fxramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7073 posts, RR: 89 Posted (1 year 8 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 7269 times:
My favorite classic military a/c has to be the A-20 Havoc. My grandfather flew it in the 5th Air Force and was deployed in the South Pacific during WWII. He flew 49 missions in the A-20 and a total of 61 total combat missions also seeing time in the B-25 Mitchell and the P-51 Mustang.
As far as modern military jets go I've always been a fan of the A-10 Tank Killer. I work with a guy that drove one in Desert Storm and he got me hooked on this a/c years ago. Godspeed to those overseas still flying her.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12948 posts, RR: 79 Reply 1, posted (1 year 8 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 7256 times:
So many choices and categories! Perhaps follow you with one vintage one modern - as still in front line service with a major air arm.
For me, that rules out some post war types that often only served with one AF and are long retired, if you want to include one WW2 (or perhaps even older) type.
For WW2 I have four front runners with one thing in common, the R/R Merlin engine or a licenced copy of it.
The iconic British bomber then was and is, the Lancaster, looked right, flew right, was able to also carry specialized loads such as the famous 'Bouncing Bomb' as well as Grand Slam and Tallboy munitions. Radar bombing and electronic warfare were also part of this aircraft's repertoire. It might have been associated with mass area bombing but the Lanc could do more and when it got the chance, it did. Loved by it's crews.
The P-51D Mustang, a game changer for US bomber crews with it's range and performance, more than any other type, at least on the Western front, it hacked down the Luftwaffe on those escort missions. A vital contribution in itself.
Brilliant aerodynamics to complement that definitive power-plant in the definitive US fighter of the war.
The DH Mosquito, a true multi role type, swing role even. Fantastic performance, a lot was carried in a moderate sized plane, hugely versatile, it's innovative construction not only saved on valuable strategic materials it also made it a proto stealth type as far as radar was concerned.
But the winner has to be the obvious, almost a cliche, another even greater icon.
The Spitfire, of course.
Produced all through the war, though it's capacity for growth and development (surprising in a small airframe) was huge and kept it in the front rank the whole way through.
'If it looks right, it'll fly right' have never been more true.
Not perfect of course, not the most numerous type in the battle that made it an icon in 1940.
Not even the only Merlin powered fighter in the battle.
But if you believe, as I do, that the sound of the R/R Merlin, at that desperate time in 1940, was literally the most important sound in the world, what better airframe to house it in to express this?
It's a much loved icon, transcending generations as well as beyond the aviation world, for a good reason.
UltimateDelta From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 2032 posts, RR: 6 Reply 3, posted (1 year 8 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7203 times:
Mine would probably have to be the KC-135 and all its various derivatives. In a way, I've sort of spent my whole life so far around them- I see OC- and RC-135s on a daily basis living near Offuttt AFB and my father's ANG unit flies R model tankers. Plus, it always looks so well-proportioned (well, maybe not all of the recon versions- see the EC-135E, for example ) and clean. Beyond that, I can't really say why I like it so much...I just do!
Second place is a tie between the Vulcan and the B-58.
GST From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2008, 930 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (1 year 8 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7187 times:
For me there can only be two...
Vintage Class: Fairey Swordfish
This for me too is down to a family connection as my great uncle flew them in WW2, including off the Ark Royal's listing deck. The aircraft is quite understated but what it's crews achieved with it truly heralded the future of air power at sea.
spudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 294 posts, RR: 1 Reply 7, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6937 times:
I'd go along the generations with favorites like this:
Mosquito, Draken, Blackbird, Tomcat, Raptor
Mustang, Hunter, Buccanear, Tigershark, Gripen
Harrier, Draken and A10
All time favorite, Tomcat. Loved it from the moment I first saw it blasting off the page of a 1:72 matchbox model catalogue in the late 70's. Started collecting models and books about it in the early 80's. That such an ambitious combination of capabilities proved to be as successful as it was (while admittedly flawed) is testament to the skill of its designers at Grumman. The first time you watch a bird of prey hunt its quarry you can see immediately why swing wings were so derirable (The Tomcat is the only fighter I rate as having a fully functional swing wing, all the rest just had high lift devices). If it had gotten the engines it so badly needed when they had planned (after airframe no 72 IIRC) it would to my mind have been the greatest fighting plane of all time. While with the retirement of phoenix and no Amraam, it had slipped down the pecking order in its primary role of A2A terms, it was arguably still at the top of the heap in its secondary bomb truck capabilities as it bowed out. I still think its the coolest looking fighter ever (blackbird probably takes the gong as coolest jet ever).
