Monday, January 2, 2017

Two are Better than One

So, as I mentioned in a comment on one of Sarge's Christmas Posts, the Juvat Clan is holding the opening of Christmas presents until Epiphany this year.  A lot of reasons for doing that.  One, on a Biblical level, the Magi were the first Christmas Present givers and they arrived on Epiphany.  Second, Little Juvat won't be back in town until then, so a full family muster is not possible until then.

Those are my reasons, and I'm sticking to them.

However, we did open Stockings on Christmas morning, just to have something to do between Early Church and the time the Mushroom Frittata was ready.  My Beautiful Daughter (MBD) is a vegetarian which requires the meat portion of the meal to be a separate endeavor, hence Mushroom....Frittata.  Tasty though!


MBD handles Operations for a Financial Planning firm in the People's Republic of Austin.  It's a pretty big job and evidently she handles it quite well.  I'm proud of her.

"Stay on Target, juvat! Stay on Target"

She knows that, while my work attire is typically a Polo Shirt and Slacks, as soon as I'm home I immediately transition to my "civilian" attire.  That would be a T-Shirt and Jeans.  Between woodworking in my shop or dealing with the horses and other chores around the place, I go through a lot of T-shirts, so replacements are always appreciated.

One of the traits she displays, that I recognize very well, is her dry sense of humor.  So, I've got a plethora of T-Shirts with pithy sayings on them.  "Played with Dinosaurs as a child","Sawdust AKA Man Glitter" and "Warning, the Coffee's worn off and the Wine hasn't kicked in yet"  are a few of my favorites.

This year, she slipped me a gimme T-Shirt from her company.  It has the company logo on the front, and this on the back.

Schmedlap has recovered from her arrival injuries and has assumed her role as the Empress of the Domicile.

Evidently, this is a Bible Verse (Ecclesiastes 4:9) which reads "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor".  

So, this got me to thinking....

(I'm sure Sarge is cringing at this point, thinking "Oh No! Juvat thinking....Again?  Dangerous, always Dangerous!)

In Any Case!

So....There I was*

Flying the mighty, and undefeated, F-15C.  Deployed to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) airbase at  Chitose,  Hokkaido Japan.  It's Winter, the Base's Latitude is 43o 09' N roughly the same as Fargo ND. 

It's cold.  As in, we're flying in "poopy suits" cold.  That's the affectionate name for the water survival suits that supposedly will keep you alive if you eject into the ocean for about the time it takes to climb into the raft.  After that, all bets are off.

All the while, you look like this.

Albeit in Olive Drab.

Anyhow, we're deployed here in Winter and are operating with the JASDF whilst fighting the Evil Lawn Darts from the USAF wing at Misawa AB.  

I'm leading a two ship with Bones on my wing.  We're going to be flying a 2 V 2 against a friend of mine from Moody who'd transitioned from the Phantom to the Fighting Falcon Lawn Dart.  We've briefed by phone and will meet out in the Airspace.  The Lawn Darts will be defending Misawa whilst Bones and I will be conducting a Pre-Strike Sweep sanitizing the airspace for a follow-on (mythical) attack.

We're heading out into the airspace, and have done our pre-Fight "Chores".  We've checked the Contrail level ~35K' (nothing shows quite where you are better than a long white arrow with you at the head of it).  Done our G warmup (G-LOC is not a good thing).  Checked out our missile tracking and radars.  Checked that our chaff and flare dispensers are operational. We're ready to fight.

However, our start point is about 200 miles east of Misawa. We've got some driving to do.  So, I'm motoring along around 30K and looking around.  Happen to glance down at the Ocean.  The North Pacific isn't very Pacific today.  Large whitecaps are visible even from 6 miles up.  I happen to notice that some of the whitecaps tend to be very persistent.  Then I realize that they're not waves, but Ice! 

"Wow!  I'll bet that water is Cold!"  (I've always been the Master of the Understatement, AKA Major Obvious, having been promoted from lowly Captain Obvious)

About this time, the Lawn Darts check in on the common frequency and call "Fight's on!".  Bones and I turn around and start our ingress.  Our tactic for this first engagement is to come in high in a tight formation, inside the beam width of  the Lawn Dart radar.  This will make sure that they only see one return from us.

Well, that's not entirely true.

Bones and I had "Checked our Chaff and Flare dispensers" on the way out.  There were about a dozen chaff bundles slowly descending in the jet stream  throughout the area between us and where the merge was likely to occur.  We wanted to be VERY sure that the dispensers were operational.  Just in case.

