Analysis of F-8 Crusader success over North Vietnam

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 post07 Sep 2020, 12:17


The last Gunfighter: Analysis of F-8 Crusader success over North Vietnam By Louis S. Gundlach, Senior Air Warfare Analyst, Retired Marine Corps Fighter Pilot and Denver Bronco Fan.


https://hushkit.net/2020/09/06/the-last ... h-vietnam/
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f-16adf

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Unread post07 Sep 2020, 22:32

Very interesting read on the Crusader, many thanks Basher!
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mixelflick

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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 14:45

Great article, learned a lot..

It's a beautiful looking bird, except in that pic where it looks like some youngster glued bomb racks under the wings. Yuck. The F-8 looked best either flying clean or with 2-4 sidewinders. Beast of an engine for the time, and the follow on up-rated dragster was really exotic looking (although I still preferred the "stock" F-8).

The fact it took down so many Migs is a tribute to her pilots, maintainers and design team. Wish some were still flying today, somewhere...
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f-16adf

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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 17:15

And I think VF-211 (F-8 Crusader unit) had the most Mig kills up until VF-96's (Randy Cunningham) big day on 10 May 1972.


Funny story about F-8 jocks at Miramar in the early/mid 70's as told by Dale Snodgrass at about 13:00 mark:
https://airandspace.si.edu/events/vice- ... et-night-2

(Actually Dale's entire oration is pretty sweet, plus a few gems in the Q&A)
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outlaw162

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Unread post08 Sep 2020, 17:52

And I think VF-211 (F-8 Crusader unit) had the most Mig kills up until VF-96's (Randy Cunningham) big day on 10 May 1972.


If you're not just considering the Navy,

From the records I looked at, VF-211 air superiority pilots had 7 kills flying air superiority F-8s prior to 10 May 72....2 with the guns and 1 combo gun/AIM-9, 4 others were solely with AIM-9.

....and the 354th TFS bomber pilots had 9 kills flying F-105 bombers prior to 10 May 72....ALL with the gun....

I'm partial to the underdog. :mrgreen:
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sprstdlyscottsmn

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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 13:36

outlaw162 wrote:
....and the 354th TFS bomber pilots had 9 kills flying F-105 bombers prior to 10 May 72....ALL with the gun....


I'm pretty sure the F-105 had more gun kills than all other aircraft types combined.
Last edited by sprstdlyscottsmn on 09 Sep 2020, 19:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 19:06

Never got the chance to BFM against the F-8, but if the author Gundlach is accurate about the 220 kts when it got squirrelly, I think of the aircraft at the time, I would have rather fought it in an F-100 than in an F-4, certainly not in an F-105. The Hun with slats out and flaps 1/2 did pretty well below 200 kts, more out of necessity than preference. BFM training min airspeed used to be 200 KIAS, no manual flap usage, but that was pretty universally disregarded, as were the 'bubbles'. These safety concerns of the time outweighed the train-like-you-fight mantra, the two being somewhat mutually exclusive. For the instructors there was a certain amount of hypocrisy in telling a student they couldn't do something that you knew worked....and did yourself.

From all indications, considering what the F-8 did against MiG-17s and 21s, I imagine the chances of successfully out-BFMing an F-8 in a Hun were not all that great however, especially against those experienced F-8 high timers, who evidently did train like they fought.

Just for grins, comparing the SEA A2A kill ratios of the F-8 and F-105, no surprise the F-8 with 6-to-1 certainly outclassed the F-105 with its slightly greater than 1-to-1 (27.5 to 21), but if you ever tried a turning an F-105, 1-to-1 actually looks pretty good.

(Re: the F-8 picture with all the high drag bombs 'glued' on....F-8 reputation as a CAS aircraft probably about the same as Thud reputation as a dogfighter? :mrgreen:)
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 20:04

Don't know how it looks after you factor in total engagements because the F-105 was supposed to have had the most encounters with MiGs - e.g. 20 gun kills out of 140 gun engagements (Clashes)
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 21:09

I imagine you had a lot more MiGs running away when they saw F-8s than when they saw F-105s.

If the F-8s were consistently loaded A/G like that picture, they probably would have gotten considerably more MiG action.

The references I've seen show 26 F-105 pure gun kills, so out of 140 engagements, that's 18.5% of their engagements that resulted in F-105 gun kills. How many MiG engagements did the F-8s get?

