1) Hellcat vs. Corsair
I read in Flight Journal in an article by Corky Meyer that the Hellcat and the Corsair had essentially the same level speed performance. He was not in the least surprised by this since they used the same engine and propeller. Corky, in fact, flew many tests with a Hellcat and a Corsair side by side, so he should know.
Nevertheless, the history books all state the Hellcat was considerably slower than the Corsair. Corky maintains it was due to the placement of pitot tube on the Corsair which, according to Corky, gave an "optomistic" reading.
My question is simple. Didn't the Military at the time fly their OWN tests to confirm manufacturers claims of performance?
2) Sabre vs. MiG
I had a friend, the late J. Curtis Earl, in Phoenix, AZ who had a MiG-15 UTI (2-seater). He got his from the People's Air Museum in Beijing, China. We spent about 6 years assembling it and getting it ready for flight. Many stories have been written about the MiG vs. the Sabre and, in most (written by Americans), the Sabre is touted as better airplane. Indeed, some books state that there was something wrong with the MiG since many were seen to fall into flat spins when entering a hard break.
Curt Earl spent some time in China buying the plane and he talked with the Chinese about the MiGs. AT one time, conversation turned to the combat experiences in Korea. The Chinese laughed about the stories in American writings about the MiGs falling into flat spins. They said that, while the American pilots flew in a g-suit, the MiG pilots in Korea did not. As a result, they sometimes passed out due to GLOC in a hard break. Unconscious pilot in a jet means a smoking hole in the ground.
Basically, the MiG weighed about 11,270 pound and had a wing area of 221.7 sq. ft for a wing loading of 50.8 pound per square foot. The engine was rated at 6,000 pounds thrust, so the power loading at gross was 0.53.
The F-86F weighed about 13,791 pounds and had a wing area of about 287.9 sq ft. for a wing loading of 47.9 pounds per square foot. The engine was rated at 5,200 pounds thrust for a power loading of 0.38.
From these data we can say the turning performance, at least initially, was even but the MiG had considerably more reserve thrust in combat. The USA evaluated a MiG that was flown to South Korean by a defector and the pilots who flew it all stated they preferred the Sabre.
We were in a war. What were the evaluation pilots SUPPOSED to say at the time? The MiG kicks ass? Yeah. Right. My question is, "Was the MiG really better than the Sabre as a fighter?" According to the Russians, the kill ratio was in their favor if we look only at Sabre vs. MiG when the MiG was flown by Russian pilots. Remember the Russian whop flew in Korean were mostly experienced WWII pilots. That's where the word Honcho came from.
So, any opinions about the real Sabre vs. MiG question? Don't wave your flag; I love the Sabre, too. It would be nice to hear some facts from people who have flown both planes. 15 30 3181 15.1060893884
Overall the MiGs handling at high speeds was unstable, it would shimmy, and shake, and if pushed too hard, would readily depart controlled flight, under certain conditions this wholly negated the advantages of the higher caliber munitions it carried. The MiG15 and original Sabres were very well matched, the main difference being attributed to superior pilots flying the US/UN aircraft.
It would have been interesting if the Australian
version "Commonweath Sabre" with the larger Canberra engine, and
ensuing substantially superior performance, had made it to Korea, if
the war had lasted, however it's likely by then, that the commies
would have had MiG-17s.
I pulled 6 g's and felt nothing but solid response. Turned like a banshee. So, I believe the Chinese when they say that g-suits made the difference at the time. If my flight is any indication, the MiG-15 was GREAT fighter. Was it better than the F-86? Can't say since I never flew in a 2-seat F-86. None are available, while 2-seat MiG's are plentiful. Ever wonder why? Could be the MiG was a wonderful aircraft. Maybe we're just so good that 2-seater s aren't needed? Poppycock.
The MiG was VERY good and still is. Better acceleration, better turn, better armament, easier serviceability, rough field landing gear, high-flotation tires, easy rearm service. The F-86 was VERY good. Lesser acceleration, lesser turning ability, lesser guns, difficult service, needed smooth fields, high-pressure, low-cross-section tires.
The Soviets did not have a mystical inherent overall advantage in that era of early jet fighters, they had advantages in some categories, but only at the expense of protection, or and attributes, in other areas. In their recounting of the MiGs' superior performance, some US pilots used that to underscore (no pun) their own abilities in overcoming the advantages of the MiGS. On the other hand, few pilots would likely care to be in a MiG 15 cockpit, without steel re-enforcement while being fired upon, not withstanding marginal acceleration and altitude advantages.