The jet stream in the North Pacific in Winter is very strong (I've heard reports that B-29s attacking Japan in WWII actually were flying backward as far as the surface was concerned and had to abort).  The Chaff will show up on their radars and they'll have to lock on and sample the contact to determine if it's us.  That takes time.  Time they don't have.

Bones and I are headed inbound and have a good breakout of the Lawn Dart formation.  They're in a tactical spread about 9000' line abreast.  We have a "Sort", meaning we've figured out their formation and each of us is targeted on a different aircraft and understands their responsibility in the ensuing engagement. 

We're about 15 miles away, with a positive ID when we take our first shots and execute our planned maneuver.  Bones splits away from me and takes it down about 10 grand.  I split away from him and take it up to just below the cons.  

We've still got visual on each other.  Our radars have a steady lock and the TD (target designator) box is steady on the target (it indicates where to look to see your target, nice help, but doesn't show any other bad guys, just the one you're locked on to, so doesn't replace looking around).  

We're now "Tally two, Visual" (we each see both Lawn Darts and we see each other).  This attack is going as well as it can at this point.  

We're at 10 miles and the Radar Shots have a few seconds left before they impact.  Time to defend against any IR missiles, the Lawn Darts may have fired.  Throttles go to Idle.  The high bypass engines cool down very quickly and any missiles in the air "should" lose guidance.

At about 5 miles, we start our convergence turn, I roll the aircraft left towards my target, pull the nose down into a steep dive and slam the throttles into Afterburner.  My fangs are out, I'm gonna kill something!
This would have been what Bones' jet would have looked like, climbing right hand turn.
This would have been me! (before I started my pull down)

About this time,   I hear a very loud bang and and out on the left side of the aircraft I see a bright fireball coming out of the left intake.  

Compressor stall!

A couple of million hours of training takes over automatically.  As my left hand is pulling the throttles back to idle, I key the mike and call "knock it off".  The call is acknowledged as the throttles are now at idle.  I look in at the engine temperature gauges.  The left one is climbing.  Betty (the automated audio warning system uses a female voice) is bitchin' about an engine overtemp.

I shut down the left engine.  The engine quickly cools down.  All indications are normal and the checklist says it's ok to restart the engine.  I'm headed for Misawa by this time.  I go through the engine restart procedures.  (At 300K, the engine is spinning fast enough, that all I have to do is push the  throttle forward and it will restart).  

It does, and as it spins up to about 80%, another loud bang, and the engine temp starts climbing again.  Throttle goes back to idle and then into cutoff.  It will stay there for the remainder.

This whole iteration has taken about 30 seconds, maybe a minute.  All of the actions taken were performed without conscious thought.  Someone a while back had critiqued a post where I said the actions were instinctive, suggesting that a better word would have been muscle memory.  OK. I didn't have to think through what was happening or what I would do.  I did all those things without having to think about them.

So, Bones is in the process of rejoining with me.  The Lawn Darts have been cleared off to fly an alternate mission.  I've dialed Misawa into the Navigation System, the directional needle settles down on my nose and the distance dial reads 150 miles.

My first conscious thought?  "Damn, that's a long swim.  Glad I'm not in an F-16!"

Whoda thunk the Bible would have application in fighter tactics?

Two (engines) are better than one!

Puny Human!  Your story provided a moment's diversion from the surveying of my Empire.  Be gone (until next week!)



  1. A man can't have too many T-shirts ...unless you ask the washerwoman.
    Likewise, the more hats, the better.
    I'm gonna need two trucks to move my stuff.

    1. The advantage to T-Shirts over Dress Shirts is they don't need ironing. Take 'em out of the dryer, give them a crude fold and put them in a drawer. Take 'em out, give them a shake and they're good to go.

      However, that logic is lost on my wife for some reason!

  2. Rather than devolve into an F-35 rant (the usefulness of said machine yet to be proven) with its one, count "them", one engine, I had the thought this morning that all of the carrier aircraft used by the USN in WWII, which were used to reduce the Imperial Japanese Navy to sediment on the bottom of the Pacific, were of the single engine variety. They were also of limited range.

    On the gripping hand, the Air Force in the Pacific liked the P-38, a lot. Why?

    Well, it had two engines dontcha know?

    When you're out over the briny, a long, long way from home, two engines are nice. Very nice.

    Just a thought I had...

