REC.AVIATION.MILITARY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Ross Smith <av...@meanmach.actrix.gen.nz>
Subject: A.1. Introduction
Every newsgroup on Usenet finds that certain questions crop up time after
time. Regular readers of a group get tired of seeing the same old
questions (and posting the same old answers) time and time again, while new
readers wonder why they're getting so many impolite replies, and so few
useful ones, to perfectly reasonable queries. The result is frustration
This list of Frequently Asked Questions attempts to provide answers to some
of the most popular questions about military aircraft and aviation. It
will be posted to "rec.aviation.military" every month. If you're fairly
new to this group (or even if you're not) and have a question related to
military aviation, you should check here first, to avoid wasting bandwidth
on a topic that may have already been discussed many times. Of course,
this is not intended to discourage interesting discussions; if you have
something new to say about any of the topics covered here (or any other
topic, for that matter), by all means share it with us.
Further contributions are welcome; send any comments, corrections, new
questions, or new answers to me at the address above (note that the address
for FAQ-related mail is different from my normal address). If you send me
mail about the FAQ, please reduce any quoted material to the absolute
minimum (ideally, just give the number of the question and answer you're
Nearly all FAQs and similar regular postings on Usenet are archived at
"rtfm.mit.edu"; you should be able to find the most recent version of this
FAQ there. If you don't have access to FTP, you can get instructions for
using their mail server by sending email to "mail-...@rtfm.mit.edu" with
a blank subject line and a body containing just the word "help" (no
This FAQ file is copyright 1994 by Ross Smith. It may be copied and
archived freely, provided it remains unchanged. Portions may be quoted
with appropriate acknowledgements.
Subject: A.2. Table of contents
[* Significant changes to this entry]
[** New entry]
Section A. Preliminaries
A.2. Table of contents
A.3. A note on character sets
A.4. Common abbreviations
A.5. Conversion factors
Section B. Current Projects
B.2. Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey
B.3. Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche
B.4. Dassault Rafale
B.5. Eurofighter 2000
* B.6. JAST
** B.7. LCA
B.8. Lockheed/Boeing F-22
B.9. McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III
B.10. Mikoyan 1.42
B.11. Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit
* B.12. Saab JAS 39 Gripen
B.13. Shenyang J-8/F-8
** B.14. X-32
B.15. Yakovlev Yak-41/141 "Freestyle"
Section C. Contemporary Aircraft
C.1. Why is the "stealth fighter" called F-117 instead of F-19?
* C.2. Does the USAF have a hypersonic spyplane called "Aurora"?
C.3. What's a TR-3?
C.4. Why wasn't the B-1 or B-2 used in Desert Storm?
C.5. Is fighter X better than fighter Y?
C.6. Why was the YF-22 chosen over the YF-23?
C.7. Did someone buy Grumman?
C.8. Why do recent articles refer to the "Lockheed F-16"?
C.9. Whatever happened to the F/A-16?
* C.10. Why do some aircraft have gold-tinted canopies?
C.11. Why do USAF aircraft have tailhooks?
* C.12. What's the composition of an aircraft carrier's air wing?
* C.13. What's happened to the former USSR's aircraft carriers?
* C.14. What's an Su-35?
** C.15. What were the "new" fighters in _Hot Shots_?
** C.16. Why do the USAF/USN use incompatible refuelling systems?
C.17. What air-to-air missiles are in service?
Section D. Post-War Aircraft
D.1. Is aircraft X still in service?
D.2. Did one of the XB-70 prototypes crash during a photo shot?
Section E. World War II Aircraft
* E.1. What jet aircraft were the Germans working on during WW2?
E.2. How "stealthy" was the wooden Mosquito?
Section F. Books and Sources
F.1. What good books are there on air combat?
F.2. Where can I get a pilot's manual for aircraft X?
F.3. What FTP sites have aircraft pictures and related material?
F.4. What military aviation related mailing lists are available?
Section G. Museums and Warbirds
* G.1. Where can I see surviving examples of famous aircraft?
Section H. Aircraft Designations
H.1. American aircraft designations
H.2. US Navy aircraft designations (pre-1962)
H.3. USAF/USN fighters and attack aircraft
H.4. American missile designations
** H.5. American electronic systems designations
H.6. Russian aircraft designations
H.7. Russian aircraft codenames
H.8. Russian missile designations and codenames
H.9. British aircraft designations
* H.10. Canadian aircraft designations
* H.11. Chinese aircraft designations
H.12. German aircraft designations (WW2)
H.13. Japanese aircraft designations and codenames (WW2)
H.14. Swedish aircraft designations
Section J. Notes
J.1. Reference books
Subject: A.3. A note on character sets
A FAQ on a subject like this will necessarily include a lot of non-English
names and words which contain letters not in the English alphabet, mainly
accented vowels. I don't like the idea of forcing foreign words into an
English straitjacket by converting these letters into diphthongs (or, even
worse, just ignoring the accents). There is an international standard
8-bit character set, ISO 8859/1, also known as Latin 1; it's an extension
of 7-bit ASCII to include most of the characters used in European
languages. I've used the Latin 1 characters in this document.
A lot of news transport and news reading software now supports Latin 1, and
it's becoming more widely supported; unfortunately, there's still a lot of
software around that reduces everything to 7-bit ASCII. For the benefit of
those using such software, here's a table of the accented letters in Latin
1 (not all of these appear in this document, of course), so you can tell
whether you have 8-bit software, and if not, which characters the accented
letters are being turned into. If you come across a name that seems to be
spelled oddly, this should help you figure out what it's meant to be.
Letter A a E e I i N n O o U u Y y
Acute accent (') Á á É é Í í - - Ó ó Ú ú Ý ý
Grave accent (`) À à È è Ì ì - - Ò ò Ù ù - -
Caret (^) Â â Ê ê Î î - - Ô ô Û û - -
Tilde (~) Ã ã - - - - Ñ ñ Õ õ - - - -
Umlaut (") Ä ä Ë ë Ï ï - - Ö ö Ü ü - ÿ
Ring (o) Å å - - - - - - - - - - - -
Slash (/) - - - - - - - - Ø ø - - - -
Subject: A.4. Common abbreviations
(See also section H)
Abbreviations in common use on Usenet
:-) = Smile
:-( = Frown
AFAIK = As Far As I Know
AKA = Also Known As
BTW = By The Way
FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions
FTP = File Transfer Protocol
FWIW = For What It's Worth
FYI = For Your Information
GIF = Graphic Interchange Format
HTTP = Hypertext Transfer Protocol
IIRC = If I Remember Correctly
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
IMNSHO = In My Not So Humble Opinion
ISTR = I Seem To Recall
RL = Real Life
ROTFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
UL = Urban Legend
URL = Uniform Resource Locator
WRT = With Respect To
WWW = World-Wide Web
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary
Abbreviations related to military aviation
AA = Anti-Aircraft
AAA = Anti-Aircraft Artillery
AAM = Air-to-Air Missile
AB = Air Base
a/c = Aircraft
ACM = Air Combat Manoeuvring
AEW = Airborne Early Warning
AEW&C = Airborne Early Warning and Control
AF = Air Force
AFB = Air Force Base
AFTI = Advanced Fighter Technology Integration
AGM = Air-to-Ground Missile
AH = Attack Helicopter
ALARM = Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missile
ALCM = Air-Launched Cruise Missile
AMRAAM = Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile
AOA = Angle of Attack
AP = Armour Piercing
APU = Auxiliary Power Unit
ARH = Active Radar Homing
ARM = Anti-Radiation Missile
ASL = At Sea Level
ASM = Air-to-Surface Missile
ASPJ = Airborne Self-Protection Jammer
ASRAAM = Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile
ASTOVL = Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing
ASV = Anti-Surface-Vessel
ASW = Anti-Submarine Warfare
AT = Advanced Trainer
ATB = Advanced Technology Bomber
ATF = Advanced Tactical Fighter
ATGM = Anti-Tank Guided Missile
ATGW = Anti-Tank Guided Weapon
ATM = Anti-Tank Missile
AWACS = Airborne Warning and Control System
BDA = Bomb Damage Assessment
BUFF = Big Ugly Fat Fucker (B-52)
CAD = Computer Aided Design
CAG = Carrier Air Group
CALF = Common Advanced Lightweight Fighter
CAM = Computer Aided Manufacturing
CAP = Combat Air Patrol
CAS = Close Air Support
CAW = Carrier Air Wing
CCIP = Continuously Computed Impact Point
CO = Commanding Officer
COD = Carrier On-Board Delivery
COIN = Counter-Insurgency
CTOL = Conventional Take-Off and Landing
CV = Carrier, Heavier-than-Air
CVA = Carrier, Heavier-than-Air, Attack
CVE = Carrier, Heavier-than-Air, Escort
CVN = Carrier, Heavier-than-Air, Nuclear Powered
CVS = Carrier, Heavier-than-Air, Anti-Submarine
CVW = Carrier Air Wing
DACT = Dissimilar Air Combat Training
DS = Desert Storm
EAP = Experimental Aircraft Programme
ECCM = Electronic Counter-Countermeasures
ECM = Electronic Countermeasures
ECR = Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance
EFA = European Fighter Aircraft
EFIS = Electronic Flight Information System
ehp = Equivalent Horsepower
ekW = Equivalent Kilowatts
ELINT = Electronic Intelligence
EMP = Electromagnetic Pulse
ESM = Electronic Support/Surveillance Measures
Eurofar = European Future Advanced Rotorcraft
EW = Electronic Warfare
F/A = Fighter/Attack
FAC = Forward Air Control
FAST = Fuel and Sensor, Tactical
FB = Fighter-Bomber
FBW = Fly by Wire
FGA = Fighter/Ground Attack
FLA = Future Large Airlifter
FLIR = Forward-Looking Infrared
FOD = Foreign Object Damage
FR = Flight Refuelling
FSW = Forward-Swept Wings
Ftr = Fighter
FY = Fiscal Year
GA = Ground Attack
GCA = Ground Controlled Approach
GCI = Ground Controlled Interception
GPS = Global Positioning System
HARM = High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile
HE = High Explosive
Helo = Helicopter
HOTAS = Hands On Throttle and Stick
HUD = Head-Up Display
IADS = Integrated Air Defence System
IAS = Indicated Airspeed
IFF = Identification Friend-or-Foe
IFR = Instrument Flight Rules
IIR = Imaging Infrared
INS = Inertial Navigation System
Intel = Intelligence
INU = Inertial Navigation Unit
IR = Infrared
IRH = Infrared Homing
IRST = Infrared Search and Track
JATO = Jet-Assisted Take-Off
JPATS = Joint Primary Aircraft Training System
JSTARS = Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System
JTIDS = Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
KE = Kinetic Energy
LAMPS = Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System
LANA = Low-Level All-Weather Night Attack
LANTIRN = Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night
LCA = Light Combat Aircraft
LGB = Laser-Guided Bomb
LLLTV = Low-Light-Level Television
LTA = Lighter Than Air
LWF = Lightweight Fighter
M = Mach
MAD = Magnetic Anomaly Detection
MFI = Multirole Fighter/Interceptor
MG = Machine Gun
MP = Maritime Patrol
MRF = Multirole Fighter
MSIP = Multi-Stage Improvement Programme
NAS = Naval Air Station
NATF = Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter
NAVSAT = Navigation Satellite
NAW = Night/All Weather
NBC = Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare
NOTAR = No Tail Rotor
NVG = Night Vision Goggles
PGM = Precision Guided Munitions
PR = Photographic Reconnaissance
PRF = Pulse Repetition Frequency
PT = Primary Trainer
RATO = Rocket-Assisted Take-Off
RCS = Radar Cross-Section
Recce = Reconnaissance
Recon = Reconnaissance
RIO = Radar Intercept Officer
RPV = Remote-Piloted Vehicle
RTB = Return to Base
RWR = Radar Warning Receiver
SABA = Small Agile Battlefield Aircraft
SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile
SAR = Search and Rescue
SARH = Semi-Active Radar Homing
SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defences
SDI = Strategic Defense Initiative
SFC = Specific Fuel Consumption
SHAR = Sea Harrier
SL = Sea Level
SLAM = Standoff Land Attack Missile
SLAR = Sideways-Looking Airborne Radar
SLUF = Short Little Ugly Fucker (A-7)
SOP = Standard Operating Procedure
SPAAG = Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun
Sqn = Squadron
SR = Strategic Reconnaissance
SRAM = Short-Range Attack Missile
STOL = Short Take-Off and Landing
STOVL = Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing
TACAMO = Take Command and Move Out
TARPS = Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System
TAS = True Airspeed
TASM = Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile
TCS = Television Camera System
TFR = Terrain-Following Radar
TFW = Tactical Fighter Wing
TIALD = Thermal Imaging and Laser Designation
TLAM = Tomahawk Land Attack Missile
TO&E = Table of Organisation and Equipment
TOW = Tube-Launched Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided Missile
TRAM = Target Recognition and Attack Multi-Sensor
UAV = Unmanned Air Vehicle
UH = Utility Helicopter
VFR = Visual Flight Rules
VG = Variable Geometry
VIFF = Vectoring in Forward Flight
V/STOL = Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing
VTO = Vertical Take-Off
VTOL = Vertical Take-Off and Landing
WIG = Wing In Ground-Effect
WSIP = Weapons System Improvement Programme
WSO = Weapon Systems Officer
Abbreviations for air forces and other organisations
ACC = Air Combat Command (USA)
AETC = Air Education and Training Command (USA)
AFPLA = Air Force of the People's Liberation Army (China)
AFRES = Air Force Reserve (USA)
AMC = Air Mobility Command (USA)
ANG = Air National Guard (USA)
ARPA = Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA)
AVMF = Aviatsiya Voenno-Morsko Flota (Naval Air Force) (Russia)
BMDO = Ballistic Missile Defence Office (USA)
CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States
DA = Dalnaya Aviatsiya (Strategic Aviation) (Russia)
DARO = Defence Aerial Reconnaissance Office (USA)
DARPA = Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA)
DOD = Department of Defense (USA)
FA = Frontovaya Aviatsiya (Tactical Aviation) (Russia)
FSU = Former Soviet Union
FUSSR = Former USSR
IDF/AF = Israeli Defence Force/Air Force (Heyl Ha'Avir)
JASDF = Japan Air Self-Defence Force
KLu = Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
MAC = Military Airlift Command (USA)
MATS = Military Air Transport Service (USA)
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA)
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NRO = National Reconnaissance Office (USA)
PVO = Protivo-Vozdushnoy Oborony (Air Defence Force) (Russia)
PVOS = Protivo-Vozdushnoy Oborony Strany (Air Defence Force)
RAAF = Royal Australian Air Force
RAF = Royal Air Force (UK)
RN = Royal Navy (UK)
RNAF = Royal Norwegian Air Force
RNZAF = Royal New Zealand Air Force
ROKAF = Republic of Korea Air Force (South Korea)
RSAF = Royal Saudi Air Force
RVSN = Raketnye Voiska Strategityesko Naznatseniya (Strategic
Missile Force) (Russia)
SAAF = South African Air Force
SAC = Strategic Air Command (USA)
TAC = Tactical Air Command (USA)
USAAF = United States Army Air Force
USAF = United States Air Force
USMC = United States Marine Corps
USN = United States Navy
VTA = Voenno-Transportnaya Aviatsiya (Military Transport Aviation)
VVS RF = Voenno-Vozdushniye Sily Rossiskoi Federatsii (Air Forces of
the Russian Federation)
WP = Warsaw Pact
Abbreviations for manufacturers' names
AIDC = Aero Industry Development Centre (Taiwan)
An = Antonov (Ukraine)
AS = Aérospatiale (France)
ASTA = Aerospace Technologies of Australia
BAC = British Aircraft Corporation
BAe = British Aerospace
Be = Beriev (Russia)
BMAC = Boeing Military Aircraft Corporation (USA)
CAC = Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (China)
CASA = Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (Spain)
CNIAR = Centrul National al Industriei Aeronautice Române (Romania)
DASA = Deutsche Aerospace SA (Germany)
DH = De Havilland (UK)
DHC = De Havilland Canada
EC = Eurocopter (France/Germany)
EHI = Ellicoteri/Helicopter Industries (Italy/UK)
Embraer = Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica (Brazil)
Euroflag = European Future Large Airlifter Group
GD = General Dynamics (USA)
GE = General Electric (USA)
HAL = Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (India)
HAMC = Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (China)
HP = Handley Page (UK)
HS = Hawker Siddeley (UK)
IAI = Israel Aircraft Industries
Il = Ilyushin (Russia)
Ka = Kamov (Russia)
LTV = Ling-Temco-Vought (USA)
MBB = Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (Germany)
MD = McDonnell Douglas (USA)
Mi = Mil (Russia)
MiG = Mikoyan-Gurevich (Russia)
NAMC = Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (China)
P&W = Pratt and Whitney (USA)
P&WC = Pratt and Whitney Canada
RR = Rolls-Royce (UK)
SAC = Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (China)
SEPECAT = Société Européenne de Production de l'Avion d'Ecole de
Combat et d'Appui Tactique (France/UK)
Su = Sukhoi (Russia)
Tu = Tupolev (Russia)
XAC = Xian Aircraft Company (China)
Yak = Yakovlev (Russia)
Subject: A.5. Conversion factors
I've used metric units throughout this FAQ. The following conversion
factors may come in useful.
Inch = 2.540 cm
Foot = 0.3048 m
Yard = 0.9144 m
Mile = 1.609 km
Nautical mile = 1.852 km
Gallon (US) = 3.785 L
Gallon (UK) = 4.546 L
Pound = 0.4536 kg
Short ton = 907.2 kg
Long ton = 1016 kg
Mile per hour = 1.609 km/h
Knot = 1.852 km/h
Pound force = 4.448 N
Kilogram force = 9.807 N
Horsepower = 0.7457 kW
Subject: B.1. A/F-X
The A/F-X (Attack/Fighter X) was a joint USAF/USN project to produce a
heavy attack aircraft with a secondary fighter role; it would have replaced
the F-111 and A-6 in the attack role, and (partially) the F-14 in the
fighter role. It was a short-lived programme, originating in 1991 after
the cancellation of the McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics A-12, a highly
advanced, highly stealthy aircraft intended to replace the A-6. A new
programme, originally designated A-X, was initiated to provide a cheaper
A-6 replacement. At the same time, the NATF (Naval Advanced Tactical
Fighter) programme, intended to produce an F-14 replacement, had recently
been put on hold, and the USAF was starting to think seriously about an
F-111 replacement. The three programmes were merged under the title A/F-X.
The leading contender was the Lockheed/Boeing AFX-653, essentially a
navalised version of the USAF's F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter (see below).
This would have been a two-seat aircraft with Tomcat-like swing wings, but
otherwise similar to the F-22. The A/F-X project was cancelled at the end
of 1993; the US Navy intends to procure the F/A-18E/F series as partial
replacements for its aircraft. Lockheed and Boeing are still working on
the AFX-653, and hope to offer a further developed version for a future
project (but probably not JAST (see below), for which the AFX-653 would
probably be too big).
You can find an article on the subject, with plans of the AFX-653, in the
26-Jan-94 issue of _Flight International_.
Vital statistics (AFX-653): power plant: two 113 kN Pratt & Whitney
PW7000 augmented turbofans; armament: one 20mm cannon, internal bays for
various air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, including AGM-86E missiles
and GBU-24 guided bombs.
Subject: B.2. Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey
The tilt-rotor programme began with Bell's XV-15 technology demonstrator.
A tilt-rotor multimission aircraft was commissioned under the title JVX
(Joint VTOL X); the aircraft, developed jointly by Bell Helicopter Textron
and Boeing Vertol, was later designated V-22 Osprey. The first prototype
flew on 19 March 1989; development has been interrupted by the destruction
of two of the prototypes in crashes.
Despite attempts by the US Secretary of Defence to have the programme
halted in favour of conventional helicopters and transport aircraft, the
Osprey has survived several rounds of budget cutting, thanks mainly to
lobbying by the US Marine Corps. The first production aircraft is expected
to fly in December 1996.
Current production plans consist of 552 MV-22A assault transports for the
USMC, 50 HV-22A combat rescue aircraft for the US Navy, and 55 CV-22A
special mission transports for the Special Operations Forces. The US
Army's original requirement for 251 of the transport version has been
deferred, but not irrevocably cancelled. Japan is expected to order four
search and rescue aircraft, and is considering the V-22 for the
Vital statistics (MV-22A): length 19.09 m, span 14.36 m, empty weight
14463 kg, max weight 27442 kg, max speed 556 km/h, range 3892 km, payload
9072 kg; power plant: two 4586 kW Allison T406-AD-400 turboshafts.
Subject: B.3. Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche
The LHX (Light Helicopter X) programme, to provide the US Army with a light
scout/attack helicopter to replace the AH-1 Cobra, OH-6 Cayuse, and OH-56
Kiowa, was initiated in 1982. The original plan was to acquire 5000
helicopters, in a mixture of LHX SCAT (scout/attack) and LHX Utility
versions; the latter was intended as a UH-1 replacement. The utility role
was dropped, and the requirement reduced to 2096 aircraft, in 1987. Two
consortia were awarded demonstration and validation contracts in October
1988, one consisting of Bell and McDonnell Douglas, the other Boeing and
Sikorsky. On 5 April 1991, the Boeing/Sikorsky team was awarded a contract
for development of the LHX, now designated RAH-66A Comanche.
The programme has survived recent budget cuts; the first flight is
scheduled for September 1994, service delivery 1997. The production total
is now expected to be 1292 aircraft, of which about one third will be the
RAH-66B version, carrying a slightly smaller version of the Longbow radar
fitted to the AH-64D Apache.
