The Truth About the MiG-29
February 24, 2016 2:02 AM   Subscribe


 
Pfaagh.

If you can't see the utilitarian beauty in the Mig-21, you have no aesthetic sense.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:19 AM on February 24, 2016 [26 favorites]


...and surely form follows function very precisely in these high performance machines.
posted by fairmettle at 2:21 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I dunno that the U.S. is in a position to be taking shots at other countries aircraft if what people say about the F-35 is true. But the story of the MiG-29 does seem to be representative of the way "build the fastest plane" gave way to "build the fanciest electronics + countermeasures."
posted by atoxyl at 2:55 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


if what people say about the F-35 is true
My understanding is that a large part of the reason the Boeing X-32 wasn't selected was because it looked like hideous.
posted by wilful at 3:18 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


The MiG-29 was better up against F-16s than F-15s iirc (certainly when the US and India had wargames it vastly outperformed the Falcon). I think the Sukhoi Su-27 was probably a closer match to the F-15 in terms of overall performance, although Soviet Russian aircraft designers and tactical dogma always seemed to value dogfighting performance over BVR engagement throughout the Cold War.
posted by longbaugh at 3:24 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Surprised to see no mention of the poor combat performance of the MiG-29 against US aircraft during the Serbian action in 1999.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:51 AM on February 24, 2016


I know multirole is the thing now, but I still don't think any modern fast jets have quite the same air of imposing themselves on the sky itself that interceptors used to have.
posted by protorp at 3:58 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Surprised to see no mention of the poor combat performance of the MiG-29 against US aircraft during the Serbian action in 1999.

The slideshow includes a photo of one that was shot down in that conflict, though I don't think it was discussed at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:01 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me it looks like an example of the Soviets losing confidence in their own engineering abilities as Brezhnev era final decay set in. There was a mutual misunderstanding between both Cold War foes about the other. The West assumed the Soviets were far more capable than they were. Only UK and German intelligence had any beginning of a sense things had changed. A nation unable to make toilet paper at scale could put on a great parade, but had air defences confused by seagulls and a miserable, bullied and sick conscript army.

The Soviets assumed anyone capable of going to the Moon really could create Star Wars and Sci-Fi grade invincible weapon systems.

Looking from afar at US 1970s combat aircraft and all the Press Releases about their tech it would have been logical to panic and abandon the utilitarian perfection of the MiG-21 in favour of imitating what little they could see. Many of the last Soviet aircraft were half understood riffs on Western greatest hits - the F-111 = Su-24, the B-1 = Tu-160 et cetera. Combine this abandonment of engineering excellence in favour of Potemkin imitation of the West with a WWII holdover command structure (where the Peasant fighter must obey en masse) and it all went wrong.

Meanwhile 1980s MBA cost driven thinking and an obsession with the high tech has led to the crime of the F-35, and the rejection of the F-22 (which cost the same in the end) or upgraded variants of the F-15/F-16/Super Hornet. It's now the West's turn to worship false Gods.

Putting stealthy, high maintenance, low weapon load flying Ming vases with sub World War II combat radiuses against incrementally improved Su-35s would be very foolish indeed.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:20 AM on February 24, 2016 [20 favorites]


If you can't see the utilitarian beauty in the Mig-21, you have no aesthetic sense.

The MiG-21 is the uncircumcised foreigner at the dick-measuring contest who pulls it out, strikes a match on its side, and lights a cigarette.
posted by pracowity at 4:23 AM on February 24, 2016 [30 favorites]


a large part of the reason the Boeing X-32 wasn't selected was because it looked like hideous
I think "large part" overstates it -- from my (outside) perspective, the X-35 was better in most ways, and seemed the clear choice. But it the X-32's looks certainly did it no favors. I can't see the thing without hearing Rodney Dangerfield saying "the last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it".
posted by Zonker at 4:56 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: the uncircumcised foreigner at the dick-measuring contest
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 5:21 AM on February 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


The article says Migs are ugly, but also mentions the F-4 Phantom, without noting its very homely looks.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:52 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


The article says Migs are ugly

Migs isn't ugly! And he is one of the greatest famous Portuguese authors to ever hang out on MeFi. Shame on you for even repeating this vile slander.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:12 AM on February 24, 2016 [14 favorites]


The su-27 is basically a manga plane - I bet it transforms into a really amazing robot.
posted by Artw at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that a large part of the reason the Boeing X-32 wasn't selected was because it looked like hideous.

