Cold War Carrier aircraft Top Ten

Cold war, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm - up to and including for example the A-10, F-15, Mirage 200, MiG-29, and F-18.
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basher54321

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Unread post17 Jun 2020, 15:23

Well according to these guys.

This Top 10 concentrates on combat aircraft in a vague attempt to keep to an actual ten for once, hence the absence of aircraft like the S-3 Viking, Gannet, and Vigilante. In an attempt to address obvious criticism just outside the 10, and in no particular order, were the Corsair II – which only stayed in production a few years longer than the A-4 which it was supposed to replace; the Super Étendard – couldn’t do anything a Sea Harrier couldn’t and needed a catapult to get airborne; Grumman Panther – did get the first carrier jet-on-jet kill, but barely had the performance of a Sea Hawk despite getting the more powerful Tay derivative of the Nene jet engine.

https://hushkit.net/2020/06/16/top-10-c ... -aircraft/

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Unread post17 Jun 2020, 16:07

Subjective as always, but these guys are hilarious at times (i.e. certain aircraft being "crimes against aviation", LOL)

I always loved the Tomcat and Phantom but have to say, the F-8 Crusader is an elegant and way under-rated fighter. For its day, it was hard to beat: Powerful engine, fast, maneuverable, accelerated quickly, had guns! and a nice mix of radar guided and sidewinder missiles. Given the Sparrow's abysmal record in Vietnam, its air to air mix was opiimal IMO. And with the radar guided Sidewinders, it could take head on shots (something no heat seeking missile could do at the time).

A real shame the Super Crusader wasn't built. For example..quoting here from a website devoted to such..

The Super Crusader made its debut flight in June 1958. “The overall performance of the Dash III was outstanding,” says aviation writer Steve Pace in his history of the Crusader. “Officially the Dash III had a recorded top speed of Mach 2.39, unofficially Mach 2.6 was predicted. Some proponents felt Mach 3 was not out of the question. The Super Crusader was capable of continued Mach 2.2 speed at 68,000 feet. It demonstrated 6-G capability and continued 51/2-G turns at Mach 2.2. At the time, the -3 was the only single-engine fighter in the world capable of near Mach 2.4 speed.”

In mock dogfights, the Crusader III regularly defeated early-model Phantoms. Pace cites a Navy aviation expert who said, “The F8U-3 went farther, faster, it turned better, cost less, weighed less, and it would go as far on internal fuel as the F4H-1 could go with a 600-gallon external fuel tank. . . . The airplane was, I guess, 25 percent cheaper than the F4H. As I said, the F8U-3 was the best airplane we ever canceled.”
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madrat

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Unread post17 Jun 2020, 19:00

They skipped #4....


10. Hawker Sea Fury
9. Douglas A-1 Skyraider
8. Hawker Sea Hawk
7. Grumman F-14 Tomcat
6. Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
5. Grumman A-6 Intruder
5. Blackburn Buccaneer
3. Chance-Vought F-8 Crusader
2. BAe Sea Harrier
1. McDonnell Douglas Phantom II
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Unread post18 Jun 2020, 17:53

Why no A-7 Corsair II?

It was dynamite at raining down steel, day in and day out. It's later iterations set the bar for bombing accuracy, and GUMS has given us great insight into just "how good" it really was. As with the Super Crusader, the A-7F with an F-100 would have been a huge step up.

Great aircraft from 'Nam to Desert Storm. Some of these old workhorses just don't get the respect they deserve..
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 09:35

mixelflick wrote:I always loved the Tomcat and Phantom but have to say, the F-8 Crusader is an elegant and way under-rated fighter.

I always wondered why the F-8 wasn't chosen as the primary CAP aircraft in Vietnam. When it was becoming apparent that dogfighting was the norm, why didn't they just assign F-8 to do CAP where it was actually designed for that.

The explanation I hear often is that the F-4 could also turn and dogfight if flown properly, but they needed to revamp the Phantom's whole tainting syllabus for the F-4. If I'm not mistaken the F-8 pilots were already dogfighting masters from the beginning.
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 11:20

I've read that the F-8 guns were notorious for jamming. That may have something to do with it.
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 14:09

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:I've read that the F-8 guns were notorious for jamming. That may have something to do with it.

