Author Topic: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968  (Read 2850 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

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Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« on: January 09, 2018, 02:23:26 AM »
  Hey everyone,

Recently I've been exploring Cold War air combat and I'm having trouble coming to any satisfactory conclusions for the early Cold War period.

The scenario is fairly straightforward. What's the best land-based air superiority option for a medium-sized nation in the years 1956-1968?

Keep to mostly historical options and loadouts. I love the CF-105 Arrow, F5D Skylancer, and F11F-1F Super Tiger as much as anyone, but that's not really what I'm looking at. I'm sticking to in-service types and largely in-service configurations. No F-4B Phantom with an internal gun, thin-wing Javelin, or Hawker Hunter with refueling probe, for instance. Think of these options as complete weapon systems or weapon packages.

No specific threat environment, East/West alignment, or terrain to consider. Aerial refueling is a plus, but in no way a requirement. More range is a plus, but no specific figure to consider. These are not to be operated from a carrier, so that is a superfluous feature. Ground attack capability is a plus, but not the focus here. Fleet size would be around 100 aircraft. Why 1956-1968? Before the advent of the AIM-9B in 1956, it's a pretty simple evaluation of maneuverability, gun armament, and speed. After 1968, you have the F-4E Phantom, which gives you all the missiles you could want without sacrificing an internal gun, speed, or range. It had competition, but it really was a game-changer.

Air defense/superiority/dominance is really the only thing being evaluated here. Possible threats can be anything from B-47s/Tu-16s to F-4Bs/MiG-21s (and everything in between). Consider how your proposed pick would fare in aerial combat of that era. 1956 Suez, 1958 Taiwan Strait, 1964 Vietnam, 1965 Indo-Pakistan, 1967 Six-Day War, etc.

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 03:19:23 AM »
Probably largely comes down to how you define the "Air Superiority" role and what other support platforms you want to allow.  For instance, do you want something that also has a degree of multirole capability or are you going for the "not a pound for air-to-ground" style?  Looking at typical options you see:

Saab J-35 Draken
Convair F-102 Delta Dagger - more of interceptor?
Convair F-106 Delta Dart  - more of interceptor?
Dassault Mirage III
English Electric Lightning
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
F-4 Phantom II - gun pod possible?
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 06:12:21 AM »
Hey Greg,

That matches my shortlist pretty well. I'm personally not putting much emphasis in the multi-role aspect of these aircraft. Once you clear the skies, you can bring in something that's better-suited for the role like a Hunter, Skyhawk, or even Skyraider. There's no prize for second-place in air dominance.



As for your list, the pre-F-4E Phantom family leaves me leery since that gun pod was not a great solution and I don't trust missiles of that era enough to rely on them. Otherwise, that would be my choice, yes. The same holds true for the F-102 and F-106 (even though I love the F-106). Similarly, the F-104A didn't get its M61 Vulcan sorted out until 1964, by which point you may as well wait until '68 with the F-4E. I'm also not convinced it's much better than alternatives like the Draken, MiG-21, or Lightning. The MiG-21 is purported to have spanked it in 1971, but claims in that conflict by either side require extensive investigation.

MiG-21 is great and very respectable, but I don't think was really better than the Mirage III, for instance, so I don't see a lot of reason to choose it over some of the Western options.

The Lightning has blinding performance, but I'm not sure that it had the in service dates, maturity, or agility to make up for that Achilles' heel of range. It was a great point-defence anti-bomber interceptor, but I'm really looking for a bit more versatility with a platform that can easily tangle with opposing fighters. I also have concerns about the Firestreak, though I admit that that I'm no expert on that missile and some of what I've read suggests that it may have been superior to the AIM-9B in many ways. That range, though...

I think the Mirage III is the safe—albeit boring—option. You can't really go wrong and it's got a proven service record with users across the globe all the way up to today. Why not pick it? For me, a few reasons. First of all, it really wasn't super-maneuverable. Much of the success achieved by the IAF in 1967 was by exploiting the differences in the Mirage III's handling compared to the MiG-21 rather than some inherent overall superiority. The delta wing meant that it bled speed quickly and it wasn't very agile at low speeds, either. And nearly all combat would be subsonic. Furthermore, the Mirage III was—to my knowledge—limited to just two AIM-9Bs compared to some of its contemporaries that could carry four of the missiles. I've read pretty negative things about that Cyrano radar and the R.530 (like almost all fighter radars and BVRAAMs of that era). Finally, the Atar engine was very thirsty with afterburner and you needed to carry tanks all the time, which further limits speed and handling.

So, what's that leave? Well, for me there are two main options. The obvious one is the Saab J 35 Draken. Arguably, I think it does everything the Mirage III does, but better. Better radar, better low speed handling, better payload (four Sidewinders vs. two), better range, etc. The main reason it wasn't more widely adopted was politics, from what I can determine.



The less obvious option (it didn't even make Greg's list) is actually the more proven and conservative option. That's the Vought F8U Crusader. The first variants entered service in 1957 and were equipped with the Sidewinder from the outset. It went through a steady improvement process until you got to the definitive F-8E. So, how is it worse than some of the other entrants? Well, no real BVR option (though I don't consider that to be much of an issue given the state of the pre-Sparrow BVRAAMs), poorer performance radar than things like the Draken or F-4 Phantom, pilot complaints about the four Sidewinder loadout making the F8U "sluggish", and those 20mm Colts that had feed mechanisms prone to jamming.

In what ways was it better? Well, it was the most proven entrant on this list after the icons like the Mirage III, MiG-21, and F-4 Phantom. It was almost certainly the most maneuverable supersonic fighter of that era, with anyone who went up against admitting that it didn't suffer at low speeds the way most of its contemporaries did. In short, it could outrun it any subsonic fighters it encountered and control the fight, but outmaneuver any supersonic fighters that gave up any energy in an engagement. It had internal guns (not the equal of the 30mm DEFA or ADEN, but better than nothing) and claimed about a quarter of its kills over Vietnam with them. It was also considered by the USN to be quite long-legged compared to most of its contemporaries, outlasting most of its opponents in DACT. This was all without external tanks and with a retractable refueling probe to boot. It could carry four Sidewinders and often operated in that configuration over Vietnam. It wasn't unbeatable by any means, but it was certainly formidable.

So, is there something I'm completely forgetting or discounting unfairly? Draken, Crusader, or other? Personally, those are the two I'm most torn over.

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 06:44:06 AM »
F-6A (F4D) Skyray[ seems to have been overlooked or ignored.

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Offline kitnut617

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 06:56:01 AM »
I've read that the EE Lightning was very maneuverable, besting most western fighters of the time and only got beaten when the F-16 came into service.  Read a report where the RAF tested it against a Spitfire, it was to test it's suitability's against Indonesian P-51's during that confrontation.

I was about to suggest the F8U as it did quite well against the Migs in Vietnam

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 07:19:14 AM »
F-6A (F4D) Skyray seems to have been overlooked or ignored.

That's fair to assume, since the "Ford" often gets overlooked, but that's not the case here. I love the Skyray, and I think it's the prettiest fighter of the Cold War. It looks like something from a sci-fi film. My grandpa server on the USS Ranger during the late '50s and early '60s and I remember looking through his cruise books with him and thinking that it was the most beautiful plane in any of the pictures by a very wide margin. It's gorgeous, and one of my favorite fighters of all time.

It has four 20mm cannons, could carry four Sidewinders, had a decent range, good speed, incredible rate of climb, and legendary maneuverability. I absolutely love it.

