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The Five Worst Fighter Aircraft of All Time
National Interest - Commentary ^ | 1-11-2013 | Robert Farley

Posted on 01/11/2014 8:25:52 AM PST by Sir Napsalot

Over the last century of military aviation, several fighters have earned the nickname “flying coffin.” Military aviation inherently pushes up against the limits of technology and human endurance, particularly where fighter and pursuit aviation is concerned. Flying a fighter is remarkably dangerous, even when no one is trying to shoot you down.

Engineering a capable fighter plane is also a struggle. Relatively small changes in engine, armament, and airframe design can transform a clunker into an elite fighting machine; many of the best fighters in history were initially viewed askance by their pilots. But elite status rarely lasts for long, especially in World War I and World War II. Fighters that dominated the sky in one year become “flying coffins” as technology and tactics move forward.

And thus the difference between a great fighter and a terrible fighter can be remarkably small. As with the previous list, the critical work is in determining the criteria. Fighters are national strategic assets, and must be evaluated as such:

· Did this aircraft fail at the tactical tasks that it was given? Did it perform poorly against its direct contemporaries?

· Did the fighter show up, or was it in the hangar when it was needed? Was it more of a danger to its pilots than to enemy fighters?

· Did it represent a misappropriation of national assets?

So what are the worst fighter aircraft of all time? For these purposes, we’ll be concentrating on fighters that enjoyed production runs of 500 or more aircraft (listed in parentheses); curiosities such as the XF-84H “Thunderscreech” need not apply.

(Click through the pages for the *top* 5 list)

(Excerpt) Read more at nationalinterest.org ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: aerospace; aircraft
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Number 2 sure looks ugly.
1 posted on 01/11/2014 8:25:52 AM PST by Sir Napsalot
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To: Sir Napsalot

Sorry, the date of the article should have been 1-11-2014!


2 posted on 01/11/2014 8:27:08 AM PST by Sir Napsalot (Pravda + Useful Idiots = CCCP; JournOList + Useful Idiots = DopeyChangey!)
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To: Sir Napsalot

Glad they mentioned the F-35 at the end.

I trust Pierre Sprey on this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxDSiwqM2nw


3 posted on 01/11/2014 8:30:27 AM PST by ClearCase_guy
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To: Sir Napsalot

The article was way to long and not well enough written to keep me reading. I didn’t even see a one though five listing.


4 posted on 01/11/2014 8:32:12 AM PST by mountainlion (Live well for those that did not make it back.)
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To: Sir Napsalot
The MiG-23 was supposed to be the Soviet answer to the F-14 Tomcat,

Wrong! The author can't even copy-paste material from a reliable source.

5 posted on 01/11/2014 8:32:47 AM PST by fso301
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To: Sir Napsalot

Bumping this for later and more detailed response. The guy is full of sh!t on multiple levels in both facts and analysis.


6 posted on 01/11/2014 8:33:13 AM PST by tanknetter
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To: Sir Napsalot
The MiG-23 proved to be a disaster in air combat--it was woefully inadequate against the technologically superior F-15's and F-16's flown by the Israeli Air Force. Small wonder why the Soviets had to develop the MiG-29 and Su-27 FAST.
7 posted on 01/11/2014 8:33:32 AM PST by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: Sir Napsalot

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter earned the unofficial name of “post hole digger” I think in Germany....the story goes the pilots sometimes would auger straight into the ground. IIRC, the problem actually was an on-board oxygen supply system depot level where the oxygen generation systems for supply tanks were located near the exhaust of some other combustion source. Tainted oxygen causing the pilots to black out.


8 posted on 01/11/2014 8:37:22 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer

Also, one of the first fighters I can recall that had a thrust-to-weight ratio of greater than 1. Could climb like a bullet....