Slightly off topic but I reckon the greatest fighter ever is a throw up between the P51 and F-16 (not in my list of favorites but a hell of fighter). The F-14A was too flawed and the F-14D was produced too late and there were too few of them to take the honour, F-15 probably takes 3rd place.
Greatest military aircraft has got to be SR-71 Blackbird.
Incidentally it seems my favorite manufacturer is Saab, didn't see that before I sat down to write the list but they've been producing amazing real world fighters with out of the box thinking solutions from day 1 so they get my vote ahead of Lockheed and Grumman (the British manufacturers are so diverse that you couldn't pick one from the pre BA era and all BA succeeded in doing is to suffocate and strangle a vibrant industry by killing their ability to innovate so no vote there). Sadly, unless some military leaders get a severe dose of common sense (highly unlikely) the Gripen NG will be Saabs last fighter if it even gets an order (I have high hopes that the Swiss have the sense to see the wood from the trees here). It really is the natural replacement for the F5 class of fighter which is all anyone with a defensive posture really needs. I can't see how Saab could fund a 5/6th generation stealth fighter on their own.
yeelep From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 607 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6890 times:
My favorites are: PBY Catalina, Spitfire, Mosquito, F-86 Sabre, F-4 Phantom and F-15. If I had to pick only one, it would be the Mosquito.
Quoting spudh (Reply 7): Slightly off topic but I reckon the greatest fighter ever is a throw up between the P51 and F-16 (not in my list of favorites but a hell of fighter). The F-14A was too flawed and the F-14D was produced too late and there were too few of them to take the honour, F-15 probably takes 3rd place.
I don't see how it could be anything other than the F-15. I don't think any other fighter has ever had a better combat kill/loss ratio.
spudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 294 posts, RR: 1 Reply 10, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 6846 times:
Quoting yeelep (Reply 8): I don't see how it could be anything other than the F-15. I don't think any other fighter has ever had a better combat kill/loss ratio.
Kill/loss ratio is a poor measure of modern fighters as 1: its only A2A and 2: since vietnam most air battles have been asymetric and 3: it doesn't factor in opportunity. Most of the recorded F-15 kills were Israeli who used the F-16 almost exclusively for ground attack. In US hands, again in the only real air battle which was GW1 the F-15 was tasked with air superiority but under strict ROE. Under visual identification ROE's the F-16 would easily have accounted for every opponent the F-15 dispatched.
Again at the risk of going too far off topic, its a purely personal definition of 'greatest'. I believe that afforability and number built (i.e effective force) should factor strongly in what defines a fighter as being the greatest. The F-22 is clearly the best fighter in the sky today but there are only about 100 of them available on any given day and it is unaffordable to all but a few of the richest countries, if even that. So, by my definition the F-22 will never even be the greatest A2A fighter let alone challenege the likes of the F-15 or F-16 which are superlative strike fighters.
1 for 1 the F-15 is a better fighter than the F-16 for any given role but it probably costs double the F-16 and there are only a quarter as many built. But give me 4 F-16's versus 1 F-15 any day of the week.
Take the P-51, it wasn't the best at anything bar range, it couldn't turn with a Spitfire, roll with an FW190, climb with a BF109, outrun a Tempest or dive with a P-47 but against each plane that beat it in a given category it probably beat it in all the others and on top of that there were 20,000 of the things. Thats what makes a great fighter.
The F-16 loses out to the F-15 on the outer edges of the capability envelope but in the heart of operations it can do almost everything the F-15 can (with AWAC or GCI help) but its a lot cheaper and there are a lot more of them. If the capability gap was wider I'd give the F-15 the nod over the F-16 but radar performance is the only real big gap between them and I think the gap isn't wide enough (this is where I would have given the F-14D the nod over both but there wasn't enough of them built to justify a higher rating) to overcome the affordability of the F-16.