This was a big part of The War Nerd's 2014 rant about corruption in the defense industry. Basically, you get promoted in the Air Force for being a fighter jock, which amounts to being promoted for fighting a kind of war that no longer exists.
posted by mhoye at 6:51 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


mentions the F-4 Phantom, without noting its very homely looks

You take that back right now.
posted by HighLife at 6:53 AM on February 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


Nope. I've met the thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:59 AM on February 24, 2016


Related: How to Kill a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
posted by glaucon at 6:59 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The F-35 is a nice testbed for the technologies that will be implemented in the next generation of drone fighters. It was obsolete before the first one ever flew - fighter aircraft will need to be faster and more maneuverable than human pilots will allow, and they'll need to be cheap enough to be expendable.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:02 AM on February 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you can't see the utilitarian beauty in the Mig-21, you have no aesthetic sense.

Yeah, sure, but man the MiG-29 is a pretty, pretty plane on a whole different level. I mean it is Spitfire pretty.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:05 AM on February 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


Modern fighter aircraft are all various degrees of hideous, commensurate with the steady advancement of automatic stability systems that make it possible to prioritize functional needs over aerodynamic ones. Aesthetically, the Supermarine Spitfire was the pinnacle, and it's all been downhill from there.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:05 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aesthetics aside, is there a future where we decide that war isn't a solution to international relations problems, and stop using arms sales to drive our economies?
posted by sneebler at 7:11 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, the the SU-27 and its progeny are just gorgeous, particularly when combined with camouflage that accentuates the angles.
posted by sektah at 7:12 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


In terms of prettiness, I'm pretty sure the ranking goes SR-71 > F-16 > Su-27 and variants > WWII fighters > all other jets.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:18 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


You take that back right now.

The Phabulous Phantom is certainly a Phine aircraft, but it is Phugly.

I think the Sukhoi Su-27 was probably a closer match to the F-15 in terms of overall performance

The funny thing: We built the F-15 while seeing the MiG-25, and with that huge wing, we thought it would be agile as hell.

Nope. The MiG-25 turns like a tanker. Why the huge wing? Because it's made of steel and needs all that wing to get enough lift, because it's that heavy. Why is it made of steel? Because what the MiG-25 did was go *stupid* fast. How fast is stupid fast? So fast that if you went as fast as you could possibly go -- which was at least Mach 3.2 -- you'd melt the turbine blades in the engine.

At altitude, at max thrust, a MiG-25 melts itself. So, they redlined it (Mmo) at Mach 2.85. If the Soviets had better metals for turbine blades, they would have a plane that was as fast, if not faster, than the SR-71.

And, unlike the SR-71, it didn't use exotic fuels, it didn't leak fuel on the ground, and so forth. The SR-71, however, did have a lot more range. The MiG-25 was a pure interceptor, the reason for all that power leading to all that speed was to get off the ground and get to where the bombers were as fast as possible.
posted by eriko at 7:39 AM on February 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


For prettiness, I'd go for the Me-262. You can see it's design cues in both the US F-86 and the Soviet Mig-15 that went up against each other in Korea. Supposedly, that's because both sides poached from the same group of German engineers after WW2.
posted by veedubya at 7:44 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


ME 262 looks like a bottom feeder who counts on mass dessemination of semen to survive...whereas that Mig is a pretty boy...

I was in the coffee shop of an unnamed small airport, when this Marine Corp fighter rolled up not 100 feet away from the window where I sat. It was a matte gun metal gray uniformly, what struck me was the beauty of it, and the small jewel box quality. What an excellent toy! The crew of two, had breakfast and left.
posted by Oyéah at 8:06 AM on February 24, 2016


"If it’s ugly, it’s British; if it’s weird, it’s French; and if it’s ugly and weird, it’s Russian."

This might have been true once, but the current generations of MiGs and Sukhois are damn pretty.

Much as I love our cousins in the UK, they peaked on the Spitfire in terms of aesthetics....
posted by Thistledown at 8:35 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Vectored thrust is the real beauty.
posted by furtive at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2016


Much as I love our cousins in the UK, they peaked on the Spitfire in terms of aesthetics....

Well, let's face it, in the broad scheme of things so did everyone else.
posted by Artw at 9:00 AM on February 24, 2016


Speaking of MiG-29s and vectored thrust, one MiG-29M was retrofitted with a thrust vectoring engine. The 2006 Farnborough demo is awe-inspiring . That's one beautiful aircraft, doing things no plane should be able to do.
posted by golwengaud at 9:13 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


My personal favorite Soviet jet aircraft is the Su-17/-20/-22. It looks like a Commie hot rod.
posted by My Dad at 9:19 AM on February 24, 2016


My favorite planes growing up (and yeah, even now) are the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-16 Falcon, the Supermarine Spitfire and my number one: the F4U Corsair.

