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Cold Warriors: The Essex Class in the Cold War

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So New Zeeland going to stick with British aircraft for a while
They haven't even begun to discuss what options they may have. British aircraft tend to be cheaper, and they do operate alongside the British a lot possibly offering some operational advantages. But they may also prefer buying the same aircraft as Australia since they would probably lower their maintenance and acquisition costs.

But the Americans can always go cheaper than the British if they want to.
Not always. If they want just a basic fighter, they could get Lightnings for less than half the cost of the Phantom.
 

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Of course, New Zealand could perhaps do a repeat of the loan of Dh Venoms and thus loan some RAF EE Ligntings in Singapore or Malaysia...
That might be possible if they even had Lightnings in theater. They don't though. The most modern fighter in theater that they have is the Hawker Hunter F.6
 

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Of course, New Zealand could perhaps do a repeat of the loan of Dh Venoms and thus loan some RAF EE Ligntings in Singapore or Malaysia...
That might be possible if they even had Lightnings in theater. They don't though. The most modern fighter in theater that they have is the Hawker Hunter F.6
Well that's no fun.
 

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Well, even if not immediate, the RNZAF could at least consider the F-5 for its future need instead of the A-4:

post-59028-0-43220100-1442959333.jpg


It was after all supposedly the New Zealand Treasury's apparent preference later on.
 

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That might be possible if they even had Lightnings in theater. They don't though. The most modern fighter in theater that they have is the Hawker Hunter F.6
Also, I just remembered that the Lightning didn't begin to enter service with the RAF until December 1959 (three pre-production aircraft).
 

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Unless Jack Sparrow gets involved, of course...

15 March 1959
800 miles east of Sri Lanka


Kapitein-ter-zee Johannes "Jan" Huismus in command of HNLMS Zeeleeuw smirks as he readies himself to go down the hatch, and gives the order to prepare to dive. Flying an over-sized Indonesian naval ensign and doing it's best impression of a Soviet-built Whiskey -class, the Zeeleeuw has overtaken a merchantman flying the Red Duster denoting a British merchant ship for centuries.
The Fire Control Party huddled around the TDC and generated another perfect firing solution. Kapitein Jan Huismus praises their work, and has given the order sending three torpedoes in a tight spread in the general direction of the ship, the trails of which will certainly be seen but fall close astern.
It is his second such attack in three days, keeping the crew sharp in transit to a patrol off West Papau, and is sure to bring an end to UK and Commonwealth fence-sitting. "Six spent torpedoes against old and slow tubs close enough to touch, and not a single hit... You are without a doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of", quipped Lt. Willem Draaier. "But you have heard of me", answered the Kapitein.

;)
 

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Well, even if not immediate, the RNZAF could at least consider the F-5 for its future need instead of the A-4:

post-59028-0-43220100-1442959333.jpg


It was after all supposedly the New Zealand Treasury's apparent preference later on.
Once they no longer had to worry about fighting in Malaysia, that's actually a real good option given they really only need a short range interceptor for local air defense
 

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Kapitein-ter-zee Johannes "Jan" Huismus in command of HNLMS Zeeleeuw smirks as he readies himself to go down the hatch, and gives the order to prepare to dive. Flying an over-sized Indonesian naval ensign and doing it's best impression of a Soviet-built Whiskey -class, the Zeeleeuw has overtaken a merchantman flying the Red Duster denoting a British merchant ship for centuries.
The 'pirate ship' in question:
1617570613514.png

OP PROOI BELUST
 

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February 13, 1959
Amahai, Seram, Indonesia


Eight Ilyushin Il-28s began their start up procedures. Each aircraft was armed with four 250kg bombs in their bomb bays. This mission would push the light bombers to the edge of their endurance. By the time they returned to the airbase at Amahai, the bombers would be flying on the fumes in their tanks. Prior to the mission being authorized, Air Chief Marshal Soerjadi Soerjadarma had argued, strongly, that this mission should be flown by their land attack Tu-16s instead of their Il-28s. Their Tu-16s had significantly more range and payload than their light bombers. But he had been overruled by President Sukarno. The President wanted to keep their strategic bombers in reserve in case the Dutch had any surprises of their own. So instead, they would risk fuel exhaustion on the flight back.

