• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

A tiny example of the perils of relying on uncritical secondary research..

overscan (PaulMM)

Staff member
Dec 27, 2005
Reaction score
It is well known and repeated across the entire internet that Everest Riccioni got funding in 1969 for his "Study to Validate the Integration of Advanced Energy-Maneuverability Theory with Trade Off Analysis" which was awarded to Northrop and General Dynamics. This was a set of trade studies around using 1 x F100, 2 x GE15 (F404 ancestor) or 1 x GE15 for a lightweight fighter.

Only he didn't. The request was made in 1970 some time after his March 29 memo about "the Navy are developing a lightweight fighter" fell on receptive ears,. "As fall approached" (September 1970?) Riccioni was told he would get the funding, and the actual award of contract and funds was made in Feb 1971. This latter date is confirmed in the earliest reputable source, a 1976 Air Force student study on the early history of the F-16 program with excellent primary sources, and is confirmed from Northrop records showing work commencing on three "Advanced Energy Manouverability" designs in February 1971.

Note however, I still don't have a primary source available that gives this date. The Student study author had access to primary materials, so is likely to be correct, but another piece of primary evidence (dates on Northrop drawings and in other documents) correlate with the date and Northrop helpfully named their studies with the title of the study contract.

My point is, secondary sources can be used by a diligent researcher when you don't have alternatives, but be wary and double check and cross reference everything. Also consider the sources which the secondary source used. If possible, track them down.
Last edited:

Similar threads