Russian "Area 51"
"Aliens" arrived at an air base in Ahtubinsk in large numbered boxes that are carefully unloaded in one of the hangars, away from the curious eyes of personnel Flight Test Center Air Force. It is here, in the middle of the Astrakhan steppes, in a secret town, which is not present on the maps, it was decided to conduct a study of objects from another world.
July 20, 1976 a special commission under the control of the Air Force Institute of leading engineer VM Chumbarova revealed the first box with a "stranger." Nothing unusual inside did not find: the only set of fuel equipment and jet engine parts. Subsequently, the box was found a curious artifact — a weighty "instruction to the pilot" (at least, as stipulated local polyglots, deciphering the signs on the first pages of the alien volume).
Proparhal day unnoticed. Only when the contents of the last box was recovered on shelves, tired engineers, after all, had a smoke break. Before them, the brightest light in vacuum tubes, were two piles of metal. Now, having at hand any drawings, diagrams or technical descriptions of these disparate parts of existing standards should collect a difficult technique. The system of equations with an abundance unknown.
But, contrary to expectations, the heavy puzzle did not cause special problems. With the solution of similar problems of Russian aviators often encountered during the time of stateliness Russian when he had to make a forced pace of flying (and even upgrade under our conditions!) Lend-lease aircraft, often in the absence of foreign instructors, and using the instructions in a foreign language . So it was in this time — put together a team of people more competent in the field of airframe, engines, radio equipment, and started to perform the intended purpose. The Russian "Kulibins" promptly sorted out all the details, the mechanisms and the wiring, returning "alien" to the good state.
With the operation of "Aliens" problems also appeared: the device of their design was simple and laconically, and the service most fundamental units do not achieve even ladders and special tools. Technicians noted comfortable accommodation and ergonomics of service points, all manholes needed for prelaunch, plowed normal movement of the hand and not sought additional devices, and opening the filler was no more difficult than in a passenger car. In general, the process of filling did not look well — technicians had to stand under the machine on your lap. That's the ergonomics.
Russian aviation technicians annoyed exclamation wealth of symbols and inscriptions, harsh warnings that began with the words «WARNING» and «DANGER» with seemingly the most natural content — it seems that the creators of "Aliens" paid close attention to the "protection of the fool." Before every departure from the machine needed to remove a dozen caps and removable check, protecting "the stranger" from accidental landing gear in the parking lot or inadvertent triggering the gun. With such unparalleled security measures need to be complete ass, so in preparation for the flight-nibudt to do what is wrong.
Tigers vs MiGs
By the end of the cycle of terrestrial isssledovany was ready wide programm flight test pilot foreign equipment entrusted leading test pilots the Air Force Institute, Heroes of the Russian Union of NI Stogova, VN Kondaurova and AS Bezhevets.
The keel Tactical Fighter F-5E «Tiger II» drew huge reddish star (and that!), Changed the scale of devices on the dashboard with American miles and feet to our normal parameters and that, after all, a cool December day in 1976, captured the South American plane skidded on the runway Akhtoubinsky Flight Test Center.
Recalls honored test pilot of the USSR Hero of Russian Union Colonel Vladimir Kandaurov:
Decided to make a run at the second, more longish runway. "The stores do not pull the pocket" — I thought about it, podrulivaya to the strip. Of course, nothing to hide, I was proud that this is the only instance in the Soviet Union have entrusted to me.
Included vzdyblivanie front rack — earned electrohydraulic lift and nose of the plane "climbed" up. "Wow how! — I shook my head in amazement. — Neuzh something on such malyutke could not do without it?" In my opinion, not the most common way to reduce the length of the runway. We have only used this aircraft V.M.Myasischev in the M-3 and M-4 — heavy bombers far.
From the first seconds of the takeoff the pilot realized that the increase in the angle of attack on the rise — not a luxury but a necessity. Feeble engines "Tiger" reluctantly broke up the car: F-5E with 2 equipped with General Electric turbojet thrust of 15 kN each. For comparison, the thrust turbojet engine MiG-21bis reached 70 kN besforsazhny mode. As a result — even bullied his nose, "Tiger" for the runway length required bandwidth of 900 meters. Strongly malehankih much for such aircraft.
