with guns. I fired a burst off, and it sailed ahead of it's target. The MiG saw the shot and broke off. Zipper 3 followed and got his shot off.


"splash one!"


There was MiG-19 or -17 below and to the right, banking and climbing, trying to line up on some thing. I saw the glint off it's wing, silently thanked the person who decided to put all the MiGs in polished aluminum schemes, and rolled right, taking the MiG head on. He banked left, then right, then ruddered to try to line up a head-on shot at me. I nosed down, the up again, and as he and his green tracer whipped underneath, I reefed the Phantom into a hard left turn. The MiG was going up and over, so I decided to keep on the horizontal. as my vision greyed and the Phantom slowed from 500 knots down to 300, the MiG topped out of his loop and dove in on me. I pulled back and tried to line up a head-on shot, when I realized that I was in a fight that I could not win.


"Lead, two. I got your MiG."


That was enough for me. I passed up the head on shot and banked away right. With a quick look at my fuel gauge, I looked for another MiG.


"I've got this one." "guns!"

"Nice shot!" "one down!" "I see one. Four cover me."

"Fox two." "Dammit!"

"he's firing! break! BREAK!"


In my mirror I saw the telltale flash and smoke of a missile lighting up. It was coming for me. I had committed the cardinal sin of flying straight and level.


sunuva b!tch.


roll inverted, no burner, 450 knots that's good enough for a 6G turn more if possible damn it's still trackingIwishihadflares! keep diving turning vision going black keep turning dammit ourfatherwhomartinheavenhallowebethynamebykingdomcomethy...





"Ram! we're not dead!"


my vision was coming back, and I rolled out of the 8-G split S. That must have been good enough to dodge the missile, where's that MiG? HOLYCRAP

The MiG had tried to match my turn, but he overshot! Oh, this bast@rd is gonna pay for making me overstress my Phantom!


He pulled up and right, and I punched into zone 5. The acceleration from 280 knots was staggering, and then I saw why. I now had 7500 pounds fuel remaining. Bingo is...

"Rio, what's bingo?"

I was gaining on the MiG. He continued to turn, just enough to prevent an easy 'winder shot.


Bugger I gotta get this guy quick. I was following his every move, every twitch. Closing in. then he screwed up again. He doubled back on his turn.

"Fox Two"

I cut inside and popped off two 'winders. the first went straight and the other tracked. Just then, the MiG rolled inverted and deaked the missile. then he finished his barrel roll and stuck to his turn.

Closing rate high, out of burner, 709 left, haul upppppp, G force bleeds off speed, high deflection shot. twenty rounds of gun.

to the right of the target. pass him on his tail, full burner, pull up.... and over...

The MiG had leveled out, not sure that I was high and behind him. Coming from the sun. Then I saw exactly what I was chasing. A pristine MiG-21PFM in polished silver, with a neat red star on the tip of one wing. I could see the pilot's head trying to find me. I almost felt sorry for him.

Roll over and in behind, got a tone, one 'winder off.

"Fox Two"

The missile streaked like a dragon, leaving a serpentine trail of smoke. It tracked and flew up the Fishbed's tailpipe in textbook fashion.The explosion was more satisfying then awesome.


Better you than me.




I pulled throttle back to cruise as my adrenaline ebbed. I didn't realise how much I was sweating.

"Finally! what the hell happened? you just stopped talking!"

"Any more MiGs?"

"yeah, but they're all splitting. a couple of our guys RTB'd after you didn't awnser."

"good. how many'd you get?"



"6-7 total, estimated."


"Nash three got two, so did Rambler four."

"Four's bingo."

"RTB, four. Nash and Rambler squads, form up. Let's head home."

"two, roger."

"three, roger."

"four, roger."

"Nash lead, roger."

"Two, how many'd we lose?"

"one. Nash four caught some cannon. Two 'chutes. All the Zipper guys augured in too."

"Damn! sounds like I missed the whole fight."

"Now I wouldn't say that."


"Ram, Bingo fuel."

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