On 19 January 1969, Rational Minister of Defense Ferenc Horthy initiated an R&D program to develop a new aircraft for the RSDAF directed by chief engineer Dr. Jenõ Rényi at Molnár Aeronautical Industries. This program intended to produce a ground attack plane to replace the F-100 Szuper Szablya using only domestic parts. While Molnár had experience building components under license from Osean, Belkan, and Yuktobanian corporations, they were comparatively new at designing modern military aircraft. In 1965 they had developed the OT-11 Sirály advanced trainer and light attack aircraft, which was powered by a license built Rolls Royce Viper Mk.531 and incorporated some domestic avionics. Spurred on by its success, and by their paranoia of foreign strong-arming, the Szalasi administration was lured by the dream of a modern RSDAF immune to the fortunes of world events. In a public address announcing the program, Horthy stated the administration's hope that the project would help strengthen Ratio's technology and industrial sector as a whole.
The requirements originally asked for an aircraft comprised of a simple airframe, which could be easily maintained and withstand operations from damaged or makeshift airfields. It would have swept, high mounted wings with small leading edge extensions for stability and performance at low speeds while allowing for safe high speed dives. It would have a single non-afterburning engine of Focus-Molnár design. It would carry all current air to ground weapons in the RSDAF inventory.
Originally the plane was intended to use only basic navigational equipment, but the Ministry of Defense altered the requirements in late 1969 to include an RWR. Later in 1970, they decided that the aircraft should also include radar to employ reverse engineered Kh-66s, which Ratio had bought from Yuktobania under the previous administration in hopes to modify part of their aging fleet of DC-3s with license built RP-21 Sapfir radars to use against shipping. It feel to the Bela Végh Institute to design this equipment.
Strong off the starting line with promising wind tunnel results, the project lost no time in running headlong into technological hurdles. The BVI had difficulty with their LTL-4 radar, which could not produce sufficient power to guide the Kh-66 while keeping within weight and size constraints. Attempts to reverse engineer the Sapfir radar had been aborted early on due to the belief that a clean sheet design incorporating what knowledge they already had of the system would be faster and cheaper. The radar was ready by mid 1974, and had performance similar to the RP-21. It was an alcohol-cooled pulse-only continuous wave radar which used analog components, and was an acceptable radar for 1964. Regrettably, the year was not 1964, and the whole project was a disappointment. The sensor did, however, work as intended.
The REV-1 RWR also had issues. Like the LTL-4 radar, it used entirely analog components, and like the LTL-4, it was dubiously useful. It was designed to detect the direction of known ground based fire control radars in service with its neighbors, and flash and sound a buzzer if a missile was incoming. It had no ability to detect airborne radars, and its tube-based logic was impractical to modify when new surface to air weapons came into service. In service, the REV-1 proved unreliable, with a time between failures well short of requirements. Worse still, it often returned false positives, leading pilots to often simply pull the sensor's fuse out before flight. Until the T-13C, pilots once again had little choice but to leave detecting missiles and anti-aircraft fire to the Mk.1 Eyeball.
On the other hand, Focus-Molnár still hadn't produced an engine which could produce more than 25kN of thrust - short of the required 33kN, and a far cry from the 37kN promised in the innocent days of youth. Part of the difficulty was the ducting. To make sure the aircraft could operate safely from rough, unprepared fields, and to give the engine some protection against ground fire, it was mounted high in the fuselage, with an intake above and behind the cockpit. The aerodynamics of the inlet proved unfavorable, and even in the latest variants, pilots still have to worry about compressor stalls. This was only part of the issue, however, and even on the stand, the FM-303 was not producing nearly enough thrust by 1974.
When the Szalasi administration left power in 1974, the incoming Solti administration was quick to size up the project as an impending failure. In an address to the public, the new Minister of Defense Leopold Fischer stated "The Pánik (stampede) is out of control, and falls to us to corral it," a statement which earned him the title of Punmaster Fischer. Their first act was to rescind the Szalasi policies and approach the Osean aerospace industry for assistance. They replied almost immediately, Osea offering to license the Pratt & Whitney J52 P8 turbojet in return for some under the table understandings about trade. While still suspicious about cuddling too close to any one power, the administration accepted the deal in Rational self-interest, and Focus-Molnár began producing them without difficulty. When installed on the airframe, the engine produced around the initially promised 37kN of thrust, solving the problem.
The aircraft first flew 3 August 1975. Test pilots found the aircraft's low speed maneuvering characteristics favorable, and appreciated its ability to accelerate away off the target compared to the much more stately OT-11 Sirály. It had good forward and side visibility, which was a relief given the state of the REV-1 RWR. Lateral stability was only fair due to the small tail fins, which were enlarged on the first batch of production aircraft. More concerning were CG problems caused by the especially heavy and complicated tail configuration, which was rectified with ballast in the first production batch but ultimately proved intractable. Later versions had a single vertical stabilizer.
