TheSonntag
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Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:59 am

Which military fighter plane has the worst safety record? I guess the F-104 Starfighter isn't really a good example of how to build a safe fighter, at least in the German version, but are there fighters which have an even worse statistic?
 
2H4
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:13 am



...From http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0185.shtml:



Regardless, the F-102 was still far more dangerous to fly than today's combat aircraft. Compared to the F-102's lifetime accident rate of 13.69, today's planes generally average around 4 mishaps per 100,000 hours. For example, compare the F-16 at 4.14, the F-15 at 2.47, the F-117 at 4.07, the S-3 at 2.6, and the F-18 at 4.9.

Even the Marine Corps' AV-8B, regarded as the most dangerous aircraft in US service today, has a lifetime accident rate of only 11.44 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours.

The F-102 claimed the lives of many pilots, including a number stationed at Ellington during Bush's tenure. Of the 875 F-102A production models that entered service, 259 were lost in accidents that killed 70 Air Force and ANG pilots.





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L-188
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:06 am

The Mig-21 in Indian Air Force hands, has gotten a pretty bad reputation of late-which is why there is that F-16 deal in the works.
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ptrjong
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:28 pm

Interesting topic.

Quoting L-188 (Reply 2):
The Mig-21 in Indian Air Force hands, has gotten a pretty bad reputation of late-which is why there is that F-16 deal in the works.

If the MiG-21 has a bad record only in the Indian AF, changing to F-16s isn't going to help much.

Actually, the F-16's loss rate in the Netherlands AF has, for a long time, been pretty bad. Here's a 1988 list of all Neth AF fast jet losses/100,000 hrs.

Gloster Meteor: 35,9
F-84E/G Thunderjet: 55,8
F-84F Thunderstreak: 23,0
F-86K Sabredog: 19,2
Hawker Hunter: 15,0
T-33: 9,40
F-104G Starfighter: 12,5
NF-5: 5,9
F-16: 20,2

So, to answer the question, the worst in Holland was the Thunderjet.

I'm sure the F-16's rate has improved a lot since 1988.

What really stands out is the low figure for the twin-engined F-5, even though it was generally flown by novices. I know that some people are saying that twins are not safer, but I find that difficult to believe.

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 1):
compare the F-16 at 4.14, the F-15 at 2.47, the F-117 at 4.07, the S-3 at 2.6, and the F-18 at 4.9.

I guess carrier operations play havoc with your loss ratios?

Peter
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columba
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:47 pm

According to the "50 years of Luftwaffe" extra included with the newest issue of the Flug Revue the German Air Force lost 162 of their 450 F-84s/RF 84s which is statisticly a higher loss than the loss of all the Starfighters.
For those who don�t know the Starfighter in Germany is connected with a high number of fatal accidents and had a bad reputation it was called the "widow-maker" or "ground nail" with the German Air Force.
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ghostbase
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:39 am

Interesting question. However, surely we must ask the 'worst safety record' question in relation to other influencing factors such as the mission role of the type as well as the technology being pioneered at the time.

The Netherlands AF statistics quoted by Peter bear more scrutiny. For example I am not surprised at the Meteor being so high; it was for many air forces, including the RAF, the first of the jet types which involved completely different flying characteristics as well as sluggish engine response times in comparison with the piston powered types that it had replaced. The loss of an engine at crucial phases in the flight could pose real challenges to less experienced pilots and losses with the RAF were, I believe, similarly high.

The F-84 Thunderjet was greatly underpowered, even the 'interim' F-84G which was designed to deliver nuclear weapons, with just 5600 lb thrust. However, in the early 50's, the old 'Lead Sled' was expected to deliver nuclear devastation on a tactical level to any part of Europe or the world and be tough enough to bring her pilot home again. Like many other European air forces as well as the USAF the Netherlands AF practiced this mission almost for real in all weathers at low level and no doubt the accident rate reflects this. The same could be said for the later German F-84F Thunderstreaks.

