Can Mig-21PF deal with piston fighter?

Vanessa1402

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This is one of the few Mig-21 version without an internal gun. It rely only on 2 IR guided air to air missile. As far as I know, early IR missile need to be launched from rear aspect of jet aircraft to be able to get a lock. They can't lock on the skin friction. Does that mean Mig-21PF is completely helpless against piston fighters and bombers?.
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kaiserd

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Not completely (piston engines aircraft typically do have hot exhausts ports) but trying to get a lock on a manoeuvring opponent in that scenario may be problematic.
 

Archibald

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Reminds me of a pilot story I red in a magazine. During the Algerian war a Skyraider (COIN) pilot challenged a Vautour to a low level, low speed dog fight... and kicked the jet and its pilot respective asses.
 

OliverSedlacek

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In 1977 Guatemala was on the brink of invading what was then the British Honduras. When this intelligence came through, the British realised a show of force was required to discourage the Guatemalans, so Ark Royal was detached from exercises and sent post haste with orders to stage an overfly ASAP. Ark Royal carried Buccaneer bombers and F4 Phantoms for defense and interception. The pilots were bemused to discover that the Guatemalan air force was equipped with P51 Mustangs. An RAF pilot had staged some jet VS piston combat exercises, the results of which had been recorded. The long and the short of his conclusions were:
1. Never get into a turning fight.
2. You can't get a missile lock as the heat signature isn't big enough.
3. You may be able to knock the P51 out of control if you climb supersonically right in front of him so he flies through your wake.
 

kaiserd

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I read a similar true story at the end of some Spitfire book that I can’t recollect (that had RAF Lightnings practicing against the some of the last RAF Spitfires standing in for potential real-world piston engine fighter opponents) with very similar testing results apart from:

1. Always to hit fast from above and behind and to then immediately disengage and then repeat.

2. Apparently better results re: the heat seaker missiles; the equivalent British heat sealing missiles equipping the Lightning were somewhat better than early Sidewinder missiles in this regard (at the cost of being multiple times more expensive and logistic/ support aspects limiting realistic weapon loads for the Lightening to 2 missiles so no free lunch in this regard).

2. REALLY taxing my memory but possible that the relevant Lightening variant may have also had an internal gun (so putting less emphasis on the missile attach, or at least having a gun as back-up). It’s early 60’s or mid 60’s at the latest so definitely not the F6 mark of the Lightening so probably not an optimal gun arrangement.
 

riggerrob

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I would think that the MiG could do serious damage by simply "ramming" the piston aircraft with a high-speed flyby.
Supersonic fighters are rather fragile and easily damaged in any collision.

A big challenge would be the rapid closing speeds giving the jet only a few seconds to fire its guns. Can you imagine a jet fighter blasting its after-burner to rapidly intercept a piston-pounder, then needing to dump speed brakes and flaps to slow to an intercept speed that would allow more than a couple of seconds of gun-fire?

As for the Belize/Honduras friction ... in later years the RAF stationed a few Harriers at Belize city International Airport to provide fly-bys of the border with Honduras. They intimidated Honduran infantry into staying on the correct side of the border. The British army also set up a jungle warfare school in Belize to provide an excuse to rapidly move troops in and out of the old colony. Those frequent troop movements also discourage invasion from Honduras.
 

Foo Fighter

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If you made a close enough pass to the propjob the faster aircraft could shock wave the propjob out of the sky. All aircraft are vulnerable to jetwash but it would need to be a steady hand and the propjob might just get off a decent burst of lead, sufficient to wreck a nice afternoons flying.
 

starviking

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I read a similar true story at the end of some Spitfire book that I can’t recollect (that had RAF Lightnings practicing against the some of the last RAF Spitfires standing in for potential real-world piston engine fighter opponents) with very similar testing results apart from:
<SNIP>
That was around the time of the Indonesian Confrontation, with the UK worried about getting into tangles with Indonesian Mustangs.
 

publiusr

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My choice would be the old Canberra vertical machine gun load-out that shot downwards
 

TomcatViP

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Ppl always forget that with slow Vs fast, the jet fighter (or the fastest of the two) get a more steady target in his visor with slightly minor corrections. The slow airplane can't really leave the attacking axis but change aspect. That is insufficient, especially if you add the effect of surprise and canon's high rate of fire (does not apply here with the mig).

So in effect, unless the jet fighter really commit to a dogfight where his turn circle could put him at a risk (but then there is plenty of other options), the slow fighter has very little chances.

Most difficulties related to tackling with this situation comes with proper identification of the target and early weapon systems (think night fighters Vs Po-2).

I know that many Il-2 fans and other related Russian simulators have the vision of an agile biplan fighters pulling G in a swift corner turns that tear apart the most stable gun solution. But that's only with Il-2 physics. Most airplane are unable to pull G at a slow speed unless they have been build for that and pulling G slow your velocity vector (hence the target will remain steady in the attacking fighter visor).
 

Hood

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There was an article on the Lightning training for the Confrontation in Aeroplane (Jan 2018) which I dug out.

The Indonesian AF (TNI-AU) had 16 Mustangs, of which the RAF thought around 8 were serviceable stationed with Wing Operational 002 Taktis at Marlang, East Java.

The trial was carried out in 1963 by the Air Fighting Development Squadron (AFDS), part of the Central Fighter Establishment (CFE). The Spitfire was flown by the OC AFDS, Wing Commander John Nicholls who had flown the Spitfire XIV and XVIII on his first tour in 1946 and in combat in Malaya, had been a Meteor instructor and then went on an exchange posting to the USAF on the F-86 during the Korean War, shooting down a MiG-15. Later he was the Fighter Command liaison officer on the EE Lightning programme.

The Spitfire used was PR.XIX PS853 which had somehow survived to continue to fly with the CFE despite officially being a gate guardian and struck off charge on 1 May 1958 but brought back on the books in November 1962.
The Lightning's used were F.3s XP695 and XP696. They were delivered in January 1964 so it seems the trials were held sometime Jan-April 1964 before the Spit went to the BBMF - which is later than most published accounts which often refer to 1962 or 1963. The F.3 had no ADEN cannon capability and were equipped with Firestreak.

There was no official report on the trials, indeed the whole affair was largely unofficial with flying carried out at the end of other AFDS sorties.

Nicholls' description of the results state they discovered piston-engined fighters gave poor IR lock-on, especially in the rear aspect. A follow-up gun pass would be difficult due to the high overtaking speed making accuracy difficult. Slowing down too much put the piston fighter at an advantage (the same was found in Lightning Vs Hunter trials). It was found with sufficient warning the Spitfire could spin around to meet his attacker head-on to make the attack even more difficult.
Firestreak had limitations too, a minimum firing speed of 300kt, maximum 3g limit, the missiles would also de-arm when flaps were selected down, so could not be used in a slow turning attack with flaps deployed.
The best method was found to make a climbing attack from behind and below, where the Spitfire pilot's visibility was weakest and the IR signature most favourable. If the missile missed the Lightning pilot would continue to climb and then dive safely out of range and repeat another climbing attack.

Oddly by 1964 the RAF plans only included the Javelin's of 44 Sqn with no Lightnings scheduled for a reinforcement role. Indeed no Lightning reached the Far East until 1967. So this really was an informal test to see what could be done and how Firestreak might cope with against piston-engined fighters.
 

Archibald

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Just for the record, the last brawl ever between piston engine fighters happened the same month man walked on the Moon: July 1969, during the football war between El Salvador and Honduras. Corsairs versus Mustangs dogfights.
 

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