The T-13 Pánik is a high wing single engine monoplane. Its wings are swept with small leading edge extensions, as well as leading edge slats for low speed maneuverability and comparatively short runway requirements. The slats deploy automatically at certain speeds and angles of attack. Twin ventral airbrakes help control the aircraft's speed and assist in slowing down on landing, though in practice pilots are advised not to use the airbrakes while on the ground to reduce the risk of debris hitting the airbrakes and necessitating time consuming repairs.
The engine is mounted high in the fuselage and has its inlet above and behind the cockpit. This reduces the engine's exposure to enemy fire and reduces the risk of ingesting debris from rough fields, but is subject to flameouts during maneuvers at high speeds due to shockwaves formed by the canopy. An air restart feature allows for recovery so long as the aircraft remains traveling fast. Every variant since has had aerodynamic improvements to counter this, to limited but definite success. The aircraft sits low enough to the ground that removing the engine is not especially difficult, and its housing is designed for easy access.
The T-13A has twin tails flanking the jet exhaust. The horizontal stabilizer articulates around a thick steel beam which connects to the vertical stabilizers. This allows for the entire surface to move for controllability at transonic speeds, but makes the chord comparatively thick and the assembly heavy. The beam itself is hollow to carry electrical lines, and so is subject to fatigue and requires regular inspection and replacement. From the T-13B onward, it has been replaced with a single split vertical stabilizer, which provides slightly inferior lateral control but has the distinct advantage of not being terrible.
The J52 was replaced with the domestically produced Focus-Molnár FM-909 in the 1987 T-13C, finally fulfilling their promise. While the performance gains were negligible, the design was more modern and marginally improved the maintenance cycle.
When the aircraft first entered service, it did so with the LTL-4 radar and REV-1 RWR as its only avionics. As discussed earlier, the LTL-4 was useful only to guide a weapon which the RSDAF would never have in significant numbers, and the REV-1 was often flown disabled entirely. Both of these systems were improved in the T-13B, which brought filters for the radar, fixed a lot of the false positive issues with the RWR, and solved reliability issues with both in spite of still remaining largely tube-based. The T-13B was the best either of these bad systems got.
Weapons control in the T-13A is managed by a rotary switch indicating which pylon is currently active, and toggle switches to tell the fire control system what kind of weapon you're trying to employ. The optical sight is reverse engineered from the ASP used by Rational MiG-21PFs, and performs about the same as the optical sight on any other RSDAF aircraft. The system is somewhat cumbersome for a ground attack aircraft, but functional.
Navigation in the T-13A is done entirely by VOR and CDI cross referenced with maps. Since the T-13 was never intended to operate anywhere but over Ratio, the system works adequately.
Both of these things changed with the T-13B, which introduced the BVI LK-1 flight computer, CRT display, and ADR system. While the T-13A went into service in 1976, Molnár began work on the T-13B as early as 1975. Aside from the aerodynamic improvements and update to the radar and RWR, they planned to use the excess space left by the removal of the nose ballast for a computer based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor which they had just agreed to import. The LK-1 computer used fairly expensive solid state memory to save weight and space, but ultimately had a modest 24k of memory. The computer would manage weapon stores through a new, modern interface which would display this information on the CRT monitor. This monitor could also display flight and navigational information through the computer.
The computer did not have any ROM. During startup, ground crew had to input a bootloader program three bits at a time using a rotary dial with eight positions behind an access panel, and then load the actual flight program into RAM. At first the program was loaded off a vinyl record, but the RSDAF switched over to audio cassette as soon as they became widely available. The T-13C had the bootloader in EPROM, allowing the pilot to load both the flight program and flight data from audio cassette using a slot in the cockpit.
Pilots and ground crew write that before Ratio was allowed to import foreign consumer electronics, they would take advantage of the open architecture of the 8080 based computer to play video games on the monitor in the cockpit while on the ground.
The computer allowed the pilot to take advantage of the new Automated Dead Reckoning - or ADR - navigation system, which allowed the pilot to accurately fly ingress and egress routes off the target from waypoints loaded into the computer before takeoff.
The weapons management system and the navigational aids reduced pilot workload dramatically, and brought the aircraft - which still had its tube based radar and RWR - kicking and screaming into the modern age. This transition would be complete with the T-13C, which introduced the BVI LR-19 radar and imported Raytheon AN/ALR-69 RWR. The LR-19 is a dedicated ground search and navigation radar, and finally gave the T-13C low level attack capability in poor weather and nighttime conditions - a capability which the RSDAF had been wanting for some time. The AN/ALR-69, on the other hand, gave the aircraft a useful RWR which drastically improved its survivability when used alongside the new internal countermeasure store installed beneath the engine in the rear fuselage.