Advances in technology also account for high loss rates and I suspect that this would be the case with both the F-102 Delta Dagger and the F-104G Starfighter. The Delta Dagger introduced supersonic flying to the all-weather interception business as well as integration with a complete weapons system operated by just the pilot, plus a large draggy delta wing which required a very high landing speed on a spindly undercarriage, again in all weathers.

The challenges which the F-104G presented to the WGAF are well documented however is it not odd that smaller operators of the type such as Spain and Norway in fact enjoyed very low loss rates? The Netherlands AF seem to have done relatively well with this supposedly 'difficult' type.

The NF-5 figure is interesting. I cannot find any reference which describes the role of the NF-5 with the Netherlands AF however I suspect it was used an an advanced tactical fighter/trainer which along with a twin engine layout might account for such a low loss rate.

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TheSonntag
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:46 am

It is very strange, indeed, that the F-104 had a bad record in Germany while most other countries in Europe had an average or even good safety record. I think quite some Tornados crashed already, as well, while the F-4 has a rather good safety record. The Mig-29 had a good record in Germany, although there were only 24, and one was lost.

I hope the Eurofighter will do better, and in principle, it should, because it uses modern technology and two engines, but it is such a powerful plane that it might cause other problems, as well...
 
bennett123
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:47 am

I think that the problem for WG was the rapid expansion of the Luftwaffe and a 10 year gap with little/no military flying at all.
 
bennett123
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:59 am

1957

F84F

1959

RF84F
Canadair Sabre

1961

F104G
F86K

IMO there were three roles that needed 3 aircraft;

F

F104

FB

Draken or A4 or F5A

R

RF5
 
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ptrjong
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:10 am

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 7):
I think that the problem for WG was the rapid expansion of the Luftwaffe and a 10 year gap with little/no military flying at all.

That's correct I believe. Later on, the Luftwaffe did much better with the 104.

Quoting Ghostbase (Reply 5):
The NF-5 figure is interesting. I cannot find any reference which describes the role of the NF-5 with the Netherlands AF however I suspect it was used an an advanced tactical fighter/trainer which along with a twin engine layout might account for such a low loss rate.

The NF-5 was flown as a regular fighter-bomber as well as lead-in fighter for new pilots. It did deploy to places like Norway. I really think the two engines are the key to its good record.
I agree with what you said about the older fighters, Michael.
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JakeOrion
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:01 am

I have conflicting sources, but its obviously that the F-8 Crusader was not a very favorable "accident free" aircraft.

http://www.cloudnet.com/~djohnson/records.htm

Quote:
"Safety" Record - a point of perverse pride. Overall accident rate of 46.70 per 100,000 hrs. (For comparison: A-4: 23.36; F-4: 20.17; F-14: 9.32). Many reasons probable, none of which include pilot inadequacy. The VIW wing (or something) made it a strange beast on final; 140 kts+/- approach speeds to a 27C; gremlins; "tiger" attitude, to close for the kill on anything, anyplace, any time, with any weapon available, apparently including the airplane. In an article in the August 2000 issue of Flight Journal, Paul Gilcrist points out that "the accident statistics of the Crusader in the Fleet was atrocious . . . the Navy bought 1266 Crusaders during those years and at the same time, experienced 1106 major Crusader accidents. In other words, some intrepid aviator or other crashed virtually every Crusader ever built!"

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/issues/2000/Oct/Navy_Aims.htm

Quote:
Dirren explained that safety concerns differ between legacy and modern aircraft. The popular F8 Crusader, which served during the 1960s and 1970s in the Vietnam War, was an unsafe plane by today’s standards. “Many argue that the F8 was the best fighter ever,” said Dirren. But the F8’s mishap rate was 14.3 per 100,000 flight hours. The F/A-18 E/F’s mishap rate is 3 per 100,000 flight hours.
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ptrjong
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:56 am

Oh well, it had other qualities.

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Dougloid
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:01 pm

I was having a conversation with my old man one time about his work at Curtiss Wright during the war. He told me that the carburetor on the R1820 as installed in the FM1 and 2 Wildcat was designed to last through four overhauls before the body was junk and had to be tossed. He said he could never figure that out, as the average life of a Wildcat was less than 100 hours before it was rolled up in a ball or disappeared-left no forwarding address.