    1. While at Kadena, we spent a lot of time exercising with the 13TFS out of Misawa (the one my friend from Phantom Phlying days was assigned to). We'd kid around about one vs two engines. They'd always say that we were twice as likely to lose an engine. I flew for roughly 2500 hours. Lost two engines in that time (Birdstrike and this one. Recovered both airplanes without much effort. If the Birdstrike had happened in an F-16 I (arguably) might have been able to land it. This one, no way. And, as cold and rough as that water looked. I doubt I'd be writing this today if I'd have bailed out of a F-16 Glider.
      That having been said, Single Engine on Carriers in WWII might have been a function of logistics. Not as much space then on a carrier, and given the engine life back then, carrying replacement parts for twice the engines might not have been feasible. I'm not a logistician, much less a Naval logistician, so that's just a supposition.

    2. I was rather fond of the four TF33's on our RC-135's while looking down at the frigid waters of the SOJ off the east coast of the former Evil Empire for a long day's mission. It wasn't unusual to come home to Kadena on three, which (to me) was preferable to operating out of Shemya at all.

    3. The Squadron had deployed to Shemya before I got there. The stories they told were "interesting".

  3. I'm glad you had two, engines that is. My world would have been poorer for not meeting you in e-space.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks. I'd like to think my wife and son would agree with you about the number of engines. I KNOW my Beautiful Daughter is.

  4. And four is better than two, along with the coffee pot and head... :-) Flew deployments and dets out of Misawa, including a winter deployment up there in 77. We routinely did patrols 400-800 miles from Misawa. Like the t-shirt though I had 'other' thoughts on it...LOL

    1. Would have been nice to have two when the one in the PA-12 I was ferrying one February day quit over the Colorado Front Range. A mountain snowbank wouldn't have been as cold as the ocean but the ocean is flat.

    2. OldNFO, yeah, but you'd shut down two just for fun! Or maybe fuel saving.

    3. WSF, I'll bet that was a high pucker factor adventure!

    4. I'm not at all a fan of the single engine fighter for carrier aviation. I was in 2 actual and probably 4 precautionary SE landings on Indy/Vinson/Nimitz and we were lucky that the ship was semi-nearby. I think I remember the Wolfpack in Misawa not even breaking over the water. Now that was probably due to them not wearing the Michelin Man suits like the picture above, vice SE safety, but still.

    5. Well, we recovered at Misawa, my friend and his wingman joined Bones and I at the club for a refreshing adult beverage. We talked a bit more about single vs two. He admitted there was some validity to my argument (but then he'd been an F-4 guy before). My Squadron and His seemed to get paired up a lot in various exercises. I never noticed a hesitancy to fly over the water, at least not during the day. Night time seemed to be a different story, even in a two engine fighter. A lot more funny noises.

    6. We routinely shut down one, sometimes two... Longest P-3 flight I had was a 14.4 chocks to chocks. T/O Cubi, 209 track, Market time patrol and recover in Iwakuni.

    7. Longest Fighter Flight I had was 10.7 T/O to Landing. Hickam to Kadena. That was after a two day layover after a 10.4 Moody to Hickam. My butt hadn't recovered by the time I climbed the ladder for the second leg. Hearing the radio call, "Standby for a few, the boomer is making a head call" was particularly cruel.

  5. I had a small orange and white tom named Tyrone, who looked a lot like Schmedlap. But where Schmedlap has a white diamond on her back, Tyrone had a white triangle on his back, over his hips, so it looked like he had white Jockey shorts on. What made him really odd, was he had he same marking on his belly, in the same spot, in orange. Tyrone was a modest cat.

    1. "Tyrone was a modest cat"
      I would say so! Schmeds has settled in pretty well. Gets along with Canine Flight, pretty well and doesn't mind being locked up in our bedroom when Tex (Little Juvat and DIL's Dog) comes to visit. The Pit Bull/German Shepherd doesn't "like" cats. Schmeds is good with the castle drawbridge lock I put on the bedroom door. The things we do to preserve peace and harmony!

  6. That's pretty much the definition of a good return on their labor. Do you recall what was wrong with the motor?

    We coughed motors on two of my five rides in the mighty F-14A. One no sweat restart and one shut down and RTB. The TF-30's didn't like throttle slamming. Or much throttle manipulation at all. The F-110-400 in the A+/B and D models changed all that, but I only ever got to look longingly at those.

    1. I'm sure at some point they told me, and as best I recall it was not in the engine itself, but some of the engine controls. There was a pitot tube in each intake that measured airflow and angle of attack and fed that to the engine control computers. If that computer was on the fritz, then it either spat too much fuel or not enough into the engine. Shutting it down was supposed to reset the computer. Didn't appear to in this case. In any case, the MX guys had to pull the engine to check for damage. I don't recall the jet being down for too long. (We were deployed, so losing an aircraft to MX would have impacted the deployment and I would have known about that.)


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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