Vital statistics (RAH-66A): fuselage length 13.22 m, rotor diameter 11.90
m, empty weight 3402 kg, max weight 7790 kg, max speed 328 km/h, range 2335
km; power plant: two 690 kW LHTEC T800-LHT-800 turboshafts; armament:
20mm cannon, internal and external carriage for up to 14 Hellfire or 18
Subject: B.4. Dassault Rafale
When France withdrew from what was then the FEFA programme (now Eurofighter
2000; see below) in 1985, Dassault went ahead with a very similar multirole
fighter of its own, named Rafale (squall). In the first few years there
were half-hearted attempts to bring in foreign partners, but nothing came
of this. The first prototype Rafale A flew on 4 July 1986.
The Armée de l'Air (French AF) has ordered the "Rafale D", a generic name
covering the two-seat Rafale B and single-seat Rafale C; the first
pre-production Rafale C flew on 19 May 1991. The original plan was for a
force consisting mainly of single-seat aircraft, but the Armée de l'Air now
appears to like the idea of two-seat combat aircraft, and it is expected
that most, possibly all, of the Rafales for the Armée de l'Air will be the
Rafale B version. The Armée de l'Air is expected to order 235 Rafales,
entering service in 2000, or possibly 2002.
The Aéronavale (French Navy air arm) has ordered the Rafale M, a single
seat carrier-borne fighter; the first Rafale M flew on 12 December 1991,
and made its first carrier landing on the _Foch_ on 19 April 1993. The
Aéronavale intends to purchase 86 Rafales, probably entering service in
Vital statistics (Rafale B): length 15.30 m, span 10.90 m, empty weight
9550 kg, max weight 19500 kg, max speed 2124 km/h (Mach 2.0), ferry range
3706 km; power plant: two 72.90 kN Snecma M88-2 augmented turbofans;
armament: 30mm cannon, AAM rail on each wingtip, 14 hardpoints; max
external load 8000 kg.
Subject: B.5. Eurofighter 2000
In 1982 British Aerospace began development of what was then called ACA
(Agile Combat Aircraft), a fighter technology demonstrator, originally
privately funded, although it later attracted some assistance from the
British government. The single aircraft first flew on 8 August 1986, by
which time it had been redesignated EAP (Experimental Aircraft Programme).
Meanwhile, in December 1983, the air forces of France, Germany (then West
Germany), Italy, Spain, and the UK announced a programme for the
development of a next generation combat aircraft, designated FEFA (Future
European Fighter Aircraft), based largely on the EAP demonstrator, and on
similar work done by MBB (now part of DASA) in Germany, under the
designation JF-90 (a research project rather than an actual aircraft).
FEFA was originally intended to enter service with all five countries in
the mid-1990s. From the beginning the programme was dogged by political,
commercial, technological, and military infighting (leading _Flight
International_ columnist Roger Bacon to suggest that the acronym actually
stood for Five Europeans Farting Around). Disagreement over the size of
the aircraft and the production schedule led France to withdraw from the
programme in July 1985 (France wanted a smaller aircraft, and postponement
of production to avoid competing with Dassault's Mirage 2000). In June
1986 Eurofighter GmbH was formed to manage what was now the EFA (European
Fighter Aircraft) programme, with participation by British Aerospace (33%),
MBB (now DASA, 33%), Aeritalia (now Alenia, 21%), and CASA (13%).
The aircraft is now known as the Eurofighter 2000; a proper name is
expected to be assigned eventually. The first flight was made on 27 March
1994; production delivery is expected to begin in 2000. Orders are 250 for
the UK (but they're considering an increase to 350), 165 for Italy, 100 for
Spain, and probably about 100-120 for Germany (who originally wanted 140
but are expected to reduce their order).
BAe and Rolls-Royce have proposed a future version with VTOL capability.
Vital statistics (Eurofighter 2000): length 14.50 m, span 10.50 m, empty
weight 9750 kg, max weight 17000 kg, max speed 1912 km/h (Mach 1.8), ferry
range 1112 km; power plant: two 90.00 kN augmented turbofans; armament:
27mm cannon, AAM rail on each wingtip, 11 hardpoints; max external load
Subject: B.6. JAST
The US Joint Advanced Strike Technology programme, established in early
1994, is intended to be a technology development programme rather than an
actual service aircraft. It involves all the improvements that would be
expected for a next generation aircraft (advanced materials, stealth,
reduced costs, better systems integration, and so forth), plus two
particularly innovative concepts. The first is the idea of a modular
aircraft design, so that individual aircraft could be built with different
combinations of components for different services and missions (take-off
capability, for example -- the same basic airframe could be built in
conventional runway versions for the USAF, carrier-borne versions for the
USN, and V/STOL versions for the USMC). The second is the possibility of
providing a "virtual reality" environment for the pilot, which would
integrate tactical information with the outside view.
JAST has inherited much of the defunct A/F-X project, and has been
partially combined with ARPA's X-32 project (see section B.14). This was
resisted by the DOD, which wanted JAST to be a relatively low-risk project.
Twelve technology development contracts were awarded in May 1994, the
largest going to Boeing. The JAST project is expected to lead to the
construction of two technology demonstrator aircraft (one will probably be
the X-32), and eventually to a service aircraft (which may or may not be
derived from one of the demonstrators) which will begin to replace the F-16
in USAF service, the F/A-18 (and possibly F-14) in USN service, and the
Harrier in USMC service by 2010.
Subject: B.7. LCA
The LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) is India's second indigenous jet fighter
design, after the HF-24 Marut of the 1950s. Development began in 1983; the
basic design was finalised in 1990, and two prototypes are currently
approaching completion, with first flight expected sometime in 1995.
The configuration is a delta wing, with no tailplanes or foreplanes, and a
single vertical fin. The LCA will be constructed of aluminium-lithium
alloys, carbon-fibre composites, and titanium. The design incorporates
"control-configured vehicle" concepts to enhance manoeuvrability, and
quadruplex fly-by-wire controls.
Both prototypes are powered by General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 engines, but
an indigenous engine, the GTX-35VS Kaveri, is being developed for the
No official name or other designation has been assigned to the LCA yet.
Vital statistics: length 13.20 m, span 8.20 m, empty weight 5500 kg, clean
TO weight 8500 kg, max TO weight not given, max speed 1699 km/h (Mach 1.6);
power plant: one 83.4 kN GTRE GTX-35VS augmented turbofan; armament: one
GSh-23 twin-barrel 23mm cannon (220 rounds); 7 hardpoints; max external
load over 4000 kg.
Subject: B.8. Lockheed/Boeing F-22
The ATF (Advanced Technology Fighter) programme began in September 1983,
when design contracts were awarded to seven companies; in October 1986,
development contracts were awarded to two consortia, one consisting of
Lockheed (prime contractor), Boeing, and General Dynamics, the other of
Northrop (prime contractor) and McDonnell Douglas. The first Northrop/MD
YF-23A (unofficially "Black Widow II") flew on 27 August 1990, followed by
the first Lockheed/Boeing/GD YF-22A (unofficially "Lightning II") on 29
September 1990. In April 1991, the YF-22A was selected for development and
Recent budget cuts have slowed down the schedule slightly; the first flight
of the production Lockheed/Boeing F-22A (General Dynamics sold its fighter
division to Lockheed in December 1992), originally scheduled for June 1996,
will now be in (probably) March 1997. Service entry is expected to begin
in 2003; the USAF is currently fighting an attempt by the General
Accounting Office to delay this to 2010. Total production, originally
planned to be 648 aircraft, has now been reduced to 442.
Reports differ as to whether the aircraft has an official name yet; for a
while the Pentagon was considering "Superstar", and some magazine reports
have claimed that the name "Rapier" has been assigned. However, Chris
Ridlon of USAF ROTC/Academy reports that all the USAF people he knows
(including F-22 acquisition officers) are using Lockheed's name of
"Lightning II", so that may be officially approved after all.
Vital statistics (YF-22A): length 18.90 m, span 13.56 m, empty weight
15422 kg, max weight 28123 kg, max speed 2655 km/h (Mach 2.5), ferry range
3704 km; power plant: two 155.68 kN Pratt & Whitney F119-100 augmented
turbofans; armament: 20mm cannon, internal bays for two AIM-9 and four
AIM-120A or six AIM-120C air-to-air missiles, or two AIM-9, two AIM-120,
and two air-to-surface missiles, external hardpoints for four more AIM-120s
or other ordnance; radar: Westinghouse/Texas Instruments APG-77.
Subject: B.9. McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III
The USAF initiated the C-X (Cargo X) programme in October 1980; McDonnell
Douglas was selected as prime contractor on 19 August 1981. The C-X, later
designated C-17, is primarily a C-141 replacement, with some overlap with
the roles of the C-5 and C-130. The first prototype flew in September
1991. The programme has suffered many technical and political setbacks,
but production has begun, although the USAF's order has been reduced from
the original 210. 40 have been definitely ordered, of which 10 had been
delivered by February 1994. A follow-up order for another 80 is on hold,
conditional on MD correcting design flaws and cost overruns; a decision
will be made by the end of 1995.
McDonnell Douglas are considering a civilian airfreight version, under the
Vital statistics (C-17A): length 53.04 m, span 52.20 m, empty weight
122016 kg, max weight 263083 kg, cruise speed 818 km/h, range 8710 km,
payload 78108 kg; power plant: four 185.50 kN Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100
Subject: B.10. Mikoyan 1.42
Also known as MFI (Multirole Fighter/Interceptor), and sometimes referred
to in the West as "ATFski", Mikoyan's Project 1.42 is a low-visibility
multirole fighter, with air superiority as the primary mission, intended as
an Su-27/35 replacement; in short, the Russian equivalent of the F-22. The
1.42 is one of the few Mikoyan projects to survive the recent wave of
defence budget cuts from the Kremlin, although its schedule has apparently
been slowed by shortage of funds as well as technical problems. The first
airframe is reported to be already complete, but problems with the engines
have delayed the first flight, now expected to be in September 1994.
_Jane's Defence Weekly_ and _Flight International_ have published CAD
images of the 1.42; they show an aircraft resembling a scaled-up F-16, with
two engines with vectored-thrust nozzles, inward-canted twin tails,
slightly downturned wingtips, Rafale-like rounded intakes, and possibly
foreplanes. The 1.42, like the F-22, can carry weapons both internally and
externally. It is expected to enter service about 2004 to 2006; service
designation will probably be MiG-35.
The related Project 7.01, a heavier and stealthier interceptor designed
along similar lines, has been cancelled.
The only available vital statistic is a maximum take-off weight of 30000
Subject: B.11. Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit
Development of the ATB (Advanced Technology Bomber) began in 1978; the
programme was revealed to the public in 1981, when Northrop's design was
chosen over a Lockheed/Rockwell proposal. Although no details of the
design were revealed, it was widely assumed that the aircraft would be a
"flying wing" design, based on Northrop's experience with the XB-35 and
YB-49, and this was confirmed when the first prototype was rolled out on 22
November 1988. It made its first flight on 17 July 1989, and the first
production B-2 was delivered to the USAF in 1993. Production plans have
been drastically cut from 135 aircraft to only 20, of which the last is
expected to be delivered in 1997. The aircraft was officially named
"Spirit" in February 1994; Northrop became Northrop Grumman in May 1994.
Vital statistics (B-2A): length 21.03 m, span 52.42 m, empty weight 72575
kg, max weight 168434 kg, max speed 1103 km/h, range 13898 km, payload
22370 kg; power plant: four 84.51 kN General Electric F118-100 turbofans.
Subject: B.12. Saab JAS 39 Gripen
Development of the JAS 39 Gripen (JAS = Jakt/Attack/Spaning =
Fighter/Attack/Reconnaissance; Gripen = Griffon) began in 1980. It is a
light multirole fighter, intended to gradually replace all versions of the
Saab 35 Draken and Saab 37 Viggen in Flygvapnet (Swedish AF) service;
development and production is carried out by IG-JAS, a consortium led by
The first prototype flew on 9 December 1988; development has been delayed
by the loss of two aircraft in crashes attributed to faults in the digital
flight control software. The programme remains intact, however, and the
Swedish government has confirmed its order for two initial batches
totalling 140 aircraft (126 JAS 39A single-seat aircraft and 14 two-seat
JAS 39B conversion training aircraft).
Saab has high hopes for export success with the Gripen; the Swedish
government has agreed to a slight relaxation of the export restrictions
that made the Viggen a non-starter outside Sweden. An agreement with
Britain was signed in February 1994, under which British Aerospace (which
assisted Saab in the design of the Gripen) will market the aircraft; BAe
will probably also be involved in production.
An advanced JAS 39C version, with improved avionics and more powerful
engines, is under development, and will probably be ordered as a third
batch; the Flygvapnet originally planned to buy a total of 358 Gripens, but
is expected to end up with 250 to 300.
Vital statistics (JAS 39): length 14.15 m, span 8.40 m, empty weight 5800
kg, max weight 9526 kg, max speed 2336 km/h (Mach 2.2), range 600 km; power
plant: one 80.50 kN Volvo Flygmotor RM12 augmented turbofan; armament:
27mm cannon, wingtip AAM rails, 6 hardpoints.
Subject: B.13. Shenyang J-8/F-8
Development of this large interceptor, the first jet fighter designed in
China to enter service, began in 1964. The first prototype flew on 5 July
1969. Production of the J-8I began in July 1979; about 100 were delivered
to the AFPLA before production ended in 1987. The J-8I resembled a
scaled-up MiG-21 (J-7), with a tailed delta configuration powered by two
engines fed from a single annular nose intake, carrying radar in the
centrebody cone (it resembled Mikoyan's experimental Ye-152A, although,
contrary to some early reports, it was not based on that aircraft).
The more advanced J-8II was developed in the early 1980s, the first
prototype flying on 12 June 1984. It differed externally in having two
side intakes (similar to an F-4 or MiG-23) and a solid nose with a much
larger radome. A plan to fit American avionics, including an advanced
radar, fell through in the early 1990s; however, the J-8II has entered
production anyway, carrying a Chinese SR-4 "lookdown-shootdown" radar.
Both versions have been offered for export, as the F-8I and F-8II, but
there have been no takers so far.
Vital statistics (J-8II, estimated): length 21.59 m, span 9.34 m, empty
weight 9820 kg, max weight 17800 kg, max speed 2336 km/h (Mach 2.2), ferry
range 2200 km; power plant: two 65.90 kN Wopen 13A-II augmented turbojets;
armament: one Type 23-3 twin-barrel 23mm cannon with 200 rounds, 7
hardpoints, max external load 3500 kg.
... Ross Smith (Wellington, New Zealand) <av...@meanmach.actrix.gen.nz> ...
"Being in the air farce and navy means you only get to kill people by
remote control, which takes some of the fun out of it."
(Steve Kieffer-Higgins, in alt.tasteless)
Subject: B.14. X-32
The X-32 started life as ARPA's ASTOVL (Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical
Landing) project, intended as a technology demonstrator to lead to a
supersonic successor to the Harrier. This later became CALF (Common
Advanced Lightweight Fighter), a more general demonstrator for a future
lightweight fighter. The UK is also involved in the project, putting up
about one third of the money. The design has been made small enough for
service on Royal Navy carriers.
Lockheed has been contracted to build at least two prototypes of the CALF,
now designated X-32, in two variants. There will be a CTOL version for the
USAF (and possibly RAF), and a V/STOL version (with a lift fan replacing
one of the fuel tanks) for the USN and USMC (and possibly RN). The X-32 is
a single-seat, single-engine, fly-by-wire aircraft with a canard delta
configuration (similar to Eurofighter, Rafale, and Gripen). The aircraft
incorporates many components from the F-22, including stealth features and
supercruise. Weapons will be carried internally.
First flight (CTOL version) is expected about 1998. Lockheed hope to build
a number of prototypes for full evaluation by each of the three services,
and eventual development into a service aircraft.
Subject: B.15. Yakovlev Yak-41/141 "Freestyle"
Design of the Yak-41 (or possibly Yak-141; see below) began in 1975; the
first prototype flew in March 1987, followed by a second in April 1989.
Tests were conducted on the aircraft carrier _Admiral Gorshkov_. In April
1991, one of the prototypes set several records for VTOL aircraft; it was
displayed at the Paris Air Show shortly afterwards. One prototype was lost
in a crash (attributed to pilot error) on the carrier in November 1991,
after which development was suspended (due to lack of funds rather than any
problems with the aircraft); the surviving aircraft was mothballed.
Yakovlev have recently announced their intention to restart development of
the Yak-41, apparently as a result of renewed interest from the Russian
Ministry of Defence (a similar revival of the twin-turboprop Yak-44 AEW
aircraft is also being considered).
A more advanced version, the Yak-41M (Yak-141M?), has also been designed,
with the emphasis now on Air Force rather than Navy service. This version
has an extensively modified airframe, with a strong emphasis on stealth
(there is a distinct resemblance to the F-22), a much more powerful engine,
and more fuel and payload.
The "Freestyle" has been referred to as both Yak-41 and Yak-141; it appears
that one designation refers to the standard fighter and one to the single
prototype modified for record attempts, but there seems to be some
uncertainty as to which is which.
Vital statistics (Yak-41/141?): length 18.36 m, span 10.11 m, empty weight
11650 kg, max weight 19500 kg, max speed 1800 km/h (Mach 1.7), range 2100
km; power plant: one 152.00 kN Soyuz R-97V-30 augmented turbofan, two
RD-41 lift jets; armament: 30mm cannon, 5 hardpoints, max external load
Subject: C.1. Why is the "stealth fighter" called F-117 instead of F-19?
Nobody really knows for sure. It's been suggested, and sounds plausible
(but there's no real evidence), that it was called F-19 to start with, but
the number was changed as a security measure after the open press started
using that designation in the early 1980s (the aircraft first flew in 1981,
but wasn't revealed to the public until 1988). Why they picked F-117 as
the new number is a mystery; there are three main theories, any of them
The first theory has it that the "stealth fighter" (actually it's a bomber;
see below) was flying from the same bases as the small fleet of captured
Russian aircraft that the USAF flies; these are believed to use the
nonexistent designations "F-112", "F-113" and so on as a cover, and the
F-117 just happened to be the next number in sequence.
The second theory claims that the aircraft was using the call sign "117"
(possibly for reasons connected with the above, or possibly just an
arbitrarily assigned number) on some of its early test flights, and the
number just happened to stick (presumably for lack of any other
designation); when Lockheed got around to printing pilot's manuals for the
aircraft, they were labelled "F-117", and from then on it became official.
The third theory is that there isn't any reason; the Pentagon just picked a
number at random.
The mythical "F-19" may have been part of a "leak identification" project;
it's common practice in many "black" projects to create several false
stories and track down leaks by watching to see which one gets out.
There's also the separate question of why it was given an F-series
(fighter) designation at all, when it's clearly a light bomber with
essentially zero air-to-air capability; it should have an A-series (attack)
or B-series (bomber) number. Again, the Pentagon isn't telling, but a
favourite theory here on the Net is that the USAF, being dominated by
former fighter pilots, couldn't bear the idea of its most glamorous plane
having anything but a fighter designation...
The F-117 has been popularly known as "Nighthawk" for some time; the Air
Force made the name official on 24 June 1994.
Subject: C.2. Does the USAF have a hypersonic spyplane called "Aurora"?
Maybe. Here's the evidence.
In 1985, a censor's error let an item labelled "Aurora", with no further
explanation, appear in that year's Pentagon budget request, with a
reference to "production funding" for 1987. It was located next to the
operating budgets for the SR-71 and U-2. The Pentagon refused to comment
on the item, and it has never been mentioned since.
In 1986, the US government sealed off large areas of land around the top
secret Groom Lake base in Nevada. Many new buildings have been built at
Groom Lake during the 1980s, and intense activity continues. The
government is currently (mid 1994) in the process of taking over more large
areas of land around the base, in order to make it impossible to observe
the base from publicly accessible land. The extensive security measures
imply that some very important and very secret activity is going on there.
Officially, the USAF won't even admit that the base exists.
In February 1988, the _New York Times_ reported that the USAF was working
on a stealthy reconnaissance aircraft capable of Mach 6. The story was
attributed to "Pentagon sources".
In August 1989, Chris Gibson, an oil exploration engineer and former member
of the Royal Observer Corps, was working on an oil rig in the North Sea
when he saw an unusual formation of aircraft pass overhead. It consisted
of a KC-135 tanker, two F-111s, and a fourth aircraft of a type that Gibson
(an expert on aircraft recognition) had never seen before. Seen from
below, it appeared to be a perfect triangle, slightly larger than the
escorting F-111s, with a leading edge sweep angle of about 75 degrees. It
was completely black, with no visible details (unlike the F-111s), and
appeared to be taking on fuel from the KC-135.
In early 1990 the USAF retired its fleet of SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft;
the official reason given was that satellites could now perform all
strategic reconnaissance missions required by the Pentagon. Many observers
consider this explanation to be suspicious, for several reasons. First,
satellites exist in limited numbers and fixed, predictable orbits; surely
there will always be a requirement for high-speed reconnaissance missions
at short notice, which could only be performed by an aircraft like the
SR-71. Second, the cost of running the SR-71 fleet was only about 7 per
cent of what the Pentagon spends on satellites; it would still be a good
investment even if only as an emergency backup. Third, the USAF never
raised the slightest objection to the plan to replace manned aircraft with
unmanned satellites, which is highly unusual behaviour for an organisation
composed almost entirely of pilots.
At about the same time, _Aviation Week_ carried reports from witnesses who
had heard an incredibly loud aircraft taking off from Edwards Air Force
Base in California late at night. Some of them referred to a pulsing sound
with a period of about one second.
On several occasions from June 1991 to June 1992, sonic booms were heard
over southern California. They were not produced by any officially
acknowledged military flight (which are always careful to remain subsonic
over urban areas). The booms were powerful enough to show up on the
seismographs operated by the US Geological Service, and the times of
arrival of the sound at various points allowed fairly accurate calculation
of the course and speed of the aircraft responsible; the USGS had already
demonstrated this by tracking incoming space shuttles. The aircraft were
headed northeast, over Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert, towards either
the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada or the nearby Groom Lake base. The
speeds involved ranged from Mach 3 to Mach 4.