The Su-27 and the MiG-29 are pretty, too. The F-35 looks fat.
posted by linux at 9:21 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


"If it’s ugly, it’s British; if it’s weird, it’s French; and if it’s ugly and weird, it’s Metafilter."
posted by I-baLL at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm partial to the Su-34 FULLBACK and Su-37 FLANKER-F for pure futuristic aerodynamic badassery.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


What, no love for the Avro Vulcan or Dehavilland Mosquito?
posted by The Gaffer at 9:36 AM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Or, if you want mostly-harmless aircraft, the Constellation or Brabazon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:51 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm partial to the Saab Draken - even to modern eyes, it still looks more like a spaceship than a 50's era fighter.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


The Vulcan is amazing, but it is not pretty.

(I got to sit inside one the other day, and spent 45 minutes with a former crew member going over all the dials and procedures with me. I pushed the bomb release button that would've dropped a nuke under the right circumstances!)
posted by Dysk at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Gaffer got there before me ... the Vulcan was wonderful. I remember driving past a British airfield as three Vulcans did an overpass, then shifted into what looked like an astonishing, fully vertical climb.
posted by anadem at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2016


a large part of the reason the Boeing X-32 wasn't selected was because it looked like hideous.

Come on, how can you hate a plane with a big goofy smile like this?
posted by Hoopo at 10:20 AM on February 24, 2016


Yeah, the Vulcan is best appreciated when it - preferably them - are doing a QRA-style get-upstairs-fast scramble from the runway you're standing next to. Static, it's impressive just for its size and alien-ness (although not as Vogonesque as the Victor, which still looks like something from a parallel universe where Chris Foss is a defence minister) but you don't get the pretty. Cranked up to 11 and pointing at the sky, it's just pure triangular porn.

Which is a shame, given it's designed to kill people in seven-digit quantities. It's easier to feel good about, say, Concorde, which can't even kill you by alcohol poisoning as there's just not enough time during the trip to drink that much champagne.
posted by Devonian at 10:25 AM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Always trips me out to observe discussion of the beauty of a thing that is primarily judged by how well it kills people & breaks things.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Speaking of MiG-29s and vectored thrust, one MiG-29M was retrofitted with a thrust vectoring engine. The 2006 Farnborough demo is awe-inspiring . That's one beautiful aircraft, doing things no plane should be able to do.

Yeah, the ability of thrust-vectoring aircraft to essentially enter a controlled flat spin really just stretches credulity sometimes.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2016


Rimon 20 (Hebrew: רימון 20‎, Pomegranate 20) was the code name of an aerial battle which pitted the Israeli Air Force directly against Soviet fighter pilots stationed in Egypt during the War of Attrition. Israel selectively chose its most skilled fighter pilots to participate in the planned dogfight in order to send a message to the Soviet Union. During the three-minute engagement, which took place on July 30, 1970, the Soviets were dominated by their veteran Israeli counterparts, resulting in the downing of five Soviet-flown MiG-21s by Israeli F-4 Phantoms and Mirage IIIs. Egyptian military leaders were satisfied to hear the outcome of the battle because the Soviets had long been criticizing Egypt's aerial losses to Israel and attributing them to the lack of skill of its fighter pilots. It was one of the final engagements of the War of Attrition and is believed to have contributed to the conclusion of a ceasefire.
posted by rosswald at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've always been partial to the weird look of F-8's and A-7's, though that's because we had models of them throughout the house growing up (they were the planes my father flew). That big gulpy intake ramp makes me smile.
posted by Carillon at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Mig-21 is a fantastic space-age looking plane, but I still love the thrilling Buck Rogers lines of the Mig-15 & F-86.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2016


The Su-47 is pretty remarkable as well. I saw it demo'd at the Moscow Air Show some time last decade and it looked and moved like nothing else I'd ever seen. I think they only built two.
posted by srednivashtar at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2016


I am an absolute sucker for forward-swept wings, however impractical they may be.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy: I'm partial to the Saab Draken - even to modern eyes, it still looks more like a spaceship than a 50's era fighter.

As a kid I was a really into building these gorgeous airplane model kits - so much better quality than most of the garbage in stores now - and my absolute favorite was the Saab Viggen. Just look at it! It belongs in Star Wars.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:01 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


...and it looked and moved like nothing else I'd ever seen.


