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Home » US Navy A-7 pilot recalls the mock dogfight he had against a Danish F-104 flying low and fast

US Navy A-7 pilot recalls the mock dogfight he had against a Danish F-104 flying low and fast

by Till Daisd
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A-7-Vs-F-104

‘I had the opportunity in the late ’70s to tangle with an F-104 (Danish) down low and going pretty fast, 400+ knots,’ former US Navy A-7 Corsair II pilot

The stubby-winged Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, also referred to as “the missile with a man in it,” was the first US jet fighter in service to reach Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound. According to the Smithsonian website, the F-104 was built as a high-performance day fighter and possessed exceptional acceleration and top speed. Equipped with a six-barrel M-61 20mm Vulcan cannon, it served as a tactical fighter and, when equipped with heat-seeking Sidewinder missiles that detect heat, as a day-and-night interceptor.

An F-104A established a world’s speed record of 1,404.19 mph on May 18, 1958, while an F-104C set a world altitude record of 103,395 feet on December 14, 1959. The first aircraft to hold official world records for speed, altitude, and time-to-climb simultaneously was the Starfighter.

The Starfighter’s speed and vertical climb also allowed it to compete with more modern aircraft.

The F-104 was also a capable dogfighter, as David Tussey, former US Navy A-7 Corsair II pilot, recalls on Quora;

‘I had the opportunity in the late ’70s to tangle with an F-104 (Danish) down low and going pretty fast 400+ knots. I was flying an A-7E on an airspace penetration training mission, flying from a carrier in the North Sea into Denmark.

‘As expected, I was intercepted by an F-104. I turned on him pretty aggressively. I was amazed that the F-104, not known for dogfighting, was nonetheless quite able to hang with me through several turns and reversals. The A-7E isn’t a true dogfighter, and perhaps such an engagement against a more formidable aircraft would have ended otherwise, but I was quite impressed how maneuverable the F-104 was, even down at 300′ or so.’

Tussey concludes;

‘Never underestimate the enemy.’

Photo by U.S. Navy and Own work RuthAS via Wikipedia

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