UPDATED 18 February 2013

FINAB Tunnel Vision: "Game Over, Dude I Sunk Your Airfield!"


We've been watching WW2 combat camera films on DVD and have been awestruck at how all during the war, we were bombing each other's air bases.

Even when we supposedly had "air superiority" this "airfield vandalism" took place constantly all throughout WW2. Yanks bombed the Japs. Japs bombed the Yanks. Brits bombed "Gerry"--the Germans in case you didn't know. Gerry bombed the Yanks and so on. What did any of this achieve? If despite air supremacy, the supposedly weakened enemy could always hit us "with our pants down" and take out scores of our aircraft--is very troubling in a world we can only afford 187 x F-22s; if we only had these small numbers in WW2, the Japs/Germans would have beat us after just a few airfield raids. Hold that disturbing thought....

First off, we had THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of P-51s, P-47s and P-38s mass-produced LITERALLY one whole airplane EVERY HOUR. Re-read that as many times as you need to let it sink in, maybe every hour so you can recreate the reality in your mind's eye. When a German fighter-bomber pilot was shot down after the 1945 Operation BODENPLATTE airfield mission, he was escorted by an U.S. Army Air Force pilot who noted he was smugly smiling and boasting at the many flaming wrecks of our planes. Not skipping a beat, his escort took him to another part of the airfield and told him; "Look at this". It was row-upon-row of unpainted, silver aluminum, fresh-from-the-factory, P-47s lining up to replace what had been lost. Gerry was beat.

But HOW was he beat if he could always raid our airfields?

The primary contribution of air power in WW2 ETO was to facilitate the ADVANCE OF OUR GROUND MANEUVER FORCES to reach Berlin and topple the Hitler Nazi fascist government and end the war in a lethal version of "capture the flag". The secondary contribution was to force the German's weapons labs and production plants UNDERGROUND, slowing them just enough so we could topple their government before they fielded weapons of mass destruction (WMD). General Eisenhower said just 6 months delay on our part and "Gerry" would have won the war with WMDs. So while the Germans produced 33, 000 x Me-109s during the war, this quantity was not sufficiently qualitatively superior to overcome our P-38s, P-47s and P-51s to stop our bombers from forcing their labs/plants underground and to strafe/bomb our ground maneuver forces to stop them from swarming like ants and taking their ground. Game over.

Or was it?

A lot of pundits theorize that had the Germans mass-produced a QUALITATIVELY superior Me262 jet fighter beginning early in WW2, they could have seized air superiority from us and ground our ground maneuver to a halt--maybe even preventing the D-Day landings which as it was succeeded only by a thin margin due to our Army incompetence. Let's take this a step further--and look in the mirror.

WW2 Re-Think: Could We have done Better? If So, Can We do Better TODAY?

We did not enter WW2 with qualitative overmatch. Even the P-38 was a very large twin-engined fighter and couldn't or shouldn't be dogfought using turns. Our P-39s and P-40s were in some ways at a qualitative disadvantage against both the German Me109 and the Japanese Zero--both of whom were what we would call today "lightweight fighters"--killer bees without armor protection in order to maximize maneuverability. The typical bureaucratic WW2 spin is that we mass-produced our medium-to-heavy armored fighters and somehow also had superior maneuverability and speed via better aerodynamics and power. However, when you read about Colonel Lindbergh's unofficial P-38 combat missions, he almost got shot-down one day by a Jap Zero LATE IN WW2.


The Legendary P-40 Flying Tiger Erik Shilling (WW2, Chinese Civil War, Laos), Weighs in On this Vital Issue


It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Dec 17, 2009 15:41:30 GMT.


Subject: Re: P-40B AIR-TO-AIR AT "THE AERONUT" Date: 28 Sep 1998 16:10:43 GMT

Last Friday, which was September 25, I had a most pleasant surprise. I was invited down to the Planes of Fame Museum at Chino California. I was told that Steve Hinton's restoration company had finished restoring the P-40C for the Duxford Museum in England, and would I like to see it.

When I arrived, there in front of the hangar sat a beautiful P-40C perfect in every detail. A flood of memories rushed through my mind reminding me of the wonderful Flying Tiger days of some 57 years ago. Memories that had faded almost into obscurity were now awakedend. It was almost like yesterday, as I stared at the awesome beauty of the P-40, and in my minds eye I started reliving the experience of Burma and China.

I recalled many sad times, some were of the men that had been killed, but for the most part it was overshadowed by the wonderful experiences my comrades and I had shared during those carefree days of our youth. Standing there and looking at the Curtiss Hawk, I'm convinced it was the prettiest fighter ever built.

Much to my surprise it was painted in the Flying Tigers' motif of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron. To top it off, its number was 71, with my name E. Shilling, painted below the cockpit. Initially No. 53 had been my aircraft and after I had converted No. 53 to the Photo ship, I was assigned to No. 71 which I shared with Ed Overend.

Sitting in the cockpit I found that with my eyes closed, I was still able to touch every control as though it were only yesterday since I had flown one. Of special interest was the history of this airplane. It was P-40C initially assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group, and not an export version of the Curtiss Hawk. Other than early in the war, I'm not sure when it had been transferred to Russia. It had also been shot down early in the war and in a rather cold climate was fairly well preserved. It was purchased by someone in England, and shipped to the United States to be restored by Steve Hinton's restoration company here in Chino California.

Because of those few who vehementally clung to the believe that the model airplane the AVG's flew was a C, I was especially interested in checking the model. I carefully check the airplane over, and I ran across the proof I needed which reinforced my contention that we in the AVG, flew the B model.

In all fairness to those who refer to restored Russian P-40 a "B" model. It was a "C" model, but during the restoration it was restored to the B configuration. Bomb shackels were removed, there are NO self sealing fuel tanks, and the fuel system for the belly tank has been eliminated, although the fuel selector placard still indicates a belly tank position.

There is no external difference between the B and C, and the difference is quite sublte unless you have flown either of the two models. Sitting in the cockpit there are three things that will tell the pilot which model P-40 he is in. The fuel selector valve for the P-40C has an additional position which allows the pilot to select the Belly tank. The Model B does not have a belly tank, therefore no belly tank position. Also the C model had a belly tank release to drop before engaging in combat. Also the C unlike the B has bomb release handle and the B does not. Also when doing the pre-flight inspection, the pilot opens the baggage compartment to check for loose articles and look for oil and fuel leaks before getting into the cockpit. The external sealing material was easily seen during this inspection. Therefore anyone who has flown either model P-40 would know the difference, and I find it rather irrational for anyone to argue with a pilot he didn't know model P- 40 he was flying.

After many picture were taken with me in the cockpit, and looking the plane over, a photo session was scheduled, using a B-25 as the photo plane. I was given the honor of sitting in the bombardier seat. Setting there when I saw the P-40 approaching I had an unusual experience. For the first time I could see it through the eyes of a Japanese as it bore down on them. It was not what I expected. Looking at the P-40 with its snarling shark's teeth coming in, I saw an awesome sight. It appeared as an intimidating, frightening, deadly monster. I wondered if the Japanese had seen it the way I now had viewed it. I had flown in formation with the P- 40 for many hours, but never did I think of it in this light as I did riding in a bomber over California.

This brings me to a related story about a B-25 in China. Nearing the end of our contract, one of our AVG pilots shot down a B-25. In a way it was not entirely his fault, and being a Navy pilot had never seen a B-25. He did check with operations control, and asked if we had any two engine twin tailed bomber in the area. Assured that we hadn't he shot it down. Fortunately there were no casualties other wounded ego and the loss of the B-25. Of further interest was during the debriefing of the bomber crew they claimed they were attacked by a Jap fighter plane.

I am off to Midland Texas, where the Flying Tigers will be inducted as a unit into the CAF's Hall of Fame. Upon my return I will be posting some of the picture or both event on my web site. until then.

All The Best
Erik Shilling

ROUND 1: P-40 Flight Performance & Attributes

Subject: Maneuverability -- was Airacobra From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling) Date: Jan 31 1997 Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

When I said that I could prove that the P-40 was more maneuverable than the Zero, several promptly challenged me and asked for my proof. I hope the following will satisfy their challenge.

But first of all, one must know the definition of maneuverability so here's Webster's.

1. To perform a movement in military or naval tactics in order to secure an advantage.
2. An intended and controlled variation from a straight and level flight path in the operation of an aircraft.
3. To make a series of changes in direction and position for a specific purpose.
4. Evasive movement or shift of tactics.
5. To manage into or out of a position or condition.
6. To bring about or secure as a result of skillful management.

As you can see, a comparison of roll is the most important attribute an airplane must posses in being more maneuverable than another one. Turning in a tight turn has absolutely nothing to do concerning maneuverability.

A different approach may convince some of the readers the reason why our successes against the Japanese was so outstanding. After reading the following, don't feel sorry for Japanese, they started the damn war.

Make Fair Comparisons

All of the aircraft listed below are contemporaries of the P-40. As an added comment and question, why do many insist upon comparing apples and oranges? Surely, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that the F8F [Bearcat] was superior to its forerunners, but it wasn't flying in combat in December of 1941. Why compare it to earlier fighters? Makes as much sense as camparing the F-16 with Germany's Fokker triplane.

The P-40's contemporary fighter aircraft, were the Japanese AM62 21 [Zero], and the Hayabusa Ki-43. Germany's Me.109E-3, Briton's Spitfire Mark I as well as the Hurricane.

MOBILITY: P-40 vs. Enemy Fighter Flight Performance

The P-40B [Warhawk] was...

40 mph faster than the AM6-2 (21) Zero.
50 mph faster than the Hyabusa, or Ki-43 [Oscar].
70 mph faster than the fixed gear I-96 [Val].
195 mph faster than the cruise speed of the Ki-21 Sally.

130 mph faster in a dive than any Japanese fighter.

3x times the roll rate of the Zero.

P-40 was 5 mph faster than the Me 109 E-3 at 15,000 feet
P-40 was 9 mph faster than the Spitfire Mk.IA at 15,000 feet

The P-40 could out turn the Me. 109 E-3, and could out dive it.

One interesting fact is that when comparing top speed of all of the above mentioned fighters at 15,000 feet, the P-40 was faster than any including the P-38 and P-47.

An additional fact is that most combat, especially in the pacific, was done below 20,000 ft, since the Japanese bomber usually flew below this altitude. Therefore, for the Japanese to defend their bomber against attacking fighter combat was actually around 15,000 ft.

[P-40s] Very much stronger than the flimsily constructed Japanese aircraft. A number of Zero's shed their wings at speeds slightly over 350 IAS mph. Japanese would not even attempt a dive that approached 350 IAS.

Although subsequent model P-40s did fall behind the new model Me.109s and British Spitfires in performance, however in every case, each new model Zero that came out remained inferior to their contemporary P-40.

The P-40 was not the dog that everyone seem to think it was.

PROTECTION: P-40s Were Armored and Could Withstand Hits

The P-40B flown by the Flying Tigers had...Self-sealing fuel tanks...

Japanese aircraft had none.

[P-40] Armor plate that would stop any bullet fired from a Japanese fighter or bomber encountered over Burma. Bullet-proof windshield that would stop any Japanese fighter or bomber's machine gun bullets.

FIREPOWER: P-40 Tracer Bullets Explosed Japanese Fuel Tanks

None of Japan's aircraft could even stand up to P-40's .30 [medium] and .50 [heavy] caliber [machine] guns. It only required a few incendiary bullets, even from our 30 cal. guns, to set fire or explode their aircraft.


Now why in the hell would anyone consider the Zero to be the best fighter of the war?

Hell, it didn't even start out that way...

The above is not just my opinion, but garnered from available facts, and flying the P-40 in combat.

What was truly obsolete happened to be the turning or dogfighting combat that had been used during of WWI.

The above is not just my opinion, but garnered from available facts I assume still available today. Also tests conducted by the U.S. military on captured fighters, as well as the outstanding result of those who flew the P-40s when using proper tactics against enemy aircraft.

One author, writing for the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine claims, "The Zero to be the most fabulous fighter to come out of the war." What an ill-informed ludicrous statement. They either never flew the Zero, never fought the Zero as it should have been, and most likely are not pilots, nor aeronautical engineers, so how-the-hell do they know?

Aviation buffs always come up with the statement that "the Zero was more maneuverable than the P-40". Emphatically not true. Flown properly the P-40 was an outstanding fighter; especially in the Chinese theater of war.

Actually the P-40 was more maneuverable than the Zero. Unfortunately, those that claim otherwise do not know the defini- tion of maneuverability as defined by Webster's dictionary.

Interesting comments by Saburo Sakai concerning the Zero:

In a short--but informative--interview with Saburo Sakai, Japan's leading living Ace, I said, "Commander, what was the Zero's top speed?"

His answer, "The A6M2 had a top speed of 309 mph. and a maximum allowable dive speed of 350 mph. It became extremely heavy on the controls above 275 mph, and approaching 350 mph, the Zero's controls were so heavy it was impossible to roll."