All that having been said, it was not without its faults. While many of its pilots loved it, many others considered it to be a very, very tricky plane to fly in an era of persnickety jets. A few were kept on hand long after it had been retired from service purely to show test pilots just what it was like to fly an inherently unstable aircraft. Also, compared to all the supersonic aircraft on this list, the F4D could be left behind and evaded, being limited to subsonic level flight.

In a different world, had the Navy selected the F5D Skylancer instead of the F8U Crusader, I wouldn't be posing the question. That would be my choice until that advent of the F-4E...if not later. But, that's not really the scenario I'm working with here. I'm asking about "best" versus "favorite". The F4D may be my "favorite", but my judgement is not clouded enough that I consider it to the best, despite how sad it makes me to admit it.

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 07:48:14 AM »
I've read that the EE Lightning was very maneuverable, besting most western fighters of the time and only got beaten when the F-16 came into service.  Read a report where the RAF tested it against a Spitfire, it was to test it's suitability's against Indonesian P-51's during that confrontation.


All well and good if the enemy comes to you.
Otherwise, maneuverability is moot if you constantly have to break-off because of nil fuel. ;D
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 09:52:52 AM »
I have to wonder how the handling and performance of the Crusader would have been affected if the J57 had been replaced by the J79 at some point?  The J79 is smaller and lighter for the same performance, but also runs hotter and might require some material changes in the engine bay.

It would be fascinating to see some DACT fights between Crusaders and Drakens.

Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 10:43:39 AM »
The Mirage is IMO the standout machine in the list.   Despite what you claim, Logan, it was a very manoeuvrable aircraft as the RAAF showed whenever they flew against the US's F-5 Aggressors.   They invariably bested them by a wide margin.    It may have done that, despite all the limitations you list. BTW, the R.530 had interchangeable homing heads - IR and Semi-Active Radar homing.   The missile itself had problems, as you note but with an IR head most of the criticisms directed at its SARH version are eliminated.    The Cyrano radar was typical of radar of the period - the late 1950s-early 1960s.    When it worked, it worked well, when it didn't, it was a dog.

The later models of the Lightning overcame most of the criticisms about it's range, particularly when carrying the two big over-wing tanks.   What it lacked was a BVR missile - something you admit isn't a big bad thing.   It's two missiles were pretty unique - Firestreak because it was designed, back to front.  Redtop because it provided "improved" IR detection, being able to be fired outside of the rear envelope of it's target.  Both were complex and relatively slow to warm up and only had a limited time frame in which they were cold enough to sense a hot target.  What it really lacked was enough range without the tanks.  I'd replace the missiles with an optional two Sidewinders on each side.   It was the only fighter to successfully intercept the SR-71 on several occasions.

The F8 was a bit of a dog in many ways, particularly in it's underpowered early versions.   It did have a BVR missile - the AIM-9C but it was a bit of a dog and not widely used.   The gun feed was a real problem, causing frequent stoppages at the worst moments.

The Draken was politically held over by the Swedish Government(s) of the day.   It also suffered from initially no radar and then a bad radar until the bugs were worked out (which wasn't uncommon).  It was a good all rounder, like the Mirage III.   Both of those aircraft however lacked range.

I am surprised that you've not included the F-5 in your list.  It was cheap, easily available and quite a good fighter.  It could carry as many missiles as the others (four) and with some tinkering I don't doubt it could carry more on multiple launchers.   It's guns were reliable.   What it lacked was a good radar.    It's range was also a bit limited without tanks.   It was quite a good air-superiority fighter and that was why it excelled in the Aggressor role.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 12:46:27 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 12:11:45 PM »
... Despite what you claim, Jon, ...

[whisper]I think you mean "Logan", mate![/whisper]
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 12:40:01 PM »
OK, now I know the A-4 isn't in the parameters of this discussion but I would like to point out that the RAAF Mirage III pilots were, from what I've been told (no documentary proof, sorry), less than willing to take on the RAN's A-4's in air-to-air combat.

For starters, with a centre-line fuel tank, the RAN's A-4's could carry 4 x AIM-9's. Apparently they had a nasty tendency to break the Mirages' missile lock &, when engaging in guns-on dog-fighting, they'd turn inside the Mirages, when they were trying to use their greater speed, & drag them into sub-sonic engagement, where they'd crawl all over them.

My point being, the Mirage had/has weaknesses & decent pilots in technically inferior aircraft could exploit them.
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Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 12:46:46 PM »
... Despite what you claim, Jon, ...

[whisper]I think you mean "Logan", mate![/whisper]

Ooops!  Corrected.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 04:06:04 PM »
How about the F-11F / F-11 Tiger as opposed to the Super Tiger? 

I know it was slower than the other types mentioned (bar the Scooter and Skyray) and lacked a radar but was designed to be fitted with one and could easily have been re-engined with something more powerful as seem with the Super Tiger.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 07:42:57 PM »
I'm hearing what you are say 're the Mirage III Logan, but would the Dassault Avon Mirage IIIO, as built and test, but not taken up quantify within your selection criteria?

Or what about the lighter de-carrierized Vought (or was it LTV) F-8 Crusader - the V-1000 quantify within your selection  criteria? Oh, hang on, wasn't the V-1000 about 1970? :-\

Or am I off target?

M.A.D
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 08:07:41 PM by M.A.D »

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2018, 10:34:09 PM »
...
I am surprised that you've not included the F-5 in your list.  It was cheap, easily available and quite a good fighter.  It could carry as many missiles as the others (four) and with some tinkering I don't doubt it could carry more on multiple launchers.   It's guns were reliable.   What it lacked was a good radar.    It's range was also a bit limited without tanks.   It was quite a good air-superiority fighter and that was why it excelled in the Aggressor role.
The F-5 might lack top speed, compared with some other contenders. On the other hand, its size made it hard to detect, so they could more often take the opponent by surprise. Agility was good too.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2018, 12:57:32 AM »
elmayerle, I agree, I'd have loved to have seen DACT between the Crusader and the Gripen. Especially the J 35F and F-8E/J circa 1969, for example.

Volkodov, the F11F is a neat (and very pretty) aircraft, but with even less going for it than the flawed F4D. With a new engine and modifications it could have been a winner, but that's outside the scope of what I'm looking at here.

M.A.D, the Mirage IIIO as built would totally qualify. No issues, whatsoever, outside of its fairly late date in that period. It would only be in service four years until its replacement came on scene. And you'd still need to decide what to use between 1956 and 1964. The V-1000 is too late and a not a production aircraft anyway, so way out of scope.

Old Wombat, that was actually my original plan, and I still think it's a totally workable, very practical, and very affordable. That's really a philosophical question, though, and in many ways makes the question harder, not easier. If you decide that—since all combat's going to be subsonic anyway—you don't even need a supersonic fighter, then you have to consider the Sabre (in its various forms), the Hunter, Mystère IV, MiG-17, etc. So, why wouldn't you go that route? Well I was reading about supersonic vs. subsonic fighters over the Middle East, Vietnam, and India/Pakistan. Long story short, if both pilots know what they're doing, the faster fighter controls the engagement. He decides when (and if) to fight and the subsonic fighter is largely at its mercy, just hoping the faster one will make a mistake he can exploit. While that may work in a purely defensive scenario, that doesn't lend itself to air superiority/dominance, regardless of whose territory you're flying over.

[Mirage, Lightning, F-8, Draken, F-5]


Thanks for the response, Rickshaw! Let's unpack it, from simplest to most complex. I love the F-5, especially the F-5E. It was a fantastic plane and—I think quite underrated. Had it existed in this timeframe, that'd unquestionably be my choice, but the F-5E didn't enter service until 1973 at the earliest. Way too late. Even the F-5A didn't enter service until 1964, which doesn't give it a whole lot of time before the F-4E comes online. Same issue as the Mirage IIIO that M.A.D was mentioning. On top of all that, the F-5A was really a fighter-bomber. More comparable to the Mirage V, G.91, or A-4. Great, efficient little attack or multirole plane, but not really air superiority until the F-5E.



