The art of Air Combat Manoeuvring (ACM) came to the attention of the general public with Tony Scott’s 1986 film, Top Gun. Whilst this concentrated on the US Navy’s school the US Marine Corps and Air Force have similar units. With the advent of high-tech missiles, guns and dog-fighting were deemed to be obsolete. Pilots would be able to destroy their enemies using radar, way before they were close enough to see them.
Vietnam was to become the testing ground for the technology. However, the Rules of Engagement often dictated that the identity of opponents had to be visually confirmed first. This could lead the heavy American aircraft (often with no guns) into tight, close-in, turning fights with lighter, cannon armed MiGs. Analysis showed that US airmen needed new aircraft, leading to the F-15 & F-16 programmes and new skills, which lead to the creation of the USAF’s Aggressor squadrons. These squadrons flew lightweight aircraft, often of types not used by the US, which could simulate the tactics and manoeuvres used by enemies.
Evan M‘s excellent F-16C comes from the 16th Weapons Squadron, based at Nellis AFB. The model does a very good job of capturing the smooth curves of the F-16’s blended fuselage and wing in angular Lego. The tan & brown colours from Lego also represent one of the various colours scheme used by the squadron. Click here to see more images and click here to take the Highway to the Danger Zone.
Neither Brains nor Lady Penelope but the United States’ Airforce aerobatic display team feature in this model from Jme Wheeler. Whilst other militaries use lightweight trainer aircraft to equip their teams, the USAF and the US Navy have traditionally used front-line fighters. At one point, both teams displayed using the large, heavy McDonnel Douglas Phantom II, a machine not exactly noted for its manoeuvrability.
This model is neatly chibi version of the current mount of the Thunderbirds: the Lockheed-Martin F-16. Jme Wheeler has captured the shape of the Viper in compact form, including its chines. He’s made a good choice in the big, bubble canopy that has allowed him to squeeze a minifigure into the cockpit too. It’s all topped off with a suitably abbreviated version of the Thunderbirds’ distinctive markings. Sadly, a group of Elves has got hold of the model and are busily trying to fly it across the TLCB offices by launching it from a high shelf. To get a view of the ‘plane when it was still in one piece, click this link to Flickr, where you can see more of Jme Wheeler’s Lego cars and ‘planes.