9 posted on 01/11/2014 8:39:11 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer
Not really a fighter but the RA-5 Vigilante rates at the top of someone’s “worst” list.
10 posted on 01/11/2014 8:39:35 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks ("Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth.")
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To: Sir Napsalot; zot

Thanks for the post. Although I think most of the century series were to combat Russian bombers more than to engage in fighter-on-fighter combat


11 posted on 01/11/2014 8:44:47 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Sir Napsalot
Good subject Sir......The military needs shaking up every few years or they petrify in their thinking. Early in WWII Claire Chennault proved how to fight a superior force and nobody listened but kept going head to head with Zeros althougtht knowing they weren't as fast.

However I would list the Zero as the first which became the worst. The lack of armor, self sealing tanks and some with out radios made them into flying bombs that needed only a few hits to make them explode.

12 posted on 01/11/2014 8:50:40 AM PST by virgil283 (When the sun spins, the cross appears, and the skies burn red)
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To: Sir Napsalot

Didn’t George W. Bush fly one of the Century series fighters during his term of service with the Air National Guard?

Either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. Sometimes impossible to distinguish between the two, so maybe the same thing.

A flying stovepipe with wings. And that series was not even particularly automated.


13 posted on 01/11/2014 8:56:33 AM PST by alloysteel (Those who deny natural climate change are forever doomed to stupidity. AGW is a LIE.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

That’s a smart guy.


14 posted on 01/11/2014 8:59:49 AM PST by Track9 (hey Kalid.. kalid.. bang you're dead)
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To: GreyFriar
Although I think most of the century series were to combat Russian bombers more than to engage in fighter-on-fighter combat

That's pretty much correct. None of them were dogfighters. The F-104 was designed and built for straight line speed and climb.

The Buffalo. Actually not a bad aircraft at all, until you added armor, guns and military radios. It was a good performer without the added weight.
15 posted on 01/11/2014 9:00:00 AM PST by 98ZJ USMC
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To: Sir Napsalot
The F-105 “Thud” performed fairly well in Viet Nam and was the workhorse of the USAF. Col. Daniel James flew a F-101 “Voodoo” effectively in Viet Nam. The F-104 was just scary but for going from point A to point B had no other competitor except for the SR-71. I knew of two mercy missions that a pilot flew in a F-104 in record time.
16 posted on 01/11/2014 9:11:55 AM PST by vetvetdoug
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To: alloysteel

He flew the F102, and it’s doubtful he did so out of choice. It was the plane the USAF assigned to the Texas ANG to fulfill the role of intercepting Soviet bombers based in Cuba. Anything less than a skilled (and lucky) pilot flying a super sonic stiletto with stubby delta wings would not last long, much less for 500 plus flying hours.


17 posted on 01/11/2014 9:13:56 AM PST by katana (Just my opinions)
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To: Sir Napsalot

I once heard a Phantom jockey declare that that aircraft was “living proof that with a big enough engine, you can make a piano fly.”


18 posted on 01/11/2014 9:15:33 AM PST by IronJack
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To: vetvetdoug

The F111 was a good plane after the bugs were worked out. The Aussies just retired the last of theirs last year.
The F4 as a Dishonorable mention? This guy had rocks in his head. It was a great plane and did a lot of countries well.


19 posted on 01/11/2014 9:19:37 AM PST by Yorlik803 ( Church/Caboose in 2016)
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To: Sir Napsalot
Dishonorable Mention: General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, Messerschmidt Bf 110, Bolton-Paul Defiant, Fairey Fulmar, Sukhoi Su-7 Fitter.

Really? Phantom in dishonorable mention?

20 posted on 01/11/2014 9:20:53 AM PST by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
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To: Sir Napsalot
Honorable mention: McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom

Ha!

"The F-4 Phantom. With a smoke trail a blind man could follow it is proof positive that with a large enough engine even a brick can fly."

21 posted on 01/11/2014 9:23:26 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell)
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To: katana

He sure did and the 102 was NOT a easy or forgiving aircraft for dopes.


