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Stratos

USAF pre-Phantom air superiority fighter?

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So the Phantom was more less imposed to the USAF, and IIRC there were a big part of the USAF generals that argueb to have a pure air superiority fighter, like the P-51 and the F-86. But they made any plan, prototype, planning or something before the Phantom took the lead?

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The F-104 Starfighter was the intended air superiority fighter for the USAF.

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1 hour ago, Gepard said:

The F-104 Starfighter was the intended air superiority fighter for the USAF.

The Starfighter was a point interceptor, not an air superiority fighter.

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In the mid 50s to early 70s the Air Force was run by bomber generals (such as Curtis LeMay) whose focus was on putting nuclear warheads on Russia, China and anyone else that had the slightest bad opinion of America. Even the transports of the time were for moving nuclear equipment first, people and other gear second. so the air force really wasnt thinking about air superiority as mission 1 was to nuke the bastards to the stone age and mission 2 (protect US air space) would be handled by missiles. the interceptors were just trucks for hauling the missiles and systems like SAGE were attempts to make even the pilots flying the interceptors unneccesary. as history shows, the tech wasnt mature enough yet (and would still be suspect today in an age where that interceptor may be engaging an airliner)

the F-86 was the only pure air superiority fighter (as planned from the initial design, it was also used as a fighter bomber later in service) until the F-15. The various planes of the Century series were either interceptors (good to fly up, shoot a bomber and come back) or nuclear bombers with one engine (F-105 by design, F-100 when it was figured out that it wasnt too good A2A). The main air to air tactic was "they will be stupid enough to get in front of me and let the missile hit them" which of course was disproved over South East Asia. So the short answer, at least from 1954 until 1969 was no.

Also the Phantom 2 was not forced on the USAF, they noticed this Navy plane outperforming all of theirs and wanted to have some of their own. The F-4 designation was forced by McNamara, as the Air Force was trying to buy it as the F-110. But McNamara was a little obsessed with everyone using the same gear (see the F-111) and noticed it was the same aircraft (in fact of the first 27 delivered to the Air Force the EXACT SAME F-4B as the Navy) so in the name of commonality the F-110A Spectre became the F-4C Phantom II. But the brass was impressed enough by the performance that they wanted it by any name.

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1 hour ago, Stratos said:

The Starfighter was a point interceptor, not an air superiority fighter.

Not according to Mr K Johnson it wasn't :no:

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1 hour ago, daddyairplanes said:

In the mid 50s to early 70s the Air Force was run by bomber generals (such as Curtis LeMay) whose focus was on putting nuclear warheads on Russia, China and anyone else that had the slightest bad opinion of America. Even the transports of the time were for moving nuclear equipment first, people and other gear second. so the air force really wasnt thinking about air superiority as mission 1 was to nuke the bastards to the stone age and mission 2 (protect US air space) would be handled by missiles. the interceptors were just trucks for hauling the missiles and systems like SAGE were attempts to make even the pilots flying the interceptors unneccesary. as history shows, the tech wasnt mature enough yet (and would still be suspect today in an age where that interceptor may be engaging an airliner)

the F-86 was the only pure air superiority fighter (as planned from the initial design, it was also used as a fighter bomber later in service) until the F-15. The various planes of the Century series were either interceptors (good to fly up, shoot a bomber and come back) or nuclear bombers with one engine (F-105 by design, F-100 when it was figured out that it wasnt too good A2A). The main air to air tactic was "they will be stupid enough to get in front of me and let the missile hit them" which of course was disproved over South East Asia. So the short answer, at least from 1954 until 1969 was no.

Also the Phantom 2 was not forced on the USAF, they noticed this Navy plane outperforming all of theirs and wanted to have some of their own. The F-4 designation was forced by McNamara, as the Air Force was trying to buy it as the F-110. But McNamara was a little obsessed with everyone using the same gear (see the F-111) and noticed it was the same aircraft (in fact of the first 27 delivered to the Air Force the EXACT SAME F-4B as the Navy) so in the name of commonality the F-110A Spectre became the F-4C Phantom II. But the brass was impressed enough by the performance that they wanted it by any name.

