There's a scene in the movie The Return of the King that amuses me. It's near the end, where Aragorn has led the Army of the West to the very gates of Mordor to distract Sauron long enough for Frodo to slam-dunk the Ring. At one point, one of the hobbits cries "Here come the eagles!" as Gwaihir and his folk come in to dogfight with the Nazgul aboard their great winged beasts (clearly Junkers designs, if you ask me - what's the difference between a Ju 52 and a flying Nazgul beast? Not much).
Anyway, whenever that scene comes up, I think about how cool it would be if they were F-15C Eagles coming in. How would an AMRAAM work against a Nazgul beast? Or would the Lord of the Nazgul be able to deploy some dark ECM to spoof the missiles? Does the Nazgul's segmented armor have some kind of inherent stealth property? Would a Sidewinder be able to guide on a winged beast's (presumably warmish) breath? Or would it turn into a knife fight at close range, where guns and swords become the primary weapons? And if an Eagle pilot shot down a winged Nazgul, does he get credit for one kill, or two? But since the Nazgul are neither living nor dead and can only be undone by swords made in Gondolin and imbued with special Elvish anti-Nazgul spells, does the Eagle pilot get credit for any kill at all?
It takes me ten or fifteen minutes to get my head back into the movie once such digressions set in.
All of this becomes relevant when you remember that yesterday was Black Friday. My preferred on-line hobby shop (Squadron) was having a Black Friday sale, and I decided that the time had come to finally buy a model I've wanted for a long time, the Tamiya 1/32nd scale F-15C. They run about $130, and that's just a bit more than I can see myself paying for one model. I'm game to buy just about anything up to the $100 point, but once a model crosses that threshold, a certain ouch-factor sets in and I find myself saying things like "Do you realize how many 1/144th scale airplanes I could buy for that sort of jing?"
To say nothing of the fact that I really don't have anywhere to put a 1/32nd scale F-15C once I finish it. But to an extent, the finished model isn't the point. Building it is the fun; having it just means I have to dust it and figure out where to put it and how to keep the cat from wrecking it. It's the difference between carving off a huge piece of pie and sitting down to eat it, and all the moaning and groaning that sets in later when you mumble "I shouldn't have eaten so much pie..."
So I got my cup of coffee and went to Squadron's website and commenced to buying stuff. But I went about it in the wrong order. Rather than putting what I most wanted in the shopping basket first (namely, the F-15C) I bought a whole bunch of other stuff, so that when I got around to looking at my shopping cart just prior to selecting the F-15, I swallowed my tongue. Cripes, $300 in models already, and I haven't even bought the F-15???
Clearly I had to get rid of a bunch of stuff in my cart. But I couldn't. I wanted it all. I wanted the Williams Brothers radial engine. I wanted the set of ICM figures. I wanted the Lindberg velociraptor. I wanted the Trumpeter M26 Pershing. I wanted the Minicraft EC-121. I began to panic. Finally, if only to prevent myself from having a complete nervous breakdown, I clicked on the Check Out button, just to have an end to the madness.
So - the Eagle was coming, but due to gross lack of discipline on my part, it isn't coming. I have nobody to blame but myself, but draw some solace from the fact that I can always go back tonight and order it anyway.
I'm wary of saying things like "Such-and-such an airplane was the best fighter ever built!" Such statements are usually pretty subjective, and in any event I'm not a fighter pilot and am not really qualified to have an opinion. But I will say that I really like the F-15's shape, and if I had to pick an airplane to be on my side in an air battle, it would be hard for me to bet against the F-15's undefeated record (there is some debate about what its actual record is, but I've seen 110:0 and have no reason to argue with those numbers).