Me-262 vs Ho-229

Me-262 was studied and well-documented, but Ho-229 remains mysterious. According to Horten brothers, a simulated dog-fight was conducted between Ho-229 and Me-262. Ho-229 outperformed Me-262 by a wide margin. Ho-229 had lower wing-loading and its (untested) design speed was 1000KPH (600MPH). Since Ho-229 was a low-speed glider fitted with jets, US engineers argued Hortens never understood its shape coincidentally happened to improve transonic speed nor stealth. Counter-arguments are German engineers knew to sweep wings in jet aircraft, possibly had discovered, with Horten gliders, flying-wings are intrinsically stealthy, as US later unintentionally discovered with Northrop flying-wings. Reimar Horten said he thought of applying charcoal to absorb radar waves on production models. Decades later, Grumman built a model of Ho-229, demonstrating it wasn't stealthy overall, as cockpit area reflected radar waves, estimating WW2 British radar would've detected it in 80% of distance of propeller fighters. Grumman didn't discover any radar-absorbing material on captured pre-production Ho-229.

Me-262 replica    Horten Ho-229 flying wing replica

Me-262 vs Lockheed L-133 or P-80

Lockheed began designing its L-133 Starjet back in 1939. Earlier L-133 was actually more advanced than Lockheed's later P-80 Shooting Star which flew in 1944.

L-133's airframe was never built. Its engine was built, but it wasn't a success. Design had canards. Wings, fuselage, engines were blended. Design speed was 600MPH. But to reach this speed would've required keeping wings outside sonic shock-waves, either with swept wings or long nose. L-133 and Lockheed's later F-104 Starfighter have a long nose which allows straight wings. Possibly Lockheed engineers first discovered or anticipated this, but kept it a secret (?). Or wings were at rear simply because it was a canard design (?). Was nose long rather to provide space for fuel (?).

Me-262 had different advanced features: swept wing and leading-edge slats. (Reason for Me-262's swept wing was for balance, not to delay transonic drag.) It had drag/weight/maneuverability disadvantages with engines slung under its wings. Its tail-plane had elevators, yet entire tail-plane could be rotated (all-moving tail). All-moving tails solve lack of control at transonic speeds, which US didn't solve until years later in F-86 Sabre (a British engineer predicted and solved this prior).

P-80 was a conventional straight-wing design with a jet engine shoved in. Lockheed can't be blamed. It was what USAF ordered, a quick conservative design, not a risky advanced one. Two preproduction YP-80s were deployed near end of WW2 but no combat ever occurred. After WW2, US conducted simulated dog-fights with Me-262 vs P-80, concluded two were evenly matched, as their advantages/disadvantages canceled out [ref: "Yeager"].

Me-262 replica    Lockheed L-133 jet prototype

F-14 vs F-15 vs F-16 vs F-18

Size comparison of F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 fighters.
F-18 shown is F-18F Super Hornet, original F-18 was smaller.

size comparison of F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 fighters

F-14 Tomcat vs F-15 Eagle

F-14 Tomcat had greater maneuverability, fire-power. Plus swing-wings.

F-15 Eagle had greater acceleration, climb-rate.

F-14 Tomcat pirate    F-15 Eagle shooting missile

F-14 Tomcat vs F-18 Hornet

F-14 Tomcat was designed as a long-range interceptor and tight-turning dog-fighter -- conflicting design goals -- which Grumman solved using swing-wings.

F-18 Hornet was designed as a light-weight less-capable fighter.

F-18 was inferior in almost every aspect. It couldn't reach Mach 2, had shorter range, wings only optimal at a narrow speed range, etc. F-18 had more modern avionics (but avionics can be upgraded).

F-18 only replaced F-14 for political/economic reasons. Idiot politicians [ref: Dick Cheney] assumed anything with a greater numeric designation was superior. Grumman knew US Navy knew Tomcat was superior, then wrongly bet US Navy would pay a high price for building new Tomcats. Instead, US Navy went shopping, paid less, got less -- "Super Hornet" was just a scaled-up Hornet.

F-14 Tomcat    F-18 Navy Blue Angel

F-16 Viper vs F-18 Hornet

As a dog-fighter, F-16 is superior. After YF-16/YF-17 competition, USAF said F-16 was a better plane. F-16 is lighter, less drag, faster, greater acceleration, higher G, faster roll, etc. F-18 has one small advantage: it can whip its nose around at low speeds.

[ref: F-16 vs F-18]]

F-16 USAF Thunderbird    F-18 Navy Blue Angel

F-15 Eagle vs MiG-25 Foxbat

F-15 and MiG-25 look similar. MiG-25 was introduced first. Their basic shape derives from North American's Vigilante (designed in ~1950).