Like I said its purely a personal opinion on what constitutes great and I don't expect everyone to share that definition.
The thread is about favorites and my favorite doesn't even make my top 3 greats and 2 of my top 3 greats don't feature on my favorites list!
HaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2081 posts, RR: 1 Reply 14, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 6434 times:
First off, some of you disputing which is the 'best' military aircraft are missing the whole point of the thread. It clearly says which is your 'favorite'. Facts are irrelevant, as are kill ratios, service lifes, functional problems and how many were made. It's really simple folks.. what is your 'favorite'.
Here's mine, always has been since I was a kid, always will be.
Sexiest plane ever made, the XB-70
2nd only in sexy ness, but the fastest and amazing!
My baby, the F-14.. so much more interesting looking than the F-15 regardless of whose better, angled inlets, tails, swing wings, pop out canards for a while, gorgeous!
Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 11): UH-1 with no doors. Just because of all the fond memories.
Agree 100%!!! I've had the chance to fly in D/H models with my old man with the doors off in low level fast flight and up to 12,500 with em shut... my favorite helo of all time! And tons of stick time ta boot, even though I'm not a helo pilot, but wish I was!
Supermarine Spitfire. What can I say that hasn't already been said. Produced in massive numbers, in service all the way into the 1950's, gorgeous lines and wing planform, popularly (though possibly unfairly) credited with securing victory in the Battle of Britain.
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Again, produced in massive numbers across numerous variants, became the jack of all trades for both the US Navy and Air Force, still in service today 54 years after first flight.
Runners up: North American F-105 Thunderchief, MiG-15 Fagot, North American F-86 Sabre
General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark. I'm slightly biased towards the Pig, (I was an F-111 tech for years) but I still love the combination of range and payload, not to mention that tremendous silhouette with the wings pulled back. Had a troubled birth, but grew to be a highly capable strike fighter in later incarnations.
Runners Up: North American B-58 Hustler, English Electric Canberra
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. Essentially designed in a weekend by 5 Boeing engineers, the BUFF has outlasted several challengers to its crown as king of the strategic bombing mission, however none could beat its combination of exceptional range, massive weapons carrying capability and, importantly to its longevity, space in the airframe to easily expand its systems. By its projected retirement, the B-52 could well have racked up 80 years of continuous service, an achievement unlikely to ever be matched.
Runners Up: Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker and its derivative, Rockwell B-1 Lancer.
ebj1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 2 Reply 18, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 6359 times:
F-105 Thunderchief. Interestingly, the first time I saw a photo of one I wasn't impressed, but I grew to love the bird and later had the good fortune to work on the last active duty F-105s at George AFB. Wonderful machine, even in its pre-retirement years.
Revelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 11386 posts, RR: 24 Reply 23, posted (1 year 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 5639 times:
Some fabulous posts here.
Based on the criteria of the thread starter, my pick is the F-14. It's a classic 70's muscle car with wings! It's an example of total class and character, with raunchy undertones at the same time. Some of the CAG paint schemes are mouth-watering! I got to see one get tossed around the sky at an air show and it was one of my biggest thrills ever! When he punched the afterburners the engines roared and the ground shook! Absolutely visceral experience! Seeing the Blue Angels and their puny F-18s was a big letdown in comparison.
Quoting fxramper (Thread starter): My favorite classic military a/c has to be the A-20 Havoc. My grandfather flew it in the 5th Air Force and was deployed in the South Pacific during WWII. He flew 49 missions in the A-20 and a total of 61 total combat missions also seeing time in the B-25 Mitchell and the P-51 Mustang.
Congrats to your uncle for his service to his nation, and you for sharing his story with us!
Quoting GDB (Reply 1): For WW2 I have four front runners with one thing in common, the R/R Merlin engine or a licenced copy of it.
Great engine, great post.
Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 3): Mine would probably have to be the KC-135 and all its various derivatives. In a way, I've sort of spent my whole life so far around them- I see OC- and RC-135s on a daily basis living near Offuttt AFB and my father's ANG unit flies R model tankers. Plus, it always looks so well-proportioned (well, maybe not all of the recon versions- see the EC-135E, for example ) and clean. Beyond that, I can't really say why I like it so much...I just do!