EEEEeeerily similar to the A-4 gun problem. Apparently the KIWIs solved their A-4K gun jams by reducing ammo to 75rpg.
An Examination of the F-8 Crusader through Archival Sources
28 Jan 2018 Professor Michael Weaver

"...An F-8’s AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared guided missiles (Figure 3) had greater range than its four Mark-12 20mm cannon, and the F-8’s guns had a problem with becoming jammed during firing.5 One early study concluded that while they were “effective when available,” its 20mm cannons were “generally unreliable.” Up to December 1966, they either jammed or failed to fire completely “during three of the eight” times they were used against MiGs.6 F-8s may have shot down two MiGs with their guns, and possibly a third,7 but normally the guns worked only when no G forces were being applied to the airframe, namely ‘strafing’ targets on the ground8 or when fired against a non-maneuvering MiG that was unaware of its enemy’s presence behind it. Sustained gun firing was normally possible only by not exceeding one G.9

Nickel 101’ may have shot down a MiG-17 with cannon fire on 21 June 1966. According to the contemporary account, Lieutenant Eugene Chancy unleashed “a 20mm burst” at a pair of MiGs as they flew from starboard to port, and then saw jet fuel streaming from one of them. That one was considered “damaged and possibly destroyed.” Another F-8’s guns jammed during that fight.10 One combat squadron, VF-24, concluded that the problems with the F-8’s Mark 12 cannon were serious. “The F-8C Crusader 20mm cannon weapon system proved unsatisfactory under prolonged combat conditions. Although one MiG-17 was downed by 20mm cannon fire, it was done at very close range without the aid of the lead computing gunsight, and under low ‘G’ flight conditions. Overall reliability of system was unsatisfactory for combat requirements.”11 The cannons jammed or did not fire at all “during 3 of 8 engagements involving 20mm firings” through 18 September 1966. Furthermore, during these early engagements, most pilots used their guns “from poor firing positions.” Only one of these gun firings scored hits on a MiG-17.12 VF-24 improved the guns’ reliability with “excellent preventive maintenance,” but contended that the cannon firing pattern was not tight enough.13 The F-8 was actually a missile-first fighter with guns...." [In practice that would properly describe the A-4 in fleet defence mode in the USN aboard ASW carriers and the RAN FAA A4G SKYHAWK role FLEET DEFENCE also but with FOUR AIM-9Bs underwing]

Source: https://www.aerosociety.com/media/8037/ ... ources.pdf (0.7Mb)

Have Gun, Will Dogfight
Oct 2015 Eileen Bjorkman

"...[John - the astronaut] Glenn, who was in charge of F-8 armament testing, recalls early problems with the cannons mounted on the side of the engine duct at the front of the aircraft. “When we fired the gun on the ground at a target it did okay, but when we did a two-second burst-fire with all four guns, the duct would flex and you had a big circular random pattern.” Vought beefed up the duct for later aircraft, but the initial solution was to send a cross-eyed airplane to the fleet. Glenn says, “To make up for that flexing we [made it] so when you looked down the boresight on the ground it was cross-eyed to the other side. We [adjusted the boresight by taking] the average of how far they were off-target when we did the two-second burst-fire.”... [this article never mentions the gun jams at G in a dogfight]

Source: https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of- ... 180956611/
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 15:33

Too bad a rotary, like the M61A1 used since 1959 in the Zipper, wasn't chosen. By 1967 they had the lighter three-barrel M197. Maybe even leave out the internal gun and go with an external GPU-2/A. The A-7 eventually came with it. Too bad the F-8 did not.
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 16:51

spazsinbad wrote:
sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:I've read that the F-8 guns were notorious for jamming. That may have something to do with it.

EEEEeeerily similar to the A-4 gun problem. Apparently the KIWIs solved their A-4K gun jams by reducing ammo to 75rpg.


More fascinating F-8 gun stuff here:

https://books.google.no/books?id=YtfbAg ... 12&f=false
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Unread post19 Jun 2020, 17:48

zero-one wrote:I always loved the Tomcat and Phantom but have to say, the F-8 Crusader is an elegant and way under-rated fighter.
I always wondered why the F-8 wasn't chosen as the primary CAP aircraft in Vietnam. When it was becoming apparent that dogfighting was the norm, why didn't they just assign F-8 to do CAP where it was actually designed for that.


Navy F-8s were used as primary CAP during Rolling Thunder at least - in 1968 Satrapa described the big Deck F-4s being held back to BARCAPs while they (F-8Cs) were primarily MiGCAP and TARCAP over the North.
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Unread post20 Jun 2020, 05:17

energo wrote:
spazsinbad wrote:
sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:I've read that the F-8 guns were notorious for jamming. That may have something to do with it.

EEEEeeerily similar to the A-4 gun problem. Apparently the KIWIs solved their A-4K gun jams by reducing ammo to 75rpg.


