Why wasn't the Northrop F-5 used in Vietnam for escort of strike aircraft

Discussion in 'Modern' started by jtm55, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. jtm55

    jtm55 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hi All,
    I wanted to know why the Northrop F-5 wasn't used to counter the Mig fighters during the Vietnam war. From my limited research, the F-5 has performance comprable to the Mig 21. It also has the benefit of having two 20mm cannon internally, and not mounted underneath the aircraft creating drag.

    I'd appreciate hearing what All of you think. Let me say that the Folk on this Forum have a vast wealth of aviation knowledge, of the likes I've seen nowhere else. Well done!
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    The F-5 during that period was considered a "tinker toy" by many of AF brass and those operating the F-4. “Bigger and more complicated was better,” until the “Fighter Mafia” proved otherwise. It was never thought that an aircraft so simple to fly and maintain "could have" actually performed many other roles in SE Asia like MiG CAP and may have been more effective than the F-4 if given the chance with proper tactics. It may have had a range shortcoming but I think that could have been overcome by deploying them in forward airbases. My father in law and another good friend (who flew in Viet Nam) flew the F-5 and I worked around them for a short spell and I think it’s one of the most under rated jet fighters in history. If you can believe reports of the IIAF, the F-5 did very well against the Iraqis when Iran and Iraq were slugging it out.
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Great question jtm. Same thought has gone through my mind. I've heard the same response that Flyboy put up as well. The AF is, first and foremost, a corporation. Acts like one very often. They put a lot of money into the concept of the F4 and it was gonna be the way they worked. No if-ands- or buts.

    Thought the F5 would've done a nice job up North. Agree with the range problem, but there are ways to get around that (the F105 did). The tinker toy idea sounds about right. It was never designed for domestic work, always an export fighter. But it worked. And it worked very well. Probably close to the F8 in terms of effectiveness but cheaper.
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,075
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I totally agree about it being under rated. I also always liked the upgraded F-20 Tiger Shark - nice that politics are picked over common sense IMHO.
     
  5. jtm55

    jtm55 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hi All,

    I'd like to thank all of you who responded to my question as I now have a better understanding as why the F-5 wasn't used for MiG Cap

    Follow up question, I believe that the F-5 has aerial refueling capability. Would that have been enough for it to do the mission, or are there other considerations.
     
  6. steve51

    steve51 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    The Soviets acquired a F-5E along with other former South Vietnamese aircraft that were shipped to the USSR in 1975. They tested and flew the F-5 extensively and were very impressed with it. There is a several page narrative of these tests in 'US Aircraft in the Soviet Union and Russia' by Gordon and Komissarov.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Great info Steve - I guess what they found out is that we had this second line fighter that we toyed around with that had similar performance of the MiG-21 and drank half the fuel and was safer to operate!
     
  8. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,934
    Likes Received:
    105
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    retired avionics engineer
    Location:
    Southern California
    Certainly the mentality of the AF and Navy in the 50s and 60s was away from purpose built dogfight type aircraft like the F-5 and F-8, including training, and more to the do everything reasonably well F-4, which led to a big surprise in Vietnam.

    I understand the F-5 performed well in Red Flag and Top Gun, even against advanced fighters like the F-15 and F-14. Small size and difficult to see along with agility, and of course, expert pilots, really called into question the advantage of few-of-quality verses many of capable quality theory the Services had. The Navy, of course, always had to deal with limited deck space and needed multipurpose aircraft.
     
  9. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    With respect to size, I often hear this same exact quote about the Gripen.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    The F5 always did well at Red Flag and Top Gun to the point where the aircraft was used as the standard "adversary" aircraft but remember - these exercises pitted an aircraft like an F-5 in a "scenerio" where the defending aircraft may be outnumbered, presented with a tactical disadvantage or even limited from using some of its equipment. Despite that, the F-5 still a cheap easy to operate aircraft that offers a lot of advantages when compared to the more advanced hardware we are so accustomed to, but may not give the absolute "state of the art" requirement so sought by armed forces.
     
  11. steve51

    steve51 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    According to the Soviet test pilots, at speeds below 750 km/hr, the F-5 could out turn the Mig 21. Although the Mig had higher acceleration and climb rate, the F-5 maintain higher angles of attack and g loads at lower speeds. Apparently the high-lift devices on the F-5 wing made the difference.

    The book I mentioned above also has great photographs of the F-5 in the air and on the ground in Soviet markings.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Would love to see that!
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Did some web searching. Apparently the F-5E was evaluated in Poland and the Czech Republic as well. The Czechs allegedly compared some of the technology to what was going into the L-39.

    Soviet evaluation of captured F-5E Tiger II

    "When Bien Hoa was overrun by Communist forces, several of the aircraft were captured and used operationally by the NVAF, in particular against Khmer Rouge. In view of the performance, agility and size of the F-5, it might have appeared to be a good match against the similar MiG-21 in air combat. Several of the F-5s left over from the Vietnam war were sent to Poland and Russia, for advanced study of US aviation technology, while others were decommissioned and put on display at museums in Vietnam.
    One F-5 was extensively tested by top gun Soviet pilots from Chkalov's State Flight Tests Center (GLIC - Russian acronym). GLIC was established in the 1920s in the arid delta of the Volga River and its tributary Akhtuba and a local counterpart of US Edwards AFB AFFTC or Tonopah Test Range.
    In air combats with MiG-21, F-5 did show extremly well, surprisingly winning almost of all fights according to reports, that gave Soviet aircraft designers a push to develop new types, like MiG-23.
    Pilots who were flying F-5E, are Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov."
     
  14. steve51

    steve51 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    FLYBOYJ,

    I didn't realize that the Poles and Czechs also tested the F-5. Thanks for that information.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Me neither - ya learn something new everyday!
     
  16. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,075
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Wow, had no idea. Great info fellas!
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
  18. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Im Surprised the Soviets would fly the F-5 as it isnt exactly cutting edge when it was made...also it wasnt a front line threat as such.

    I thought the main interest would be armament and systems and construction. Thats where the true intent would have been.
     
  19. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    It was a western airframe. Either side would jump at the chance to fly any of their enemies assets, regardless of capability or type. Not only for the operational effectiveness, but more importantly the engineering, manufacturing and maintenance techniques.
     
  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Soviets were still in love with light-weight fighters, so any tip from the US aviation industry was regarded as good thing. Plus, Soviet allies were likely to encounter F-5s in some future conflict - Iraq/Iran war as an example.
     
Loading...

Share This Page