My next priority is to check my dive parameters…how close am I? I first check dive angle; it’s the most critical parameter…all other corrections will be made with this in mind. I glance down to my instrument panel and the attitude indicator (no HUD in a F-4). Durn…I see that I am a degree or two shallow. That probably is the result of my initial error in AOP placement; when I raised my nose, I shallowed out. “Think, mudhead,” I say to myself as I try to remember my error analysis. Today, my thinking is kinda slow…after all, I’m not sitting in some comfy classroom environment while I ponder this weighty question. Oh no…I’m riding a 40,000 pound beast that’s going downhill fast, and right now, I’m just a passenger!
“Airspeed”, my instinct for self-preservation screams out!! I check inside for my airspeed indicator…the needle is moving rapidly to my desired speed. Suddenly, a gift from God burrows its way into my consciousness. Shallow dive angle equals short bomb…I can offset this with more airspeed. I decide to add some knots to my release airspeed to correct my dive angle error. Another quick check of my indicated airspeed shows me approaching the speed I want. As the airspeed needle reaches that speed, I yank the throttle back to keep the speed from increasing any further.
By now my heart rate is enough to bring apoplexy to the folks in “ER”, but I think I’m getting things under control. My AOP is set…I won’t mess with it anymore. I’ve got my speed set with a correction for my dive angle. Now I can move along to some minor questions, such as, where am I heading?!!
Heading? The word jars my thinking…heading…of course! My heading is my flight path! How is my flight path? Is it going to run through the target or do I have a slight azimuth (right/left) error? “Oh man,” I say…too many sody pops last night! OK…I’m just a bit off to one side. I need a quick flight path correction.
Fig 22 – Flight Path Correction
First I note how far my existing flight path is offset from the desired path. That distance is my lateral error. I have to move my flight path right or left of the AOP just that amount. But, I don’t want to get too aggressive…I won’t try to jerk the F-4 to the new heading. Instead, I smoothly roll into a medium bank and then hold that bank angle to let the jet start to turn.
Fig 23 – Corrected Flight Path Error
As I do this, I look inside again and now look to the altimeter. I want to see how rapidly I am descending towards my planned release altitude. (Time out!! – At this point in this story, I want to emphasize that I have not yet said anything about the pipper except for the initial AOP/IPP ratio. My attention has been on other things. What the pipper is doing is important, for sure, but up to now, not as important as getting my F-4 on a predictable dive attitude and a set speed.)
OK, back to the altimeter…I’ve got a couple of thousand feet yet to go…plenty of time to consider how my pipper is tracking to the target. Oops! Don’t forget about the flight path! I roll out of my turn with my flight path now set to run right through the target. Now, the pipper is six o’clock to the target, and it appears to be accelerating its rate of movement towards the target (It’s actually not…it’s the ground details getting larger that makes this seem to be the case). In fact, the pipper looks like it is going to get to the target before I get to my release altitude.
“Of course”, I think…that’s because of my shallow angle. Another flash of insight and I realize that I am going to have to delay my pickle slightly. If I pickle with the pipper on the target but at an altitude above planned release, I’ll get a short bomb. Now, my increase in airspeed is going to help a bit, but I better think also about a corrected pickle point.
At this point, it’s all over but for the shouting! I’ve got my AOP, speed, and flight path set. All I have to do is to wait for my release picture. And here it is!
Fig 24 – The Release Picture
I keep my AOP steady as the pipper runs up to and through the target. I’ve already decided how far past the target to let it go… There!! Pickle!!
No time to pat myself on the back yet. I pull back on the stick until the g’s push me into the seat. As the nose comes up through the horizon, I push the throttle up to full power. I continue to raise the nose as I roll into a bank that will take me back to my base leg for another go at the target.
A few seconds later, the range controller gives me my score. “60 at 12, One.” Sixty feet long…hmm…I think I overdid the error analysis. Probably let the pipper go too far past the target before the pickle. Oh well, that score may cost me a beer, but I’ll go to school on it now before my next pass.
On my next roll in, I’ll remember the correct AOP. I’ll make sure I get my nose over to that point in the roll in. That way, no more dive angle problem…no more early sight picture…no more having to make big corrections to my release point…no more having to buy somebody a beer. No more nuthin’!! I’m getting a bull next time!!
Fig 25 – Kaboom!!
Well, there you have it, folks. The basics of dive bombing. Hope you enjoyed it. In follow on articles, I’ll introduce more advanced delivery techniques and procedures.
See you then.
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