Hypothetical Dogfight EE Lightning v Mig21

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I have a question for the boffins here. If an EE Lightning were placed into a dogfight with a Mig21 what would the outcome be? Both aircraft have a basic radar, short range AAMs and a cannon. The Mig21 bleeds off airspeed in a continuous tight turn. The Lightning has short legs. Both are Mach2 jets.

I know that pilot training between the RAF and WARPAC airforces varied but for the sake of the argument lets say that both pilots are of equal caliber.

Let the bunfight begin.

Steve

Original post

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Mig-21 can turn tighter than Lightning, so in a turning fight the "bleed-off" won't matter, as Lightning won't last long enough to make Mig-21's turn rate deteriorate.

In a straight-line fight, Lightning accelerates far faster than Mig-21 and has a better rate of climb, so it can engage/disengage at will... until it runs out of fuel.

If Lightning initiates, expect 1 or two passes then it runs for home, with Mig-21 probably dying.

If Mig-21 initiates, Lightning probably dies before it can accelerate out of danger. Mig-21 probably attacks out of a dive.

Interesting "dogfight"... two aircraft primarily designed as bomber-interceptors trying to fight each other.

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Both ill-equipped to take the other down. My heart tells me I'd rather be flying the bigger jet.

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no self-respecting (properly trained) Lightning 'driver' would enter a dogfight ... period! (Lightning was designed and built as an interceptor - never intended for 'dog-fighting')

I'd still give the advantage to the Lightning - simply favouring the missile technology - Lightning to me would have nailed said FISHBED before they got to 'dance'.

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I was always under the impression from interviews with pilots in books and documentaries that the Lightning was a good dogfighter and that with the introduction of the Typhoon the RAF was getting back to single-seat dogfighters after a 20 year absense.

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I was always under the impression from interviews with pilots in books and documentaries that the Lightning was a good dogfighter and that with the introduction of the Typhoon the RAF was getting back to single-seat dogfighters after a 20 year absense.

Roly Beamont's party piece with the P1 was to do a reheat turn within the airfield boundaries. My own personal experience, sseing them practice air displays amd interceptions I would say that it was indeed very agile. Better than it's counterparts at the time. One even pulled over 10g and returned intact.

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I have also read in several publications, not last Air International, that the Lightning was indeed agile (compared to its counterpart of the ´60s). But its weapon system, Fireflash and Firestreak missiles were somewhat inferior, which, together with the already mentioned short endurance, made it a less than ideal defence fighter.
I don´t know much about the performances of the Mig21. It´s widespread use is most probably due to its cheap price and lack of complexity than to its overall capability.

Ciao

Stefano

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Lightning wins

Contrary to some posts above the Lightning was an excellent combat aircraft in its time and certainly a match for the Mig21. Turn performance was similar and it could easily outclimb/outdive the Mig21. The performance of the respective missiles was quite similar but the Mig21 carried 4. Nobody has mentioned the very poor cockpit visibility of the Mig21, especially to the rear, which was execrable and certainly tipped the balance in favour of the Lightning. Later marks of the Fishbed were heavier with consequent increase in wing loading and had even worse rearward visibilty thanks to the much deeper spine.
My experience with DACT in the Lightning which included F4, Draken, F104, Hunter, Mirage III had the Lightning as the better aircraft in all cases except the Mirage. Sure, once the next generation came along things were very different!

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The MiG-21 has advantages as it is smaller and better at slower airspeeds. A Lightning pilot should use speed to do surprise attacks, and if he misses he should get the hell out of the fight.
The Lightning has some superior performance aspects, but hardly could use it.

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The MiG-21 has advantages as it is smaller and better at slower airspeeds. A Lightning pilot should use speed to do surprise attacks, and if he misses he should get the hell out of the fight.
The Lightning has some superior performance aspects, but hardly could use it.

Which means that the Lightning would always have the tactical advantage over the Mig 21. The difference in range between the two isn't very much either. So if the Lightning couldn't use it's advantages then neither could the Mig.

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The one of both staying over the own home-base will win. :D

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Bear in mind also, that many of the early MiG-21s were not even fitted with a cannon as standard - recalling the problems the Indian air force had when it first ordered the PF version in the 1960s, a gun pod was eventually rigged up underneath, gunsights nicked from their Hunter fleet.
Mind you there were versions of the Lightning without a cannon if I recall...?:confused:

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Mind you there were versions of the Lightning without a cannon if I recall...?:confused:

F3, T4 and T5. F6 were retrofitted.

