On fighter aircraft maintenance.

Help me win an argument regarding the maintainability of fighter aircraft.

I know that specific models will vary greatly in the amount of maintenance needed, but in general, assuming normal non-combat operations under ideal conditions:

  1. Would a WW2 piston-engined fighter be easier or more difficult to maintain than a early-era jet fighter (Meteor or Sabre, for example.)

  2. Would a modern jet fighter (F-16 or Mirage 2000, for example), be easier or more difficult to maintain than the ‘winner’ of question #1?

A WW2 piston fighter wins, it doesn´t have so many systems to care for, just an engine, radio, and guns; which are much simpler than even the most primitive first line fighters of today.

I don’t know about that. The avionics of early jet fighters were no different than prop-driven planes of the same time. And jet engines have fewer moving parts than pistion engines.

Yes, the mechanincs of an early jet engine were usually less complicated than the engines used on prop planes (those engines were extremely complicated most of the time), however, AFAIK the early jet engines had very low life spans, needing overhauls and/or replacements very often.

As for things today, planes have so amny systems and subsystems that just checking up everything takes quite some time.

By the way, I should be looking for cites… :stuck_out_tongue:

Weapons systems are designed to be maintained in the first echelon rear support area. That means you build it to be able to work for expected campaign duration with skilled maintenance available between sorties. The piston driven bombers of World War two were built to the same sort of standards. Had they been more reliable, they would have been challenged by more stressful missions.

Modern Aircraft are incredibly complex, and yet reliable enough to survive high intensity use in quick rotation in and out of combat operations. Without intense support facilities (far more extensive than was expected in WWII) close to the theater of operations, they are almost useless. But the system includes the availability of such maintenance. So the answer, if you get one, is not really all that applicable to the real world. A modern jet, without an expert and fully equipped maintenance crew, could probably only run a half dozen combat missions at best. But working off an aircraft carrier, they routinely fly twice daily missions for weeks at a time and less intense schedules for many months.

The elder bomber was less finicky, and could be used without such intense support. So, no such support was provided. Twice daily missions would probably involve regular maintenance losses. Months of daily bombing runs would do the same.

By the way, B-52 bombers are all older than their pilots.


“No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris … [because] no known motor can run at the requisite speed for four days without stopping.” ~ Orville Wright ~