American Combat Planes of the 20th Century is an incredible reference for anyone who is interested in any American Combat Plane History.   There are 758 pages and 1700 b/w photos in this substantial labor of love by Ray Wagner, who has been passionately researching and writing about aircraft for over 50 years.   Whether you are already familiar with his past works, or just discovering this accomplished author for the first time... This is the book that you've been waiting for!

If you'd like to see the book's   Table of Contents ... Click here.   You can also browse the entire   Index Section   to get an idea of the extensive amount of information that is covered within this book.

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A- 1 Eaton     A- 4 Skyhawk     A- 6 & A- 7     Air Weapons     AV- 8 to A- 10     A- 20 Havoc     A- 22 Martin Maryland     A- 23 Martin Baltimore     A- 24 Douglas     A- 26 Douglas Invader     Attack Planes     B- 2A, F-111, F-117 Stealth    B- 17 Flying Fortress     B- 24 Liberator     B- 25 North American     B- 26 Marauder     B- 29 Superfortress     B- 32 Dominator     B- 35 Flying Wing     B- 36     B- 47 Stratojet     B- 50 Boeing     B- 52 Stratofortress     B- 57 Canberra     B- 58 Hustler     Biplanes     Biplanes, Army Pursuits     Bombers, B- 70 to Stealth     Bombers, First Big     Curtiss Falcon     CO- 1     DH- 4 De Havilland     F3D- Douglas Skyknight    F3H- McDonnell Demon    F4D- 1 Skyray    F4F Grumman Wildcats    F- 4U Corsair    F6F Grumman    F7F Grumman    F7U Vought    F9F G. Cougar    F9F G. Panther    F- 16 Fighting Falcon    F- 84     F- 86 Sabre    F- 89 to F-94    F- 100 to F-108    First Fighters    Flying Boats    GAX    Iraq to Afghanistan    Martin Bombers    Missile Era Fighters    Navy Fighers    Navy Flying Boats    O- 2 Douglas     P- 35 Seversky     P- 36 to 42 Curtiss     P- 38 Lightning    P- 39 Airacobra    P- 40 Line    P- 47 Thunderbolt    P- 51 Mustang Fighter    P- 61 Black Widow    P- 63 Kingcobra    P- 79 to P-81    P- 82 Twin Mustang    SB2C Helldiver    TBF-TBM Avenger    Thomas-Morse    Torpedo Planes    V- 11 Vultee    XB -28    XP -48 / 77   

F-16 Fighting Falcon

Page 1

F-16 Fighting Falcon
In several respects, the General Dynamics F-16A represents the opposite of the F-111s previously built at the Fort Worth factory. One man, one engine, and a gun in a compact airframe, the F-16A is a reversal of the greater cost and complexity of American fighters.

The Air Force, on January 6, 1972, issued a Request For Proposals for a lightweight, low-cost, highly maneuverable fighter with Mach 2 speed capability and about 20,000-pounds normal gross weight. Costs per unit should be about three million in then-dollars, because the big disadvantage of the F-14/15 types was that they were too expensive to fill out all the squadrons needed for defense commitments. GENERAL DYNAMICS YF-16

Five companies responding by February 18, included Boeing, Lockheed and Vought, but General Dynamics and Northrop were awarded contracts on April 13, 1972 for two YF-16 and two YF-17 prototypes. The first YF-16 was flown inside a C-5A transport from Fort Worth to Edwards AFB, where the first planned flight was made February 4, 1974, by Phil Oestricher and the second prototype’s tests began May 9. During 330 flights that year in competition with the YF-17, the YF-16 demonstrated a top speed over Mach 2 (1320 mph at 40,000 feet) a climb to 62,000 ft., and a 2 hour, 55 minute flight without refueling. Armament consisted of a 20-mm M61Al in the left side of the fuselage behind the cockpit and an AIM-9 Sidewinder on each wingtip.