US thought its F-15 Eagles would be more than a match for MiG-25 Foxbats. But Iraqi MiG-25s proved otherwise. An Iraqi MiG-25 evaded F-15 missiles by dropping chaff/flares, evaded F-15 guns by simply outrunning F-15s. Iraqi pilot would've escaped, but unluckily happened to fly toward another F-15 outside the arena.

A-5 Vigilante North American Vigilante (designed in 1950)
F-15 Eagle F-15 Eagle
MiG-25 Foxbat MiG-25 Foxbat MiG-25 Foxbat

F-15 Eagle vs F-22 Raptor

F-15 has great speed and rate-of-climb, but its maneuverability is sub-par compared to an F-14 and F-16. F-15 frames are worn and need to be replaced. But F-22 is terribly unreliable (despite 20 years of development). Some advocate semi-stealthy F-15 Silent Eagle as a lower-tech complement.

F-15 Eagle    F-22 Raptor front

F-22 Raptor vs Su-47 Berkut

Su-47 certainly can outmaneuver F-22. Su-47 has more lift area, it has two-axis thrust vectoring vs F-22's one-axis, forward-swept wings are more maneuverable than backward-swept. Su-47 probably would win if it can get within visual range (unless F-22 avionics computer can automatically dodge bullets?). But F-22 is designed to kill Russian fighters from a distance. But so was F-4 Phantom.

F-22 Raptor front    Su-47 Berkut forward swept wing

F-35 vs MiGs/Sukhois

If detected by a MiG or Sukhoi, over-weight F-35 with its stubby wings will be shot down with ease.

F-35 expensive fat turkey

MiG-35 MiG-35 (resembles F-14 Tomcat)

F-35 vs A-10 Wart Hog

A-10 Thunderbolt II (Wart Hog) was specifically designed for role of close-air support. In this role, stealth isn't necessary -- a big gun is. A-10 has one, F-35 doesn't.

A-10 bomb run    A-10 gun compared to car A-10 was built around its gun
F-35 expensive fat turkey

Grumman X-29 vs Su-47 Berkut

Grumman X-29 was smaller and much lighter (~15000lbs, 25% of Su-47's weight). Su-47 has two-axis thrust vectoring.

A dog-fight would've been interesting.

X-29 was extremely unstable, so unstable that if electric or hydraulic power failed, it would tumble +-6G within a fraction of a second. Instability was caused by its canards, not its wings swept forward. But its instability made it very maneuverable. Its maneuverability was a combination of canards, wings swept forward, wings with variable camber, strakes, light-weight, fly-by-wire. X-29 could out-turn any aircraft US had (~1984). Thrust/weight ratio with GE404 engine was around 1. Grumman built two X-29s on Northrop F-5 frames with parts from F-16, F-18, SR-71. X-29 project was completely successful, notable for trouble-free flights, computer simulations accurately predicting actual performance. Despite proof-of-concept, US hasn't made any forward-swept fighters. Reasons seem to be forward-swept wings aren't stealthy, higher fuel consumption from drag caused by continually adjusting pitch, aerodynamic instability becomes instantly dangerous if a control surface fails.

Grumman X-29 forward swept wing    Su-47 Berkut forward swept wing

Grumman X-29 forward swept wing    Su-47 Berkut forward swept wing

SR-71 Blackbird vs MiG-31 Foxhound

Dubiously, Soviets asserted MiG-31 Foxhounds were able to "intercept" (threaten) SR-71 Blackbirds. Using carefully planned prepositioning, a squadron of MiG-31s were able to fly, for a short time, underneath and within radar range of Blackbirds, threatening Blackbird pilots with possible long-range missile shots. Older MiG-25 Foxbats were no threat because of their less-capable radar/missiles.

SR-71 Blackbird    MiG-31 Foxhound

Japanese Zero vs F-14 Tomcat

Too close to call. smile

Enacted in movie "Final Countdown" with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen.

What if WW2 would've continued to 1946?

What if WW2 continued to 1946?

If German Wehrmacht would've halted western Allies in France, air war would've been quite different in 1946. US would've needed faster advanced planes, rather than long-range planes. In mid-1945, German aviation research was more advanced, but no side fully understood supersonic flight. US/UK didn't understand swept-wings and area rule were keys to supersonic speeds, Germans didn't understand laminar airfoils were another key, none had discovered other keys such as rotating entire tail-plane.

Allies would've had in 1946:

Luftwaffe would've had in 1946:

  • Horten 229 flying wing jet, ~600MPH.
  • Me-262 High-Speed V2 (HGII) with 35 degree swept wings for transonic speed, >600MPH.
  • Other advanced Messerschmitt designs.
  • Swarms of rocket Me-163 Komets with improved speed and endurance, ~650MPH.
  • FW Ta 183 (influenced MiG-15).