More fascinating F-8 gun stuff here:

https://books.google.no/books?id=YtfbAg ... 12&f=false
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A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Unread post21 Jun 2020, 04:02

mixelflick wrote:Why no A-7 Corsair II?

It was dynamite at raining down steel, day in and day out. It's later iterations set the bar for bombing accuracy, and GUMS has given us great insight into just "how good" it really was. As with the Super Crusader, the A-7F with an F-100 would have been a huge step up.

Great aircraft from 'Nam to Desert Storm. Some of these old workhorses just don't get the respect they deserve..


It was a fantastic aircraft. Incredibly accurate with dumb bombs, flew a disproportionate number of strikes yet was blessed with an extremely low loss rate.

A-7F with F100 or F110 would have been a formidable aircraft, but USAF's attitude basically was that it wanted the best aircraft for the role as long as it was the F-16.
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Unread post21 Jun 2020, 05:16

mixelflick wrote:Subjective as always, but these guys are hilarious at times (i.e. certain aircraft being "crimes against aviation", LOL)

I always loved the Tomcat and Phantom but have to say, the F-8 Crusader is an elegant and way under-rated fighter. For its day, it was hard to beat: Powerful engine, fast, maneuverable, accelerated quickly, had guns! and a nice mix of radar guided and sidewinder missiles. Given the Sparrow's abysmal record in Vietnam, its air to air mix was opiimal IMO. And with the radar guided Sidewinders, it could take head on shots (something no heat seeking missile could do at the time).

A real shame the Super Crusader wasn't built. For example..quoting here from a website devoted to such..

The Super Crusader made its debut flight in June 1958. “The overall performance of the Dash III was outstanding,” says aviation writer Steve Pace in his history of the Crusader. “Officially the Dash III had a recorded top speed of Mach 2.39, unofficially Mach 2.6 was predicted. Some proponents felt Mach 3 was not out of the question. The Super Crusader was capable of continued Mach 2.2 speed at 68,000 feet. It demonstrated 6-G capability and continued 51/2-G turns at Mach 2.2. At the time, the -3 was the only single-engine fighter in the world capable of near Mach 2.4 speed.”

In mock dogfights, the Crusader III regularly defeated early-model Phantoms. Pace cites a Navy aviation expert who said, “The F8U-3 went farther, faster, it turned better, cost less, weighed less, and it would go as far on internal fuel as the F4H-1 could go with a 600-gallon external fuel tank. . . . The airplane was, I guess, 25 percent cheaper than the F4H. As I said, the F8U-3 was the best airplane we ever canceled.”


It is not my intention to rain on anyone's parade, but as marvelous as the plane was its reputation has been looked at through rose colored glasses for a long time.

The F-8's noted combat success I feel was due to a very significant but often overlooked factor: For most of its combat career, the F-8 had just one mission, Air to Air combat. No bombing, no other missions, etc (I'm excluding dedicated RF-8s). As a result, the pilots trained for and practiced that one mission, unlike the multiple tasks of other aircraft, and they became very good because they were specialized. Guns were nice, but they often jammed or failed to fire correctly and normally only worked correctly when no G load was being applied to the airframe. Of all the F-8 kills generally only two or three are credited to guns, and one of those was to finish off more quickly a MiG that was already badly damaged by a missile and was thought to be not worth using up another missile. Regarding the -9C, it production run was relatively small for a Sidewinder variant and it was rapidly removed from service (I don't think it ever saw combat) because it was quite complicated to use, especially for a short ranged missile. Most of them just ended up being stored for years until someone ad the good idea to use the surplus airframes in an air to ground role and they became the AGM-122.

The F-8's biggest demerit was its abysmal safety record. 1,261 Crusaders were built. Ignoring combat losses, 1,019 were either destroyed or suffered major (Class A, I believe)mishaps. From June, 1957 until May of 1970, with one exception there was at least one F-8 ejection every month. Its average accident rate was three times that of the F-4, and at its worst the accident rate was 243.9 per 100,000 flying hours. The French did better. Their accident rate was lower than USN's but they still suffered an attrition rate of 64%. None of this, BTW, carried over to the superb A-7.

