Red Star: The incredible story of the American fighter jet that fell into Soviet hands

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Much has been written about USAF’s secret fleet of Soviet fighters, but far less known is the counter story of the American fighter that ended up deep in Russia during the Cold War. 

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At the end of the war in Vietnam, the USSR received several samples of US aviation equipment captured by the victorious Vietnamese communists, among them was a F-5E light fighter-bomber (of a total of 27 that the North Vietnamese found). The F-5E, serial number 73-00807, was delivered to the Soviet Union. It was an extremely valuable intelligence coup that could tell the Communist super state much about American design and this mass produced aircraft’s capabilities, and how to counter it.

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This exceptionally interesting trophy was sent to the VVS airbase in Chkalovsky before being transferred to the Akhtubinsk base. A test team comprised of engineering staff from an aeronautical research institute was formed to investigate, develop and test the American machine. The engineers and technicians were impressed by the design, and especially admired the F-5Es ease of maintenance and flying operation. The wing design also impressed the Russians for it conferred the F-5E with an impressive ability to fly at minimum speeds and high angles of attack.

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From the end of July 1976 to May 1977, a full-scale flight test of the Tiger II took place at the air force research institute. Flying was carried out by two exceptionally experienced pilots, A.S.Byezhyevets and V.N. Kondaurov, both decorated Heroes of the Soviet Union.

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The results were shocking. In terms of manoeuvrability the F-5E was considerably superior to the Soviet MiG-21 fighter, a highly capable dogfighter itself. Further tests show a similar advantage over the most advanced Russian fighter, the MiG-23. However, the American plane was at a significant disadvantage in vertical manoeuvrability and energy compared to the MiG-23. Critically, it also lacked beyond visual-range medium-range missiles, something the MiG-23 did have.

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The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in Moscow performed static tests on the aircraft and the results were comprehensively recorded. Intriguingly, some of the design features of the F-5E made it onto the Soviet T-8 and T-10 projects (the latter becoming the famous ‘Flanker’).

In the 1990s the nose section of the aircraft was moved to a display area known as ‘Hangar 1’, which today is virtually impossible for outsiders to visit.

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We can only bring you articles like this with your support. Our site is absolutely free and we have no advertisements (any you do see, are from WordPress). If you’ve enjoyed an article you can donate here. 

Have a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

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A fighter pilot’s account of the F-86 Sabre – Part 1: Learning to dogfight

 

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The Sabre was the best fighter of its generation. Potently armed, agile and a delight to fly, it proved formidable in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. It was with the Pakistan Air force that Wg. Cdr. Irfan Masum (Rtd) flew the ‘Jet Spitfire’. Here he shares his dramatic experiences of flying the F-86F Sabre.

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“My first impression of the aircraft was that it was sleek to the extent of being sexy. It had already built its reputation in combat in the 1965 Indo-Pak war where it fared extremely well against the adversary. So I was thrilled that I was going to fly it. The pilot who forged this reputation was its wartime reputation was Flt Lt M. M. Alam who shot down five Indian Air Force Hawker Hunters in one sortie… in under two minutes of combat. It is fair to say that Alam, the pilot, and Sabre, the fighter – put the Pakistan Air Force on the map as one of the leading Air Forces of the world. The Sabre’s reputation filled me with awe and made me eager to get into its cockpit and feel the thrill of it personally.” (read about Irfan’s MiG-19 adventures here).

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How did it differ from the other aircraft you flew?

The F-86F was different to other fighters I flew in many ways. Firstly, it manoeuvred beautifully and was aerodynamically very friendly, making it an ideal aircraft to learn the facets of fighter flying. Secondly, it was a forgiving aircraft to the extent that it would say ‘sorry’ to the pilot for mishandling it…. or almost. Meaning that the trainee pilot could mishandle it and get away with it. The Sabre, almost always, refused to enter a spin. And if you forced it into one and then left the controls, it would recover itself. Thirdly, it was the only aircraft I’d flown that had automatic ‘speed controlled’ slats. 

Its computing gunsight made it lethally accurate in air battles. It was ideal in close combat, and six guns blazing at a very good rate of fire gave it an edge on all contemporary fighters of the era.

