On the utility of carriers

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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Captain Seafort » Tue May 01, 2012 7:50 pm

Mikey wrote:[That was said in response to a specific comment - that ICBM's aren't absolutely superior to strategic bombers.


It's not simply a matter of ICBMs not being absolutely superior to bombers, it's a matter of bombers being superior to ICBMs. I was under the impression that we were in agreement on this.

As to why I had said that the B-70's cancellation was correct, I've already explained to you that the prior reason - the advent of SAM's to which the B-70 was vulnerable


Vulnerable to what SAMs? As we've already been over, the B-70 flew higher and at least as fast as the Blackbird (both Mach 3+). The Blackbird flew against Soviet air defence and was never brought down. Ergo, if plane A is superior to air defence B, and plane C is superior to plane A, then it follows that plane C is also superior to air defence B. McNamara was talking bullshit.

In fact, you read that explanation and replied, "Fair enough."


That was in response to your clarification of your reasoning, not that I agreed with said claim.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Tue May 01, 2012 8:20 pm

:Picard:

OK, I'll try to break down my stance (again) so it will hopefully be transparent to all.

#1 - I agree with McNamara on the point that new SAM technology meant that the whole reasoning behind the B-70 was obsolete, or at least would be by the time it was operational in regular numbers. A proposed bomber whose entire reason for being is invulnerability to SAM's is nothing more than a money sink if it isn't invulnerable to contemporary SAM's.

#2 - I disagree with McNamara on the point that ICBM's would render strategic bombers obsolete. On this point, I mostly agree with Seafort in saying that there are many things a strategic bomber can do that an ICBM can't, though I wouldn't go so far as saying that a strong bomber corps would obviate the need for a missile arsenal.

I don't think I can say it any plainer. As to the rest:
Captain Seafort wrote:As we've already been over, the B-70 flew higher and at least as fast as the Blackbird (both Mach 3+).


"As we've already been over" here, apparently, means, "Seafort said so, therefore it must be so." If you have figures for production models comparing the top end and operational ceiling of the B-70 and the SR-71, I'd love to be shown (whether I'm right or wrong.) If not, then I just can't accept on faith that the B-70 - which was designed to just make Mach 3 - had a better operational top end than the SR-71 which regularly flew at more than Mach 3.

I'm afraid I have to admit that I don't have B&W figures for the ceiling of SAM's of the period, but I can tell you for sure that things with which you are familiar - e.g., the S-75, Bristol Bloodhound, and the Sea Slug - made high-altitude evasion of SAM's dubious enough to completely change the design aesthetic of combat aircraft; i.e., necessitating the advent of aircraft optimized for low-altitude operations. As I said, I don't have the exact figures; but in the absence of ANY evidence for the former point, the circumstantial evidence for the latter point seems to carry the weight.

Captain Seafort wrote:That was in response to your clarification of your reasoning, not that I agreed with said claim.


Indeed, which left me scratching my head as to why you later seemed not to have understood the reasoning which I so clarified.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed May 02, 2012 2:41 am

Whilst the height and speed of the B-70 may well have put it above the existing SAMs, how hard would it really be to make a SAM that went faster and further? A few years development? Bombers flying faster and higher than missiles is always going to be a losing game in the long run.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Wed May 02, 2012 11:19 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:Whilst the height and speed of the B-70 may well have put it above the existing SAMs, how hard would it really be to make a SAM that went faster and further? A few years development? Bombers flying faster and higher than missiles is always going to be a losing game in the long run.


That was the problem. The B-70 was beyond the capabilities of SAM's extant at the time of its conception, but wouldn't have been beyond the capabilities of SAM's that would have been extant when "the rubber met the road," as it were. Bear in mind that when the project was scrapped, it wasn't close to going into regular production yet, there were only two XB-70's completed.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Tholian_Avenger » Wed May 02, 2012 1:57 pm

http://www.alternatewars.com/SAC/XB-70_ ... r_1960.pdf
I think the B-70 would have operated in a very similar regime to the SR-71.

As for SAMs, I just have the words of others to go on which lead me to doubt the efficaciousness of the systems when presented with a bomber attack that uses on-board countermeasures and possibly support aircraft.

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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Wed May 02, 2012 4:23 pm

OK, so based on that document we have an estimated max. ceiling of 76,000 feet; projected top end of Mach 3.0; and a loaded stall speed of 161 knots. The last figure is very impressive and probably derives from the wing architecture, but the first two mean that deducing its possible invulnerability based on the SR-71's record is useless.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed May 02, 2012 7:28 pm

Mikey wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:Whilst the height and speed of the B-70 may well have put it above the existing SAMs, how hard would it really be to make a SAM that went faster and further? A few years development? Bombers flying faster and higher than missiles is always going to be a losing game in the long run.


