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Where does the Folland Gnat fall in the hierarchy of subsonic jets of that age?

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  • AbitNutz
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Dec 2005
    • 154

    Where does the Folland Gnat fall in the hierarchy of subsonic jets of that age?

    The Folland Gnat is such an interesting aircraft due to its size. It would seem that it would have been more successful. What is its main problem? Was it no match for the likes of the Mig 17?
  • sandiego89
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Feb 2008
    • 351

    #2
    I would say its main "problem" was that it was limited. It was designed in a time where most fighter development was towards larger, faster, more capable fighters. While designing something that is simpler and cheaper sounds good, it may not lead to many sales for air forces that desire superior, and more capable aircraft. As a subsonic fighter of the era it held it's own against similar aircraft, but was quickly outclassed by fighters coming on line in the 1960's. It was noted for outstanding handling. While it did well in combat in Indian hands, it should be noted that that was against F-86's- which were by no means world beaters by the mid 1960's/1970's.
    As a light fighter it was limited it terms of speed, range and armament and was not equipped with air to air missile which was about to transform air to air combat.
    Light fighters can like the Gnat (and the MiG-17) did quite well when used appropriately and within their limitations, but had limited interest by the major air powers whom desired more capability.

    A similar attempt was made with the Northrop F-20 as a cheaper alternative to the F-16. No one wanted it. Grippen has done better.

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    • Marcellogo
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Jun 2014
      • 1745

      #3

      There is an enormous difference between such aircraft. Folland Gnat was the UK own response to the requisite of a light tactical plane in the fifties, designed to complement the contemporary Uk force of planes, that although effective had shown a disturbing pattern of uncontrolled grown in weight, cost and complexity.
      It was not however just a british requisite but at the contrary a widely sought type of plane can be seen in the almost contemporary NBMR-1 programme issued by NATO committee for a lightweight strike fighter capable to operate from small airfield or even grass and to require a very limited maintenance.
      First NATO large scale programme, it saw candidates from about all Nato nations but not by Uk itself that has already advanced in the development of Gnat itself.
      The program, although concluded with the selection of Fiat G91 (designed,as the name implies by legendary engineer Giuseppe Gabrielli) din't lead to a widescale adoption of the winner's plane with french preferring to adopt one of their own design, that evolved into the Etandard and Super Etandard series, while the american one lead instead, although not directly, to the F-5.
      Mig-17, like Hunter and Sabre was a completely different beast, a full fledged air combat fighter.
      Even compared to the NBMR-1 winner however, a light, rugged but extremely reliable and economic plane Gnat was way too small to have a real tactical role and not at all close in serviceability, so in british service was soon transferred to training role.
      It found however a second life in Indian use, proving its efficacy in combat against Pakistan.
      So, idea was good but as a lightweight strike plane of the same age and class, let's take a G.91 instead, as a trainer, please let's go for another italian best seller: the MB.326.

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      • AbitNutz
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Dec 2005
        • 154

        #4
        That makes sense. I guess putting aside the true practicality of the situation. I'm wondering though what you would rather be flying in a combat situation, a Mig 17, G91, Etanddard, CL13 or CAC Sabre? Or the best of the Gnats? It always looked that, on paper, the Gnat had the edge on its sub sonic competition in a one on one encounters.

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        • Marcellogo
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Jun 2014
          • 1745

          #5
          Mig-17, of course, it was a fully fledged air combat fighter, an evolution of MiG-15 with capability to go full transonic and with an afterburner on. It, like also Sabre and Hunter was however a full sized fighter plane. Others were way lighter, G-91 was about 3tons empty and Gnat 2 tons and were tough as basically ground attack planes.

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          • halloweene
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Jan 2012
            • 3867

            #6
            According to Pete F collins it was the most pleasant plane to pilot in its time. (and he was qualified on 110ypes when he passed)

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            • topspeed
              Get on uppah !
              • Jan 2009
              • 2485

              #7
              Folland Gnat was supersonic in a dive !
              If it looks good, it will fly good !
              -Bill Lear & Marcel Dassault


              http://max3fan.blogspot.com/

              Comment

              • seahawk
                F-4 Phanatic
                • Jan 2000
                • 4616

                #8
                As it was later than the MiG-17 or the F-86, it had better flight characteristics and easier handling for the time, which should have been an advantage during air combat.
                Last edited by seahawk; 28th December 2018, 09:52.
                Member of ACIG

                an unnamed Luftwaffe officer:"Typhoon is a warm weather plane. If you want to be operational at -20C you have to deploy the F-4F."

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                • halloweene
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2012
                  • 3867

                  #9
                  I tend to trust Pete on that issue more, sry.

                  Comment

                  • seahawk
                    F-4 Phanatic
                    • Jan 2000
                    • 4616

                    #10
                    I actually wrote the same basically.
                    Member of ACIG

                    an unnamed Luftwaffe officer:"Typhoon is a warm weather plane. If you want to be operational at -20C you have to deploy the F-4F."

                    Comment

                    • halloweene
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Jan 2012
                      • 3867

                      #11
                      Ah ok. Sry, misunderstood.

                      Comment

                      • PhantomII
                        Phantoms Phorever
                        • Jan 2000
                        • 8285

                        #12
                        I was present for the first public (I think) taxi-run of the F.1 that's been restored at North Weald. What an awesome little jet!
                        Fox-4!

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