A further comment by Sakai was that "the skin on the wings started to wrinkle, causing the pilot great concern, since a number of Zero's had shed their wings in a dive."

A captured Zero tested by Americans military, showed its top speed to be 319 mph, this was a later model, the AM6M5, and was tested without guns or ammunition. Therefore, Saburo Sakai's statement that the top speed of the A6M2 and A6M3 of 309 mph would seem correct.)

Compare this to the P-40's 355 mph, and the the maximum allowable dive speed of 480 mph, (occasionally our pilots dove as fast as 510 mph) 130 mph faster than the Zero. The P-40's roll rate at 260 mph was 96 degrees per second, [3x] three times that of the Zero's mere 35 degrees at the same speed.

Japanese pilots were taught the antiquated importance of Dogfighting; or turning combat as used in WWI. Unfortunately, our military pilots were taught the same thing, dogfighting. But the Americans didn't have the equipment with which to be successful. When the Japanese encountered Chennault's hit & run tactics, they were at loss. It wasn't in their book, and they didn't know how to handle the situation. Even Tokyo Rose complained bitterly on one of her English language broadcast, saying that the Americans were coward and afraid to stay and fight...

Erik Shilling
Author; Destiny: A Flying Tiger's Rendezvous With Fate
Flight Leader
3rd Squadron AVG
Flying Tigers

Subject: Re: Zero, P-40, Me.109 E-3, Spitfire Mk I, Hurricane
From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling)
Date: Aug 13 1996
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

In gregg@hrc2.harvard.edu (Gregg Germain) writes:

Concerning roll rate: I have a question. Were the P-40 ailerons fabric-covered? Or metal?


All three control surfaces were fabric. Ailerons, elevators and rudder. Being lighter the controls were less subjected to flutter.

Erik Shilling

From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling) Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military Subject: Zero, P-40B Me 109 etc. Date: 16 Aug 1996 16:04:13 GMT

"Interestingly, according to Len Deighton in Fighter, the reason for the very high stick forces in most WWII fighters designed at or around 1937-1942 was the use of fabric on the ailerons."


I don't think so. I believe it was for two reasons and both interconnected. A fabric covered control surface would normally be lighter than a metal covered one. The more weight aft of the hinge line, the more weight there had to be ahead of the hinge line to prevent control flutter. Increasing the A/C's total weight. Also as I understand it, fabric in itself is less prone to flutter at high speed.

"The first operational models of the A6M Zero, as has been discussed here, had ailerons that virtually locked up at higher speeds. The pilots knew this, obviously, and complained about it. If you look at the wing plan form of the Zero, you will notice that the ailerons are HUGE and cover a substantial portion of the wing. With no assist of any kind and being fabric to boot, is it any wonder that the ailerons became immovable at high speed?"


I'll try a very simple and crude explaination of the Zero's problem, although I'm sure some may disagree.

in each illustration the control is on an airplane which is traveling from right to left as seen by the reader.

This represents the Zero's aileron design.

<-------- The horizontal V represents the hinge line, and as it can be seen, this one would require a lot of strength to move the control, especially at high speeds.

This is more indicative of the P-40's

--<------ Here it can easily be seen that it takes less force to move the control since its area is smaller, and the air striking the area forward of the hinge helps move the control.

----<---- In this case, once the control is deflected, the air will be so effective on the front of the control, it will cause control snatch, and the pilot will have to use a great deal of force to prevent it from going full lock. Not Good.

--------< Antiservo needed, such as can be seen on some aircraft with flying elevator controls.

Erik Shilling

Subject: Re: Zero, P-40B, Spitfire Mk 1A, Me-109E-3, Hurricane From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling) Date: Aug 13 1996 Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling) wrote: All of the aircraft listed below are contemporaries of the P-40.

phabala@vega.math.ualberta.ca Peter Habala wrote: I don't think so. In late Dec 1941, when AVG started to fly against Japs.


The P-40s were operational in the 31st Pursuit Squadron at Selfrige Field in late March of 1940.

P-40s were already operational with the Pursuit Squadron at Selfrige field in late 1940. This was a little over one year before the AVG was in combat. Also the Mark 5 went into production in early 1941 almost one year after the P-40 was operational. Therefore, I did not consider it to be a contemporary of the P-40.

"To put it another way, Spitfire Mk.IA, Hurricane and Bf.109E-3 are more of a 1939-40 era airplanes than anything else."


So was the P-40, but even so the Mk 5 Spitfire below 15,000 feet was not as fast as the P-40B. Even though the Mk 5 Spitfire was faster than the Mk 1A. It was faster only at a higher altitude. Its speed like every fighter ever built, with a supercharged engine, diminished with altitude.

The importance of including the altitude along with top speed of any aircraft is illustrated as follows. The Spitfire Mark 1A's top speed was 362 mph at 18,200 feet, But its top speed at S/L was only 280 mph.

The Me-109E-3 top speed was 355 mph at 16,400 feet, although its top speed was 305 mph at S/L. Therefore the Me-109 was slower at 15,000.

Another illustration was the P-51D that arrived in service in 1944, had a top speed of 437 mph at 25,000 feet. This same P-51's top speed at 5,000 was only 315 mph. The P-40 could actually exceed this speed at 5,000 feet. The P-40 with the same supercharged engine would have exceeded the P-51' speed of 437 at 25,000 feet.

To compare the top speed of any A/C with another, the altitude at which it is obtained has to be given, otherwise you are comparing apples and oranges.

This is why I specified 15,000 feet.

"Otherwise your comment on Japanese planes is correct. They were not as great as considered in 1941-42 by Allied pilots, the trick was not to play their game. Zero was definitely a very good plane, but already at the time there were better planes flying in Europe."


Good airplane, Perhaps, but good compared to what?

Erik Shilling

From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Zero, P-40B, Me-109E-3, Spitfire Mk1A etc.
Date: 15 Aug 1996 05:15:40 GMT

In <4utrv0$p4l@news.orst.edu> gold@mustang.oce.orst.edu (Chris Goldfinger) writes: Erik, You have convinced me that the P-40 was an under-rated aircraft. Comparing speed with the P-51 though may be going a bit too far. I can't quote performance figures, but I have watched many stock P-40's waxed by stock P-51's down low at Reno.


They were pulling stock Manifold Pressure. The P-51' are pulling over 120 in MP.

Max take-off MP for P-40 is 46 in. I don't believe the P-40s at Reno are really trying to win, but just there for the fun. Don't forget there are many Merlin engine that are trashed (blown to pieces at Reno). After all 120 In MP even for a Merlin is one hell of a lot of Manifold Pressure.

Erik Shilling

ROUND 2: P-40 Tactics

Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Zero, P-40, Me.109 E-3, Spitfire Mk I, Hurricane
Date: 12 Aug 1996 08:45:20 GMT
From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling)

roger.wallsgrove@bbsrc.ac.uk (Roger Wallsgrove) wrote:

If the P-40B was so brilliant, how come the Zeros and Oscars shot them out of the sky in the Pacific and SE Asia war zones in 1941/2?


I will answer this question with an analogy. If I give you a high-powered rifle and tell you it is a club, and you foolishly use it as a club, and I give another person a 45 cal. pistol, and he knows how to use it. Who do you think will be the victor?

The same applies to fighters.

If you don't use your equipment properly, you are going to lose the fight. The Americans unfortunately had been taught the antiquated dogfighting technique that had been used in WWI; and it wasn't successful against the Zero.

The [direct] answer to your question. In the early stages of the war, the allied pilots were not using their equipment correctly. (For your information, the Allies never built an airplane that could turn inside the Zero below 200 mph.) So how do you think we eventually out-fought them at every engagement?


In 1943, when the P-38 was first used in the Pacific, the Zero pilots were shooting them down in large numbers. (See Subro Sakai's book [on the] Zero.)

Isn't this amazing when you consider that the P-38's top speed was 100 mph faster than the Zero; and pilots were still trying to dogfight the Zero.

Chennault had written a manual on fighter tactics, which discouraged dogfighting as outdated. The military brass disagreed with Chennault, and as a result Chennault was given an early retirement from the Army Air Corps. Unfortunately, the American military took Chennault for a fool. The same as the court-martial board had taken Billy Mitchell as a fool, when he claimed that bombers could sink any battleship afloat. Even though he proved it by sinking a German WWI battleship he was court-martialed.

Why did the RAF ship all of theirs out to less critical war zones or to the USSR?


The Brits are an amazing people and this is not intended as a put-down. I don't pretend to be able to answer what was in the mind of the British Air Arm at the time. However, this question is best answered by another question, and a comment.

My guess is that whom ever high-ranking RAF that made such a decision, were not very good judges of aircraft. My guess was that President Roosevelt pressured the Brits into releasing 100 P-40s which were to be used by the American Volunteer Group. Also why do you think the Brits accept the Brewster Buffalo over the P-40?

Forget the numbers you've dragged up from (presumably) official or manufacturers test data (if such data were 'real', the P-39 would have been the fastest fighter of its day!), in a REAL shooting war the P-40B was outclassed.


Why should I forget the numbers?

I ask you the same question. Where in hell did you drag up the numbers which apparently you must have based your opinion upon?

Were you ever in combat? I ask this only because it makes a great deal of difference as to how you look at performance figures.

"In a REAL shooting War."

I assure that my data is very much REAL, and we were damn well in a REAL WAR. How in the hell do you think the Flying Tigers were able to destroy 297 Japanese aircraft, CONFIRMED--NOT CLAIMED, (Although my friend Dan Ford likes to refer to them as claimed.) and how did we loose 4 pilots that were killed in aerial combat, 3 became POWs, 1 MIA and 9 lost attacking ground targets, and 2 were killed because of Japanese bombing?????????????

My P-40 numbers were dragged up from my Diary, Which at one time I was a military test pilot before going to China. Also, I have several hundred hours in flying the P-40B and P-40E, some of which was in combat.

Tex Hill, a high-ranking ace with the Flying Tigers and also Johnny Alison, who was an ace with the 14th AF flew a captured Zero. Tex upon landing said they would never swap a P-40 for a Zero. Concerning the Zero, my figures are also based upon an interview I had with Saburo Sakai, Japanese leading living ace.

"Both the Zero and the Oscar were brilliant and innovative designs, which gave the Japanese absolute air superiority for the first year or so of the Pacific war."




With its light construction, radial engine, low-wing loading, limited pilot protection and lack of self-sealing fuel tanks, the CW-21B was the Allied fighter most similar to the opposing Japanese fighters. It had a rate of climb superior to the Nakajima Ki-43-I ("Oscar") and Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. The CW-21B had similar firepower to the "Oscar", but worse than the cannon-armed Zero.

[Dutch] 2-VLG IV claimed 4 aerial victories during the Netherlands East Indies campaign, but the ML-KNIL was overwhelmed by the sheer number of Japanese aircraft; almost all of its fighters were soon lost in combat or destroyed on the ground.[13]

This is down-right laughable, I have flown a CW-21, an aircraft built by Curtiss Wright in 1938 that's empty weight was 3150 lbs which was 10 mph faster than the Zero, could out-climb the Zero by more than 2500 f/p/m, and 100 mph faster in a dive faster and had a higher role rate as well.

Why didn't the [U.S.] military buy it? Just dumb I guess.

They had faults and failings, and zero (sorry about the pun!) development potential (unlike the Bf109 and Spitfire), but IN THEIR DAY they were great. Zero the best fighter of WW2? One of, but not THE.

Roger, NOT EVEN CLOSE. Again I ask the question. What-in-the-hell do you base your opinion upon???????????? How about reviewing my provable figures and respond to them?.

If you have stuck with me this far I'll comment on the tumble and the Bell P-39 and the P-51's high speed stall problem in a future posting--assuming of course for those who may be interested.

Also there are those including Dan Ford, a frequent visitor on this net, who say the AVG never fought the Zero. I believe I have undisputable proof that we did, but will also post this information in a separate posting.

Erik Shilling

From: steven@brimstone.sci-park.uunet.pipex.com (Steven Vincent)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Zero, P-40, Me.109 E-3, Spitfire Mk I, Hurricane
Date: 12 Aug 1996 16:03:50 +0100

roger.wallsgrove@bbsrc.ac.uk (Roger Wallsgrove) writes: If the P-40B was so brilliant, how come the Zeros and Oscars shot them out of the sky in the Pacific and SE Asia war zones in 1941/2?

Pilot quality and Training. The Japanese Pilots had come through the best flight school for dogfighting combats in the world while the U.S. pilots in 1940 were in a similar situation to the USAF pilots going into Vietnam. Basically good pilots trained in formation and basic flying but with little or no tactical combat doctrine. The Flying Tigers, like Ed Schilling were drawn from this group of pilots but were trained in a realistic combat doctrine to get the best out of their aircraft vs the Japanese (i.e. Dive and Zoom Vertical, high-speed tactics vs the Japanese horizontal turning fight.

