Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Historic Warbird Interceptors

Shoot down errant Cessnas with Hellcats.
  (+17, -1)(+17, -1)
(+17, -1)
  [vote for,

It seems like about once every two weeks, somebody in a Cessna wanders into a restricted area or the special flight rules area around Washington DC without clearance and gets intercepted. I don't know how people do it with a full color GPS and a magenta line to guide you to your destination, but people do it all the time. Intercepts are usually done with an F16 or F15, or some other state of the art fighter jet. To me it seems like overkill to send a $50 million fighter capable of mach 2, with heat seeking and radar guided missiles to intercept a Cessna flying at 100mph.

I have a better idea! Return WWII era warbirds to service for intercepting private aircraft. There are many advantages to this. WWII planes are quite capable of intercepting civilian aircraft. They can fly plenty fast enough to make a timely intercept, but can fly slow enough that they don't have to literally fly circles around that Cessna. They can get closer and signal to the pilot more effectively. If necessary, .50 machine guns could down a plane easily enough without as much collateral damage as large canons or missiles.

That said, the real point of this idea is to get more warbirds into flying condition. As it stands there are very few flyable because of the huge costs involved in restoration and upkeep, and the lack of income to sustain them. Even some of the restored planes are lucky to fly a few times a year. In an interceptor role they would have the full backing of taxpayer money to keep them in good condition and flying regularly. The taxpayers even benefit, because as shocking as the maintenance bills for a radial engine Hellcat are, the maintenance bills for an F16 are much higher. It will cost a lot less for fuel, too.

Finally, the best benefit of switching to old war planes is that one might fly over my house.

DIYMatt, Jun 12 2013

XXX Airplane Porn https://www.faceboo...2675&type=2&theater
[DIYMatt, Jun 12 2013]

That oughta do it. https://www.youtube...watch?v=Qmln5aChX0s
I alwasy wondered if warbirds had working guns. This one does. [DIYMatt, Jun 12 2013]

Or the WWI version. http://upload.wikim.../a/a0/RoteBaron.JPG
Edit: er... what FT said. [swimswim, Jun 13 2013]

"Point and shoot." http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Gyro_gunsight
[DIYMatt, Jun 16 2013]

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       WWI fighter aircraft could also be used: their takeoff roll is less than WWII birds. Dunno'bout Obama but if I was King... err duly appointed President, I'd have a few biplanes in the garage.   

       You did however forget the part where they're equipped with a bit of modern weaponry, just in case.
FlyingToaster, Jun 12 2013

       //You did however forget the part where they're equipped with a bit of modern weaponry, just in case.// Just in case the Russians attack? What situation would come up that six Browning .50s couldn't handle?
DIYMatt, Jun 12 2013

       The question is, why would you prefer .50s over a couple Falcon missiles, given the nature of the assignment ?
FlyingToaster, Jun 13 2013

       The top WWII aces had estimated hit percentages in the 5- 10% range. Most of these places that require protection from wandering Cessnas are heavily populated, yes? This is a fantastic idea, but the planes should be equipped with modern weapons.
Alterother, Jun 13 2013

       Couldnt read the idea because it w as too long but skimmed and + for DC.
JesusHChrist, Jun 13 2013

       bun, if just for the increased amount of Spitfires...
bs0u0155, Jun 13 2013

       It ain't the "falling" velocity that's deadly (though getting 50g of lead dropped on your head @ 200mph isn't going to be healthy), it's the horizontal component, that starts out at Mach 3, that's likely to sting a bit.
FlyingToaster, Jun 13 2013

       Love it.   

       I say 24/7/365 aircap on all the major cities. Fire a couple of desk riding bureaucrats to help pay for it.
doctorremulac3, Jun 13 2013

       Well rather than modern or retro weaponry, how about some kind of missile that spreads into a net just before impact with the target. The carbon fiber strands ensnare the prop and stall the engine and latch securly to the body of the plane. Once the target is caught, a large paracute opens up, lowering the offender to the ground somewhat gently, reducing the chance of fatal colateral damage if this occurs over a populated area.
scad mientist, Jun 13 2013

       giant robber wasps.
FlyingToaster, Jun 13 2013

       scad mientist, Jun 13 2013 Love that idea of "net missile", I think it deserves its own halfbaked thread. I would imagine it to be quite a tough engineering problem, but not insurmountable.
mofosyne, Jun 14 2013

       Buns awaaaaayyy!
AusCan531, Jun 14 2013

       "Pilot to Bunbardier."   

       What [Akimbomidget] said.
Voice, Jun 14 2013

       I think the idea has merit, other than the historic war bird part.   

       Yes, we could do with low cost/more efficient/low performance air patrols to ward off Cessnas.   

       Plenty of easily modified modern planes could do it.
Kansan101, Jun 15 2013

       // Modern targeting systems should suffice //   

       The guns in WWII fighters were fixed in place and pre- sighted at fixed ranges. I fail to see how "modern targeting systems" could even integrate with that arrangement, much less improve upon it.   

       // unless the warbirds are firing in a dive //   

       A favored method of attack among WWII fighter pilots.   

       // nobody is likely to be killed by falling bullets //   

       Agreed. People are far more likely to be killed by stray bullets fired at downward or flat trajectories.
Alterother, Jun 16 2013

       Bear in mind most WWII fighters had electronic gunsights similar to modern holographic sights. It wasn't just a metal post at the end of the nose. (See link)
DIYMatt, Jun 16 2013

       I'm aware of that. I'm saying that no modern system is going to keep well over 75% of those big .50 cal slugs from spraying all over the suburbs.
Alterother, Jun 17 2013

       "The guns in WWII fighters were fixed in place and pre- sighted at fixed ranges. I fail to see how "modern targeting systems" could even integrate with that arrangement, much less improve upon it."   

       The guns in modern fighters are fixed in place. You can bet that modern fire control takes in information about the pitch, azimuth, and airspeed of the firing aircraft, the air density and temperature and winds, and predicts the path of the bullet and displays it on a screen, along with the projected path of the adversary, so that the pilot can maneuver to the correct angle that the bullet will hit the target.
Kansan101, Jun 17 2013

       Unless they are firing straight up, the bullet will retain a horizontal component at impact with the ground/tall building/passing innocent aircraft/goose/guy in a lawn chair with helium balloons.   

       A better bet might just be a Chinook with a net, which is still faster than a Cessna 172.
MechE, Jun 17 2013

       //Semi or fully-automatic dog-fight mode where the plane manouevres itself for path intersection.// That would be a bit hard to accomplish in a plane with no autopilot servos.
DIYMatt, Jun 17 2013

       Okay, I partially withdraw my argument. Still, modern targeting systems work much better with modern guns. M134, anyone? Shirley, shorter bursts mean better hit rates.
Alterother, Jun 17 2013

       //A better bet might just be a Chinook//   

       I don't think the operating costs of a WWI/II fighter aircraft approach that of a modern military helicopter.   

       //M134 anyone ?// okay, that's a ridiculous cycling rate... I'll stick with air-to-air missiles though: looks just as good from the ground, and even though it's much more expensive, actual use would hopefully be pretty rare.
FlyingToaster, Jun 17 2013

       One man's "ridiculous cycling rate" is another man's cloud of harmless debris pattering gently on rooftops...
Alterother, Jun 18 2013


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