How annoying would it sounds, the first trial ended in a run nearly a disaster — chassis South American fighter came into the nightmare of the property of the Russian "concrete runway", and large gaps between the plates completely damaged the front foot. The run was interrupted by an emergency, and only the skill of the pilot helped to avoid severe damage.
After Short-term repairs, F-5E retu
rned to the ranks, so that now hold training dogfights with his same age — a front-line fighter aircraft MiG-21bis. Then began the most exciting part of the test applets.
On paper, the MiG is almost 2 times higher than that "Tiger" on the thrust-weight ratio, speed (about 2 M vs 1.6 M), the rate of climb (225 m / s vs. 175 m / s) and all other dynamic properties. Were sitting at the controls of machinery best test pilots, one and all Russian Union of Heroes. Equal conditions the fight, the best number in the tanks of fuel, telemetry included. To take off!
18 fights had Russian aces and never MiG-21bis was unable to go to the tail of F-5E. Bes was hiding in the little things: the smallest unit load on the wing, developed in the root nodules of the wings, slotted flaps and slats developed — all this gave the advantage of F-5E in close air combat. "Americans" and has promoted its unique "shark" nose, filled vortex generator — similar design significantly increased the stability of the "Tiger" at low speeds that allow for air combat maneuvering on the critical angle of attack.
Armament malehankih fighter at first, too, was "enchanted" by maneuvering fights — two integrated automatic gun with a caliber of 20 mm ammunition 280 rounds per gun. All this, together with a good view from the cockpit, made "Tiger" as unsafe enemy in close combat.
Seasoned experts at enormous vitality also pointed F-5E, thanks to its two-engine assembly and the absence of wing fuel tanks — the plane could come back from a mission with bullet-planes.
Rightly see that in the event of a real combat engagement MiG-21bis and F-5E, South American fighter did not expect anything decent. Russian machine could win even when tying air combat — through a proprietary stronger radar "Sapphire", the MiG could previously find the enemy and take a lucrative position for a surprise attack. The highest thrust-Russian fighter gave him a chance to get out of the fight if the situation suddenly perceive unprofitable and terrible for him turn.
According to test pilot Vladimir Kondaurova, the advantage of maneuverability in the South American "Tiger" was lost completely at speeds above 800 km / h, although in this case, the radii of the bends become so great that the pilots lost visual contact with, and air battle stopped.
Still, the results looked obviously disappointing. Commission arrived aircraft manufacturers also remained at a loss — to bring these reports to Moscow, is to get yourself down to the huge prepyadstviya. Nothing to do but put up against the F-5E more modern MiG-23. Terms of battle has been uneven at first, but the results of the air battle was completely predictable. "Twenty-three" could not generally get involved in melee combat maneuver, as his arms the missile R-23 medium-range missiles of "air-to-air." MiG-23 could just shoot "Tiger" from a distance of 40 km. At the same time, in close air combat large MiG-23 was inferior in terms of maneuverability even MiG-21: nimble "Tiger" with impunity curled around their opponent.
At that tests were completed — aircraft ferried to Moscow airfield Chkalovskoye where accomplished presentation to the Air Force Commander PS Kutakhov. As to be expected, the response was similar to a loud clap of thunder. Trophy South American cars from that time never podymali in the air and in the instructions to conduct air combat was added to the point at which advised not to engage with the F-5E «Tiger II» in close combat, preferring a more profitable strategy "hit — ran away" .
Fighter for export
Tactical Fighter F-5 — a special South American development to equip its own allies. The specific assignment of the machine caused: in contrast to the expensive, rich avionics and heavy aircraft operating in the U.S. Air Force in 1959, the company "Northrop" made a lightweight fighter, it is a cheap and adapted to local conflicts. Potential customers were not interested in sverhtehnologichny equipment, by contrast, is of paramount reliability, low maintenance cost, ease of piloting and multifunction machines.