‘Dissimilar’ air combat training was a norm and the F-86 was often pitted against the MiG-19 and Mirage. Sabre tactics against the MiG were simple: strictly confine itself to a turning battle. Stay long enough in combat – without ceding advantage- for the MiG to run scarce on fuel and then make it difficult for him to disengage. Take a gun shot on a disengaging MiG, and a missile shot before the MiG accelerated out of reach.

My instructor was Flt Lt Farooq Zaman. He was as fearless an instructor as he was a fighter pilot, never missing the opportunity to take me to my limits often forcing me to fly at the very edges of the flight envelope.

His compared  ‘air combat’ to a literal ‘dogfight’: according to him, the aim of dogs fighting each other is to turn around faster and bite the other dog first. He demanded that I manipulate the flight controls (ailerons, rudders and elevators – in conjunction with the throttles) however necessary, to turn around and bite him. The essence of his theory stayed with me all my flying years.

Another tip that he gave me – demonstrated practically in the air many a times – would also form the backbone of my combat tactics. His mantra was ‘achieve height advantage on the adversary’ right in the beginning of the combat. How? He would explain – after the initial merge (which is usually head-on) show that you are getting into a tight climbing turn towards the foe, forcing him to also get into a tight climbing turn towards you. Then roll wings level and pull up for a loop with no bank on. Once inverted on top of the loop, execute a roll of the top and stay up there looking for the adversary – who will be sighted below the horizon considerably lower than you. The aerodynamics of this manoeuvre were simple – pulling up with wings level allows one to gain more height than the one who is pulling up towards you with a 60-70 degree bank on. Once you achieve the initial height advantage, make it work for you. Exchange height advantage for speed, when needed, but convert the extra speed back to height advantage so as to maintain an upper hand. Never lose the height advantage throughout the 1V1 combat.”

Part two coming soon

paki.jpgHave a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

Top Ten Asymmetric Aircraft

ass.pngDespite in many cases possessing design advantages, very few profoundly asymmetric aircraft have been constructed. There is no obvious reason for this but it may just be that they are not trusted. For example, the proposed initial design of the Boeing 727 trijet featured a layout that Boeing calculated would be the most efficient with two engines under one wing and one under the other but was rejected by airlines as it was believed passengers wouldn’t like it.

Exceptions prove the rule though, so here’s a rundown of ten flying machines that not only existed but actually flew and for one reason or another managed to slip the surly bonds of symmetry.

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10. Canopy capers: Lockheed RP-38

Provided an aircraft is of sufficient size it can sometimes makes sense to move the pilot to one side or the other to allow other crew to get past or to improve the view from the pilot’s seat. The Sea Vixen and some variants of the Canberra offset the canopy, allowing the pilot a lovely view whilst simultaneously confining other crewmembers in the depths of the fuselage with merely a tiny window to peer out of. In the case of the Sea Vixen this was allegedly done to cut out extraneous daylight and render the cabin dim enough for the feeble brightness of the radar scope to be visible, whilst the Canberra’s asymmetrical hood derives from the navigator’s position being moved but the pilot’s remaining the same: “He’ll be fine there. Just cover him with a smaller canopy” said Teddy Petter (probably). Some ten years earlier the Yermolaev Yer-2 (which remains obscure despite enjoying a long service life and intensive wartime action) shifted the pilot to the left under an offset canopy to improve downward view over the nose, meanwhile most variants of the rather better-known Heinkel He 111 employed a wonky nose to allow the pilot to see past the front gun cupola. The most extreme example of canopy relocation however remains the RP-38: in order to test whether a pilot’s position some distance from the centre line of the aircraft would prove problematic, the first production P-38 Lightning was modified by removing the turbosupercharger and replacing it with a cockpit in the left hand tailboom. The results were successful and this research paved the way for the P-82 Twin-Mustang with crew members in each of its twin fuselages, as well as producing the most distinctive Lightning variant to fly.