As for the Lightning, it never carried Sidewinders at any time in any configuration, did it? I'm convinced that the Firestreak and Red Top (especially) were better than early Sidewinders in a number of ways, but I do worry about their ability to be employed against maneuvering fighters in close combat. The AIM-9B is the only AAM of 1960 that I'd be willing to bet my life on, and I haven't yet come across anything yet to disabuse me of that notion. No matter what, though, the Lightning is out of consideration because—until the F.6—you had to choose between fuel and guns. The problem is that you need both. The F.6 doesn't enter service until 1965-66, and by then you're almost at the F-4E, so what's the point? It's really not a contender.

The Draken's radar issues were fairly common for the day, as you note, but the earlier model had the same radar as the Mirage III, so you can't rate it any lower. The later Swedish radars were superior to the French one, too. In short, I don't know that radar performance was a particular strong suit of the Draken, but once they were installed, I don't see how you can rate it any lower than the Mirage III in that category.

You say the F-8 was a dog in many ways, care to expound on that? That's not what most of the pilot accounts I've come across say. They definitely liked the power that came with the later -16 and -20 versions of the J57, but most of the complaints seem to deal with the power available in tricky carrier landings and takeoffs in the tropics, a situation that it's hard to compare with the land-based fighters on this list. The lack of a BVRAAM in that day wasn't much of a disadvantage since the ones that were around were pretty much terrible. The ammunition feed was a real issue, and I think the biggest letdown it has compared to the Mirage III and its excellent 30mm DEFA guns with plenty of ammo.

Finally, mind pointing to some of the accounts of the Mirage IIIO vs US F-5 Aggressors? I can imagine the Mirage III may have some advantage at high speeds, potentially, but that'd be about it, I'd think. Israeli pilots seemed to rate the Mirage III as comparable to the MiG-21, with the Mirage III having the advantage in the horizontal, at high speeds, and at low level. They generally rated the MiG-21 as better in the vertical, high altitude, and low speeds. I've read similar things from Indian and Pakistani pilots, too. In fact, Pakistani pilots that flew both the MiG-19 and Mirage said the MiG-19 was far better in the horizontal plane than the Mirage and would try to get the Mirage in a maneuvering fight in DACT, where they knew they had the upper hand.

Furthermore, US aggressor pilots flew both Kfirs and F-5Es and considered the F-5E to be the more maneuverable of the two. In fact, the Kfir was chosen because its handling characteristics were similar to the MiG-23 (aka not agile).



Finally, I'd recommend reading the interview of the Ejército del Aire pilot Gonzalo O'Kelly on the Hush-Kit blog.

Hush-Kit: Mirage Pilot Interview Parts 1-5

Quote from: Gonzalo O'Kelly
What was the Mirage like in the following ways:

A. Instantaneous and sustained turn rates

“Well, not very good at instantaneous- but better in sustained turns as with everything else, with the nose down.”

B. Agility

“Hmmmm, next question please.”

C. Climb rate

“Good enough in those years.”


He says they wouldn't dogfight in close with the Mirage F1 because they didn't have the agility to match it. In fact, he compares the Mirage III to the F-104 in terms of handling optimization, which matches what I've read in other places. Again, no slouch, but not in the same category as its subsonic predecessors, an F-5E, or any of the Teen series, for instance.

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2018, 02:01:10 AM »
the R.530 had interchangeable homing heads - IR and Semi-Active Radar homing.   

IR version was not introduced until the early 1970s and therefore out of the bounds of this scenario
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 06:34:09 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2018, 02:36:49 AM »
As I said right at the start, this really comes down to how one defines the mission.  Although the pure air-to-air combat (dogfighting) is the most obvious approach and the one most seem to think of (and thus derive parameters/comparisons based on aircraft performance for), it is not the only method of obtaining air superiority. In fact, historically the most effective method of gaining air superiority is the destruction of enemy aircraft on the ground and/or the destruction of the supporting infrastructure by which an opponent may mount their own air operations (i.e. attacking fuel supplies, cratering runways etc).  In this context something that is multirole does have a place.

If we only wish to look at the pure air-to-air format though, I would offer these points to consider:

  • Are you only talking in a Defensive environment or in an Offensive environment? If purely defensive then your interceptors (F-102, F-106, EE. Lightning etc) are more balanced in that aspects such as endurance - both in terms of fuel (how long can you stay in the air) and weapons compliment (how many 'arrows do you have in your quiver) - become less of an issue.  If however, you want to achieve air superiority over an enemy's territory (i.e. offensive air superiority) than aspects such as range and weapons compliment become more important.  This situation would potentially give platforms such as the F-4 more points, especially if aerial refuelling is taken out of the mix;
  • Aspects such as supersonic capability also become less of a determiner if one considers that for the period being looked at ('56 - 68), many opponents were still subsonic (e.g. flying things such as Sabres, MiG-15/17s etc) so whilst having supersonic performance does offer some advantages, once you got down to turning and burning it becomes less of an advantage and certainly chews into fuel reserves.  In fact, one might argue that supersonic performance is more beneficial in the defensive role than the offensive role given the impact on endurance.

Looking further at lists of aircraft (and my earlier list was just a quick snapshot), one might expand it to include:

Dassault Mystère including the later IV and Super Mystère developments - all of which were still being produced up until the late '1950s;
North American F-100 Super Sabre;
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19;
North American F-86 Sabre - including developments such as the CAC Sabre (still in production in 1961) and Canadair Sabre;
MiG-17 - still in production in the period of this scenario and still giving good account for itself against latter opponents - just look at Vietnam;
Hawker Hunter - only entered RAF service in 1954 and only retired from its day fighter role in the RAF by 1963 so still arguably a song candidate;
McDonnell F-101 Voodoo - although often overshadowed by platforms such as the F-4 and often used as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber and a photo reconnaissance aircraft it was originally designed as a long-range bomber escort and was used by the RCAF as an interceptor (something at least one of our members is familiar with).  It had a good range, good performance and a reasonable weapons load;
Grumman F-11 Tiger/F11F-1F Super Tiger
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 03:14:36 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2018, 05:07:58 AM »
If we only wish to look at the pure air-to-air format though, I would offer these points to consider:

  • Are you only talking in a Defensive environment or in an Offensive environment? If purely defensive than your interceptors (F-102, F-106, EE. Lightning etc) are more balanced in that aspects such as endurance - both in terms of fuel (how long can you stay in the air) and weapons compliment (how many 'arrows do you have in your quiver) - become less of an issue.  If however, you want to achieve air superiority over an enemy's territory (i.e. offensive air superiority) than aspects such as range and weapons compliment become more important.  This situation would potentially give platforms such as the F-4 more points, especially if aerial refuelling is taken out of the mix;
  • Aspects such as supersonic capability also become less of a determiner if one considers that for the period being looked at ('56 - 68), many opponents were still subsonic (e.g. flying things such as Sabres, MiG-15/17s etc) so whilst having supersonic performance does offer some advantages, once you got down to turning and burning it becomes less of an advantage and certainly chews into fuel reserves.  In fact, one might argue that supersonic performance is more beneficial in the defensive role than the offensive role given the impact on endurance.


I agree with these points completely. I would say that the scenario favors defense, but not exclusively. If attacked by neighbors, you'd want to be able to take the fight to them, I'd think. I'm evaluating other platforms separately for the strike role, so the multi-role aspect isn't huge, but you're going to want to escort strike packages. Also, I'm not specifying the size of the nation, but don't assume it's Singapore or Monaco. There's no range requirement, but assume that more range is better.