"Did the RAF ship all of theirs out to less critical war zones or to the USSR? Forget the numbers you've dragged up from (presumably) official or manufacturers test data (if such data were "real", the P-39 would have been the fastest fighter of its day!), in a REAL shooting war the P-40B was outclassed. Both the Zero and the Oscar were brilliant and innovative"

Ed's data is real but note the heights listed, 15000ft when fighters were expected to sit at 20 or 25k in Europe. At low-level the P-39 was one of the fastest fighters in level flight but any height advantage can be turned into speed real quick!

The P-40B was behind the Spitfire V, which by 1941/42 was well into service. Indeed the Alison-engined P-40 never caught up with the Merlin-engined Spitfire. The other problem is that the European and Pacific wars required performance at altitude, which the Alison engined aircraft mostly could not deliver. (The Turbochargers on the P-38 worked well enough to make that an exception.)

"Which gave the Japanese absolute air superiority for the first year or so of the Pacific war."

I have to agree with most on this thread, The Zero was a highly overated capable aircraft but it was only the superb pilots flying in in 41/42 that made it so dangerous.

ROUND 3: Would the Navy and Mc Have Been Better off with P-40s?

Subject: The P-40 & the USN
From: jl@www.mpm.edu (John Lundstrom)
Date: Aug 20 1996
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

Here is the text of a despatch from Admiral Nimitz to Admiral King sent on 20 June 1942:
















I have not found where any serious consideration was later given to putting P-40s on carriers. Basically fighter leaders like Lt.Cdr. John S. (Jimmy) Thach and Lt.Cdr. James H. Flatley spread the word on how to beat the Zero, and in the Guadalcanal Campaign the Wildcat held its own.

However, I wonder how the marines on Guadalcanal would have done with P-40s instead of Wildcats? The Wildcats climbed much more slowly, but I think they had superior high altitude performance necessary because the bombers usually came in above 25,000 feet.

I find it interesting that Nimitz expected the Japanese to recognize their own faulty tactics and improve them--something that never happened. For their own part the Japanese to this day think the Zero totally dominated all opposition until faced with P-38s, F4Us and F6Fs in 1943.

John Lundstrom

ROUND 4: Loser Assholes on the Internet Who Don't-Know-Shit Disrespect a Then Living WW2 Fighter Pilot Legend [Disgusting! STFU! Don't You Know WHO You are Talking to?]

From: erikavg@ix.netcom.com (Erik Shilling)
Date: May 20 1997
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

Subject: Re: Have you ever flown a Zero?

Erik Shilling (erikavg@ix.netcom.com) wrote:

"It is difficult for me to understand why a man, who has never seen a B or C model P-40 other than a photograph, insists in previous posts, that I, who had several hundred hours in the P-40B, argues with me saying I flew the P-40C."

gustin@hhipe.uia.ac.be Wrote:

"Presumably the reason is that the contracts described the aircraft as Model H81A-3, which is usually assumed to be roughly equivalent to the P-40C. This probably because the aircraft were built to British contracts for the Tomahawk IIB, which is certainly assumed to be equivalent to the P-40C. It is often hard to correlate company designations and USAF designations in a reasonable way, and here the RAF was also involved, with its own rules and regulations."


Why we knew what model Curtiss [War]Hawk we flew.

I don't get the connection between what ever it was that Dan read, and the flight manual that we read before we flew the P-40s. Also I am talking about the model we flew, NOT THE MODEL Dan read about. One also must take into consideration the hours the pilot spends spent in the cockpit memorizing where each and every electric switch and circuit breaker was, every engine control, gear control, flap control, cowl control etc. before he flies.

Herein lay crux of the problem. Very few laymen know the IN- DEPTH amount of study required before flying a fighter plane, and why so few such as Dan and others, don't have the vaguest concept of why the fighter pilot's knowledge of his airplane is so all encompassing.

Then before flying, you are given a blind-fold test where you have to be able to touch and name each controls while blind-folded. Surely if we had been given an aircraft flight manual which disagreed with our equipment we would have immediately questioned it. After this drill, wouldn't one have every right to think that we knew the exact model Curtiss we flew?

The pilots operating flight manual gave engine power setting Fuel flow parameters, aircraft weight and runway lengths require, Climb speed, stall speed, top speed, cruise speeds at different altitudes, range and endurance, rate of climb. and speeds at all altitudes including speed at service ceiling.(I may have even missed some.

With this information indelibly etched in my mind, I resent Dan Ford's Challenge that I don't know what model Curtiss airplane I flew. As a matter of fact, I can still close my eyes and in my mind's eye, see and locate every control in the cockpit. I can practically do this with almost every airplane that I have ever flown such as the DC3, DC4, DC6, DC7 and C-46. I want to point out that this for a test pilot this is not an unusual accomplishment.

You ask if it were possible that some pen-pusher at Curtiss made a mistake, or the company was slightly dishonest, or the difference between the A-2 and the A-3 models was not that clearcut.

Possibly, BUT the nameplate showed our airplanes as being H81- A2 Dan even went so far as to suggest that someone changed name plates on our airplane???

Although externally the model B and C looked alike it was here the similarity ended. There was a big difference between the P-40 B and C models, which I will describe. For one thing the C and B models had an entirely different fuel system. The C had a belly tank and less internal fuel than the B. The B did not have the capability of attaching a belly tank, nor could it carry a 500 pound bomb in leu of the fuel tank. Also the C had bomb shackle on the wings where up to four 250 pound bomb could be hung. The B did not have this capability. The C's self sealing material was internal and the B's was external.

Another BIG difference between the B and C was that the P-40C was the slowest of the P-40s (14 mph slower than the B). The B's top speed was 354 mph and C's 340 mph, therefore the differences between the two models was quite cleancut.

I would think that a reasonable person would stop and think that what he had read was incorrect, especially when what he reads is in disagreement with someone who has a considerable number of hours in the airplane under discussion. With this in mind, does it really make sense to argue with anyuone who has flown the model aircraft we had??

The only concession I'll willing to make, is that perhaps some may be using the C's top speed instead of the B's.

This is why I use the figures supplied to me by Japan's leading Aces, Saburo Sakai's who says the top speed of Zero was 309 mph. Therefore, I use those that are more accurate than Dan's 321 mph.

"Well, we had this discussion earlier... It is a big loss of performance, but it is hard to say what the effects of prolonged service was on the A6M, the maintenance at combat bases, or the fuel that was available to Sakai. Maybe the Japanese had a shortage of trained ground crews: I don't know, but it seems logical. Then, of course, one can question how reliable Sakai's instruments were, if his aircraft was in a battered condition."

Sakai did not always fly the same plane, after all he flew Zero for most of the war. If your airplane was out for maintenance you flew which ever airplane that was combat ready. Surely not all of the Zeros flown by Sakai had instrument problems.

Dan wrote: "I'm sure the Model 21 could knock the socks off a P-40B/C at 30,000 feet, in the unlikely event that a P-40 could get up that >high."


These two statements are ridiculous. for one thing Curtiss never built a "P-40B/C", and when an American says "Knock the Socks off," it implies that one is better than the other by a great margin. Not marginally better. The only thing the Zero was capable of besting the 40 at any altitude was its ability to turning in a smaller circle.

NO knowledgeable pilot flying the [P-40] forty would attempt to dogfight the Zero, Hayabyusa, or any other Japanese fighter. Incidently the Americans never built [in large numbers] a fighter capable of dogfighting the Zero. That was the mistake the Americans made during the early part of the war. However, it takes more than just dogfighting to be victorious in combat.

Since the service ceiling was 32,400 feet it was no problem for the [P-40] forty to get to 30,000 feet.

I don't give a damn what altitude you choose, the P-40's top speed was still higher than your beloved Japanese A6M 21.

"Perhaps the unspoken question is: What was the performance at high altitude of the Sakae engine? That of the Allison V-1710 was not very good, and that probably explains Dan's statement."

Nothing explains Dan's statement since this is not true either, since the [P-40] forty was still faster at 30,000 feet. Even if this wasn't true all we had to do was dive.

"The Flying Tigers will soon have a Web page of their own, where readers may address questions to the original flying tigers themselves. The names of those Flying Tigers who are willing to participate will be posted."


Sounds great...

Erik Shilling

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ? Date: 17 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"The P-40 was considered outclassed by the Bf109"


By whom?

Granted, the Me-109 had superior high altitude performance, but that wouldn't have been a concern on the eastern front. The P-40 could outroll the Me, outdive it (although the Me had an initial advantage), outturn it, had comparable speed, a more rugged airframe, more survivable plumbing arrangement, and superior firepower. The one major advantage (aside from high altitude performance) the Me had over the P-40 was a superior rate of climb. But the P-40 had a slightly superior zoom climb. Of course, the P-40 had greater lift capacity and range.

The 325FG flew 128 combat missions with the P-40 in the MTO. Results:

Shot down in air-to-air combat:

96 x Me-109
26 x MC-202
7 x Me-323
3 x Ju-52
3 x Fi-156

135 total Axis Fighter Shot-Down

In addition, the 325's P-40s dropped 329,000 lbs. of bombs.


17 to enemy fighters
6 to flak
5 to unknown causes (probably weather, fuel or mechanical)
3 to engine failure
2 to mid-air collision
1 to small-arms fire
1 to hitting high tension wires.

35 Total P-40 Losses

The 325FG had two brilliant victories over the Me-109 while equipped with the P-40. On July 1, 1943, while on a fighter sweep over southern Italy, 22 x P-40s were bounced by 40 x Me-109s. Results: 1 x P-40 shot down, 20 x Me-109s shot down. On July 30, 1943, similar situation: 20 x P-40s on a fighter sweep over Italy bounced by 35 x Me 109s. 1 x P-40 shot down, 21 x Me-109s shot down. In these two battles, the Me-109s engaged the P-40s in classic, turning dogfights--and lost big time. The Curtiss fighter could outmaneuver the German fighter, take hits that would wreck the Me, and dish-out much greater firepower than the Me-109. The Me-109's only clear superiority was in the climb, which was not helpful. It could not out-turn the P-40s, dive away from them or outrun them. Nor could it outshoot them or take as much punishment as they could. Add in the fact that the Mess. drivers faced a very aggressive bunch of pilots (the motto of the 325 was "Shoot-the-Bastards"), and it's no wonder they found themselves "screwed, blued and tattooed."

Never sell the P-40 short.

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 19 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"And...typically you state "UNKOWN CAUSES" as due to mechanical failure or nature, no way one or two would have been shot down..." Answer:

Not on combat missions at the time they were lost.

Some guy making a beer run to Tunis disappears. Write his mom and say he died gloriously in combat. Remind the other troops to keep alert and fly the damned airplane all the time.

"If the Luftwaffe could put up 40 fighters"


Didn't say they were Luftwaffe. Said they were Me-109s

"Probably Bf109G-6, engaged in a manner which they knew would lose the fight, especially since the P-40 was a long known type? Sounds very odd to me..."


Dr. Williamson Murray, formerly lecturer at the Air War College, has noted that there were two Luftwaffes: the one of popular myth, peopled with experten, which did exist--but was a very small part of the German air force; and the overlooked one that always made up the majority of the German air force. This was comprised of pilots who had trouble landing their own aircraft, let alone being able to successfully engage in combat.

"The P-40 was considered outclassed by the Bf109. By whom? RAF/SAAF"


"Certainly the SAAF suffered grievous losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe in North Africa, and the RAF had some rough times, too. But an examination of what happened will reveal the British and Commonwealth forces using poor tactics. It has been commented on more than once that while RAF units in Britain were flying finger-four formations after the Battle of Britain, RAF and Commonwealth forces in the Med were still routinely flying Vics and line-astern formations long afterward. They were also using the completely useless Lufberry Circle.

What time period?

Arrived in North Africa in Jan., 1943. Equipped with P-40Fs and P-40Ls. Replaced with P-47s in Sept. 1943.

The 325's CO, Col. Robert Baseler, maintained as his personal aircraft during this period an Me 109G-6 nicknamed "Herman the German." All the 325 pilots flew it and became quite familiar with the many failings of the Mess. (It was this aircraft that was involved in the notorious mock straffing of the lFG 94FS chow line.) The Me-109 definitely could not outdive the P-40; however, its initial acceleration in the dive was very good, but a P-40 would fall on it like a cast-iron stove in very short order. One problem the Me-109 had in a dive was that its controls would freeze up very quickly. It would take a foolhardy pilot to push it much beyond 400 mph in a dive below 20,000 ft. or so. The P-40, on the other hand, was placarded at 485 mph. The problem with the P-40 in the dive was not so much the controls stiffening into mobility so much as that you had to keep feeding in rudder until at some point your leg lost the battle. But that would happen long after any diving 109 was overhauled and ventilated.

The Me-109 was definitely a high-altitude bird, and was in its element above 25,000 ft., where the P-40 was very definitely out of its element. But the P-40 was a very capable airplane below 18,000 ft. where most air fighting in the MTO and the Eastern Front took place.

"Don't forget that the Luftwaffe fighters were always out numbered in N-Africa, and its admirable that they at one stage had things under control."


Afraid I am of an age to find nothing at all admirable about Nazi Germany. The only admirable Luftwaffe figher was one that had dug a smoking hole in the ground.

