The Insane Engineering of the F-16

Published 2023-11-04
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Producer/Writer/Narrator: Brian McManus
Head of Production: Mike Ridolfi
Editor: Dylan Hennessy
Animator: Eli Prenten
Producer/Sound: Graham Haerther
Studio Producer: Michael Wuerth
Interviewee: David Kern
Thumbnail: Simon Buckmaster


Select imagery/video supplied by Getty Images
Thank you to AP Archive for access to their archival footage.

Music by Epidemic Sound:

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All Comments (21)
  • @peternyceiii8625
    I flew the F-4D for 1300 hours and the F-16A (Block 10) for 500 hours and can attest that the airplane is truly phenomenal and is one of the great designs of aircraft history. This video did an outstanding job covering the insane engineering involved!
  • Thanks for the opportunity to collaborate and contribute to this video. Great job to the whole team on this production!
  • @JTLaser1
    My brother worked on a LASER at the Fort Worth plant in the 90s, and when he got back he was massively impressed! His words were, “ They shove a block of aluminum in one end of the plant, and F-16s come out the other! Absolutely magical!” I miss him and his absolute love of ships and aircraft!
  • Wow, great content!! I appreciate you and your understanding of the mechanics and physics on the F-16 airframe. Well done.
  • @ilo3456
    In reference to the start when talking about the F-4, it wasn't that the F-4 was bad at its job is just that it rarely was allowed to do its job the way it was intended to, the F-4 was designed with the idea of firing your missiles far from the target but due to ROE limitation the F-4 pilots were required to have visual confirmation of targets before launching their missiles which made them have to put themselves at a disadvantage since they had to close in with the MiGs which were better in close quarters as they could out manoeuvre the F-4s meaning that it was less a fault with the design or intended doctrine of the plane and more so a problem with the doctrine in the ground which commanders implemented to avoid Blue on Blue incidents, it would be the same as if you the US went to war today and strapped drop tanks and extra missiles on outside pylons to Stealth Fighters, it would defeat the entire doctrine which these planes are built around which would make them infinitely more vulnerable to enemy planes which might outperform them in certain metrics, while if operated properly the F-22 and F-35 are practically invisible until you are getting shot at. It is not always the equipment that fails to live up to expectations but rather the people in charge of mission planning that fail to consider the unique advantages of each piece of gear in their arsenal, which can lead to the wrong conclusion when evaluating an aircraft, you have to stop to consider what its intended role was and if it performed well or poorly in that role when it performed tasks in that role, if I grabbed a hammer and tried to use it to mow the lawn I could say that the Hammer is useless but if I use it to hammer nails I would say it performs its task well.
  • Outstanding info with beautiful photos, video and graphics. Brilliantly done!
  • One of my Uncles was a General in the USAF; flew over 8000 hours in everything from the P51 to the F-16. He adored the F-16; he was very fond of saying that if we had thought of them earlier, Vietnam would have been a walkthrough. Thank you for this incredible documentary: just amazing.
  • @Sta_cotto
    Love your videos on military planes, hope to see either the 14, 15, and/or 18 in the future
  • @pvt.potato1943
    I have no doubt that Boyd influenced the development of the F-16 in terms of the E-M diagrams, but you didn't mention his rejection of advanced missiles, radar, and avionics, and claimed they ruined his aircraft. Yet when those missles and avionics proved to be, it's greatest strength, he praised it and took all the credit for its design.
  • @bethrubins1548
    Thx for a fascinating look at the 16!!your explaining and experience really comes thru. Great job.
  • @iduswelton9567
    My uncle Bill would have loved this video - he worked for Chance-Vault beginning in 1950 till his retirement 35years later - he worked in aircraft design and wind tunnel testing - one if his designs ( with his name on it ) was the jet intake on the F8U1 Crusader
  • @BottleOfCoke
    As a masters student in aerospace control systems engineering, this video was a gift! We often use the F16 for modeling and simulations, and it was really interesting to compare the methods the had back then, to those we are taught today. Thank you!
  • @Stryker2279
    One of the biggest disadvantages the phantoms had was just rules of engagement... They weren't allowed to take beyond visual range shots, so the migs always were allowed to get up close, where they shined. A change of tactics and rules of engagements changed the tide and phantoms started racking up the kills
  • @girak2
    The footage used is amazing! I particularly like the scene over the Great Sand Dunes National Park @ 32:02 Well done.
  • @szuszpi
    Hey! Amazing video as always. Just quick correction, from 0:46 those jets are Su-22's (fighter bomber), and not the very similar Mig-21's (fighter/interceptor). The wings and the shock cone in the front shows the difference.
  • @BlueBoomer61
    I crewed F-16's in the AF and ANG for 12 years, then got to crew a test bed at Edwards for a few years. I was lucky enough to have several rides, including one over the range at MacDill AFB in 1982. Everything that Kern says about the M61A1 Vulcan is true. The violent shaking turns the instruments into a blur. I also got to meet Phil Oestricher at the SETP convention in Rome in 1992. He was the one with the dubious honor of the unplanned 1st flight in 1974. My last flight as a KC135 Boom Operator in 2005, I refueled a flight of F-16s from the Illinois ANG. I built a 43-year aviation career, basically around the F-16. Absolutely love the airplane.
  • Great interview with Captain Kern! His assessment of gun accuracy on the jet was music to my eyes. On the gunnery range at Edwards in the mid-1970's, we scored many 1000's of rounds on F-16 strafing runs. Our scoring data was used to refine the sighting ballistics and improve accuracy. The scoring was manual (pen/paper) and laborious back then. Although our part was a small one, decades ago, there is present day satisfaction for this contribution to the best in class fighter that is the F-16. Thanks for the memories...
  • @pennise
    I remember watching a film at USAFA back in the late 70s that had the F-4, F-15, and F-16 making the 360 maneuver. It was truly amazing to see how much more maneuverable the F-15 and especially the F-16 were compared to the Phantom.