That was the problem. The B-70 was beyond the capabilities of SAM's extant at the time of its conception, but wouldn't have been beyond the capabilities of SAM's that would have been extant when "the rubber met the road," as it were. Bear in mind that when the project was scrapped, it wasn't close to going into regular production yet, there were only two XB-70's completed.

And as I recall, the Mig-25 was designed largely to shoot down the B-70. Whilst the Mig-25 isn't exactly a stellar performer in many ways it did go fast, had a service ceiling with missiles of 67,000 feet, carried a big powerful radar, and packed AAMs that could do Mach 4.5.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Wed May 02, 2012 8:19 pm

That's possibly true. While the West may have considered the MiG-25 an air superiority fighter due to the huge wing surface, the fact was that it was too heavy, so a dedicated interceptor was likely its designed role. That in no way, however, mitigates the fact that the B-70's designed purpose was no longer effective well before production was to begin.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby McAvoy » Wed May 02, 2012 8:25 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:
Mikey wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:Whilst the height and speed of the B-70 may well have put it above the existing SAMs, how hard would it really be to make a SAM that went faster and further? A few years development? Bombers flying faster and higher than missiles is always going to be a losing game in the long run.


That was the problem. The B-70 was beyond the capabilities of SAM's extant at the time of its conception, but wouldn't have been beyond the capabilities of SAM's that would have been extant when "the rubber met the road," as it were. Bear in mind that when the project was scrapped, it wasn't close to going into regular production yet, there were only two XB-70's completed.

And as I recall, the Mig-25 was designed largely to shoot down the B-70. Whilst the Mig-25 isn't exactly a stellar performer in many ways it did go fast, had a service ceiling with missiles of 67,000 feet, carried a big powerful radar, and packed AAMs that could do Mach 4.5.


Very similar to the F-14.

It is a fairly classic fighters vs. bombers vs. missiles argument though. It has been going on since the late 1940's and early 1950's.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Captain Seafort » Wed May 02, 2012 9:39 pm

Mikey wrote:OK, so based on that document we have an estimated max. ceiling of 76,000 feet; projected top end of Mach 3.0; and a loaded stall speed of 161 knots. The last figure is very impressive and probably derives from the wing architecture, but the first two mean that deducing its possible invulnerability based on the SR-71's record is useless.


Scroll down a bit - the doc gives a service ceiling of 85,000 ft. The problem I keep hearing about properly analysing the B-70 is that a lot of documents treat the first prototype as though it were the finished article, and therefore tend towards the sub-Mach 3, sub-80k figures that have been mentioned above. The B-70A (i.e. the finished article) was going to be Mach 3.5, 90k - faster and higher than the SR-71, as I've been saying. Even the Mach 3, 85k given in T_A's document matches the SR-71, and with it's greater wing area the B-70 would be more manoeuvrable. We're back to the question of how are missiles that repeatedly tried and failed to kill the SR-71 going to stop an aircraft at least as high, at least as fast, and more manoeuvrable?
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Wed May 02, 2012 10:06 pm

Where, exactly, is the fuselage - or even any remnant - of any B-70A, or any variant other than an XB-70? Trick question - Coventry City has never won the Cup. there isn't one. "It was gonna be" isn't worth one skinny rat's ass. The XB-70, according to that document (which seems about right, whatever its provenance) had a ceiling of 85,000 feet loaded (I beg your pardon for not seeing that in the document) which was comparable to the SR-71 and a top end of Mach 3.0 compared to the SR-71A's top end of Mach 3.3. The comment about maneuverability based on wing area is unfounded, as the XB-70 had a mission weight of just under 100,000 lbs. more than the SR-71; in fact, my rough figures show a wing-area-to-weight ratio of .023 for the Blackbird vs. .025 for the XB-70, which latter figure includes the canards and the non-lifting variable wingtips. It was also 80 ft. longer and 50 ft. wider, and had 4 more engines - read, 4 more exhausts to provide radar-friendly surfaces a/o IR signatures.

More importantly, the point is not that the SR-71 was fortunate enough to not have been taken down over the U.S.S.R. The SR-71 was built to be a high-altitude, crazy-fast recon plane - which it was, no matter the current state of SAM technology. The B-70, OTOH, was intended to be a strategic bomber which was proof against SAM's due to it's ceiling - which it wasn't thanks to advancements in SAM technology. Therefore, the comparison doesn't really yield any useful conclusions to this conversation.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Captain Seafort » Wed May 02, 2012 10:20 pm

Mikey wrote:"It was gonna be" isn't worth one skinny rat's ass.