The mission of the light bombers was to crater the airfield on Biak. While not the only airfield in West Irian, it was the main supply and repair base for the Dutch Air Force. Leveling it would make it extremely difficult for the Dutch to defend their airspace. To that end, the crews of the eight bombers had trained relentlessly over the last three weeks to ensure that there would be no mistakes in navigation enroute to the target and, more importantly, to ensure that every bomb landed on the airbase.

The pilots of Air Squadron 21 led by Lt Col Dedy Iskandar were extremely proud that they had been chosen to undertake this vital, yet dangerous mission. As, one by one, their aircraft left the ground, each man aboard swore that they would do their duty to their country and finally throw the Dutch out of their country.
 

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February 13, 1959
Amahai and Letfuan, Indonesia


Right behind the eight light bombers, the Shenyang F-5s of Air Squadrons 11 and 12 roared down the runway to escort the cumbersome bombers all the way to their targets. This mission, like it was for the bombers, was stretching their endurance to the limit. Every fighter carried two 400L drop tanks to extend their range as much as possible. Even so, they would have only enough fuel for five minutes of combat. That would have to be enough.

For the first time, every pilot flying the mission would be Indonesian. Air Chief Marshal Soerjadi Soerjadarma had asked the Soviets and Chinese if they would allow some of their "advisors" to fly the mission as well, but they had refused due to the amount of time the aircraft would spend in Dutch airspace. They couldn't risk any of their pilots being captured if they were shot down. While that was entirely reasonable and he understood why they had refused, he would still feel better about their odds of success if they had some more experienced pilots to leaven their ranks.

While he had full confidence in Colonel Roesmin Noerjadin, the Commanding Officer of Air Squadron 11 and commander of the fighter screen, the majority of his pilots were still green. They had been highly trained by their Soviet and Chinese trainers, and a few had even flown real combat missions against the Permesta rebels. But they still didn't have anything close to the hours and hours of training that the Dutch had. His pilots were flying the better aircraft, but he himself knew that a better plane wasn't an automatic win against a better pilot. Of the several dozen young men that were taking to the air this morning to carry out their country's orders, not all would be returning.
 

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February 13, 1959
Amahai and Letfuan, Indonesia


Right behind the eight light bombers, the Shenyang F-5s of Air Squadrons 11 and 12 roared down the runway to escort the cumbersome bombers all the way to their targets. This mission, like it was for the bombers, was stretching their endurance to the limit. Every fighter carried two 400L drop tanks to extend their range as much as possible. Even so, they would have only enough fuel for five minutes of combat. That would have to be enough.

For the first time, every pilot flying the mission would be Indonesian. Air Chief Marshal Soerjadi Soerjadarma had asked the Soviets and Chinese if they would allow some of their "advisors" to fly the mission as well, but they had refused due to the amount of time the aircraft would spend in Dutch airspace. They couldn't risk any of their pilots being captured if they were shot down. While that was entirely reasonable and he understood why they had refused, he would still feel better about their odds of success if they had some more experienced pilots to leaven their ranks.

While he had full confidence in Colonel Roesmin Noerjadin, the Commanding Officer of Air Squadron 11 and commander of the fighter screen, the majority of his pilots were still green. They had been highly trained by their Soviet and Chinese trainers, and a few had even flown real combat missions against the Permesta rebels. But they still didn't have anything close to the hours and hours of training that the Dutch had. His pilots were flying the better aircraft, but he himself knew that a better plane wasn't an automatic win against a better pilot. Of the several dozen young men that were taking to the air this morning to carry out their country's orders, not all would be returning.

This will not end well, for both sides.
 

