...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 29, 2007

Sunday Morning Jet Porn

Have you seen the History Channel's Dogfights on Randy Cunningham? That guy was bad-ass. Skill, too much balls and just enough luck. He and his RIO William Driscoll became the first and only US Navy aces of the Vietnam War.

Cunningham and Driscoll's May 10, 1972, sortie was one of the legendary dogfights of all time. Despite several tactical errors, and lacking a gun which would have been useful, they shot down three MiG-17s that day. The team became America's first "all-missile" aces.*

They flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom. The navy plane in the video is not one of Cunningham's F4Js. The plane from the May 10 dogfight never made it back to the USS Constellation after Cunningham and Driscoll shot down their last MiG. They ejected over the ocean on the way back, after taking damage from an SA-2 ground-to-air missile.

* Trivia: of the four American aces from the Vietnam War, the top scorer (with 6) was a back-seater, USAF Capt. Charles DeBellevue.

Posted by annika, Apr. 29, 2007 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History


I saw that show on History Channel, and was riveted. I was mad they kept going to commercials, as I was eager to find out the resolution of the action.

You mentioned some tactical errors. This is one thing which makes me crazy about the condemnation of the OIF leadership: strategic and tactical errors always occur, in every conflict. Always. It is impossible to perfectly foresee conditions. Also, the enemy always adapts. Some commander, can't remember who, famously said: "The plan never survives the first shots."

It looks, now, upon seeing the success of the surge, as if Rumsfeld and his generals stayed too long with their "small footprint + maintain stability" strategy. Patreus proactive counterinsurgency strategy is, so far, massively successful. But, consider: Rumsfeld and his generals were determined to leave us in a strategically flexible position, at all times, and they did that. They tried the small footprint, it didn't work very well. But, to me, it looks as if they held down overall American casualties, and they left us with the strategic flexibility to now implement the surge. It looks as if Rumsfeld and his generals did a mediocre job, at best. Yet they still did a professional job. They were not "incompetent". Many generals in history have done worse, with more disastrous results. Even, for instance, in WWII, where some of Adm. Bull Halsey's decisions bordered on actually incompetent - yet he is still considered -even by me, a fine and skilled and honorable naval commander. Stuff happens.

Foreseeing the future is impossible. On third and three, should you run or pass? After the play fails, all fans know, in their hearts, that the coach made an incompetent playcall.

Posted by: gcotharn on Apr. 29, 2007

I originally meant to lift the truncated quote, but thought a little more might be digestible in this hour.

"...Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who 'but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.'" -TR

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 29, 2007

OK, Cas, that's just two paragraphs, but two of the longest I've seen in years.

Still, full of truths. Who can disagree except for the butthead who just does it for attention?

Posted by: shell on Apr. 29, 2007

I only wrote one sentence. TR wrote the rest, better yet, know where he delivered it? To the French, mwahahahaha.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 29, 2007

Thanks for reminding me how much I love TR, Casca.

Posted by: annika on Apr. 30, 2007

Thanks, Radical Redneck. I shall immediately gouge my own eyes out with fish hooks.

Hopefully, your intended target will be compelled to do the same.

Posted by: reagan80 on Apr. 30, 2007