When I was growing up our best player was Desmond Douglas. Douglas reached a world ranking of number 7 at one stage. However, as much as I enjoyed watching Douglas (whenever table tennis was shown on BBC Grandstand), Jan-Ove Waldner from Sweden was probably my favourite ever player. I also enjoy watching Timo Boll from Germany.
In the lockdown I've been watching quite a lot of table tennis (mostly tournament highlights on YouTube rather than live) and many of the modern Chinese players are incredibly talented. Given it's their national sport they obviously dedicate a lot of resources, time and energy towards it. And it's clearly paying off as they continue to dominate the sport.
In 1965 American forces were prohibited from attacking North Vietnam’s fighter airfields, allowing its pilots to train, rest and launch at times of their choosing. Equally important, as American radar coverage did not reach those airfields, the fighters’ takeoffs went undetected. Those technological and tactical challenges to the United States would be overcome in the intervening years, but in the meantime the North Vietnamese came to understand and exploit both U.S. operating patterns and rules of engagement.
The Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF) was introduced to the MiG-17 (which carried the NATO designation Fresco) in October 1960, when 57 of its pilots were dispatched to China’s Son Dong Air Base for conversion training. Another handful of pilots went to Russia to train. Essentially an evolutionary improvement on the Korean War’s MiG-15, the MiG-17 was a subsonic, swept-wing fighter aircraft that entered Soviet service in 1953. The MiG-17F production variant constituted the bulk of those provided North Vietnam. Its Klimov VK-1 afterburning jet engine provided a maximum thrust of 5,900 pounds, giving the plane a thrust-to-weight ratio of .45 to 1 and a top speed of Mach .97 at 15,000 feet in a clean configuration (no drop tanks or bombs).
Easy to maintain, small and nimble, the MiG-17 proved very capable against its high-performance American adversaries.