In February 1992, _The Scotsman_ reported that an RAF air traffic
controller, in November 1991, had seen a radar blip emerge from the base at
Machrihanish, Scotland, and quickly accelerate to Mach 3. When he called
Machrihanish to ask what had happened, he was told to forget it.
In May 1992, a photographer snapped some strange contrails over Amarillo,
Texas; the trails appeared to have been produced by a high-speed aircraft,
and resembled "doughnuts on a rope". A few days later, similar trails were
reported over Machrihanish.
All this appears to add up to a hypersonic aircraft, with a cruising speed
around Mach 6, being operated by the USAF from Groom Lake, Nevada, Edwards
AFB, California, and Machrihanish, Scotland, since about 1988
(Machrihanish, by the way, is due to be closed in 1995). The aircraft
described by Chris Gibson matches several design studies of hypersonic
aircraft in the 1970s and 80s, which came up with a triangular planform
with a sweep angle of 75 degrees. The engines appear to be rocket based
combined cycle (RBCC) engines, an advanced hybrid of turbojet, ramjet, and
rocket. Unclassified studies from the US, Japan, and Russia have
investigated RBCC engines for hypersonic propulsion; such engines would be
extremely loud on take-off, would produce a pulsing sound with a frequency
on the order of one second, would leave contrails resembling "doughnuts on
a rope", and should theoretically have a maximum speed not far above Mach
6. The most likely fuel for an RBCC engine would be methane; given the
assumptions of methane-fuelled RBCC engines, Mach 6 cruising speed, and
intercontinental range, the resulting aircraft would indeed be about the
size of an F-111.
Does this aircraft exist? We don't know for certain, but the
circumstantial evidence is certainly persuasive.
Incidentally, the aircraft (if it exists) is almost certainly not called
Aurora. Even if the mystery item in the 1985 budget did refer to this
project, the name would probably have been changed after the security leak.
But Aurora is the only name anyone has, so we continue to use it as a
Recently (mid 1994) there are moves afoot in the US Senate to reactivate
three SR-71 aircraft (possibly in connection with the Korean situation).
It was reported (from what sources is unclear) that the Blackbird successor
programme had collapsed "after consuming several hundred million dollars".
This has been interpreted by some to suggest that the "Aurora" was a
Ben Rich, who replaced Kelly Johnson as the head of Lockheed's "Skunk
Works" and was responsible for the F-117) recently wrote a book (sorry, I
don't have the title or publisher) in which he stated that "Aurora" was the
codename for Lockheed's entry in the ATB contest, lost to Northrop's B-2
(see section B.11). I'm told that the book is careful to make no mention
of any SR-71 successor, either to support or refute the idea.
The best we can say at the moment is that the mystery remains open...
[Most of this information comes from Bill Sweetman's book _Aurora_]
Subject: C.3. What's a TR-3?
A report in _Aviation Week and Space Technology_ in mid 1991 described a
"triangular flying wing" reconnaissance aircraft, developed by Northrop
(now Northrop Grumman) from 1982, designated TR-3A and nicknamed "Black
Manta". According to the report, the aircraft had a length of about 13
metres, wingspan of about 19 metres, and a range of 5600 kilometres; it had
been deployed for trials to Alaska, Okinawa, Panama, and the UK, and a few
had been employed in Desert Storm in the reconnaissance role. The aircraft
was apparently developed from a Northrop technology demonstrator known as
THAP (Tactical High Altitude Penetrator), which first flew in 1981 and was
similar in design, but slightly smaller. After this report, however,
nothing more was heard of the TR-3 for two years.
In 1993, Steve Douglass, an amateur "stealth watcher" who keeps an eye on
the USAF's "black" programmes for a hobby, took a videotape of an aircraft
landing at White Sands Missile Range. Enhancement of the image revealed a
formerly unknown aircraft, almost certainly the TR-3. Apart from having a
curved trailing edge, it resembled a scaled-down B-2 (or a Horten IX; see
section E.1). It appears to be a single-seat, twin-engine, approximately
triangular flying wing, which fits the description given in the earlier
report. You can find more details, including an artist's impression based
on the video images, in the February 1994 issue of _Wired_.
Of the various "black" aircraft supposed to be flown by the USAF (see also
section C.2), more solid evidence exists for the TR-3 than any other, and
its existence seems virtually certain. Although it's difficult to judge
the exact size of the aircraft from Douglass's image, the dimensions quoted
in the original report are plausible.
Subject: C.4. Why wasn't the B-1 or B-2 used in Desert Storm?
The B-1s weren't used for several reasons. First, their primary mission is
(or was at the time) strategic nuclear strike; Pentagon policy was to keep
them in the United States as part of the strategic triad. Second, at the
time (January 1991) the B-1s had not yet been fully cleared for tactical
operations with conventional weapons. Third, there was no need for them --
the aircraft already available, notably B-52s and F-117s, were perfectly
capable of the required missions, and sending B-1s over wouldn't have added
enough capability to be worth the extra maintenance involved. Fourth, in
late 1990 most of the B-1 fleet was grounded anyway, due to engine
No B-2s were in service at the time; only a single prototype was flying.
Subject: C.5. Is fighter X better than fighter Y?
This is the kind of question that gets discussed all the time, but doesn't
really have an answer.
First, best for what? Every fighter is designed with a particular set of
requirements in mind. "Fighter" is a fairly general term that covers a
multitude of missions. A Tornado F.3 or a MiG-31 is an excellent
long-range interceptor, but you wouldn't want to send one of them up
against an F-16 or an Su-27 in a dogfight.
Second, the aircraft itself isn't the only factor involved, or even the
most important one. Put two aircraft of similar (or even somewhat
different) capabilities up against each other, and by far the most
important factor is the relative skills of the two pilots. It's widely
believed that superior pilot training was the main reason why American F-86
Sabres consistently gained air superiority over technically superior
Russian MiG-15s in the Korean War.
Third, even apparently identical fighters can differ enormously in their
electronics fit; and in modern fighters, the electronics is at least as
important (not to mention expensive) as the airframe. Export versions of
fighters are normally much less capable in the electronic sphere than the
equivalent models for the home air force, even when the aircraft have the
same designation; does anyone expect the F-16Cs exported to, say, Egypt to
be anywhere near the capability of the F-16Cs in USAF service? Older
aircraft can be upgraded to modern electronic standards at a fraction of
the cost of new fighters, an option increasingly popular in these days of
tightened defence budgets (for example, the RNZAF recently upgraded its
Skyhawk fleet with a radar and avionics suite equivalent to that of the
Most of the modern generation of fighters are fairly similar in
performance. Leaving out specialised interceptors such as the Tornado and
MiG-31 mentioned above, if almost any two modern fighters came up against
each other in a dogfight, pilot skill would certainly be the main deciding
factor. We can (and certainly will) argue endlessly about the relative
merits of, say, F-16 vs Sea Harrier, or F-22 vs Su-35 (both the subject of
recent discussion on this newsgroup; Harriers versus conventional fighters
is a particularly hardy perennial), and there are real differences there;
but such technical details are not the most important thing in combat.
Subject: C.6. Why was the YF-22 chosen over the YF-23?
When the Lockheed YF-22 and Northrop YF-23 were unveiled in 1990, it was
generally believed that the two companies had made different trade-offs
among the various design requirements. The YF-23 appeared to be optimised
for stealth, with its trapezoidal wings, butterfly tail, and generally
futuristic appearance (the distinct resemblance to the fictional "Firefox"
attracted a lot of comments). The YF-22, on the other hand, had a more
conventional appearance; although it was obviously designed with stealth in
mind, there was a definite resemblance to the F-15 it was intended to
replace, and the impression was of an aircraft designed for manoeuvrability
first and stealth second. The YF-22 had thrust-vectoring jet nozzles,
while those of the YF-23 were designed to hide the engines' infrared
signature from below.
In April 1991, the YF-22 was selected for production. According to the
USAF, neither aircraft showed any clear advantage in either manoeuvrability
or stealth. The reasons given for the choice were that the Lockheed
aircraft was better designed for maintainability, had more potential for
future development, and was slightly cheaper.
An unconfirmed report has it that one factor was the fact that the YF-23
had its internal AAMs "stacked" in its bays, while the YF-22's missiles
each had a bay to themselves; this meant that, on the YF-23, a malfunction
in one launcher might prevent the launch of another missile in the same
There remains a popular opinion that the reasons given were bogus, and that
a preference for manoeuvrability over stealth was the real reason for the
choice. However, there is no obvious reason why the USAF should want to
lie about its reasons, and it seems likely that the external appearance of
the two aircraft wasn't as good a guide to their capabilities as many
[From Mike Spick & Barry Wheeler, _Modern American Fighters and Attack
Aircraft_, and magazine reports]
Subject: C.7. Did someone buy Grumman?
Yes. Northrop took it over in May 1994, and is now known as Northrop
Subject: C.8. Why do recent articles refer to the "Lockheed F-16"?
General Dynamics sold its military aircraft division to Lockheed in
December 1992. Although readers of this newsgroup probably associate GD
with aircraft like the F-16 and F-111, the company has always been
primarily a shipbuilder, and has now decided to concentrate exclusively on
Lockheed, in turn, is about to merge with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed
Subject: C.9. Whatever happened to the F/A-16?
At one time the USAF had a plan to replace its A-10s with F-16s fitted with
a version of the Avenger cannon. This was tested during Desert Storm, when
F-16As of the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing were fitted with GPU-5 pods on
their centreline pylons, and given the new designation F/A-16A. The GPU-5
contains the GAU-13 cannon (a four-barrelled version of the seven-barrelled
GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon fitted to the A-10) and 353 rounds of ammunition.
If the tests were successful, there were plans for a fleet of F/A-16Cs with
the same armament.
The tests were a disaster. Precision aiming was impossible for several
reasons: the pylon mount isn't as steady as the A-10's rigid mounting; the
F-16 flies much faster than an A-10, giving the pilots too little time
approaching the target; the tremendous recoil from the gun shook the plane
around badly; and some essential CCIP (continuously computed impact point)
software was unavailable. They ended up using it as an area weapon,
spraying multiple targets with ammunition, producing an effect rather like
a cluster bomb. It took only a couple of days of this before they gave up,
unbolted the gun pods, and went back to dropping real cluster bombs.
The F/A-16C plan was quietly forgotten. The USAF still has plans to
replace the A-10 with F-16s, but they no longer involve 30mm gun pods (or,
apparently, a designation with an "A" in it).
[Thanks to Kevin Au for posting most of this information]
Subject: C.10. Why do some aircraft have gold-tinted canopies?
Gold-tinted canopies have been noticed on the EA-6B and the F-16C/D. On
the EA-6B, the coating is a shield against electromagnetic radiation from
the Prowler's powerful jamming pods. On the F-16C/D, officially the
purpose of this treatment is classified, but discussion on the newsgroup
has brought general agreement (based on unclassified sources and hints
dropped by pilots) that the gold coating reduces the aircraft's radar
signature, by reducing reflections off the complex interior shape of the
cockpit. In both cases the coating is a very thin layer of actual gold
metal, not a gold-tinted paint.
Other aircraft, such as the F-15E and F/A-18C/D, have a distinct greenish
tinge to their canopies. This is a different coating (on the inside of the
canopy rather than the outside) that reduces internal reflections to help
visibility. Several newsgroup readers report having similar coatings on
their glasses, so it's not exactly a secret.
Subject: C.11. Why do USAF aircraft have tailhooks?
To help stop the aircraft in the event of brake failure, or some similar
accident leading to a runway overrun. Just past the end of many military
runways, you'll find an arrester cable strung across the field. The cable
(unlike those on aircraft carriers) isn't attached to anything firm;
instead, each end is linked to a long chain, which just drags on the
ground. The idea is to slow the aircraft down in a reasonable distance;
the tailhooks on Air Force fighters are smaller and weaker than the
superficially similar hooks on Navy planes.
The inevitable next question, "Does this mean Air Force planes could land
on a carrier in an emergency?", has been discussed at length in this
newsgroup. It has been conclusively established that, no, an Air Force
fighter could never land on a carrier because, first, its landing gear is
likely to break in the much heavier touchdown required for carrier landings
(sink-rate figures quoted in the newsgroup give an F-15's main gear roughly
a fifty-fifty chance of taking a carrier landing without breaking); second,
even if it could get on the deck in one piece, the weaker AF tailhook would
break when it caught the Navy arrester cable; and third, even if the
aircraft was physically capable of it, Air Force pilots aren't trained in
the highly specialised and difficult art of carrier landings.
It has been pointed out that, if the USAF thought there was even the
slightest chance of ever being able to save one of its planes by landing it
on a carrier, it would have been tested on the mock carrier deck at
Patuxent River; the fact that this has never been tried is pretty solid
evidence that the Air Force engineers (who would presumably know) are
certain it can't be done.
The F-16Ns used by the US Navy as adversaries in training have the standard
Air Force tailhooks and undercarriage, and are definitely not carrier
The RAF pilots who learned to operate from carriers in a few weeks on the
way to the Falklands are a different matter entirely; they were flying
Harriers, and of course most of the above is irrelevant to VTOL aircraft.
Some training was still required, of course, but the requirements are very
different, both for the aircraft and the pilots. (As one Harrier pilot put
it: "It's much easier to stop and then land, than to land and then try to
A few land-based aircraft have been flown from carriers with minimal
modification, notably the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and U-2. Both of these
were fairly special cases involving aircraft designed for very low speeds
(and, in the case of the Hercules, rough landings) from the start.
On 30 October 1963, a USMC KC-130F made several carrier landings and
take-offs on the flight deck of USS _Forrestal_, in a series of tests
intended to determine whether it would make a good COD (carrier on-board
delivery) aircraft. The only modification was an anti-skid braking system.
The aircraft made several landings and take-offs, with no use of arrester
gear or catapults, and performed well (the pilot, Lieutenant James H
Flatley III, was awarded the DFC for his part in the tests). However, it
turned out that the Hercules would have been unable to fit in a carrier's
hangar deck, so the smaller Grumman C-2 Greyhound was developed instead.
Modifications to the U-2 involved the addition of an arrester hook and a
strengthened landing gear (the U-2 already had folding wings). In 1964 two
modified U-2As, designated U-2G, were flown from USS _Ranger_; the tests
were successful, and several modified aircraft were apparently flown from
carriers by the CIA during the 1960s (the service version may have been
designated U-2J). In 1969, a similarly modified U-2R was flown from USS
_America_, but this does not seem to have led to any service use.
Land-based aircraft have been successfully modified to be carrier-based;
the modifications involved, when the aircraft is a fast jet, are extensive.
It isn't just a matter of adding a tailhook and new landing gear; most of
the airframe needs to be redesigned. The best known example in the West is
the BAe/MD T-45 Goshawk, the US Navy's new trainer, based on BAe's Hawk.
The Russians have had some success in adapting several fighters and attack
aircraft for carrier service. Carrier tests were made by modified MiG-29
and Su-27 fighters, and by trainer versions of the Su-25; the naval MiG-29K
was cancelled, but the Su-33 (based on the Su-27K) and Su-25UTG have
entered service. A report of an early MiG-29K being torn in half on its
first attempt at a tailhook arrest gives a hint of the difficulties
Subject: C.12. What's the composition of an aircraft carrier's air wing?
Most of the questions along this line refer to the US Navy's carriers, so
I'll discuss them first, then cover other countries.
* United States: The US Navy currently operates thirteen aircraft
carriers, although at any given time at least two are undergoing refit.
The oldest carriers in service are the two surviving members of the 79250
tonne Forrestal class (CV-60 Saratoga and CV-62 _Independence_). CV-41
_Midway_ (the last of its class) was retired in 1992, AVT-59 _Forrestal_
and CV-61 _Ranger_ (also Forrestal class) in 1993 (_Ranger_ is mothballed
for the Ready Reserve Fleet). USS _Saratoga_ is due to be decommissioned
in September 1994, leaving the US Navy with twelve carriers until USS _John
C Stennis_ becomes operational in 1996.
These are followed by three 81775 tonne Kitty Hawk carriers (CV-63 _Kitty
Hawk_, CV-64 _Constellation_, and CV-66 _America_), and the USS _John F
Kennedy_ (CV-67), the sole vessel of its class, and the US Navy's last
conventionally powered carrier. _Kennedy_ will be used as a training
carrier after 1995.
The first nuclear powered carrier was the 93970 tonne USS _Enterprise_
(CVN-65), launched in 1961; this was followed in 1975 by the first of the
93300 tonne Nimitz class, which consists so far of CVN-68 _Nimitz_, CVN-69
_Dwight D Eisenhower_, CVN-70 _Carl Vinson_, CVN-71 _Theodore Roosevelt_,
CVN-72 _Abraham Lincoln_, and CVN-73 _George Washington_, to be followed by
CVN-74 _John C Stennis_ (to become operational in 1996, replacing
_America_) and CVN-75 _United States_ (in 1998, replacing _Independence_).
A ninth Nimitz class vessel (CVN-76, not yet named) has been authorised,
and a tenth (CVN-77) will be requested. The ships from CVN-71 on differ
slightly from the first three (displacing 96836 tonnes), and are sometimes
considered a separate class (Roosevelt class).
In principle, the air wings embarked on the carriers are interchangeable;
actually, the slightly different capabilities of the various carrier
classes mean that this cannot quite be achieved in practice. Three
slightly different types of carrier air wing (CVW) are currently in use.
The "Conventional CVW", currently (mid 1994) the most common, consists of
nine squadrons. There are two VF fighter squadrons (with twelve F-14
Tomcats each), two VFA fighter/attack squadrons (twelve F/A-18 Hornets
each), one VA attack squadron (ten A-6E Intruder attack aircraft and four
KA-6D tankers), one VAW airborne early warning squadron (four E-2C
Hawkeyes), one VAQ electronic warfare squadron (four EA-6B Prowlers), two
anti-submarine squadrons (one VS with eight or ten S-3B Vikings, and one HS
with six SH-3H Sea King or SH-60F Ocean Hawk helicopters), and two C-2A
Greyhound COD (carrier on-board delivery) transport aircraft. Total
complement is 86 or 88 aircraft.
The USN is progressively switching to the "Transitional CVW", which
consists of ten squadrons. It is essentially the same as the "Roosevelt
CVW" described below, except that the two VA and one VS squadron each
consist of only eight aircraft, and most HS squadrons have the older
composition of six SH-3Hs. Total complement is 82 aircraft, or 84 if the
newer HS squadron is present.
The "Roosevelt CVW", taking its name from the carrier on which it was first
deployed, is expected to become standard by the turn of the century. It
consists of ten squadrons. There are two VF fighter squadrons (ten F-14
Tomcats each), two VFA fighter/attack squadrons (ten F/A-18 Hornets each),
two VA attack squadrons (ten A-6E Intruders each), one VAW airborne early
warning squadron (five E-2C Hawkeyes), one VAQ electronic warfare squadron
(five EA-6B Prowlers), two anti-submarine squadrons (one VS with ten S-3B
Vikings, and one HS with six SH-60F Ocean Hawk and two HH-60H Rescue Hawk
helicopters), and two C-2A Greyhound transports. Total complement is 90
aircraft. A variant of this, tested in one air wing, replaces one of the
F-14 squadrons with a third F/A-18 squadron.
Strictly speaking, the C-2s belong to separate units and are assigned to
carriers individually; they are not officially part of the carrier's air
The A-6 will be retired before the end of the 1990s. The attack role will
be taken over by additional F/A-18s, including the considerably enhanced
F/A-18E/F series. The F-14 will also gain an air-to-ground role, and
probably a change of designation to F/A-14. The new standard CVW, circa
2000, will probably have four squadrons of F/A-18s.
In addition to its giant carriers, the US Navy also operates a number of
smaller helicopter and VTOL carriers; the aircraft aboard these are
operated by the US Marine Corps. The oldest belong to the 18300 tonne Iwo
Jima class, built between 1961 and 1970 (six ships; LPH-3 _Okinawa_, LPH-7
_Guadalcanal_, LPH-9 _Guam_, LPH-10 _Tripoli_, LPH-11 _New Orleans_, and
LPH-12 _Inchon_; LPH-2 _Iwo Jima_ was retired in 1993). Normal complement
is four AH-1T/W Cobras, 20 CH-46D/E Sea Knights, four CH-53D Sea Stallions,
and four UH-1N Iroquois; they have occasionally carried Harriers, mainly on
The five ships of the 39300 tonne Tarawa class were built from 1976 to 1980
(LHA-1 _Tarawa_, LHA-2 _Saipan_, LHA-3 _Belleau Wood_, LHA-4 _Nassau_, and
LHA-5 _Peleliu_). Complement is four AH-1T/W Cobras, 12 to 16 CH-46D/E Sea
Knights, six CH-53D Sea Stallions or CH-53E Super Stallions, and four UH-1N
Iroquois. Like the Iwo Jimas, they have sometimes carried Harriers.
The five ships of the 40530 tonne Wasp class (LHD-1 _Wasp_, LHD-2 _Essex_,
LHD-3 _Kearsage_, LHD-4 _Boxer_, and LHD-5 _Bataan_) entered service
beginning in 1989. These are intended to be dual-role ships, carrying
different complements of aircraft for the assault role or the "sea control"
role. The assault complement, which will probably be the more common,
consists of 30 helicopters (an unspecified mix of AH-1W Cobras, CH-46E Sea
Knights, CH-53D Sea Stallions, CH-53E Super Stallions, SH-60B Seahawks, and
UH-1N Iroquois) and six AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft. In the sea control
role, the ships become true aircraft carriers, with 20 AV-8B Harriers and
four to six SH-60B Seahawk helicopters.
* Argentina: The Argentine Navy's single carrier, the 20000 tonne
_Veinticinco de Mayo_ (25th of May) was originally a British carrier of
World War II vintage, being laid down in 1942 as HMS _Venerable_; it also
saw service with the Netherlands (as _Karel Doorman_) before being bought
by Argentina in 1968. The ship played no part in the Falklands War of
1982, being withdrawn to port after the sinking of the _General Belgrano_.