Talking gun kills only:

The 2 F-8 pure gun kills at an 18.5% rate would take only 11 engagements to achieve. If they had more than 11 MiG engagements, which seems obvious to me since they bagged 19, the F-8 gun kill per engagement ratio would be less than the 18.5% achieved by the F-105 in 140 engagements. They only gunned 2. With more engagements they might very well have upped their gun kills and exceeded 18.5%.....but in the end, they didn't. No F-8 criticism here, but when you're out of F-8s, you're not necessarily out of fighters. :D

(edit: BTW even if you only use 20 for F-105 gun kills, that's 14.2%, which with only 2 gun kills only requires 14 engagements for the F-8s, so with the obviously more than 14 engagements they're still below the gun kill per engagement rate for the Thud. The last 'gunfighters' certainly were experts with the AIM-9.)
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 22:29

I imagine something like the Thatch Weave would be golden in the Thud.
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 23:57

Wasn't the Thud the undisputed king of speed on the deck? It probably could have flown daylight interceptions as long as you intentionally kept to slash & run attacking.
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Unread post09 Sep 2020, 23:59

outlaw162 wrote:I imagine you had a lot more MiGs running away when they saw F-8s than when they saw F-105s.

If the F-8s were consistently loaded A/G like that picture, they probably would have gotten considerably more MiG action.

The references I've seen show 26 F-105 pure gun kills, so out of 140 engagements, that's 18.5% of their engagements that resulted in F-105 gun kills. How many MiG engagements did the F-8s get?



26 should be closer - one much newer source has 25.5 guns kills as a half kill with an AIM-9.

Have only got data with detail to Aug 67 (Red Baron):

F-105 Missions with MiG Encounters = ~310 with 20.5 gun kills. (22.5 total)
148 gun firing attempts at MiGs with 18 of those failing due to jams etc. (12%)

F-8 Missions with MiG Encounters = ~10 (not including RF-8) with 3 gun kills. (13 total)
25 gun firing attempts at MiGs with 7 of those failing due to jams etc. (28%)
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Unread post10 Sep 2020, 09:42

Very fascinating topic and analysis. After reading it, I found this:

https://www.airspacemag.com/military-av ... 06486/?all

Very intresting stuff about how the North Vietnamese saw things, how they trained and fought. I could not find this posted here before, although it's 20 years old article.

I think both sides of that air war performed extremely well (ground war too, though). US and allies fought far away from home in and over country which was bristling with guns and missiles. While North Vietnamese side had rather small number of fighters, they complimented their other arsenal very well. North Vietnamese did excpetionally well against numerically and technologically superior enemy.
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Unread post10 Sep 2020, 15:03

Great stuff.

Bay changes from his flight suit to his dress clothes, gets married, changes back into his flight suit and goes on alert...."Be back later, honey....I hope."

....and how many trainees have flown with half a soccer ball hanging around there neck, my T-37 students had the luxury of barf bags, but I had one that probably could have used a soccer ball.

148 gun firing attempts at MiGs with 18 of those failing due to jams etc. (12%)


That surprises me. Never had an internal M-61 jam in 3 different aircraft types (incl F-105) in total 1700 hours....and only had one SUU-23 gun jam on the Phantom in 2000 hours, (unfortunately at Gunsmoke comp :doh: ). Although this is with the benefit of peacetime guard/reserve MX.

Comparing the jam-prone Colts on the F-8 to the M-39s on the Hun, also never had an M-39 jam. And the total dispersion of the 4 M-39s on the Hun was generally less than that 12 mil dispersion figure quoted by Gundlach, though not much less...ease of harmonization probably due to the location of the M-39s, as opposed to the Colts being on each side of the F-8.

Are the Red Baron volumes after Aug 67 still classified?
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Unread post10 Sep 2020, 17:51

Hard to imagine how much more effective it could have been with the M61, along with even slightly better sidewinders. For all the heat the Sparrow took due to its failure rate, the AIM-9 doesn't sound much better. I'm sure the sidewinder was more reliable, but it doesn't sound like it was by much.

I think Vought did a great job with the F-8 especially considering it was single engined, flew from the smaller carriers and held up so well in any reasonable dogfight (and a few not so reasonable). After so many twin engine follow ons (F-4, F-14, F/A-18 etc), I never thought the Navy would spring for another single engined fighter.

But here we are, with the F-35C. Someone should send a note to Trudeau: If these men trust their mounts over an open ocean while flying from a moving airfield, they can deal with a single engined jet and canadian winters.
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