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Once a bucket of sunshine is on the cards, writing off aircraft is relatively trivial.
Launch two with the buddy pod for mission tanking. Launch two with 3,000 lbs of ordinance (say twin Bullpups and a drop tank on centerline). Later send two
So, just an interesting little tidbit I leaned while researching the TL: The A-4G as purchased by the RAN did not have the equipment needed to employ munitions like the Bullpup. It was deliberately omitted as a weight saving measure.
Interesting. Source?
I have read before, think it may have been Stewart Wilsons bookazines, that the RAN FAA Gs omitted the avionics hump and the majority of air to ground capability as they had been specifically acquired for the air defence role.
 

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In the RW New Zealand did briefly consider the F-4 in 1965. Models were even created:

1996-172.1_p1_web.jpg


Maybe a earlier buy combining both fighter and bomber needs could be on the table?

post-59028-0-03919400-1440545804.jpg
The F-4 is quite expensive though. Even Australia has said decided its just a little too much money ITTL.
I recall reading somewhere that the Phantom was considered at the same time as the Starlifter was considered to support the deployment to Vietnam. Apparently the Starlifter was seen as more important and the Skyhawk was selected instead of the Phantom so the Starlifter could be afforded, then Starlifter didn't happen either.
 

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In the RW New Zealand did briefly consider the F-4 in 1965. Models were even created:

1996-172.1_p1_web.jpg


Maybe a earlier buy combining both fighter and bomber needs could be on the table?

post-59028-0-03919400-1440545804.jpg
The F-4 is quite expensive though. Even Australia has said decided its just a little too much money ITTL.
I recall reading somewhere that the Phantom was considered at the same time as the Starlifter was considered to support the deployment to Vietnam. Apparently the Starlifter was seen as more important and the Skyhawk was selected instead of the Phantom so the Starlifter could be afforded, then Starlifter didn't happen either.
Honestly, that makes a lot of sense. Given New Zealand's defense commitments at the time, and relative isolation, modern transport aircraft would be seen as more important than front line combat aircraft.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
Not really. I actually looked into that as an option instead of having the RAN decide they need a new carrier. The A-4E is about 800 pounds heavier at max gross weight than the FJ-4, but it also has 800 pounds more thrust and lower wing loading. The A-4G that the RAN actually operated was the same 800 pounds heavier when operating from a carrier, but it had 1,600 pounds more thrust with the same lower wing loading.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
Not really. I actually looked into that as an option instead of having the RAN decide they need a new carrier. The A-4E is about 800 pounds heavier at max gross weight than the FJ-4, but it also has 800 pounds more thrust and lower wing loading. The A-4G that the RAN actually operated was the same 800 pounds heavier when operating from a carrier, but it had 1,600 pounds more thrust with the same lower wing loading.
Maybe an enhanced CAC Fj4 with an later more powerful Avon? Sorry getting into fantasy land now.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
Not really. I actually looked into that as an option instead of having the RAN decide they need a new carrier. The A-4E is about 800 pounds heavier at max gross weight than the FJ-4, but it also has 800 pounds more thrust and lower wing loading. The A-4G that the RAN actually operated was the same 800 pounds heavier when operating from a carrier, but it had 1,600 pounds more thrust with the same lower wing loading.
Maybe an enhanced CAC Fj4 with an later more powerful Avon? Sorry getting into fantasy land now.
If Indonesia wasn't already operating supersonic fighters, that actually wouldn't be a bad idea. But they are and the FJ-4 is still essentially an upgraded Sabre.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
Not really. I actually looked into that as an option instead of having the RAN decide they need a new carrier. The A-4E is about 800 pounds heavier at max gross weight than the FJ-4, but it also has 800 pounds more thrust and lower wing loading. The A-4G that the RAN actually operated was the same 800 pounds heavier when operating from a carrier, but it had 1,600 pounds more thrust with the same lower wing loading.
Maybe an enhanced CAC Fj4 with an later more powerful Avon? Sorry getting into fantasy land now.
If Indonesia wasn't already operating supersonic fighters, that actually wouldn't be a bad idea. But they are and the FJ-4 is still essentially an upgraded Sabre.
Exactly. What I was actually thinking was the last batch of Avon Sabres were ordered after the government decided not to proceed with a supersonic fighter in the late 50s, these were basically the same as the earlier versions despite multiple evolutions proposed by CAC. It is not too much of a stretch for CAC to have offered the RAN an enhanced FJ-4 with Avon ADEN etc. Trouble is during the period this could have happened the government had cancelled Sydney's modernisation and was looking to re-role Melbourne as a helicopter carrier, while the RAN was actually hoping they would be allowed to buy DDGs.
 