In 1986 it was laid up for a complete refit; the ship has yet to return to
sea. Although Argentina operates the Super Etendard strike aircraft,
designed for carrier service, early tests indicated that it would be
unsuitable for use with the _Veinticinco de Mayo_ (presumably because the
aircraft were designed for the larger French carriers), and Argentina's
Super Etendards have always been operated from land bases. The carrier's
combat wing originally consisted of A-4Q Skyhawks, which have since been
retired; however, Argentina has recently bought 54 A-4Ms from the US, and
it seems likely that some of these will be aboard when the carrier sails
again. The Argentine Navy also has six S-2E Trackers, re-engined with
turboprops. The future air wing of the _Veinticinco de Mayo_ will probably
consist of about six A-4Ms for light attack, five S-2ETs for outer-zone
anti-submarine warfare, three or four SH-3D/Hs for inner-zone ASW, and two
Alouette IIIs for plane guard and search and rescue.
* Brazil: Brazil's single carrier, _Minas Gerais_ (also originally
British, starting life as HMS _Vengeance_, a sister ship to Argentina's
carrier), was laid up in 1987. The original plan involved a catapult
refit, but the ship was recommissioned in October 1993 with this left
undone, although she does have new boilers and electronics. The former air
wing comprised six to eight S-2E Trackers (now re-engined with turboprops)
and four to six SH-3E Sea Kings in the anti-submarine role, plus two Bell
206B Jetrangers and two or three HB.350 Esquilos (licence-built Ecureuils)
for utility duties; it seems to be more or less unchanged. Plans to build
a larger, 40000 tonne carrier, with an air wing including a navalised AMX,
appear to have been abandoned.
* France: The French Navy currently operates two 33223 tonne carriers,
_Clemenceau_ and _Foch_, commissioned in the early 1960s. They carry 16 to
20 Super Etendards in the strike role, about 7 F-8E(FN) Crusader fighters,
four Etendard IVP reconnaissance aircraft, six Alize ASW aircraft, and a
handful of AS.365F Dauphin helicopters for plane guard and SAR duties;
these are often augmented by a few Lynx ASW helicopters. The Etendard IVPs
are expected to be retired in 1995; the F-8s, originally expected to be
retired fairly soon and temporarily replaced by F/A-18s pending the arrival
of the Rafale M, will now soldier on until the Rafale enters naval service
in 1999. The Alizes are nominally scheduled to be retired in 1998, but in
fact are likely to survive into the next century. Two Grumman E-2C Hawkeye
AEW aircraft have been ordered, with an option for two more.
France's two current carriers are intended to be replaced by two 35000
tonne nuclear powered carriers, _Charles de Gaulle_ and _Richelieu_; the
first was launched in April 1994, while the second, originally planned for
2004, is likely to slip to 2009 (or possibly be cancelled altogether). The
air wings will be similar to those of the existing carriers, probably
consisting of 16 to 20 Super Etendards, about 10 Rafale M fighters, two
E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft, possibly a few Alizes, and the same complement
* India: The Indian Navy's first carrier was the 19512 tonne INS _Vikrant_
(originally laid down in 1945 as HMS _Hercules_, but sold to India before
its completion in 1961). It originally carried Sea Hawk fighters and Alize
ASW aircraft; the Sea Hawks were retired in 1979 and the Alizes were
relegated to shore duties in 1990. The present complement of the _Vikrant_
consists of about six Sea Harrier Mk 51 fighters, six Sea King Mk 42B
ASW/ASV helicopters, and three Sea King Mk 42C utility transport
helicopters. In 1987 the Indian Navy acquired a second carrier, the 29000
tonne INS _Viraat_ (formerly HMS _Hermes_), which currently carries an air
wing of the same composition. The _Viraat_ is somewhat larger than the
_Vikrant_, however, and its Sea Harrier complement is expected to be
enlarged. India has plans to build two or three new carriers in the near
future, probably carrying new combat aircraft (candidates include the
Russian MiG-29K, Su-33, and Yak-41).
* Italy: The Italian Navy operates a single carrier, the 13452 tonne
_Giuseppe Garibaldi_, launched in 1983 and commissioned in 1987. Its air
arm is still in training, but is planned to consist of 16 AV-8B-Plus
Harriers in the fighter/attack role and 18 SH-3D Sea King ASW helicopters
(possibly including some AEW variants). The Sea Kings will eventually be
replaced by EH.101s. The Italian Navy intends to acquire a second carrier
in the same class, and possibly a third.
* Russia (and the former USSR) (see also section C.13): The USSR's first
serious attempt at seagoing aviation were the two 19200 tonne helicopter
carriers of the Moskva class, _Moskva_ and _Leningrad_, the first being
launched in 1967; these carried 15 to 18 Ka-25 helicopters of various
subtypes. _Leningrad_ was retired in 1991, _Moskva_ in 1992.
They were followed in 1976 by the first of the 43000 tonne Kiev class,
which eventually numbered four ships (_Kiev_, _Minsk_, _Novorossiysk_, and
_Baku_; the last was later renamed _Admiral Gorshkov_), and carried the
USSR's first V/STOL aircraft, the Yak-38. The air wing originally
consisted of twelve Yak-38F/M strike fighters, one Yak-38U trainer, and 15
to 20 helicopters of the Ka-25 and Ka-27/28/29 families. The first three
of these carriers were retired in the early 1990s, along with the entire
fleet of Yak-38s; the one surviving ship, _Admiral Gorshkov_, now carries
only helicopters. The four ships were actually divided into three
subclasses, _Novorossiysk_ and _Baku_/_Gorshkov_ differing from the first
two ships, and from each other. _Novorossiysk_ was designed for a larger
air wing, although by the time it entered service, the Yak-38 was falling
out of favour, and it probably carried extra helicopters rather than
fixed-wing aircraft. _Gorshkov_ carried a still larger air wing, and was
designed with the (now cancelled) Yak-41 in mind; the actual capacity of
the ship's hangars has never been released, but it probably carries about
35 to 40 aircraft or helicopters.
The USSR's first conventional carrier, the 67500 tonne _Tbilisi_ (later
renamed _Admiral Kuznetsov_), was launched in 1985. It was originally used
for sea trials of a variety of naval aircraft prototypes; the aircraft
types involved have now been narrowed down, and the _Kuznetsov_ is now
involved in training of naval pilots and crew. When it enters full
service, it is expected to carry an air wing of about 50 to 60 aircraft,
comprised of about 20 Su-33 multirole fighters, perhaps another 10 to 20
strike aircraft of unknown type (probably another Su-27 derivative), a few
Su-25UTG trainers, and the usual assortment of Ka-27/28/29/32 helicopters.
The Yak-44 AEW aircraft has been cancelled (but a revival is being
considered); a Ka-32 helicopter has been seen with what appears to be an
_Varyag_ (formerly _Riga_), sister ship to _Kuznetsov_, was left incomplete
at the Nikolayev shipyard; Russia, after dithering for several years,
finally decided not to buy the ship, and (after failing to sell it to
anyone else) the Ukrainian government has ordered it to be scrapped. The
third large carrier, the 75000 tonne, nuclear powered _Ulyanovsk_, was
never completed and has already been scrapped.
* Spain: Spain's only current aircraft carrier, the 16700 tonne _Principe
de Asturias_, was commissioned in 1989 to replace the aging 13000 tonne
_Dedalo_. The design was based on the Sea Control Ship concept, developed
in 1974 for the US Navy but then abandoned. It carries six to eight AV-8B
Harrier strike aircraft (expected to be upgraded to AV-8B-Plus standard,
with air-to-air radar), six to eight SH-3H Sea King helicopters (mainly in
the ASW role, but also including one or two AEW versions), and four to
eight AB.212ASW helicopters.
* United Kingdom: The Royal Navy's three 20600 tonne Invincible class
carriers (_Invincible_, _Illustrious_, and _Ark Royal_) were originally
designated "through-deck cruisers", to get around political attempts to
prevent the RN from operating carriers. At any time, two of the carriers
are in service while the third undergoes refit. The two active air wings
normally each consist of nine Sea Harrier FRS.1 strike fighters (to be
replaced by the more advanced FA.2 version), nine Sea King HAS.6 ASW
helicopters, and three Sea King AEW.2A AEW helicopters. The composition of
the Sea King complement varies to meet the requirements of particular
missions, often including the HC.4 assault transport version.
A new helicopter carrier, HMS _Ocean_, was ordered in 1994.
[Most of this information comes from Lindsay Peacock's article in the June
1993 issue of _Air International_, and from _Modern Warships_ by Tony
Gibbons and David Miller, and _Modern US Navy_ by John Jordan; thanks to
Simon Shpilfoygel for additional information on the Russian carriers, and
to Robin Lee for recent updates]
Subject: C.13. What's happened to the former USSR's aircraft carriers?
Both of the Moskva class helicopter carriers have been retired (_Leningrad_
in 1991, _Moskva_ in 1992).
Of the four 43000 tonne Kiev class carriers, three (_Kiev_, _Minsk_, and
_Novorossiysk_) have been retired, leaving only one (_Admiral Gorshkov_) in
service with the Northern Fleet. The Yak-38 V/STOL strike aircraft
formerly assigned to the ships have also been retired; the _Gorshkov_ now
carries only helicopters.
_Minsk_ and _Novorossiysk_ have been stricken for scrapping; _Kiev_ is
mothballed, but will be cannibalised for parts to keep _Gorshkov_ in
service. However, _Gorshkov_ itself is currently described as "inactive";
given the Russian government's chronic shortage of money, and the fact that
there are no shipyards in Russia capable of servicing them (the only
suitable one is in the Ukraine), it's quite possible that the entire class
may disappear in the near future.
The 67500 tonne _Admiral Kuznetsov_, the only conventional aircraft carrier
ever operated by the Soviet Navy, remains in service with the Russian
Navy's Northern Fleet. Its sister ship, _Varyag_, remains at the Nikolayev
shipyard, not quite complete. Its fate was decided in June 1994, when the
Ukrainian government ordered it to be scrapped, after Russia's decision not
to buy the vessel, and no success in attempts to sell it to other countries
such as China and India.
The 75000 tonne, nuclear powered _Ulyanovsk_ was never completed; the hull
has been scrapped.
The _Kuznetsov_, although nominally in active service, has so far been used
primarily for testing aircraft and operating procedures, the Russian Navy
having very little experience with fixed-wing carrier operations. Its
primary aircraft type is the Sukhoi Su-33 single-seat multirole fighter
(production version of the Su-27K prototypes), which is currently in
low-rate production. The Mikoyan MiG-29K was tested aboard _Kuznetsov_
alongside the Su-27K, but has not been selected for production. A naval
training version of the Sukhoi Su-25, the Su-25UTG, is also in production
(a handful of another version, the Su-25UBP, were also built). The
_Kuznetsov_ also carries a number of Kamov Ka-27/28/29/32 helicopters, in
Two AEW aircraft were developed but cancelled. The first was an AEW
version of the Antonov An-72 twin-turbofan STOL transport, codenamed
"Madcap" by NATO; this interesting design (the radar disc was mounted atop
a forward-swept, V-shaped set of tail fins) was cancelled in favour of
Yakovlev's Yak-44, a twin turboprop apparently very similar to the Grumman
E-2 Hawkeye. The official reason given was that a turboprop was more
efficient for the AEW role than a jet (although your FAQ compiler suspects
that the fact that Yakovlev is a Russian company while Antonov is Ukrainian
probably had something to do with it too). The Yak-44 has also in turn
been cancelled (although a revival is being considered), and recent reports
suggest that an AEW version of the Kamov Ka-32 helicopter is under
Assuming the _Kuznetsov_ remains in service, a strike aircraft is likely to
be added to its air wing; this will almost certainly be another Su-27
variant, since the Russian air forces currently have a policy of minimising
the number of different types in service by using Su-27 derivatives
wherever possible. Navalised strike versions of the MiG-27, Su-24, and
Su-25 were all tested on imitation flight decks on land bases, but none
were ever developed into carrier-capable naval aircraft (the naval Su-25s
are all trainers).
Both surviving carriers serve with the Northern Fleet, because current
Russian Navy policy is to concentrate all carriers, aircraft, and pilots in
[Much of the above is from recent magazine reports; thanks to Simon
Shpilfoygel for additional information]
[Oh, and thanks to John Iodice for pointing out to me that "Kuznetsov" is
Russian for "Smith" :-) ]
Subject: C.14. What's an Su-35?
Formerly known as the Su-27M, the Sukhoi Su-35 is an advanced derivative of
the Su-27 "Flanker". The first Su-27M prototype was displayed at the 1992
Farnborough Air Show. The Su-35 is expected to enter service in 1995.
Changes from the Su-27 include a new radar, requiring a somewhat larger
nose; foreplanes, as on the naval Su-33; more powerful engines (also
originally developed for the Su-33); an enlarged and improved infrared
search and track unit in front of the cockpit; an infrared missile-warning
scanner on the fuselage spine; numerous internal electronic improvements;
larger tail fins (required by aerodynamic changes imposed by the enlarged
nose); and a large "spine" between the engines containing a rearward-facing
air-to-air radar, allowing the use of rear-firing semi-active radar guided
missiles. Not present on the prototype, but expected to be on the
production version, are two-dimensional thrust-vectoring engine nozzles (as
on the F-15SMTD demonstrator and YF-22).
The interesting concept of rearward-firing missiles has apparently been
tested on Su-27s, using modified R-73 missiles mounted on rotating pylons
that can fire missiles in either direction. The production version
apparently has a "nose cone" over the rocket engine (jettisoned on launch),
and modified fins to prevent instability problems while briefly flying
backwards after launch. The launch rails are fitted with gas cartridges to
boost the missile backwards, so its own engine doesn't have to overcome the
aircraft's full forward speed. It isn't clear whether the missiles will be
mounted on fixed rearward facing rails, or rotating pylons similar to those
used during development. How well any of this will work in practice
remains to be seen.
Besides being a better fighter, the Su-35 also has greatly improved ground
attack capability compared to the original Su-27, which was more
specialised for the air-to-air role.
Other Su-27 derivatives include the tandem two-seat Su-30 in interceptor
(Su-30, formerly Su-27PU, intended to supplement the more capable but more
expensive MiG-31) and fighter-bomber (Su-30M, equivalent to the F-15E, and
export Su-30MK) versions; Su-33 (formerly Su-27K) carrier-borne multirole
fighter; and Su-34 (formerly Su-27IB/KU) side-by-side two-seat strike
aircraft (intended to replace the MiG-27, Su-17, and Su-24 in the
interdiction/strike role, probably entering service in 1996). The Su-30MK
has been offered for export to India and China. The Su-34 shares the
Su-35's tail radar and rear-firing AAMs.
Vital statistics (Su-35): length 21.96 m, span 14.70 m, empty weight 18400
kg, normal TO weight 25700 kg, max speed 2440 km/h (Mach 2.30), ferry range
3500 km; power plant: two 137.30 kN Lyulka AL-31MF augmented turbofans;
armament: one GSh-30 30mm cannon, 14 hardpoints, max external load 8200
[My main source here is Steven Zaloga's _Russian Falcons_; thanks also to
Rustam Yusupov for posting additional details]
Subject: C.15. What were the "new" fighters in _Hot Shots_?
They were Folland Gnats, an early British jet fighter that first flew in
1954 (as the Midge). It was designed as a private venture by Folland, to
demonstrate that a lightweight fighter was a practical alternative to the
trend towards heavier and more complex aircraft. It entered RAF service
only as a trainer (Gnat T.1), but both the fighter and trainer versions
were built under licence by HAL in India, as the Ajeet (unconquerable);
India, Finland, and Yugoslavia also imported British-built Gnat fighters
(as well as a reconnaissance version for Finland). The trainer version
equipped the RAF's Red Arrows aerobatic team before the arrival of the
Hawk. The Ajeet remains in service with India. The Gnats seen in _Hot
Shots_ were all privately owned.
Vital statistics (Gnat F.1): length 9.06 m, span 6.75 m, empty weight 2200
kg, max TO weight 4030 kg, max speed 1150 km/h, max range 1900 km; power
plant: one 20.10 kN Bristol Orpheus 701 turbojet; armament: two 30mm Aden
cannon (115 rounds each), four hardpoints, max external load 454 kg.
Subject: C.16. Why do the USAF/USN use incompatible refuelling systems?
By far the most common method for in-flight refuelling is the
"probe-and-drogue" system, in which the tanker unreels a hose behind it
with a drogue on the end (a meshwork cone whose drag keeps the end of the
hose in a stable position). The receiving aircraft has a probe attached to
it, which is inserted into the drogue to link the fuel systems. Some
receiving aircraft have probes permanently mounted, some have bolt-on
probes that can be attached if a mission requires them, and some have
retractable probes. This method is used by the US Navy, modern Russian
aircraft, and every other country that uses in-flight refuelling.
The US Air Force alone uses the "flying-boom" system. In this system, a
rigid boom, with control surfaces on the end, is extended from the tanker
and inserted into a socket on the receiving aircraft. This method has two
major disadvantages over the probe-and-drogue method. First, the boom has
to be attached directly to the tanker's fuselage, which prevents refuelling
from detachable pods attached to a tanker's wings (allowing more than one
receiver to link up at a time) or to the centreline hardpoint on a fighter
or strike aircraft (allowing such aircraft to refuel each other without a
dedicated tanker), both of which are commonly done with probe-and-drogue
refuelling. Second, the equipment on the receiving aircraft is
incompatible with the probe-and-drogue system, which means that USAF
aircraft can neither refuel nor receive fuel from any other aircraft,
including the US Navy's.
The reason why the USAF puts up with this is that the flying-boom system
can achieve much greater fuel flow rates than the probe-and-drogue system
(mainly because the rigid boom is shorter and wider than the flexible
hose). This is mainly for the benefit of large bombers such as the B-52
and B-1; refuelling such large aircraft by probe-and-drogue would take much
longer, enough (in the USAF's judgement) to cause significant tactical
problems. Few other air forces operate aircraft of similar size; the
handful that do are prepared to live with the refuelling delays in the
interests of compatibility.
The third refuelling system used is the "wingtip-to-wingtip" system, used
only by older Russian bombers. In this system, a hose is unreeled from one
wingtip of the tanker, and caught by a socket in the opposite wingtip of
the receiver; the two aircraft then fly side by side, with the hose joining
their wingtips (the length of the hose is comparable to the wingspan of the
aircraft). The tankers are all converted bombers themselves, mainly the
Myasishchyev M-3MS-2 "Bison-B". This system is very tricky to link up,
occasionally dangerous, only usable with bombers (smaller aircraft can't
carry the necessary receiving equipment on their wingtips), and gives flow
rates even worse than probe-and-drogue; not surprisingly, the Russians have
largely replaced it with the probe-and-drogue system, and it will probably
become extinct with the retirement of the last M-3 tankers in 1994 or 1995.
Subject: C.17. What air-to-air missiles are in service?
The following list covers the air-to-air missiles known to be in service or
under development, as of late 1993.
Guidance types: AR = active radar, IR = infrared, Opt = optical, PR =
passive radar, SAR = semi-active radar.
Missile Length Mass Range Speed Warhead Guidance
(m) (kg) (km) (M) (kg)
------------------------------ ------ ---- ----- ----- ------- --------
AIM-132A ASRAAM 2.90 87 15 ? 10 IR
S225X ? ? 100 ? ? AR
MAA-1 Mol 2.82 90 10 2.0 12 IR
PL-2 2.99 76 3 ? 11 IR
PL-3 2.99 82 3 ? 14 IR
PL-5B 2.89 85 16 ? 9 IR
PL-7 2.75 90 ? ? 13 IR
PL-8 3.00 120 5 ? 11 IR
PL-9 2.99 120 5 ? 10 IR
PL-10 3.99 300 15 3.0 ? SAR
MICA AR 3.10 110 60 ? ? AR
MICA IR 3.10 110 60 ? ? IR
R.550 Magic 1 2.72 89 10 2.0 13 IR
R.550 Magic 2 2.75 90 10 2.0 13 IR
Super 530D 3.80 270 40 4.5 30 SAR
Super 530F 3.54 245 35 4.5 30 SAR
Iris ? ? ? ? ? IR
Astra ? ? ? ? ? AR
Python 3 3.00 120 15 3.5 11 IR
Python 4 3.00 ? ? ? ? IR
Shafrir 2 2.60 93 5 ? 11 IR
Aspide 1 3.70 220 100 4.0 35 SAR
Aspide 2 3.65 230 100 4.0 35 SAR
AAM-3 Type 90 2.60 70 5 ? ? IR
K-13A/R-13S "AA-2 Atoll" 2.84 75 8 2.5 11 IR
K-13M/R-13M "AA-2-2 Atoll-D" 2.87 90 13 2.5 11 IR
K-13R/R-13R "AA-2-2 Atoll-C" 3.50 93 8 2.5 11 SAR
Kh-31P "AS-17 Krypton" 5.23 600 200 3.0 90 PR
KS-172 RVV-L 7.40 750 400 ? ? AR
R-23R "AA-7 Apex" 4.46 244 27 3.4 35 SAR
R-23T "AA-7 Apex" 4.16 217 27 3.4 35 IR
R-24R "AA-7 Apex" 4.46 ? ? ? ? SAR
R-24T "AA-7 Apex" 4.16 ? ? ? ? IR
R-27EA "AA-10 Alamo" 4.78 350 130 ? 39 AR
R-27EM "AA-10 Alamo" 4.78 350 170 ? 39 SAR
R-27ER "AA-10 Alamo-C" 4.78 350 130 ? 39 SAR
R-27ET "AA-10 Alamo-D" 4.78 350 130 ? 39 IR
R-27P "AA-10 Alamo" ? ? ? ? 39 PR
R-27R "AA-10 Alamo-A" 4.08 235 60 ? 39 SAR
R-27T "AA-10 Alamo-B" 3.80 245 40 ? 39 IR
R-33 "AA-9 Amos" 4.15 490 120 ? 47 SAR
R-37 ? 600 150 ? ? AR
R-40RD "AA-6 Acrid" 5.98 461 70 4.5 38 SAR
R-40TD "AA-6 Acrid" 5.98 460 30 4.5 38 IR
R-60 "AA-8 Aphid" 2.14 45 7 2.5 4 IR
R-60M "AA-8 Aphid" 2.14 45 ? 2.5 4 IR
R-60MK "AA-8 Aphid" 2.14 45 12 2.5 4 IR
R-73/R-73M1 "AA-11 Archer" 2.90 105 15 ? 7 IR
R-73E/R-73M2 "AA-11 Archer" 2.90 110 30 ? 7 IR
R-77 RVV-AE "AA-12" 3.60 175 90 3.0 18 AR
Darter 2.75 89 10 4.2 16 IR
V3B Kukri 2.94 73 4 3.9 ? IR
Sky Sword I 2.87 90 15 ? ? IR
Sky Sword II 3.60 190 40 ? ? SAR
Active Sky Flash 3.66 208 50 4.0 30 AR
Sky Flash 3.66 192 50 4.0 30 SAR
United States of America
AIM-7M Sparrow 3.66 230 100 2.5 39 SAR
AIM-7P Sparrow 3.66 230 45 ? 39 SAR
AIM-7R Sparrow 3.66 ? 45 ? ? IR+SAR
AIM-9J Sidewinder 3.07 78 15 2.5 ? IR
AIM-9L Sidewinder 2.87 87 18 2.5 10 IR
AIM-9M Sidewinder 2.87 87 8 2.5 10 IR
AIM-9P Sidewinder 3.07 82 8 2.5 12 IR
AIM-9R Sidewinder 2.87 87 8 2.5 10 Opt
AIM-9S Sidewinder 2.87 87 8 2.5 10 IR
AIM-9TC Sidewinder 3.00 84 ? ? ? IR
AIM-54C Phoenix 4.30 463 200 4.0 60 AR
AIM-92A Stinger 1.52 14 5 2.0 3 IR
AIM-120A AMRAAM 3.65 157 75 4.0 22 AR
Have Dash 3.00 180 50 3.0 ? AR+IR
[Most of the information here is from Doug Richardson and Piotr Butowski's
survey of AAMs in the October 1993 issue of _Air International_]
Subject: D.1. Is aircraft X still in service?
