The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
Ha! We share a top pick, but my number two is the X-15 and my number three is the XB-70 Valkyrie. Seriously, who couldn't love a mach-three-cruising heavy commie-killing nuclear bomber. And such sexy lines. Nice meme. Mayhap I'll do a full post tomorrow.
1- A10 Warthog - the absolute coolest plane ever
2- Sr71 Blackbird
3- AC130 Spectre Gunship
4- Corsair ( I just think it looks good)
5- P38 mustang
A-10 beats 'em all. It's a BIG gun with wings, a stick-and-rudder pilot's plane instead of a high-tech toy, and it's the ultimate in-your-face ground pounder.
Unfortunately, the A-10 isn't all that survivable unless it has top cover from, you know, fighters.
To me, the most iconic fighter plane evah is the P-51 Mustang. I grew up dreaming about flying that plane.
Of course with my eyesight, I'm not flying anything with wings period. But still, it was a dream.
And as a ground-pounder, the A-10 Warthog has a special place in my heart.
The P-38 would probably make my list too. It did have a couple of quirks though.
First of all, the placement of the cockpit over the main wing made it harder to see things below the plane than in most fighters. Obviously the pilots managed to overcome this limitation fairly well.
Did you ever notice that the P-38 was only used in the Pacific, not Europe? That's because the cockpit was unheated. With the engines out on the wings, the cockpit couldn't be heated directly from an engine. The designers apparently decided not to pipe heat to the cockpit either because it was too hard or they decided that having the extra equipment was a tradeoff they didn't want to make.
Finally, they were apparently rather tricky to land. My father knew a guy who used to own a P-38. One time he went away and asked another pilot friend to take care of the P-38 for him, but made him promise not to fly it due to the tricky landing. Well, the friend broke his promise, and the plane when he screwed up the landing.
"Unfortunately, the A-10 isn't all that survivable unless it has top cover from, you know, fighters."
Yup. But you don't win a war by shooting down the other guy's fighters. You win it by shooting up the other guy's army. That requires boots on the ground, which requires support from the air, which requires support in the air.
Before WWII, my father was in artillery. After Sicily, he switched to the Signal Corps, where he stayed until his death. So, my sympathies lie with the grunts and my enthusiasm is for the ground pounders.
Then you'll like this quote from the Austin Bay piece linked in the post above.
At Bagram AFB, Afghanistan, they have a sign to remind the Air Force jet-jocks why they're there:
"The mission, fuckhead, is supporting the 18 year old with the rifle."
I'd say the Air Force knows its job.
Did you ever notice that the P-38 was only used in the Pacific, not Europe?
Not true. They were used extensively in Europe, but they had a bad reputation there for engine and turbocharger failures that they didn't have in the Pacific theater. Still, they were in use even on D-Day:
On D-day, the 8th Air Force operated four P-38 groups (20, 55, 364 and 479) and the 9th Air Force (tactical) had three (367, 370 and 474), plus reconnaissance units flying F-4 and F-5 "photo joes." By VE-day, only the 474th still flew P-38s in Europe, but the 15th Air Force's 1st, 14th and 82nd Fighter Groups retained their beloved Lightnings in the Mediterranean. - Barrett Tillman, Flight Journal Summer, 2003
F-86: One of the most beautiful jets ever, top candidate for my personal pleasure chariot.
F-4...meh...I always thought they looked rather pedestrian.
SR-71: Originally designed as an intereptor. Significant problem not solved (?) was how to launch missiles @ mach 3.
Me-262: Had a tendency to kill their pilots by spewing turbines through them. Lots of them ended up at the bottom of Lake Balaton in Hungary.
P-38: My pick for personal prop plane chariot.
Personally, I've always liked the graceful lines of the F-15, and its successor, the F-22, which pretty much defines "untouchable air superiority".
These days though, the mano a mano of personal dogfighting combat are over.
This is the day of integrates, wholistic fighting, where the fighters shoot at targets illuminated by AWACS over the horizon from their position, the bombers shoot at targets illuminated by grunts with lasers, and the anti missile laser plane shoots at targets designated by satelite, and the missile frigate's C-WIZ takes out the inbound missile meant for the aircraft carrier it's protecting.
These days though, the mano a mano of personal dogfighting combat are over.
Gee, where have we heard that before?
The P-38 was used in Europe and in North Africa. The Germans called it "Der Gabelschwanz Teufel", or "The Fork-Tailed Devil".
Fighter version of the SR71 was the A11 (YF12A)- President Johnson had hardly revealed the existence of Lockheed's supersonic A11 last February before the plane and its mission were grounded in controversy. Across the U.S., aviation experts argued that the A11 was built to fly so high (100,000 ft.) and so fast (up to 2,500 m.p.h.) that it could only have been conceived as a successor to the U2, the slow-speed (500 m.p.h.) reconnaissance plane that flew into so much trouble over Russia. But last week the A11 was publicly shown and flown. And the experts quickly reconsidered their judgment. From spearlike nose to flaring, double-delta wing, the A11 is all interceptor, all meanness and muscle.