The underlying theme of the O/P, I think, is aircraft that are unstable, demand a high degree of pilot proficiency and attentiveness, or are grossly underpowered and therefore unforgiving of error.

There is an F84 parked at the military museum at Camp Dodge in Iowa. Although the engine bay is empty, it is still a fine looking aircraft and something the Republic workers could be proud of. Republic was a famous old house.

Does anyone have any figures about the MiG15 and 17? I understand they had pilot proficiency issues and were not at all easy to fly.

Another interesting WW2 aircraft that killed a lot of crews was the Martin B26, a/k/a the Baltimore Whore because it had no visible means of support.
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:05 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 6):
It is very strange, indeed, that the F-104 had a bad record in Germany while most other countries in Europe had an average or even good safety record.

Wasn't the biggest problem with the F-104 low altitude ejections until they were modified with ejection seats that launched up rather than down? Engine out shortly after take-off can be very bad - even worse if you have to roll the a/c 180 before ejecting if you want to live.
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vzlet
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:38 am

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 12):
Does anyone have any figures about the MiG15 and 17? I understand they had pilot proficiency issues and were not at all easy to fly.

I thought this was an interesting read:
http://www.ofmc.co.uk/mig15.htm
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TheSonntag
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:03 am

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Reply 13):
Wasn't the biggest problem with the F-104 low altitude ejections until they were modified with ejection seats that launched up rather than down?

Well, that was one of the problems, but the pure need of so many ejections was an even bigger problem... I do not know the other problems, but I think one was that the engines had problems, the flaps had problems, and generally the plane had characteristics which required that the pilot sticked precisely to the procedures. Of course, having 1000 F-104 also lead to a higher absolute loss-number, but it still was completely out of proportion.

It got better after some years, but even in the 70s and 80s a lot of F-104s crashed.
 
bennett123
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:54 am

I understood that the F104A/C ejected downwards but that the F104G was conventional.

One big problem was the tiny wings, with no engine it dropped like a stone.
 
MissedApproach
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:11 am

Don't forget the role that the F-104 was fulfilling for the Luftwaffe, low-level strike, which in itself carries some inherent dangers. How do the loss rates compare with USAF losses, where it was used mainly for high altitude interception? Does anyone have figures for other countries, such as Taiwan, Turkey, etc?
Canada lost "about" 110 CF-104 & CF-104D models out of 239 delivered, with average airframe hours of 6000 (vs about 2000 for the Luftwaffe).
source

[Edited 2006-03-08 00:18:35]
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TripleDelta
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:09 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 6):
It is very strange, indeed, that the F-104 had a bad record in Germany while most other countries in Europe had an average or even good safety record.

A quote from AirTime Publishing's Century Jets book, the beginning of the F-104 story:

"Although Germany's basic problem was that its reformed air element had expanded at a technically insupportable rate, in the long term German Starfighter accident losses were proportionately lower than in several other NATO air forces. Many of the accidents were attributed to poor maintenance, and the changeable weather conditions in Europe confronting inexperienced pilots having qualified under more predictable US climatic conditions. At the other extreme, Spain's Ejercito del Aire operated 21 CF-104Gs for seven years, from 1965 until 1972, without a single loss or accident."
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VC-10
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:11 pm

There was the old joke

How do you get to own a Starfighter?


Buy a field in Germany & wait!
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:54 pm

I think the worst record of all times should go to the rocketpropelled Messerschmitt Me-163.
With it's combination of hypergolic fuels, it could easily blow up on ground. Especially dangerous was if the trolley used for take-off didn't jettison, because this would cauuse the plane to nose over on landing and the fuel residuse to explode violently.
The oxydiser, extremely high concentrated hydrogenperoxide would by itself react with anything organic, and would literally disolve the pilot.

Jan
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Oroka
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Sat Mar 25, 2006 9:06 am

Quoting VC-10 (Reply 19):
There was the old joke

How do you get to own a Starfighter?