* Blackburn Buccaneer: NO -- The last squadron of Buccaneers in RAF
service was disbanded in early 1994. South Africa, the only other
Buccaneer user, had already disposed of its aircraft by then.
* Boeing B-29 Superfortress: SORT OF -- China still has 15 Russian-built
B-29 copies (Tu-4) on its inventory; these are now used entirely for
training and research. One was fitted with a pylon-mounted disk for AEW
* Convair F-106 Delta Dart: SORT OF -- The last aircraft in US service
were retired in 1988. About 180 were converted to QF-106 target drones;
most have been destroyed by now, of course, but some are still flying (July
* Dassault Ouragan: YES -- El Salvador still has eight Ouragans in
* De Havilland Vampire: NO -- There are no Vampires in military service;
several are still flying in private hands.
* De Havilland Venom: NO -- There are no Venoms in military service;
several are still flying in private hands.
* English Electric Canberra: YES -- The Canberra is still in service with
Argentina, Chile, India (largest user, with 46), Peru, and the UK. The 20
aircraft on the British inventory are used for training and photographic
reconnaissance, not in the bomber role.
* Grumman S-2 Tracker: YES -- Eight countries still have S-2s in service.
Many retired examples have been converted to civilian firebombers.
* Handley Page Victor: NO -- The RAF retired its last Victor K.2 tanker on
30 November 1993.
* Hawker Hunter: YES -- The Hunter is still in service with Chile, India,
Oman, and Switzerland (largest user, with 87). Lebanon and Somalia still
have a handful of Hunters listed, but these are almost certainly
unserviceable. The handful of Hunters still flying in the UK are operated
by civilian organisations. Switzerland plans to dispose of its Hunters by
the end of 1995.
* Ilyushin Il-28 ("Beagle"): YES -- The Chinese-built Hong-5 is in service
in large numbers (about 650) with China, as well as North Korea and
Romania, but only Egypt still operates five Russian-built Il-28s.
* Lockheed F-104 Starfighter: YES -- Remains in service with Greece,
Italy, Taiwan, and Turkey (largest user, with 220).
* Lockheed P-2 Neptune: YES -- Japan still flies 14 of its locally-built
* Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird: SORT OF -- These were retired from USAF
service in 1990. Three aircraft were transferred to NASA, and are used for
atmospheric research. Currently (June '94) there seems to be serious talk
of reactivating some USAF SR-71s for reconnaissance, probably in connection
with the Korean situation.
* Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star: YES -- 14 countries still use T-33s for
training; the largest user is Japan, with 113.
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 ("Fagot/Midget"): YES -- About 20 countries
operate the MiG-15UTI trainer; three (Albania, Cuba, and Romania) still
operate the single-seat fighter. All Chinese MiG-15s have been retired
(see also section H.11).
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 ("Fresco"): YES -- About 25 countries still use
the MiG-17, or the Chinese-built J-5. The Chinese PLA Air Force only
operates the JJ-5 trainer version.
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 ("Farmer"): YES -- The Chinese J-6 is still in
service with 14 countries, but only Cuba still flies the genuine article
(about 30). Production of the J-6 stopped about 1981.
* Myasishchyev M-3/4 ("Bison"): YES -- The last M-3M and M-4 "Bison-A"
bombers and M-3MD "Bison-C" maritime patrol aircraft were retired or
converted in 1987. A small number of M-3MS-2 "Bison-B" tankers remain in
service with the Russian AF, but are being replaced by the Il-78T "Midas",
and will probably be gone by the end of 1994. A few aircraft (possibly
only one) have been converted to M-3VM-T Atlant heavy transports; these
remain in use, mainly for transporting space hardware, pending the
manufacture of more An-225 transports.
* North American F-86 Sabre: YES -- The Bolivian Air Force still operates
four F-86F interceptors.
* North American F-100 Super Sabre: NO -- Turkey, the last operator of the
F-100, disposed of its aircraft in 1989.
* Sukhoi Su-7 ("Fitter/Moujik"): YES -- Only Algeria, Iraq, and North
Korea (largest user, with 30) still fly the Su-7.
* Sukhoi Su-15 ("Flagon"): NO -- This was withdrawn from Russian service
* Tupolev Tu-128 ("Fiddler"): NO -- This was withdrawn from Russian
service about 1992.
* Vought A-7 Corsair II: YES -- In service with Greece (largest user, with
85) and Portugal. The last A-7s in US service were withdrawn at the end of
* Vought F-8 Crusader: YES -- 19 F-8E(FN) Crusaders serve with the French
Navy, and are expected to remain in service until the Rafale M is available
* Yakovlev Yak-28 ("Brewer/Firebar/Maestro"): NO -- The last Yak-28P
"Firebar" interceptors were withdrawn in the 1980s, the last Yak-28R
"Brewer-D" reconnaissance aircraft about 1990, and the last Yak-28PP
"Brewer-E" electronic warfare aircraft (along with the last Yak-28U
"Maestro" trainers) about 1992.
* Yakovlev Yak-38 ("Forger"): NO -- The Russian Navy retired the last of
its Yak-38 fleet around the end of 1993.
[Most of the above comes from the "Air Forces of the World" directory in
the 24-Nov-93 issue of _Flight International_]
Subject: D.2. Did one of the XB-70 prototypes crash during a photo shot?
On 8 June 1966, XB-70 AV/2 (Air Vehicle 2) took part in a publicity flight
involving five aircraft powered by General Electric engines, over the
Mojave Desert. The aircraft were flying in a V formation; from left to
right, a Northrop T-38A Talon, a McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II, the
North American XB-70 Valkyrie, a Lockheed F-104N Starfighter, and a
Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter. Two more aircraft, a Learjet and an F-104D,
At 9:26 a.m., just after the end of the photo session, with no warning or
explanation, the F-104N's tail hit the XB-70's right wingtip. The F-104
flipped over and passed above the XB-70, slicing off parts of both of its
vertical fins on the way, then rammed into its port wing several times.
The XB-70 then flipped over and began spinning, spraying fuel from the
ruins of its port wing. Both aircraft dived into the ground.
The command pilot of AV/2, Al White (North American's test pilot), ejected
and survived, although he suffered back injuries when the air bag that
should have served as shock absorber on his ejection capsule failed. He
said later that the other pilot, Major Carl Cross (USAF), was slumped
forward in his seat; White tried to activate Cross's ejection capsule but
was unable to do so before he had to eject himself. It was speculated that
Cross had suffered a blow to the head, or was incapacitated by G forces.
The F-104N pilot, Joseph A Walker (NASA's chief research pilot) was
apparently killed in the initial collision.
The collision is believed to have been caused by the F-104 getting too
close to the XB-70 and getting caught in its wingtip vortices, but nobody
knows for certain.
The surviving XB-70, AV/1 (tail number 20001), is on display at the Air
Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.
[Information from _Valkyrie -- North American XB-70_ by Steve Pace (thanks
Dan); also thanks to Al Bowers for additional details]
Subject: E.1. What jet aircraft were the Germans working on during WW2?
* Arado Ar 234 Blitz (Lightning): The world's first jet bomber. First
flight, 15 June 1943; service entry, September 1944. The two versions to
see service, the Ar 234B-1 unarmed reconnaissance aircraft and B-2 bomber,
were single-seat aircraft powered by two 8.83 kN thrust Jumo 004B
turbojets. The Ar 234C series, with four 7.85 kN BMW 003A-1 turbojets,
never reached service, although several prototypes flew. 210 Ar 234s were
completed before the end of the war; the Ar 234 was involved in the Battle
of the Bulge, the destruction of the Remagen bridge, and several other
battles. Plans included the Ar 234C-1 reconnaissance plane, C-2 bomber,
and C-3 in bomber, ground attack, and night fighter subtypes; a C-3 variant
carrying a V-1 cruise missile on its back was also planned. Other
proposals included the Ar 234D (two Heinkel HeS 011A turbojets), Ar 234E
(fighter based on Ar 234D), Ar 234P (night fighter), and Ar 234R (rocket
Vital statistics (Ar 234B-2): length 12.65 m, span 14.20 m, empty weight
5200 kg, max weight 8410 kg, max speed 742 km/h, range 1630 km; armament:
two 20mm cannon, 1500 kg bomb load.
* Bachem Ba 349 Natter (Viper): This was a tiny, extremely short-range
rocket-powered interceptor. It was designed to be launched vertically,
fire its rocket armament into a bomber formation, and then come apart in
mid-air; the forward section would be thrown away, the rear section would
descend by parachute to be re-used, and the pilot, released from between
the two, would descend on his own parachute. The initial version, the Ba
349A, was powered by four 11.77 kN Schmidding 109-533 booster rockets and
one 16.67 kN Walter 109-509A-2 sustainer rocket; 20 of this version were
built, of which only one made a single manned flight. Part of the forward
fuselage broke away prematurely, and the aircraft crashed, killing the
pilot. There were plans for a Ba 349C with a more powerful rocket and a
larger tail for better control.
Vital statistics (Ba 349B): length 6.10 m, span 3.60 m, max weight 2200
kg, max speed 800 km/h, range 40 km; armament: 24 Föhn rockets.
* DFS 228: High-altitude, air-launched reconnaissance aircraft with a
rocket engine, in development during 1945. Claimed are a ceiling of 20000
m, a speed of 1000 km/h, and a range of 720 km -- but no DFS 228, and few
documents, survived the war.
* DFS 346: A 1945 design for an aircraft with two 20 kN Walter rocket
engines, swept wings and a prone pilot position. It had an estimated top
speed of Mach 2.6 at 30500 m. The incomplete prototype was captured by the
USSR and test flown, with one of the interned B-29s as launch aircraft.
* Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg: Basically a manned version of the Fi 103
("V-1") flying bomb (the first cruise missile). In theory, this wasn't a
Kamikaze-style suicide weapon, since the pilot was intended to bail out
after aiming the aircraft/missile at its target. In practice, this would
have presented certain difficulties, since the cockpit was placed directly
underneath the jet intake! The engine was the same one used on the V-1,
one 2.94 kN As 109-014 pulse-jet. Versions planned were the Fi 103R-I and
R-II training gliders, R-III powered trainer, and R-IV operational version.
About 175 were built, and a few test flights were made by the R-III, but
none flew operationally.
Vital statistics (for the V-1; the Fi 103R-IV would have been very
similar): length 7.90 m, span 5.30 m, weight 2180 kg, max speed 645 km/h,
range 240 km; armament: 850 kg warhead.
* Focke-Wulf Ta 183: Single-seat jet fighter powered by one 12.75 kN
Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet. Planned versions included the Ta 183A-1 and A-2
fighters, and A-3 photo-reconnaissance version. It was selected for
production in January 1945 over the Messerschmitt P-1101; it is not known
how far it had progressed by the end of the war, but it is unlikely that
any examples flew. Drawings and parts were taken by the Russians, and
probably contributed to the design of the MiG-15, which was similar in
Vital statistics (Ta 183A-1): length 9.20 m, span 10.00 m, max weight 4300
kg, max speed 954 km/h, range 722 km; armament: four 15mm or 20mm cannon
or two 30mm cannon; 500 kg bomb load.
* Heinkel He 162 Salamander: A tiny, single-engine fighter, famous for the
speed of the development programme -- the first prototype flew on 6
December 1944, less than three months after the requirement was issued! It
was intended to be a "Volksjäger" (people's fighter) that could be flown by
Hitler Youth volunteers after minimal training; fortunately for the youths
concerned, the war ended before this plan could be put into action. 280
aircraft were completed before the end of the war (and another 800 were
found in various stages of completion in the factories), but only a handful
actually saw combat, in the hands of expert pilots. By all accounts the
Salamander had lousy handling characteristics and was difficult for even
experienced pilots to fly. In addition, the high-tech glue used to make
the wooden laminate wings in the prototypes was replaced with a cheaper
type in the production aircraft, resulting in frequent catastrophic
failures. Versions built were the He 162A-1 and A-2, both powered by one
7.85 kN BMW 003E-1 or E-2 turbojet (differing only in being armed with two
30mm or two 20mm cannon, respectively); proposals included the He 162B (one
or two pulse-jet engines), He 162C (forward-swept wings), He 162D
(swept-back wings), and various combinations of jet and rocket propulsion.
Vital statistics (He 162A-2): length 9.00 m, span 7.20 m, empty weight
2180 kg, max weight 2695 kg, max speed 784 km/h, range 695 km; armament:
two 20mm cannon.
* Heinkel He 280: The first jet fighter to fly, the He 280 was powered by
two 8.24 kN Junkers Jumo 004 turbojets. Development was delayed, and
eventually abandoned in favour of the superior Me 262.
Vital statistics (He 280 V6): max speed 817 km/h; armament: three 20mm
* Henschel Hs 132: A dive bomber powered by a single 7.85 kN BMW 003A-1
turbojet, the Hs 132 was built along the same general lines as the He 162,
with the engine mounted dorsally on the fuselage. The unique feature was a
prone pilot position, intended to improve G tolerance. The factory was
overrun by the Soviet Army shortly before the first flight was planned.
Vital statistics: Max speed 700 km/h; armament: one 500 kg bomb.
* Horten Ho IX (also known as Gotha Go 229): A flying wing fighter of
futuristic and elegant appearance. It had a flat, tailless design, and was
intended to be constructed mainly of wood, with special glues and lacquers
to minimise radar signature -- in other words, it was the first stealth
fighter! Only one prototype flew, the Ho IX V2, making its first and only
powered flight in January 1945; unfortunately it crashed on landing. The
prototype was powered by two 8.73 kN Jumo 004B turbojets (which would also
have powered the production Go 229 versions). Production of the fighter
was assigned to the Gotha factory; versions planned were the single-seat Go
229A day fighter, and the two-seat, radar-equipped Go 229B night fighter.
A captured prototype rests at Silver Hill, Maryland, USA.
Vital statistics (Go 229A-0): empty weight 4600 kg, max weight 7507 kg,
max speed 977 km/h, range 1900 km; armament: four 30mm cannon; 2000 kg
* Horten Ho X: Single-engined flying wing fighter, basically a slightly
scaled-down Ho IX. None were built.
* Horten Ho XVIII "Amerika bomber": Six-engine flying wing bomber. Apart
from the curved trailing edge, this design bore an amazing resemblance to
the Northrop B-2. None were built, although the first prototype was under
construction at the end of the war. Rumour has it this aircraft was
intended to carry the German atomic bomb to America.
Vital statistics: range 11900 km; armament: 3600 kg bomb load.
* Junkers Ju 287: A heavy jet bomber, unusual in having forward swept
wings. A single prototype flew before the end of the war (a second was
completed and flown in Russia after the war). The prototype was built
largely from salvaged parts, including an He 177 fuselage, and was powered
by four turbojets, one under each wing and one on either side of the nose;
planned versions included several different arrangements of two, four, or
* Lippisch P13a: This one takes the prize (any prize). It was a
ramjet-powered, sharply swept delta, with the cockpit built into the tail
fin. It was powered by coal gas generated from solid fuel, and had a
nominal design speed of 1650 km/h. Yes, you read that right -- a
coal-powered supersonic fighter. A small rocket engine was provided for
take-off. Alas, it never flew. The DM-1 glider, built along the same
general lines and intended to validate the airframe design, was completed
after the war and test-flown in the US; some results were published in
_Lippisch P13a and Experimental DM-1_ by Hans-Peter Dabrowski (Schiffer
Military History; ISBN 0-88740-479-0). Aerodynamic testing in a
wind-tunnel took place at Langley field, by what was then NACA, in 1946.
Results were "disappointing", but led eventually to the successful delta
Vital statistics: length 6.7 m, span 6.0 m, max speed 1650 km/h (Mach
1.55; this was the original design speed, although wind tunnel tests went
up to Mach 2.6), range 1240 km; armament: two cannon.
* Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet: The only rocket-powered aircraft ever to
enter service. First flight, early 1941; service entry, May 1944. Unusual
in appearance as well as propulsion, it had a short fuselage with swept
wings and no horizontal tail; despite the tailless design, it had excellent
flight characteristics and was reportedly very easy to fly. Landing was a
different matter, though -- the awkward centreline skid arrangement (to
save weight, the wheeled trolley used for take-off was jettisoned once the
plane was airborne), combined with the presence of highly volatile and
explosive rocket fuel, resulted in many Komets living up to their name and
ending their days as fireballs. In the air, however, the combination of
tremendous speed, small size, and the element of surprise made them
reasonably successful against American bomber formations, on the few
occasions they entered combat. There was only one service version, the Me
163B-1, powered by one 16.67 kN Walter HWK 509A-2 liquid fuel rocket; about
370 of these saw service. Plans existed for a greatly improved version,
the Me 263 (also known as the Junkers Ju 248; Junkers did much of the
development work), with a new engine (16.67 kN Walter HWK 109-509C-4, with
separate boost and cruise chambers, giving a 15-minute endurance), more
fuel, and a real landing gear, but none were built by the end of the war.
Vital statistics (Me 163B-1): length 5.69 m, span 9.30 m, empty weight
1905 kg, max weight 4110 kg, max speed 960 km/h, range 100 km; armament:
two 30mm cannon.
* Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow): The first jet fighter to enter
service with any country. First flight, 4 April 1941; service entry, 30
June 1944. The Me 262 was much faster and more heavily armed than the
contemporary Gloster Meteor, and could have had a much greater effect on
the war than it actually did if it had been produced in larger numbers in
time. The story that delays were caused by Hitler's insistence that the
promising fighter be used only as a bomber appears to be a myth. The Me
262 was designed as a versatile fighter-bomber from the start; delays were
mainly caused by the difficulty of manufacturing the engines in large
enough quantities in the face of materials shortages caused by Allied
bombing (the service life of an engine was only about 20 hours!). The Me
262 was also the first aircraft in service with swept wings, although this
came about by accident -- a redesign of the fuselage happened to move the
centre of gravity further back than had originally been intended (an early
design had the engines mounted in the wing roots), and the wings were
angled slightly back to compensate; it was only later that it was
discovered that this had fortuitously improved the aerodynamics. Not quite
enough, though; transonic aerodynamics were not considered in the design,
and the Me 262 became effectively uncontrollable in a shallow dive, some
pilots having to jettison the canopy to recover from spins! Variants to
see service were the Me 262A-1a fighter, A-2a fighter-bomber, B-1a two-seat
trainer, and B-1a/U1 radar-equipped night fighter, all powered by two 8.83
kN Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets. Although 1433 Me 262s had been delivered
by VE day, shortage of fuel (and pilots) meant that only about 100 of them
ever saw active service. Plans included the Me 262B-2a night fighter with
enlarged fuselage carrying more fuel and Schräge Musik upward-firing
cannon, and Me 262C with rocket boosters (a few prototypes flew before the
Vital statistics (Me 262A-1a): length 10.60 m, span 12.50 m, empty weight
4000 kg, max weight 7045 kg, max speed 870 km/h, range 1050 km; armament:
four 30mm cannon.
* Messerschmitt Me 328: This was a short-lived design, powered by two 2.94
kN Argus As 014 pulse-jets and intended to be a cheap and quickly-built
ground attack aircraft, with a secondary role as a day fighter. Only one
prototype flew, sometime in 1944; this was enough to convince even the
desperate Germans that a pulse-jet powered fighter was a Dumb Idea.
Vital statistics (Me 328A-1): max speed 755 km/h; armament: two 15mm
* Messerschmitt P-1101: Jet fighter powered by one Junkers Jumo 004B
turbojet, mounted in the lower forward fuselage and fed by a nose inlet, in
a design similar to the post-war Yak-17 or Saab 29. The unique feature was
the variable geometry wings, the first time "swing wings" had been tried on
an aircraft. Only one prototype was completed before the P-1101 was
cancelled in favour of the Focke-Wulf Ta 183; it was never flown during the
war, but was taken back to the US and fitted with an Allison J35 turbojet.