Regarding the XF8U-3 Super Crusader, it was a big step up, a new aircraft masquerading as an upgrade. Its performance was spectacular, although sometimes overstated. It was fast, although given that it flew four years before a real Mach 3 craft took to the air, expecting Mach 3 may have been not so certain. It was faster than the F4H, though probably not as much as some subsequent stories told. It could fly farther on internal fuel (actually farther than an F4H with one EFT), less expensive to buy and probably operate and was likely more maneuverable. OTOH, It couldn't carry as big a load, couldn't carry as many EFTs, wasn't as versatile or as heavily armed. Its radar dish was smaller than the planned Phantom production version and its workload was higher. It did have internal guns, but as we've learned in the years since then guns haven't been as great an A2A asset as they are often described (another story for another time). Given what the Navy wanted and needed to do, the F4H was the better choice. You can see this yourself by just considering what the Vietnam War would have been like if there had been no F-4.

As for XF8U-3 waxing F4H-1s in dogfights, that's one of those tales that seem to be too good to be true because they are too good to be true. No one seems to pin down where or when they happened. Considering that only three of the five Super Crusaders built actually flew. Once they lost the competition, no more parts were manufactured for them (one of the reasons the last two didn't fly, they were cannibalized). Given the important work NASA wanted to do with the limited flight hours remaining on airframes, is it reasonable to think they'd let their non combat rated test pilots engage in dogfights in them? Similarly, with the Navy working hard to test, develop and bring the F4H into service, would they risk the precious prototypes on this?

Regarding the stories about Super Crusaders flying out of Pax River and waxing the F4Hs, the first problem is that the NASA Super Crusaders didn't operate from Pax River. 1 & 2 flew out of Langley for a time, while #3 operated for a limited time at Edwards and Ames. The F4hs were at McDonnell's test areas during these early days. It doesn't seem that the two types were in the same areas at the same times for these combats to have actually occurred.

It would have been great if the Navy could have bought both, but the money just wasn't there, plus it was obvious even then that the number of carriers was going to decline and the Navy just wasn't going to need enough fighters in upcoming years to support both types.
Last edited by aaam on 21 Jun 2020, 22:22, edited 4 times in total.
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Unread post21 Jun 2020, 08:54

USN F-8H&J NATOPS: https://www.filefactory.com/file/1a2l6c ... Manual.pdf (45Mb)
I had to take a psych test to fly F-8s, and those results were finally released through my Freedom of Information Act request:
“Summary of test results for Nelson, Richard J.L., LTJG USN:
1. Inclined to take excessive risks, even where none exist.
2. Appears to be chronically narcissistic, and has high opinion of himself --- for no apparent reason. One instructor’s comment: “Thinks he is God’s gift to Naval Aviation.”
3. Frequently displays lack of respect and deference to authority figures.
4. Believes that any landing approach he can walk away from is a good one.
5. Has a false and unsupported feeling of superiority, especially after consumption of alcohol.
6. Apparently has political ambitions, and states that he aspires to be the Mayor of Olongapo.
7. Not well suited for any other career path, after F-8 squadron assignment; does not get along well with superiors, Black Shoes, Submariners, and shows only grudging respect for U.S. Marines --- especially those who are Naval Aviators.
8. Overly aggressive --- states he wants to have a full ordnance load, even while flying in CONUS on training missions. He once zoomed to 50,000 ft. and fired a Sidewinder at the sun, to see if he could hit it.
9. Resists complying with established Naval protocols and etiquette --- once left a calling card in the tray at an admiral’s home that said: ‘Hot Dog Nelson ---- have parachute, will travel.’
10. After receiving a poor Fitness Report, instead of promising to correct his deficiencies, pointed out to his CO several misspelled words in the report.
11. Fails to use proper decorum in wardroom or officers’ mess. Instead of politely asking the senior officer at a table if he could be seated there, he grabbed a spoon and simulated a ship’s bell on the Commander’s water glass, saying, “Fighter pilot --- arriving!”
12. When invited to join a senior officer’s family for breakfast, he replied, “I’ve already had a Fighter Pilot’s Breakfast --- a puke, two aspirin, and a cigarette. Thanks anyway.”
13. When the interviewer inquired what he usually wore to bed, he replied, “Nothing but my G-suit and flight boots. You never know when you have to launch.”
14. When asked what approach speed should be used in the F-8E, he replied, “Whatever is necessary.”
15. According to his statements, he thinks night refueling is asking the O’Club bartender for another round.
BOARD CONCLUSION:
“This man is expendable, but highly qualified for a fleet F-8 squadron.”
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Unread post21 Jun 2020, 11:44

20 page PDF about the RADAR, Gunsight & Gunnery Systems for the F-8H&J Crusader from USN NATOPS 01 May 1974:

https://www.filefactory.com/file/1a2l6c ... Manual.pdf (45Mb)
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