Left to right: the Sea Vixen, Canberra, Yer-2 and He 111 show off their respective glazing irregularities

9. Offset testbeds: Tu-4/Tu-91

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«Быстро, спрячься! Вот идет Хрущев»

A common reason for many normally-symmetrical aircraft to become asymmetrical is to take a new and untried engine into the air and the results in some cases are striking. Honeywell for example use a Boeing 757 for this purpose but have decided to stick the test engine on a pylon bolted just behind the cockpit, resulting in an aircraft that looks like an example of bad Photoshop bizarrely come to life to menace ‘normal’ airliners. Meanwhile NASA’s propfan test Gulfstream II remains one of the wackiest example in this crowded field. Not content with using an aircraft that would appear to the casual observer to be too small for such activity, NASA decided to mount the 6000hp Allison propfan on the port wing only and counterbalance it with a large weight on the tip of the starboard wingtip. But it was the Soviets who really went to town on this theme. When testing the Tu-91, apparently unaware of the existence of wind tunnels, Tupolev mounted the entire engine and fuselage assembly onto the starboard wing of a Tupolev Tu-4 to test its aerodynamics, resulting in a horrific Frankenstein’s monster of an aircraft. Ultimately the aerodynamics proved fine but the Tu-91 was apparently cancelled on the whim of Khruschev who thought it looked ridiculous. Evidently he never saw this testbed.

Left: Honeywell’s 757 does its best Steve Martin impression Right: NASA’s test Gulfstream shows off its single propfan and natty wingtip counterweight

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8: Mario Castoldi’s OCD nightmare: Macchi MC.200 series

Most single engine high performance aircraft of the 1940s attempted to counteract torque by offsetting the vertical tail surfaces but there were exceptions, for example the French Bloch 152 employed the cunning but hideous expedient of cranking the entire engine and propellor slightly to the left resulting in a broken-nosed look. Meanwhile in Italy, Macchi’s outstanding designer Mario Castoldi schemed a more elegant solution designed to irritate OCD sufferers for years to come by making one wing of his series of wartime fighters slightly but noticeably longer than the other. This meant rather than simply counteracting the torque, the enlarged left wing put the asymmetric force created by the airscrew to useful work by generating lift. Evidently it was a fine solution as the Macchi fighters were prized for their beautifully harmonised controls and delightful handling characteristics.

7. Lop-sided choppers: Lockheed XH-51A

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Most helicopters are fairly asymmetric, requiring a tail rotor to keep them from spinning out of control, but Lockheed took it to another level. The XH-51 was a fast helicopter but Lockheed wanted to go faster still and what better way to achieve this than by slamming a turbojet on the side to provide a shedload of extra thrust? The resulting XH-51A also added stub wings, turning it into compound helicopter. It was weird looking but very fast, clocking 257 mph in level flight.

Gyrodyne: cute but doomed

Curiously, around ten years earlier the only other asymmetrical compound helicopter to be built had gained the absolute speed record for rotorcraft when the Fairey FB.1 Gyrodyne attained 124 mph. It too had stub wings and mounted a small tractor propellor on the right hand wingtip. The Gyrodyne was on order for the Army when it achieved the record but sadly it was destroyed in a crash soon afterwards. Desperately requiring helicopters for operations in Malaya but now faced with an unacceptable delay to series production the Army ordered the Westland Dragonfly instead (a licence built Sikorsky S.51) thus depriving British forces of the chance to operate their most asymmetrical helicopter.

6. Mars Attacks: Scaled Composites ARES

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“Just pull a cool fighter pilot face…ahh, whatever, that’s fine.”

The A-10 is a very mildly asymmetric aircraft, placing the (massive) gun slightly to one side to allow room for the nose wheel to retract into. It was also a big gun that resulted in the more pronounced asymmetry of the Scaled Composite ARES (Agile Responsive Effective Support), a close air support aircraft designed as a result of a study into a Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA) – essentially a smaller cheaper A-10. A major problem with aircraft mounted guns arises if the engine ingests waste gases produced when the weapon is fired. To avoid this Burt Rutan sensibly mounted the gun on the right side of the aircraft and the engine intake is on the left. To avoid problems from asymmetric recoil of the gun the exhaust gases produced by firing it are channelled left by a duct to cancel this out. To compound the asymmetry of the aircraft, the engine is not mounted parallel to the direction of flight but canted eight degrees to the left, the jet pipe is curved to direct the thrust directly to the rear. The curved jet pipe also serves to reduce the IR signature of the aircraft. As seems to be the norm with ‘low cost’ combat aircraft with a massive potential international market, ARES proved thoroughly excellent in tests and then no one bought it. However all was not lost as ARES starred as the secret Me 263 in the screen (ahem) ‘classic’ of 1992 ‘Iron Eagle III’ and remains airworthy (and available for hire) with Scaled Composites at Mojave as a research aircraft.