Unfortunately it was damaged in the only attempt to take off. The Bell X-5
was based on the P-1101's design, and was successfully used to investigate
variable sweep. The P-1101 prototype (like the X-5) lacked true variable
geometry; the sweep angle could only be adjusted on the ground, and could
not be varied in flight. The cancelled production version would have had
true variable sweep.
* Mistel 5: This was an unmanned flying bomb, intended to carry an He 162
fighter piggyback, in the same way as the Me 109 or Fw 190 was coupled with
a warhead-carrying Ju 88 in the original Mistel versions. The He 162 pilot
would aim the missile at its target, then separate the two aircraft and fly
his fighter back home. The unmanned component is referred to by different
sources as either the Arado E-377a or the Junkers Ju 268. Power plant was
two BMW 003 turbojets. This one never left the drawing board.
Some surviving examples of German jets can be seen at the NASM facility in
Silver Hill, Maryland, USA, where they have a fully restored Ar 234, Ba
349, and He 162. For those interested in plastic modelling, the Dragon
line of kits includes many of the above types (Ar 234B/C/C+V1, Ba 349, Fi
103, Go 229A/B, He 162, Me 163, Me 262A/B, Mistel 5, P-1101) in 1/48 or
1/72 scale; the Japanese company Mauve produce a 1/48 kit of the Lippisch
P13a; PM Models make a Ta 183 kit.
A few other projects are worthy of note. The A4b was a winged A4 ("V-2")
rocket, with a gliding trajectory giving it a range of 750 km, compared to
the A4's 33 km. It was test flown in 1945 but never used in the war. A
winged rocket was reported to reach 4340 km/h (Mach 4.1), although it isn't
clear whether this was the A4b or A10.
The A9/A10 was a planned two-stage missile; the first stage (A9) was
basically a scaled-up V-2, while the second stage (A10) was a winged
skip-glide re-entry vehicle, based on the A4b, that could have carried a
massive warhead (I don't know exactly how massive) to the United States.
Prototype versions of the two components were tested separately, but not
together. There were also plans for a manned version.
The Sänger-Bredt "spaceplane" was a design for a manned craft launched by a
captive rocket booster on rails; the booster remained on the ground after
the spaceplane separated (at about Mach 1.5!). The 100-tonne plane (of
which 90 tonnes was fuel) would not reach orbit, but would attain a maximum
altitude of 185 kilometres in a series of boosts and glides which would
carry it all the way around the world. It was designed as a bomber, but
could easily have been adapted for other purposes. An orbital version,
although not officially investigated, must surely have been on the minds of
the designers, Eugen Sänger and Irene Bredt.
[Most of the above is from Bill Gunston's _Encyclopaedia of the World's
Combat Aircraft_ and Kenneth Munson's _German War Birds_; also thanks to
Steve Malikoff for further information on the Lippisch deltas, and Emmanuel
Gustin and Bernd Felsche for much additional information]
Subject: E.2. How "stealthy" was the wooden Mosquito?
The suggestion that the Mosquito, being made largely of wood, would have
made a good "stealth bomber" is brought up every now and then. It's a
myth. It's true that wood absorbs some radio waves, but it also reflects
some and transmits some. The Mosquito showed up perfectly well on radar,
mainly because the waves that passed through the wood reflected very well
off the metal internal structures -- framework, wing spars, bomb racks,
cockpit, and (especially) engines.
On modern stealth aircraft, the cockpit in particular is still a problem;
most canopy materials are almost as transparent to radio waves as they are
to visible light, and the complex shape of the interior of the cockpit (not
to mention the pilot, especially their helmet) is an excellent radar
reflector. The materials used for canopy coatings are among the most
secret parts of stealth designs (see C.10).
It would, however, have been possible to built a stealth aircraft out of
wood, if (unlike the Mosquito) it was designed with stealth in mind from
the start. The Germans tried it with the Horten Ho IX flying-wing fighter,
which (besides its tailless design, which helped a lot) was constructed
with special glues and coatings designed to absorb radar. Presumably the
same would have been true of the Ho XVIII bomber. (See E.1 for further
Subject: F.1. What good books are there on air combat?
The definitive work on air combat manoeuvring (ACM) is generally believed
to be _Fighter Combat_ by Robert L Shaw (the full title is either _Fighter
Combat: Tactics and Manoeuvring_ or _Fighter Combat: The Art and Science
of Air-to-Air Warfare_, depending on which edition you have). The book is
published by the US Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland (ISBN
1-85260-201-5). It covers a wide range of mission profiles, engagements
(one-on-one to many-on-many), and weapon types.
Subject: F.2. Where can I get a pilot's manual for aircraft X?
You might try:
They have a wide selection of aircraft related books, including
reproduction pilot's manuals (and Shaw's book, mentioned above). Most
manuals cost about US$10.00, some running up to US$15.00; the SR-71 manual
is a special case, costing US$99.95. Dwight Brown reports good service
Manuals available include AT-6, B-17, B-24, B-25, B-26, B-29, F-80, F-82,
F4U, F6F, FM-2, Hurricane, Me 262, Mosquito, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51,
P-61, P-63, Spitfire, and SR-71.
Subject: F.3. What FTP sites have aircraft pictures and related material?
-- Military history site, with J Baugher's posts on American fighters,
Emmanuel Gustin's lists of military aircraft, the "Boomerang Barbara"
posts, several other fact sheets, this FAQ, and some pictures. Other
directories are worth scanning too.
-- Part of the USAF history.
<ftp://ftp.shell.portal.com/pub/trader/> (IP 22.214.171.124)
-- Information related to "excessive military secrecy", Groom Lake, and
-- A lot of modern aircraft pictures.
-- A number of ".bmp" images, including F-111 dump-and-burn,
helicopters, Mustangs, Neptunes, others.
-- Articles, lists and pictures of Lockheed "Skunk Works" aircraft.
-- Numerous aviation-related files. Includes "combat-aircraft",
"humor-folder", "aircraft-info-folder", etc.
Subject: F.4. What military aviation related mailing lists are available?
Groom Lake Desert Rat: Covers America's secret aircraft mecca. To
subscribe, send requests to Glenn Campbell at <psyc...@aol.com>.
Neon Azimuth: Devoted to the sources and methods that can be used to
locate secret US military programs. To subscribe, send requests to Paul
McGinnis at <tra...@cup.portal.com>.
Skunk Works Digest: To subscribe, send a message to
<majo...@mail.orst.edu>; in the body of the message, include the line
[Thanks to Paul McGinnis]
Subject: G.1. Where can I see surviving examples of famous aircraft?
There are many museums all over the world with historic aircraft in their
collections; the following are just the random sample I've assembled from
posts on the newsgroup and contributions by email. Further contributions
* EAA Aviation Museum, Oshkosh, Wisconsin (B-17, Voyager)
* Hill AFB Museum, Utah (SR-71C, others)
* Museum of Flight, Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington (707 and 747
prototypes, B-29, B-47, F4U, SR-71 + D-21, others)
* Pima County Air Museum, Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona (B-29,
B-58, SR-71, YF-107, others)
* San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, California (Bf 109, F-4,
* Sea, Air, and Space Museum, New York City (A-12, others; the museum
itself is the retired aircraft carrier USS _Intrepid_)
* Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC (many historically
* Wright Field USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio (B-36,
B-58, Fw 190, Kawanishi N1K2 Shinden, Me 262, P-75, Storch, Wright 1909
Military Flyer, XB-70, many more; probably the largest aircraft museum in
* US Navy Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida
* Virginia Air and Space Museum, Hampton, Virginia (F-4, F4U, F-84,
F-104, F-106, Langley Aerodrome, P-39, YF-16)
* Brooklands Museum, Weybridge (SW of London)
* Cosford Air Museum, Wolverhampton (Avro 707, F.D.2, Hunter, Lincoln,
Me 163, P.5, S.R.177, TSR.2, many others)
* Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, Somerset
* Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire (probably the biggest
collection in Europe)
* Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, London
* Mosquito Museum, Salisbury Hall, near Hatfield, St Albans (several
Mosquitos, including the first prototype; closed in winter for restoration
* RAF Museum, Hendon, London
* Science Museum, South Kensington, London
* Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, Sandy, Bedfordshire ("string and
* Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Force Memorial, Elvington, near
York, North Yorkshire (Halifax, Lightning, Mosquito, Vampire, Victor,
* Aviodome, Schiphol, Netherlands (many Dutch aircraft)
* Caproni Museum, Trento, Italy (Breda 19, Ca 6, Ca 9, Ca 100, Ca 163,
Ca 193, Fokker D.VIII, others)
* Deutsches Museum, München, Germany (Ba 349, Do 335, Ju 52, Me 262
many other aircraft from pre-WW1 to present)
* Le Bourget, Paris, France (large collection)
* Luftwaffenmuseum Untersen, 2081 Appen, near Hamburg, Germany (all
aircraft flown by both Germanies since 1945)
* Military Museum, Brussels, Belgium (CF-100, Draken, F-86, Hanriot
HD-1, Hurricane, MiG-15, Spad XIII, others)
* Motor und Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany (F-104, Fw 190, He 111,
Ju 52, Ju 87, Ju 88, Me 109, MiG-21, MiG-23, Venom, others)
* Musee de l'Hydravion, Biscarosse, France
* Museo Nazionale Leonardo da Vinci, Milano, Italy
* Museum of the Aviation Legere de l'Armee, Dax, France (mainly
* Aviation Museum, Krakow, Poland (large collection, including An-2,
Il-2, Il-10, Il-28, MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21, PZL P-11, Yak-9,
Yak-11, many others)
* Monino, Moscow, Russia (vast collection of rare and unusual Russian
types, e.g. La-250, M-52, T-4, T-6, V-12, Yak-36, Ye-166, Ye-231, many
* Plovdiv Museum, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (Ar 196, Il-2, Il-28, Li-2, Mi-1,
Mi-4, MiG-15, MiG-17, Yak-9, Yak-11, Yak-23, many others)
* Chinese People's Revolutionary Military Museum, West-City Region,
Beijing (J-5/MiG-17, MiG-15, captured U-2, many missiles, tanks, model
* Datang Mountain Aerospace Museum (Da4-Tang1-Shan1-Hang2-Kong1-Bo2-
Wu4-Guan3), Chang-Ping, Beijing (all Chinese military aircraft, including
prototypes such as J-12 and Tu-4/B-29 AWACS plane, plus many missiles and
Russian aircraft; this is the Chinese equivalent of Monino in Russia, and
is probably the largest aircraft collection in Asia)
* Airworld, Wangaratta, Victoria (Dragon, Hudson, Rapide, Staggerwing,
others; mainly civil aircraft)
* Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra, ACT (Bf 109, Lancaster, Me
163, Me 262, P-40, Spitfire, Zero, others)
* RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria (Boomerang, Canberra, F-4, F-86,
Meteor, Mirage, P-2, P-51, Vampire, Ventura, Walrus, Wirraway, others;
claimed to be the largest collection of military aircraft in the Southern
* RAN Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra, NSW (A-4, Firefly, Gannet, MiG-15,
S-2, Sea Fury, Sea Venom, Vampire, others)
Subject: H.1. American aircraft designations
The US Air Force (and its predecessor, the US Army Air Force) has used
several aircraft designation systems in its history. The three most
important are the USAAF system adopted in 1924 and used through World War
II and up to 1948; the USAF system used from 1948 to 1962; and the
Tri-Service system adopted in 1962 to provide a common system for USAF, US
Army, and US Navy aircraft. The three systems are similar enough that they
can conveniently be described together.
A designation consists of a letter (or set of letters) indicating the type
and mission of the aircraft, and a sequence number indicating a specific
aircraft within a category, separated by a hyphen. The number may be
followed by a series letter to indicate a variant of an aircraft. Most
aircraft are also given a proper name, but this is not part of the formal
Mission codes used in the USAAF system included the following:
A = Attack
AG = Assault glider
AT = Advanced trainer
B = Bomber
BC = Basic combat
BG = Bomb glider
BQ = Guided bomb
BT = Basic trainer
C = Cargo transport
CG = Cargo glider
CQ = Target control
F = Photographic reconnaissance
FG = Fuel-carrying glider
FM = Multiplace fighter
G = Gyroplane
GB = Glide bomb
GT = Glide torpedo
JB = Jet-propelled bomb
L = Liaison
O = Observation
OA = Observation amphibian
OQ = Target
P = Pursuit
PB = Biplace pursuit
PG = Powered glider
PQ = Manned target
PT = Primary trainer
R = Rotorcraft
TG = Training glider
These were sometimes modified by one of the following prefixes, indicating
a special status or modification:
C = Cargo transport
F = Photographic reconnaissance
K = Ferret
R = Restricted operations
T = Trainer
U = Utility
V = Staff/VIP transport
X = Experimental
Y = Service test
Z = Obsolete
The first version of a type had no series letter; the second was suffixed
with "A", the third with "B", and so on. For obvious reasons, the letters
"I" and "O" are usually skipped. For example, the B-29A is the second
version of the 29th bomber aircraft identified by the USAAF.
The USAF system (1948) was similar to the USAAF system; it retained the
three-part code, although the series letters now started with "A" for the
first version rather than the second. The mission codes were rationalised
somewhat; "F" for "Fighter" replaced "P" for "Pursuit" (the existing
P-series aircraft being redesignated, and new aircraft receiving F-series
numbers continuing the old P-series), "H" for "Helicopter" replaced "R" for
"Rotorcraft", and "R" for "Reconnaissance" replaced "F" for "Photographic".
The "L" for "Liaison" code was subsumed by "O" for "Observation", and most
of the two-letter codes were combined into one (e.g. a single "T" series
replaced the old "AT", "BT", and "PT").
The Tri-Service system (1962) underwent further changes, although it still
retained the basic scheme of the older systems. The most important changes
were that the system now included Navy aircraft as well as USAF and Army,
and that most of the numeric sequences were restarted from 1, since some
were now well past 100 and were becoming unwieldy.
Starting from the central dash and moving *left*, the letter codes now
consist of up to four letters (although only the "basic mission" code is
mandatory, and I've never seen a real designation with more than three
(1) Vehicle type (optional; indicates something other than a conventional
G = Glider
H = Helicopter
V = VTOL or STOL
Z = Lighter than air (Z for Zeppelin)
(2) Basic mission:
A = Attack
B = Bomber
C = Cargo transport
E = Special electronics
F = Fighter
O = Observation
P = Maritime patrol
R = Reconnaissance
S = Anti-submarine warfare
T = Trainer
U = Utility
X = Research
(3) Modified mission (optional; indicates that a type originally designed
for the mission indicated by its "basic mission" code has been modified for
a different mission); includes the A, C, E, F, O, P, R, S, T, and U mission
D = Drone control
H = Search and rescue
K = Tanker (K for Kerosene)
L = Cold weather
M = Multi-mission
Q = Drone
V = VIP or staff transport
W = Weather observation
(4) Status (optional; indicates any unusual status):
G = Permanently grounded
J = Temporary special test
N = Permanent special test
X = Experimental
Y = Prototype
Z = Planning
The sequence numbers are based on the vehicle type (if present) or the
basic mission. For example, all helicopters (vehicle type "H") are
numbered in a single sequence regardless of the basic mission code, while
conventional aircraft (with no vehicle type code) follow separate sequences
for attack aircraft, bombers, transports, and so on. There are a few
oddities here; for example, the AV-8 Harrier seems to have taken the number
8 slot in both the "A" and "V" sequences. For some reason, the "T"
(trainer) sequence, last seen in the Cessna T-47 in 1984, was restarted
with the Beech T-1 Jayhawk in 1990.
The system has not been followed perfectly; exceptions include the A-37
Dragonfly (attack version of T-37 trainer; there was an AT-37, so the A-37
should have either continued the AT-37 designation or been given a proper
A-series number), F/A-18 Hornet (should have been just F-18, or possibly
AF-18), FB-111 (bomber version of the F-111; should have been BF-111),
SR-71 (the letters indicate "strategic reconnaissance", not an
anti-submarine modification, and the number is actually from the pre-1962
bomber series!), and a few others.
Subject: H.2. US Navy aircraft designations (pre-1962)
Before the adoption of the Tri-Service system in 1962, the US Navy had its
own system of aircraft designations, completely different from that used by
the USAAF and USAF. This consisted of up to five parts:
(1) One or two letters to indicate the function. These included:
A = Attack
BF = Fighter-bomber
F = Fighter
HC = Transport helicopter
HO = Observation helicopter
HU = Utility helicopter
J = Utility
N = Trainer
O = Observation
P = Patrol
PB = Patrol bomber
R = Transport
SB = Scout bomber
T = Trainer
TB = Torpedo bomber
W = Early warning
(2) A sequence number, to distinguish between aircraft of the same function
built by the same manufacturer. The number was left out if it was 1.
(3) A letter to indicate the manufacturer. Because the US Navy used
aircraft from considerably more than 26 different manufacturers, most of
the letters of the alphabet were shared between several companies; the same
company frequently used more than one letter at various times. If the same
aircraft was built by more than one firm, the designation was changed to
reflect the individual manufacturers (for example, the Chance-Vought F4U
Corsair was also built by Goodyear, whose Corsairs were designated FG).
Some of the most important manufacturers were:
A = Brewster, Noorduyn
B = Beech, Boeing, Vertol
C = Cessna, Curtiss, De Havilland Canada
D = Douglas, McDonnell
E = Cessna, Piper
F = Fairchild, Grumman
G = Goodyear
H = McDonnell
J = North American
K = Fairchild, Kaman
L = Bell
M = Bell, Martin
O = Lockheed, Piper
P = Piasecki
Q = Fairchild
S = Sikorsky, Stearman
T = Northrop
U = Chance-Vought
V = Lockheed, Vultee
W = Wright
Y = Consolidated, Convair
(4) After a dash, a number to indicate a subtype.
(5) Optionally, a letter to indicate a minor variation on a subtype.
For example, the F4U was the fourth fighter designed by Chance-Vought for
the US Navy. The F4U-1A was a modified version of the first subtype of the
F4U. The F4U was commonly known as the Corsair, but, as with Air Force
types, the name was not part of the formal designation (Vince Norris, who
has quite a few hours in USN aircraft, reports that they were always
referred to by their designations, not the proper names; using names
instead of numbers was the mark of a civilian).
When the Tri-Service system was adopted in 1962, aircraft then in USN
service (as well as some under development or recently retired) were
redesignated under the new system. Some were simply given the designation
already used by the USAF for the same aircraft; others were given new
designations. They included:
Beech SNB Expediter = C-45 *
Bell HTL/HUL Sioux = H-13 *
Convair F2Y Sea Dart = F-7
Convair P4Y Privateer = P-4
Convair R4Y Samaritan = C-131 *
De Havilland Canada UC Otter = U-1 *
Douglas AD Skyraider = A-1
Douglas A3D Skywarrior = A-3
Douglas A4D Skyhawk = A-4
Douglas F3D Skyknight = F-10
Douglas F4D Skyray = F-6
Douglas JD Invader = B-26 *
Douglas R4D Skytrain = C-47/117 *
Douglas R5D Skymaster = C-54 *
Douglas R6D Liftmaster = C-118 *
Fairchild R4Q Boxcar = C-119 *
Grumman A2F Intruder = A-6
Grumman F9F Panther/Cougar = F-9
Grumman F11F Tiger = F-11
Grumman S2F Tracker = S-2
Grumman TF Trader = C-1
Grumman UF Albatross = U-16 *
Grumman WF Tracer = E-1
Grumman W2F Hawkeye = E-2
Kaman HOK/HTK/HUK Huskie = H-43 *
Kaman HU2K Seasprite = H-2
Lockheed GV/R8V Hercules = C-130 *
Lockheed P2V Neptune = P-2
Lockheed P3V Orion = P-3
Lockheed R7V/WV Constellation = C-121 *
Lockheed TV Shooting Star = T-33 *
Lockheed T2V Seastar = T-1
Lockheed UV Jetstar = C-140 *
Martin P5M Marlin = P-5
Martin RM = C-3
McDonnell F2D/F2H Banshee = F-2
McDonnell F3H Demon = F-3
McDonnell F4H Phantom II = F-4
North American AJ Savage = A-2
North American A3J Vigilante = A-5
North American FJ Fury = F-1
North American T2J Buckeye = T-2
North American T3J Sabreliner = T-39 *
Piasecki HUP Retriever = H-25 *
Piper UO Aztec = U-11
Sikorsky HO4S/HRS Chickasaw = H-19 *
Sikorsky HR2S Mojave = H-37 *
Sikorsky HSS Sea King = H-3 *
Sikorsky HUS Seabat/Seahorse = H-34 *
Sikorsky HU2S Seaguard = H-52
Vertol HRB Sea Knight = H-46
Vought F8U Crusader = F-8
(* Designation already used by USAF)
Subject: H.3. USAF/USN fighters and attack aircraft
A complete list of US aircraft would take up far too much space; instead,
I've listed only the post-war "F" and "A" series, the ones most often asked
One star indicates a type that existed only as one or more prototypes and
never entered service; two stars indicate a type that never left the
drawing board; three stars indicate that the number was never assigned at
all (as far as I could determine).