Among other disadvantages of the MiG, and perhaps being somehow
overlooked in the current context ... The
internal heating, and window defrosting on the MiGs was deficient, and
ineffective, particularly at high altitude, where the machine enjoyed
it's principle performance advantage. There are accounts of MiGS having
to descend to engage the Sabres, but with badly frosted canopies.
Moreover, here are 2 important aspects of the "stability" issue,
early Migs had the high mounted rear stabilizers, in essence they were
a variation of T Tails. As I described in sufficient detail elsewhere
in this forum, there's a serious and inherent handling, and stability
compromise associated with high AOA maneuvers, with any T tailed
aircraft, the early MiGs were no exception. Furthermore, the MiG 15
suffered from wing flex, it would vibrate, shimmy and shake, under high
G loads, and despite superior fire power, was a far less then ideal gun
platform under high stress combat maneuvering.
Yeager himself was assigned to evaluate the MiG15 delivered by a N. Korean defector. The findings of those evaluations, along with numerous accounts based on experience in combat, by both sides, have been largely de-classified, and are a matter of official historical record.
This was an inherent disadvantage and characteristic of the early MiGS,15 & 17, and later with the US made F101 Voodoo, and the Mighty F104 Starfighter. In any high performance system, I don't care if you're talking fighter jets, race cars, and motorcycles, or bicycles. It's easy and relatively docile to operate at low and moderate levels of it's performance. Your grandmother could probably have flown an F20 Tigershark, straight and level, with no Gs. It's from 80-105% that gets you into difficulty, the MiG 15, as with most others, now, and then, had problems, if really, really, pushed.
The tail configuration along with other factors is
what gave the MiG-15 problems in a dive. The last
models had a sensor that would automatically deploy the air brakes at
about mach .92 or .95.
Exactly as in the case of the 86 vs. MiG 15, it was only in the extreme circumstance of combat that certain weaknesses, and limitations became apparent. Once word spreads, experienced fighter pilots will attempt to create circumstances where those weaknesses, and the advantages of their own platforms, will be readily exploited. In the case of the F20, that aircraft was extremely good, so good in fact, that at the extreme, it was a hazard to it's own pilot, as surely as it would be to a potential advisory, in a close in, visual 1v1 domain.
Not from any handling deficiency, or short coming, on the contrary, but from being able to change direction, by slewing it's frontal aspect, it could change direction, and change it so fast, that it literally popularized at the time, the little understood, and appreciated the phenomena of "instantainous G lock."
Not to be confused with the sustained Gs, as demonstrated by the F15, with the gradual tunnel vision, and gray out.
Instantaneous GLock in fighters such as pioneered at tragic expense, in the F20, has been compared more to a knock out punch as experienced by prize fighters.
The ability to sustain high Gs, can be valuable, depending on circumstances, and is great to watch at an airshow, but more recently, the advantages of instantaneous turning ability, have become even more coveted.
In that context, potentially, even the SU-27/37 series and their "super cobra," and "post stall loop" maneuvers, seem to offer dubious practical advantage, and application. Although impressive to watch.
It was the late John Boyd and his extensions of his "energy manuverbility" theories that served as a departure point in promotion of this concept. He is often associated with the original F16 prototypes, which were lighter, smaller, and quicker than the current versions.
By comparison the F20 Tigershark was the embodiment of Boyd's matured air combat philosophies, and doctrines. Basically it boils down to all go, and no show, or shoot fast, shoot first, and get of out of Dodge.
a real shame it never went into production, the problem of the airframe
exceeding the physiological limits of pilots, could have been dealt
with by means of electronic control limitations, and to a degree,
with faster reacting, improved G suits.
John Boyd, (Mr. Energy Maneuverability, 40 second Boyd, & the Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art Of War) did a complex analysis of the MiG vs. Sabre issue. Initially he too was puzzled at the Sabre's marked superiority in relation to it's Korean Combat record, being as the 2 aircraft on paper, seem so evenly matched. He took into consideration all the factors and conventional wisdom, (narrow advantage Sabre) and it still didn't quite all add up to a 10-1 kill ratio. After further research, interviews, and deep analysis, he concluded that the Sabre possessed a quicker instantaneous rate of turn, that is to say it could transition faster, from one maneuver to another. This is what gave the Sabre pilots a decisive advantage. Put another way, instantaneous rate of turn, (analogy "knife fight in a telephone booth") was more important than sustained turn rate, in the Korean theatre. This was among several clues that served as a departure point for Boyd's later revolutionary advanced theories.
"Was the MiG really better than the Sabre as a fighter?"
were factors, plus a few I've missed, and it's all pretty much part of
historical record, and what I'd consider as the historically, and
popularly recognized account, of this interesting topic.