A lot of the aircraft you mention are let down by their weapons. The F-102, F-106, F-101, etc. Those Falcons were terrible, and no guns is no good.

The subsonic fighters are good, and the best dogfighters around. If you're in a Sabre, MiG-17, Hunter, or Skyhawk and can drag your opponent into a turning fight, you're likely to come out on top. Even more so if it's upgraded with Sidewinders. Still, though, if your opponent shows up flying MiG-21s, Mirage IIIs, F-104s, or Crusaders, you're pretty much at their mercy. In this timeframe, those types saw extensive combat in the Vietnam War, 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, and Six-Day War. That's in addition to smaller skirmishes and confrontations such as the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, 1962 Dutch-Indonesian Conflict, Cuban Missile Crisis, 1967 Taiwan Strait Crisis, War of Attrition, etc.



That's what led me to pose this question. I didn't think I could get by with the pre-1956 types until 1968. Ask yourself if you could come out on top with your fighter of choice on either side of those conflicts. I wasn't convinced that a Sabre or Hunter would acquit themselves spectacularly if they had to go up against an enemy force consisting largely of Mirage IIIs or MiG-21s if the pilots were of a roughly equal skill level.

The Mirage III and MiG-21 are the obvious and proven choices in this scenario, certainly. But was there anything better? I put forward the Saab Draken and Vought Crusader, but I'm open to other ideas or knowledge that might help make a determination between those options.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Kelmola

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2018, 05:40:46 AM »
Funnily enough, many second-generation MiG-21's did not carry a gun, and their primary weapon was the K-13/AA-2, which was a direct copy of AIM-9B. (Curiously enough, most kills achieved by a MiG-21 used the Atoll, not the gun.) Also, it had shorter legs than a Lightning.

My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2018, 05:54:24 AM »
My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

That is one option that I've considered, too, Kelmola, and one that I haven't entirely ruled out. It's a flawed option, but it still might be the best one of the bunch.  It's certainly an expensive one, though.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2018, 07:01:41 AM »
Quote
The scenario is fairly straightforward. What's the best land-based air superiority option for a medium-sized nation in the years 1956-1968?

Logan,  is your medium-sized nation's AO/threat direction  consist a lot of over water/ice operation? If so considering the timeline you've given, would this then push for two-engine safety / reliability?

M. A. D

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2018, 07:11:37 AM »
Not necessarily, but potentially. Most nations have some sort of coastline, so—like range—it doesn't hurt, but neither is twin-engine safety a requirement.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2018, 08:30:58 AM »
My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

You're forgetting that the USN & USAF went to a gun-armed F-4 (& the USN created the Naval Fighter Weapons School) after lessons learned in Vietnam, where the lack of training & guns had been a serious issue.

Excerpt from wikipedia:

Quote
Genesis

In 1968, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer ordered Captain Frank Ault to research the failings of the U.S. air-to-air missiles used in combat in the skies over North Vietnam. Operation Rolling Thunder, which lasted from 2 March 1965 to 1 November 1968, ultimately saw almost 1,000 U.S. aircraft losses in about one million sorties.[5] Rolling Thunder became the Rorschach test for the Navy and Air Force, which drew nearly opposite conclusions. The USAF concluded that its air losses were primarily due to unobserved MiG attacks from the rear, and were, therefore, a technology problem. The service responded by upgrading its F-4 Phantom II fleet, installing an internal M61 Vulcan cannon (replacing the gun pods carried under the aircraft's belly by Air Force Phantom units, such as the 366th Fighter Wing), developing improved airborne radar systems, and working to solve the targeting problems of the AIM-9 and AIM-7 air-to-air missiles.

In May 1968, the Navy published the "Ault Report", which concluded that the problem stemmed from inadequate air-crew training in air combat maneuvering (ACM). This was welcomed by the F-8 Crusader community, who had been lobbying for an ACM training program ever since Rolling Thunder began. The Ault Report recommended the establishment of an "Advanced Fighter Weapons School" to revive and disseminate community fighter expertise throughout the fleet. CNO Moorer concurred.

Fighter Weapons School

The United States Navy Fighter Weapons School was established on 3 March 1969, at Naval Air Station Miramar, California. The school was formed using many F-4 and F-8 pilots as instructors, and placed under the control of the VF-121 "Pacemakers" an F-4 Phantom-equipped Replacement Air Group (RAG) unit. The new school received relatively scant funding, resources, and built its syllabus from scratch. To support its operations, it borrowed aircraft from its parent unit and other Miramar-based units, such as composite squadron VC-7 and Fighter Squadron One Two Six VF-126.

Its objective was to develop, refine and teach aerial dogfight tactics and techniques to selected fleet air crews, using the concept of dissimilar air combat training, DACT. DACT uses stand-in aircraft to realistically replicate expected enemy aircraft and is widely used in air arms the world over. At that time, the predominant enemy aircraft were the Russian-built transonic MiG-17 'Fresco' and the supersonic MiG-21 'Fishbed'.

Topgun initially operated the A-4 Skyhawk and borrowed USAF T-38 Talons to simulate the flying characteristics of the MiG-17 and MiG-21, respectively. The school also made use of Marine-crewed A-6 Intruders and USAF F-106 aircraft when available. Later, the T-38 was replaced by the F-5E and F-5F Tiger II.

One British writer claimed that the early school was influenced by a group of a dozen flying instructors from the British Fleet Air Arm aboard HMS Ark Royal, who were graduates of the Royal Navy's intense Air Warfare Instructors School in Lossiemouth, Scotland. However, an earlier incarnation of Topgun, the U.S. Navy Fleet Air Gunnery Units, or FAGU, had provided air combat training for Naval Aviators from the early 1950s until 1960, when a doctrinal shift, brought on by advances in missile, radar, and fire control technology, contributed to the belief that the era of the classic dogfight was over, leading to their disestablishment. The pilots who were part of the initial cadre of instructors at Topgun had experience as students from FAGU.
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Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2018, 09:59:50 AM »
[Mirage, Lightning, F-8, Draken, F-5]


Thanks for the response, Rickshaw! Let's unpack it, from simplest to most complex. I love the F-5, especially the F-5E. It was a fantastic plane and—I think quite underrated. Had it existed in this timeframe, that'd unquestionably be my choice, but the F-5E didn't enter service until 1973 at the earliest. Way too late. Even the F-5A didn't enter service until 1964, which doesn't give it a whole lot of time before the F-4E comes online. Same issue as the Mirage IIIO that M.A.D was mentioning. On top of all that, the F-5A was really a fighter-bomber. More comparable to the Mirage V, G.91, or A-4. Great, efficient little attack or multirole plane, but not really air superiority until the F-5E.




I think you're being overly particular about what you want this aircraft to do.   The F-5A was an excellent fighter by the accounts that I've read from pilots that flew it.   It was used primarily as a fighter-bomber because of politics.  The USAF wasn't the only operator of the type and it was the one that over-emphasised the F-5 as a bomb truck.  Other air forces used it a a fighter and did so quite well.   It was cheap, easily maintained and it did what was asked of it.   Personally,  I'd have liked for it to be fitted from the outset with a bigger wing, allowing more ordnance to be carried.

Quote
As for the Lightning, it never carried Sidewinders at any time in any configuration, did it?


Not really.  There is a "joke" picture of one in one of the books on the aircraft which shows it armed with Sidewinders, placed there by ground crew.   More than likely it would have needed a bigger fin for it but there was not, it seems nothing stopping it from doing so.  Because of the lightness of the weapon, I'd recommend two on each side of the nose, or two over the wing, under the fuel tank.