"Very Gung-ho..."


Chinese phrase used by the USMC--not USAAF lingo. Try "Easy does it."

"Why is there no mention of the fact that the USAAF had a very hard time in the early faze [sic] of their N-African adventure, not fit in your picture?"


Don't follow the intent of this question. My "picture" was to illustrate the fact that the P-40 as a piece of equipment, when flown within its performance envelope, was not outclassed as a piece of equipment by the Me-109. Stand by that statement.

As for the USAAF having a very hard time in "their North African adventure" (as did the U.S. Army in general), it has long been noted that the learning curve of the Americans was exponential, and astonished both the British and the Germans, neither of whom expected much from the Americans after witnessing their first few combats.

"Why can't there be some more objectivity in these posts[?]"


Objectivity on Usenet--in Newsgroups? Surely, you jest.

"For every book or pilot quote you can make stating one thing, the idea you support, you can often find as many that repute it."


Ain't it the truth? That's where critical judgement comes in handy. It also helps to be aware of your own prejudices and your own emotional attachment to a subject. Many young men who idolize the Nazi regime or elements of it (such as the Luftwaffe) do so as a means of ego identification with a symbol of power. The high school kid who is never picked when P.E. classes divide into teams often has a collection of Nazi memoribilia at home. Ditto the kid with a dominating parent, or the person with a low-level, dead-end job. Not always the case, of course, and don't mean to imply this description applies to you, but it is a common enough phenomenon to have long been noted as a routine neurosis by psychotherapists.

"Luftwaffe and JG53 webpage "How good bad reasons and bad music sound when we march against an enemy."


Good God!

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 20 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"[Me 109] G-2/6 had considerable speed advantage [over the P-40]."

This is certainly true at altitude--especially above 25,000 ft. or so. But on the deck not a lot of difference. The Me-109 came into its own at altitude, and that is why it was able to perform effectively as an interceptor of 8AF heavies, a role that the P-40 would have been very poor at. But a Me-109 forced to fight on the P-40's terms basically had no advantages. The Me-109 vs. P-40 battles in the MTO illustrate how important tactics and pilot skill are--even more important than the airplane (as long as comparative performance is more or less in the ball park). Skilled German Me-109 pilots using generally good air-to-air tactics were able to trash a significant portion of the Curtiss P-40 production run when they faced ill-trained British colonial pilots using poor tactics.

When skilled American P-40 pilots using generally good tactics encountered poorly trained German and Italian Me-109 pilots, they were able to knock them out of the air fairly easily.

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620) Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ? Date: 24 Jan 1998 Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"RAAF was very keen to get rid of their P-40's in the African desert and replace them with Spitfires"


No doubt.

It's worth noting that, just as today people debate the merits of various WWII fighter types, sometimes becoming quite vehement, the same was true during the war, with some American fighter groups refusing to give up their cherished mounts for "superior" replacements, and some groups that were forced to relenquish their old steeds for a supposedly better type having dismal luck with the new machines. Then there were groups that hated the plane they were assigned, did poorly with it, and pined for a replacement. When they got a new fighter type, they sometimes scored quite well with it.

The classic example is the 9FS of the 49FG forced much against its will to trade in its beloved P-38s for P-47s. At the time of the trade, the 9th was the highest-scoring USAAF outfit in the Pacific. But for the entire six months it was equipped with the P-47, the unit scored only 8 confirmed kills and fell to third place in the ranking. In the same theater, however, the 348FG, equipped with P-47s, did an outstanding job, the CO Neel Kearby downing almost as many e/a on one mission as the entire 9FS did during six months. If a pilot didn't have confidence in his airplane, he would not succeed. I suspect the RAAF and SAAF pilots in North Africa had their confidence shaken very early on. A change of aircraft could have done wonders for their outlook--and their actual success.

Here is some information on how the 325FG during its P-40 period scored its successes in the MTO (aircraft destroyed are air-to-air only):

no. e/a destroyed mission type no. aircraft lost

42 bomber escort 15
28 fighter-bomber 3
31 straffing 8
43 fighter sweep 9

It can be seen from this that bomber escort was the most dangerous asignment. This was largely due to the policy in force in the MTO requiring close fighter escort of the bombers. This was particularly hard on the P-40, because the plane had a poor rate of climb and not the best rate of acceleration. Enemy aircraft had the advantage of maneuvering at altitude above the allied formation and making high-speed diving attacks against both the bombers and their escorts. In the SWPA, USAAF P-40 escorts were never constrained to close escort and were thus much less vulnerable to the attentions of enemy interceptors.

The kills the P-40s of the 325 made against Axis fighters during bomber escort missions were the result primarily of two actions: diving after the already diving e/a, overhauling it and shooting it down--demonstrating the superior diving ability of the Curtiss; or engaging in a classic turning dogfight and besting the opponent--demonstrating the superior roll rate and tighter turning circle of the P-40.

In debating the success of various fighter types, mission constraints, tactics pilot skill and pilot morale all have to be factored in.

Nor should maintenance efficiency be left out. A classic example of this is the Ki-61, a good fighter the Japanese apparently spent very little time training support personnel to maintain. As a consequence, it became notoriously unreliable in the field, with the result that pilot morale fell drastically, and reports exist indicating some Japanese pilots refusing to fly it, demanding instead the Ki-43, an aircraft of much inferior performance and firepower.

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?/Better than Me 109
Date: 24 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"Some things have beeen written in this newsgroup about the Me109G. Some where some body claimed that it was an effective high altitude bomber interceptor. I think that is not the case."


Very good descriptions of the weaknesses of the Me-109.

The comment about the Mr-109 being an effective high altitude bomber interceptor was in comparison to the P-40. Performance of the P-40E and K fell off rapidly above 18,000 ft.; above about 20,000 for the F and above about 22,000 ft or so for the N. (The F had the Packard Merlin with a single-stage two-speed mech. supercharger and the N was significantly lightened. The K had more power than the E, but began pooping out at about the same altitude as the E. However, it could carry a bigger bomb load--the E a 500 lber and the K and 1,000 lber over the same range.

On the E or K, 22,000 ft. could be achieved with reasonable performance, but above that full throttle would barely manage to keep the airplane flying slightly faster than stalling speed. Raising the nose ever so slightly--or even firing the guns while straight and level--could knock it into a stall, depending on how good the engine was running that day and how good the pilot's reactions were. It took some careful stick handling to wheeze up above 25,000 ft. It was done, too, with 49FG P-40s intercepting Japanese bombers above that altitude. Pilots flying the N model were able to intercept and shoot-down Dinah recon planes flying at 31,000 ft., but only after long chases. But no model P-40 was in its element at those altitudes. The Me-109 could at least operate in the 25,000 to 28,000 ft. environment with some degree of performance margin. The best the P-40 could do was hope to be above its foe and in position to make a diving attack. Were it attacked at that altitude, if the P-40 driver was not sufficiently quick to recognize the danger and dive away, he was in serious trouble. On one raid over Darwin, P-40Es were at 26,000 ft. positioning themselves to attack Japanese bombers at 22,000 ft. when they were hit by the Zero escort diving from above. The Curtiss machines were helpless to counter a fighter threat at that altitude and three P-40s went down immediately, the greatest single loss of the entire Darwin campaign. My guess is that an Me-109 at 26,000 ft. would have had a better chance against the Zero.

But maybe not. The Zero was an airplane best never underestimated.

From: cdb100620@aol.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?/Better than Me 109
Date: 27 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

"Did the performance of P-40 really drop that quickly at altitude?"

Yes. Critical altitude for the P-40, depending on model, ranged between 18,000 and 22,000 ft.

The N could do all right in the c.22-5,000 ft. range, and routinely escorted B-24s in the Pacific, but the Curtiss was really not at its best at the higher altitudes. It could do yeoman work at low cover, however, and did fine at escorting A-20, B-25s and B-26s.

A full power climb in a P-40 would fairly quickly overheat the engine, forcing the pilot to level out, throttle back and hum a showtune until the gauges dropped back to normal range. At the E's critical altitude of 18,000 ft., it would climb at only 800 fpm or so. The higher the P-40 climbed, the harder it was to keep it straight and level, and the slower and slower it went. At 26 or 27,000 ft., an E might only be indicating 90 mph.

The P-40E was better than the comparable P-39 (D&F), which could not struggle above about 23,000 ft., and was so unstable above 20,000 ft. that a very steady and careful hand on the stick was needed to keep it from dropping out of even a gentle turn.

The N was a whole different bird from the E, being substantially lightened, and could run rings around the E. Pilots who flew the N thought it was a really hot ship--until they strapped into a P-38 or P-47.

Could We Have Begun WW2 With Better Fighters?

The shocking revelation is that BEFORE WW2 began--in 1939 the Navy and Army Air Corps had a fighter that could out-climb, out-turn and out-speed the Jap Zero and German Me-109: the Grumman F5F SkyRocket lightweight fighter! A superior horizontal turning dogfighter. With armor protection.

Read the above again. Let it settle in. Ponder it.

We Blew It! Bureaucracy vs. Lightweight Fighters, Deja Vu Episode 1939

Dr. Paul Czysz writes:

"We are not only going broke but when we are broke we still will not have an operational fighter-bomber force. In 1939, Grumann proposed the XF-5F twin-engined fighter (for all who can remember it was Capt. Midnight's aircraft). It was an Army Air Corps fighter that could also be a carrier fighter. An aircraft manufactuer's panel concluded that a carrier aircraft could become an Army Air Corps fighter (example: McDonnell F-4) but going the other way--the Army air corp fighter would suffer severely being adopted to carrier takeoffs and arrested landings (example: F-111B). So we have a single aircraft that does none of its three missions well (F/A-18). The Su-35 and associated radar/missiles in both the Russian and Chinese versions will clean our clocks."

What he reveals is staggering to comprehend!

We ENTERED WW2 WITH THE INFERIOR F4F WILDCAT because a bureaucrat wanted less hassle with spare parts...when we could have had the SUPERIOR lightweight F5F that OUT-PERFORMED the F4U Corsair!


Length: 28 ft 9 in
Wingspan: 42 ft
Height: 11 ft 4 in
Wing area: 303.5 ft²
Empty weight: 8,107 lb
Loaded weight: 10,138 lb
Max takeoff weight: 10,892 lb
Powerplant: 2× Wright XR-1820-40/42 Cyclone nine cylinder radial air-cooled engine, 1,200 hp each


Maximum speed: 430 mph at altitude Range: 1,200 miles
Service ceiling: 33,000 feet
Rate of climb: 6,000 feet/minute


4 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
2 × 165 lb bombs

Testing by Grumman test pilot "Connie" Converse indicated: "the flying qualities for the XF5F-1 were good overall. The counter-rotating props were a nice feature, virtually eliminating the torque effect on takeoff ... single-engine performance was good, rudder forces tended to be high in single engine configuration. Spin recovery was positive but elevator forces required for recovery were unusually high. All acrobatics were easily performed, and of course, forward visibility was excellent." [3] In 1941, Navy pilots tested the XF5F-1 in a fly-off against the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Bell XFL Airabonita, Vought XF4U Corsair, Grumman F4F Wildcat and Brewster F2A Buffalo.[4]

LCDR Crommelin, in charge of the test, stated in a 1985 letter to George Skurla, Grumman president, "for instance, I remember testing the XF5F against the XF4U on climb to the 10,000 foot level. I pulled away from the Corsair so fast I thought he was having engine trouble. The F5F was a carrier pilot's dream, as opposite-rotating propellers eliminated all torque and you had no large engine up front to look around to see the LSO (landing signal officer) ... The analysis of all the data definitely favored the F5F, and the Spitfire came in a distant second. ... ADM Towers told me that securing spare parts... and other particulars which compounded the difficulty of building the twin-engine fighter, had ruled out the Skyrocket and that the Bureau had settled on the Wildcat for mass production."[4]

The implications here are staggering. We could have had a lightweight fighter-bomber in both USN/Mc and AAC/AAF use that OUT-PERFORMED both the Japanese Zero and the German Me109 from the get-go!

How many men died in single-engined P-39s, P-40s, F4Fs, F6Fs and F4U crashes whose engine conked out?

How many men did we lose who got shot-down in dogfights?

Why did we not learn of this until 1985?

Build a Model: the SkyRocket





What about the XP-50 AAF Variant?

The heavier and less performing XP-49 variant of the P-38 Lightning already in service was selected. This beefed-up P-38 only worked by having bigger, but unproven engines. When these failed, the P-49 was cancelled. Thus, an opportunity to begin WW2 with SUPERIOR-to-enemy fighters lightweight fighter-bomber aircraft was lost.

Take a peek at the XP-50 again.

What does it resemble?

Why of course! a Me262 but with prop engines!

XP-50 = Me262

Now imagine we had entered WW2 properly with SkyRockets in both Navy and Army AC variants and mass-produced them with QUALITATIVE OVERMATCH.....we would have won WW2 sooner--with less of Europe gobbled up by Stalin's tank hordes as part of his demonic Ice Breaker Plan. Moreover, once Frank Whittle's jet engines became available we could have fitted them underneath our SkyBolts and VOILA! instant VonAmerican Me262s!