USAF fighter designations, since the initiation of the "F" series in 1948:
F-80: Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star
F-81: * Convair XF-81 (experimental mixed-power jet/turboprop fighter)
F-82: North American F-82 Twin Mustang
F-83: * Bell XF-83
F-84: Republic F-84 Thunderjet/Thunderstreak/RF-84 Thunderflash
F-85: * McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (parasite fighter experiment)
F-86: North American F-86 Sabre
F-87: * Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk
F-88: * McDonnell XF-88 Voodoo
F-89: Northrop F-89 Scorpion
F-90: * Lockheed XF-90
F-91: * Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor
F-92: * Convair XF-92
F-93: North American YF-93 (F-86 derivative)
F-94: Lockheed F-94 Starfire (F-80/T-33 derivative)
F-95: North American YF-95 (became F-86D)
F-96: Republic YF-96 (became F-84F)
F-97: Lockheed YF-97 (became F-94C)
F-98: Hughes F-98 Falcon (air-to-air missile; became GAR-1, later
F-99: Boeing F-99 Bomarc (ground-to-air missile; became IM-99, later
F-100: North American F-100 Super Sabre
F-101: McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
F-102: Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
F-103: ** Republic XF-103 (turbojet/ramjet hypersonic interceptor)
F-104: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
F-105: Republic F-105 Thunderchief
F-106: Convair F-106 Delta Dart
F-107: * North American YF-107 (F-100 derivative)
F-108: ** North American XF-108 Rapier (long range interceptor and
F-109: ** Bell XF-109 (but see below)
F-110: McDonnell F-110 Spectre (designation used briefly for USAF
version of F4H/F-4 Phantom II)
F-111: General Dynamics F-111 (the common name "Aardvark" is
F-112: ***? (may have been attached to Russian aircraft)
F-113: ***? (may have been attached to Russian aircraft)
F-114: ***? (may have been attached to Russian aircraft)
F-115: ***? (may have been attached to Russian aircraft)
F-116: ***? (may have been attached to Russian aircraft)
F-117: Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk
Note: Bell applied the designation "XF-109" to a VTOL fighter project of
the late 1950s (one prototype was built but never flew); however, this was
assigned unilaterally by the company, and was not sanctioned by the USAF.
The "F-109" designation has never been officially used, probably as a
result of Bell's breaking the rules.
USAF/USN fighter designations, since the adoption of the Tri-Service
designations in 1962:
F-1: North American F-1 Fury (formerly FJ)
F-2: McDonnell F-2 Banshee (formerly F2H)
F-3: McDonnell F-3 Demon (formerly F3H)
F-4: McDonnell F-4 Phantom II (formerly F4H, briefly F-110)
F-5: Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II
F-6: Douglas F-6 Skyray (formerly F4D)
F-7: * Convair F-7 Sea Dart (formerly F2Y)
F-8: Vought F-8 Crusader (formerly F8U)
F-9: Grumman F-9 Panther/Cougar (formerly F9F)
F-10: Douglas F-10 Skyknight (formerly F3D)
F-11: Grumman F-11 Tiger (formerly F11F)
F-12: * Lockheed YF-12 (A-12/SR-71 derivative)
F-13: *** (never used)
F-14: Grumman (now Northrop Grumman) F-14 Tomcat
F-15: McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
F-16: General Dynamics (now Lockheed) F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-17: * Northrop YF-17 Cobra (lost to F-16 in Lightweight Fighter
F-18: McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (YF-17 derivative)
F-19: *** (never used, at least officially)
F-20: * Northrop F-20 Tigershark (F-5 derivative)
F-21: IAI F-21 Lion (leased Kfirs, used as Aggressors in training)
F-22: Lockheed/Boeing F-22 Lightning II
F-23: * Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 (lost to F-22 in Advanced
Technology Fighter contest)
Note: The Rockwell XFV-12 was number 12 in the "V" series, not part of the
USAF/USN attack designations, since the adoption of the Tri-Service
designations in 1962:
A-1: Douglas A-1 Skyraider (formerly AD)
A-2: North American A-2 Savage (formerly AJ)
A-3: Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (formerly A3D)
A-4: Douglas A-4 Skyhawk (formerly A4D)
A-5: North American A-5 Vigilante (formerly A3J)
A-6: Grumman A-6 Intruder (formerly A2F)
A-7: Vought A-7 Corsair II (F-8 derivative)
A-8: British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas AV-8 Harrier
A-9: ** Northrop YA-9 (lost to A-10 in AX contest)
A-10: Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-11: ***? (apparently never used)
A-12: ** McDonnell Douglas A-12 (cancelled A-6 replacement)
Notes: The Harrier seems to have taken the number 8 slot in both the "A"
and "V" series. The designation A-12 for the original, single-seat version
of the aircraft that became the SR-71/YF-12/M-21 was an internal Lockheed
designation, not an official USAF one (the A-12s were operated by the CIA
and never officially entered military service). The designation A-37 for
the attack version of Cessna's T-37 was derived from the trainer version of
the aircraft and was not part of the real "A" series.
Subject: H.4. American missile designations
These have their own version of the Tri-Service designation system,
consisting of a three-letter prefix, a dash, a series number to indicate
the specific type, and a letter to indicate subtypes. Series numbers are
assigned within vehicle types, so there are only two numeric series, the
M-series for guided missiles and the R-series for unguided rockets.
The three letters indicate (left to right):
(1) Launch platform:
A = Aircraft
B = Multiple
C = Container
F = Individual
G = Runway
H = Silo stored
L = Silo launched
M = Mobile
P = Soft pad
R = Ship
S = Space
U = Underwater
(2) Mission type:
C = Cargo transport
D = Decoy
E = Electronics or communication
G = Surface attack
I = Interception
L = Launch detection or surveillance
M = Calibration or scientific research
N = Navigation
Q = Drone
S = Space support
T = Training
U = Underwater attack
W = Weather
(3) Vehicle type:
M = Missile (guided)
R = Rocket (unguided)
Example: AIM-9L Sidewinder. Aircraft-launched interception missile (i.e.
air-to-air missile), the ninth missile to be designated since 1962, and the
eleventh version of the AIM-9. As with aircraft, an official proper name
is usually assigned, but is not part of the formal designation.
(See C.17 for current American air-to-air missiles)
Subject: H.7. American electronic systems designations
All electronic systems developed for the US forces are given a designation
under the Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS), sometimes
called the "AN" system.
All designations start with "AN/" (I don't know what the "AN" stands for;
something like "article number"?) This is followed by three letters
describing the item, a dash, and a number. The number is sometimes
followed by a "variable group", consisting of "(V)" to indicate a variant,
optionally followed by another number to indicate subsequent variants.
For example, the radar in the F-16C/D is designated AN/APG-68. The "APG"
part can be broken down into an installation code of "A" (piloted
aircraft), an equipment type code of "P" (radar), and a purpose code of "G"
(fire control). If variants were developed, they would be designated
"AN/APG-68(V)", "AN/APG-68(V)2", and so on.
First letter -- Installation:
A -- Piloted aircraft
B -- Submarine
C -- Air transportable
D -- Pilotless carrier
E -- Blank
F -- Fixed ground installation
G -- General purpose
K -- Amphibious
M -- Ground mobile
P -- Portable
S -- Water
T -- Ground transportable
U -- General utility assemblies
V -- Ground vehicle
W -- Water surface/underwater combination
Z -- Piloted/pilotless airborne combination
Second letter -- Equipment type:
A -- Infrared/ultraviolet
C -- Carrier
D -- Radiac
E -- Nupac
F -- Photographic
G -- Telegraph/teletype
I -- Interphone/public address
J -- Electromechanical/inertial wire covered
K -- Telemetering
L -- Countermeasure
M -- Meteorological
N -- Sound in air
P -- Radar
Q -- Sonar/underwater sound
R -- Radio
S -- Special types
T -- Telephone (wire)
V -- Visible light
W -- Armament
X -- Facsimile/TV
Y -- Data processing
Third letter -- Purpose:
A -- Auxiliary
B -- Bombing
C -- Communications
D -- Direction finding/reconnaissance/surveillance
E -- Ejection/release
G -- Fire control/light finding
H -- Recording/reproducing
K -- Computing
M -- Maintenance/test
N -- Navigational aids
Q -- Special purpose/combination
R -- Receiving/passive detecting
S -- Detection/range bearing/search
T -- Transmitting
W -- Automatic flight/remote control
X -- Identification/recognition
Y -- Surveillance/control
Subject: H.6. Russian aircraft designations
In the 1920s and 1930s, many different designation systems were used for
Russian aircraft; the People's Comissariat of Defence had its own system,
and each manufacturer had another, usually based on the initials of the
designer or organisation (for example, A N Tupolev's ANT-6 was also known
as the TB-3).
Prefixes used included:
A = Autogyro
ARK = Arctic coastal reconnaissance
B = Bomber
BB = Short-range bomber
BSh = Armoured attack aircraft (Sh = Shturmovik)
DAR = Long-range arctic reconnaissance
DB = Long-range bomber
DVB = Long-range high-altitude bomber
DI = Two-seat fighter
DIS = Twin-engined escort fighter
G = Paratroop transport
I = Fighter (Istrebitel; literally "destroyer")
KOR = Ship-borne reconnaissance
M = Seaplane
MA = Amphibian
MBR = Short-range maritime reconnaissance
MDR = Long-range maritime reconnaissance
MI = Fighter seaplane
MK = Maritime cruiser (heavily armed seaplane)
MP = Transport seaplane
MR = Reconnaissance seaplane
MTB = Maritime heavy bomber
MU = Trainer seaplane
P = Mailplane
PB = Dive bomber
PI = Single seat fighter
PL = Transport
PS = Mail/passenger transport
R = Reconnaissance
ROM = Open sea reconnaissance
SB = High-speed bomber
SCh = Low-level attacker
SChR = Attack fighter/reconnaissance
SPB = Fast dive bomber
TB = Heavy bomber
TSh = Heavy attack aircraft
U = Primary trainer
UT = Basic trainer (Uchebnotrenirovochny)
UTI = Fighter trainer
V = Airship
VI = High-altitude fighter
VIT = High-altitude tank destroyer
VT = Supervised design
In the early years of WW2, a new systematic designation scheme was set up
for all Soviet aircraft (military and civil), based on (usually) the first
two letters of the designer's name; this replaced the former military
designation system. Later, as the original designers became the heads of
design bureaus (OKBs), and eventually retired or died, the original
initials were retained for all aircraft produced by each OKB.
The full designation consists of the OKB initials, a dash, a number to
indicate a particular aircraft type designed by that OKB, and optionally a
letter or letters (and sometimes numbers) to indicate a subtype. Unlike
the American system, subtype letters are not a simple alphabetic sequence,
but are assigned arbitrarily, sometimes to indicate some particular feature
of the subtype. Common suffix letters include "D" (long range), "K" (which
can mean export, ground attack, or naval), "M" (modified), "P"
(interceptor), "R" (reconnaissance), "T" (transport), and "U" (trainer).
Stalin decided that fighters would be given odd numbers, while bombers and
transports would get even numbers; this rule largely fell out of use after
OKB abbreviations include the following (for those still in use I've added
a description of what the letters look like in the Cyrillic (Russian)
alphabet, since you will often see an aircraft's designation written on
An = Antonov (AH)
Be = Beriev ([broken B] [reversed E])
Il = Ilyushin ([reversed N] [linked JI or inverted V])
Ka = Kamov (KA)
La = Lavochkin
M = Myasishchyev (M)
Mi = Mil (M [reversed N])
MiG = Mikoyan-Gurevich (M [reversed N] [gamma])
Pe = Petlyakov
Po = Polikarpov
Su = Sukhoi (CY)
Tu = Tupolev (TY)
Yak = Yakovlev ([reversed R] K)
The Lavochkin OKB still exists, but switched from aircraft to missile and
space technology in the 1950s. The Petlyakov and Myasishchyev OKBs are
really the same bureau, which was headed by Myasishchyev after Petlyakov's
death in 1942, disbanded in 1946, but revived in 1952 under Myasishchyev's
name. Polikarpov's OKB was disbanded after his death in 1944.
The remaining OKBs recently became companies in the wake of perestroika.
With the breakup of the USSR, Antonov is now a Ukrainian company; the rest
are Russian. Beriev has been renamed Taganrog (after the city in which the
new company is based), and Mikoyan-Gurevich is now just Mikoyan, but the
original abbreviations are retained in their aircraft designations.
One special case is the A-50 AWACS aircraft ("Mainstay"). This was a joint
venture of the Ilyushin and Beriev OKBs (providing the airframe and
electronics, respectively); the A-series designation, normally used by
Beriev to indicate a prototype or experimental aircraft, has been retained
for the production aircraft. Ilyushin used the designation Il-82 for the
airframe (following the Il-76 transport, Il-78 tanker, and cancelled Il-80
SLAR reconnaissance aircraft, all based on the same airframe); Beriev
argued that they had designed the most important part of the aircraft, so
an Ilyushin designation was inappropriate. They were still arguing when
the aircraft entered service, so its internal name of A-50 went to the
A few cases where confusion has reigned should be mentioned; the present
climate of openness has allowed these to be settled. All Sukhoi "Flagon"
versions carried Su-15 designations; the later versions were not Su-21
(which in fact referred to Sukhoi's Su-27-derived supersonic bizjet
project, now abandoned). The designation Tu-20 was used for the early
"Bear" bombers ("Bear-A/B"), but was changed back to Tupolev's internal
designation, Tu-95, from "Bear-C" onwards (some later versions were
Tu-142). The Tupolev "Backfire" bomber is Tu-22M, not Tu-26. The
"Fiddler", Tupolev's only production fighter, was Tu-128, not Tu-28.
Subject: H.7. Russian aircraft codenames
During the Cold War, it was common for the West to know (or suspect) that
an aircraft existed in the Soviet inventory, but not know its correct
designation. Even when the USSR released publicity pictures of their
aircraft (or allowed Western journalists to film them flying past during
displays), the aircraft's name was usually never mentioned. Because of
this, a system of codenames was invented by NATO.
Each type was given a name starting with "B" for bombers, "C" for cargo or
passenger transports, "F" for fighters, "H" for helicopters, or "M" for
miscellaneous (everything else). Fixed-wing aircraft received names with
one syllable if they were propeller-driven, two syllables if they were jets
(there is no rule for the number of syllables in a helicopter's codename).
Variants were indicated by suffix letters (e.g. the fourth version of the
MiG-25 "Foxbat" to be identified became "Foxbat-D").
With the modern opening up of the Russian military, it's becoming more
common to refer to Russian aircraft by their real designations (now better
known in the West). Some recent types haven't been given codenames, and
the system seems likely to disappear altogether in the near future.
Four foreign-built aircraft have been given codenames: The Czech-built
Aero L-29 Delfin ("Maya"), at one time the standard Warsaw Pact jet trainer
(oddly, its successor, the L-39 Albatros, was never assigned a codename);
the US-built North American B-25 Mitchell ("Bank"), used by the Soviet air
forces for a while after World War II; and the Chinese J-8 ("Finback") and
Q-5 ("Fantan") (see section H.11).
An-2/3 = "Colt"
An-8 = "Camp"
An-10 = "Cat"
An-12 = "Cub"
An-14 = "Clod"
An-22 = "Cock"
An-24 = "Coke"
An-26 = "Curl"
An-28 = "Cash"
An-30 = "Clank"
An-32 = "Cline"
An-72/74 = "Coaler"
An-74AEW = "Madcap"
An-124 = "Condor"
An-225 = "Cossack"
Be-2 = "Mote"
Be-6 = "Madge"
Be-8 = "Mole"
Be-10 = "Mallow"
Be-12 = "Mail"
Be-30 = "Cuff"
Be-40/42/44 = "Mermaid"
Che-2 = "Mug"
Il-2 = "Bark"
Il-4 = "Bob"
Il-10 = "Beast"
Il-12 = "Coach"
Il-14 = "Crate"
Il-18/20/22 = "Coot"
Il-28 = "Beagle"
Il-28U = "Mascot"
Il-38 = "May"
Il-40 = "Brawny"
Il-54 = "Blowlamp"
Il-62 = "Classic"
Il-76 = "Candid"
Il-78 = "Midas"
Il-86 = "Camber"
A-50 = "Mainstay"
Ka-10 = "Hat"
Ka-15 = "Hen"
Ka-18 = "Hog"
Ka-20 = "Harp"
Ka-22 = "Hoop"
Ka-25 = "Hormone"
Ka-26/126/128/226 = "Hoodlum"
Ka-27/28/29/32 = "Helix"
Ka-50 = "Hokum"
La-7 = "Fin"
La-9 = "Fritz"
La-11 = "Fang"
La-15 = "Fantail"
Li-2 = "Cab"
MiG-9 = "Fargo"
MiG-15 = "Fagot"
MiG-15U = "Midget"
MiG-17 = "Fresco"
MiG-19 = "Farmer"
MiG-21 = "Fishbed"
MiG-21U = "Mongol"
MiG-23/27 = "Flogger"
MiG-23-01 = "Faithless"
MiG-25 = "Foxbat"
MiG-29/30/33 = "Fulcrum"
MiG-31 = "Foxhound"
Ye-2A = "Faceplate"
Ye-152A = "Flipper"
Mi-1 = "Hare"
Mi-2 = "Hoplite"
Mi-4 = "Hound"
Mi-6/22 = "Hook"
Mi-8/9/17/171 = "Hip"
Mi-10 = "Harke"
Mi-12 = "Homer"
Mi-14 = "Haze"
Mi-24/25/35 = "Hind"
Mi-26 = "Halo"
Mi-28 = "Havoc"
Mi-34 = "Hermit"
M-3/4 = "Bison"
M-17/55 = "Mystic"
M-50/52 = "Bounder"
Pe-2 = "Buck"
Po-2 = "Mule"
Su-7/17/20/22 = "Fitter"
Su-7U = "Moujik"
Su-9/11 = "Fishpot"
Su-11U = "Maiden"
Su-15 = "Flagon"
Su-24 = "Fencer"
Su-25/28 = "Frogfoot"
Su-27/30/33/34/35 = "Flanker"
Tu-2/6 = "Bat"
Tu-4/80 = "Bull"
Tu-10 = "Frosty"
Tu-14/89 = "Bosun"
Tu-16 = "Badger"
Tu-20/95/142 = "Bear"
Tu-22 = "Blinder"
Tu-22M = "Backfire"
Tu-70 = "Cart"
Tu-82 = "Butcher"
Tu-85 = "Barge"
Tu-91 = "Boot"
Tu-98 = "Backfin"
Tu-104 = "Camel"
Tu-110 = "Cooker"
Tu-114 = "Cleat"
Tu-124 = "Cookpot"
Tu-126 = "Moss"
Tu-128 = "Fiddler"
Tu-134 = "Crusty"
Tu-144 = "Charger"
Tu-154 = "Careless"
Tu-160 = "Blackjack"
Yak-6/8 = "Crib"
Yak-7U = "Mark"
Yak-9 = "Frank"
Yak-10 = "Crow"
Yak-11 = "Moose"
Yak-12 = "Creek"
Yak-14 = "Mare"
Yak-15/17 = "Feather"
Yak-16 = "Cork"
Yak-17U = "Magnet"
Yak-18 = "Max"
Yak-23 = "Flora"
Yak-24 = "Horse"
Yak-25/27 = "Flashlight"
Yak-25RV = "Mandrake"
Yak-27R = "Mangrove"
Yak-28 = "Brewer"
Yak-28P = "Firebar"
Yak-28U = "Maestro"
Yak-30 = "Magnum"
Yak-32 = "Mantis"
Yak-36 = "Freehand"
Yak-38 = "Forger"
Yak-40 = "Codling"
Yak-41/141 = "Freestyle"
Yak-42 = "Clobber"
Subject: H.8. Russian missile designations and codenames
Russian rockets and missiles are mostly given designations in the "R"
series (guided rockets), "S" series (unguided rockets), or "Kh" series
(this seems to be reserved for air-to-surface missiles, but I have no idea
what the significance of the prefix is; "Kh" is one letter in Russian, and
looks like an "X", so you will often see these designations quoted with an
"X" prefix instead).
NATO codenames for Russian missiles start with "A" (air to air), "G"
(surface to air), "K" (air to surface), or "S" (surface to surface). In
addition to the names, they are also given designations consisting of a
two-letter code for the mission type ("AA", "AS", "SA", or "SS", plus some
special codes such as "AT" for "anti-tank"), an "N" for naval missiles, and
(See C.17 for current Russian air-to-air missiles)
Subject: H.9. British aircraft designations
Unlike the US system, the proper name is the principal part of an
aircraft's formal designation in British service. The full designation
consists of the name, a letter or set of letters indicating the role, and a
mark number; in a few cases the mark number is followed by a letter
indicating a modification. The full designation is written as, for
example, "Tornado GR.1A", or sometimes "Tornado GR Mk 1A" (the Tornado GR.1
is the ground attack/reconnaissance version of the Tornado; the GR.1A is a
variant in which one of the two guns is replaced by reconnaissance gear).
For export versions, the role letters are usually left out, and the mark
numbers are restarted from a high number, usually 50 (for example, the
Indian Navy's Sea Harriers are Mk 51).
Before WW2, mark numbers alone were used, and were written in Roman
numerals; during the war, the role letters were added, and conventional
numerals were used for mark numbers above 20. The Roman numerals were
dropped altogether after the war; apart from that, the system has remained
Role letters (an asterisk indicates an obsolete code):
AEW = Airborne early warning
AH = Army helicopter
AL = Army liaison
AS = Anti-submarine (*)
B = Bomber
B(I) = Bomber/interdictor
B(K) = Bomber/tanker
B(PR) = Bomber/photo-reconnaissance
C = Cargo transport
CC = Communications (also used for VIP transports)
E = Electronic warfare
F = Fighter
FA = Fighter/attack
FAW = All-weather fighter (*)
FB = Fighter/bomber (*)
FG = Fighter/ground attack
FGA = Fighter/ground attack
FGR = Fighter/ground attack/reconnaissance
FR = Fighter/reconnaissance
FRS = Fighter/reconnaissance/strike
GA = Ground attack
GR = Ground attack/reconnaissance
HAR = Search and rescue helicopter
HAS = Anti-submarine helicopter
HC = Cargo helicopter
HCC = Communications helicopter (also used for VIP transports)
HT = Training helicopter
HU = Utility helicopter
K = Tanker
KC = Tanker/transport
Met = Weather reconnaissance (*)
MR = Maritime reconnaissance
NF = Night fighter (*)
PR = Photographic reconnaissance
R = Reconnaissance
S = Strike
SR = Strategic reconnaissance
T = Trainer
TF = Torpedo fighter (*)
TT = Target tug
U = Unmanned drone
W = Weather reconnaissance
Subject: H.10. Canadian aircraft designations
The Canadian designation system is based on a simplified version of the
American system. A designation consists of the letter "C" (for Canadian),
a letter to indicate the aircraft's role, a dash, and a number, sometimes
followed by a letter to indicate a modification; usually "A" for a modified
version, or "D" for a dual-control trainer. Sometimes the aircraft's
original designation in its country of origin is used, with some
modification; for example, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, in Canadian
service, is known as the CC-130, versions being CC-130E (C-130E) and
CC-130H (C-130H) transports and CC-130HT (KC-130H) tankers.