Well, you'd probably move pretty awkwardly too, if you had Megatron riding your ass the whole damn time.


"Bitch, you turn into a gun. You turn into a dinky little pistol with some kind of pointless scope on it. I turn into a fighter jet. Y'all need to step back."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:12 PM on February 24, 2016


Let’s face it: Soviet jets are ugly, and MiGs are some of the worst offenders. The Vietnam-era MiG-17 and MiG-19 represented a utilitarian tube-with-wings-on-it trend; they were followed by the deadly MiG‑21, a rational sculpture of angles and cone.

Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by Chuffy at 1:26 PM on February 24, 2016


Always trips me out to observe discussion of the beauty of a thing that is primarily judged by how well it kills people & breaks things.

I mean they also fly and you can be impressed with the way they do that or long to ride in one without wanting to drop a guided missile on anybody.
posted by atoxyl at 1:54 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


SR-71 is forever the coolest airplane, BTW.

There have been reports that Lockheed might do an SR-72.
posted by atoxyl at 2:07 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had an Estes rocket model of the SR-71 as a kid - an awesome idea in principle but you were afraid to launch it 'cause you didn't want to fuck it up or lose it on top of a building or something. (I don't think it was the most labor-intensive kit they had though - not as bad as those X-Wings).

Which reminds me, apropos of, uh, airplanes and aesthetics and well I just like to tell this story:

So when I was, I dunno, twelve years old, my father decided he wanted to get into model airplanes - the flying, radio-controlled kind. He thought it would be best to start with something that was easy to fly and didn't require messing around with engine stuff, so he bought a glider kit. I'm sure it was a relatively modest project in the grand scheme of these things but I know it took him at least a month to build, gluing together a balsa wood frame, installing little servos for the control surfaces, painting, stretching plastic over the wings - even putting a little blue pilot guy in the cockpit. I'm trying to picture how big it was - maybe four feet long and five in wingspan? When it was done he took me with him to test it out, first just throwing it from the ground and then off the top of a small hill. It looked great and flew beautifully.

At this point you might be thinking, "surely one doesn't build a plane on that scale just to toss it around in the park?" Surely one does not. The real launch system for this plane consisted of a metal hook under the nose - and fifty feet of surgical tubing, to be used as a gigantic slingshot (or perhaps you could think of it as in inverted version of the way fighters land on a carrier). So anyway, after a little bit my dad decides he's got the hang of the controls so we go out to the spot where we always launch things, a university parking lot bordering a big undeveloped plot. It's time to break out the slingshot! Fifty feet of surgical tubing stretches way back, and the glider goes way up. It's pretty impressive. My dad gently turns the plane around to come back in our direction - this is the very first flight with the launcher - and as it passes over our heads and into the parking lot we realize it's coming pretty close to a lamp post, too close for comfort. He tries to adjust the rudder but - well maybe he's not really quite oriented to the controls, especially since the plane's heading relative to us had been inverted and then reverted when we turned about-face into the parking lot - and

well I don't know exactly what happened but if he steered away from the pole he didn't steer enough away, and I'm not really sure that he didn't steer toward it. Shrrrihp - the pole sheers most of the wing clean off, so clean that for a second I think we both think "oh well it shouldn't be that hard to fix." And then we remember what the role of wings is, on an airplane, and - again, very first real flight - it slams into the ground and smashes into little bits. Poor little blue pilot guy wouldn't have had time to eject even if he wasn't glued in his seat.

Afterward my dad actually bought and assembled another version of the same kit, which has always impressed me. I only ever saw him fly it once or twice.
posted by atoxyl at 3:10 PM on February 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


For my money, the most beautiful aircraft ever made were the P-51 Mustang and the Supermarine Spitfire.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:19 PM on February 24, 2016


I've always been partial to the SR-71/A-12 myself too, but I am EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED to come in here this late and ctrl+f to find zero results for the XB-70???? what the fuck people

(obligatory extra. can't remember if this was the flight that ended in disaster but man it's a pretty shot)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:01 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pretty planes are all alike somehow. A Tu-160 is a B-1 is an F-16 is an Su-27. Ugly planes break the mold (and perhaps a few cameras) and achieve something really special. I don't mean just A-10 ugly; the Hog has a grim functionality to it that gives it a beauty of its own.

