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Subject: 'The first US Mig 21s' scenario rss

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Matt Rice
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As can possibly be seen from the previous scenario write-up, I've dragged my old and battered copy of 'Flight Leader' out of the cupboard and I've been playing a few games between studying and working and generaly living...

Today, my old chum Xerxes and myself have had a go at 'The First US Mig21s' scenario on page 29 of the cofee stained rules book. I took the two aircraft flight of F4 Phantoms whilst he flew the four aircraft flight of Mig21s.

Having been used to 'flying' Korean era jet aircraft (again, see the previous write-up...) it was truly an exhilerating experience to suddenly find oneself with after-burners and the ludicrous speed of 20. So much so, our game lasted an allmighty 3 turns, all due to my rubbish handling of the f4s...

Despite having controllers (offboard), my boys were simply failing to spot the tiny Mig21s whilst Xerxes' North Vietnamese pilots had no trouble spotting my massive Phantoms...

In the first turn we hurtled past one another at top speed, Xerxes nearly shooting off the board. Whilst my two crews strained their necks to get a tally (their radar lockons had of course been broken...) I had them haul their proverbial as*es into a hard left, setting themselves up for turn 3...

Searching for tallies (and I needed both a tally and a radar lockon to shoot my radar guided missiles...), I spotted the one Mig I didnt have a lockon to. I also had the deceptive lead in the iniative on the Mig flight to which this tally belonged (Xerxes had split his four Mig flight in the second turn) and so, without thnking what I was doing, in went the Phantoms, way too fast, their turning arc way too wide and their pilots completely unable to fire their narrow aspect heat seakers, their Phantoms zipping past the slower flight into the lucky Migs' forward arcs...

Needless to say, the North Vietnamese 'average' pilot manouevered his Mig21 into excellent narrow aspect heatseaker range and blew my 'experienced' crew to pieces, his 'inexperienced' wingman then riddled the other Phantom with cannon shells, despite the Mig pilot's lack of experience and despite my Phantom's excess in speed.

Just goes to show that having the iniative doesnt necessarily mean you're going to win and that having afterburners and too much speed can sometimes put you into a whole world of hurt....

Cheers
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Darrell Hanning
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1) The overwhelming majority of air combat occurs at subsonic speeds.
2) There were reasons why the Air Force hated having the F4 shoved down their throats by Congress. They had to wait another ten years before they got a decent fighter jet (F-15).
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Chris M.
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Great report and tactics analysis. This itches me to get FL back on the game table !

Don't forget that the USAF traded their 10:1 kill ratio from Korea to near parity in Vietnam, all due to inadequate warbirds and the all-for-missiles creed (F4 didn't have guns IIRC). All the same time, during the 6 days war, the IAF got a 6:1 ratio with all kills done by guns.

If it wasn't for the fighter mafia, the USAF would have been stuck with another saltwater warbird (the F14, as the F4 had been) due to the Navy scheme and got the F15 (and later the magnificent F16).
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Kenneth Bailey
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Colonel FUBAR wrote:
Great report and tactics analysis. This itches me to get FL back on the game table !

Don't forget that the USAF traded their 10:1 kill ratio from Korea to near parity in Vietnam, all due to inadequate warbirds and the all-for-missiles creed (F4 didn't have guns IIRC). All the same time, during the 6 days war, the IAF got a 6:1 ratio with all kills done by guns.

If it wasn't for the fighter mafia, the USAF would have been stuck with another saltwater warbird (the F14, as the F4 had been) due to the Navy scheme and got the F15 (and later the magnificent F16).

You forgot to mention the stupid rules of engagement regarding radar guided missiles in that you had to have a visual confirmation before you could fire.

the F4 was a pretty decent plane once they added the gun.

And don't be dissing the F-14....
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Chris M.
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TOP GUN propaganda ! ninja

The F14 was meant as a firing platform for the Pheonix, not for dogfighting. But it looks damn cool, I give you that.
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Tom Duensing
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I've never understood the term: "fighter jet". It's redundant. I thought only journalists called them that.
 
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John Kovacs
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F-4E's were built with internal 20mm Vulcan cannons based on the combat experiences of Vietnam. The Israelis put F-4Es to good use in the 1973 war. All USAF fighters, starting with the F-15, carry the Vulcan internally, as did the F-14 and currently the F-18. Even the super-cruise F-22 Raptor has an internal gun.

The F-4E is a "vertical" fighter, not a "horizontal" one. It's strength is it's ability to climb and dive vertically (better than any other aircraft when it was first introduced). Some Immelmans and Split-S's would've been better tactics against MiG-21s than hard horizontal turns. Those MiGs can turn on a dime...

As for the "rules of engagement" in Vietnam requiring US planes to visually see the enemy planes before firing radar-homing missiles, the trick is to get a radar lock-on with one aircraft and have another plane in the flight fly ahead at top speed to sight the enemy plane with the lock-on on it. This tactic was revealed in the Air War: Modern Tactical Air Combat rulebook and fulfills the sighting requirement.