On the contrary - the capabilities of the in-service aircraft are entirely relevant, given that the crux of the argument is why McNamara was a liar and an idiot in his claimed reasons for cancelling it.

Mikey wrote:a top end of Mach 3.0 compared to the SR-71A's top end of Mach 3.3


That evidently changed later in the design process, as AV-2 pushed 3.1 on one of its flights, and was lost pretty early, so it never got a chance to show what it could do.

More importantly, the point is not that the SR-71 was fortunate enough to not have been taken down over the U.S.S.R. The SR-71 was built to be a high-altitude, crazy-fast recon plane - which it was, no matter the current state of SAM technology. The B-70, OTOH, was intended to be a strategic bomber which was proof against SAM's due to it's ceiling - which it wasn't thanks to advancements in SAM technology. Therefore, the comparison doesn't really yield any useful conclusions to this conversation.


It's not a matter of fortune, it's a matter of its operating environment being beyond the capability of any SAM ever deployed against it to reach. It was simply too high and too fast for them to successfully engage it. Since the B-70 was at least as high and fast, how do you expect those same SAMs to kill it?
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Wed May 02, 2012 11:15 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:the capabilities of the in-service aircraft are entirely relevant


They would be entirely relevant, if there were any operational examples beyond the two XB-70's. They, as we've seen, maxed at 3.0.

Captain Seafort wrote:Since the B-70 was at least as high and fast, how do you expect those same SAMs to kill it?


#1 - As I've demonstrated, a B-70 would have been a more accesible target than an SR-71.
#2 - The fact that an SR-71 was never taken down by a Soviet SAM doesn't definitively indicate that it couldn't have been.
#3 - The B-70's raison d'etre was to be proof against SAM's. Proof against only SAM's that were extant at the time of its R&D is not the same thing, nor is it adequate. Granted, things like the S-75, Sea Slug, etc., weren't around at the conception of the B-70; but being able to fulfill its design ethos for a few years is tantamount to not being able to do it at all.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Captain Seafort » Thu May 03, 2012 5:27 pm

Mikey wrote:They would be entirely relevant, if there were any operational examples beyond the two XB-70's.


The argument is over whether the programme should have been cancelled. Stating that it should have been based solely on the capabilities of the prototypes rather than the finished model is akin to saying the P-51 should have been cancelled early on because it was underpowered.

#1 - As I've demonstrated, a B-70 would have been a more accesible target than an SR-71.


At least as high and as fast = "more accessible target"? Since when?

#2 - The fact that an SR-71 was never taken down by a Soviet SAM doesn't definitively indicate that it couldn't have been.


The fact that the Soviets never came close to shooting it down does. They tried, repeatedly, with both SA-2 and SA-5, and both proved to be a complete waste of time.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Thu May 03, 2012 7:00 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:The argument is over whether the programme should have been cancelled. Stating that it should have been based solely on the capabilities of the prototypes rather than the finished model is akin to saying the P-51 should have been cancelled early on because it was underpowered.


#1 - The P-51 had a ready alternative to easily fix the power problem - Packard's Rolls Royce license. There was no such alternative available at the time for the XB-70, nor would there be until Pratt & Whitney got involved in the F-15 project. Even then, there's little hope that those P&W monsters would have sat in the XB-70 airframe, or wouldn't have torn it apart if they did.

#2 - The P-51 would largely have been unnecessary if the RAF hadn't shot down an American transport plane full of the fix pieces for the initial tail-flutter problems on the P-38; if that transport had landed in England, the Lightning-J would have become as successful in the ETO as it was in the PTO. That, however, is perhaps left for a separate discussion on why the RAF chose to shoot down a USAAF transport.

Captain Seafort wrote:At least as high and as fast = "more accessible target"? Since when?


At least as high, almost as fast; but far larger, hotter, and reflective = "more accessible target." Since when? Since logic and common sense.

Captain Seafort wrote:The fact that the Soviets never came close to shooting it down does. They tried, repeatedly, with both SA-2 and SA-5, and both proved to be a complete waste of time.


Fair enough, I'll give you that. As I mentioned, however, being able to fill its purpose for a couple of years isn't good enough to continue the project. When those S-75's and S-200's of which you speak started shooting V-753's or V-755's instead V-750's, would the same confidence in the B-70's imperviousness have existed? Obviously not.
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