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5. Skew-whiff pioneer: Wright Flyers

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The Wright Brothers were motivated by a desire to appear on page 3 of every history of aviation book after Icarus and the Montgolfier Brothers.

Aerial asymmetry is not a new development. The first powered aeroplane to fly was asymmetrical, mounting the engine on one side of the centre line and placing the pilot on the other to balance it, an arrangement that did not catch on. Despite the non-intuitive engine placement the Wright’s persisted with it as their aircraft evolved and entered production. Nearly a decade later, the Wright Model B, which had seats for two, placed the engine on one side and the occupants on the other, as may be seen in the accompanying photograph (below).

Cole, Fowler and Grundy’s difficult second album proved too much for contemporary critics

4. The Kaiser’s Withered Arm: Gotha Go.VI


Quite why the Germans were so very much more ready to embrace the notion of lateral asymmetry in aircraft remains a mystery but the fact remains they were at it way before anyone else was really going there (Wright Brothers aside). The Gotha Go.VI was an experimental bomber that threw conventional caution to the wind by mounting an abbreviated engine pod with a pusher propeller and a gunner in the nose on one side and a normal fuselage complete with tail surfaces and fitted with a tractor propellor on the other. It was the first known aircraft designed with an asymmetric arrangement of wings and fuselage(s) and was certainly the first to fly when testing commenced in the summer of 1918. As with many of these aircraft, the reasoning behind its weird shape was logical and aerodynamically prudent. The designer, Hans Burkhard, reasoned that a more efficient twin engine aircraft could be made of the conventional Gotha Go.V by reducing the number of drag producing bodies it possessed, such as fuselage and engine nacelles. Apparently the scheme worked and the only problem encountered by the bizarre looking biplane was some tail buffeting. This issue was to be cured by an asymmetric tail unit but unfortunately time was not on Gotha’s side. The first prototype was damaged beyond repair when it nosed over (the only known photograph of the aircraft depicts it in this undignified position) and work on the second prototype was unfinished when the armistice brought all German military aircraft development to a sudden halt.

3. Slew but Sure: NASA AD-1

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During flight testing, NASA engineers stumbled across the remains of a Stone Age fort in the Badlands

To be fair the AD-1 was only asymmetric some of the time but when it was, it really went for it. A simple aircraft, built on the cheap, the AD-1 was constructed largely from fibreglass and had a fixed undercarriage that appeared to have been stolen from one of those fancy wheelbarrows rich people have in their gardens. The oblique or slew-wing concept was first proposed by Richard Vogt (of whom more later) in 1942 and was revived by Robert T Jones at NASA, a pioneer of delta wing technology. Jones proposed that a large oblique-wing aircraft, flying at speeds up to Mach 1.4, would have considerably better aerodynamic performance than a conventional aircraft. At high subsonic speeds and beyond, the wing would be pivoted at up to 60 degrees to the aircraft’s fuselage, studies demonstrated these angles would decrease drag and permit increased speeds and longer ranges for a given fuel load. The AD-1 was built to test the concept and first flew in 1979. A leisurely test programme tested ever greater angles until the maximum 60 degrees of oblique wing sweep was achieved in mid-1981. The concept proved successful but the AD-1 exhibited unpleasant characteristics at wing sweep angles above 45 degrees due to its cheapo fibreglass construction limiting the stiffness of the wing. A more sophisticated (i.e. more expensive) research aircraft would have to be built to test the oblique wing in the transonic realm but, like virtually all promising but radical aviation concepts, further development was not forthcoming. The AD-1 is exhibited today at the Hiller Aviation museum and remains the only manned oblique wing aircraft to have flown.