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I keep trying to push the Furies on him all the time, too. haha I actually think the Dutch and/or Oz should go for the older Fury models that are basically still brand new, but are being phased out in to reserve units by the USN. Not because they'd be a major step up on the Sea Venom (it would be!), but because it's immediately available and cheap! It'd be a good interim carrier fighter while everything else is going to take years to produce, then trial, and train. Time seems to be of the essense!

Also, let's not forget that the West's transonic fighters did very well against the MiG threat well into and throughout the 60's. Sabres, Hunters, even the Mystere in Israel. The Suez Crisis experience is still quite fresh in 1959.
 

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Just thinking on the war load of a Skyhawk from a modernised Majestic and I was wondering if the FJ4 Fury would be a better option? Dont have any data available but I would assume the larger wing would be higher lift providing better performance from the smaller carriers.
Not really. I actually looked into that as an option instead of having the RAN decide they need a new carrier. The A-4E is about 800 pounds heavier at max gross weight than the FJ-4, but it also has 800 pounds more thrust and lower wing loading. The A-4G that the RAN actually operated was the same 800 pounds heavier when operating from a carrier, but it had 1,600 pounds more thrust with the same lower wing loading.
Maybe an enhanced CAC Fj4 with an later more powerful Avon? Sorry getting into fantasy land now.
If Indonesia wasn't already operating supersonic fighters, that actually wouldn't be a bad idea. But they are and the FJ-4 is still essentially an upgraded Sabre.
Exactly. What I was actually thinking was the last batch of Avon Sabres were ordered after the government decided not to proceed with a supersonic fighter in the late 50s, these were basically the same as the earlier versions despite multiple evolutions proposed by CAC. It is not too much of a stretch for CAC to have offered the RAN an enhanced FJ-4 with Avon ADEN etc. Trouble is during the period this could have happened the government had cancelled Sydney's modernisation and was looking to re-role Melbourne as a helicopter carrier, while the RAN was actually hoping they would be allowed to buy DDGs.
That last batch of Sabres won't be purchased ITTL. Final details are already being worked out for the Mach 2.5, Sparrow armed Super Crusader. Sydney still won't get her modernisation. Different reasons, but the same outcome. CAC is going to be the primary subcontractor for the F8U-3 and primary contractor for the final assembly of the Vigilante. So they'll be quite busy. And the RAN is still going to want those DDGs.
 

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I keep trying to push the Furies on him all the time, too. haha I actually think the Dutch and/or Oz should go for the older Fury models that are basically still brand new, but are being phased out in to reserve units by the USN. Not because they'd be a major step up on the Sea Venom (it would be!), but because it's immediately available and cheap! It'd be a good interim carrier fighter while everything else is going to take years to produce, then trial, and train. Time seems to be of the essense!

Also, let's not forget that the West's transonic fighters did very well against the MiG threat well into and throughout the 60's. Sabres, Hunters, even the Mystere in Israel. The Suez Crisis experience is still quite fresh in 1959.
They did do very well. But keep in mind, the RAN wants a new carrier. And new carrier based fighters and attack aircraft. And new DDGs and FFGs. And maybe even a few submarines. The only way they're getting an interim type is if they can borrow them from the US for free for a couple years while the new carrier is overhauled/built and the new aircraft are built and trained up.
 

