F-108a Panther : Class B Space Superiority Fighter
Guest Lecture to Confed Flight Academy
2681 2nd Semester
Given by Captain Kenny "Hottman" Hott
You know, I've had the chance to fly with some really good pilots from both Confed and the Border Worlds. It's just a real shame that most of them don't fly the Panther to their fullest potential. The Kilrathi war vets are just as bad about it as green rookies, sometimes even worse. After several years of putting your faith in the Hellcat or Excalibur, old flying habits die hard. But times change, and so do the ships you fly. So, having said that, let me give you an overview of the F-108a Panther.

The most important feature in Confed's most recent generation of space fighters is the self-articulating nacelles on the Panther and Vampire. So what does that mean? Well, in the case of the Panther, it means that the yaw rate is almost two times the rate of it pitch. Let me give you an example. Get into the simulator and run the Panther programs. Orient yourself to some reference point and drop your throttle to 0. Now push down on the stick and count how many seconds it takes for you to get back to your starting position. Then try pushing the stick to the left and count how long it takes. You'll see the difference.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. So what? Well, when you are trying to stay on the tail of an enemy ship or flying a Shelton slide turret run it can mean the difference between life and death. When an enemy ship pitches up, experienced Panther pilots don't pull back on the stick to follow! Instead they roll to one side and then turn to keep on the tail of their enemy. Oh yes, you can rank up quite a few kills using that one very simple technique. You can do the same thing when you are stripping enemy turrets. Start a Shelton slide, but don't change your orientation by pulling forward or back on the stick. Just turn. It's faster and you will have more shots on target. Trust me, your bomber wing will love you for it and buy you drinks when you finish the mission.

As for the weapons, the Panther can pack a wallop. But be careful, the gun pool is not that much greater than other ship models. The panther usually has two types of guns. I think the current configurations the Confed Dev boys are playing with are the chain ion cannon and cloudburst guns. I've seen a few guys just hold down the trigger to watch the pretty light show the chain ions throw. Then they complain the guns couldn't strip the shields off a junked Salthi. The truth is… they're right, the chain ion guns really aren't that good at stripping shields, but they do a decent job at plinking away at armor. Personally, I think that the chain ion cannon is a crutch for aiming. Fire enough bolts at something and even an engineer flying in the simulator at lowest level can hit something. When I fire, I make certain that both the "cluds" and ion bolts fire at the same time. Time your shots and resist the urge to start the light show. You can only get off a few shots before draining your gun's energy pool, but there aren't many fighters that can take those few shots.

As for its missiles, you get what you're given. Nowadays, unless you are given some unusual mission specific loadout, that means six Pilum Friend or Foes and six Artemis long range image recognition missiles. Maybe it's just the advance in fighter technology, but the Pilums don't seem to have the punch they used to during the Kilrathi war. It's best to use them once you have pounded the enemy with guns first. As for the Artemis missiles, they are new and I haven't had a chance to use them under true battle conditions, but I've had a chance to interview several pilots from the Midway and it looks like the Artemis is their new best friend.

There really isn't any substitute for experience. All you can do is practice on the simulator until you get your chance. For the next week, I'm told you will all put in thirty hours on the simulators re-flying the 'Second Battle of Kilrah'. I suggest that you use that time to explore the limits of the ship. I wish you good luck and hope to see you all on flight rosters throughout Confed soon.