22 posted on 01/11/2014 9:25:49 AM PST by 98ZJ USMC
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To: 98ZJ USMC; zot

Yes, the F-104 and the Mig-21 orginated as “point defense fighters;” to climb quickly and take out incoming bombers that had gotten through the outer defensive layers. And just before, for the US, the Nike series of missiles that were placed around the major cities.

See these three websites:

http://alpha.fdu.edu/~bender/N-view.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Nike

http://www.ftmac.org/Lanike1.htm


23 posted on 01/11/2014 9:29:01 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Sir Napsalot

I just had to look up the Thunderscreech... turboprop?? Seriously, they were designing prop fighters in the mid-50’s? Why??


24 posted on 01/11/2014 9:29:23 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: GeronL

Underpowered turbojets.


25 posted on 01/11/2014 9:32:15 AM PST by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
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To: alloysteel

Night interceptor, brave and capable.


26 posted on 01/11/2014 9:35:37 AM PST by Hulka
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

156 built.... this article is about those with production runs of 500 or more.

That thing looks really long, and it was built for carriers??


27 posted on 01/11/2014 9:35:39 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: IronJack

And proved it by shooting down MiGs. . .those “tiny, maneuverable MiGs” as the article states.


28 posted on 01/11/2014 9:37:17 AM PST by Hulka
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To: GreyFriar

I remember those NIKE sites as a kid. We had one just down the road from us in Arlington Heights.


29 posted on 01/11/2014 9:37:29 AM PST by 98ZJ USMC
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To: IronJack
I once heard a Phantom jockey declare that that aircraft was “living proof that with a big enough engine, you can make a piano fly.”

Ha! Heard the exact same thing in the USMC.
30 posted on 01/11/2014 9:40:13 AM PST by 98ZJ USMC
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To: Sir Napsalot

The promised, more detailed response.

F2A Buffalo: at the time it was ordered it was better than the Grumman F4F alternative. So at the time it was a good aircraft. However the F4F had better growth potential so by the time the US got into the war the Buffalo was obsolescent and on its way out of service. It was put into combat by the US and Dutch as a desperation measure because nothing else was available.

Comparing it to the Bf-109 is a joke. The F2A was designed as a carrier-capable fighter with decent range for Pacific operation. The Bf-109 as a short range fighter designed around European operations. Comparing it to the A6M is a joke - the A6M was something of a surprise to the US, and achieved its initial dominance through massive sacrificing of weight through ditching things like armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. Once the US figured out these weaknesses, they were able to adapt tactics of the inferior F4F (Thatch Weave, for instance) to blow them out of the sky.

The F-101 was not ever, as the writer claims, a “fighter-bomber”. Either in design or in actual use. It was designed as a long-range escort to USAF nuclear bombers, then adapted to recce (which it performed well) and interception for the Continental defense role (which it performed very well).

The F-102 (which George W Bush flew in the TX ANG) was put into service as an interim interceptor as the “ultimate” interceptor (F-106) was being developed. Yes, it had a lot of issues, but it wasn’t designed as anything as a quick gap-filling capability. It did deploy to Vietnam and contrary to the writer’s assertions actually performed pretty well. Especially in the ground-attack role - where pilots were able to take out VC campsites by using their infra-red guided AIM-4 Falcom missiles.

The F-104 was a fast, lightweight point-defense fighter mainly designed to protect airfields from inbound enemy bombers. Go in a straight line (as has already been mentioned) very very fast and shoot down the other side. Yeah, like any fast aircraft with low wing loading it was a real challenge to fly (see the B-26 Marauder), but the Taiwanese and Pakistanis used them pretty well in small scale combat engagements. The Italians only retired theirs a couple/few years ago.

The F-105 wasn’t a fighter, despite the “F” designation. It was (the author seems to admit) pretty much a fast, one-way tactical nuclear bomber. Saying it sucked because it was used in a war (Vietnam) it wasn’t designed at all for is patently unfair. By the end of the war it had actually proven itself pretty adaptable to the SEAD/Wild Weasel role - it was really the first effective dedicated counter-radar platform.