Buy a field in Germany & wait!

That is great!


Yeah, first thing that came to my mind was the Starfighter.
 
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Sat Mar 25, 2006 12:22 pm




Quoting VC-10 (Reply 19):
How do you get to own a Starfighter?

Buy a field in Germany & wait!

That was great, VC-10. Rarely does a post actually cause me to laugh out loud.  biggrin 



re: F-104 safety (or lack thereof); I understand much of it had to do with the blown flaps. Reduce the power below a certain point, and the wing suddenly produces far less lift than it would at or above that power setting.




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HAWK21M
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:12 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 2):
The Mig-21 in Indian Air Force hands, has gotten a pretty bad reputation of late-which is why there is that F-16 deal in the works.

True the Mig21 in the IAF has a bad record.But the reason for that is a lack of sub to Supersonic trainer.With young pilots flying them not able to adjust to the response time variation.
There was a movie on this occurances lately called "RANG DE BASANTI"
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L-188
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:33 am

Quoting TripleDelta (Reply 18):
Although Germany's basic problem was that its reformed air element had expanded at a technically insupportable rate, in the long term German Starfighter accident losses were proportionately lower than in several other NATO air forces. Many of the accidents were attributed to poor maintenance, and the changeable weather conditions in Europe confronting inexperienced pilots having qualified under more predictable US climatic conditions. At the other extreme, Spain's Ejercito del Aire operated 21 CF-104Gs for seven years, from 1965 until 1972, without a single loss or accident."

Well part of the problem with the Starfighter too was marketing. if I remember there was a lot of critisim of hte Starfighter even before going into Luftwaffe service by people who thought it was too hot of an airplane for the young service, which the media used as justification to play up every starfighter going down.....just like they do with other aircraft types today.

Of course when somebody like Eric Hartmann comes out and says the starfighters is too advanced of an aircraft people listen, figuring that somebody withe 320 odd kills might know what he is talking about.
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Dougloid
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:10 pm

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 20):
I think the worst record of all times should go to the rocketpropelled Messerschmitt Me-163.
With it's combination of hypergolic fuels, it could easily blow up on ground. Especially dangerous was if the trolley used for take-off didn't jettison, because this would cauuse the plane to nose over on landing and the fuel residuse to explode violently.
The oxydiser, extremely high concentrated hydrogenperoxide would by itself react with anything organic, and would literally disolve the pilot.

Jan

There's an excellent book by a surviving Me163 pilot named Manno Ziegler called Rocket Fighter. It's a real hair raising read.
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prebennorholm
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:26 am

It is strange that in Denmark I think that the F-104G was the fighter plane with the lowest accident rate. Maybe surpassed slightly by the SAAB Draken. But unlike Germany we used the Starfighters only as interceptors.

We lost several Gloster Meteors, but they flew a lot, soon they cracked all over and were scrapped. We got 252 F-84E/G - a gift - by far the most common a/c in the country ever. They fell from the sky like a hailstorm. On one bad day we lost half a dozen due to unexpected weather change. They were equipped for flying only in the three summer months, but the Cold War lasted 12 months a year.

We had plenty of engine related F-100D/F crashes. Hawker Hunter, F-86K and RF-84F did far better.

We haven't been especially lucky with the F-16s, but that is mostly due to four planes lost due to two midair collisions.

Our Starfighters were among the quite few G models built by Lockheed. Most others including the German ones were produced on license at various other plants around the world. There may have been quality issues involved in the various accident rates.

Late in the F-104 era, when we retired our T-33s, we bought a handful of second hand Canadian produced TF-104G two seat trainers. I remember having read that it was a real headache to modify them to near "Lockheed production standard".
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eilennaei
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:43 am

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 26):
Maybe surpassed slightly by the SAAB Draken

Depends whose SAAB Drakens we're talking about ...
 
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RE: Which Fighter Has The Worst Safety Record?

Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:56 pm

The USAF also had a very high accident rate with the F-100, as well as the F-102. But the F-100 in a "Saber dance" was almost always fatal.

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