Chuck Yeager Vs The Red Baron

An old discussion of VisualBasic (6) vs C++ (ThingsWeHateAboutVbClassic) inspired the following discussion. It seems entertaining enough to preserve.
I wonder if there's a subtle trap here...

As Chuck Yeager puts it, "it's the man, not the machine": a superior pilot in an inferior plane will win every time. If the rescuer is very good, he can make any set of tools look better than the tools you are using. It is a mistake to assume that it is his tools that caused the project's productivity to improve. Of course, given pilots of equal ability, the tools then make a big difference.

Some projects might be too late to save.

But I think I'd beat Chuck Yeager if I were flying a Piper Cub and he were flying a Rambler Ambassador with rebuilt tires. "It's the man not the machine" applies after the machines have anywhere near matched features. [See Note 1]

A Chuck Yeager would redefine the problem so that beating you did not involve leaving the ground. Then he would beat you.


"The quality of the box matters little. Success depends upon the man who sits in it."
-- Baron Manfred von Richthofen, AKA The Red Baron. [See note 2]
[As a side note]: Assuming you are talking about the Fokker Dr.I triplane, Richthofen hated that aircraft. In fact, he fought against it so much he was finally ordered to use it, over his objections, because Fokker was "in" with the political elite at the time. Richthofen much preferred the Albatross biplane, the one that made him and his Flying Circus so famous. But I digress... :) -- DC

A thought:

Chuck Yeager could get you (in your airplane) so distracted by his crazy driving moves that you start striving your best to follow his every move to "get him." Then he drives into a tunnel.

(...and your airplane hits the mountain. ;-)
This is all such a bogus argument that as the writer below stated, it's a RedHerring. Let's take the comparison further: The Red Baron, in his Fokker Dr.I triplane, goes up against Second Lieutenant Joe Schmoe in his F-14 Tomcat on his first day on the job. Radar picks up the Red Baron at nearly 200 miles out, away goes the Phoenix missile (overkill, for sure), and the Red Baron never even sees the incoming missile that obliterates his aircraft. How in the world does the Red Baron being a superior pilot overcome the disparate technology?

The F-14 would probably have a very difficult time against the Fokker. The Phoenix would be useless, the AMRAAMs useless as well. The rookie might have a chance to get in a lucky shot with a Sidewinder, but he's only got two of those. Most likely he'd have to close to cannon range, which, with the difference in speeds, would give him only a few seconds per pass to try to draw a bead on the highly maneuverable Fokker. The Baron, meanwhile, could easily trick the rookie into stalling and crashing or bottoming out. F-14s aren't good at low-speed, close-in treetop level dogfights, nor are rookie pilots.

OTOH, how well would the Fokker do in the jetwash of a Mach 1 flyby? The rookie need not fire a weapon to be dangerous to the Fokker itself.

The Samurai of 19th century Japan [See Note 3] wielded swords and bows against poorly-trained conscripts armed with rifles and cannon. The conscripts won. The samurai also had contemporaneous firearms but not as modern as those of the the conscripts, nor had they as much access to munitions. And yes, indeed, the conscripts won.

-- DC

This can play in the opposite direction, too. Consider the Soviets vs. the Mujahideen, or the US vs. the NVA. Sometimes your tools are so far advanced that they can't cope with a highly asymmetrical scenario. -- MikeSmith

(I fear going even more OffTopic here, but...) Those were really political situations rather than strictly military ones. In Viet Nam the USA was unwilling to invade North Viet Nam for fear of widening the war further than it had already spread. An actual ground invasion of NVN would have certainly put an end to NVA incursion into SVN, but would have left a much larger SE Asian internal headache than what resulted from the US pullout.

In Afghanistan the former Soviets were facing a similar situation in that they lacked the will to prosecute that conflict all the way down into Pakistan and west to Iran. Ivan was never going to defeat an enemy who could simply run away and come back at any time. -- MartySchrader
1. [WARNING! (RedHerring) ALERT!] The clue here is that the guy flying the Piper with laser-guided AGM114s is going to smoke whoever is driving the Rambler around, no matter what. At a certain point the tools become so significant that they make up vast talent differences. I can't imagine trying to do anything with P-system Pascal these days despite the fact that I kicked some serious ass with that stuff 20 years ago. Nowadays a high school dropout using Visual Basic would wipe the floor with me if I tried using P-system. Duh! Let's compare apples to apples, shall we? -- MartySchrader
1a. It's not that simple. Where's the cutoff? You don't want to compare apples with oranges but maybe apples with pears. I use C++ almost exclusively but I often think, hmm, maybe I should be doing this part in a different language. But then, Visual C++ makes it almost as easy to throw together a GUI as VB, so why bother? Templates get me around a lot of the static typing headaches so why bother with Ruby (as much as I love it) or Python or whatever? I'm no Chuck Yeager but I need to see the high school dropout be significantly more productive in some other language before I start considering AlternateHardAndSoftLayers. -- AndrewQueisser
2. Richy flew the most expensive, arguably most capable fighter aircraft of WW1.
3. Arguably the best fighting force, man for man, at any time in history up to that point.

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