Build quality, pilot protection, ability to absorb damage, (Adv. Sabre circumstantial)
Maintenance, ground support & facilities, availability of weapons and ammunition, etc, etc, etc.
Pilot protection and ability to absorb damage though I think have to be viewed relatively when comparing two a/c head to head v. each other. The MiG probably had a better ability to absorb punishment and protect its pilot relative to the F-86's armament than vice versa, assuming an on target burst of a given number of seconds (or fractions of a second). I say probably because though we can evaluate the ratio of damaged to downed F-86's hit by MiG's, we can't for MiG's hit by F-86's. We have to rely on anecdotal accounts from the Soviets that MiG's survived .50 hits many times for each one lost (F-86's damaged by MiG cannon fire only somewhat outnumbered those lost to it). Though even that is imprecise because it doesn't say for sure a MiG could better survive a given time exposure to accurate fire of the F-86's armament than an F-86 could survive to a MiG's armament. But I think that was probably the case.
Facilities etc. I don't see a reason to credit a US advantage there. At times the US had serious problems in e.g. spares support of the F-86 fleet in Korea. The Russian accounts don't mention anything like that, not proving they didn't have such problems but I just don't see a positive reason to assume the MiG's, or the Soviets at least, were at a disadvantage in that respect.
One perhaps fairly significant element not mentioned is radar ranging lead computing K-14 gunsights on F-86's v. stadiametric ranging ones on MiG's. Latter being similar to the US K-14 computing sight used on P-51's in late WWII; and some US KW a/c, like for example F-80's still had a version of it. When the Russians captured the F-86 in Oct '51 that's the part they were most excited about obtaining intact.
People still have to agree what the exchange ratio was. Overall it seems to have been around 6-6.5:1 (270-320 Russian depending on source, 224 Chinese and est. ~50 NK MiG's, no one outside NK knows the latter for sure, v. around 90 F-86's downed by MiG's), not 10:1 (792 MiG's v. 78 F-86's often printed). And it was lower v. Soviets only, a guesstimate based on equal claim accuracy of the Russians, Chinese and NK's (per lowest NK claims known) is 4.5:1 v. Russians, 10-11:1 v. the other two. Anyway 10:1 speaking of the Soviets is not accurate.
That's what I believe based on my
research. At the other extreme the Soviets say it 3:1 in *their* favor,
based on gross inflations of claims though in my view. You see people
still claim the US losses were much higher though (articles on this
very site imply that, see Russian Aces article crediting US non-MiG
losses, or just plain non-losses per US records, as verifying the
counts of Soviet aces; see my rebuttal on Sutyagin score thread).
Good point about the gunsights, which falls under the category of the Sabre being more sophisticated overall, electronics etc., a design philosophy that carries through to today, and has brought us to the platinum plated, diamond encrusted F22.
As far as gun
damage is concerned, we recognize that range of engagement and firing
would be decisive and critical. The 6 x 50cals could be highly
effective, at very close range, and so it was incumbent on the pilot
and his skills to get there in the first place. The MiG armament
had the decided advantage at greater distances. The
F86 had some cockpit armour, the MiG had little or none, one primary
reason the MiG was lighter, a little faster in acceleration, and could
climb higher, and faster. An interesting co-incidence, and even
ironic to the point where one would suspect collaboration, that the MiG
had the superior weight of fire, against the Sabre, which carried
re-enforcement and could therefore absorb more, and conversely, the
Sabre with the by comparison anemic firepower, actually needed less at
close range to inflict fatal
injury on the opponent.
What are the sources for these kill ratio figures you're quoting? I have yet to come across anything that refutes the 10:1 ratio.
I have yet to come across anything that refutes the 10:1 (Sabre-to-MiG kill) ratio.
On protection again it's relative, no protection on the F-86 could stop 23 or 37mm rounds. Also the visibility benefit of the F-86 was partly at the expense of pilot vulnerability since the pilot sat up higher above the fuselage centerline less protected by the engine from behind. It's not true the MiG had no pilot armor. Earlier ones had a 20mm thick headrest impervious to .50 cal, relying on the engine again to protect the pilot's body. Later production MiG-15bis's extended that to a seat plate also. They had armored windshield and front plate also but head-on hits seem really rare for either side, closing at 1200mph.
