Dogfighting without a gun?

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Gums

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Unread post08 Mar 2009, 17:01

By popular demand

I found Snake's post from four years ago. Th revised forum topics was a bear, but I found it.

I had pimped the Snake to let us know, and he posted this:
In Order to Placate Gums. It was the last trip up North before the bombing halt and the start of the 11 days of Christmas.

My Gib and I were number 3 of a four ship escorting a 20 ship strike force (four ship echelon formations in trail with each other, five flight in a row) against a target near Hanoi.

Our Escort flight was divided into elements flying on each side of the strike
force. Our element was on the south side of the strike force. The weasels were already in the target area and reporting marginal weather for the strike.

Shortly after we started our ingress Red Crown advised us of two MIG-21's south bound out of GIA LAM airport (Hanoi). Five minutes later the Crown came up again and advised us that the first two MIGs had turned west and two more were now airborne from GIA LAM following the same route and low altitude.

After another couple of minutes the Crown advised us that the first two bandits had now turned North (towards us and the strike flight) with the
remaining two MiGs following the same flight path.

My GIB got a twitch on the radar and our element turned towards the threat, started a gradual descent, went to full military power and armed all systems with AIM 7's selected. The remaining escort element took over our position on the South side of the strike force to cover any other developing threat.

We then lost the radar contact but Red Crown called bandits merging and the next thing we knew we had two Migs in trail going past and vertical on us.

It seems that they decided that since we were only two birds and ten miles south of the rapidly departing strike force we were raw meat.

The next twelve minutes were a hand full of every BFM,ACT, and ACM maneuver in the book plus several changes of leads between us and 4 as the MIGs made maximum use of available cloud cover and tried to tempt us into a turning fight. Add to this the addition of the second two MIGS and it became very hairy as to who had who and when.

About this time the MIG Killers from Udorn arrived and the odds changed rapidly in our favor. I could hear from the calls of the Udorn Mig Killers that two of the four bandits were dispatched very quickly.

About this time my GIB called out one of the remaining bandits going vertical at our eleven o clock position. I turned to that area spotted him and
started tracking we tried for a quick lockup but were unsuccessful. So instead I pulled the trigger launching an aim 7 hoping that if the bandit saw it he would figure we had a lock and would try to evade the shot. If he evaded he only had one place to go and that was down.

He did and swapped ends faster then I've ever seen anyone do as he came down through my climbing flight path he must have lost us in his overhead glare sheild and we rolled inverted and followed him down in full AB.

We lost him when he went through some low puffy clouds but caught up with him shortly thereafter. He must have thought he lost us because he wasn't exercising hard evasive maneuvers. Instead his interest changed to a parachute off to his (and our) right and he rolled out some of his bank to take a better look.

I already had toggled the weapons switch to AIM 9 and started to get a growl stronger then a junk-yard dog. So I punched it off and it tracked right for him exploding either in or near the tail pipe with the MIG going inverted and starting down from about 3000'.

At this point we got a "Break" call and I janked with all I had towards the west and never did see him go in.

Out of the four Migs that came up that day none made it home and all were shot down or crashed on landing. Since I didn't see the bandit crash into the ground I still question the credit because the Mig Killers from Udorn were really cleaning clock with the bad guys and there were five claims against four kills.

My second concern that I really feel bad about is that during that long twelve minute encounter (eternity!!!!) my wingman, a totally superb pilot and GIB who was flying wing while I was engaged and having trouble locking up the target called a Lock on and asked permission to fire. In the heat of it all with all the internal and external chatter neither my GIB or I heard him and he missed what I would call a confirmed kill.

And finally, Gums is right, it was pure luck in getting the shot off but pure skill to last twelve minutes in a 2 vs 4 environment with a vastly superior turning aircraft until the cavalry arrived.

The spooks told us afterwards that two of the MIG drivers were aces and the other two maturing air to air drivers.

Gums, you now owe me a drink.

Snake-1


So for all, there it is. Snake had a gun, but didn't get close enuf, plus he used the 'winder versus the Sparrow.
Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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parrothead

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Unread post08 Mar 2009, 18:27

Thanks for the re-post, Gums :)

I know we're discussing dogfighting here, but there's something else to keep in mind - because the gun doesn't need a lock via radar, heat, or anything else it can be used on ANYTHING. That means if all else fails and the guys on the ground need your help, you can at least strafe the bad guys for 'em rather than only being able to provide a "show of force." Seriously, I know a sonic boom from a couple hundred feet up would get their attention, but inbound 20mm does a far better job. Heck, even the Tomcat used its gun for A2G in OEF - check out Speed and Angels on Hulu.