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Which means that the Lightning would always have the tactical advantage over the Mig 21. The difference in range between the two isn't very much either. So if the Lightning couldn't use it's advantages then neither could the Mig.

If he (=the Lightning pilot) spots the -21, yes. But if not, he's in trouble. When he is in a dogfight versus the -21 and enters the "slow'n low" region, he's in deep trouble. The Lightning doesn't have the thrust to run away at all altitudes.
Generally, I would rather pick the -21.

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If he (=the Lightning pilot) spots the -21, yes. But if not, he's in trouble. When he is in a dogfight versus the -21 and enters the "slow'n low" region, he's in deep trouble. The Lightning doesn't have the thrust to run away at all altitudes.
Generally, I would rather pick the -21.

The Lightning is fitted with two turbojets, which made up about 3/4 of the total thrust, max dry. The only limitation I know of on thrust is that the later versions with 300 series engines had the reheat T4 limited below about Mn 1.6 to prevent choking the intake. It's thrust/weight ratio is close to 1 so it's performance is somewhat lively. Have you ever seen one fly? I've seen footage of the Typhoon in action and must say it's performance mirrors closely the way a Lightning flew.

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Instead of hypothetically speaking "if, when" or who would be in deep trouble, someone could post Lighting charts of climb rate, acceleration, max. allowable G`s or turn rates, then we can compare those two aircrafts more precisely. I`ll provide charts of the Mig-21.

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If he (=the Lightning pilot) spots the -21, yes. But if not, he's in trouble. When he is in a dogfight versus the -21 and enters the "slow'n low" region, he's in deep trouble. The Lightning doesn't have the thrust to run away at all altitudes.
Generally, I would rather pick the -21.

The Lightning can disengage at will. The main advantage of the Lightning is its superior thrust. Be it dry or AB. The 600 Imp ventral pack and the economical Avon gave the edge from 1965.
Initial climb-rate was 50.000+ feet. Wing-load at NTOW was ~442 kg/m². Accelerates from Mach 0.9 to Mach 2.0 in 3,1 min and fly supersonically at half power.

Despite that I am intrested in some handbook data too.

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The Lightning is fitted with two turbojets, which made up about 3/4 of the total thrust, max dry. The only limitation I know of on thrust is that the later versions with 300 series engines had the reheat T4 limited below about Mn 1.6 to prevent choking the intake. It's thrust/weight ratio is close to 1 so it's performance is somewhat lively. Have you ever seen one fly? I've seen footage of the Typhoon in action and must say it's performance mirrors closely the way a Lightning flew.

Largely depends on altitude and tactical situation. When the Lightning is surprised the pilot will most likely not even engage his reheat. Same applies vice versa. Sure thing is that the two Avon make a very good target even for the AA-2 Atoll missile.

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I have a question for the boffins here. If an EE Lightning were placed into a dogfight with a Mig21 what would the outcome be? Both aircraft have a basic radar, short range AAMs and a cannon. The Mig21 bleeds off airspeed in a continuous tight turn. The Lightning has short legs. Both are Mach2 jets.

The energy bleed for continuous turns of the Lightning should be in the same ballpark region.

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Largely depends on altitude and tactical situation. When the Lightning is surprised the pilot will most likely not even engage his reheat. Same applies vice versa. Sure thing is that the two Avon make a very good target even for the AA-2 Atoll missile.

In the 60s the R-3 Atoll was not reliable, too limited in range and in war-head.
At low level the Atoll was useless. The seeker had to look-up against the cool sky and the MiG-21 in a position below the higher target. Even than the Atoll was in need of a none manovering target, just a few Gs were enough , either from the firing MiG-21 or disengageing Lightning to break the lock of the Atoll.

The Firestreak or Red Top had more than 3 times the range compared to the Atoll. Both were in a different class compared to the Atoll. By that even most AIM-9s were just cheap.

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The energy bleed for continuous turns of the Lightning should be in the same ballpark region.

Two fighters at 900 km/h. One turning lift, the other right. In a few seconds both are out of reach from each other as long as none of both try to reengage and cut distance by that. Other options are, one goes vertical and the other did not follow. In a head-on engagement both have to turn in the same direction to stay close by at least. Most pilots are unable to keep sight of each other for more than a minute. In the jet-age most combats are over than at all. Just the misleading exercise behavior does give the wrong impression about jet-fighter combat.