Quote
I'm convinced that the Firestreak and Red Top (especially) were better than early Sidewinders in a number of ways, but I do worry about their ability to be employed against maneuvering fighters in close combat. The AIM-9B is the only AAM of 1960 that I'd be willing to bet my life on, and I haven't yet come across anything yet to disabuse me of that notion. No matter what, though, the Lightning is out of consideration because—until the F.6—you had to choose between fuel and guns. The problem is that you need both. The F.6 doesn't enter service until 1965-66, and by then you're almost at the F-4E, so what's the point? It's really not a contender.


They were designed to ensure the kill of a big, lumbering, Soviet bomber.   They weren't that manoeuvrable but when they hit, there wasn't much left afterwards to carry on the mission.   They had significantly longer range than the Sidewinder and more sensitive seeker heads.   The Lightning entered service in 1959, the F.53 (essentially an F.6) in 1966.   The Saudis quite liked the Lightning.   Saudi Arabia is a relatively large country and the Lightning was able to reach all it's borders and beyond.

Quote
The Draken's radar issues were fairly common for the day, as you note, but the earlier model had the same radar as the Mirage III, so you can't rate it any lower. The later Swedish radars were superior to the French one, too. In short, I don't know that radar performance was a particular strong suit of the Draken, but once they were installed, I don't see how you can rate it any lower than the Mirage III in that category.


My reading suggests the radar in the early Draken wasn't anything to write home about.  Later versions improved on that but it's performance still wasn't all that great.   I suspect part of the problem with early radars was the size of the scanner.   There appears to be an optimum size.  I have yet to come across any reliable memoires of Draken pilots unfortunately.

Quote
You say the F-8 was a dog in many ways, care to expound on that? That's not what most of the pilot accounts I've come across say. They definitely liked the power that came with the later -16 and -20 versions of the J57, but most of the complaints seem to deal with the power available in tricky carrier landings and takeoffs in the tropics, a situation that it's hard to compare with the land-based fighters on this list. The lack of a BVRAAM in that day wasn't much of a disadvantage since the ones that were around were pretty much terrible. The ammunition feed was a real issue, and I think the biggest letdown it has compared to the Mirage III and its excellent 30mm DEFA guns with plenty of ammo.


Most pilot accounts suffer because they are coloured by later versions.  I have read that the F-8 suffered from a "lack of power" in the early versions of it's engine.   However, I am willing to bow to your superior knowledge.   As for the ammunition feed, it appears to be one thing that only affected to the F-8 more than any other fighter of the period.  It is the one thing most remarked on.   I suspect it just needed some "tweaking" but the US Navy wasn't that interested in it, at the time, because the F-8's demise was already on the horizon when the F-4 was introduced.

Quote
Finally, mind pointing to some of the accounts of the Mirage IIIO vs US F-5 Aggressors? I can imagine the Mirage III may have some advantage at high speeds, potentially, but that'd be about it, I'd think. Israeli pilots seemed to rate the Mirage III as comparable to the MiG-21, with the Mirage III having the advantage in the horizontal, at high speeds, and at low level. They generally rated the MiG-21 as better in the vertical, high altitude, and low speeds. I've read similar things from Indian and Pakistani pilots, too. In fact, Pakistani pilots that flew both the MiG-19 and Mirage said the MiG-19 was far better in the horizontal plane than the Mirage and would try to get the Mirage in a maneuvering fight in DACT, where they knew they had the upper hand.

Furthermore, US aggressor pilots flew both Kfirs and F-5Es and considered the F-5E to be the more maneuverable of the two. In fact, the Kfir was chosen because its handling characteristics were similar to the MiG-23 (aka not agile).


I am always careful where it comes to pilot accounts.   Ego is not a dirty word to most of them.   I've read two accounts of the RAAF's encounter with the F-5 with the Mirage and it occurred way back in the 1980s.  The Mirage pilots claimed they defeated the Aggressors when they came on a tour of Oceania.   Now, they may have had a bad day or they may have let the Mirage's win, deliberately.  However, the accounts I have read appeared to back up that the superior tactics of the Mirages were what defeated the F-5s, not any inherent flying abilities of the aircraft.  They were published in Australian magazines back in the day, so they aren't available any more.

It might have been that the F-5 pilots were just a little cocky and suffered as a consequence?   I think one of the problems they had was that they flew like they believed Soviet pilots flew - with limited creative input from the pilots and a lot of GC input?  The RAAF flew more creatively than they were used to as well?  Who knows?

As I have suggested, the Soviet method of piloting, in those days, didn't allow for much creativity.   You took off, you carried out your interception, you fought, you landed (if you survived) and all the time were under ground control direction.   After Vietnam, the Soviets realised it wasn't working and started their own "Top Gun" school and loosened up their control of the pilots.   Training is always the key which wins the battles.   If you train hard you have a better edge than the person who doesn't.    The Mirage was a good interceptor which got turned into a good fighter-bomber.   It wasn't a super-plane - no aircraft is.   Some are better than others some worse.   It is the pilot and their abilities which are the winner.

Instead of buying a super-plane, I'd go for a smaller aircraft, such as the F-5 or the Hunter - both cheaper and more easily replaceable.   I'd concentrate on the pilot's training.  Purchase a  trainer version of your fighter and teach your pilots how to fly by the seat of their pants.   It might not win you any battles but it will ensure you don't lose many.   Build a ground defence radar network and invest in AEW aircraft.   Make sure it is nearly impossible for your enemy to attack you without being detected.   Train your fighter pilots and use the radars to your advantage.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 09:07:30 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2018, 12:23:37 PM »
The F-8 would be my pick as an excellent all-rounder. OK, it only carried AIM-9's but they were relatively reliable compared to the longer range & BVR missiles of the day, & it had good dog-fighting abilities at both super-sonic & sub-sonic speeds.
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Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2018, 04:47:35 PM »
I support the hypothesis, that due to potential political constraints by the Swedish government  (and hats off to them),  that depending on your 'medium -sized country, and your nature of military bravado,  the choice of the Draken (although I personally love the design and concept) will undoubtedly have many strings  attached with its usage and deployment prospect! But then again,  Australia found this out with its Mirage III's and the French government, didn't it!

M.A.D


Offline Kelmola

  • Seeking motivation to start buillding the stash
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2018, 05:06:18 PM »
Re Swedish government constraining the sale of the Draken, one has to also remember it was powered by a licence-built Avon. Granted, the UK was not as overt with its meddling as the US (cf. what happened with the Viggen and its licence-built JT8D) but I guess the UK could have hampered the Swedish efforts in case the Draken would have been competing against the Lightning for sales.

You're forgetting that the USN & USAF went to a gun-armed F-4 (& the USN created the Naval Fighter Weapons School) after lessons learned in Vietnam, where the lack of training & guns had been a serious issue.
"No."

The USAF added an internal gun and wing slats to F-4E in order to make it a close-in dogfighter. The Navy established the Fighter Weapons School, but the F-4J they went back to Vietnam with did not have a gun or slats (the slats were added in the S rebuild after Vietnam though, but the Navy never added a gun).

The USAF kill ratio worsened. The USN kill ratio soared. Even with the modifications, the Phantom still didn't belong to a furball with MiG-17's (preferably not even with 21's), but the Navy experience showed it didn't have to if properly flown. So the USAF did what Navy had done and established their own aggressor squadrons for the purpose of DACT.

Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2018, 11:17:47 PM »
I think the J32B Lansen could also be a nice choice, with its radar, 4 AIM-9 and 4 30mm ADENs. Good range and a second set of eyes in the back as a plus. Unfortunately I have no idea about its maneuverability though I've read somewhere it could outclimb the Hunter and hold its own against it, as long as the fight was kept in the vertical.