On kill ratio the whole point is that at some point you have to try to find how many planes you really downed, not just how many you claimed. The 10:1 is based on claims not real MiG losses. And the 78 has some problems see below. For MiG losses:
Russian: The number 345 total MiG losses of which 335 in combat is quoted in many general Russian texts, but only 10 to operational causes seems much too low. Seidov/German's "Krasnye Diavoli na 38i Paraleli" gives 319 Soviet MiG's lost in combat describing individually 295 of them if you count up in the book day by day. Naboka's "Natovskie iastreby v pritsele stalinskikh sokolov: Sovetskie letchiki na zashchite neba Kitaia i Korei (1950-1951)" covers only to July 1951. From limited declassified Soviet records I've seen directly, Naboka seems to be a literal transcription of those records. Seidov/German leaves out a few losses mentioned in Naboka for the overlapping period. Therefore I believe the Soviet losses were probably in the range normally given, give or take some probably left out of say Seidov. There is no positive evidence otherwise.
Soviet account like Seidov/German quote MiG losses for the "Unified Air Force" command of the Chinese and NK's as 231. However on the 50th anniversary of the war a Chinese official publication listed theirs alone as 224, so we again have to estimate NK losses. However the general similarity of the post Soviet Russian and Chinese numbers for the Chinese losses seems to indicate the right ballpark.
The NK defector No Gum-suk estimated his own AF's MiG losses as 100 to all causes. Since his all-cause estimates of Russian and Chinese losses were accurate, the 100 probably is too. So 50 NK combat losses is a good guess IMO. All three countries' accounts (including No's) say there were relatively few NK MiG units and they often didn't actively seek combat so it's not surprising their losses were much less than Russian and Chinese. Also the lowest NK claim ever published said they downed 44 F-86's. The Chinese also claimed about as many F-86's as they lost MiG's (211 from memory). Both seem to be ridiculous exaggerations given US losses and Soviet claims, but the idea was probably to claim about as many they lost.
Therefore a total MiG combat loss number might be 593. (319+224+50=593) Which would be a very respectable % of the ~819 credited (762 by F-86's, ~32 by other fighters incl. USN, USMC, RAAF and RN, and 25 by B-29's, but only 3 MiG's seem to have been downed by B-29's). Note these are official US Korean War credit numbers from early 1960's, a little lower than totals at the time of the war. In WWII actual US victories were a smaller % of claims than that on average, so the MiG losses estimated don't seem too low at all actually. Not counting B-29 claims and MiG losses to them the UN fighter claims would be 74% accurate.
The US F-86 loss of 78 is from the "USAF FY 1953 Statistical Digest". That's what Futrell footnoted the number to in his official history, and almost everyplace else gets it from Futrell. But surveying that number by month against each incident it clearly excludes some F-86 known air combat losses, and OTOH includes some "code M" losses, "loss on a combat mission" not really caused by MiG's (e.g. some fuel and engine failure losses away from combat areas are included, others aren't, it tends to include such losses early on but not later in the war). IMO that's a not very good number though it happens to still be fairly close to the real one.
Counting plane by plane I get no fewer than 82 F-86's certainly directly downed by MiG's (*not* the same 78 plus another 4) but no more than ~100. Weighing probabilities in cases where an unclear loss cause matches up at least in date with a Soviet or Chinese claim I believe the right number is around 90. Still needs to be clarified further.
Therefore if 74% claim accuracy for the F-86's like the UN average, and real losses 90, then the exchange ratio was ~6.3:1, fairly sensitive to confirming a few more F-86 losses, not very sensitive to finding a few more MiG losses. And also lower than that v. the Russians, higher v. the Chinese and NK's.
To add one thing, 6:1 is an exceptional *real fighter to fighter* kill ratio for an extensive air campaign against a very serious opponent. It can't be compared directly to e.g. 19:1 for the Hellcat in WWII, or 6:1 for the F4F because those are *claimed* ratio's not real ones, and involved many non fighter targets, esp. F4F's case. The F4F v. Zero ratio in 1942 based on Japanese losses from their records in was right around 1:1. The performance of the F-86 units in Korea was remarkable.
I do not believe the Russians, the Chinese, or the North Koreans.
mainly *loss records v. claim records*. What country composed the
records is worthy of some consideration, but also loss records should
get more weight than claims, and the latter effect is much
Judging just nationality of the records wouldn't result in well written air warfare history. On that basis we'd just always take US claims as gospel, because we're the Good Guys, really we are the goodest or least bad guys. So we'd also reject German and Japanese loss records for WWII, and say our 8th AF bombers shot down 1,000's of German fighters that they pretty clearly didn't, and that the Japanese suffered heavy losses in the air to us even early in the war, which they pretty obviously didn't., because the Nazi's and the Japanese militarists were "dogs". Maybe they were, but that doesn't mean their loss records, written to themselves in secret, were fake.
