In the previous entry, I mentioned how John Boyd got the idea of the OODA cycles from the air combat realities of the Korean War. Apparently, the F-86 Sabre had no advantage over the Mig-15 in thrust, turn or climb rates. It was the ability of the F-86 Sabre to quickly transition between maneuvers what made the difference against the Mig-15.
In this entry, I fly through the virtual skies of North Korea looking for some edu-fun-meint.
The choice of flight simulator was easy: Rowan's Mig Alley. I don't think any mod out there for more modern combat flight simulators can replicate the dogfight experience of the good ole Mig Alley. A thing I never got over with fan-made mods to flight simulators is the lack of information about their flight models. Since flight models are really very important for this entry, I just sticked with Mig Alley. BTW, this flight simulator (ugly as it looks by today's standards) has a lot of personality. Maybe I should write a few more entries about it.
So, I went on and flew the Sabre and the Mig in empty skies. On the issue of maneuver transitions: yes, I can invert, roll and shake the stick with an almost immediate response in the Sabre. Not so fast with the Mig-15. Check, issue is closed.
Can the fast transitions of the Sabre translate in faster observation-orientation-decision-action cycles that can be used to gain an advantage? Seoul, we have a problem ... Of the OODA cycle, 3 out of 4 steps (observation, orientation and decision) depend exclusively on the man and just one (action) step partially depends on the machine. Yours truly is a terrible combat pilot ...
Even when the Mig-15 was mentioned above in having the advantage in sustained performance, this advantage is not gigantic. For air-combat purposes, the Sabre and the Mig can be considered as "similar aircraft". I experienced this in the flight simulator: flying the Sabre in turn-and-burn dogfights (angles fights would be the academic term), and in particular at the very end of flat scissors maneuvers, I frequently ended up in a head to head zoom ins. In other words, both aircraft can turn almost at the same rate and with the same radius.
|Head to head zoom in. Scary stuff ...|
I still have to work my flying skills to take advantage of the supposedly faster transitions of the Sabre. All I can report today is how I took advantage of a bad OODA cycle of a Mig-15's pilot.
So here it goes: a mano a mano with a Mig-15 (computer opponent set to "hero", the maximum skill available).
|A Mig-15 in my tail ... Just another day in the office.|
|The Mig-15 is turning with me.|
|He tries hard to saddle. Here is to hope that the Mig-15 overshoots.|
|The turns into me, I turn into him ... A tad late but that's what the books say I am supposed to do.|
|Another opening of the scissors. The Mig is shown turning into me. Note that this maneuvers are not actually textbook rolling scissors, as the Mig-15 has still positional and angles advantages over me.|
|BAM! The Mig-15 pilot, now spooked by the multi-story buildings, is short in airspeed and altitude and abandons the turn in order to regain both. I can see him struggle to regain control of the aircraft without stalling. I turn into him immediately.|
|The Mig-15 is trying to get away. I struggle to regulate my airspeed to a perfect closure rate that avoids an overshoot.|
|The Mig-15 is in the background, it gained some airspeed but it is still low and flying away in a gentle turn. My inability to regulate airspeed forces me into a lag pursuit roll, here shown in its initial stage.|
|I let him to pass by my aircraft. He goes down in a gentle spiral turn. It's a confirmed kill.|