The MiG-23 was a small, lightweight fighter/fighter-bomber (in the MiG-27 version) that used variable geometry wings to convey better short/rough field characteristics. It was the direct successor to the MiG-21. The writer really shows his ignorance here in saying that it was designed to counter the F-14. That’s a massive amount of Barbara Streisand right there. Yes, it was a crappy aircraft - but it was also designed (much like the F-105) to have an exceedingly short lifespan in actual combat in an equation that favored early and overwhelming quantity over smaller numbers of quality. Which pretty much sums up the WarPac vs. NATO paradigms.

As to the “dishonorable mention” category the guy includes the F-4 Phantom???? That pretty much crushes his credibility to dust. The F-111 had some initial teething problems, but really turned into a very, very good interdiction and (for the Aussies) recce platform. The Naval version would have performed the mission it was designed for (air-to-air missile truck designed to take down Soviet bombers as far away from the carrier as possible) pretty well too - but thanks to the experience with Vietnam the mission changed. The Bf-110 (heavy two-engined fighter) and the Defiant (big heavy turret with four machine guns, but no forward-firing guns - stupidstupidstupid) both deserve to be on the actual list, imho. As does the Yak-38 Forger.

Finally, regarding the F-35, I’ll make the point I usually make which is that it is NOT a “fighter”. It’s a stealthy light-strike platform, with a respectable head-on air-to-air engagement capability. It should be seen as the direct successor to the F-117 and A-7 and something of an improvement upon the AV-8B ... but not as a successor to the fighter-side capabilities of either the F-16 or the F/A-18.


31 posted on 01/11/2014 9:41:34 AM PST by tanknetter
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To: GeronL
I just had to look up the Thunderscreech... turboprop?? Seriously, they were designing prop fighters in the mid-50’s? Why??

At the time, jet propulsion was far from anything close to mature and most fighter designs were very short range. Turboprops offered a vast improvement in power over piston pounders and had good range, but jet tech advanced rapidly and quickly overtook it.
32 posted on 01/11/2014 9:44:50 AM PST by 98ZJ USMC
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To: Yorlik803

South Korea still has 68 F-4’s in service, I bet they aren’t the only ones either.


33 posted on 01/11/2014 9:46:16 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: 98ZJ USMC

I remember seeing one on Lake Michigan during a trip to Chicago. And here is an almost “everything Nike” website:

http://ed-thelen.org/favorite.html

and the Nike Historical Society: http://nikemissile.org/links.shtml


34 posted on 01/11/2014 9:46:18 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: tanknetter

It’s in threads like this where I learn just how little I know about military aircraft, well except for the non-fighter RC-135. And even then I know just where I sat on it and little else....


35 posted on 01/11/2014 9:47:00 AM PST by tenger (It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for. -Will Rogers)
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To: 98ZJ USMC

I guess that explains it well enough. Just in case, sort of?


36 posted on 01/11/2014 9:51:27 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: tanknetter

Tank, thanks for a detailed reply to Sir Napshot.

I will add, in the category of ‘was there a post-fighter life’ that both the Bf-110 and the BP Defiant ended up doing fairly well performing as nightfighers, especially the 110.


37 posted on 01/11/2014 9:55:18 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: tanknetter

Agree.

“. . .but not as a successor to the fighter-side capabilities of either the F-16 or the F/A-18”

Should add the A-10 to your list, as it is supposed to perform the CAS role (”replace” the Hog).


38 posted on 01/11/2014 9:56:14 AM PST by Hulka
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To: tanknetter

The Luftwaffe made the wrong choice in selecting the Bf 110 over the Focke-Wulf Fw 187. If the Fw 187 had gotten the Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines originally promised for the plane, the Fw 187 would have a top speed just over 400 mph—phenomenal for 1939! It would have out-run even the Spitfre Mk. I/1A models, and that would have given a lot of problems for the RAF, especially given the Fw 187 had a combat radius from French bases as far north as Newcastle upon Tyne.


