Me-262 vs Ho-229

Me-262 was studied and well-documented, but Ho-229 remains mysterious. According to Horten brothers, a simulated dogfight 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 1000 KPH (600 MPH). Since Ho-229 was a low-speed glider fitted with jets, US engineers argued the Hortens never understood its shape coincidentally happened to improve transonic speed nor stealth. Counter-arguments are Germans knew to sweep wings in jet aircraft, possibly had discovered, with Horten gliders, flying-wings intrinsically are stealthy, as USA 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 really stealthy. (Perhaps its general shape was stealthy but a few contours badly reflected radar waves?) WW2 British radar would've detected it in 80% of distance of a propeller fighter. Grumman didn't discover any radar-absorbing material on the captured pre-production Ho-229.

Me-262    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. Oddly, early L-133 was more advanced than Lockheed's later P-80 Shooting Star which flew in 1944.

L-133's airframe was never built. Its engine was, but it wasn't a success. Design had canards. Wings, fuselage, and engines were blended. Design speed was 600 MPH. But to reach this speed requires keeping wings outside sonic shock-waves, either with swept wings or a 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, but whole thing 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 (ugly) design with a jet engine shoved in. Lockheed can't be blamed. It was what USAF ordered, a conservative design, not a risky advanced one. Two preproduction YP-80s were deployed very late in WW2 but no combat ever occurred. After WW2, US conducted simulated dogfights with Me-262 vs P-80, concluded the two were evenly matched, as their advantages/disadvantages canceled out [ref: "Yeager"].

As for Me-262 vs L-133, the L-133 might not have been a viable design (?). Its inlet looks too small.

Me-262    Lockheed L-133 jet prototype

F-14 Tomcat vs F-18 Hornet

F-14 was designed as a long-range interceptor and tight-turning dogfighter. F-18 was designed as cheaper airplane by compromising performance.

By design, F-18 was inferior in almost every respect. It couldn't reach Mach 2, had a shorter range, wings optimal for a narrow speed range, etc. F-18 had more modern avionics but avionics can be upgraded. In USAF competition against F-16, F-16 won, yet F-16 aggressors were defeated by Navy F-14 students.

F-18 replaced F-14 mainly for political and economic reasons. Idiot politicians [ref: Dick Cheney] assumed a plane with a greater numeric designation was superior. Grumman knew Navy knew F-14 was superior and bet Navy would pay a high price for building new Tomcats. But Navy went shopping. What Navy got was a hack -- "Super Hornet" is just a scaled-up Hornet.

F-14 Tomcat    F-18 Navy Blue Angel

F-14 Tomcat vs F-22 Raptor

Iran still flies their F-14 Tomcats (the US was foolish to sell them). An F-22 intercepted an Iranian F-4 Phantom and F-22 Raptor pilot aggressively flew alongside. (Incident was absurd -- a $250 million human-piloted airplane was protecting an expendable drone.)

What would've happened if instead an F-14 was flying and Iranian pilot was brave?

F-14 Tomcat    F-22 Raptor front

F-16 Viper vs F-18 Hornet

As a dogfighter, 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

US thought its F-15 Eagle would be more than a match for a Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat. But Iraqi MiG-25s proved otherwise when they evaded missiles by dropping chaff/flares, and evaded guns by simply outrunning F-15s.

They look similar. MiG-25 was introduced first. Basic shape of MiG-25, F-14, F-15, and F-22 originated from North American's Vigilante (designed in ~1950).

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 airframes 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 (like B-52 complements B-1).

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, and forward-swept wings are more maneuverable than backward-swept. Su-47 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/Sukhoi, and unless its avionics can't dodge missiles/bullets, over-weight F-35 with its tiny stubby wings will be shot from sky with ease.

F-35 expensive fat turkey    MiG-35 MiG-35 (resemblance to F-14 Tomcat)

F-35 vs A-10 Wart Hog

A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog) was specifically designed for role of close-air support. Stealth isn't really needed for this role. A big cannon is needed, 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

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

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

SR-71 Blackbird    MiG-31 Foxhound

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