Saturday, August 22, 2020


No it's not a line from Denny Crane. It was what we were taught at RIM7 school at Dam Neck back in the days when the RIM7H was king of the destroyers and all the worthwhile ships had them until they were replaced by RIM7M. I wanted a real missile but that was all they had when we went into the yards and Raytheon Fountain Valley sent up the thugs and thieves to install it. It was new and shiny and then a drunk high crane operator pulling a skip off the ship using, oddly enough, a crane, managed to smash the brand new missile launcher and that was pretty much it. In spite of the thugs and thieves from Raytheon Fountain Valley, we got it to work and did the impossible. We didn't merely shoot down the drone virtually. We made skin to skin kill on the damned BQM-37. In one of my less memorable pre-shoot at shit talks to the CO and officers in the wardroom I specifically admonished them all to under no circumstances attempt to pick up any drones because hypergolic fluieds and shit. Naturally when the missile killed the drone the CO, OPS and First LT were all over hysterical about recovering the drone. It was the longest year and a half in my life.

Why did they instruct us to shoot shoot look shoot I hear you asking. Well, the missiles weren't all that good. About 47% of them never made it off the rail so you shoot two hoping one leaves the nest and then you look around and see if it actually hit what you shot it at and shoot another one, just for the hell of it.

My dad used to go out to lunch with senior navy guys who told him what naval aviation did back during the war. What they said is if you want a sea story, you'd shoot a sparrow missile at the Mig. If you wanted to kill it you shot it with a sidewinder. I had nothing but sparrows. Still, I did manage to kill a hard charging drone with one. I told the drone guys at PMR to shoot at us just as fast as possible. Doppler fire control, it needed some speed if it was going to hit anything.


GLT said...

So you read the book Clashes by Marshall Michel and find out that during the Vietnam war Navy and Air Force air to air missiles achieved the astounding success rate Of less than 10% for the AIM-7 and 18% for the Aim-9s. Throwing rocks might have been a better option. And then I watched Long Beach volley SAMS at a flight of MiGs from its' location as Red Crown with zero hits. But then, other ships achieved hits with SAMS that were fired way outside the parameters of missile performance. Who knows?

Larry said...

For the AIM-9s, performance improved quite a bit when greatly improved training came into play. Many of the early launches were made out of parameters. For the AIM-7s, they had that same problem to some degree, but a bigger problem was that it was designed as a BVR (beyond visual range) missile and our rules of engagement virtually precluded it being used that way. And for both missiles (and all avionics in that theater), nothing had really been designed to cope with that level of heat and humidity. Corrosion of electrical connectors was a constant threat. The AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles were worlds better than the AIM-4 Falcon missiles, though. Those were real dogs only useful against bombers (maybe). Even their descendant AIM-54 Phoenix missiles weren't very good (except against bombers, maybe). How Hughes kept scoring contracts is not explainable by performance.

HMS Defiant said...

I read about Red Crown. I'm not sure which is scarrier. Bursting out to sea and going feet wet over hostile territory or hoping the IFF is still working and those fuckers won't shoot at me by mistake. My money now, sadly, would be on those fuckers shooting at me. We aren't the pro's we used to be.

As I reached the twilight of my 30 year career I got to watch it happen in slow motion and there was nothing I could do about it.

For those read it, it was Athens invading Sicily.