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Perhaps not the RAN, but the Netherlands at this point has been receiving planes from the Mutual Defense Aid Program, basically for free, for several years now. FJ-2s were totally gone by 57 and FJ-3s were on the way out being replaced by Crusaders, so for the Dutch and maybe Canada there are cheap swept wing naval fighters available.

Something to think about is Avon Sabres doing DACT exercises with the USAF and who ever else wants to help out; might lead to better fighter tactics? Not sure if anyone else has JSTOR access but "Missed Opportunities before Top Gun and Red Flag" by Michael E. Weaver is a good read: https://www.jstor.org/stable/26276385?seq=1
 
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Cougars are gone from active squadrons, too, at this time. Both they and the FJ-3's are almost brand new being replaced by a combo of Scooters and Crusaders (and Cutlasses, Fords and Tigers --which themselves, are already getting squeezed out though also near-new). USN was going all out on acquisition of new types.

The immediate plan is Demons for the air defense interceptors with Sparrows. The Skyhawks for light attack. Intruders and Vig for strike and Recce. Crusaders as the day-fighters.

Meanwhile, the USN is heavily pushing development of this new -fangled twin seat multirole behemoth that first flew last year and has already been setting speed and time-to-altitude records during test and eval. They're so excited they get it operational by 1961, which starts replacing Fords and Demons -- which are only about five years old-- many of them less.

It's a good time to be a USN program manager -- and conceivably a great time to be a friendly foreign power in search of cheap carrier-capable TacAir. Either the fairly capable hand me downs, or taking advantage of economies of scale with active USN types in production.
 
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Since Argentina gobbled up all the Tigers, the Cougar really seems like the best choice over the Fury variants.
The F9F was known to be highly maneuverable and easy to fly.[7] Corky Meyer, who flew both the F9F Cougar and North American FJ-3 Fury, noted that compared to the latter the Cougar had a higher dive speed limit (Mach 1.2 vs Mach 1), a higher maneuvering limit of 7.5-g (compared to 6-g), and greater endurance.

"[The] Combat Air patrol mission was for two hours on station at 150 nm from the carrier. This required 2+30 takeoff, cruise, and landing endurance plus reserves. The F9F-6 could perform a three-hour CAP mission on internal fuel. The FJ-2 and -3 with external tanks had less that 1+30 mission time and the FJ-4 just met the mission requirement."[23]
 

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Since Argentina gobbled up all the Tigers, the Cougar really seems like the best choice over the Fury variants.
The F9F was known to be highly maneuverable and easy to fly.[7] Corky Meyer, who flew both the F9F Cougar and North American FJ-3 Fury, noted that compared to the latter the Cougar had a higher dive speed limit (Mach 1.2 vs Mach 1), a higher maneuvering limit of 7.5-g (compared to 6-g), and greater endurance.

"[The] Combat Air patrol mission was for two hours on station at 150 nm from the carrier. This required 2+30 takeoff, cruise, and landing endurance plus reserves. The F9F-6 could perform a three-hour CAP mission on internal fuel. The FJ-2 and -3 with external tanks had less that 1+30 mission time and the FJ-4 just met the mission requirement."[23]
They're buying 60, that leaves 139 for the USN (minus however many were lost in accidents). The Navy will probably want at least 70 or 80 for training and the Blue Angels. So there might be enough for a small country like New Zealand or Chile who wants supersonic fighters, but doesn't want to spend a lot of money. There would probably be maybe 40 or 50 for whoever wants them
 

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Well, the Navy might have a tighter hold on the Cougars. They kept them in inventory for Reserve Squadrons longer -- particularly the trainers and recce versions. But it'd certainly be something to look at if you're thr Netherlands looking at a actual shooting war tomorrow. Cougars with sidewinders would be a step up.

Also struck me while talking about Fords getting replaced that the Skylancer project, perhaps even with a J79 common to the Vig, would probably be a far easier method of getting all-weather, Sparrow-capable, supersonic fighters on deck than developing the heavier, pricier (though more capable) Crusader III.
 