Time Magazine, Oct 09 1964. (Thanks, Google)
I was confused for years over what the heck happened to the A11.
And I'm partial to the F-104. Used to live on a base where a squadron of those lived; hearing them take off for an exercise, kicking on the afterburner at 0300, always brought shivers.
I have a couple of lines of code in the SR-71. One of the proudest moments in my aerospace career.
Fighters are support aircraft. They support the bombers, transports and tankers that perform the real missions. (I used to love spinning up F-15 jocks at HQ ACC by saying that). That being said:
1. B-52, JDAM precision to "global nuclear combat with the Russkies". Heavy iron or cruise missiles. She does it all.
2. A-10 for all the reasons stated above.
3. AC-130. "Don't bother running, you'll only die tired".
4. A-6 Intruder. Next best thing to a Buff for heavy iron, anytime, any weather.
5. P-47 Thunderbolt. Something for the figher fan boys but still solid perfomer in the Air-to-Mud arena.
1. North American P-51-D Mustang.
The P-47 actually shot down more enemy aircraft than did the '51, but the Mustang had the range to escort the heavies all the way to Berlin, and back. Bonus; the Mustang's mind-bendingly gorgeous lines, and unmatched power and grace in the air.
2. Boeing B-47.
Quite simply, the sleekest and most beautiful of the large jet bombers. The B-1b comes close and shares it's sprit; bombers with the hearts of fighter jets.
3. FokkeWulf FW-190.
Magnificent in every respect, and was developed to near Mustang levels of performance. The "long nose" with the V-12 kept the look of the earlier radials, but with greater performance throughout the envelope.
4. Chance-Vought F4-U Corsair.
Everything one might want in a fighter. Speed, Range, Armament, Armor.... and wicked manuverability. What's not to love about a 14' prop spun by 2,200 hp?
5. General Dynamics F-16 Falcon.
The Electric Lawn Dart. The first operational jet with "fly by wire", it was also the first to limit G forces vs. control inputs. Early marks killed a few pilots who blacked out in 10+G turns, and never woke-up before LawnDarting.
The '16's overall combat record is phenomenal, and it's proven also to be very effective in placing ordnance on target in the mud-moving mode.
While the Eagle has more pure air-combat kills, it's the Falcon which inherited the Mustang's verve.
Sloop New Dawn
'texasred' had it oh so close
1) P-51 Mustang. Iconic. Period.
2) Sr-71 Blackbird. Every time it flew the 'feel' would change because the airframe was annealing itself from the heat cycle.
3) A-10 Warthog. How can you not a love a plane with so much gun it slows down when you fire?
4) Me-262 Thank God it was late to the party. Head and shoulders above it's contemporaries.
5) Northrop B2. It's got a 172ft wingspan, but the radar signature of an insect. Respect.
OK, I'll put my two cents in:
1. General Dynamics / Lockheed-Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon
My favorite of all time, first fly by wire. Unsurpassed agility for its time.
2. Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
"The mission, fuckhead, is supporting the 18 year old with the rifle." Enough said.
3. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Again for the may reasons stated above. The bleeding edge for stealth at its time. Still the standard by which much military aircraft technology is measured.
4. P-51 Mustang
The obligatory prop choice. The original classic.
5. Don't need one, all the awesomeness you need summed up in 4.
Okay DJ, Kevin already corrected me. I was wrong.
The P-38 was used in Europe, just not very extensively. Now that you mentioned it, I do remember the Fork-Tailed Devil nickname. I guess it was just buried too deep.
(BTW, Mark, this is how you admit when you're wrong: "I was wrong.")
Personally, I have a hard time limiting my favorites to just 5, especially since there are so many excellent ones to choose from. The A-10 is probably my favorite, but there are a heck of a lot of excellent airframes bunched up in slots 2-27 for a lot of varying reasons. What I find most interesting, though, is that my list of favorites (and just about every plane mentioned here) falls into two primary categories: modern aircraft and WWII vintage.
P-38 Not used in Europe?
Need to talk to Jack Ilfry about that. Robin Olds to. You guys remember Olds, he was a P-38 Ace, P-51 ace, and almost an F-4 Ace in Vietnam.
The P-38 served from day one of WW2 to the end. It served in EVERY theater of the war, from India to Burma to Alaska, to Germany to Africa... Even first American plane to shoot down a German and first plane to land in Japan!
Geez, Paul. I already admitted that I was wrong. Did'ya have to keep piling on?
I read Kevin's correction, Ed. My comment was because of the German knickname for the P-38.
is timely, ain't it?
My link's got a picture!
The original FoxNews headline on their front page did too, if I remember correctly where I saw it, but it went away quickly, and their inside story never had one.