On January 13, 1975, the Air Force announced the F-16 was chosen for production that would begin with an April 9 development contract for six single-seat YF-16As and two two-seat YF-16Bs. Both competitors, said Air Force Secretary John L. Lucas, performed well, but the YF-16 had lower drag and excelled in agility, turn rate and endurance. One advantage was having the same F100-PW-100 engine used in the F-15. The simplicity of one pilot and one engine was attractive to Air Force hopes for easier maintenance, and reduced final costs per mission to half those of twin-engine rivals. GENERAL DYNAMICS F-16A

The YF-16A first flown December 8, 1976, while the two-place TF-16B trainer first flown August 9, 1977, kept the same weapons capabilities, but had a smaller fuel capacity. A larger nose for APG-65 radar and six pylons under modified wings distinguished them from the original YF-16 prototypes.

While the YF-16A was not as fast as an F-4 or Mig-21, it did claim to have three times the combat radius on internal fuel, better acceleration and turn rates, and instantaneous maneuverability. Wing-body blending and variable wing camber were featured, while the structure included 78.3% aluminum, 10.3% steel, and only 1.6% expensive titanium.

The fly-by-wire control system allowed relaxed stability and maneuver adjustment by computer, an element continually improved during the aircraft’s life cycle. A clear canopy provided excellent visibility and a 30-degree inclined seat increased pilot “G” tolerance. An inflight refueling receptacle was standard.

Average flyaway costs were projected in 1975 as less than five million then-dollars, or less than half that of its twin-engine rivals. These hopes led the Air Force to announce plans in January 1977 to increase its F-16 program to 1,388 aircraft, so TAC could have ten active wings, plus Air Force Reserve squadrons and attrition replacements.

The first F-16A flew on August 7, 1978, and was introduced to TAC service in January 1979 at Hill AFB, Utah, by the 388th TFW, which included a fourth squadron for training foreign pilots. Next, F-16s for the 56th TFW began arriving MacDill AFB on October 22, 1979. Fighting Falcon became the official USAF name on July 21, 1980. GENERAL DYNAMICS F-16A

Unsuccessful efforts were made to extend F-16 sales appeal. A cheaper 18,370-pound thrust General Electric J79-GE-17X was flight tested on the second F-16B on October 29, 1980, but no customers responded. No more success was experienced when the first YF-16A flew with a 29,000-pound thrust General Electric F101X on December 19. An advanced F-16XL version with a new wing and more fuel was flown on July 3, 1982, but won no new orders and wound up with NASA in 1989 with three other F-16 technology demonstrators. Fortunately, orders for standard F-16s continued.

While production of over 4,000 aircraft in 25 years made little change in their outside appearance, the Block number series tracked frequent upgrades of equipment. Production deliveries began with 94 F-16A Block 1 and 197 Block 5 aircraft for TAC and NATO. Block 10 with 312 aircraft followed, and earlier models were upgraded to that standard in 1982.

Larger horizontal tails and AIM-7 Sparrow missiles distinguished the most numerous F-16A Block 15, with 983 produced, beginning in November 1981, and ending in February 1996 with six for Thailand. To the M61Al behind the cockpit with 512 20-mm rounds, and two AIM-9L Sidewinders on the wingtips, were added AIM-120 missiles directed by an upgraded computer. Westinghouse APG-66 radar fire control weighed only 290 pounds (less than 1/4th that of an F-14’s radar), but provided all-weather target detection and tracking, and a threat warning radar antenna was placed on the tail fin. Mach 2.05 was the control speed limit.

External stores for the air-to-ground mission held two 2,000-pound Mk 84 or six 500-pound Mk 82 bombs, two 370-gallon drop tanks, and an ALQ-119 ECM pod. Up to 15,200 pounds of other stores could be lifted for short distances on the seven stations, including a centerline station for a 300-gallon tank or B61 nuclear bomb. Four more Sidewinders or four AGM-65A Mavericks could be carried.

USAF deliveries amounted to 620 F-16As and 122 F-16Bs by 1984. In 1989, 279 Block 15 F-16As were converted to an air defense configuration for the ANG squadrons by adding APG-66A radar, an APX interrogator, and a spotlight.

The F-16C
Block 25, in June 1984, introduced so many improvements like APG-68 radar and new fire control for night attacks and AIM-120 missiles that the F-16C designation was established. All of the 244 B Block 25s went to the USAF with F100-PW-100, but these were upgraded to -220E engines.

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