The numbers are assigned in a single sequence for all types in Canadian
service, and are always over 100. This has led to a few aircraft having a
real designation that differs from the one they're commonly known by; for
example, the F-5 and F/A-18 in Canadian service are usually referred to as
the CF-5 and CF-18, but the correct designations are CF-116 and CF-188,
C = Cargo transport
E = Electronics
F = Fighter
H = Helicopter
P = Maritime patrol
T = Trainer
Types in current Canadian service:
CH-113 Labrador = Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight
CT-114 Tutor = Canadair CL-41 Tutor
CC-115 Buffalo = De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo
CF-116 ("CF-5") = Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter
CH-118 Iroquois = Bell UH-1 Iroquois
CH-124 Sea King = Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
CC-130 Hercules = Lockheed C-130 Hercules
CT-133 Silver Star = Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
CT-134 Musketeer = Beech Musketeer
CH-135 = Bell 212
CH-136 Kiowa = Bell OH-58 Kiowa
CC-137 = Boeing 707
CC-138 Twin Otter = De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter
CH-139 Jetranger = Bell 206 Jetranger
CP-140 Aurora/Arcturus = Lockheed P-3 Orion derivatives
CC-142/CT-142 = De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8
CC-144/CE-144 Challenger = Canadair CL-601 Challenger
CC-145 King Air = Beech King Air 200
CH-146 Griffon = Bell 412 (about to enter service)
CC-150 Polaris = Airbus A310
CF-188 ("CF-18") Hornet = McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
Subject: H.11. Chinese aircraft designations
Chinese aircraft use a fairly simple system consisting of a letter or
letters to indicate the role, a dash, and a number, sometimes followed by
additional letters or numbers to indicate subtypes. The role letters are
often replaced by their English equivalents for export versions (for
example, the export version of the Q-5 (Qiang = Attack) is the A-5).
The numeric sequences always start with 5. Oddly enough for one of the
last bastions of Communism, this is the result of superstition; 4 is
considered an unlucky number in China (because the Chinese words for "four"
and "death" are very similar). The designation "J-2", often quoted for the
licence-built MiG-15, is mythical; the Chinese aircraft have always been
known simply as MiG-15, even after the Chinese and Russian governments
CJ (export PT) = Chujiao (basic trainer)
H (export B) = Hong (bomber)
J (export F) = Jian (fighter)
JJ (export FT) = Jianjiao (fighter trainer)
Q (export A) = Qiang (attack)
SH (export PS) = Shuihong (maritime bomber)
Y = Yun (transport)
Z = Zhi (vertical, i.e. helicopter)
Many Russian, and more recently Western, aircraft have been manufactured in
China and given Chinese designations. These include:
CJ-5 = Yakovlev Yak-18 "Max"
H-5 = Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle"
H-6 = Tupolev Tu-16 "Badger"
J-5 = Mikoyan MiG-17 "Fresco"
J-6 = Mikoyan MiG-19 "Farmer"
J-7 = Mikoyan MiG-21 "Fishbed"
JJ-7 = Mikoyan MiG-21U "Mongol" (but see below)
Y-5 = Antonov An-2 "Colt"
Y-7 = Antonov An-24/26 "Coke/Curl"
Y-8 = Antonov An-12 "Cub"
Z-5 = Mil Mi-4 "Hare"
Z-6 = Mil Mi-8 "Hip"
Z-8 = Aérospatiale AS.321 Super Frelon
Z-9 = Aérospatiale AS.365 Dauphin 2
Training versions of the J-5 and J-6 were built (JJ-5 and JJ-6); these had
no Russian counterparts (there was no MiG-17U or MiG-19U). Equating the
JJ-7 to the MiG-21U in the list above is slightly misleading, since the
trainer version was developed independently, not based on the Russian
Indigenous Chinese fighter designs have gone up to at least J-12. The J-8
has entered service (see B.13). The J-9 was cancelled about 1978, with no
examples built; the J-7III and J-8II were developed partly as replacements
for it. The J-10 is a current project, started in the late 1980s, and
expected to enter service before the end of this decade. The J-11
designation has not been used. The J-12 was built (one or two prototypes
only) in Nanchang during the 1970s (the number seems to have been used out
of sequence for some reason), in competition with the J-7 and J-8; it
resembled a scaled-up MiG-15/17, and was cancelled because of its poor
It has recently been reported that China and Israel are collaborating on a
new fighter based on Israel's abandoned Lavi project (J-11?).
Two Chinese aircraft have been given NATO codenames: J-8 "Finback" and Q-5
Subject: H.12. German aircraft designations (WW2)
German aircraft were identified by two letters denoting the manufacturing
company, a number denoting the aircraft type (separated from the letters by
a space), and various modifiers for subtypes.
Arado = Ar
Bücker = Bü
Bachem = Ba
Blohm und Voss = Bv, Ha
Dornier = Do
Fieseler = Fi
Flettner = Fl
Focke-Achgelis = Fa
Focke-Wulf = Fw, Ta
Gotha = Go
Heinkel = He
Henschel = Hs
Horten = Ho
Junkers = Ju
Messerschmitt = Bf, Me
"Bf" for Messerschmitt came from Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, the company's
name before Willy Messerschmitt took over. "Ha" for Blohm und Voss came
from Hamburger Flugzeugbau, the name of the aircraft division of the Blohm
und Voss shipbuilding company. "Ta" for Focke-Wulf was used in honour of
designer Kurt Tank.
Type numbers were assigned by the RLM (air ministry); a single sequence was
used for all manufacturers. Related types were often given numbers
differing by 100; for example, the Messerschmitt Me 210 was designed as a
replacement for the Bf 110, and was developed into the Me 310 (abandoned
before flight) and Me 410.
Prototype aircraft had a "V" followed by a number identifying individual
aircraft, separated from the main designation by a space (e.g. Me 262 V1).
Major variants were denoted by a letter immediately following the type
number (e.g. Me 262A), minor variants by a number separated from the major
variant letter by a dash (e.g. Me 262A-1). Pre-production aircraft had a
zero in this position (e.g. Me 262A-0). Further variations on a subtype
could be denoted by a lower case letter attached to the variant number
(e.g. Me 262A-1a). Modified aircraft were indicated by "/R" or "/U" and a
number (e.g. Me 262A-1a/U5), or by "/Trop" (which I assume indicated a
tropical climate adaptation).
Subject: H.13. Japanese aircraft designations and codenames (WW2)
Japanese aircraft designations are a highly confusing subject, since four
different systems were in use simultaneously in Japan, in addition to the
codenames used by the Allies. The Japanese Army and Navy each used two
systems to identify the same aircraft, so a type used by both services
(there were a few) could have up to five different designations -- Japanese
Army Kitai number, Army type number, Navy designation code, Navy type
number, and Allied codename!
Just to confuse matters a bit further, a few types were known best by
nicknames that had no official status. The Mitsubishi A6M fighter, also
known as the Carrier-Borne Fighter Type 0, had the official Allied codename
of "Zeke"; but it went down in history under the unofficial nickname used
by both sides: "Zero".
The Japanese Army Air Force identified aircraft by "Kitai" (airframe)
numbers, which simply consisted of "Ki", a dash, and a number. Originally
the numbers were a simple numeric sequence; later, some randomisation was
added, as a security measure. Gliders received "Ku" ("Guraida") numbers
instead. Subtypes or variants were indicated by Roman numeral suffixes, or
by various Japanese abbreviations (a common one was "Kai" (for "Kaizo"),
indicating a major modification).
In addition to Kitai numbers, most Army aircraft also received a second
designation in a parallel system based on role and the year of entry into
service. Originally this was the last two digits of the year; 100 was used
for the Japanese year 2600 (1940), then the numbers were restarted from 1.
Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft received a designation code very similar to
those used by the US Navy. This consisted of a letter to indicate the
aircraft's function, a sequential number to indicate a specific aircraft
type (unlike the USN system, the number 1 was left in), and a letter to
indicate the manufacturing company. This was followed by a dash and a
number to indicate a subtype, plus an optional letter or letters for
A = Carrier-borne fighter
B = Carrier-borne torpedo bomber
C = Carrier-borne reconnaissance
D = Carrier-borne dive bomber
E = Reconnaissance seaplane
F = Observation seaplane
G = Land-based bomber
H = Flying-boat
J = Land-based fighter
K = Trainer
L = Transport
M = Special-purpose seaplane
N = Fighter seaplane
P = Bomber
Q = Patrol
R = Land-based reconnaissance
S = Night fighter
Some manufacturer letters:
A = Aichi
D = Showa
K = Kawanishi
M = Mitsubishi
N = Nakajima
P = Nihon
V = Seversky
W = Kyushu, Watanabe
Y = Yokosuka
The IJN also used a parallel system based on role description and year
number, similar to (but independent of) the Army's, except that the year
2600 (1940) became 0 instead of 100. This system was abandoned in 1943,
when it was decided that revealing the year of an aircraft's entry into
service might give useful information to the enemy. Aircraft were then
given proper names instead.
Because the correct designations of Japanese aircraft were often not known
(and, as you've probably gathered by now, difficult to keep straight
anyway), the Allies assigned codenames to them. The basic rules for these,
not always followed, were:
Bombers, dive bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, seaplanes, torpedo
bombers -- Girls' names
Fighters, reconnaissance seaplanes -- Boys' names
Gliders -- Names of birds
Trainers -- Names of trees
Transport aircraft -- Girls' names beginning with "T"
The following list gives various designations for some of the more
important Japanese aircraft of WW2:
Aichi D3A = Navy Type 99 Carrier-Borne Fighter = "Val"
Kawanishi H8K = Navy Type 2 Flying-Boat = "Emily"
Kawanishi N1K1/2 Shinden = "George"
Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu = Navy Type 2 Heavy Fighter = "Nick"
Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien = Navy Type 3 Fighter = "Tony"
Kawasaki Ki-100 = Navy Type 5 Fighter
Kyofu N1K = "Rex"
Mitsubishi A5M = Navy Type 96 Carrier-Borne Fighter = "Claude"
Mitsubishi A6M = Navy Type 0 Carrier-Borne Fighter = "Zeke"
Mitsubishi F1M = Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane = "Pete"
Mitsubishi G4M = Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber = "Betty"
Mitsubishi J2M Raiden = "Jack"
Mitsubishi Ki-15 Karigane = C5M = "Babs"
Mitsubishi Ki-21 = Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber = "Sally"
Mitsubishi Ki-30 = Army Type 97 Light Bomber = "Ann"
Mitsubishi Ki-46 Shitei = Army Type 100 Reconnaissance Aircraft = "Dinah"
Mitsubishi Ki-67 Hiryu = Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber = "Peggy"
Nakajima B5N = Navy Type 97 Carrier-Borne Bomber = "Kate"
Nakajima B6N Tenzan = "Jill"
Nakajima J1N Gekko = "Irving"
Nakajima Ki-27 = Army Type 97 Fighter = "Nate"
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa = Army Type 1 Fighter = "Oscar"
Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki = Army Type 2 Fighter = "Tojo"
Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu = Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber = "Helen"
Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate = Army Type 4 Fighter = "Frank"
Yokosuka D4Y Suisei = "Judy"
Yokosuka P1Y Ginga = "Frances"
Subject: H.14. Swedish aircraft designations
The aircraft designations used by the Swedish armed forces consist of a set
of letters to indicate the role, and a number to indicate an aircraft type,
with a space between them. A letter may be added after the number to
The numbers are assigned in a single sequence for all types of aircraft.
The same number is always used for the same basic aircraft type, but the
prefix may be changed to indicate different roles.
Role codes (these may be combined, e.g. "JA" for fighter/attack):
A = Attack
B = Bomb
Fpl = Flygplan (aeroplane; used for multirole light aircraft)
Hkp = Helikopter
J = Jakt (fighter)
S = Spaning (reconnaissance)
SF = Spaning foto (photographic reconnaissance)
SH = Spaning havsövervakning (maritime reconnaissance)
Sk = Skol (trainer)
T = Torped (torpedo bomber) (obsolete)
Tp = Transport
The following types are currently in Swedish service:
Hkp 3 = Agusta/Bell AB-204 Iroquois
Hkp 4 = Boeing/Kawasaki KV-107 Sea Knight
Hkp 5 = Schweizer (Hughes) 300
Hkp 6 = Agusta/Bell AB-206 Jetranger
Hkp 9 = MBB BO 105
Hkp 10 = Aérospatiale AS.332 Super Puma
J 32 = Saab Lansen
J/Sk 35 = Saab Draken
AJ/AJS/JA/SF/SH/Sk 37 = Saab Viggen
JAS 39 = Saab Gripen
Sk 50 = Saab Safir
Fpl 53 = Dornier 27
Tp 54 = Piper PA-31 Navajo
Sk 60 = Saab 105
Fpl/Sk 61 = BAe Bulldog
Tp 84 = Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Tp 86 = Rockwell Sabreliner
Tp 88 = Fairchild Metro
SH 89 = CASA C-212 Aviocar
Tp 100 = Saab 340
Tp 101 = Beech Super King Air
Tp 102 = Gulfstream IV
Subject: J.1. Reference books
This is not intended to be a general list of reference books on military
aviation; it's simply a list of most of the books I found useful in
compiling this FAQ list. I've quoted ISBN numbers where I could find them.
I assume Jane's Planes has a new ISBN each year; the one quoted here is
from the 1990-91 edition, the latest available to me.
Roy Braybrook, S Skrynnikov & L Yakutin (1993): _Russian Warriors:
Sukhois, MiGs and Tupolevs_ (Osprey Aerospace, UK; ISBN 1-85532-293-5)
Piotr Butowski (1992): _Military Aircraft of Eastern Europe: (1) Fighters
and Interceptors_ (Concord Publications, Hong Kong; ISBN 962-361-028-9)
Piotr Butowski (1992): _Military Aircraft of Eastern Europe: (2) Bombers
and Attack Aircraft_ (Concord Publications, Hong Kong; ISBN 962-361-035-1)
David Donald & Robert F Dorr (1990): _Fighters of the United States Air
Force_ (Military Press, USA; ISBN 0-517-66994-3)
Lou Drendel (1984): _C-130 Hercules in Action_ (Squadron/Signal
Publications, USA; ISBN 0-89747-111-3)
Marcus Fülber (1993): _Red Stars Over Europe_ (Concord Publications, Hong
Kong; ISBN 962-361-709-7)
Tony Gibbons and David Miller (1992): _Modern Warships_ (Salamander Books,
Yefim Gordon & Bill Sweetman (1992): _Soviet X-Planes_ (Motorbooks
International, USA; ISBN 0-87938-498-0)
Bill Gunston (1976): _The Encyclopaedia of the World's Combat Aircraft_
(Salamander Books, UK)
Bill Gunston (1981): _Military Helicopters_ (Salamander Books, UK; ISBN
Bill Gunston (1983): _Modern Airborne Missiles_ (Lansdowne Press,
Australia; ISBN 0-7018-1705-4)
Bill Gunston (1987): _Modern Fighters and Attack Aircraft_ (Salamander
Books, UK; ISBN 0-86101-320-4)
Bill Gunston (1987): _The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Aircraft Armament_
(Salamander Books, UK; ISBN 0-86101-314-X)
Bill Gunston (1988): _Combat Arms: Modern Fighters_ (Salamander Books,
UK; ISBN 0-86101-413-8)
Bill Gunston (1989): _Combat Arms: Modern Attack Aircraft_ (Salamander
Books, UK; ISBN 0-86101-451-0)
Bill Gunston & Mike Spick (1983): _Modern Air Combat_ (Salamander Books,
Bill Gunston & Mike Spick (1986): _Modern Fighting Helicopters_ (Tiger
Books, UK; ISBN 1-85501-164-6)
John Jordan (1992): _Modern US Navy_ (Salamander Books, UK; ISBN
Mark Lambert, ed (annual): _Jane's All the World's Aircraft_ (Jane's
Publishing, UK; ISBN 0-7106-0908-6)
Chris Marshall, ed (1988): _The Defenders_ (Oriole Publishing, UK; ISBN
R A Mason & John W R Taylor (1986): _Aircraft, Strategy and operations of
the Soviet Air Force_ (Jane's Publishing, UK; ISBN 0-7106-0373-8)
Doug Richardson (1989): _Stealth Warplanes_ (Salamander Books, UK)
Mike Spick (1987): _Modern Fighter Combat_ (Salamander Books, UK; ISBN
Mike Spick & Tim Ripley (1992): _Modern Attack Aircraft_ (Smithmark
Publishers, USA; ISBN 0-8317-5054-5)
Mike Spick & Barry Wheeler (1992): _Modern Aircraft Markings_ (Salamander
Books, UK; ISBN 0-86101-695-5)
Mike Spick & Barry Wheeler (1992): _Modern American Fighters and Attack
Aircraft_ (Salamander Books, UK; ISBN 0-86101-696-3)
Bill Sweetman (1989): _Stealth Bomber_ (Airlife Publishing, UK; ISBN
Bill Sweetman (1993): _Aurora_ (Motorbooks International, USA; ISBN
Michael J H Taylor (1983): _Military Prototypes of the 1950s_ (Arms and
Armour Press; UK; ISBN 0-85368-579-7)
Michael J H Taylor (1987): _Encyclopaedia of Modern Military Aircraft_
(Bison Books, UK; ISBN 0-86124-349-8)
Michael J H Taylor (1991): _Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20th
Century_ (Studio Editions, UK; ISBN 1-85170-767-0)
Masami Tokoi (1990): _Soviet Military Aircraft in Monino_ (Dai Nippon
Kaiga, Japan; ISBN 4-499-20561-1)
Steven J Zaloga (1991): _Modern Soviet Warplanes: Fighters and
Interceptors_ (Concord Publications, Hong Kong; ISBN 962-361-014-9)
Steven J Zaloga (1991): _Modern Soviet Warplanes: Strike Aircraft and
Attack Helicopters_ (Concord Publications, Hong Kong; ISBN 962-361-015-7)
Steven J Zaloga (1992): _Russian Falcons_ (Concord Publications, Hong
Kong; ISBN 962-361-707-0)
Subject: J.2. Magazines
As with the list of reference books, these are the magazines whose articles
I found useful in compiling these answers.
_Air Forces Monthly_ (Key Publishing, UK; monthly)
_Air International_ (Key Publishing, UK; monthly)
_Aviation Week and Space Technology_ (McGraw Hill, USA; weekly)
_Flight International_ (Reed Business Publishing, UK; weekly)
Subject: J.3. Acknowledgements
Thanks to the following people for their help:
Kevin Au <k...@haas.berkeley.edu>
Guy Beaver <bea...@hops.larc.nasa.gov>
Al Bowers <ak...@yfn.ysu.edu>
Martin Briscoe <martin....@almac.co.uk>
Carlton Brown <br...@ils.unc.edu>
Dwight Brown <stai...@ghostwheel.bga.com>
Wei-Bin Chang <wei...@cae.wisc.edu>
Dave Cherkus <che...@unimaster.com>
Rodney Clark <rcl...@vibuscy.ccdn.otc.com.au>
Geoff A Cohen <gac...@seas.gwu.edu>
Jim Davis <jime...@aol.com>
Albert Dobyns <albert...@mwbbs.com>
Dave Elliott <ell...@gsoc0007.rm.op.dlr.de>
Bernd Felsche <ber...@metapro.metapro.dialix.oz.au>
Peter Fenelon <pe...@minster.york.ac.uk>
Read Fleming <r...@cadre.com>
Robert M Franklin <gt9...@brunel.ac.uk>
Urban Fredriksson <u...@icl.se>
George Gale <gg...@vax1.umkc.edu>
Emmanuel Gustin <gus...@uia.ac.be>
Lee Hauser <76264...@compuserve.com>
Scott Hemsley <shem...@malthus.acs.ryerson.ca>
Richard Hunt <rh...@cix.compulink.co.uk>
John B Iodice <jio...@telesciences.com>
Cal Jewell <jew...@data-io.com>
Larry & Kim Jewell <jew...@mace.cc.purdue.edu>
Rheza Jina <rh...@emb.frmug.fr.net>
Paul Kennedy <pa...@brt.com>
Krzysztof Krzysztofowicz <kkrz...@pg.gda.pl>
Lanny Lancaster <pp00...@interramp.com>
Robin John Lee <amr...@uclink.berkeley.edu>
Ray Loy <lo...@cs.rpi.edu>
Steven Malikoff <ste...@syacus.acus.oz.au>
Duane P Mantick <wb9...@constellation.ecn.purdue.edu>
Chris Maxfield <ch...@saucer.cc.umr.edu>
Paul McGinnis <tra...@cup.portal.com>
Jack McKillop <je...@donuts0.bellcore.com>
Jeff Mitchell <jmi...@mail.vt.edu>
Eugene N Miya <eug...@nas.nasa.gov>
Chris Neary <cm...@pge.com>
Vince Norris <vp...@psuvm.psu.edu>
Christopher Ridlon <air...@u.washington.edu>
Jaap Romers <jaap....@cs.ruu.nl>
Geoff Russell <g.ru...@uws.edu.au>
Simon D Shpilfoygel <c...@cs.ucla.edu>
Steven Vincent <ste...@unipalm.co.uk>
Mark W <sho...@sage.cc.purdue.edu>
Rustam Yusupov <pri...@fund.omsk.su>
Stefan Zamel <z...@ft1.ipt.rwth-aachen.de>
...and some others who have asked not to be named.