The Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles were real heartbreakers as per reality with a very low %PK. One very surprisingly effective weapon in the air-air arena were the Zuni unguided rockets. After a bit of experience, I always made sure that both A-6's and F-4's had Zuni's, not only for an effective self defence against SAM and AAA sites, but also as a potent AA weapon.
Another piece of external kit for you to use was the ECM jammer pods. Great idea to include, but they had a very strange result. If you had a pod and activated it, you were immune to SAMs - period. However, you could loadup both the A-6 and F-4 full of ECM pods, enough jamming power you would think to protect a small strike package.
Sadly not. The only way to be protected was to carry your own. I don't recall ever having any random failures in this sim, only ones induced by enemy action, but it did tend to be one extreme to the other. On the rare occasion you got slight damage ( usually cannon hits from a MiG ), the norm was an engine out or radar failure - it was very unusual to find anything else going tits-up. The usual was if you got hit, it was terminal. Enter another bug.
Once hit and going down out of control, you were dead - end of story, game over.
The reason being that the sim would never allow you to eject and survive. You did have a key combination for eject, and eject you did, but no matter what attitude you bailed out, you were guaranteed never to return. Your only hope was to jump into another allied jet ( if any were left ). MiGMan thanks Rob "Bomber" Henderson for these recollections.