That was really educational!! Thanks a lot for it, now reading, rereading, learning new things, clicking links...

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3 hours ago, Stratos said:

The Starfighter was a point interceptor, not an air superiority fighter.

 

1 hour ago, fallenphoenix1986 said:

Not according to Mr K Johnson it wasn't :no:

I read recently that this is a common miss conception due to air Defence Command using the F-104A as an interim interceptor. It was in fact designed and built as a daylight air superiority fighter which is the role the TAC squadrons trained for and where deployed for.

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The F-100 was intended to be the supersonic successor to the F-86, and it was, just as the MiG-17 was to the MiG-15. That the F-100 wasn't powerful/agile enough to fight something like a MiG-17 doesn't change the fact that it was designed/purchased to be an air superiority fighter when speed was considered king.

The F-104 was Lockheed's answer to the complaints of pilots fighting the MiG-15 in Korea: speed, acceleration, climb, altitude to control engagement/disengagement. Its sole purpose was air superiority when originally designed and flown.

While the USAF eagerly accepted the F-4 after evaluating it, they did not ask for it. The F-104 was going to be the contemporary air superiority fighter. But the F-4 was generally as good or better than each of the different USAF aircraft it would ultimately replace. How could they not accept it? But it was really an interim air superiority fighter until the FX project could enter service. The FX started out being a large Mach 3 aircraft, possibly with a swing wing looking a lot like an F-14 Tomcat with similar weight. The Fighter Mafia was able to show that power to weight and wing loading were critical parameters for a successful fighter as well as a bubble canopy, so instead of building a Mach 3+ MiG-25 killer with limited maneuverability like the F-111, we got the Mach 2+ F-15 Eagle.

Summarizing the above and ignoring production numbers and service dates, the air superiority role was fulfilled in the USAF as follows: F-51D->F-80->F-86->F-100->F-104->F-4->F-15->F-22.

There are some big gaps in the F series numbers due to the numerous interceptors and strike fighters built in the early years and the crossover with the Navy numbering system in the 1960s. 

In many ways, the F-16 is better than the F-15 for air superiority other than a smaller/weaker radar. But it is employed as a strike fighter with a secondary air superiority role. Whereas F-15C pilots are almost exclusively trained for the air superiority role. If you study the service dates, only the F-4 and F-15 are significant. The technology changes so fast that the F-100 had barely entered service before the F-104, MiG-21, and F-4 were starting to fly. But exponential cost increases trapped almost everyone at the F-4/F-15 tech level all the way to the present with F-4s and F-15s still serving in significant numbers and F-22 production cancelled at about 200. If you go by service dates, the F-4 is king. But the F-15 has been flying since the mid 70s and claims to have a perfect record as well as remaining a front line air superiority aircraft of the USAF due to the low numbers of F-22s. Unless Korea or the Middle East goes really hot, the F-22 will never have the combat record of the F-4 and F-15. Due to their cost, the F-22 will probably never serve as long either like the F-117 that is already long gone.

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I really enjoy this posts, and your knowledge together with the desire/hability to share it, so I can learn more about aviation. Wondering how the F104 should have evolved If the F4 was never produced.

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Here are some additional CL-1200 Lancer pictures, it is one of the what-if aircraft that I wish we had for SF2, along with the Vought XF8U-3 Crusader III. On the topic of air superiority the F-106 was at lest the equal of any of the other delta wing fighter/interceptors of its era, MiG-21, Mirage III, etc, especially once the Project SixShooter update was added.

x-27-side.jpg.b1640dd72fc4a2ad3db56a4f69fe619a.jpg

x-27.jpg.eb8db862cfe812e1aa313a815baa6dff.jpg

lancer.jpg.7e579647bdd3c3173d92e8a9da624bda.jpgcl1200.jpg.f1584a8530c547afe3ce44942a71d727.jpg

