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September 29, 2004

Dusty and I have some interesting email exchanges...

We were discussing the time I shot down some Air Force guys in sim (I always thought it was a fluke - Dusty's analysis took what little wind was in them sails completely out!) and we got into aesthetics. Not a whole lotta context here, but a little insight into Jonah's Military Guy and Airpower Guy and some talk for you airplane buffs who visit.

> --- Instapilot: Did you know the Hurricane was covered in fabric (vs. Monococ--stressed sheet metal--construction) aft of the cockpit? If you're gonna buy a Brit WW II fighter, the only one to buy is the Spitfire. Amazing airplane and one of the most difficult wing shapes to manufacture (oval) but aerodynamically a brilliant design. BTW, I attended the 60th reunion of BoB [Battle of Britain. ed.] vets while at RAF Mildenhall. We arranged for a two-ship flyby--F-15 and Spit. What surprises many is how small fighters were back then and how big they are now. I think the F-4 is only a few feet shorter than the B-17 and carrier several times the explosive load. Gotta love those J79s! Cheers, Dusty

The Armorer responds:

Yeah, I know about the construction of the Hurri. I just like 'em, they're pugnacious, kinda like the A-10, vice the Metrosexual look of the Spit. The Typhoon's even better. Since I don't fly except in sim, I'm all about the aesthetic... The one fighter that kind of goes against the bigger better bit is the F-16 (gee, John Boyd's bird... whodathunk?) which doesn't quit overshadow the WWII birds as much. One F4 can carry the load of 10 B-17s... then there's the BUFF and the BONE... which are almost Thousand Plane Raids by their lonesomes. Much has changed. Far fewer people at risk (on the delivery side *and* the target side... at least in terms of collaterals - but no one ever gives us credit for that. Nor for the risks we take personally to avoid the collateral casualties. /rant



Here's something I didn't know why the BONE is still flying? Aside from the fact that it's less than half the BUFF's age, it can carry more than the venerable B-52, internally at least. I didn't believe it until I stood under the weapons bay and looked up. You could hoist a bus up in there.

Aside from the most beautiful piston-driven fighter ever built...

There’s the toughest...

...and my jet’s namesake. The biggest, heaviest single-engine fighter ever built and, besides being called the “Jug” (about as bad as “Hog”), it was known as “The Unbreakable.” This was brought home to me when I was working at Langley and a colleague told me about his dad having engine trouble while he was ferrying his new airplane back to the ETO...crash landed in the trees in New York somewhere. They got the airplane out, dropped the gear, banged out the dents on the wing leading edges, fixed the engine problem and he was on his way.

Look closely at the above picture and compare the size of the cockpit/pilot with the engine cowling. This was a BIG motor. That’s one thing we didn’t get in the Hog, but that may change as they retire a few to upgrade the rest.

As far as bombing goes, I’m sure you are aware of the air attack paradigm shift with the advent of JDAM: Curtis LeMay had to calculate the number of planes required per target. Now his successors calculate the number of targets per plane—16 for the B-2.

I'll post the Instapilot's ego-crushing AAR of my flight of fancy some other time!

John | Permalink | Comments (13) | Observations on things Military
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