Prop Speeds For Everyone--in WW2

So we know qualitative superiority is vital and the USAF bureaucracy demands it with the F-22; a very large fighter-bomber in the WW2 mode. Essentially, the USAF has been living off its 1943 North Africa paranoia that ground attack missions for Army ground maneuver forces will take precedence over raiding enemy airfields if the Army controls air power--so everything must be centralized under USAF control so it can fighter shoot-down any enemy planes that don't get bombed and destroyed on the ground during the airfield raid. Hence, the fighter-bomber is the center-piece of the USAF centralized air power bureaucracy obsessed with fighting mirror of itself. This mentality sort of worked in WW2 until the very end because the best speeds we could fly were prop plane speeds and 300 mph is still not too fast to see ground targets and attack them effectively. So air-to-air combat against enemy planes was at the same speeds as ground attack. Our planes could even operate from grassy fields and not need runways as long as they didn't get too heavy. Hold that thought, too.

However, with the advent of RAF genius Frank Whittle's jet engine in the Meteor and the German Me-262, air combat would be decided by jets and they fly at 600 mph too fast for close air support for ground maneuver units and need very, very long runways as we found out just 5 years later in the Korean war. When our long runways for jets were over-run and when our F-80s flown from safety in Japan couldn't hit the advancing North Korean infantry swarms were were pushed back nearly into the sea. We brought back the F-51 Mustangs and had F-4U Corsairs and A-1 SkyRaider prop planes that could operate from short runways and even mass-produced jeep CVE carriers ashore to turn the tide of the T34/85 medium tank lead North Korean communist peasant infantry. However, with the exception of the heavily armored, SkyRaider, losses in the F4Us and P-51s to ground fire were heavy and tragic since they only have 1 engine that when its conks out, down you go. Had we had SkyRockets throughout WW2 we could have armored them and had even better battle damage resistance than the SkyRaiders. Turboprop engines were also a possibility to get more power for more armor though piston engines are inherently more sturdy that turbines.



However, watching the true life story of recalled-to-duty, USAF Colonel Dean Hess in "Battle Hymn" the nemesis of the enemy airfield attack rears its ugly head yet again. Caught on the ground, Hess' men try to take off and two of his precious Mustangs are shot down by mere Yaks--you don't have to be Baron von Richtoven to shoot a fuel-laden plane down as it tries to gather lift right after taken off down a long, obvious runway. In fact, you don't even have to be in a "modern" airplane at all, you can be in a biplane or triplane like the baron's and get away with it! In 1941, Britain was holding on to Iraq by its fingernails when some fascist assholes decided to lay siege to the RAF base at Habbaniyah. Fortunately, the Germans were tapped out getting ready to invade Russia and could only spare some Me-110 twin-engined fighters to the Islamofascists. After raiding the RAF base, the triumphant Gerries fly back to their base where Gloster Gladiator BI-PLANES flown by ENLISTED sergeants were waiting and down goes the so-called "superior" German fighter-bombers. The RAF set up a constant stream of patrols so the German air base was always ringed by bi-planes ready to pounce on them at the moment of take-off and eventually, they lost so many planes by attrition, they gave up.

Page 68:

"...two Gladiators from [RAF] Habbaniya, loitering around Rashid Airfield at baghdad, encountered 2 Bf.110Cs attempting to take-off, and destroyed them both, much to the joy of the two British sergeant pilots responsible. Thus, within two days of arrival and despite the attack on Habbaniyah on 16 May, Junck's force had been whittled down to four He.111 bombers, eight Bf.110C fighters and two JU-52 transport aircraft, a loss of 30 percent. This rate of attrition did not augur well for the continuance of a strong Luftwaffe presence in Iraq. With few replacements available, no spares, poor quality fuel and aggressive attacks by the RAF out of Habbaniya, the mathematics of attrition went in only one direction, and the eventual withdrawal of the Luftwaffe in these circumstances became inevitable."

This same kind of airfield "goal tending" is what many like legendary aviation theorist Pierre Sprey fear will happen to our handfuls of F-22s in a war against a smart and more numerous fighter opponent. They will let the F-22s use up their fuel and shoot-them down when they return to base or try to link-up with air tankers. Is the USAF on the verge of being defeated in the next war like the expeditionary Luftwaffe was defeated in Iraq by the RAF in 1941?

What does this all mean? AIRPLANES DON'T FLY.

Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) like the Small Diameter Bomb make aircraft that need obvious exposed runways and air bases an endangered species

The sad fact is that we don't have aircraft that can fly constantly like birds, we have fossil-fuel powered imitations that the majority of the time cannot fly. This is why we can be constantly caught on the ground in enemy airfield attacks even if we are supposedly in control of the "air" (which is a BS term--if you are not IN the air--you certainly don't control it); we do not have airplanes, we have more or less "spears" that can be chucked into the air for a short time--but are most definitely coming back down. Let's face the truth, shall we? At best a plane can fly one 8-hour mission-a-day, meaning for 2/3rds of the time its on the ground. If we cannot keep up a constant air cap over our airfields by rotating planes and wearing everyone out (note our super carriers can't even keep a CAP overhead, only a pair of so-called "less costly" F/A-18 Super Hornets are on deck ready-to-launch), its entirely possible that some friggin bi-planes (aircraft that sacrifice qualitative speed for maneuverability and long flight duration or range) with air-to-air-missiles could hover near our air bases and NOT LET ANYTHING TAKE-OFF. The UAV panacea people would love this mission as its made-to-order for their anti-egomaniac-fighter-pilot agenda. You could say we would shoot down the modern-day Gloster Gladiators with surface-to-air missiles but they would counter that they are invisible by stealth features--so no detection and lock-on would take place. Shoot down the few F-22s we have and its "Game over!" for the USAF or the USMC with F/A-18s...or any other expensive fighter-bomber we can only employ in handfuls.

By insisting on one airplane to do both fighter shoot-downs and bombing we have created a large runway and airfield monstrosity that invites constant airfield attack and with excessive purchase costs means we will not have enough planes to lose before going out of the Air Force business. We will be in the shoes of the Germans in 1945 one day 1 of the nation-state war, on the verge of extinction due to both quantitative as well as QUALITATIVE inferiority. The quality we lack here is of having a diversified array of aircraft types to tackle different missions so they themselves don't have to be too big and complex and can pit their specific advantages against an enemy weakness--like the Gladiator's endurance to hover over airfields--as well as cover our own Achilles Heel.

And that "Achilles Heel" is the large, air base with obvious long runway easy to spot and attack. Even if aircraft are inside hardened shelters, guided munitions can hit their roofs then penetrate to destroy the aircraft inside as the pictures of the SDB test below show.


Dude! I Sank Your Carrier!: The Madness of King George Aircraft Carrier Bureaucracy: We're Going Broke Faster than the Rest of the World Can Build SU-35s-F-22 Clones with Multiple Type Air-to-Air Missiles (A Type of PGM) to Killer Bee Swarm Us

Artist's rendition of the Chinese copy of the T50 5th Generation Air Superiority Fighter

It's rare that we find ourselves agreeing with Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings Institute--but his latest essay in DEFENSE NEWS proves without a doubt that we cannot economically afford our current $50B-a-year bloated super carrier presence in the Persian Gulf:

Defense News
January 21, 2013
Page 21

A Stronger Gulf Presence U.S. Needs Land Bases for Combat Jets

With or without sequestration, the Pentagon still has budget problem. Its efforts to comply with the 2011 stipulations of the Budget Control Act are unlikely to succeed fully. It has not cut enough weapons or forces to be confident that the budget ceilings imposed on it by that legislation can be respected. Among other issues, it hopes that new weapon systems can be purchased at currently anticipated prices--a time-tested optimistic tendency at the five-sided building. It also envisions finding $60 billion in 10-year savings from largely unspecified, and therefore possibly unrealistic, efficiencies and reforms.

And all of these problems precede any possible additional cuts that could materialize in the weeks ahead.

In this environment, the Department of Defense needs to find new ways of doing things. Nipping and tucking here and there will not get the job done. The core logic of America's national security strategy--global engagement, with particular vigilance in the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific--remains rock solid. But we need creative methods of sustaining this.

One underappreciated idea concerns foreign basing of military assets in the Arabian Gulf region. For years, the overwhelming sentiment has favored reducing our forces there. And the fact that dividing the total mission cost by the number of troops in Afghanistan gives us a figure of $1 million-per-troop-per-year, leads many to assume that basing U.S. military personnel abroad, while strategically necessary at times, is generally a bad economy. This logic is flawed

In fact, there are times when basing American forces abroad saves huge amounts of money--not only because deterrence is cheaper than war, but because accomplishing a given military task can often be done much more efficiently with forward-stationed units. A case in point is our ability to maintain tactical combat airpower in the broader Arabian Gulf region The United States relies almost exclusively on aircraft carriers, each carrying about 72 aircraft, to position short-range jets for possible conflict with Iran, in particular. Over the past decade, land-based jets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq have largely come home.

While we occasionally rotate fighter jets through the small states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and maintain command-and control and support assets in states like Qatar and the UAE, our permanent ashore combat power is very limited. As a general rule, whenever continuous airpower is needed in a given region, military logic dictates primarily using land-based Air Force (or marine corps) assets rather than carrier-based planes. One reason is that even a major, hardened land base costs perhaps 1/10th as much as a $12 billion aircraft carrier (not to mention accompanying support ships).

But the arithmetic is even more heavily weighted against aircraft carriers in such situations, even if they provide crucial capability in places where we cannot predict future needs. In fact, it takes about 5 aircraft carriers in the fleet to sustain 1 on station because of the normal life cycle of a U.S.-based ship, combined with Navy policies that cap Sailor deployments at 6 months duration in most cases.

In typical Navy practice, a vessel based in Norfolk, Va., or San Diego, for example, might spend one 6-month period forming up a new crew, the next 6 months gradually increasing training and then carrying out deployments near American shores, 6 months at sea (up to 2 months of which is consumed in transoceanic transit), and then a final 6-month period in ship maintenance. That makes 4 or 5 months on station out of 24 [2 years].

Work out the math, and, given the cost of the newest Navy vessels, Uncle Sam will soon need well over $50 billion in naval capital assets, not even counting the planes themselves, to keep 72 combat jets ready to act in the Arabian Gulf. The reason that we maintain 1 or 2 carriers at a time near the gulf, rather than rely on land-based jets, has important historical and political roots. Over the years, the region's governments have wanted to limit their visible association with the United States, and we have wanted to keep a distance from regimes seen as anti-Israeli, autocratic or otherwise unpalatable. But in light of Iran's ongoing provocations, and its nuclear programs, this past tendency requires rethinking.

It would be a mistake to put all of our-eggs-in-one-basket in the gulf. Given the political sensitivities and uncertainties noted above, it would make the most sense to seek 2 or even 3 land bases in the region, each of which could normally host about 50 American combat jets [150 total], such as the F-15, F-16 or even the stealthy F-22 fighter (and someday, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter). Investment costs for underground fuel lines, hardened aircraft shelters and the like would ideally be paid largely by the GCC governments. It is true that land-based air assets would require permission from local governments before they could be used in any preemptive strike that America might conduct on Iran's nuclear facilities. Some would say this argues against land basing. But we could always surge a carrier to the region for a strike that occurred at a time of our choosing. The land-based jets would not need to be the vanguard of this operation

More broadly, it would be preferable if at least one GCC state were invested in such a military operation from the start. In other words, it would be healthy for Washington to be in a position where it would have even more incentives than it does today to consult closely with Arab governments before pulling-the-trigger on a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear sites.

With this strategy, our [nuclear super] carrier fleet might eventually be reduced from 11 ships to 9, with an estimated average budget savings of $15 billion a year. [How about reducing super carriers to 5--and save $45 billion instead?] For those who are not anxious to seek additional savings, look at it this way: Some of these defense budget cuts are going to happen, since they are already written into law. We need ways to implement them at minimal risk to national security. Land-bring airpower in the gulf would turn necessity into virtue, saving us money while increasing military capability and creating a stronger American-Arab front against Iran's rise.

At a minimum, it is an idea to discuss intensively with key allied governments in the region.