39 posted on 01/11/2014 10:03:27 AM PST by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: 98ZJ USMC
He sure did and the 102 was NOT a easy or forgiving aircraft for dopes.

Of the 500+ F-102s built, about 20%, or over 100, were lost in peacetime operations, usually taking the pilot with it. It never saw any actual combat, just flying in it was a danger. But they had pilots standing in line, maybe not very happy, but still ready to fly it.

40 posted on 01/11/2014 10:05:19 AM PST by 300winmag (Whatever CAN go wrong has already happened. We just don't know about it yet.)
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To: tanknetter
The F-111 had some initial teething problems, but really turned into a very, very good interdiction and (for the Aussies) recce platform. The Naval version would have performed the mission it was designed for...

Robert McNamara wanted the USAF and USN to share a common aircraft to save costs. The Navy never wanted the F-111 because they didn't want a USAF airplane.

In an attempt to kill the project the USN insisted that the design have a swing-wing, side-by-side seating, escape capsule and an internal bomb bay.

The USAF had no need for a tactical fighter-bomber with the above specs. They wanted tandem seating with conventional ejector seats, external bomb loads and conventional.

But, the USN's insistance on the above feature set meant the aircraft would never meet the weight goals they, themselves, set. Since it never met the USN goals, the F-111B was canceled.

Because the politicians were in charge, they went ahead with the F-111A and made the USAF integrate it into service.

41 posted on 01/11/2014 10:11:06 AM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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To: vetvetdoug

I recall F-105s, A-4s, F-4s, AC 130s and all manner of helicopter gunships from the rice plains and mountains of I Corps. But there must be a few I’ve forgotten. I can still see them flying their missions. Will they be remembered as personal memory dies? Or carried forward as documentaries that reflect what they tried so valiantly to do?

The latter is the key.


42 posted on 01/11/2014 10:11:33 AM PST by onedoug
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To: tanknetter
thanks, for the illumination. ;-)

43 posted on 01/11/2014 10:12:28 AM PST by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun..0'Caligula / 0'Reid / 0'Pelosi :-)
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To: Gaffer

You would think that the O2 thing would have been fixed by now, but even the F-22 was having problems with its SOTA O2 concentrator...


44 posted on 01/11/2014 10:15:27 AM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

The Vigalante looked great in the air, though.


45 posted on 01/11/2014 10:17:11 AM PST by Half Vast Conspiracy (Proportionally, Ft. Hood is to Ft. Worth as Washington Navy Yard is to Arlington, VA.)
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To: 98ZJ USMC; GeronL

The “Screech” was designed to take advantage of new supersonic propeller technology and theoretically would have had better acceleration and range than its F-84 platform with a turbojet. What wasn’t anticipated were the intense harmonics of that prop and thunderous noise. Made everyone violently ill in a wide radius, including the pilot! Not a great idea.

The dimwit who wrote up that list wanted to include the F-4 Phantom? What an idiot! Like many others, I owe my existence to some well-delivered close air from a Marine Phantom. It took brass balls the size of regulation bowling balls to fly that thing in combat - but so what? We had those guys in spades.


46 posted on 01/11/2014 10:17:33 AM PST by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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To: Chainmail

As a civilian, I think the F-4 Phantom II looks really cool.


47 posted on 01/11/2014 10:19:09 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: Gaffer

The Canadians that flew them called them lawn darts.


48 posted on 01/11/2014 10:20:39 AM PST by Bulwyf
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To: Bulwyf

There is a resemblance...


49 posted on 01/11/2014 10:21:17 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
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To: IronJack

haha, ya had the turning radius of a mid sized country, but it sure served it’s purpose.


50 posted on 01/11/2014 10:22:01 AM PST by Bulwyf
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