2. Schielendes Fliegendes Auge/Suck my left one: Blohm & Voss Bv 141

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Blohm to lose

The go-to aircraft when it comes to ridiculing Second World War German aircraft design, the Bv 141 was actually an extremely efficient design crippled not by its unique layout but by its engine. The seemingly crazed arrangement of fuselage and cabin was the result of an extremely logical design approach to the requirements of the specification and the Bv 141 was of sufficient interest that some 25 examples were built as well as three prototypes. The designer, Dr Richard Vogt was, for reasons that remain unclear, extremely fond of asymmetric designs and he produced design studies for many different non-symmetrical aircraft until the end of the war but sadly only the Bv 141 was destined to be built. As a tactical reconnaissance and observation aircraft the Bv 141 was intended to offer the best possible view for its crew, especially downwards, that could be achieved with a single engine aircraft. Early examples were powered by the BMW 132 and it was noted that the aircraft, whilst exceeding all requirements of the specification was slightly underpowered. The decision was made to replace the engine with the more powerful BMW 801 and precious time was lost altering the design to accept the new engine. Unfortunately for Blohm & Voss the BMW 801 was also the engine of the highly successful Focke Wulf 190, which by this time was churning off the production lines by the thousand and had priority for engines. Furthermore, another Focke Wulf product, the Fw 189 (another quite unconventional aircraft for its era) was in production and proving more than satisfactory in the tactical reconnaissance role. Thus the Bv 141 was destined to become little more than a particularly striking footnote in aviation history, which is a pity for if (as seemed likely) it had proved a success in operational service, perhaps it would have inspired a few more asymmetric designs to liven up the skies.

1. Smoker’s delight: Rutan Model 202 Boomerang

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From some angles the Boomerang looks like a relatively conventional aircraft. Not this one though.

First flown in 1996, the Boomerang is an aircraft so asymmetrical that the left and right engines even have a different power output, the Rutan Boomerang was intended to be the most efficient possible twin engine aircraft of its size and class, as well as minimising dangerous control difficulties in the event of single engine failure. In this it succeeded admirably but it never entered production and only a sole example was built. Burt Rutan, who also designed the ARES is well aware of the weirdness of his creation: “Probably one of the most difficult tasks faced in the development of this aircraft was explaining why I would design a configuration that is asymmetric.  In fact, an early comment as the aircraft arrived at the Experimental Aircraft Association International Air Show at Oshkosh, Wisconsin this year, was from a fellow who ran up and remarked, ‘What in the hell were you smokin’ when you laid that one out?’ however its apparently arbitrary layout is based on sound principles. For example, aerodynamic drag is reduced when compared to a conventional aircraft by placing one engine in the fuselage and then mounting another on the wing, in exactly the same way as the Gotha Go VI. The rear of the engine nacelle is extended backwards to form a tailboom that adds stiffness to the tail surfaces and conveniently also provides extra baggage stowage. The engines are moved forward relative to the fuselage to minimise noise in the cabin and the wings are swept forward to compensate for this. The different lengths of left and right wing generate appropriate lift for the different size and weight of the left and right sides of the aircraft. The right hand engine’s placement in front of the left hand engine helps to minimise asymmetric control issues in the event of either engine failing, it also produces 10 horsepower more than the left hand unit. If one compares Rutan’s Boomerang to the Beechcraft Baron, a conventional twin engine aircraft, in production today with the same engines, one finds that the Boomerang is around 400 kg lighter, has a 92% greater range, a 47 mph faster cruise, uses 13% less fuel, has an 8 mph lower stall speed, 84% less wing area and a better rate of climb. Possibly most important of all is that, unlike the Baron, the single engine Minimum Control Speed (MCS) is lower than the stall speed, so the aircraft remains conventionally controllable in the event of engine failure. Rutan said that the Boomerang is the one general aviation aircraft he designed that he’d like to enter production. So why didn’t this happen? The tediously inevitable answer is money. Without the necessary funds to go through the costly certification process, let alone tooling up for production, the Boomerang never stood a chance of being anything other than a glorious oddity – yet nearly sixty year old designs like the Baron are still being produced despite design shortcomings that could now be eradicated.
Happily the solitary Boomerang, after languishing for several years, was restored to flying condition in 2011 and its unique form still graces the skies.

This site needs your help to continue. Our site is absolutely free and we have no advertisements (any you do see, are from WordPress). If you’ve enjoyed an article you can donate here. 

Have a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

Su-35 versus F-22 Raptor: Analysis from RUSI’s Justin Bronk

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The most potent operational fighter aircraft in Russian service is the Sukhoi Su-35. We asked Justin Bronk, Research Fellow from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), how it would fare in combat against the formidable F-22 Raptor operated by the United States Air force. 

