The first recorded account of two aircraft engaging in aerial combat occurred in late November 1913 during the Mexican Revolution. The pilots, both American ‘soldiers of fortune’ on opposing sides of the conflict, engaged each other (unsuccessfully) with handheld pistols in otherwise unarmed aircraft.
The gun—and soon after, the cannon—quickly became the primary weapon for air-to-air “dogfighting” and was incorporated in various calibers and locations into virtually all combat aircraft for the next 50 years, through two world wars and numerous armed conflicts. Until the advent of the air-to-air missile, the gunfighters ruled the skies.
On this episode, retired US Navy Commander Jerry “Turkey” Tucker joins us to discuss the “last of the gunfighters,” the Vought F-8 Crusader. Designed as a supersonic dogfighter, the Crusader ushered in the era of A/A missiles and, indeed, most of its kills in the Vietnam conflict were achieved with early versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Turkey regales us not just with what it was like to fly and fight the Crusader but the many other aircraft he flew, including the F-4 Phantom II and A-4 Skyhawk as a two-time demonstration pilot for the US Navy Blue Angels.
Due to the length of the interview, no listener questions are addressed on this episode. For those craving a second helping of Turkey, another serving can be found on our Patreon page where edited parts of the interview are available as bonus content.
Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.