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USN introduction of AAMs, 1955-1960
- Sidewinder: Skyray, Crusader I & II (and a tons of others of course)
- Sparrow I: Cutlass and Demon
(why not Skyray - no idea ! Cutlass was a piece of shit - then again, so was Sparrow I beam riding guidance system so they matched well LMAO)
- Sparrow II: Skylancer (evolutionary dead end)
- Sparrow III, interim type: Demon
- Sparrow III, definitive: Crusader III versus Phantom
 

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Cutlass' got a bad rap. It earned much of it, but it's lore is probably bigger than reality. The main problem was the promised engined it was built around never delivered-- lack of thrust, and a poor engine reliability. Not at all uncommon in this era (or any other!). The other gremlins weren't really insurmountable.

It's almost twice as big/heavy as a F-5, and had only 18% more thrust! A J46 itself weighed five times more than the J85. By the time they Vought was prepared to go in another direction or Westinghouse had slightly more powerful engines available, the Navy had turned the page with far more promising prospects. Vought's own F-8, for example.

As noted before, things were progressing fast on deck. Planes were going into reserve almost as fast as they came off the line! No time to spend on gremlins when the Demon and Fords are already flying with a more reliable single engines with much more thrust. Demons were haunted by lower thrust than anticipated as well, but they never got the same rap because they served long enough to justify their existence on deck.
 

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As noted before, things were progressing fast on deck. Planes were going into reserve almost as fast as they came off the line! No time to spend on gremlins when the Demon and Fords are already flying with a more reliable single engines with much more thrust. Demons were haunted by lower thrust than anticipated as well, but they never got the same rap because they served long enough to justify their existence on deck.
Not if you talk to guys who actually flew it. They hated the plane. Said it was an absolute dog. The Skyhawk could fly rings around it. I've talked to someone who flew both the Demon and the Whale, and in his opinion, he thinks the whale handles better. The Demon was just very sluggish to respond to control inputs.
 

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As noted before, things were progressing fast on deck. Planes were going into reserve almost as fast as they came off the line! No time to spend on gremlins when the Demon and Fords are already flying with a more reliable single engines with much more thrust. Demons were haunted by lower thrust than anticipated as well, but they never got the same rap because they served long enough to justify their existence on deck.
Not if you talk to guys who actually flew it. They hated the plane. Said it was an absolute dog. The Skyhawk could fly rings around it. I've talked to someone who flew both the Demon and the Whale, and in his opinion, he thinks the whale handles better. The Demon was just very sluggish to respond to control inputs.
I've read several pilots who liked it. Never heard anything bad about the agility. Opposite, actually. Roll rate was incredible. Airframe was stressed to an unmatched degree compared to contemporaries.
Common complaints I've read: They got just over 50% of the available power Westinghouse promised, which is the most frequent complaint. Particularly relevant on approach. It (systems) was always broken which is not uncommon with a new design entering service. Extremely short endurance (designed as an interceptor, not surprising). Unconventional, but not particularly dangerous stall characteristics.

Not entirely discounting your anecdote, just saying I've heard the exact opposite in regards to agility.

Plus, what other design looks this good on a Bel Air?
51fsVfYchrL.jpg
 

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Then there's only one solution to this argument: Spey Cutlass!
Fords got screwed by Westinghouse, too, but it was designed to accommodate something larger if it had to (and it did). Cutlass would have needed a near complete redesign to take a single engine, and decent work to accommodate new twins. By the time you're well into that, Vought would have Crusaders on deck and Phantoms are flying.
 

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Then there's only one solution to this argument: Spey Cutlass!
Fords got screwed by Westinghouse, too, but it was designed to accommodate something larger if it had to (and it did). Cutlass would have needed a near complete redesign to take a single engine, and decent work to accommodate new twins. By the time you're well into that, Vought would have Crusaders on deck and Phantoms are flying.
Well, there was the V-389 J57 conversion from Jan 54; wayyyy before this TL started so its a moot point. The J57 seems to be the wonder engine that could fix anyone's problems. See Bill S' post from 2016.
 

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