Early U.S. and Soviet Supersonic Fighter Jets: Contrast Design, Part 4 of 4

YF-100, XF4D-1 and Mig-19 Design Comparisons

Part 3 of the series explained the development and design of the Soviet Union MIG-19 (NATO reporting name “Farmer”) supersonic fighter jet. In this final part of the series, we’ll provide an overview of Fighter Aircraft Design, with the factors that applied to the design of all three aircraft: the YF-100, the XF4D-1, and the MIG-19

Early U.S. and Soviet Fighter Jets, YF-100, XF4D-1, MIG-19
Top to bottom: YF-100, XF4D-1 and MIG-19.

The design staff involving both powers (the U.S. and the Soviet Union) clearly understood the challenges that lay ahead and in doing so initiated numerous in-house studies employing the tried and true principles of fighter aircraft design. 

Soviet design methodology

The Soviet’s design methodology was in many ways identical to the West. 

The Soviets, however, embraced more simplistic practices in their approach which were reflected in their subsequent designs. 

The MIG 15 and MIG 17 could be assembled largely by unskilled labor, featured ease of maintenance, and could operate without the benefit of concrete runways. 

Soviet Union: from fighter jet plow horses to sophistication

While the United States designed thoroughbred fighters, the Soviets in comparison designed plow horses. They were simple, inexpensive, rugged, extremely effective and lethal.  No aircraft won a dog fight based entirely on good looks alone. 

It wasn’t until the introduction of the MIG-29 Fulcrum did the level of (Soviet) sophistication significantly increase.

The engineering staff of all involved knew all too well that the design of the new cutting edge aircraft would be determined by its stated performance, range and cost requirements.

The importance of performance attributes

With this being said, the performance of the aforementioned aircraft would be characterized and eventually accepted in accordance with several distinct performance attributes. 

These attributes are characterized, to which performance can be measured and quantified. They are:

  • Operational envelope – a measure of the fighter’s static flight capabilities.
  • Maneuverability/responsiveness – a measure of the fighter’s dynamic flight abilities.
  • Destructive capacity – a measure of the fighter’s destructiveness.
  • Pilot/aircraft interface – a measure of the pilot’s ability to fly and maneuver the aircraft.

Mission requirements

The mission requirements are the most important drivers in the design of combat aircraft. 

The mission requirements determine the specific configurational characteristics which in turn determine the level of the aircraft’s design characteristics. 

The three levels of aircraft design

Aircraft design is often characterized by the advent of combined requirements:

The combined requirements consist of concepts, evaluation and finally compromise which is best explained through the three levels of aircraft design (the YF-100, XF4D-1 and Mig-19).

The three levels of aircraft design involve the following:

  • Conceptual design.
  • Preliminary design.
  • Detail design.

YF-100, XF4D-1 and Mig-19 design

The aircraft design of the YF-100, the XF4D-1 and the Soviet Mig-19 all followed a basic design structure within the technology known at the time. However, the main difference was that the Soviet Union chose to follow a much more simplistic design than what the United States opted for.

Read Part 1 Part 2Part 3.

Story: ©2020 Thomas E. Gardner. You can contact the author here.

Featured Image: USMC.

Douglas F4 Skyray First Flight From a Carrier. YouTube.

The Douglas Aircraft Company F4D Skyray (later redesignated F-6 Skyray) was an American carrier-based fighter/interceptor built by Douglas. In service from 1956 to 1964, it never entered combat. The airplane was the first carrier-launched aircraft to hold the world’s absolute speed record, at 752.943 mph at the time. It was also the first U.S. NAVY and USMC fighter that could exceed Mach 1 in level flight.

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