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Bayonet-themed Day, Aviation Edition

In keeping with today's discussion about the relevance of supposedly obsolete weapons, here’s my pilot pile-on:

Remember the venerable and ubiquitous MacDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II?
Originally designed for the Navy as a fleet defense interceptor, it did NOT include an internally mounted gun—the fighter guy’s equivalent of a knife. Conventional “wisdom” at the time considered it obsolete. Guided missiles were the way to go.
Now granted, the typical interceptor scenario was to race toward the threat, acquire it electronically and hose off a missile before the other guy could get close enough to become bothersome.
Alas, the opposition had a bad habit of not behaving as expected, often remaining in the area and doing the unthinkable: getting missed by our cosmic ordnance…and staying around…and being rude, like bringing his weapons to bear against our lads.
Remember, missile technology at the time was, um, still maturing. Too many times the damn things wouldn’t work when needed. This was tiresome and frustrating to the crews, as having something other than a icy stare would have been handy once you got close enough to see the bad guy’s eyeballs in that vertical rolling scissors you never thought you’d find yourself in. This reality took a while to sink in among those who didn’t fly fighters but made weapons procurement decisions. That said, with enough whacks about the head and neck of the Pentagon body politic, common sense prevailed (at least somewhat).
So…
Enter the Vulcan M61 (and then the M61A1) retrofit to the Phantom. Modern fighters have come with guns ever since. This last sentence would probably come as a “Well, duh” conclusion to virtually every soul who ever flew a “pursuit plane,” from, say, 1914 to 1945, but sometimes we relearn old truths.
In the current CinC’s case, it isn’t a case of RE-learning, apparently.

19 Comments

Dusty, yeah, right, "common sense", starting when? My father described the "Puzzle Palace" as a perfect square designed by Congress. He also said, "Common sense is not all that common!"

Neither of these two clowns strike me as Presidential Material. Both of them should go back to grade school and learn how to do arithmetic, minus benefits to them or their friends. They are both the same, SICK. 
 
Dusty, I have to admit I got misty-eyed reading about the genesis of the F-4E. I spent 10 years of my time loading those guns, and missliles and conventional bombs and silver bullets. The C's and D's did have a gun pod, but it was carried on the centerline which was also a fuel station, and we all know how the Phantom loved to suck fuel. We used to joke that the Phantom could pass everything in the air except an SR-71 and a KC-135...
 
Just to pick a nit, the Vulcan had been around well before the gun problems with the Phantom II became apparent. IIRC, it first appeared in the F-104.

 
Cunningham and Toon.....
 
Yep...and regardless of his subsequent self-initiated fall from grace, Randy was able to out-fly him at slow speed in a Rhino. Which is saying something. Fortunately, that day, his AIM-7 DID work.
 
Which reminds me, Panther, when does Cunningham get out of prison?  Not trying to be mean to him; we are all tempted, and sometimes we fall.
 
If you're going to bring up Cunningham, then don't forget Steve Ritchie who got all of his kills with the AIM-7. He never had a malfunction. He was known for treating the loaders and missile techs quite well...
 
I forgot to mention that Ritchie flew the F-4D.
 
The F-4 Phantom II, one of best fighters ever built.  I am a little biased as I flew the F-4E/G for about 10 years.  She is an honest bird, talk to a pilot who knew how to listen.

Still, the Phantom is the World's Largest Distributor of MiG Parts.
 
If you're gonna cite Ritchie, you gotta include DeBellevue. Just sayin'... 
 
And, btw, DeB was the last American fighter ace to serve on active duty. 
   
OK...in order:
1) June 4, 2013
2) Ritchie had the added advantage of operating from land. The constant carrier landings have been suspected of damaging the seeker head gymbals to the point that they go "stupid" on launch. Also, the motors sometimes failed to fire, etc., etc. But this was at the (relative) beginning of reliance on radar-guided missiles and I give all the manufacturers a significant pass for breaking the code on a fairly hard puzzle...later years (AMRAAM, et al.) hace, I think, vindicated them to an extent.
   2a) Ritchie also, once the higher-ups realized this guy was a contender, had the added benefit of everyone involved--squadron mates, crew chiefs, and most everybody else--in doing their damdest to make sure that the Rhino and its weapons were READY every time he stepped to the jet.
3) Pontotoc Bill: 2 questions: a) Did you ever depart a slatted E?, and; 2) Did you ever fly G-easels at Spang?
4) The Chuckster was also the highest scoring Ace in Vietnam...with a little help from his nose gunners (WSO's moniker for pilots).

Sorry it took so long to respond...just got back from my root canal...which pales in comparison to
Keith's challenges...everybody get out your baht guns, put 'em on "squirt" (full auto) and start firing...
That is all.
 
Panther 01,

Per your questions:

1.  Almost, but not quite.  Right on the edge of the burble when we dumped the nose.  Lost the 1v1 fight then.

2.  Yes.  480 TFS from Aug 1980 to May 1984.  Was there when the 52nd Wing went from two F-4E  and 1 F-4G squadrons to three squadrons of F-4E and F-4G.  First flight in a G was Nov 1983 inside the Buffer Zone.  Then transfered to George AFB in the 561 TFS and then 562 TFTS.
 
Thanks, OldLoadr! I had the great honor of talking to those guys -- and to their ringleader, Robin Olds himself, whilst writing an article about the Triple Nickle. Cunningham, too, now that I think about it, in re another story. 'Twas many a year and long ago... 
 
And I worked with Cunningham as an ATO builder during Team Spirit one year in the HTACC at Osan. Small world.

BTW, he is a a VERY large dude. The F-4 musta been a really tight fit. 
 
I seem to recall him complaining about that...   : D 
 
2) Ritchie had the added advantage of operating from land. The constant carrier landings have been suspected of damaging the seeker head gymbals to the point that they go "stupid" on launch.
That makes sense since we used to correct AIM-7 no-tune Red Balls with a rubber mallet applied judiciously to the G&C section.
 
Your photos are generally secondary -- we seek interesting banter, soulful discourse, gripping avenues of comments bursting away from your photos.