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2018, 02:35:28 AM »
Looking back to the original post (or parts thereof):

What's the best land-based air superiority option for a medium-sized nation in the years 1956-1968?

Because of the rapid development in capabilities in this era, I think you really need to consider when said nation acquires.  If it was towards the start (say pre-1960) than the subsonic (Sabre etc) or 1st Gen supersonic (F-100/MiG-19) would have to be the leading candidates.  If however, you want to consider a latter acquisition (post 1960 and especially towards the latter '60s) than platforms such as the F-4 Phantom and others become more viable.  To try to select something for right across this period is too difficult otherwise.

No specific threat environment, East/West alignment, or terrain to consider. Aerial refueling is a plus, but in no way a requirement. More range is a plus, but no specific figure to consider. These are not to be operated from a carrier, so that is a superfluous feature. Ground attack capability is a plus, but not the focus here. Fleet size would be around 100 aircraft.

Again, I think some more context is required here.  Are we talking about a nation with a definite threat/competitor at hand or just a run of the mill country.  For instance, a selection for New Zealand would potentially be different than say a Israel.  are they likely to go up against a peer force or not?  Are they likely to be purely defensive or just as likely to go on the offensive.  As alluded to in my last post, a pure defensive role may point you more towards an interceptor whereas an offensive role (or "taking the fight to the enemy") will favour something with more range/weapons compliment.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 02:45:54 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2018, 03:49:16 AM »
I am always careful where it comes to pilot accounts. Ego is not a dirty word to most of them. I've read two accounts of the RAAF's encounter with the F-5 with the Mirage and it occurred way back in the 1980s. The Mirage pilots claimed they defeated the Aggressors when they came on a tour of Oceania. Now, they may have had a bad day or they may have let the Mirage's win, deliberately. However, the accounts I have read appeared to back up that the superior tactics of the Mirages were what defeated the F-5s, not any inherent flying abilities of the aircraft. They were published in Australian magazines back in the day, so they aren't available any more.

It might have been that the F-5 pilots were just a little cocky and suffered as a consequence? I think one of the problems they had was that they flew like they believed Soviet pilots flew - with limited creative input from the pilots and a lot of GC input? The RAAF flew more creatively than they were used to as well? Who knows?

As I have suggested, the Soviet method of piloting, in those days, didn't allow for much creativity. You took off, you carried out your interception, you fought, you landed (if you survived) and all the time were under ground control direction. After Vietnam, the Soviets realised it wasn't working and started their own "Top Gun" school and loosened up their control of the pilots. Training is always the key which wins the battles. If you train hard you have a better edge than the person who doesn't.  The Mirage was a good interceptor which got turned into a good fighter-bomber. It wasn't a super-plane - no aircraft is. Some are better than others some worse. It is the pilot and their abilities which are the winner.


That's very much in line with my assessment and understanding.

Instead of buying a super-plane, I'd go for a smaller aircraft, such as the F-5 or the Hunter - both cheaper and more easily replaceable. I'd concentrate on the pilot's training. Purchase a trainer version of your fighter and teach your pilots how to fly by the seat of their pants. It might not win you any battles but it will ensure you don't lose many. Build a ground defence radar network and invest in AEW aircraft. Make sure it is nearly impossible for your enemy to attack you without being detected. Train your fighter pilots and use the radars to your advantage.


Totally valid choice, especially if you upgrade the Hunters to use Sidewinders. Otherwise, they may be at a disadvantage against opponents armed with AIM-9Bs or K-13s.

I think the J32B Lansen could also be a nice choice, with its radar, 4 AIM-9 and 4 30mm ADENs. Good range and a second set of eyes in the back as a plus. Unfortunately I have no idea about its maneuverability though I've read somewhere it could outclimb the Hunter and hold its own against it, as long as the fight was kept in the vertical.


All good point, though I'd worry about its deficiencies in speed and agility. I've not read anything outstanding in either category regarding it. I do love the look of it, though, and think it's a good all-weather fighter for the era, as well as a good strike platform, too.

Because of the rapid development in capabilities in this era, I think you really need to consider when said nation acquires.  If it was towards the start (say pre-1960) than the subsonic (Sabre etc) or 1st Gen supersonic (F-100/MiG-19) would have to be the leading candidates.  If however, you want to consider a latter acquisition (post 1960 and especially towards the latter '60s) than platforms such as the F-4 Phantom and others become more viable.  To try to select something for right across this period is too difficult otherwise.

Again, I think some more context is required here.  Are we talking about a nation with a definite threat/competitor at hand or just a run of the mill country.  For instance, a selection for New Zealand would potentially be different than say a Israel.  are they likely to go up against a peer force or not?  Are they likely to be purely defensive or just as likely to go on the offensive.  As alluded to in my last post, a pure defensive role may point you more towards an interceptor whereas an offensive role (or "taking the fight to the enemy") will favour something with more range/weapons compliment.


As for the timeframe, assume that this is a force already equipped with something like the F-86 Sabre or MiG-15 and you're in charge of lining up a replacement that's to serve until about 1968-70. So, you're country is not without a fighter (in other words, it doesn't have to enter service in 1956), but the sooner the better. That's why the F-5A wouldn't be ideal. It means that you'd have to keep the Sabre as your frontline fighter until 1965 and that its replacement would only serve 3-5 years until it was replaced.

As I mentioned earlier, I would say that the scenario favors defense, but not exclusively. If attacked by neighbors, you'd want to be able to take the fight to them, I'd think. I'm evaluating other platforms separately for the strike role, so the multi-role aspect isn't huge, but you're going to want to escort strike packages. I'd say this would be a country like Greece, Iran, or Indonesia in that period, for example. Multiple different threat vectors and profiles. No single enemy, but a variety of opposing equipment types and regions.



The reason this thought experiment started in my head was that I was used to comparing combat aircraft purely as airplanes. In doing this, though, I was looking at combat performance and I realized that the weapons used (20mm Colts, 30mm DEFA, AIM-4 Falcom, AIM-9B Sidewinder, Shafrir-1, K-13, etc.) began to have more of an impact on effectiveness than the airframe that carried them. In short, the concept of "weapon system" really starts to come into its own at this time. I feel like I know enough about modern systems and aircraft to be able to evaluate their capabilities relatively well, but this 12 year period during the years of early jets, early missiles, early radar, and early countermeasures is a bit less clear to me.

Furthermore, during this time, most missile-equipped fighters were designed to down bombers, any yet most aerial combat in this period was actually fighter vs. fighter, further complicating things. So, that led to this thread.

In short, taken as a weapon system, which fighter aircraft was the best practical solution to likely threats in the air-to-air role?

Cheers,

Logan

Offline ysi_maniac

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2018, 07:00:42 AM »


Bill Gunston had no doubt: for him, Draken was the best.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2018, 12:29:59 PM »


Bill Gunston had no doubt: for him, Draken was the best.

I would be very interested in Bill Gunston's analogy of why he viewed the Draken "was the best" if you have it Carlos!
If you do,  could you PM it to me please?

M.A.D

Offline finsrin

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2018, 01:44:14 PM »
Draken looked so advanced.  Ahead of its time when I discovered it in early 60s.  Like a junior SR-71.

Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #34 on: January 11, 2018, 05:37:01 PM »
Instead of buying a super-plane, I'd go for a smaller aircraft, such as the F-5 or the Hunter - both cheaper and more easily replaceable. I'd concentrate on the pilot's training. Purchase a trainer version of your fighter and teach your pilots how to fly by the seat of their pants. It might not win you any battles but it will ensure you don't lose many. Build a ground defence radar network and invest in AEW aircraft. Make sure it is nearly impossible for your enemy to attack you without being detected. Train your fighter pilots and use the radars to your advantage.