I also recall a Raptor driver talking about the limited number of missiles on board the limited number of Raptors meaning they'd have to go in and gun some enemies. In Dogfights of Desert Storm (part two), one of the F-15s trying to shoot down a MiG-25 had two sidwinders decoyed and one sparrow fail before his second sparrow shot the plane down. He thought he was going to have to gun the Foxbat.

Missiles are specialized. They have engagement zones. Bullets do whatever you want them to do and don't malfunction mid-flight.
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Unread post09 Mar 2009, 05:05

Hey Guys

You are all close, but no real cigar!!

TC--- I'll try to stay away from the sensitive stuff although my info is 22 years plus.

While all of you are right as far as missiles malfunctioning you've got to go a step or two further. Present day missile (sans the 9 group) are either data link or on-board radar systems. They are, in turn, controlled by a power package on the aircraft controlled. Now if the missile or support systems fail and you are in the thick of a fight without a gun you are meat on the table as we were many a times when the 7's or 9's failed in the early years of Vietnam. The Rhino took a moment or two to grab a whole bunch of Mach to get out of Dodge (not like a Thud) so in that time you better be very adapt in going from full offense to full defense if necessary if you didn't have a gun. And even though we only got 65 Mig Kills with the gun for the whole SEA conflict (29 THuds, 8 for the "C" Rhino, 14 for the "D" (with the SUU 16 or 23), and 12 for the "E" with the internal cannon, and 2 for 52 gunners that still shows the gun as a successful weapon. What was remarkable was the 22 kills for the "C" and "D" with an unharmonized gun and only later in the conflict with a lead computing sight. The "E" model let us stay and fight regardless of what the missile status was.

Now lets go to the second, and very important point, as we all are aware the air combat theatre today is much faster then it was way back and now the closure rate is dramaticly increased to rapidly transit the maximum and minimum employment envelopes of any missile. So when you are inside the minimum range of your short range missiles all you have left is the gun and you better know how to use it. The same applies if you run across a very aggressive opponent who out-maneuvers anything you throw at him but continues the fight hoping you'll screw up. Remember he knows your Maximum/minimum employment numbers as well as you know his.

Add to that the inclusion of stealth (luckily mostly on our side right now) which the bad guys will soon have in greater numbers and you possibly couldn't or wouldn't see him until you are canopy to canopy. Again the only saving grace is the gun.

Then there is JSTARS or AWACS or what ever air controller you have. If their communications or data link is interrupted your back to the ROE where you need visial ID before shooting you are back to the gun.

So the bottom line is when all the gee-whiz avonics, data-links, comms, missiles, goes into the crapper pray that you've got a gun.

Snake
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Unread post09 Mar 2009, 17:11

Listen to the Snake, dammit

Hey, Snake-breath, thanks for adding credibility to this thread.

WRT avionics: The Viper and Eagle and Hornet had a vastly improved gunsight compared with earlier fighters. Nevertheless, despite all efforts, a "predictor" sight was not possible due to "glint" of your radar when locked on to the enema jet. The radar lock would jump from the other guy's wing to the other wing to the tail to the ....... So inputs to the computers was just too noisy.

So we developed the "snap shot" type of sight that used body rates and known ballistics to provide a display of "virtual" tracers [we called it the sneaky snake, as the line moved all over the place unless highly dampened]. Then we added the range to the bullets when they crossed the target range. Now bear in mind that the range symbol was still historical, so it showed where the bullets would be had you fired one "time of flight" beforehand. To get a kill you had to track or shoot before the tgt was actually at the symbol.

Now, we can go all the way back to England in the forties. The wizards put a gyro in the gunsight and it compensated for body rates, which are the primary contributors to where the bullet goes once fired. Gravity drop is maybe eight or ten feet at firing range, so no problem. This implementation is called "disturbed reticle". The Sabre improved on this by using a tiny radar to provide range. So now we had a pipper that showed where the bullet would be at target range. The pilot then tried to "match" all the conditions and got a lot more hits than the really old sights.

The disturbed reticle stayed around well into the eighties, and the Eagle sight added the "instantaneous" line on the reticle that showed where the "instantaneous" solution was - unsmoothed. If that tiny line was REALLY tiny, you were smooth and your odds of hitting the other guy was great.

The best thing about the gun is that you can lose all your computers and use Kentucky windage or flat-ass get so close you "can't miss".

Snake brings up a great point about the "Gunfighters" that flew Rhinos outta DaNang. They were the first to carry the pod and worked hard to get the barrels "harmonized" with the gunsight. They and the Thuds had the majority of gun kills.

Then there was the Warthog dude in the Storm that shot down a helo using that huge gun. No air-to-air sight, just get close, squeeze, and keep going until the target explodes.

Finally, and for the yutes here, even the Colonial Vipers and the X-wings used lasers that were like a bullet, but with no gravity drop. Heh heh.