Fighter the speaker naming "Freedom Fighter" (Freedom Fighter) confidently pressed own rival — the "flying coffin» F-104, which the Americans have tried to attach anywhere, just to get rid of the car apparently failed. F-5 entered service 30 countries, and nearly all of them in operation to this day.
Despite the "export" status of these machines, the U.S. Air Force has ordered a small batch of these aircraft during the Vietnam War, the modification of F-5C (included the installation of the "advanced" electronics system of refueling in the air and 90 kg of armor). In Vietnam, a heavy name "Freedom Fighter" it somehow changed to a loud "Tiger" (Tiger).
In 1972, there was brand new modification of F-5E «Tiger II», structurally different from the basic F-5. Were established more massive and high-torque engines, appeared primitive radar. This particular type of aircraft from the air force of South Vietnam was in Ahtubinsk in 1976.
F-5 left its own mark on another field — based on his design was created plane T-38 "Talon", for 50 years, which is the main teaching trenirovaochnoy machine of NATO.
Well, in totality own traits, F-5 "Tiger" / "Freedom Fighter" is one of the best fighters Cool War, remaining undeservedly forgotten in the shadow of his own awkward fellow F-4 "Phantom".
The attentive reader probably sent a note at the outset that there was a conversation about the 2-"aliens" — 2-trophies are given to us for further investigation after the war in Vietnam. Where was the second "alien", what was the plane?
The second was a light jet attack aircraft A-37 "Dragonfly". First homely flattened car did not cause any positive feelings in Russian professionals for some stupid war with the natives and performance characteristics to match the max. speed of 800 km / h, the crew of 2 people (for what? does not seem to cope alone), the combat load: Integrated 6-barrel machine gun in the nose of the car, up to 2.5 tons of bombs and napalm tanks on underwing pylons (almost as many , how much he weighed, "Dragonfly").
But, even in this simple plane, Russian military experts managed to find a lot of "surprises": first, one hundred percent armored cabin, firmly defending the crew from bullets of small guns. The return of the famous Il-2?
One of the participants in the trials joke recalled how long in the cockpit, "Dragonflies" "multikilogram Wardrobe" 20-channel VHF radio, which, as it later turned out, was a block is placed on the hands. Trained eye professionals quickly singled out the mo
st curious aspects of American cars: for example, our AMEs really liked the method of wiring, "crimping" without payalnichka, which greatly simplified the aircraft in frontline service criteria.
After extensive testing for the Air Force captured both aircraft were transferred to the Sukhoi Design Bureau, which at that time was flowing design of the aircraft specific support troops — products T-8 (upcoming Su-25 "Rook"). Familiarity with technology zabugornom had what we needed: on the basis of a successful attack aircraft servokompensatorov "Dragonfly" has been designed control system for the Su-25. Also, the American "Dragonflies" Su-25 went for a heritage rational scheme of booking and effective filling of tanks on the basis of polyurethane foam cell structure. More noteworthy research results gave Tactical Fighter F-5E «Tiger II», on the basis of which it was designed wing "Rook" with the development of mechanization.
The moral of the story is this: as has been said more than once, the devil is in the details. Especially in high-tech industries such as aircraft. It's very important role played by the quality of the ordinary and unremarkable eye detail, from which, in turn, depends on the final air combat.
As for the beneficial effects of "overseas technologies" to build aircraft Sukhoi and ancestral moral and ethical questions about copying technical solutions: "Do we have the right?" "And what if we are different from China?", Here, I think the answer is simple — this is a common global practice. No matter what technique is always created with an eye to zabugornye counterparts. Especially since, if caught in our hands swatches aircraft were really innovative and useful ideas, there were no circumstances disparage foreign experience (acquired, by the way, not our blood in the jungle of Vietnam).
Cool During the war the U.S. were able to get to the full range of detailed acquaintance Russian aircraft, so to speak, from the MiG-15 and MiG-25. Of course, that each model has been closely studied with great passion and probably zabugornye spetsy opened a lot of new and exciting.
Well, we were just lucky at one point.
The story of the mind-blowing events that occurred in Akhtubinsk in 1976, is written on the basis of the facts from the book V.N.Kondaurova "Runway of a lifetime"