SNC Colonial Air Control: Almost Anything Looks Good Against Rebels Without Air Forces--Unless We Lose by Going Broke

America is about to lose two regional wars to mere rebels in Iraq/Afghanistan because our bloated and inefficient military bureaucracies have made us go broke. If we have to leave the field because our bank accounts are empty by a combination of a thousand enemy cuts by us offering them constant presence patrol targets on roads/trails their wheeled trucks can't avoid and our own bloated transporting of our garrison FOBBITIS life-style, we lose just as decisively as if a Napoleon, Giap or a Yamashita has cornered us into a climactic battle and made us cry "Uncle Sam!". Aircraft carriers to launch fighter-bomber air strikes against mere rebels hiding amongst rocks or in mud buildings with innocent civilians is not only economically unaffordable, it's morally bankrupt as it makes rebels out of their enraged, surviving relatives. COunter-INsurgency (COIN) is best done by slower, observation/attack planes that can ascertain who the bad guys are and skillfully direct fire only against them:


If the basing of these aircraft on foreign land in itself causes rebellion, then SEA BASING makes sense--but it must be affordable. Aircraft carriers are too costly because they are trying to look like warships at the same time as being quasi-airfields--but to do this their flight decks are too small for aircraft to take-off with unassisted runs, so they use catapults to launch and arrestor wires to recover. The results of the aircraft carrier is that it EATS AIRPLANES. Few nations can afford to throw away multi-million-dollar planes and men into the sea. What is needed is an actual SEA BASE--a large floating artificial island with which regular planes--not flight compromised ones with heavy landing gear and tail-hooks--can operate from. The U.S. should build and operate 2 Mobile Off-Shore Bases (MOBs); one in the Arabian sea and another in the Pacific with which to combat Sub-National Conflict (SNC) threats affordably--without inflaming indigemnous peoples by having bloated Ugly American land FOBs complete with Baskin Robbins ice cream parlors while they live in squalor. If our servicemen want ice cream they can have it discretely on a MOB instead of being rude in a land FOB and not offer the same to their neighbors.


NSW: It's More than the Cost--36 Inferior Naval Fighters are Fatally Worthless


"In order for a carrier to deploy, it must embark one of ten Carrier Air Wings (CVW).[Note 3] The carriers can accommodate a maximum of 130 F/A-18 Hornets[27] or 85-90 aircraft of different types, but current numbers are typically 64 aircraft. A typical carrier air wing can include 12-14 F/A-18E or F Super Hornets as strike fighters; two squadrons of 10-12 F/A-18C Hornets, with one of these often provided by the U.S. marine corps (VMFA), also as strike fighters; 4-6 EA-6B Prowlers for electronic warfare; 4-6 E-2C Hawkeyes used for airborne early warning; C-2 Greyhounds used for logistics; and a Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron of 6-8 SH-60F & HH-60H Seahawks."

12 plus 24 = 36. Just 36 F/A-18s per super carrier, not 72. Moreover, O'Hanlon evades the main issue of WHAT combat power are we getting for this bloated naval racket by inserting a quip that the F-35's stealthiness will soon arrive to somehow give the mere 36 short-range fighter-bombers overmatch in Nation-State War (NSW) when the very viability of having so much money and 5, 000 men/women packed into one huge, vulnerable target screams that it be stopped before its too late and we have a national tragedy on our hands akin to the air-cover-less Repulse and Prince of Wales being sunk in WW2. The exact same thing is set to happen with our super carriers because they are now flying the modern equivalents of the Brewster Buffalo--low performance F/A-18s that will be shot out of the sky like the Japanese Zeros did in WW2; this time by missile swarms fired by high-performance SU-35s as warned by Australian Air Power expert Dr. Carlo Kopp. It's ironic that the RMA pundits in DoD are awash in their technohubris about "PGMs" and think their revolution is only one-way and working in their favor. As Neocon Nazis, they think they can dumb-down the flight performance of a fighter-bomber with stealth and make it immune to enemy air-to-air PGMs so the American military-industrial complex can brazenly rain air-to-ground PGMs on backward victim nation-states who have natural resources they want--oil, drugs, precious minerals like gold. In their own technohubris, they forget that a PGM--a guided missile--can be mass-produced faster and in greater numbers than a platform. So what the rest of the world has figured out is that the way to defeat stealth platforms is by firing salvos of missiles--killer bees--that don't just look for a radar blip but also the heat signatures of our fighter-bombers as they close-in during the "merge". If the F/A-18 does nothing, it's huge radar signature will guide in the radar missiles to explode the 2 men and/or women inside; if it tries to evade and break missile lock-on, its too bloated and low in performance and will get flamed--if not by the radar-guided AAM--then by its following infared cousins. The U.S. Navy and marine racketeers know that their Top Gun days are nearly over (but not aware its due to their own stupidity, egotism and greed) and are desperate to replace their F/A-18s with F-35B/Cs--or else their whole almost criminal enterprise is finished. As Dr. Copp points out, the F-35B/C are low-performance platforms lacking the speed to add to their BVR AMRAAM's range, so forget them getting in shots first from safe stand-offs during the merge. Due to corporate greed and inherent inefficiency of the bloated super carrier, we will not be able to put more F-35B/Cs into the air than stronger economies like China/India that can put up more SU-35 clones from more numerous land bases. So even if our F-35B/Cs launch their pair of AMRAMMs first--they will only have signalled their location to the more numerous enemy SU-35 swarms who can then launch salvos of radar and infared-guided AAMs in their direction. If the F-35B/Cs do nothing, maybe the enemy's radar-guided AAMs will not lock-on. But if the infared AAMs see them, they will have to try to evade them; and like the F/A-18s lacking in maneuvering power will be unable to break contact and will be flamed and/or exploded. Trying to evade the infared AAMs might cause the F-35B/Cs to appear as radar blips to the radar-guided AAMs--a viscious circle they are trapped in.

Certain RMA pundits will cite the above example as an absurd excuse to build swarms of stealthy unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) that will simply be shot down by swarms of enemy air-to-air PGMs, since all they are trying to do is follow down the same bad idea of making the platform invisible by removing the pilots instead of ADOPTING NEW APPROACHES THAT ASYMMETRICALLY counter and overmatch the enemy's high performance fighter and multi-spectral missile salvo swarm approach. We will simply piss away even more money from supposedly "throw away" UAVs into the drink during daily operations so instead of 36 to play with, a carrier will have say 72--until they start crashing them. Half of these may be lost by the time the war starts due to daily crashes as per the current 50% UAV loss rates. And all of this super carrier racket for what? So we can have 72 unmanned or 36 manned fighter-bombers without either quantitative or qualitative overmatch to try to clear-out an enemy's air force? This will fail against a competent foe be it a nation-state mass-producing SU-35s and multi-spectral missiles or even a sub-national conflict rebel group with business jets and the same PGMs to include aircraft-carrier sinking missiles. The source of all of this is our platform weakness that extends to the "mother" platform itself: the large, bloated aircraft carrier is bunk and has always been bunk even dating back to WW2:


WW2 sea control was won in the Atlantic by long-range seaplanes and escort carriers made from commercial cargo ships, and in the Pacific by submarines, land-based planes, and escort carriers; the latter's statistics dishonestly folded into the boasts of the large aircraft carrier pundits to try to distort the record for their racket.

The Aircraft Carrier as Geopolitical Bait: Pearl Harbor At Your Door Step?

In a competition with a human enemy, when the U.S. attacks across oceans it has a distinct disadvantage in that it has to spend a lot of effort making runways float--when the enemy in defense already has airfields on land which are drastically less expensive to create as O'Hanlon points out. The mobility advantage of the aircraft carrier to hopefully evade targeting is lost when instead of darkening-the-skies with our aircraft swarms by dozens of carriers built from cargo ships like we did in WW2 to deny the enemy launch positions, we build only a handful of ego-gratifying "fleet" carriers at great cost such that today we have only 36 crap, low-performance F/A-18s all bunched together in one huge fuel and ammunitions horizontal, bureaucratic file cabinet asking to be exploded and sunk--witness what LT John McCain did to the USS Forrestal in 1967 with one little prank. Imagine multiple PGM strikes on the crowded flight deck full of F/A-18s or F-35B/Cs. If the enemy is crafty he will not shoot-down all our F/A-18s or F-35B/Cs during their abortive counter-air mission--he will let some THINK they have gotten away and follow them back to their carrier to then shoot them down--and sink their carrier and kill the 5, 000 men and women onboard. Maybe this is what the Nazi Neocons want--to offer a version of Pearl Harbor-enrage-the-American sheeple-into-war bait that comes to the door steps of areas they want to rob their resources from? Perhaps, the Andrew Marshall crowd cynically tolerates the Navy's carrier racket as a hip-pocket Pearl Harbor to give them the political cover they need to continue to resource-rape other countries overseas if they should decide to fight back? The problem is that even if the American sheeple are conned into a rage by aircraft carriers offered as war bait, their anger isn't going to overnight turn an incompetent U.S. military into a war-winner. This isn't 1939 and we don't have 3 years to get ready--if we're not ready today, we lose.

The USAF without twin-engined F-22 stealth fighters in mass-production have nearly the exact same low-performance, short-range F-35As as the Navy/Mc have, and without nearby land bases cannot come to their brethren's aid. Even if they do, they are just as overmatched and subject to defeat except the enemy follows them back to their land bases to try to destroy them. As we propose having fighters in BATTLEBOXes (FINABs) camouflaged, hardened and dispersed or in tunnels (TLARs) can mitigate against being wiped-out--but there is no guarantee a friendly nation will be nearby for us to do this.

Air Superiority: Do We Want it or Not? If We Do, We Can't Continue Business-As-Usual

If we want to land-invade a nation-state and must clear-out their air force, we must have both quantitative and qualitative air superiority means--hoping to destroy the enemy's aircraft on-the-ground in a lucky series of attacks like the Israelis did to the Egyptians in the 1967 war did not happen years before in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs fiasco:


If we want to avoid the Repulse/Prince of Wales sinkings or the Bay of Pigs amphibious defeat on a massive scale, then the U.S. military must stop with the bloated super aircraft carrier racket and either build 100 aircraft carriers from container ship hulls filled with high-performance SU-35 equivalents (could be F-35 Silent Eagles with thrust-vectoring and canards) with multi-spectral AAMs to darken-the-skies and prevent enemies from getting into launch position in the air-sea battlespace. Imagine a now obsolete double-hulled supertanker with plenty of fuel for its 100+ aircraft of ALL TYPES--to include ASW patrol seaplanes not short-ranged helicopters--with a LONNNNGGGGG flight deck so ACTUAL AIRCRAFT can take-off without catapults using ski-jumps and land with a leading edge of the deck curved downward to help aircraft to safely bounce up onto the deck and arrest a wire if the ship should pitch down.

Another option would be to build a fleet of 100 giant Wing-In-Ground (WIG) effect seaplanes with which to launch SU-35 equivalent seaplane fighters from the tops of their fuselages [airborne aircraft carriers] to clear-out the enemy's air forces on the ground and in the air.


Other options to get our own Killer Bee SU-35-like swarms overseas to seize air superiority would be using available 747s and/or submarines as aircraft carriers--though the former couldn't land on the water to refuel and stay long to recover its aircraft and the latter would be very costly:


The U.S. Army would be wise to obtain WIG seaplanes so it can have its own strategic mobility and not be left hanging-out-to-dry like the Navy did to them in the Phillipines in 1941-42 forcing them to surrender without supplies to Japanese torture in POW camps until General MacArthur could come back for them (the Navy wanted to postpone this, too!). Disgusting. The Army could operate the WIG seaplanes and the USAF could fly the SU-35-like seaplane fighters if the Navy is not interested (highly likely). WIG seaplanes do not leave wakes in the water with which spy satellites can track and target them. They do not pack 5, 000 men and women inside asking to be cremated alive for the military-industrial complex war spin.

Note that this discussion is about counter-air--gaining air supremacy. The best way to do gunboat diplomacy is with GUNboats--bombard land targets with Iowa class battleships whenever possible so men in aircraft are not even put at risk of being shot-down in the first place just to deliver high explosives to target:

21st Century Battleships Needed

Enter the Swarm Fighters


F-22 Fighter Loses $79 Billion Advantage in Dogfights: Report

ABC NewsBy Lee Ferran | ABC News - 6 hrs ago

The United States has spent nearly $80 billion to develop the most advanced stealth fighter jet in history, the F-22 Raptor, but the Air Force recently found out firsthand that while the planes own the skies at modern long-range air combat, it is "evenly matched" with cheaper, foreign jets when it comes to old-school dogfighting.

The F-22 made its debut at the international Red Flag Alaska training exercise this June where the planes "cleared the skies of simulated enemy forces and provided security for Australian, German, Japanese, Polish and [NATO] aircraft," according to an after-action public report by the Air Force. The F-22 took part in the exercise while under strict flying restrictions imposed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in light of mysterious, potentially deadly oxygen problems with the planes - problems that the Pentagon believes it has since solved.

The Air Force said the planes flew 80 missions during the event "with a very high mission success rate." However, a new report from Combat Aircraft Monthly revealed that in a handful of missions designed to test the F-22 in a very specific situation - close-range, one-on-one combat - the jet appeared to lose its pricey advantages over a friendly rival, the Eurofighter Typhoon, flown in this case by German airmen.

"We expected to perform less with the Eurofighter but we didn't," German air officer Marc Grune said, according to Combat Aircraft Monthly. "We were evenly matched. They didn't expect us to turn so aggressively."

Two other German officers, Col. Andreas Pfeiffer and Maj. Marco Gumbrecht, noted in the same report that the F-22's capabilities are "overwhelming" when it comes to modern, long-range combat as the stealth fighter is designed to engage multiple enemies well-beyond the pilot's natural field of vision - mostly while the F-22 is still out of the other plane's range. Grumbrecht said that even if his planes did everything right, they weren't able to get within 20 miles of the next-generation jets before being targeted.

