Dogfighting without a gun?

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skyhigh

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 05:38

With the air to air missile age, "experts" at the Pentagon decided that dogfighting was obsolete, and there was no need for a gun.

But the experience of Vietnam showed us that gun-equipped MiG-17s could and did down Thuds and Phantoms.

So, why is a gun essential in a dogfight when you have BVR missiles?
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ford2go

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 07:10

Not that I'm any kind of expert, but one of the reasons in the Vietnam era was that the missiles weren't all that good.

In general, I'm guessing that guns give you more flexibility. Hopefully someone who actually knows aomething will chime in.

Oh, and I previously posted to ask about the gatling that the F-4s originally had hung on their centerline. Apparently it wobbled around enough to reduce its effectiveness as well. Thus the change to the integral unit.
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Guysmiley

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 07:19

Missiles have a minimum range. Even the new generation HOBS heaters have a minimum safe detonation distance from the launching aircraft.

If the rules of engagement requires visual ID (such as what happened in Vietnam), you very quickly get into knife-fight range.
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TC

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 11:25

skyhigh wrote:why is a gun essential in a dogfight when you have missiles


Because it takes a fighter with a gun to kill a MiG-21! :twisted:

Oh yeah, the Thuds had a cannon too. Rhinos had to use centerline mounted SUU-16s and -21s before the E model came along with the M-61.
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StolichnayaStrafer

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 18:58

"You can jam a missile, but you can't jam a bullet."

Navy Fighter Weapons School CO, late 20th century.
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That_Engine_Guy

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Unread post01 Mar 2009, 22:32

Cannons can jam, but I believe missile systems are more likely to fail than the gun.

I agree with most pilots here, someone should NEVER go into combat if they're not packin'!

Keep the gun! (until you have another point-blank option that requires nothing more than point and shoot!)

Keep 'em flyin' :thumb:
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skyhigh

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Unread post03 Mar 2009, 14:00

TC wrote:SUU-16s and -21s


But the majority of VPAF MiG-21 kills made by USN/USAF F-4 Phantoms were made with AIM-7 and AIM-9, the rest with a SUU-16 or SUU-23. A few with M61A1.
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StolichnayaStrafer

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Unread post03 Mar 2009, 14:19

Navy F-4s never used gun pods during Vietnam, nor have they ever had a gun at all. Too bad, might have helped out a bit more.
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TC

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Unread post03 Mar 2009, 22:44

skyhigh wrote:But the majority of...


True, but how many more would they have had, if the Rhinos would have had an internal cannon from the beginning? Better yet, how many more lives would have been saved if the crew in the fight had a gun to fall back on?

This was the argument of F-4 crews who flew the C and D models for the AF, and all models of the Rhino for the Navy. The AF finally got the answer with the E model, but the F-4 should have had an internal gun all along.

The SUU pods were an answer, albeit, not a very good one.

Notice that every member of the Teen Series and now the Raptor and Lightning have all had guns? The brass learned their lesson the hard way.
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skyhigh

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Unread post06 Mar 2009, 15:02

If you blow up a bandit in front of you with, say an AIM-9, 100 meters in front of you, can't you just fly through the debris and your plane will survive? I guess it will, given its heavy durability.

Or would you also destroy your plane in the process, like firing a rocket launcher at pistol range.
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Guysmiley

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Unread post06 Mar 2009, 15:32

skyhigh wrote:If you blow up a bandit in front of you with, say an AIM-9, 100 meters in front of you, can't you just fly through the debris and your plane will survive? I guess it will, given its heavy durability.

Or would you also destroy your plane in the process, like firing a rocket launcher at pistol range.

Firstly, there is a minimum engagement range for AIM-9s, as a layman I'd ASSUME it's because there's a delay until the warhead is even armed after it comes off the rail. Secondly, an AIM-9 has something like 8 pounds of explosives in it, it's not going to turn a 30-40,000 pound fighter into confetti.
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clown_shoes

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Unread post07 Mar 2009, 18:00

there's a reason they are called "miss"iles...
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Mechanic

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Unread post08 Mar 2009, 08:25

TC wrote:The brass learned their lesson the hard way.


But the Navy hasn't learned the lesson: F-35B/C comes without internal cannon.
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skyhigh

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Unread post08 Mar 2009, 11:48

The F-35 B & C models come with an externally mounted GAU-22A in a gun pod, 220 rounds. Enough for about 3 seconds of continuous firing.
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Unread post08 Mar 2009, 16:35

The gun is FUN, and ....

I gotta get Snake in here, but I think he got his kill with a 'winder - gotta re-read his account.

The point that early missiles were not very reliable is a very good one. OTOH, there were many cases where the bad guy screwed up and flew right out in front of you and you were helpless until he got far enuf away to get the missile tuned or locked, then fire, then have it arm, then have a maneuver envelope that the thing was designed for, then ......

The missiles of the 'nam era were designed to shoot down bombers or maybe fighters that weren't in a "dogfight". So they were not intended for a close-in fight.

The "luck" factor with a gun is clearly illustrated in one of the famous Mig kills of the era. A Mig has its wing blown off by a Thud using his cannon and a "snap shot". Do you really think that Thud driver hassled with that Mig for more than a few seconds?

You can't jam a bullet.

The bullet is all-aspect

The bullet doesn't require "cooling" or "tuning" or "data download [Slammer], etc.

No min range for a bullet.

Pilot procedures for a bullet are really, really simple.

Avionics software and control algorithms for a bullet are zilch.

and the beat goes on.......

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