Totally valid choice, especially if you upgrade the Hunters to use Sidewinders. Otherwise, they may be at a disadvantage against opponents armed with AIM-9Bs or K-13s.

Singapore and the Netherlands did exactly that.   I'd upgrade it further to carrying four Sidewinders, on multiple launchers.   The Indians showed that the Hunter was an excellent dog fighter.   Another alternative has been suggested - the CAC Avon-Sabre.  I am sure Australia would enjoy selling them.

« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 08:08:40 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2018, 06:58:04 PM »
I know you said land based but I have always had a soft spot for the FJ-4 and FJ-4B Fury.  It was fast, agile and very long ranged, with cannon instead of MGs, four or six under wing stores stations it could carry two, four (or even six) sidewinders, drop tanks, buddy refuelling pod etc.  As is it was a very capable aircraft that could have easily provided the sort of long effective service that the Sabre, Hunter, Super Mystere, Mig 17 and 19 did.

A very minor WIFF (outside the scope of the topic sorry) its carrier gear could have been deleted reducing weight providing either improved performance or space and weight for other equipment.  For instance there could have been a Mk33 Avon Sabre based on the FJ-4 with ADEN cannon and a 10,000lb thrust 200 series Avon.

The other thought is the F-86D/K/L but a Wiff would be needed for sidewinder and guns.

Ultimate Wiff, CAC Mk34+, an FJ-4B derived land based airframe with a 200 series Avon, F-86D/K/L style radar nose, Sidewinder and Firestreak and possibly an afterburner to give it a supersonic dash capability.  Yep know its a wiff but its a wiff using off the shelf options by an organisation that had already done just that to produce the original Avon Sabre.

Another thought, a Sea Venom with Sidewinder would have been quite effective throughout the specified time period.

Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #36 on: January 11, 2018, 08:11:18 PM »
As would a Sea Vixen, Javelin or Scimitar...

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2018, 08:21:20 PM »
As would a Sea Vixen, Javelin or Scimitar...

True

Offline ysi_maniac

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #38 on: January 12, 2018, 04:08:57 AM »


Bill Gunston had no doubt: for him, Draken was the best.

I would be very interested in Bill Gunston's analogy of why he viewed the Draken "was the best" if you have it Carlos!
If you do,  could you PM it to me please?

M.A.D

https://www.amazon.es/Fighters-Fifties-Bill-Gunston/dp/0850594634/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515701218&sr=8-1&keywords=fighters+fifties+gunston

'... one wonders why this amazingly cost/effective family should hardly have been considered by the flood of air forces that instead bought the F-104, F-5, or Mirage. Even today the ability to make automatic all-weather interceptions at Mach 2, drop 9,000 lb of bombs, or fly any kind of electronic-warfare or recon mission, and then vanish into the obscurity of farmland where there is no evident airfield, is not exactly common.'

This is just a quote from J35 article of mentioned book.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 06:13:10 PM by ysi_maniac »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2018, 08:20:36 AM »
I know you said land based but I have always had a soft spot for the FJ-4 and FJ-4B Fury.  It was fast, agile and very long ranged, with cannon instead of MGs, four or six under wing stores stations it could carry two, four (or even six) sidewinders, drop tanks, buddy refuelling pod etc.  As is it was a very capable aircraft that could have easily provided the sort of long effective service that the Sabre, Hunter, Super Mystere, Mig 17 and 19 did.

A very minor WIFF (outside the scope of the topic sorry) its carrier gear could have been deleted reducing weight providing either improved performance or space and weight for other equipment.  For instance there could have been a Mk33 Avon Sabre based on the FJ-4 with ADEN cannon and a 10,000lb thrust 200 series Avon.

The other thought is the F-86D/K/L but a Wiff would be needed for sidewinder and guns.

Ultimate Wiff, CAC Mk34+, an FJ-4B derived land based airframe with a 200 series Avon, F-86D/K/L style radar nose, Sidewinder and Firestreak and possibly an afterburner to give it a supersonic dash capability.  Yep know its a wiff but its a wiff using off the shelf options by an organisation that had already done just that to produce the original Avon Sabre.
Since the FJ-4 and FJ-4B used Curtiss-Wright produced Sapphires (J65s) (indeed, Fj-2 and on did), I would imagine that an Avon-powered one would be reasonably simple to produce.  NAA-Columbus had already studied a FJ-4/F-86K combination as their entry for the Canadian competition won by the F2H Banshee.  Upgrading to a dry 200-series or 300-series Avon would be a minimal problem, if any.  I could see replacing the 4x 20mm cannon with 2x 30mm ADEN but don't think that would be too major a change (Israelis swapped out 20mm cannon for 30mm DEFA cannon on their A-4s).

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2018, 06:40:15 PM »
Since the FJ-4 and FJ-4B used Curtiss-Wright produced Sapphires (J65s) (indeed, Fj-2 and on did), I would imagine that an Avon-powered one would be reasonably simple to produce.  NAA-Columbus had already studied a FJ-4/F-86K combination as their entry for the Canadian competition won by the F2H Banshee.  Upgrading to a dry 200-series or 300-series Avon would be a minimal problem, if any.  I could see replacing the 4x 20mm cannon with 2x 30mm ADEN but don't think that would be too major a change (Israelis swapped out 20mm cannon for 30mm DEFA cannon on their A-4s).

Very interesting and probably belongs in another thread but I would love to find out more about the FJ-4/F-86K combo concept.

There were CAC plans for a four ADEN evolved Avon Sabre

Offline tahsin

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2018, 07:13:45 PM »
The thing about Aggressors, as already mentioned above, is that they can take defeats in a good way. While the glitter of the movie Top Gun might lead to believe otherwise order one to be a "novice" and the other to be a "pro" and the novice would readily die in any scenario. Which is a big thing too, Taking everybody as a "pro" throughout an engagement might lead to missed kills and whatever that entails. Then 1980s must be the days Australia defended the whole SouthEast Asia against Vietnamese hordes with a single base in Malaysia. Was that Buttersworth? So, the Vietnamese must be "convinced" that those Mirages know their business inside out and their Floggers should not attack "bases" in Thailand, that sort of thing.

Does the scenario suppose the buyer country has the tech know how? If so, MiG-19.

Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #42 on: January 12, 2018, 09:48:07 PM »
It was "Butterworth".

As to Australia defending the whole of South-East Asia - forget it.  We were committed to the defence of Malaysia only.   SEATO had died a timely death when the US decided to become involved in South Vietnam.   Our Government lied about our own commitment to South Vietnam being part of SEATO.  SEATO in fact specifically kept South Vietnam out of the agreement.  It was a region of "special interest" but the failure of the UK to become involved in Laos and then Vietnam spelt the death of SEATO.

The Mirages were stationed at Butterworth as part to the Five Powers Defence Agreement (and as a carry on of the original Imperial Defence concept).   It was why the UK allowed Australia to purchase the Canberra bomber way back in 1951 - to allow us to carry UK Atomic Bombs to southern China.   We were the first export customer for the Canberra.   

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2018, 03:16:55 AM »
Very interesting and probably belongs in another thread but I would love to find out more about the FJ-4/F-86K combo concept.

There were CAC plans for a four ADEN evolved Avon Sabre
What I know about it I got from a former co-worker who was at NAA-Columbus from the early 1950's to when they closed.

That CAC four ADEN concept sounds nice.  Got any drawings?