The F-14 was built as a "stand-off" interceptor, not a dogfighter. The F-14 was meant to launch from a carrier and blow anything out of the sky at a set distance from the carrier fleet with Phoenix missiles, not mix it up with enemy planes. The larger F-18 Super Hornets now do this duty as well as the other roles carrier launched fighters/attack planes are supposed to do.

As far as "fighter jet" being a redundant term, not all fighters were jets and not all jets are fighters. All current front-line fighters are powered by jet engines, yes, but this was not always so. And there are other classes of aircraft (bombers, tankers, cargo planes, etc.) that are also powered by jet engines but are not fighters by any stretch of the imagination.

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Kenneth Bailey
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Colonel FUBAR wrote:
TOP GUN propaganda ! ninja

The F14 was meant as a firing platform for the Pheonix, not for dogfighting. But it looks damn cool, I give you that.

I remember seeing the F-14 put through it's paces in an air show. Granted this was the D model with (way improved engines) but I think in the hands of the right aviator it would give the F-15 pilot a bad day. It looked like it could turn and burn with the best of them.
 
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Philip Clayberg
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DarrellKH wrote:
1) The overwhelming majority of air combat occurs at subsonic speeds.
2) There were reasons why the Air Force hated having the F4 shoved down their throats by Congress. They had to wait another ten years before they got a decent fighter jet (F-15).


I thought the problem in Viet Nam was that the F4 had been designed for interception from a distance, and someone in Congress demanded that F4s use visual detection/confirmation of targets before attacking. Which then forced the F4s into dogfighting, which they had *not* been designed for. Or do I have this wrong?
 
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James Cox
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DarrellKH wrote:
1) The overwhelming majority of air combat occurs at subsonic speeds.
2) There were reasons why the Air Force hated having the F4 shoved down their throats by Congress. They had to wait another ten years before they got a decent fighter jet (F-15).


Yeah, the F-4 was conceived as a fleet defense interceptor*, NOT a dogfighter.


* meaning, long straight path really fast, really high up, to shoot at a fat bomber carrying missiles, really far away from a carrier over flat ocean. NOT at low/medium altitude against small nimble day fighters over rough terrain.
 
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James Cox
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Colonel FUBAR wrote:
TOP GUN propaganda ! ninja

The F14 was meant as a firing platform for the Pheonix, not for dogfighting. But it looks damn cool, I give you that.


Word. EVERYTHING the Navy commissioned in that era was for fleet defense interceptor, NOT dogfighting.
 
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James Cox
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Infomanohio wrote:
...Split-S's would've been better tactics against MiG-21s than hard horizontal turns. Those MiGs can turn on a dime...


I've never understood that line of reasoning - that a Split-S can make up for an opponent's "horizontal" turning ability.

Ignoring our human, right-side-up orientation, the plane's wing only knows about the 'relative wind', as they call it in aero-jargon.

A 'turn' is in fact conducted by banking the plane's wings; that bank then orients the "up" of the wings into a horizontal component, thusly pulling the plane around/through the turn.

A Split-S is flipping the plane inverted, thereby giving the wing's "up" perspective a "downward" orientation (from our perspective) and using the "up" force of the wings to pull the plane through a curving arc - albeit in a vertical plane (as referenced from our perspective.

IN BOTH CASES IT IS THE "UP" FORCE OF THE WING THAT IS DOING THE PULLING-THROUGH AROUND THE ARC.

If plane A can pull through a turn better than plane B, how can simply re-orienting the "turn" from a horizontal plane to a vertical one make plane B suddenly better at "turning"???

Unless we add the effects of gravity giving a "boost" to plane B - but that same gravity would also benefit plane A as well, no? (unless plane B was the heavier, "cleaner" plane or could use its superior thrust + gravity to out accell - but then the faster you go through the arc the larger the radius of the arc....

So, how does a plane that turns better in the horizontal all of a sudden be out "turned" ("arced") in the vertical? (vertical downward, because you said Split-S)
 
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James Cox
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mikoyan wrote:
Colonel FUBAR wrote:
TOP GUN propaganda ! ninja

The F14 was meant as a firing platform for the Pheonix, not for dogfighting. But it looks damn cool, I give you that.

I remember seeing the F-14 put through it's paces in an air show. Granted this was the D model with (way improved engines) but I think in the hands of the right aviator it would give the F-15 pilot a bad day. It looked like it could turn and burn with the best of them.


No, no, no.

ALL fighters/interceptors/attack craft perform well at airshows for crickey's sake! Airshows use well-tuned, stripped down, barely-enuff-fuel lightweight configurations to allow for improved power-to-weight ratios. Also, that pilot rehearsed. Heck, I'm old enuff to remember when the Blue Angels were using A-4 Skyhawks as their demo planes. They flew those such that if you hadn't seen anything else fly in your life you woulda put money upon the naval aviator in an A-4 as the world's best air superiority pairing!