Quoting spudh (Reply 7): All time favorite, Tomcat. Loved it from the moment I first saw it blasting off the page of a 1:72 matchbox model catalogue in the late 70's.
Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 14): My baby, the F-14.. so much more interesting looking than the F-15 regardless of whose better, angled inlets, tails, swing wings, pop out canards for a while, gorgeous!
Quoting legs (Reply 17): Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. Essentially designed in a weekend by 5 Boeing engineers, the BUFF has outlasted several challengers to its crown as king of the strategic bombing mission, however none could beat its combination of exceptional range, massive weapons carrying capability and, importantly to its longevity, space in the airframe to easily expand its systems.
I love the BUFF and have to mention it's groundbreaking predecessor, the B-47. Got to see the one at the KBFI Museum of Flight, and spent a half hour just walking around it and thinking about all the cool ideas it pioneered. I had the same thoughts when I walked around the Dash-80 first at KPAE before restoration and later at KIAD after restoration, which is worthy of mention here because it was the prototype of the KC-135.
Burkhard From Germany, joined Nov 2006, 4302 posts, RR: 2 Reply 24, posted (1 year 8 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5232 times:
Quoting legs (Reply 17): McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Again, produced in massive numbers across numerous variants, became the jack of all trades for both the US Navy and Air Force, still in service today 54 years after first flight.
I second this choice, and add that this was a safe working place for the pilots, as safe as a comparable aircraft can be.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12948 posts, RR: 79 Reply 30, posted (1 year 8 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5085 times:
Post WW2, the F-4 has to be acknowledged as what we'd now call a 'swing role' aircraft.
Could carry a load of air to ground munitions, along with air to air, while not the only type of that era that could do this, it did so very convincingly.
Not bad for a design that began as a pure Navy interceptor.
For me though, of this era, it's the Avro Vulcan.
A design to a requirement dating back to 1947, one of three built to meet the requirement, the Vulcan is one of those aircraft recognisable to much of the general public too.
Of the three it was the only one that could adapt to the rigours of low level flying - what you might call the post Gary Powers era!
(The superb Victor, though outperforming the Vulcan is payload, range, slightly in speed, luckily did not spend enough time at those levels to suffer the fate of the Valiant, so was available to be converted to a tanker).
In it's original high level mode, it was still very agile for an aircraft of it's size, could accommodate stand off weapons the best, the definite MK.2 also had a potent ECM system, which even performed well in exercises against NORAD in in the early 60's.
Then there is the sheer futuristic, menacing appearance of the aircraft, a sight to see was RAF ones being thrown around the circuit at airshows.
It's nuclear role meant that thankfully, it never flew in anger.
At least not until 30 years ago, in totally unexpected circumstances, on the very verge of retirement. In the conventional role in what was up to then, the longest bombing raids in history.
First flight 28 Aug 1954! and still in production!!!
PS: Yes I know this is a C-130J, the latest version but there are over 13,000 photos in the database, this RAAF example can stand in for its thousands of fellows
HercPPMX From United States of America, joined May 2008, 196 posts, RR: 0 Reply 35, posted (1 year 8 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4792 times:
Quoting gemuser (Reply 34): I can't believe nobody else has this as their favorite:
You just beat me to it!
I'll admit I'm a little bias because I spent 5 years on them. It's is always overlooked because it's not as sexy as a fighter, and it's not a huge plane. Over the years the C-130 has been called on to perform every type of mission military aircraft perform and it always excels. They are very rugged and reliable.
HaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2081 posts, RR: 1 Reply 36, posted (1 year 8 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4795 times:
Quoting HercPPMX (Reply 35): Over the years the C-130 has been called on to perform every type of mission military aircraft perform and it always excels. They are very rugged and reliable.
Including taking off and landing on aircraft carriers, landing at the south pole, snagging satellite film from mid air and snagging troops from the ground by snagging the ballooned cable.. and on and on and on. Not in my favorites, but an extraordinarily excellent aircraft. And I'm glad I've got to see the JATO takeoffs from Fat Albert plenty of times, esp since that is a thing of the past now.