The T-13C also introduced a basic HUD and improved gyros for the gun piper, though to this day the aircraft lacks any kind of CCIP bombing aid.
All T-13 variants are armed with twin reverse engineered GSh-23 cannons. They operate exactly like you'd suppose a GSh-23 cannon would operate.
The aircraft has six hardpoints in total and can carry a maximum payload of approximately 3,200kg, which was improved to 3,800kg on the T-13C. Two of these hardpoints are plumbed for external tanks. The A can carry various sorts of dumb bombs and rocket pods, alongside the Kh-66 Grom beam-riding missile. It could also carry a countermeasure pod.
Molnár test fired an R-13M from a modified T-13A, but did not introduce the capability to carry them until the T-13C. Luckily by then, Ratio had bought the far superior AIM-9L.
The T-13B introduced the ability to carry the optically guided AGM-65B Maverick missile, imported from Osea and later license built in Ratio. It was introduced alongside a designator for the KAB-500L laser guided bomb. By 1980 when the T-13B went into service, the BVI LZ-1 jammer pod was available for all variants. However, like so many other things on the aircraft, it wasn't very useful.
The first production variant with twin tail, LTL-4 radar, and REV-1 RWR. Though 60 aircraft were ordered, only 18 airframes were completed before the government decided to wait until the T-13B was available. First flew in 1974 and entered service in 1976.
The first high rate production variant, flying in 1979 and entering service in early 1980. Introduced the LK-1 computer, ADR navigation system, improved stores management, improvements to the radar and RWR, improvements to aerodynamics, and brought the AGM-65 and KAB-500L into the arsenal. 42 airframes were built.
A two-seat reconnaissance variant based on the B model. The radar was removed and a camera installed. Entered service in 1980. 16 airframes were built.
A program to bring the T-13As up to T-13B standard.
The final upgrade to the T-13 Pánik. It replaced the old radar and RWR with the LR-19 and AN/ALR-69 respectively. It modernized the computer, installed a HUD, and gave the aircraft the ability to fire R-13Ms and AIM-9Ls. Aerodynamics were improved again, and the J52 engine was replaced with the domestic FM-909. All Bs were upgraded to C variants, and an additional 12 airframes were constructed to replace losses and bolster the RSDAF in the face of political uncertainty in Belka to the north. Entered service in 1987.
T-13D Szuper Pánik
A proposed 1996 upgrade which would have given the aircraft a glass cockpit, truly modern centrally managed avionics and flight control systems, CCIP bomb employment, Link 16, and onboard FLIR. However, the end of the Belkan War meant there was no money to both upgrade the Pánik and replace the MiG-29s and now truly decrepit MiG-21PFs. They opted to buy JAS-39C Gripens from Nordlands instead.
- Socialist Federal Republic of Ratio – Currently has 18 T-13Cs in reserve, and still actively uses its fleet of 16 F-13s for reconnaissance.
Data from Jane's All the Strangeworld's Aircraft 1995-1996
- Crew: One pilot.
- Length: 14.4 meters (47.2 feet)
- Height: 4.8 meters (15.7 feet)
- Wingspan: 10.3 meters (33.79 feet)
- Empty Weight: 4,900kg (10,803lb)
- Max. Takeoff Weight: 13,037kg (28,742lb)
- Powerplant: 1x Focus-Molnár FM-909 non-afterburning turbojet
- Dry Thrust: 37kN (8,318lb thrust)
- Maximum Speed: 1,011km/h (628mph)
- Stall Speed: 167km/h (103mph)
- Combat Radius: 1212km (753 miles with two drop tanks and four KAB-500L bombs)
- Service Ceiling: 13,212m (43,346 feet)
- Rate of Climb: 41m/s (135f/s)
- Guns: 2 x 23mm GSh-23L cannons
- Hardpoints: Six wing pylons with two plumbed. 630kg maximum weight on each pylon.
- Rockets: S-5K 57mm rockets in pods of 8 rockets.
- Air-to-Air Missiles:
- R-13M Atoll
- AIM-9L Sidewinder
- Air-to-Ground Missiles:
- AGM-65B Maverick TV-guided missile
- Kh-66 Grom radar beam riding missile
- Air-to-Air Missiles:
- The Mk.8n series and FAB-n series dumb bombs, including cluster and anti-runway ordinance. It can also carry and guide KAB-500Ls.
- 1500L drop tank
- LZ-1 DECM pod
- Bela Végh Institude LR-19 ground search and navigation radar
- Raytheon AN/ALR-69 radar warning receiver
- Bela Végh Institute LK-6 flight computer
- Molnár Elektronika ADR-8 navigation system
- Molnár Elektronika LLR-2 laser designator