Modern Airplanes/Jets


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F-15C Eagle

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United States of America

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Date Deployed: February 26, 1979
F-15C Eagle  -  Air Force AF-78 525th Bulldog
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas/Boeing 
Model from Academy Kit # 1685 Built on 05-19-2005        1/48 scale

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   The Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) F-15 Eagle is an American-built all-weather tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It first flew in July 1972. The F-15E Strike Eagle derivative is an all-weather strike fighter that entered service in 1989.

   In the Korean war, the swept-wing F-86 Sabre was the only US fighter that could challenge and defeat the Soviet-built MiG-15. Later, in 1965, the fighter community was shocked when post-Korean war era MiG-17s shot down sophisticated Mach 2 F-105 Thunderchiefs on a bombing mission over Vietnam. Air Force intelligence was later shocked to find that the Soviet Union was building a large fighter aircraft, known as the MiG-25 Foxbat. It was not known in the West at the time that the MiG-25 was designed as a high-speed interceptor, not an air superiority fighter, as such its primary asset was speed, not maneuverability. The MiG-25's huge tailplanes and fins hinted at a very maneuverable aircraft, which worried the Air Force that its performance might be higher than its American counterparts. In reality, the MiG's large stabilizer and stabilators were necessary to prevent the aircraft from encountering inertia coupling in high-speed, high-altitude flight.

   It was the F-4 Phantom II of the USAF and US Navy that was the only fighter with enough power, range and maneuverability to be given the primary task of dealing with the threat of old Soviet fighters while flying with visual engagement rules. As a matter of policy, the Phantoms could not engage targets without positive visual identification, so they could not engage targets at long ranges as designed. Medium range AIM-7 Sparrow missiles and to a lesser degree even the AIM-9 Sidewinder were often unreliable and ineffective at close ranges where it was found that guns were often the only effective weapon.

   The Phantom did not originally have a gun as it was intended that only missiles would be used to engage slowly moving and maneuvering Warsaw Pact bombers and fighter aircraft at longer ranges. When experience in Vietnam showed this not to be the case, attempts to use external gun pods had mixed results: not only was drag increased, but hardpoint mounting of the gun pod generated tremendous vibrations and proved too unstable for precise aiming; later a gun, the 20mm M61 Vulcan, was integrated internally into the Phantom.

   There was a clear need for a new air defence fighter that overcame the close-range limitation of the Phantom while still retaining long-range air superiority. After rejecting the Navy VFX program (which led to the F-14 Tomcat) as being unsuited to its needs, the Air Force issued its own requirements for the FX (Fighter Experimental), a specification for a relatively lightweight air superiority fighter. Three companies submitted proposals: Fairchild Republic, North American Rockwell, and McDonnell Douglas. The Air Force announced the selection of McDonnell Douglas on December 23, 1969. The winning design resembled the twin-tailed F-14, but with fixed wings. It would not be significantly lighter or smaller than the F-4 that it was to replace.

   The initial version, designated F-15A for the single-seat configuration and F-15B for the twin-seat, would be powered by new Pratt & Whitney F100 engines to achieve a combat thrust-to-weight ratio in excess of 1 to 1. A proposed 25mm Ford-Philco GAU-7 cannon with case-less ammunition was dropped in favor of the standard M61 Vulcan gun due to development problems. The F-15 retained conformal carriage of 4 Sparrow missiles like the Phantom. The fixed wing was put onto a flat, wide fuselage that also provided an effective wing lifting surface. Some questioned if the zoom performance of the F-15 with Sparrow missiles was enough to deal with the new threat of the high-flying MiG-25 Foxbat; its capability would eventually be demonstrated in combat.

   The F-15 has a "look down, shoot down" radar that can distinguish low-flying moving targets from ground clutter. The F-15 would use computer technology and new controls and displays to lower pilot workload and require only one pilot to save weight. Unlike the F-14 or F-4, the F-15 has only a single canopy frame with clear vision forward. The USAF introduced the F-15 as "the first dedicated USAF air superiority fighter since the F-86 Sabre.

   The F-15 would be favored by customers such as Israel and Japan, and the development of the F-15E Strike Eagle would produce a strike fighter that would replace the F-111. However, criticism from the Fighter mafia that the F-15 was too large to be a dedicated dogfighter, and too expensive to procure in large numbers to replace the F-4 and A-7 led to the Light Weight Fighter (LWF) program, which led to the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon and the middle-weight Navy F/A-18 Hornet.

 

 

 

          

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