Why they called the F4U 'whistling death'

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/03/why-they-called-the-f4u-whis.html


Strangely, at 0:49 you can hear sheep “baaing” . . . and this was the plane of the famous “Black Sheep” Squadron.


A favorite show and theme.


Okay, I’m not a military specialist, so I guess this is armchair advice.

Those things couldn’t cost more than $500K if we mass produce them. The current F-35 project has each jet at about $100M. So for every single F-35, we could build 200 of these guys.

I’m curious: if I had to chose between a swarm of 200 of these vs. a single “high-end” fighter jet, I’d go with the swarm.

Oh, and thanks to the attack on the kingdom, we now know that it actually only takes a few drones to fuck things up hard-core so we don’t even need 200 of these awesome planes.


I just finished reading Greg “Pappy” Boyington’s autobiography. I loved the show so thought I’d learn more. Much more interesting, thoughtful, and culturally insightful than I expected. I didn’t realize how he spent the last year and a half of the war.


Superior American engineering: they didn’t have to add a purpose-designed terror-siren to their plane like the Germans had to with the Stuka.


A single modern fighter jet would destroy as many of these as it had armament for at its leisure, and just as importantly, 200 planes like this couldn’t stop a modern fighter or bomber from doing anything it wanted to any other target.

Such a cool plane–I heartily recommend going to see one of the only two(!) remaining Stukas in the world at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry:


Pretty cool. Did you guys see we lost one of the last flying B-17s :frowning: That super sucks.


I think a single A10 Warthog OR an Apache helicopter would be most effective at destroying them all in short order. The problem a modern fighter would have is they are just too slow. They can not hit a jet, a jet can hit them from really high up and far away. the prop planes are easy slow moving targets, but modern fighters are limited on ammo for that.


Yep. When they got a Komet or Me 262 into the fray, they were more or less untouchable except at take off and landing, or if you somehow caught an Me 262 at low speed and could out maneuver it.

Though to the other poster’s point, yes, its possible making more cheaper jets like modernize F-18s would be a better use of money than the F-35. The F-35 is a cluster because they wanted a one size fits all, when the various branches need it to do so many different things.


Ah, but would a doberman win a fight with a doberman’s weight in chihuahuas?

I also recall the age-old question of one shark vs. 200 lobsters.



The reason that the Corsair was successful in WWII was its superior energy envelope to its opponents (usually the Zero). It could simply outrace or outclimb the other aircraft and decline engagement until the terms were in its favor, then re-engage. The Zero pilot was at its mercy unless he could force a low-speed engagement.

The same would apply in reverse if any number of Corsairs attempted to engage a 3rd-, 4th- or 5th-generation jet fighter. I leave out 1st- and 2nd-gen because a Corsair has downed a Mig-15.

The only opportunity a Corsair would have to deter a modern jet fighter would be if it found itself “lucky” enough to be in a head-to-head position. The closing rate of a supersonic fighter would leave it an incredibly small window for gunnery work, though, and it would probably be dead from a missile before then, presuming the jet pilot made a good strategic decision on targeting.

After an “engagement” lasting maybe less than a second, the jet would be through the Corsair formation, and would never need to think about it again. With zero guided weapons and bullets that might well be slower than the jet itself, the Corsairs could never again engage. And why would the jet fighter re-engage?

Similarly, Corsairs would stand zero chance against modern AA defenses, so there would be no reason for fighters to engage them to protect ground or sea assets.

Air superiority has been achieved by razor-thin performance margins before, but this would be a margin of miles. It’s not bringing a knife to a gunfight, it’s bringing a rock to a minigun fight .


So… What do they call current American drones in those far-off places, “The wedding crashers”?


Another factor in why we use 1 super weapon versus 200 outdated airplanes is that using 200 outdated airplanes virtually guarantees at least a 50% mortality rate per mission versus the super weapons almost assured survival. The American people simply won’t let the military use Zerg tactics (where you trade massive casualties on your side for military gains) in the wars that we are currently fighting.

Also, if your tactics involve sending pilots and airplanes to their doom in order to jam the enemy’s cannons with their wreckage; you’re going to need additional aircraft and people; a steady supply of both. The superweapon plane can just keep being reused; and you need an order of magnitude less recruitment (or drafting; let’s face it, you’re not going to get many suicide mission recruits) and training. So oddly having 1 F-35 with pilot is probably cheaper than having 200 FU planes.

Now, drones; drones change the story a lot; because suddenly you don’t have the recruiting, training, and telegram delivery fees. When a drone pilot’s plane is destroyed, she just gets a new drone. It opens up tactics that would be unthinkable before; and not only allows you to reduce the price of the plane because it doesn’t need to support a human pilot (and is no longer limited to the durability of a human pilot); but survivability is now a function of mission accomplishment and price efficiency. Considering how much some of our one-time-use bombs cost, using a $100K drone in a non-return mission might be cost effective.

(Note that a lot of our drones are actually higher-end airplanes that are recovered and re-used.)


Precisely my point. How much armament would it take to burn through a 200 swarm of gnats, and still have enough armament to do any real damage to the original target? Oh, and it only takes one gnat to get in the way and BOOM! There goes $100 mill.

I’m more of a Protoss guy, but that only works in the games. IRL, Zerg works best. And from what I’ve seen (Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan) we’re already using Zerg tactics and we’re still losing.

No, it really wouldn’t work like that. A “swarm” of 200 of these planes would present big, fat, and slow targets for every modern weapon. They aren’t small & nimble drones. They’d be seen and engaged before they even knew what was over the horizon.

As pointed out above, an A-10 or an Apache would mow through them like grass.

I guess if you’re positing a scenario where literally the only weapon available would be this choice of 200 vs 1 thing and the armament is limited, would be more complicated, but the fact remains that the old planes couldn’t kill a new fighter but the new could kill with impunity.


Agree %100.

Then let’s build up our fleet of A-10s. Not this stupid F-35 BS.


Whatever one’s opinion of the F-35, it’s apples to oranges. Those weapons serve different tactical and strategic purposes.

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They have had 110,000 deaths from war. We’ve had under 4,000. We are not swarming them with expendable forces and drowning them in our blood.

Frankly, we are loosing because we don’t care enough; we don’t want to win badly enough to commit the atrocities and genocides that would be required to win; we don’t want to destroy their culture and kill them all; which is what a “win” would entail.

You know, I think I’m OK with that. I wish that we would never have gone in, I really wish that we could have made a positive difference in their country for them, and left a modern, functioning democracy in our wake that the conquered would have thanked us for - but it turns out you can’t force democracy onto a country that doesn’t want it.