Friday, June 24, 2005

Messerschmitts, Bears, and Tornados

In doing the work on the Me 262 post, the following occurred to me: Given that the 262's engines were so finicky, I daresay that a P-51D or similar aircraft would be better at handling a rapid throttling up. To corrupt a quote from Episode IV, "Nobody worries about destroying a piston engine by rapid throttling up." "That's because piston engines don't overheat, weaken the turbine blades through that heat, throw a blade and promptly garbage the engine when they're throttled up. Jumo 004Bs are known to do that." I snickered at the irony of a jet fighter being at the mercy of a piston-engined fighter in terms of performance in that particular circumstance. I then remembered another snicker story from the Cold War, one that was embarrassing to the RAF. It had to do with the Panavia Tornado F.3 ADV, the premier RAF interceptor during the 1980s. One of the ADV's jobs was to intercept and escort various Soviet long-range reconnaisance platforms that would fly down from (ostensibly) the Kola Peninsula for a variety of missions. One of the more frequent types of aircraft that the RAF would see was the Tu-95 'Bear', in varying configurations. The Bear is a bomber with swept wings and turboprop engines, much like one of the design concepts for the B-52 Stratofortress. As I remembered it, there was some situation where a Tu-95 was capable of escaping a Tornado ADV, and it involved acceleration. A quick bit of Google research confirmed my memories, and here's what was said: It was stated in this newsgroup sometime back that a favourite way (for a large turbo prop) to get rid of a tailing interceptor is slow down a hundred knots or so, (by changing the prop angle @full engine RPM), forcing the 'ceptor to spool down a bit and/or pop some flaps, then change the prop angle back so as to accelerate away from the jet. Which has to use buckets of fuel spooling its motor back up (or afterburning). Repeat a few times & the jet gets bingo fuel. and It has been reported that the ADV needs a partial light on one afterburner to keep up with a Tu-95 Bear, for Chrissake! Apparently, a favourite trick of Bear pilots was/is to fly relatively slowly at fine pitch, let the ADV hold station, the coarsen the pitch and wait 2 minutes for the ADV to catch up. That's probably a useless tactic in war because the ADV would have already fired on the Bear using medium range AAMs like the Sparrow or Sky Flash. Nevertheless, you've got to laugh at what is a very amusing parlor trick. Heh heh heh.

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