Things You Learn in Books

I’m reading the new Yefim Gordon book on the Flanker (an updated version of his older one that I never got) and even though I’m only on chapter 1 I’ve already learned the answer to a few questions I’ve long had.

For one, why do the R-27R and R-27T exist when the superior R-27ER and R-27ET do?

To be as brief as possible, when the MiG-29 and Su-27 were being developed, it was decided they would share a radar and thus missiles for all the benefits commonality brings. However, having a smaller nose and dish meant the 29’s radar range was smaller. While the R/T was sized for the 29’s range, the 27 needed more. However, the ET/ER would be wasted on the 29 because the missile’s effective range was greater than the radar’s. So the lighter R/T missiles carry a smaller weight penalty.

So bottom line is the 29 should carry the R/T and the 27 the ER/ET unless you have supply issues or something.

I’ve not bought a book like this in many years due to space considerations (this one is 750 pgs and weighs more than most dictionaries), but I’m now thinking of rereading some of my older ones that have been idle for a long time. Like the ones I have on the Tomcat and Hornet!


Keep the info coming! These are the kinds of small details we typically overlook or don’t know about.

If only we could restrict weapons availability by airframe (without adding a limit like the warehouse system does)…

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He is a very, very good author. I’ve got several of his books on my aviation shelf. Top notch stuff.

One of the greatest benefits was that USN intel officers didn’t have to memorize another set of fighter-radar-missile sets…


Whereas before it was a different set for each fighter…and those radar names!…SPIN SCAN, HIGH LARK, FOX FIRE…ugh.

Probably not why the Soviets did if, but I was thankful they did. :sunglasses:

Were those Soviet names or NATO? I thought they just used the designations for the most part.

That’s why pre-NATO all those WWII piston engine jobs had no names, because they didn’t bother to name them. It’s a Yak-9 or a MiG-3, not a Flipper or a Flatulater.

NATO names always seemed to be based on “drunk guy pointing in the dark at a dictionary” rules.

I thought that was determined by a .lua somewhere?

Probably for the game overall, I was referring to the Mission Editor. Then you could vary per scenario.

Even now, if you wanted to say take AGM-65Ds always from the Hog, you have to turn off unlimited ammo. Using the warehouse system can be awkward when it does work, as @Franze found. I’m hoping for a “disable” option, while still having unlimited otherwise.

Then, by extension with your provided information maybe a “disable for ” option do you could keep a weapon free to some types and not others.

No, they are NATO names and designations. But since the Soviets used the same radar and missiles, we had less to memorize.

The aircraft and missile codenames have a method. First there was prop vs jet for the aircraft. Props (including turbo props) are single syllable; pure jets are two syllable. So Coot s a prop; Candid is a jet. The rest is all mission C = Cargo “transport”, F = Fighter, B = Bomber, M = …probably Misc
Surface to surface missiles are all S words like Styx, Scud, Sunburn and Sandbox. SAMs are all G words (guided?) like Gecko and Guideline. AA are all A words like Alamo and Apex.

Radars? The only one I know that makes any sense (and may not be the case) is Pop Group, associated with the SA-N-4 that has a launcher that "pops up"from below deck…how the came up with Square Pair or Bass Tilt or High Lark ??? …I guess the Tomb Stone looks like a Tomb Stone…actually when you get down to it, in “the business” we use the ELNOTs to refer to radars. :sunglasses:


Did the J-20, J-10 and Su-57 ever receive NATO designations?

The 57 hasn’t yet, but the Su-47 was called Firkin. Because drunk guy with dictionary as I stated before.

The J-20 is Fire Fang and the J-10 is Firebird.

So yeah, only the J-10 has a sensible name.

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Now that you have me the thinking, about it…just about all the NATO code names have been a little “off the beaten path”…that might be on purpose. Naming something a “Fish Bed” is fairly unique where as calling it a Fish Fry or Fish Eye isn’t as much so.

In the “community”, we pretty much dropped off using the NATO codenames after there were so many different versions of Flanker. For the PRC aircraft, some have “retained” their NATO codenames while others have not. We even started using S200 and S300 for the PRC SAM systems formerly known as the SA-10 band variants.

THIS! this is why I bloody love this website.

I would never of ever looked this up. I always assumed it was random with maybe a bit of cold War ribbing thown in here and there.

Thanks @Hangar200 that’s really interesting


I think the rule was based on visual ID. As an Su-30 didn’t look too different from a 27 or a 33 all were called Flanker.

The Su-32 and 34, though, had different enough lines, and capabilities, to be called Fullback instead.

The plethora of numbers had more to do with politics, though. Apparently Sukhoi OKB found out the funding flowed more readily for a “new” plane using Su-33 or Su-35 over just calling it an Su-27M or Su-27K.

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Well yeah…“we” didn’t do the numbers, just the code words. The only “issue” being that Migs are always odd numbered…except for the Mig-28 that bears a remarkable resemblance to the F-5…and was only made in small numbers, excessively for use in a movie. :grin:

It is more than VID. The jet needs to be significantly different in some principle way. So Mig-23 and Mig-27 are both Floggers, different missions and noses but basically the same aircraft, but the Mig-25 is a Foxbat while the Mig-31 is a Firefox - very different airframes although the mission and visual appearance is similar. The Candid and the Mainstay are essentially the same airframe but very different inside…and the big radome is a major change.

At the end of the day it’s subjective. During the Cold War, the code names really helped with remembering and memorizing…I can’t even come close to remembering the actual russian designation for AAMs but can rattle off differences between an AA-7, 8, 9, 10, 11…etc. The submarine code names were also a good help…but that was when we were just using letter codes like Alpha, Oscar, Kilo and Delta…it is a weird mix now with Oscar Its, Kilos and Delta IVs still in the OOB along with Akula II SSNs.