"But as soon as you get to the merge..." Pfeiffer said, referring to the point at which fighters engage in close-up dog fighting, "in that area, at least, the Typhoon doesn't necessarily have to fear the F-22 in all aspects... In the dogfight the Eurofighter is at least as capable as the F-22, with advantages in some aspects."

In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Air Force, Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, told ABC News that one-on-one combat is only one way to evaluate an aircraft's capabilities and said it's not "necessarily the most relevant to every scenario."

"The F-22 is conceived and employed as part of an integrated force that provides offensive capabilities that make close-engagements far less likely while retaining the ability to handle close engagements in tandem with other fighters," he said.

Air Force Gen. John Jumper, one of the few airmen to have flown both aircraft, said in 2005 that it is difficult to compare the F-22 and the Eurofighter.

"They are different kinds of airplanes to start with," he said, according to an Air Force Print News report. "It's like asking us to compare a NASCAR car with a Formula 1 car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance."

The F-22 "can maneuver with the best of them if it has to, but what you want to be able to do is get into contested airspace no matter where it is," Jumper said, referring to the F-22's stealth and supercruise capabilities that are meant to allow the plane to sneak in to hostile territory undetected - an ability the non-stealth Eurofighter lacks.

As for where that contested airspace may be, the Air Force hasn't said. But in April 2011 an executive for Lockheed-Martin, the primary manufacturer of the F-22, told ABC News that the plane could "absolutely" find a home in quick-strike missions against countries like Iran or North Korea. Over the weekend, the Air Force deployed a squadron of F-22s to Kadena Air Base in southern Japan just over 800 miles south of the North Korean border - a move that comes three months after an undisclosed number of the stealth jets were deployed to an allied base in the United Arab Emirates, some 200 miles from the Iranian mainland.

The F-22 is the single most expensive fighter jet in history at a total acquisition cost of an estimated $79 billion for 187 planes, meaning each plane costs approximately $420 million. Estimates for the Eurofighter Typhoon - the premier fighter for several allied countries including the U.K., Germany and Italy - put that plane at just under $200 million each, according to an April 2011 report by England's Public Accounts Committee.

"[Red Flag was] a mission to get to know each other, the first contact by German Eurofighters in the continental U.S.," Grune said of mock-fighting the F-22s. "We are not planning on facing each other in combat. We want to work together but it was a starter for us to work together. They were impressed, as we were impressed by them."

NICE SPIN, HANS. The point is the SU-35 is highly agile like the Eurogfighter--and it is in potential enemy Air Forces. Does one have to be an egomaniac liar to be a fighter-bomber pilot? And why can't we have a none fighter jock as USAF Chief-of-Staff? Who decides? Some gray beards (retired USAF) officers bent on perpetuating their bureaucracy's BS?

Compounding the problem that our uber expensive F-22s and F-35s might simply get DESTROYED ON-THE-GROUND, is the emerging Russian Beyond-Visual Range (BVR) AIR-TO-AIR threat described in detail by Air Power Australia on their web page below:


The Russian SU-27/35 approach is to carry MULTIPLE MISSILES and fire them in salvoes from BVR. Is the F-22 and F-35 so stealthy that they will not be detected by a SU-25/35 on radar or infared to avoid this first salvo? What will happen if our low-performace F-18 Stupor Hornets and F-35s have to dogfight against SU-27/35s?

Deja Thud all over again: F-35 is a Joint (air-to-ground) STRIKE fighter--like the F-105 Thunderchief--NOT an AIR SUPREMACY (air-to-air) fighter


The F-35 is a LOW performance fighter little better than the bloated F-18


Maybe its time we build thousands of fighters with HIGH PERFORMANCE and stop hoping an anti-radar trick is going to trump everything for us?

Pierre Sprey calls for a simple, fighter shoot-down only plane that we can build in the thousands that by virtue of its small size and not having radar but only passive sensors in the October 2009 Combat Aircraft magazine article, "Front Line" column on page 29 written by the legendary Robert F. Dorr, America's most prolific military aviation writer.


The United States is facing a "fighter gap". By 2015, there won't be enough fighters to equip U.S. carrier air wings and USAF squadrons.

According to Pierre Sprey, it's worse than they're saying. In Sprey's view, the United States doesn't have a real fighter today. Sprey wants the Pentagon to start at the beginning and re-equip U.S. forces with new aircraft.

Sprey, 72, was a Pentagon analyst and one of ex-U.S. defense secretary Robert S. McNamara's "whiz kids", pivotal in the design of the F-16 Fighting Falcon (which ended up weighing more than the lightweight version Sprey wanted) and the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Today, the white-haired Sprey records and sells jazz music. Still, he has time to criticize the Pentagon for warplanes that are too costly, too heavy, and "have too much crap hanging under their wings."

Sprey wants to restore "fighter" to its true meaning: an aircraft designed to shoot down the other side's aircraft.

The F-22 Raptor is nearing the end of its production run. Some see the F-35 Lightning II as the answer to the looming "fighter gap". Sprey told this magazine in a July 14 telephone interview that it's the wrong answer.

Sprey is writing a book with Robert Dilger that will call for "austerely-designed and affordable aircraft tailored to missions that actually win wars". Sprey said the USAF could be equipped with 10,000 cheap, practical, single-mission warplanes instead of 2,000 bloated,"multi-role" aircraft. This boost to the US aerospace industry could be achieved, Sprey said, without spending a dollar more than the USAF spends today.

The USAF also needs a forward air control aircraft and a small airlifter, Sprey said. But most importantly it needs a "super-maneuverable new air-to-air dogfighter with all-passive electronics." The word "passive" is key to Sprey's thinking. He regards radar, radar-guided missiles, and even stealth, as useless. Sprey compared an air-to-air duel to a gunfight between two men in a dark room. "The guy who switches on his flashlight is dead", Sprey said. Sprey wants a new fighter equipped with a gun and an infrared, radar-seeking air-to-air equivalent of the AGM-88 HARM missile. "When the other guy turns on his radar, he dies."

The sole purpose of Sprey's dream fighter would be to "kill every other fighter in the world". Sprey's aircraft "would never carry a bomb", would give off no electromagnetic energy, and "would be designed from the ground up for radio silence."

Sprey said the F-16 began operating at about 20,000 lbs. but that later versions weigh twice as much. He said the F-22's official combat-loaded take-off weight ("full internal fuel, four AMRAAMs, two AIM-9s, plus gun and ammunition") is 64,500lb. "lf you actually weighed a current production airplane with all the latest 'fixes', like the extra 600 lbs. they had to add to the below-spec stealth coating, I wouldn't be surprised if this number rose to almost 70,000 lbs.", Sprey said.

He wants to "return to WW2 weights" with his dream fighter for the USAF. His goal is about 14,000lb, roughly the combat weight of the P-51D Mustang of 1943.

So what about range and combat radius? Sprey said his proposed lightweight fighter must have a very high "fuel fraction". The weight of fuel carried by the dream fighter would be up to 80 per cent of total operating weight, an engineering feat never before achieved that would give a small aircraft a combat radius as great as the F-16.

Sprey's' dogfighter "would neither be 'net-centric"' nor use a datalink to send and receive images. So what about everyone in the battlespace communicating with everyone else? Sprey said: "The pilot doesn't have time for that crap. You don't want a great big confusing head-up display. You don't want anything that keeps the pilot from swiveling his head. Clearing your six o'clock is just as important as it ever was". A fighter pilot, Sprey said, "needs to concentrate on fighting."

In his ideal fighter, "supersonic cruise" is desirable, Sprey said, but it's not really an attribute of the F-22. The F-22's "fuel fraction" is a low 27 per cent of take-off weight, or "only two thirds of what's needed for combat-useful supersonic endurance in enemy airspace". The F-22 doesn't have enough fuel because it needs room for stealth technologies, radar electronics and radar, Sprey said. His ideal fighter wouldn't employ stealth although "its small size would make it difficult to detect, "turning on a radar is a death warrant", said Sprey. "If radar doesn't count, then stealth doesn't count."

With Sprey's fighter, pilots would log more flying hours. "The F-22 is a huge degradation in our air-to-air capability because our pilots are getting 10 to 12 hours a month". Sprey thinks they need 40 to 60.

So will Sprey's dream fighter be built? It probably won't, but Sprey's ideas provoke thought in an era when clear thinking is exactly what's required.

New Operational Concept (OPCON) Needed: No More Vulnerable Land Air Bases

We concur, but propose we go farther than just having rows of planes to sacrifice in the inevitable rounds of air base attacks. This ain't WW2 and even Sprey's fighters will not be cheap. Old Amerikansky folk proverb: "An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure". We should use the small size of these "Swarm Fighters" to get away from the large airbase and runway altogether.

Small Swarm Fighters could have folding or detachable wings so they can be fitted into an ISO shipping container or "BATTLEBOX" to be ground mobile and not stuck to an airfield pavement. Like an aircraft carrier they can be removed from the vulnerable surface and protected below by digging the BATTLEBOX into the ground which will camouflage and protect the Swarm Fighter far better than any steel flight deck. We call this concept "Fighter-In-A-Box" or FINAB for short. FINAB Swarm Fighters could be removed from their BATTLEBOXes and even air-launched from heavy-lift helicopters like the no fuselage, Erickson CH-54 Air Crane so no runway at all is required for take-off or spot-launched like a missile at a 45 degree angle with Zero Length Launch (ZEL) techniques.


However, once the mission is over, the fixed-wing plane has to roll to a landing along a long runway of some kind. Of course, the first thought is the STOVL F-35B without ordnance should be able to land vertically after a mission--AMEN---its an ideal candidate for FINAB, just put folding wings from the "C" model on it. However, it appears to be another 10 years away from being fielded and is almost as costly as the F-22! UGHH. If the "F-35D" FINAB described above were to be fielded it could participate in the dispersed air box concept but certainly not as a replacement for F-22s in air superiority or A-10s in the CAS/MAS role.

Tunnel Launch and Recovery (T-LAR)

Modern Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) leave no dirt to remove and fuse the tunnel walls smooth

While doing research into Deep Underground Military Bases (DUMBs) the solution has become available; modern Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) can in a matter of hours make very long tunnels into the ground large enough for small aircraft to pass. TBMs actually fuse the ground smooth as they bore in. Apparently even the cash-strapped North Koreans are experimenting with underground tunnel runways to avoid U.S. targeting.

North Korean underground fighter base

As legendary aerospace engineer Dr. Paul Czysz points out, the Red Chinese have many underground fighter bases built into the sides of mountains to withstand even nuclear attacks. He visited one such underground base that's now a museum of technology.

Chinese copy of our B-29 bomber made into a radar picket plane like our AWACS

Map of the CHICOM underground air base now a Technology Museum

So why not have a squadron of Swarm Fighters dispersed over a large area that's well-camouflaged and have them touch-down onto grassy "pads" leading down at a slight downward angle into tunnels where perhaps nylon mesh barriers catch them and slow them down gradually (not instantly like on aircraft carriers). Once "caught", the pilot shuts the engine down and after the net on a track slows to a stop, he gets out. The Swarm Fighter is turned around to face upwards on the track and is refueled, rearmed etc. for launch in the other direction. The benefits of Tunnel Launch and Recovery (T-LAR) is that earth is cheap; once you dig it and seal it, its yours and you can make it as long as you want to insure by the time the Swarm Fighter reaches the end opening ramp angle, its got more than enough lift for take-off. If something goes wrong, the pilot can actually ABORT and have the track brake him to a stop--you cannot do this in either land or aircraft carrier-based aviation! Digging multiple T-LARS should cost far less than trying to pave long runways and aircraft parking aprons followed by half-protective revetments followed by hardened hanger domes etc. that for all that effort are fatally vulnerable. By facing the fact that an aircraft doesn't fly for the majority of the time--and protecting it right the first time--by ground mobility, dispersal, camouflage and underground storage, we save all kinds of energy and monies trying to do it later on half-assed on the exposed surface of the earth.


FINAB: BATTLEBOX Fighter Study by

The F-22 Raptor is dead. Where do we go from here?

Of course like a spoiled "daughter" (fighter pilot mafia) wanting the unaffordable "prom dress" (F-22) in the "shop window" (Military-Industrial, Congressional, Think-Tank Complex), the USAF will pout and wait for "mommy" (the American tax payers) to divorce "daddy" (the liberal Democrats that want to spend on social programs) and get a better "sugar daddy" (4th Reich Corporate Nazi Republicans who lust for war) and let the "prom" (war) go by to get what they want. The problem is this ain't the Senior Prom and when the American people need the USAF to fight, its got to go to the gunfight ready-to-kill; not with looks-to-kill.