Are there tactics which would enable a Su-35 force to take on a F-22 formation?

Simply put – no. Whilst the Su-35 does have the hypothetical capability to detect the F-22 at close ranges using its IRST and potentially the Irbis-E radar, both sensors would have to be cued to focus on exactly the right part of sky to have a chance of generating a target track. By contrast, the F-22 will know exactly where the Su-35 is at extremely long range and can position for complete control of the engagement from the outset with superior kinematics. The Su-35’s only chance would be to absorb the AMRAAM and AIM-9 shots from the F-22’s and hope that they had sufficient numbers left to attack the tankers and airbases which the F-22’s rely on post-engagement.

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How do the F-22 and Su-35 compare in terms of close-in agility/energy preservation/types of fighters (angles V energy)

The Su-35 can probably out-turn an F-22 in a horizontal fight at medium and low altitudes, but the need to carry missiles and tanks externally to be effective, as well as the brute size of the Sukhoi will ensure it remains at a distinct energy disadvantage to the Raptor in terms of energy retention and acceleration at all speeds. The F-22 also will not get into an angles fight with an Sukhoi – there is simply no need for it to do so.

How do they compare in terms of BVR engagements?

BVR engagements are all about situational awareness, positioning/energy advantage, and persistence in terms of fuel and missiles. In all but the latter category the Su-35 is hopelessly outclassed by the F-22 (as are all other operational fighter aircraft). Even in terms of missiles, the Su-35 can carry up to twelve to the F-22’s eight but combat practice, especially against stealthy targets, involves firing salvos of six missiles with mixed seekers so the Su-35 only really has two credible shots. By contrast the F-22 can get much closer without being threatened so even against the Su-35S DRFM jammers, it can fire smaller salvos with much better Pk.

(taken from full article here)

Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_Br0nk

Follow my vapour trail on Twitter@Hush_kit

You may also enjoy top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story of The Planet SatelliteFashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. 

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My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #43: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-105

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Sofia Kovalenok from the Monino AF Museum volunteer restoration team, and her responsibility the 105.11. She has been found and restored missing cockpit equipment, and applied the orginal markings to the spaceplane scheme with all the stencils (105.11 was repainted in silver while though originally it was white and black).

In 1965 the Soviet Union started a top secret project lead by the engineer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy. Known as ‘Spiral’, its aim was to build a spaceplane that could have been used for a variety of purposes including aerial reconnaissance, space rescue, satellite maintenance, and as a space interceptor to sabotage enemy satellites. Yes, I did say ‘space interceptor’, but let’s add another element of excitement: it was to be launched from the back of a Mach 6 mothership (to be built by Tupolev). Once thrown into the air by the mothership, its own detachable rocket would boost it into space. The  MiG-105 was built as a research aircraft in support of the Spiral, to demonstrate landings (made on skids) and low speed handling. It made its first subsonic free-flight in 1976, taking off under its own power from an old airstrip near Moscow. It made only eight flights before the project was cancelled in favour of the Buran, a knock-off of the US Shuttle. Though the MiG-105 never made it into space, its sister, the unmanned БОР (‘BOR’) did. Now exhibited at the Monino museum, The MiG-105 is (like me) a Muscovite — which is clearly another reason to love this little flying shoe.

— Ria Timkin, Musician (you can support her music here. She currently has no songs about spaceplanes)

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My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #42: Martin-Baker MB3

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Despite never entering service, the MB3 has been indirectly responsible for saving 7553 lives (and counting). Friends and partners, James Martin and Valentine Baker had been designing unconventional monoplanes since the early 1930s. From the start they believed that aircraft should be as simple as possible. The MB3 was their response to a wartime RAF requirement for a fast, heavily armed, fighter. Formidably furnished with six 20-mm cannon, it was also designed for ease of maintenance and manufacture (unlike the Spitfire). Tests flights, which started on 31st August 1942, proved it was both highly manoeuvrable and easy to fly. Its top speed of 415 mph was a touch faster than the contemporary Spitfire Mk VIII. The main load-bearing structures were constructed of heavy tubing (or built-up spars) so it would have been able to survive greater battle damage than an equivalent stressed skin aircraft. It was not to be however: on a test flight on 12th September 1942, the engine failed soon after take-off, and the MB3 crashed in a field and killed its pilot, Capt. V Baker. Though the team had been investigating the idea of escape seats since 1934, it was Baker’s death that motivated Martin to focus exclusively on ejection seats.

