Author Topic: Redemption – Military planes you were wrong about in hindsight!  (Read 584 times)

Offline M.A.D

  • Also likes a bit of arse...
  • Wrote a great story about a Christmas Air Battle
Who on this forum had a loathing, contempt, low admiration for a given military aircraft, only to have that type redeem itself as you got older, wiser or personally exposed to that type?

As for me, as life goes by, and as increasingly more and more information through books, documentaries and the web become available, I have learnt that my childhood perception and bias of given type of military aircraft were with hindsight wrong and unjust.
To start this forum off, and to give the forum an idea of where I’m going, Ill give my personal example and hopeful spur this topic on:
Without question my biased perception/assumption was the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, English Electric Lightning and Vought-Chance F8U-1 Crusader, just too name a few:

- The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, my perception of this ‘lightweight’ fighter/interceptor was undoubtedly the USAF’s prejudice and loathing of such a simple, small sized, lightweight and cost effectiveness design, when compared to the then growing trend of ‘bigger, heavier and more complex’ designs then in developed or envisaged brainwashed me into conformity as a kid.
On top of this was the endless USAF criticism of the Starfighter’s short range; and of course, there was the unquestionable high accident/fatality rate - predominantly within the Luftwaffe. But in truth, as I was to discover, the little ‘missile with a man in it’ was in fact able to meet most of the challenges thrown at it by both the USAF and numerous world air forces. (saying this, I still would have liked to have seen a bigger wing, to improve air-to-air manoeuvrability!)

- The English Electric Lightning, its principle short comings which stuck to me like glue was its short range and minimalistic weapons carrying capability. But as time has gone on, I’ve come to appreciate that the Lightning’s short comings was predominantly attributed by it’s combat development from a high-speed research aircraft, the notorious British political distain and ignorance for manned fighters/interceptors and the drip-feeding and or restricting English Electric in fully developing and exploiting the Lightning’s design and potential over its some 25 years of operational service in the RAF – and hence the effects on it’s limited export potential. And of course, there was the irrefutable fact that at the end of the day, the Lightning was an interceptor, as intended, so asking it to be a fighter!, a fighter-bomber was a long draw of the bow!
(saying this, I’ve always liked the idea of a Pratt & Whitney J75 powered Lightning, with the room saved by the replacement of the two Avon engine arrangement being used for greater internal fuel and sensors, and more use of over-wing pylons for weapons… 😉)

- The Vought-Chance F8U-1/F-8 Crusader  always appeared to be a 'poor man’s' fighter, when compared to the F-4 Phantom II, F-14 Tomcat, what with its seemingly pathetic weapons carrying capability – usually four 20mm cannons and two Aim-9 Sidewinder's.
It probably also didn’t help psychologically that most of my books as a kid seemed to only have a snippet of information/write-up in relation to the Crusader, when compared to other bigger, flashier and more advanced carrier-based aircraft designs.
But this was before I really appreciated the fundamental principles of a air superiority and maneuverability, and before my later life more in-depth study of the Crusader to discover that the Crusader was in fact one of America’s best and most capable dogfighters till the advent of the General Dynamics F-16.
This is all somewhat ironic, as I became an ardent supporter and believer in the lightweight fighter concept.
I can’t help wonder how effective the proposed land-based development of the F-8 Crusader the V-1000 might have fared internationally, had it won (as advocated by the USAF) the 'Advanced International Fighter’ (AIF) (latter becoming the International Fighter Aircraft’ (IFA), which was won by the Northrop (N-156F / F-5A-21) F-5E Tiger II.

I look forward to your reflections!

« Last Edit: May 30, 2017, 03:32:29 PM by M.A.D »