The NK's haven't ever released any credible details of their losses in the Korean War; there's just the inference from the fact of their modest claims in some venues: it seems unlikely they lost more than they claimed to have destroyed, otherwise they'd just claim more, and no one in their power structure could ever prove it wrong.
For the Chinese we have a total, not individual incidents. But it tends to agree with declassified Russian accounts of Chinese losses.
And for the Russians we're not going on official summary governmental statements of losses, but fairly extensive declassified records. I've seem some of those and they agree with Russian books for those incidents; making it likely IMO that those books' accounts of other incidents based on the same records are also accurate. As to losses, not claims.
No one, hardline supporters of US claims over all evidence, or hardline supporters of Russian claims over all evidence, have ever shown evidence of things like detailed secret combat diaries of fighter units systematically leaving out losses of pilots or even outright losses of planes (as opposed to judgment calls about planes that returned too damaged to ever fight again, were they "lossed"?). Nor in debates on Japanese and German records vs. US claims in WWII, which people used to debate in defense of the full scores of US aces (like Boyington for example) has anyone ever shown that AFAIK.
I am trying to find out information on Grumman's F7F Tigercat! I am interested in its involvement if any in the closing days of WWII and in the opening years of Korea. Also I find it sad that the Tigercats were ushered out so soon while other piston planes were still flying. I think the Tigercats could have stayed and performed very well.
Also I am looking for information on the P-47Ns that flew from carriers in the Pacific. Are there any sources or websites that say if they ever made carrier landings or been evaluated for the Navy? It seems strange for that because the F6F-5 was almost as good, little slower but better for the roll. On the Hellcat, any information that Grumman made a two seat variant?
F7Fs (and F8Fs) were, unfortunately, outstanding developments that came along as the demise of the piston engined fighter was fast coming over the horizon. Neither saw combat in WWII, though both were in the process of being deployed. There was at least one USMC F7F squadron that went west, but was not committed to combat (I believe they only got as far as Guam in the summer of 1945). Same with the F8F, VF-19 was working up in Hawaiian waters when the war ended.
Production for the F7F ended in November 1946 with the last squadron to have them in inventory being VJ-62 (a photo-reconnaissance squadron) operating F7F-3Ns and -4Ns as late as March 1954. The last F8F was produced in May 1949. Last reported squadrons to operate F8Fs were Reserve squadrons VF-921 and VF-859, which were still using the F8F-2 in January 1953.
Unlike the F8F, the F7F saw some action in Korea; two Marine squadrons, VMF(N)s 513 and 542, (operating, first, out of Japan and then, later from Korean fields) utilized the F7F-3N in ground support and night fighter roles from September 1951 through November 1952. VMJ-1 also had F7F-3P in its mix of aircraft. What stands out with all of these squadrons was that they were already being equipped with jets at the same time they were operating F7Fs; F3Ds for the night fighters and F2H-2Ps and F9F-2Ps for the photo-recon squadron. This was the fate of the F7F, and the F8F, prime examples of the piston fighter that were OBE with the advent of jets that could do the same job. By the end of November 1952, the F7F had been phased out of combat.
P-47 was never tested in a carrier operation model. The only AAF
fighter so tested was the P-51D that Bob Elder operated off USS
Shangri-La in tests of Norfolk in November 1944. (A fun day,
reportedly, with Elder's P-51 and Sid Bottomley's PBJ (Navy version of
the B-25) performing several traps and launches. Elder said that he
really liked the P-51 in terms of performance, but that it had no place
in carrier operations.) But, just like it's stable mate, the P-40,
P-47s were launched from escort carriers as a method of rapidly
populating a captured enemy airfield with AAF fighters. The event that
sticks out in my mind is a photograph of a gaggle of P-47 razorbacks
from the 318th FS aboard USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) for delivery to Saipan
with Japanese bombs blasting holes in the ocean near-by.
To my knowledge, there were no 2 seat F6Fs in the USN/USMC
nor did Grumman produce any under an existing contract. All the bureau
numbers are accounted for and no such variant appears. Like the F4F
that could carry two passengers in the fuselage, any 2-seater F6F would
be a civilian custom job.
re the debate about the F86 Sabre and the Mig15. It should come as no surprise that their performance was similar. Remember that both were German planes with British engines. They reflected of course the different military philosophies of their countries. The Mig15 the soviet one of toughness and serviceability, the F86 the American love of gadgetry and technology, but basically they were the same plane.I disagree. There may have been SOME German influence in both designs, but both were far from being "German planes." And the major factor for the US success in Korea wasn't so much the F86, as much as it was pilot experience.