Worst air fighter ever?

  1. Brewster F2A
  2. Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3
  3. Century Series (F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105)
  4. MiG-23

These are taken from a brief even-to-me-stupidish post here. Better people on this board, for sure, to chip in. If you want.

The article unaccountably has “five” in the hed. Snark about the F-35 perhaps.

You missed the B.E. 2 on the first page. Going with the requirements (500 produced minimum) I would add the Bolton Paul Defiant.

Um, an interceptor is not really the same as a fighter. Neither is a light bomber. I’m only knowledgeable enough to have opinions about the Century series.
Yeah, the F-101 wasn’t much as a fighter. Can’t argue with that.
The F-102 was an interceptor and the USAFs first attempt at a delta winged production (as opposed to research) aircraft. On paper it was fast as anything, in metal it barely broke Mach 1. This lack of speed resulted in the discovery of the “area rule”. It was finally redesigned and renamed the F-106 which met the specs, which weren’t bad for an interceptor.
F-104 was another interceptor. Fast as anything with very stubby wings and a T tail which made it rather unforgiving and gave it the unpowered glide capabilities of a brick. Or a pipe.
The F-105 wasn’t a fighter either, it was a bomber. The 2-seaters were re-equipped and did well in “wild weasel” missions in Nam.

These were all 1950’s aircraft, when the USAF was going to keep the world safe for democracy with high-altitude and/or supersonic nuclear bombers and ICBMs. Fighters and Fighter/Bombers weren’t important then. Interceptors were, to intercept and shoot down the incoming hoards of Soviet Nuclear bombers.

Wait, an interceptor isn’t a fighter, terminologically? Interceptors go after bombers, you say, but they’re always going to come up against other non-bombers planes who want to, well, fight with them, right?

Cracked.com 7 perfectly designed planes (to kill the person flying them)

Sorry…stupid phone won’t let me link or stupid user doesn’t know how.

Finns got 477 air victories with just 44 of those things. Putting such a plane on top of list of crappy fighters seems wrong to me. From Wikipedia:

“Buffalos of Lentolaivue 24 (Fighter Squadron 24) claimed 477 Soviet Air Force warplanes destroyed, with the combat loss of just 19 Buffalos, an outstanding victory ratio of 26:1.”

I have never understood why the Bolton-Paul Defiant didn’t have forward-facing machine guns. From a political viewpoint, in 1937, I sort of get the Air Ministry saying “We’ve got plenty of fighters, thanks” and only accepting the design with the proviso that it wasn’t considered a fighter the same way the Spitfire and Hurricane were.

But the minute the Dunkirk Evacuation was wrapped up, you’d think they’d be working out ways to get a couple of MGs in the wings (or the fuselage), especially with the whole Battle of Britain thing about to kick off in a big way.

The crazy thing is the Bolton-Paul Defiant prototypes, as I understand it, did have forward-facing .303 MGs as well as the turret mounted ones.

MiG-23 is pretty good in capable (i.e Indian) hands. Not so much in VVS, LAF, SAF and other less than competant AF’s.

Doubtful. Escort fighters wouldn’t have the range or performance to accompany strategic bombers on intercontinental sorties. The -101, -102, -104, and -106 were all designed for point defense. IIRC, none of them were originally armed with guns; it was thought that jet-age aerial combat would be done entirely at long range with missiles like the Sidewinder, with no real dogfighting.

The US got a nasty shock in Vietnam when it came up against the MiG-17 and -21. As a result, the F-15 and -16 were the first planes in years to be designed with dogfighting specifically in mind.

Once it was equipped with guns, the F-4 was also a good dogfighter, albeit one that was big and heavy.

Yeah, but you gotta remember who they were up against. The Red AF in 1940 sucked big-time; it’s no wonder that it was all but wiped out in the first hours of Operation Barbarossa a year later.

Against skilled pilots in good planes, the Buffalo was a deathtrap.

To be fair, the immediate pre-war period was one of extreme churn as far as aeronautical design was concerned- fighters went from being biplanes (F3F) in 1936 to P-51 Mustangs in 1942. In 6 years they went from antiquated to pretty much the pinnacle of prop-driven fighters; even jet fighter evolution didn’t go quite so fast.

The B2F wasn’t terrible when introduced, but all sorts of armor and equipment were added without a corresponding power increase, leaving it rather slow.