–– Lucy Bentham 

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Navy Growlers draw massive sky penis

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Those that argue that the US Navy is a phallocentric Freudian organisation were given succour today by photos circulating showing a massive sky penis reportedly drawn in the sky by pilots from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island—the home of the Navy’s fleet of EA-18G Growlers. 

Image from @anahi_torres_ story shared by The Drive

Top 10 aircraft camo schemes 2017

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Chinese Z-8s have an amazing camo scheme but we couldn’t fit them on our list.

Modern military aircraft are all painted in a desperately boring shade of grey… well, almost all. Air Forces Monthly Editor Thomas Newdick teams up with Hush-Kit’s Joe Coles to dig deep, and uncover ten masterpieces of conspicuous inconspicuity.

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10. Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’, Kazakh Border Guard, ‘Chocolate pudding’  WHITE-04-Antonov-An-26_PlanespottersNet_434862

 

9. Northrop F-5N Tiger II, US Navy, ‘Rhythm of the Saints’a68564da8bcdaf5002bf1afb13e1531e 2.jpg

This Navy aggressor impresses with a wild dazzling stripe scheme.

8. Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon, US Air Force ‘Arctic monkey’

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7. Sukhoi Su-27UB ‘Flanker’, Eritrean Air Force, ‘Splinter faction’SU-27UB 609 ERITREO ERITREA 05-06-2002.jpg

African ‘phwoar-lord’.

 

6. ShinMaywa US-2, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, ‘Blue steel’2211693.jpg

Smart as hell. US Pacific World War II style? 1950s US Navy chic? Steel blue with crisp red Hinomaru: perfection.

5. Grumman F-14AM Tomcat, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, ‘Shi-raz-clart Mehrabadboy’F-14-IRIAF.jpg

A smart desert splinter scheme reminiscent of an airshow ‘Flanker’ of the 1990s gives this Iranian Tomcat a certain something. Smart white undersides.

4. Antonov An-22 ‘Cock’, Russian Air Force, ‘Insert heteronormative Cock joke here’

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Attempting to hide such a massive airlifter is an exercise in futility. Still, nice Bond-esque scheme.

3. MD Helicopters MD500, Korean People’s Air Force, ‘Lime twizzler’img_1344-2a.jpg

Crazy colours, turquoise belly. Job’s a good’un.

2. Grumman S-2T Tracker, Republic of China Air Force, ‘Return to the blue lagoon’s-2t-1.jpg

Carnival time, down in Taiwan.

 

  1. McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ Phantom II, Japan Air-Self Defense Force, ‘Digital Forest Ranger’ ghhg.pngfucknutt.pngSpetsnaz Viggen. Disrupticon prime.

 

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Have a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #41: Rockwell XFV-12

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Argue with me, if you will, about whether the XFV-12 was an “airplane”, on the pedantic grounds that airplanes can leave the ground under their own power. Point out to me, kindly or with malice, that its 70s Kustom Van paint job, reminiscent of some early arcade cabinet or Sandy Frank sci-fi epic, is a gleaming disguise for the Frankensteinian joining of Phantom and Skyhawk parts, intended to save time and money during the US defence establishment’s post-Vietnam doldrums.

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Don’t care. The love of warplanes is a vice, and the XFV-12, with its inability to carry its own weight let alone a bombload, is the aviation equivalent of a very tasty lite beer. Relieved of considering any moral dimensions, we can focus on the aesthetics of this hopeful monster, and fully appreciate its melding of the beautifully sleek with the slightly clumsy and the subtly alien. The rakish, confident twin tails, framing the slick landing gear enclosures! The huge yet somehow elegant diamondesque canards! The faintly toylike proportions and ever so slightly silly nose. I want to put on a PVC flight suit marked with Rockwell’s corporate-slick logo, climb into this plane, and blast off towards a future painted by Syd Mead, rising on a white-hot column of pure techno-fantasy.

(Rik Haines lives in Cascadia, uses unusual pronouns, and plays too much Kerbal Space Program.)

It also also makes an appearance on the 10 worst US aircraft here

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