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16 hours ago, streakeagle said:

While the USAF eagerly accepted the F-4 after evaluating it, they did not ask for it.

we read different books sir:biggrin:

one account i recall was the eval of the F-106 vs the F-4B.  the F-106 was a pick up crew from many units and many rookies. The F-4B team was drawn from VF-74 which had recently achieved IOC. All star team as a F-106 pilot complained in Century Series Jets, the cards got stacked against the Six, which like any other aircraft is highly capable in the right hands.(the pilot narrating then told in what ways the Six/Falcon combo was superior to the Phantom/Sparrow)

point is, why send in the scrubs if the eval was forced on them? or was it a scrub team to show how the USAF needed the F-110A?  by all accounts the same tricks are ongoing with the F-35/A-10 fly off which only lasted a week and has conflicting accounts (JTAC or not, partial cannon loads for the Hog to name a few) other than it wasn't what Congress wanted. it wouldn't be the first time a show was put on to make a sale....

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The 1970s A-10A V A-7D flyoff was a bit of a farce as well it seems just to get the A-10 into service.

 

 

 

 

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 the Hog won due to longer loiter times with the same load of Mk82s as the competing A-7, as well as greater lethality of the 30mm cannon vs 20mm cannon. interestingly, it was considered to stretch the A-7 and add a podded GAU-8 with 500 rds before the flyoff.

sound familiar?

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5 hours ago, daddyairplanes said:

 the Hog won due to longer loiter times with the same load of Mk82s as the competing A-7, as well as greater lethality of the 30mm cannon vs 20mm cannon. interestingly, it was considered to stretch the A-7 and add a podded GAU-8 with 500 rds before the flyoff.

sound familiar?

The gripe was at the time that it could not replace the A-7D in its primary role (not CAS)- The A-10 in the flyoff was a ww2 a/c which had no avionics - not much point having all those mk-82s if it can only carpet bomb. The A-7D could accuratly hit a tank with a mk-82 by this point. Valid concerns from Vietnam CAS vets. As for range that can be verified now potentially with flight test data.

So yeah pull out a few things it can do better - likewise an F-35 can do a lot of A-G things far better and they can be emphasised in the same manner. ;)

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The Lancer looks quite interesting as a F-104 upgrade. Wish we had one for SF2!

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6 hours ago, MigBuster said:

The A-10 in the flyoff was a ww2 a/c which had no avionics - not much point having all those mk-82s if it can only carpet bomb.

esp if the Hog used in the fly off was a YA-10 without the GAU-8. but the point of the Hog was simplicity, it still has cables to back up the flight controls!

my two take aways looking it up were that the point of the fly off was to pick one in 1973. instead the A-10 was judged overall better, but the A-7 kept and shifted to the ANG as Hogs became available. Good for lower intensity settings (most advanced combat aircraft allowed by treaty in Panama prior to Dec 1989) and as a back up when the Hog population got low (if the war over the Fulda Gap stayed non nuclear long enough). I also thought the bit about a SLUF with an Avenger was interesting too

 

@Stratos, wasnt Cocas working on one sometime ago? it was up his alley as a what if project for sure before he went quiet

Edited by daddyairplanes

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Simplicity is all well and good but not always at the expense of capability.....the argument was made for keeping A-10As and A-7Ds in Active Duty and not completely removing the capability the A-7D provided. Yes YA-10 I think however the A-10A didn't receive a comparable bombing system until the early 1990s (LASTE).

There is some backup in the A-7D which consists of 3 hydraulic systems and a RAT and some control if any 2 fail....however the argument made is it is far less likely to get hit at higher speeds and it didn't need to go back the next day to try and hit the same target missed the day before.

 

 

 

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On 18/7/2018 at 4:24 PM, daddyairplanes said:

@Stratos, wasnt Cocas working on one sometime ago? it was up his alley as a what if project for sure before he went quiet

Not exactly the same plane, but quite similar yes.

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