Gums sends ...
Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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Unread post15 May 2009, 04:09

TC wrote:True, but how many more would they have had, if the Rhinos would have had an internal cannon from the beginning?

We also have to keep things in perspective. The MiG-21, Mirage III as well as the F-4 Phantom were all designed initially without a gun. The Soviets lost faith first with the missile first and equip the MiG-21 with a gun before production. The Mirage III did not initially have a gun but, room for a gun was provided should the desire for one arise. The Israeli AF was the first to get Mirage IIIs with an internal cannon. The IAF refused to accept the deal if the fighter was not equip with a cannon. The USA had the most advanced missiles at that time and retained faith in the missile until combat showed their limitations.
Remember, the F-4 Phantom was designed with the same concept as the F-14 Tomcat, as its primary role. To launch from the carrier and meet the Soviet bombers as far away from the carrier as possible and shoot them down with missiles.
So, it was not as though the American fighter designers were myopic or had some strange sort of beliefs that the gun was no longer needed. It was the trend at that time, world wide.
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Unread post16 May 2009, 02:02

At least the Rhino drivers over the skies of North Vietnam during Rolling Thunder and Linebacker learned how to keep at arm's length from the VPAF MiGs, because they'd learn to come close, too close.

Primitive tactics defeated the most advanced 1960s technology.
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Unread post16 May 2009, 02:46

At least the Rhino drivers over the skies of North Vietnam during Rolling Thunder and Linebacker learned how to keep at arm's length from the VPAF MiGs, because they'd learn to come close, too close.


Didn't matter, ROE stipulated WVR engagements only. That's already .22 range, sometimes the US pilots weren't able to get a radar lock, or the missiles were faulty. Either way a lot of them ended up as knife-fights, and the DUFF didn't have a knife--betcha one of the McAir guys went "D'oh!"

Primitive tactics defeated the most advanced 1960s technology.


Then again, that was PRIMARILY because of politicians with less than five braincells--had there been BVR engagements allowed, there may very well be a different story even without the gun.
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Unread post16 May 2009, 06:36

Well said PT. Exit the Johnson Administration (and with it, that b@$tard McNamara), and enter the F-4E, equipped with an M-61 and TISEO, and a better understanding of the limits of our missiles, and we were able to turn the table on the Vee.

A few years later, F-15s would not be equipped with the TISEO that helped out F-4E pilots. What did they use to help acquire a visual from BVR? A deer rifle scope. I Sierra you not.

And so it goes: a counter to the counter to the counter...
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Unread post16 May 2009, 12:43

Hah! It's been so long I had forgotten the Eagles used to have those scopes. Those who didn't know the real reason they mounted them claimed the rifle scope was a symbol of the Eagle pilot's hunter mentality! Small wonder they also used to call them Ego drivers. :lmao:

I digress... hey TC, I remember those TISEO mounts on the Rhino. Wasn't it located at the point on the leading edge of the wing where the outer section bends up? Not sure if it was the port or starboard wing though. F-4E models got them but did any Navy or Marine versions carry them as well?
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Unread post17 May 2009, 04:08

The F-14 Tomcat had a television camera system, the Northrop AAX-1, also called TCS (TV Camera Set). It has been instrumental in many situation.

Early in 1994, two F-14Bs on patrol over the Iraqi southern no fly zone, were vectored by an AWACS to an unknown aircraft. Several minutes later AWACS cleared them to fire on the aircraft. The lead Tomcat decided to get an visual ID on the aircraft before firing. Using his TCS, the Tomcat pilot saw the unknown aircraft was a chartered DC-9 almost an hour behind what his flight plan called for. A few months later two F-15Cs (cleared by AWACS) shot down two UH-60 Blackhawk helos.
In a quagmire that control of Iraqi airspace was, anything that aided the pilot in visual identification is helpful.
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Unread post20 May 2009, 16:23

Well, in the spirit of the F-4, the mods shot down Skyhigh without a gun.
Last edited by TC on 23 May 2009, 08:01, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post20 May 2009, 17:44

I'll try to be polite and just say Sierra Hotel :thumb:
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Unread post20 May 2009, 18:28

Well, in the spirit of the F-4, the mods shot down Skyhigh without a gun.


This Bud's for all y'all mods :pint:

I'm glad to see the Troll gone. Now we can get back to more realistic topics, and hopefully not have to worry about more trolls for a Looooong time. :cheers:
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Unread post20 May 2009, 22:26

TC wrote:Well, in the spirit of the F-4, the mods shot down Skyhigh without a gun


:cheers: :notworthy: :applause:
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Unread post21 May 2009, 03:19

I got a feeling he might be back with a different name. Not that he'll be hard to spot - his posts were SO subtle...
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