Instead of pouting, we need to be innovating. We need several thousand FINAB Swarm Fighters (F-only designation) and several thousand "Killer Bees" (A-only designation) perhaps owned and operated by the U.S. Army--that would be able to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world, burrow into the ground and be hard to detect--much less hit in an air base strike. We strike the enemy, they don't strike us. Even if enemy planes should follow ours back to the base area, we would have planes constantly overhead or in their tunnels ready-to-launch that would instantly become airborne to shoot-down and thwart any attack. There are no runways to crater. No supplies to demolish; everything is underground and camouflaged. The T-LARs open just long enough for their Swarm Fighter or Killer Bee to launch or recover as lift for take-off or deceleration to come to a stop is achieved mostly while UNDERGROUND. The Swarm Fighters shoot down anything that flies and the Killer Bees destroy the enemy's airfields and after that whatever key infrastructure targets to pressure the enemy nation-state government to fold. Swarm Fighters secure our air bases up to medium altitudes from enemy UAV and stand-off munitions attacks by continuous overhead presence and instant launching from underground. Swarm Fighters can be used offensively if their mobile launch means be it BATTLEBOX transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) or ships (aircraft carriers or container ships with flight decks) are moving towards the enemy or if in-flight refueling is available to compensate for their small size/short range. The airborne aircraft carrier "mother ship" using the parasite principle from a cargo 747 or C-17 is another range extending option for offensive missions.

Swarm Fighter Candidates

Retired Air Force Col. Everest Riccioni's MicroFighter

Folland Gnat

Meet the Super Gnat
Gnat History

Killer Bee Candidates

Chuck Myers' ASP

The Mudfighter

Burt Rutan's ARES Mudfighter

Cactus Air Force Needed Now

Folding-Wing A-10D Warthog II

Return of the Air Commandos

Paul Czysz's CannonFighter

Killer Bee with a Big Gun


Killer Bees are vectored and Airborne Forward Air Controlled (AFAC) by U.S. Army FINAB STOL Observation/Attack "Grasshoppers" with enlisted observers (Ground FACs doing a tour of duty) on-board to render Maneuver Air Support (MAS) so our Army ground forces can converge on the enemy's Centers of Gravity (COGs) take them out and end the war.


The Killer Bee must be able to survive at low altitudes under 10, 000 feet possibly beneath overcast cloud weather conditions--where even Third World country peasants can put up a wall of lead shooting everything on hand from hand guns to air burst RPGs to effect Chuck Myers' Maneuver Air Support (MAS) concept of continuous overhead presence ("COOP" or CO-OP).


This means it must be armored and aerodynamically agile with straight wings with high lift to "jink" and not present itself as a straight-line target.

The Russians know to sky camouflage their aircraft--the current U.S. Army's helicopters in dark green does not

The Killer Bee must be daylight camouflaged since war doesn't stop when the sun rises. This means it must be painted in a sky gray-blue camouflage or even chameleonic panels like James Bond's car in "Die Another Day" and/or have Project Yehudi lights underneath. An up-engined, two-seat A-10D Warthog II with folding wings that could fit inside BATTLEBOXaircraft ISO shipping containers could meet the Killer Bee requirements or a smaller design like Rutan's ARES mudfighter or a modernized Folland Gnat could suffice.


Stealth aircraft own the night. Now they want the day.

By Steve Douglas & Bill Sweetman


Disappearing Act

Future aircraft such as Lockheed Martin's proposed Joint Strike Fighter might use visual stealth to blend into the sky. Sensors would measure the sky's brightness and hue and electrocromic coatings applied ove a white skin would change shade to match the background.

Lockheed Martin's F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter was the star of the Gulf War, flying behind enemy lines to hit Baghdad targets with pinpoint accuracy. At night, the F-117 was unstoppable. But by day the black jet stayed on the ground.

The F-117 isn't fast enough to outrun missiles or agile enough to dodge them, and it can't fight back because it's armed only with bombs. These limitations don't matter at night, because the F-117's stealthy shape enables the aircraft to avoid detection by enemy radar. But in the light of day, the enemy can see the black plane against the sky, and can take aim without the help of radar.

F-117 pilots train almost exclusively for night missions, and the darker it gets, the happier they are. But this is a compromise at best. In the summer, when there are only a few hours of darkness, a fighter like the F-117 can fly only one sortie per day. And the darkness that hides the F-117 also hides its targets.

Air Force generals would love nothing more than a stealth aircraft that would be invulnerable during daylight hours as well as at night. And as POPULAR SCIENCE has learned, military engineers are already hard at work on the technologies needed to build such a plane special lights, coatings, and other technologies under investigation could not only make future fighters disappear from radar screens but could also make them almost completely invisible to the human eye. By the early 2000s, stealth may be practical in broad daylight. Today's experiments exploit a principle that was demonstrated half a century ago, in a secret project code-named Yehudi. In that project, engineers mounted lights on an anti-submarine aircraft make it harder to spot against a bright sky.

Daytime Running Lights

Today's experiments with visual stealth have their roots in a 1943 U.S. Navy project code-named Yehudi. The intent of the program, which was highly secret at the time and came to light only in the1980s, was to give Navy patrol aircraft a better chance of sinking enemy submarines. During 1942, German U-boats took a heavy toll on merchant marine shipping off the East Coast of the United States. Aircraft scrambled to attack the U-boats, but submarine captains called for crash dives whenever they spotted approaching planes. By the time an aircraft got close enough to fire upon a sub, it had disappeared beneath the surface of the ocean.

Yehudi's inventors needed a way to make the antisubmarine aircraft harder to see, and they realized that camouflage paint wouldn't do the job: Regardless of its color, the airplane would stand out as a black dot against the sky. The only way to make the plane less visible was to light it up like a Christmas tree.

The engineers fitted a portly TBM-3D Avenger torpedo-bomber with 10 sealed-beam lights installed along the wing's leading edges and the rim of the engine cowling. When the intensity of the lights was adjusted to match the sky, the Avenger blended into the background. Tests proved that the Yehudi system lowered the visual acquisition range from 12 miles to two miles, allowing the Avenger to get within striking distance of its targets before they submerged. A B-24 Liberator bomber was also modified, with similar results.

Lamps mounted on the bomber made it less visible to enemies.

Yehudi was not put into production, because better radar had already enabled Navy airplanes to regain the tactical advantage, but the idea was revived after air battles over Vietnam. Concerned that the big F-4 Phantom could be seen at a greater range than its much smaller Russian adversary, the MiG-21, the Pentagon started a program called Compass Ghost. An F-4 was modified with a blue-and-white color scheme and nine high-intensity lamps on the wings and body reducing the detection range by as much as 30 percent.

Lamps and a blue and white paint scheme camouflaged the F-4.

Similar technology was used in the Vietnam War to shorten the distance at which the F-4 Phantom could be detected. Lighting systems were available when Lockheed's Skunk Works was awarded the contract to build Have Blue, the world's first stealth aircraft and the test bed for the F-117A, in 1974. The breakthrough that made Have Blue possible was the ability to reduce an airplane's radar reflectivity to less than one-hundredth of what was considered normal in the 1960s, slashing the effective range of enemy radar. Reducing the radar reflectivity so radically meant that the designers of Have Blue also had to reduce its visual and infrared signatures, according to a rule of thumb known as "balanced observables."

This rule says that a stealth aircraft should be designed so that every detection system arrayed against it has roughly the same range. There is no point in building an airplane that is invisible to radar at five miles if optical sensors can see it at 10 miles.

Have Blue was the prototype for an aircraft that would make its attack run at a moderate altitude of 10,000 to 15,000 feet, close enough to designate the target accurately, but high enough to elude medium-caliber gunfire. At the time, the designers' goal was an aircraft that would be as stealthy in daylight as at night. The designers realized that visual detection depends on a number of factors, including the position observer, his angle of view, the position of the sun, and the presence of haze or clouds. Altitude is extremely important. A jetliner at its cruising height always appears brightly lit in the sky, because dust and moisture in the air beneath the aircraft scatter light onto its underside. There are relatively few particles of dust and water in the thin air above the airplane.

So the higher the plane flies, the more light is scattered onto it, and the darker the sky behind it. The dark color that absorbs as much light as possible provides the best camouflage for a high-flying airplane.

So the higher the plane flies, the more light is scattered onto it, and the darker the sky behind it.

The dark color that absorbs as much light as possible provides the best camouflage for a high-flying airplane. But even the jet-black Blackbird and U-2 spy planes look brighter than the skv when seen from below as they cruise at 80,000 feet. At lower altitudes, there is less light-scattering atmosphere below the aircraft, so lighter colors provide the least contrast.

Even this light gray C-17 at low altitude is dark underneath and needs Yehudi lights

For Have Blue, Lockheed devised a scheme of graduated grays, lighter on the bottom and darker on top. The aircraft's designers also planned to test light apertures, which would be installed on the sides and undersurfaces of the airplane, about two feet apart. (Seen from a distance, the individual lights would blur into a single KILLERBEES4Image.) The apertures would be connected to a central light source by fiber-optic lines, and controlled by sensors on the upper side of the aircraft. The sensors would "read" the background light and adjust the skin's luminance to mirror it. This system never flew on Have Blue, possibly because the first aircraft was lost in an accident. Work on visual stealth continued, however. In 1980, the Air Force tested a small aircraft, probably unmanned, under a project known as IMCRS (what the acronym stands for is not known). The aircraft's lower wing skins incorporated slit-like Fresnel lenses to beam light ahead of and below the aircraft, in the direction of the most likely threats.

The IMCRS experiment may have been related to a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency program known as Active Camouflage. Under that program, a small, powered drone was fitted with fluorescent lamps and tested at the White Sands Missile Range with so much success that the project has since been reclassified as Top Secret.

Neither of these lighting systems were adopted for stealth aircraft in the 1980s. They were complex to install, and their effects were difficult to predict and test. Carefully designed conventional camouflage worked well enough under most circumstances to ensure that an aircraft would not be visible before a radar could detect it.

So why were the first F-117s painted soot black instead of a toned gray scheme that would provide better camouflage? One Lockheed engineer recalls that the commander of Tactical Air Command "didn't believe that real fighter pilots flew pastel-colored airplanes." One Air

Force source close to the program says that some senior officers doubted the F-117 could survive in daylight, and wanted to ensure that nobody would try it.

Color Counts

Light colors would be optimal for the underside of the future Joint Strike Fighter which will fly relatively low for ground attacks. Some experts say the best color for a fighter Is pink, but pilots may object.

The higher an aircraft flies, the darker it should be to hide from enemies. The F-117 was originally painted a dark black, but has recently been seen in gray. Black is one of the least stealthy colors for daytime flying at medium altitudes. In fact, the British Royal Air Force is painting its trainers black to make them more visible and reduce the risk of collisions. Black isn't much good at night either, because there is nearly always some light from the moon. That's why the latest F-117s have been seen in a more sensible gray color.

The B-2 stealth bomber's underside is a very dark gray. Many people think that it is designed to attack only at night, like the F-117. This is unlikely, because the B-2 was designed to bomb Russia, and the most direct route from the United States lies smack across the Arctic Circle, where the sun shines 21 hours a day for a large part of the year.

The B-2's underside is dark because it cruises at altitudes as high as 50,000 feet, where a dark gray blends into the sky. It does not use an "active camouflage" lighting system, but it may have an upward-facing light sensor that tells the pilot when to increase or reduce altitude to match the changing luminance of the sky. It appears likely that active camouflage will make a comeback in the 2000s.

Improvements in radar stealth have reached a point where visual and infrared signatures are the dominant concerns. One sign of increasing interest in the non-radar aspects of stealth is that the Air Force has commissioned a new flying laboratory called FISTA II (Flying Infrared Signature Technology Aircraft), to replace a vehicle that has been used since the early 1960s to measure the heat signatures of airplanes. A modified tanker aircraft, FISTA II carries not only ultra-sensitive infrared KILLERBEES4Imagers, bit also a visual imaging system, an indication that the Pentagon is becoming serious about visual stealth.


Modern follow-ons to Yehudi are both more effective and easier to install. Instead of individual lights, the Pentagon has tested thin fluorescent panels of the type already used on military aircraft for nighttime formation flying.

A civilian technician working at the isolated Tonopah Test Range airstrip in Nevada says he witnessed a test of an F-15 Eagle with a prototype system. According to the technician, the fighter virtually disappeared as it lifted off the runway. "We had no problem acquiring the aircraft from about a mile away," the technician recalls, "but at distances over two miles it became harder and harder to spot. Although it was a crude system, it was pretty impressive. Trying to pick out the aircraft against a clear blue sky was next to impossible. The only time we could easily spot the aircraft was when it produced an unexpected contrail." (Contrails form when the water vapor in aircraft exhaust freezes.


The death spiral we are following based on overly large and expensive handfuls of planes operating from bloated, vulnerable air bases is a paradigm we cannot continue in the face of an increasingly lethal battlefield where high explosives are steered with greater and greater precision. We must have stealth on the ground--as well as in the air--and the latter must include daylight hours where visual detection and not just radar avoidance must be achieved. Otherwise, just one enemy air and/or ground strike on our vulnerable, limited numbers of high-tech planes on the ground could "sink our air force" in one fell swoop.



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