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2018, 05:06:27 AM »
It was why the UK allowed Australia to purchase the Canberra bomber way back in 1951 - to allow us to carry UK Atomic Bombs to southern China.

I think you will find that there was more to it than that...
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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2018, 06:14:55 AM »
Ok, given the new scenario information my selection options would be the following:

Saab Draken - probably something based upon the B or D variant
Dassault Mirage III - probably something based on the IIIE variant
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II - probably C or D variant
Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Rational is:

Given said country already has a fighter in service in the class of a F-86/MiG-15, one could probably get by with a new fighter entering service in the early - mid 1960s.  If more capability was deemed necessary earlier, then maybe add missiles to the existing as an interim upgrade.  Either way, this allows one to consider one of the 2nd gen supersonic platforms (treating MiG-19/F-100 as first gen supersonic here).  This largely puts all the listed contenders on the same basic level in terms of max aerodynamic performance.  It also gives a reason to possibly eliminate the F-8.

Next, I looked at the range since having more endurance would be of benefit both in terms of endurance but also in that it does allow more options if you later want to take the fight to the enemy..  This eliminated such contenders as EE. Lightning and MiG-21 since these are more of point defence interceptors at this stage and even if they aren't, the listed ones supposedly have more range.

Concurrent to this, I also looked at weapons load out.  Again, here I believe all the listed have a slight advantage in terms of quantity of weapons able to be carried.  That said, in most cases the quality of the missiles in this period often left a lot to be desired, even systems such as the AIM-9.  In this regard, the Draken and the Mirage benefit from already having cannon built in - twin 30mm cannon in both cases.  Yes, both the F-4 and the F-106 received guns later on in their service but at this stage they didn't have them.  Similarly, whilst the F-4 would have the maximum missile compliment and carry the most BVR missiles with its AIM-7s, unless the RoE allowed these weren't going to be of much use.  Even if RoE wasn't a factor, missile performance as well as likely engagement ranges (which factor in coming velocities of both forces, radar performance and missile range amongst other things) would probably see more than 1 or 2 BVR shots unlikely anyway.  Most likely there might be a chance or a single shot (with understanding that it may not result in a kill but would potentially turn the opposing force onto the defensive) before a merge and more traditional dogfight with WVR weapons.  In this regard I don't believe that either the Draken or Mirage are really hindered by having less BVR missiles.

Both Draken and Mirage also have the advantage of having a reasonable (for the time) ground attack capability with bombs and/or unguided rockets.

Finally, if said nation was also able to introduce something akin to the Swedish STRIL 60 system, possibly as part of a package deal from the Swedes, than that might give a slight advantage to the Draken.  That said though, aspects such as cost and potential logistic support etc may come into play in the final selection.  Interestingly enough, I also believe cost would be something that rule the F-4 out in comparison for most countries - both the up front and ongoing support costs for the Draken/Mirage would be better than the F-4.

Overall, if I had to choose, I would possibly go for a Saab Draken fleet based upon the J-35D with more powerful Rolls-Royce Avon 300 (RM6C) and slightly more capable PS-03 radar.  In addition to the internal 30mm cannon I would plan on using AIM-9 missiles and possibly either an AIM-9C SARH variant or something similar to give a SARH BVR weapon.  Ideally, I would also try to integrate such a platform with something such as the STRIL 60 system to give the best possible use of the weapons system in that timeframe.

« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 06:40:31 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Online Rickshaw

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2018, 10:15:07 AM »
It was why the UK allowed Australia to purchase the Canberra bomber way back in 1951 - to allow us to carry UK Atomic Bombs to southern China.

I think you will find that there was more to it than that...

Of course there is, Greg, there always is.  You have Ming the Mercilless's ego, you have the British playing on that with some clever marketing (naming the aircraft after the Australian capital certainly helped), the promise of Australia getting it's own nukes, and so on and so on.   The purchase was ultimately a good idea but there were plenty of shenanigans around it which helped it along it's way.   The fact that there was no real American equivalent to the Canberra also helped.  The B-45 was no where as good which is why the USAF adopted the B-57 - a Canberra.  Ultimately, however, the reason was because the British were terrified that the UK as going to get wiped out in any nuclear exchange between the US and the fUSSR, so the Empire needed to fight on from the "periphery" - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa...   

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2018, 07:08:06 PM »


Bill Gunston had no doubt: for him, Draken was the best.

I would be very interested in Bill Gunston's analogy of why he viewed the Draken "was the best" if you have it Carlos!
If you do,  could you PM it to me please?

M.A.D

https://www.amazon.es/Fighters-Fifties-Bill-Gunston/dp/0850594634/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515701218&sr=8-1&keywords=fighters+fifties+gunston

'... one wonders why this amazingly cost/effective family should hardly have been considered by the flood of air forces that instead bought the F-104, F-5, or Mirage. Even today the ability to make automatic all-weather interceptions at Mach 2, drop 9,000 lb of bombs, or fly any kind of electronic-warfare or recon mission, and then vanish into the obscurity of farmland where there is no evident airfield, is not exactly common.'

This is just a quote from J35 article of mentioned book.

Thank you Carlos, you're a gentleman  ;)

M.A.D

Offline M.A.D

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2018, 07:24:01 PM »
Very interesting and probably belongs in another thread but I would love to find out more about the FJ-4/F-86K combo concept.

There were CAC plans for a four ADEN evolved Avon Sabre
What I know about it I got from a former co-worker who was at NAA-Columbus from the early 1950's to when they closed.

That CAC four ADEN concept sounds nice.  Got any drawings?

I second that request elmayerle

M.A.D

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2018, 09:10:00 PM »
Very interesting and probably belongs in another thread but I would love to find out more about the FJ-4/F-86K combo concept.

There were CAC plans for a four ADEN evolved Avon Sabre

What I know about it I got from a former co-worker who was at NAA-Columbus from the early 1950's to when they closed.

That CAC four ADEN concept sounds nice.  Got any drawings?


Just text references in a book

http://regimental-books.com.au/the-meteor-sabre-and-mirage-in-australian-service-p-2620.html

Offline kitnut617

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #50 on: January 14, 2018, 01:59:24 AM »
Very interesting and probably belongs in another thread but I would love to find out more about the FJ-4/F-86K combo concept.

There were CAC plans for a four ADEN evolved Avon Sabre
What I know about it I got from a former co-worker who was at NAA-Columbus from the early 1950's to when they closed.

That CAC four ADEN concept sounds nice.  Got any drawings?

Would that have been a FJ-4 fuselage with F-86K wings or the other way around Evan.  I had a plan to put the FJ-4 wings on an F-86D/K for a project something like this below. I was going to change the wings from what you can see here.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #51 on: January 14, 2018, 02:55:47 AM »
Probably a modified F-86K nose mated to an FJ-4 fuselage and wings.  The intake would need to be modified to match the airflow of the J65 instead of the airflow required by the J47.  The nose probably would have been positioned so as to give adequate over-the-nose visibility for carrier landings, too.

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Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #52 on: January 14, 2018, 05:38:24 AM »
Actually, taking my last post a little further, one could conceivably have the Saab J-35F improved version be selected under this scenario.  In the real world, this first flew flight in Dec 1961 and entered operational service with the Flygvapnet  in Jun 1964.  Therefore, maybe have an interim use of J-35Ds followed by the definitive J-35F.  This improved version still had the cannon (albeit down to one) and had improved electronics etc.though one could possibly return the second cannon just as Denmark did for their real world Saab 35XD variants which were based upon the J-35F.

On the missile side, one might as well go with a mix of AIM-9 and even GAR-11A/Rb.27 in the SARH/BVR role just as the Swedes did.
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