Warbirds That Dominated The Skies
The most powerful military aircraft in history
They call them warbirds, but they are far away from sweet animals. We are talking about fighting aircraft, designed to be fast and powerful. The iconic F-15 fighter jet is undoubtedly the first model that comes to mind when we hear the word warbirds. However, when it comes to speed and strength, F-15 has many competitors that could easily be at the same level.
AC-130 and C-130: shooting beasts
When you look at AC-130, you might think of a flying boat. The quantity and variety of ammunition carried by this aircraft are impressive, and the shooting can be continuous and endless. Ammo on board include a pair of 20mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one Bofors 40-mm auto cannon and a 105-mm M102 cannon. It is also equipped to launch an AGM-176 Griffin missile.
V for Versatile: V-22 Osprey
When it comes to versatility, the V-22 Osprey has not equals. Incredibly steady and and powerful, this military jet can easily turn from an helicopter into to a turboprop airplane, if needed. Special feature of this marvelous creature is a 38 foot rotor system that rotates 90 degrees in mid flight.
A-10 Thunderbolt II: ferocious and extremely strong
Try not to be intimidated when you look in the eye of this A-10, also known as “Warthog”. Its ferocious look makes it a perfect war machine, utilized both to provide close air support and ground attack aircraft. In extreme conditions, A-10 is the last one to give up: it was designed to travel even with one only working engine, one tail, one elevator and one of its wings missing. Difficult not to fly safe when you are on board.
Snub-Nosed Russian I-16
Look at it face and you will instantly understand why they called this Russian plane “snub-nosed Soviet Fighter”. Used during the Spanish Civil War, this military jet had been designed around Pratt & Whitney’s R-1820 radial engine. Not many machines have survived, as most of them were destroyed during the Lutwaffe raid on Russia when these planes were parked on the ground. Apparently the radar system of the Russian army failed to promptly warn them of the incoming raid.
The Allies called it Betty, possibly to exorcise the fears that this incredible machine could arise. The Mitsubishi G4M bomber was one of the strongest pieces of the Japanese arsenal and carried a combo of cannons and machine guns. Over 2000 pieces of fearful Betty were built by the Japanese.
Super fast F-16 Fighting Falc
When this military jet was built he smashed a few records: first plane to be made with relaxed stability fly-by-wire fight controls. A champion in efficiency, it was also one of the fastest machines ever made: when it comes to speed it can easily reach Mach 2.
Where is your nose, darling? Don’t get distracted by the unusual face of this plane: in terms of technology, Mig-15 had one of the most advanced Rolls-Royce engines available at that time. This plane mass produced to the tune of 18,000.
A few military jets could be as fast as this MiG-17, that could reach above the speed of the sound. If you see it fly, you might think it’s a rocket rather than a plane. At the end of the Vietnam War this aircraft was transformed into a fighter bomber.
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk
When it comes to shape, it is one of the most original planes ever made. First deployed in November 2001, this military machine was designed to cruise at high altitudes. Extremely expensive ($222,7 million the cost of a single aircraft), the plane could carry up to 1,200 pounds.
Saab 35 Draken
Initially made for air defense with equipped camera and radar, the Saab jet was quickly transformed into an aggressive fighter, with air-to-air missiles. In terms of speed one can easily compare it with Mach 2.0.
Curtiss SB2C Helldriver
The British Royal Navy rejected it and recommended it for removal from service. However, this aircraft was still operating until the end of World War II. The original designed was completely modified, with over 800 changes, in order to make this plane a carried-operated bomber. Even though it was not loved by the British Navy, the special feature of retractable wings made him extremely easy to park even in tricky parking spots.
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
Difficult to forget its original face. However, the P-40 will not be remembered to be strong and powerful, especially at high altitudes.
If you wonder where the name “camel” comes from, look at the little hump on the fuselage and you will find out. This plane was one of the most successful Allied military machines during World War 1.
North American B-25
It made its appearance in World War 2, starting from 1942. The B-25 is mainly famous for carrying Jimmy Doolittle to victory, when the United States bombed Japan.
This powerful military jet introduced vertical take-off for the first time: life on an aircraft is much easier if you are on board of Hawker Harrier.
Over 800 of these Su-27 planes were built by the Russian, as a response to the American fighters of the 1980’s.
One of the protagonists during Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Yak-9 is a strong and heavy fighter, with very few competitors.
De Havilland Mosquito
You could spot it everywhere during World War 2. Completely made of wood, which is the reason why it was called “the wooden wonder plane”, it was the perfect resource when materials were scarce to produce planes.
Over 60 countries used this military jet between 1959 and 1985. However, duration was not its best skill, as MiG-21 could not fly for more than 45 minutes.
Bell Uh-1 Iroquois
Over 7000 of these Bell Iroquois were built during the Vietnam War and not even half of this military arsenal survived to the unlucky conflict.
Northrop Grumman B2 Bomber
Strong, steady and very far from retirement. This popular bomber has made its appearance all over the world and will be around for many years ahead.
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
Are you able to count the munition that this powerful bomber can carry? Its huge wing make it perfect to contain countless engines and missiles.
Lockheed P-38 Lighting
This warbird could easily appear in a cartoon show, flown by the bad guy. Pilots could fire 50-caliber machine guns and a 20mm cannon.
This elegant military jet was used by president Eisenhower for reconnaissance in order to spot every advancement of the Russian Forces.
It is the dream of most pilots to drive a SR-71: the ability to reach heights of 85,000 feet and the speed of Mach 3 make a journey on this plane a unique flying experience.
McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle
When it comes to speed and efficiency, very few flying machines can compete with this F-15. Undefeated throughout history, the plane is able to reach heights of 98,000 feet in as less as 3 and half minutes.
First used in German skies in 1916, this plane was extremely light due to the use of plywood.
One of the air machines used by Germany in World War 2 during the Battle of Britain. As many other military aircraft built at that time in Germany, this Me-109 has the look of a civilian plane, in order to hide aeronautical achievements.
McDonnell Douglas F-4
This champion of speed can travel from coast to coast in less than 3 hours and reach heights of over 98,000 feet. Are you still wondering why they call it “Supersonic Powerhouse”?
General Atomic MQ-1 Predator Drone
What makes this aircraft unique are the engineering features. Equipped with external cameras, this military jet is able to spy before dropping a bomb on the target. No pilot on board is required, as the plane is totally controlled from the ground.
First introduced to the US Air Force in 2005, the F-22 Raptor has instantly become one of the most reliable flying machines of the American aeronautical system. Extremely easy to fly, this plane is famous to perform incredible and unique manoevures at high speed. This is why many experts consider him unmatched by any other fighter.
After its first appearance in the sky on January 11 2011, the J-20 started officially its service in 2016. Created and built by the Chinese military, it is a fifth-generation fighter jet, designed as a vehicle for boosting their stealth capabilities. In 2009 an article published on the Wall Street Journal claimed that the J-20 were designed following the model of the American Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II, after a leakage of secret information about the F-35 program.
Before becoming the main military plane of the United Nations, the P-51 Mustang was used during World War 2 and the Korean War. In the early 40’s the 8th Air Force started operations from Great Britain. One of these operations, named Combined Bomber Offensive, was formulated in January 1943 during the Casablanca Conference and consisted in a plan for “round-the-clock” bombing. When one thinks of the P-51, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Tuskgee Arimen, even though P-40s and P-39s were mainly used by the 99th Squadron.
Born during World War 2, the P-47 was a tough vehicle serving the Allied Forces for France and Great Britain. Solid and strong, it was one of the heaviest machines to appear in the war, thanks to the design inspired by the potent Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp. It was impossible not to notice its resiliency, strong bomb carrying capacity and skills to survive under attacks. Its ability was proved not only in the sky, as it was able to penetrated German vehicles and to explode their fuel tanks.
Grumman F6F Hellcat
Its nickname was “Hellcat” and it was largely used as United States Navy’s fighter in the second half of the Pacific War. Similar to the Vought F4U Corsair, the F6F was so successful that over 12,000 machines were built in less than 3 years. Eventually banned from the front lines, this model served as a night after for 10 years. The last machine was retired in 1960 from the Uruguyana Navy.
Initially designed to replace the Douglas A-4 Shyhawk, this fast and light war machine mainly served the Air National Guard. The A-7 turned out to be the perfect plane for the Air Force when a special fixed-wing aircraft was needed. Even though it cannot be considered a marvel of engineering, it was easy to fly and pure joy for the pilots. It was used for a long time and became a protagonist during the invasion of Grenada.
First built in 1942 to serve the US Navy, this aircraft was lately replaced by the Grumman F6F Hellcat in the second part of World War 2. Pilots were struggling to get the F-4U into service, due to a design issue: visibility was made difficult, especially during the taxiing phase, due to “birdcage”.
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
What made this aircraft instantly recognizable was undoubtedly its look. However, it also became renowned for its capabilities and sets the standards among stealth attackers. Its service went on for 25 years and ended in April 2008, due to the introduction of the F-22 Raptor into the USAF.
This beautiful aircraft is stuck in collective imaginary after it was flown by Iceman and Maverick in the film “Top Gun”. First introduced in the 1970, it is a supersonic fighter plane with twin-engine variable-sweep wing and one of the first model of today’s jets.
This iconic fighter jet comes in three models: the F-35A (normal takeoff and landing); the F-35B (short take-off and vertical landing) and the F-35C (carrier based). All of them are known for their stealth capabilities.
First designed in the 1960’s, it was only taken to the sky in 1974. As a four-engine supersonic bomber, this aircraft was quite expensive, with each model costing as much as £283,1 million. A total of 100 of these planes have been built.
Boeing C-40 Clipper
This aircraft is the military version of the Boeing 737-700C and served both US Navy and Air Force for transportation of squadrons and palletized cargo. Made to offer logistics support, the C-40 Clipper was meant to replace the US Navy’s fleet of C-9B Skytrain II.
Since 1950, this military aircraft has been the main refueling option for military planes. Largely used in several operations around the world, the Kc-135 served at its best in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.
Successfully exported abroad, the MiG-29 was sent to over 30 countries. Among the American fighter jets, its main competitor was the F-15. It is currently produced by Mikoyan, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation.
When it comes to rapidity, the F/A-18 can be as fast as a Mach 1,8. Designed to provide a large capability, this aircraft can carry a wide range of missiles and bombs. Its first military appearance was in 1986, when it participated to the bombing of Libya. It was also used during 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq war.
Inspired by the design of the British Aerospace Hawk Mk.60, the T-45 is currently used by the United States Navy as an aircraft carrier-capable trainer. Thanks to an integrated training system, it replaced the T-2C Buckeye and the TA-4J Shyhawk II. The first model appeared in 1991 had an analog cockpit design, whereas the 1997 version, the TC, featured an entirely digital “glass cockpit”.
First built over 50 years ago, this aircraft is still in service. It is a classic four-engine anti-submarine and maritime surveillance which was very active during World War 2, when it was constantly ready to track Russian missiles and to destroy them, if needed.