F-106 vs. F-4 (1972)

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Joe Broady

May 30, 2019
In this Popular Science article from 50 years ago, author (and WW2 fighter pilot) Kevin Brown flies in an F-106 with Maj. Ed Woelfel of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School out of Tyndall AFB in Florida. Their mission is to stop a Navy strike force. Brown doesn't get much from the first encounter. "It all happened so fast, I never saw a thing." After they knock off the fight, Woelfel says, "It wasn't a good mission. On in intercept, the first two planes should distract the escorting fighters, so Three and Four can go after the Strike Force. [Their plane is Three.] I guess they couldn't hack it, so they went after the bombers instead. I had to switch and go after the fighters."

Nevertheless, he got an F-4. Both sides regroup and run the exercise again. This time the Navy sends a pair of F-4s 25 miles ahead of the strikers. Again One and Two go after the strike force, and in this scenario it's the right move since they're closer. Woelfel takes on the F-4s. He gets one with a simple barrel roll attack, but now the other is behind him and won't be shaken despite "the most violent maneuvers I'd ever been through, all at high g's." Their F-106 is killed. On the way home Woeflel sums it up: "We got some, but they got us, too."

Popular Science Feb 1972

There are some other interesting articles in that magazine. To return to the table of contents, look at the toolbar where it displays the page number. Click there, and a miniature image of the table of contents appears. Click on it.

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