But the Handley Page Victor -- now that's a level of ugly that just has to be recognized. "Vogonesque" is right. It's hard to believe that human beings built this thing.
posted by Zonker at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


wikipedia has a shot of the F-104 / XB-70 collision
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 9:36 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Article mentions the A-10 as ugly, which is true, but neglects to mention it is cool as fuck.
posted by Artw at 10:17 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to live between two airbases and get regular overflights by the Vulcan whenever their was an airshow - right over the hill my house house was on, very slow and very low. It was like the Star Destroyer in the opening scene to Star Wars every time.
posted by Artw at 10:21 PM on February 24, 2016


You know those photos of the XB-70 collision were taken from Frank Sinatra's Lear jet?

The story I heard from an X-plane historian is that the reason there is no film footage of the accident itself had to do with the pilot and/or photographer being extremely hungover.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:35 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sure, but man the MiG-29 is a pretty, pretty plane on a whole different level. I mean it is Spitfire pretty.

It's too squat for my liking. The Su-27oids, barring some of the more unfortunate mutations, are much prettier.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:32 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


zero results for the XB-70

Well, duh. Next thing you'll claim the F-104 or B-58 are pretty planes too when all three look like a dim child's idea of what a jet plane should look like.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:34 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hey! F-104 was super tucking cool except for the whole being-able-to-fly thing. Also has its own concept album.
posted by Artw at 11:36 PM on February 24, 2016


Naah. It was naffness incarnated. Almost as bad as the Lightning.

For my money the US navy had the best western Cold War planes: F-8 (The French still flew those in the 21st century!), A-7, A-4, F-4, A-6 and especially its bigger brother the EA-6 all had that utilitarian ugliness to them that made them beautiful in a way the F-16s and SU-27s could never hope to emulate with their generic prettiness.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:47 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


French jets are sexy.
posted by clavdivs at 1:08 AM on February 25, 2016


Thanks for that Farnborough link golwengaud - it is indeed a beautiful aircraft.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 4:56 AM on February 25, 2016


Yeah, the XB-70 definitely is more cool than pretty.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:49 AM on February 25, 2016


I feel like I'm standing next to a gaggle of boys in the playground.
posted by Molesome at 7:33 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


The su-27 is basically a manga plane - I bet it transforms into a really amazing robot.

The Japanese already have that covered with the X-2 concept. All it needs is a hot-blooded kid to fall into the cockpit.


I feel like I'm standing next to a gaggle of boys in the playground.

Hey! Girls get to dream about being ace fighter pilots too!
posted by Eleven at 7:54 AM on February 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


MartinWisse: Ooooh, I love what you call the "utilitarian ugliness" of the F-4 too! It's so obvious they designed these fucking massive engines and then said "okay, let's figure out how to cobble on wings and a cockpit!" From a young age I loved the way it looked, with all the crazy wing and tail angles, but only much later did I learn from the Wikipedia page:
Wind tunnel testing had revealed lateral instability requiring the addition of 5° dihedral to the wings.[19] To avoid redesigning the titanium central section of the aircraft, McDonnell engineers angled up only the outer portions of the wings by 12°, which averaged to the required 5° over the entire wingspan. The wings also received the distinctive "dogtooth" for improved control at high angles of attack. The all-moving tailplane was given 23° of anhedral to improve control at high angles of attack while still keeping the tailplane clear of the engine exhaust.[18]
So they were literally like "oh damn we got the wings on but it doesn't work right but it would cost a lot to change it now... let's point the tips up. Oh also the tailplane needs to go down. But not get melted. Nice! call it day"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, they good old days before CAD when you had to kind of make a guess at something that looked like it could probably fly, then gradually scale it up and hope your assumptions would hold at each new phase of testing.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hey! Girls get to dream about being ace fighter pilots too!

Better than that I remember reading Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising in the late 80's and there was a female astronaut ace fighter pilot.
posted by Molesome at 1:56 PM on February 25, 2016


Not astronaut; rather she made ace by a) shooting down some Migs while she was ferrying fighter planes over the Atlantic to Britain and b) doing the same to a Soviet reconnaissance satellite using an ASM 135 ASAT missile fired from an F-15 (which in real life was fired only once to destroy an old scientific sun observation satellite as a test, to the fury of the scientists involved).

....not that I've read the book half a dozen times or so though.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:47 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they good old days before CAD when you had to kind of make a guess at something that looked like it could probably fly, then gradually scale it up and hope your assumptions would hold at each new phase of testing.

As the British found out to their cost when rebuilding their old Nimrod naval reconnaissance planes (a derivation of the 1950ties Comet airliner still flying in the 21st century) a few years back, even in the manufacturing phase adjustments apparantly needed to be made for each individual plane, as none of the "standard" parts actually fit and each plane's wings were different from the others...
posted by MartinWisse at 11:50 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


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