The F-14 excels at interception. The Eagle excels at air superiority. Period.
 
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James Cox
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mikoyan wrote:
Colonel FUBAR wrote:
TOP GUN propaganda ! ninja

The F14 was meant as a firing platform for the Pheonix, not for dogfighting. But it looks damn cool, I give you that.

I remember seeing the F-14 put through it's paces in an air show. Granted this was the D model with (way improved engines) but I think in the hands of the right aviator it would give the F-15 pilot a bad day. It looked like it could turn and burn with the best of them.




Did Israel buy F-14s or F-15s? Did Iran buy F-14s or F-15s?

<mic drop>
 
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James Cox
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Felimid wrote:
[...and someone in Congress demanded that F4s use visual detection/confirmation of targets before attacking...


Typical.
I realize congress is usually more f-ed up than the prez is (no matter which party). However, it is too often that whenever the government makes a bad policy that we gripe about "some idiot in congress..."

It is far more likely that someone in the EXECUTIVE branch made that call.

Tomato, tomahtoe. Either way, it was a POLITICAL decision, and a bad one at that, granted.

But do we really think that congress can order an air force (or navy) to do anything? The most congress can do is apply laws to spending (beforehand), or subpoenas after the fact. And even in the case of a rule tied to funding, that budget has to be signed into law by the... PRESIDENT.

Congress cannot order anyone or any branch to do jack squat. Except maybe order them to appear before committee (which... can't order anyone to do jack squat.).

It is far more likely that the PRESIDENT made that bad call. Or it was a DoD call. Or a State Department call. Or a Chief of Staff or National Security Advisor recommendation.
All of the above are the President's Men - not "congress".

I really doubt that "some congressman" ordered that shit sandwich. Nope, although congress is well adept at creating shit sandwiches, many times it is the executive that makes the crappola sandwich that specifically the soldier has to eat.
 
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Professor X
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Kukailimoku wrote:
Infomanohio wrote:
...Split-S's would've been better tactics against MiG-21s than hard horizontal turns. Those MiGs can turn on a dime...


I've never understood that line of reasoning - that a Split-S can make up for an opponent's "horizontal" turning ability.


I'm guessing Infomanohio is referring to the Flight Leader rules which allow aircraft with E and F turn modes to make Split S u-turns as rapidly as a more nimble aircraft.

During the previous century, I did some work for Air Force Systems Command at Eglin Air Force Base. My boss for much of this was a former F-4 Phantom back seater who was a member of the Red River Rats, having been on several missions downtown near Hanoi and Haiphong. He told me that the fastest way to make a 180 degree turn on a Phantom was to roll the aircraft 135 degrees, then pull through. Although Hi-G turns are made the same way, roll then pull, apparently gravity figures into the equation somewhat.

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Professor X
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Kukailimoku wrote:
[q="Felimid"][...and someone in Congress demanded that F4s use visual detection/confirmation of targets before attacking...


From what I've read regarding the Vietnam air war (best being ONE DAY IN A LONG WAR, which focuses on May 10, 1972, the busiest day of air-to-air combat) the decision to require visual contact before firing a radar homing missile was made to reduce the chance of Blue-on-Blue engagements. It does make some sense if you consider the imperfect behavior of IFF sets available at the time and the relative rarity of significant numbers of hostile aircraft appearing amid the large numbers of USAF & USN flying over North Vietnam on most days of intense air operations.

From Wikipedia: "IFF can only positively identify friendly targets, not hostile ones. If an IFF interrogation receives no reply or an invalid reply, the object cannot be identified as friendly, but is not positively identified as foe." During much of the Vietnam War, if a U.S. fighter failed to get the proper IFF response from an unknown aircraft, there was a good chance it was actually interrogating a friendly.

I don't recall if there were some prior Blue-on-Blue near misses that resulted in this rule being instituted. I also don't recall reading anything about who specifically made this decision, but believe it more likely to have been someone in the military chain of command than a civilian.

This requirement for a visual ID was not mandatory all of the time. ONE DAY mentions a device called "Combat Tree" that enabled US pilots to positively ID Migs by interrogating the Mig's IFF devices. Few F-4's were equipped with this device, but those that had it were often allowed to make BVR shots. See http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1028.0 for a discussion of this device. It's also mentioned at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stephen_Ritchie & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Locher. These last two cover some of the incidents mentioned in ONE DAY.

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Big G01 wrote:
Kukailimoku wrote:
[q="Felimid"][...and someone in Congress demanded that F4s use visual detection/confirmation of targets before attacking...


From what I've read regarding the Vietnam air war (best being ONE DAY IN A LONG WAR, which focuses on May 10, 1972, the busiest day of air-to-air combat)



Thanks for the tip on the book. It's out of print but there are several used copies for sale on Amazon. I ordered one for $7.00 eligible for Amazon Prime.
 
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