Not a terribly good list. The only one that really belongs there is the Brewster Buffalo, but commenting on how awful the F2A was is almost begging a Finn to show up and insist that it was a fantastic plane and it was the rest of the world’s pilots who sucked. The Mig-23 and LaGG-3 may be less than stellar but really don’t deserve a place in the 5 worst fighters in history. Lumping the entire century series together doesn’t make much sense either.

I agree with this. I think – I’d have to look it up – Buffalo was the first Navy monoplane after the Grumman F3F biplane. Actually, it kind of has the same lines as the Grumman. It wasn’t terrible when it was introduced, but it suffered by comparison to better designs. Obsolete. The P-40 Warhawk/Tomahawk was also considered inferior as a fighter to Japanese designs, and the Bf-109 could outperform it at altitude. But you fight with the weapons you have. The P-40, when played its strengths were played against the Zero’s weaknesses, proved very effective; and it did well in North Africa where high altitude fighting capability was less important. The Buffalo’s successes in Finland have been noted. I recall that in skilled hands, it was somewhat successful against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea. (Not great, and everyone wished for a better plane; but not an irrevocable death sentence.)

Speaking of the pre-war period, compare the Hawker Hurricane with the Hawker Fury. It looks a lot like they started with a Fury and just took off a set of wings. (I’d have to look up the actual history of the design of the Hurricane. I have it in a book.) During the prewar period, the British went from a fabric-covered biplane (1931 to 1937) to the all-metal Spitfire (1938). The Hurricane was in the middle, entering service in 1938. It was a monoplane like the Spitfire, but the aft half of the fuselage was tube-and-fabric like the Fury. (The first ones also had fabric-covered wings.) It wasn’t as good a fighter as the Spit, but I believe it did the bulk of the hard fighting in the early days when Spitfires were few. (There was a film called The First Of The Few about the development of the Spitfire. I wish someone would restore it. Hurricane PZ865, the last one built, was named ‘The Last of the Many’. :stuck_out_tongue: ) The Spit is sexier though, and got all the credit.

No. A fighter needs maneuverability that an interceptor doesn’t. We’re talking about post-Korea 1950’s jet age and long range radar guided air to air missiles, not Luftwaffe pilots defending against B-17s with machine guns and cannons. Yes, a circa WWII fighter could perform either mission but not in the jet age.

Those Buffalo air victories are not from Winter War, they are from the Continuation War (1941-44). I’m not claiming it was an amazing plane but obviously it was a functional one given how well it did here. You’d think that in the long history of aerial combat you’d find some other plane with less redeeming factors.

I really don’t give this list all that much credibility,

The ME 163 Komet was very nearly as dangerous to the pilot as to the bombers it was supposed to attack, far too short range, no landing gear, and ready to blow up at anytime during refuelling right through to flight, the only time it was safe was when it was on the ground and empty - so long as the fuel lines had been purged. More aircraft were lost in landing accidents than they shot down - how the hell was that one not on this list.

The credibility of this author goes down the toilet further and faster when you look at the list of best aircraft, just how is the Spitfire, or P51 not on it, or the ME109, or the Sopwith Camel.

Their conclusions that the ME262 might have been the best of its day are deeply flawed, because this is largely based on what might have been, and not on what happened. Their ideas seem to be based around the idea that it was severely hampered by airfield raids of allied fighters, so what? That just means the tactical used of intruders by the allies was better managed, and don’t forget that Allied pilots soon found ways to deal with them, not letting them get airborne was one, but quite a few were shot down in air to air combat, and there were never enough, didn’t have enough range.

Robert Farley also blogs on Lawyers Guns and Money, where we had another discussion about the list .

The F-104s poor handling and high casualty rate certainly make it one of the worst candidates. If the casualty rate was due to warfare that would be one thing. However, most -104 mishaps and losses were during training flights.

The Canadians and the West Germans suffered the most from this fighter and they seem to have the worst memories of it.

I believe that the engines were too underpowered, so they had to leave out forward guns to save weight. I presume with the BPD they were trying to make something similar in use to the Bristol F2. Turret had pretty lousy angles of fire too apparently.

If one narrows the definition from F-104 to the specific F-104G variant, I think you can make a case for the worst fighter (after the Bell YFM-1 Airacuda). Taking a fast, but unstable, high altitude interceptor and fitting it out to be a low altitude fighter bomber has to be a serious low in re-purposing anything.