Part 48: Season 7. Six-Day War - A Jew? Here? (Mirage IIICJ Shahak)Season 7. Six-Day War - A Jew? Here? (Mirage IIICJ Shahak)
The canon ending of the Suez Crisis saw Egypt trampled by the Israeli forces and further humiliated by the UK and France, only to be saved in the last minute by the USA and the USSR. However, the Egyptian top brass thought, that they were totally badass, and spent the following decade circle jerking, dreaming of wiping the neighbour out, and occasionally buying a new toy from the Soviets. Suddenly, Israel.
This war is special, as Israel is attacking in all directions, with the main areas of operations for us being the already familiar deserts to the west, and the mountains to the north.
S07E01: 1967.06.05 (Day One - Introduction To Mayhem)
I'd love to start off by showing the yet unvisited northern section of the map, but it's next to impossible to avoid missions at and near Cairo in the beginning of this war. Our job in the initial stages is to fuck up the enemy squadrons while they're on the ground.
We're with the No. 119 Bat Squadron. If you look closely, you'll spot the tiny emblem on the tail fin. The Bat Squadron starts the war with 20 planes and a lot of people. I can fix that.
The options are nothing to write home about. We're back to basic bombs and rockets for this campaign. Also, Shafrir-1 and Matra R.530 for air-to-air... so, basically, guns.
The mission video
In which we discover a new and exciting way to brake
Apparently, that was impressive enough for a reward
We're awarded with crossed metal Kit Kats. Awesome!
More of the exact same. I wanted to boil it down to the map and statistics, but Egypt keeps parking even more planes in the open, despite the obvious losses visible on the map.
The mission video
In which we shoot fish in a barrel
The gut feeling finally started working out for those bombing runs.
Israel Aven is now an ace.
A mission in that direction? Yes, please! Some Mystères ask for cover, and those decade-old planes are definitely going to need it.
The mission video
In which we sample the air combat
Squadron's opinion: fuck this missile.
Zvi Shachal is a POW.
So. Delta-wings, giant speedbrakes, etc. Selenic is getting good at covering most of the things I'd want to talk about in the videos which is great. Instead let's talk about the Shafrir, and infra-red guidance in general. Most IR-guided missiles of the time would have difficulties operating in the harsh, IR-emission-rich environment of the Six Day War, but the Shafrir struggled even in the much cooler environments of France. This is due to a combination of a number of factors.
The first is the method used to detect infra-red radiation. Early IR seeker heads used a coating of lead(II) sulfide, which is a black substance that conducts electricity when exposed to radiation of certain wavelengths. Because the electrical resistance changes depending on the number of photons currently hitting this coating, it's (comparatively) quite simple to determine how much IR radiation the seeker is exposed to. There are some problems with this however, which brings us to the second point.
Lead(II) sulfide, when at room temperature, only absorbs, and thus responds to, photons of roughly 1-2.5 micrometer wavelengths. This is the extremely short end of the infrared spectrum and it requires a lot of energy to emit this kind of radiation - if you're familiar with black-body radiation, this means a lot of heat. About as much heat as a jet exhaust. However, even jet exhausts only emit this kind of radiation in a fairly small cone behind them. This is why early missiles like the Shafrir and AIM-9B could only lock onto and track a target from a very narrow rear aspect. Two solutions were devised to this problem - the first was to use liguid nitrogen/argon or a series of thermoelectric coolers to keep the seeker cool, which both reduced the background noise and allowed the lead sulfide to respond to much longer wavelengths of radiation, thus enlarging the cone from which a target could be engaged. The other solution was to simply replace the lead sulfide with other things, such as mercury cadmium telluride which can be 'tuned' to a specific range of IR frequencies just by varying the amount of cadmium, or (as in some versions of the AGM-65 Maverick) an imaging infrared seeker which is basically just a camera. It's worth noting that these latter types of missiles are considered to be electro-optically guided even if the seeker uses infrared radiation to acquire and track the target, but the distinction is mostly academic.
Another factor (and the last I'm going to mention) is the way in which the seeker actually uses the information it has (the signal processing). The AIM-9 uses spinning mirrors and a gimbal to determine how far off-axis an acquired IR signal is with a bit of frequency modulation, but earlier designs used the amplitude of this signal to determine how much to steer to chase the signal. Since the amplitude will always be increasing as the missile gets closer, it would often massively overcorrect at close range and end up missing even if the target didn't evade. Eventually they figured out a way to use frequency modulation to determine the range and rate of closure which made the missile much more reliable, though I don't know the specifics. Regardless, the use of frequency modulation to determine range and off-axis angle is common to all modern IR-guided missiles, as it tends to filter out a lot of background noise.
I talk about the AIM-9 here because the early development of the Shafrir fairly closely mimics the early development of the AIM-9, though over a much shorter timespan and without some of the painful lessons the US had to learn the hard way in the development of its Sidewinders.